Saturday, May 11, 2013

What happens in Fort Bragg

In cold, blowing fog we cross a bridge high above the Noyo River and in short order reach the driveway of Safeway Fort Bragg. This is the turnaround point. Eight o'clock, dusk, not bad at all!

This point in a ride is always a morale boost, greater than the sum of its parts. And while Fort Bragg is a big town, the major town on the Mendocino coast, its parts are fairly humble. A former military outpost two hundred years ago. A former lumber outpost a hundred years ago. Today it feels a long way from the economic centers of the Bay Area. On this ride, roughly 182 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge. Except for Safeway, shops close early.

One problem has traveled with me all that way. It is time to consider the QL muscle in my lower back. Since Indian Creek it's been in some kind of marginal state. The whole 45 miles I could see Ken and Tim up ahead yet there was no closing the gap. No power, no bursts of speed. Something is definitely inflamed there.

Is the riding making things worse or staving off a meltdown? This is not something I've dealt with before. Safeway has an incredible array of goods but almost nothing here can help. Under the fluorescent lights, grimy randonneurs in reflective gear mingle with local characters. The cashiers pretend not to notice; they are trained professionals. To complete the surreal experience all we need are Elvis impersonators...

Soon my basket is heavy. No matter the outcome there will be food. The rest is a gamble: Advil, ice, rest, see what happens.

Get installed at the Surf Motel & Gardens. Heat chicken and pasta while in the shower. Eat in bed with ice on the QL. Take 3 Advil. Fall asleep at 9:45.

Wake up without an alarm. The clock says 1:40. No pain.

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