Monday, January 18, 2010

Humboldt Hoppers

Our brothers of the bike in Humboldt are fashioning their own version of the Grasshopper Adventure Series, and why not? Check out the Banana Slug ride schedule.(Don't think they will be able to come up with any David Caradine clips for this series) It was in Arcata that I spent 4 years earning a B.A. in Spanish. It was also my transition from a car driver to bike commuter,tourer, hitch-hiker. The reality of no car in such a wet zone challenged my ideals. It's one thing to say "I'll drive less" and another thing entirely to not have the option. My last year I moved to McKinleyville just north of the Mad River. The place I rented bordered the a bike path with a pedestrian bridge that dropped you conveniently west of Arcata in the bottoms. Appropriately named these flat flood plains are used to raise dairy cows and grow flowers. In committing to a 30 minute commute each day I was forced to carry panniers and a backpack with enough clothes and food to get me through the day. The distance wasn't a challenge but the weather was. My most memorable commute was a raining winter morning, late as usual for school. Somehow my schedule was three Spanish classes in a row in the A.M., beginning at 8. I think I had Latin American Poetry followed by Cervantes where we read, or more acurately were explained to, Don Quijote. The morning was topped off by a survey of Latin American Literature. All classes took place in the same room with 10 min. between. Most people think that everyone who goes to Humboldt smokes week and plays ultimate frisbee. I studied Spanish and rode my bike. (Though some of that other stuff may have happened too) Late as usual I slapped on my Bike Nashbar Special Paniers and immersed myself in the pissing rain. Never could get the clearance just right and if I allowed my heel to rotate while pedaling I would kick the bag off. Usually not a big deal but didn't help the quality of my homework. On this particular day the dairies had transferred their cows from one field to the next accross the road. I didn't see this happening but by the shit-spree coating mixed with torrential rain there was no doubt. We're not talking the occasionl dropping of a nervous beast, we're talking slip and slide. I pursed my lips as tight as possible, squinted my eyes, pedaled on, and... kicked my panier off. Can still see the bag in my minds eye as it rolled though liquid dung to settle in the ditch beside the road. I did my best to rub the shit off in the weeds, slapped it back on and pedaled off to class. With memories like this it seems a luxury to just ride in the rain. Nice rain cape, jersey stuffed with food and a credit card in case things go bad. Memories of having so little and yet so much. It was here that I fell in love with biking on the hills of Kneeland, Maple Creek Korbel Loop, Fickle Hill. I think I'll be up for at least one. Hope to see you up there.


At 9:52 AM , Blogger chuckie said...

OK, nice memories Mig,
back when i used to go up to Humboldt each quarter for work i'd try to get in a nooner rr.
an old fave of mine was from the hotel in Eureka, thru Bayside, to the bakery in downtown Arcata,
up into the comnty. forest for a quick loop, over to Fickle Hill, up and over to Kneeland back to Euraka. often a soggy pull, but fun......... lots.

At 2:41 PM , Blogger Carolyn said...

Did you check out the feature story a photo spread of Arcata community forest (my commute to school when I lived there) and other North coast rides (even Salt Point) in the current issue of Mountain Bike Action magazine? Humboldt alumni, Josh


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