These panniers are so super slick. Red like my helmet and jacket – hooray for color coordination – and as durable as the dry bags I’ve seen while river rafting. They fill me with ambition, make me think I should be traveling down the coast.

Not wearing a backpack frees me in a small, but important, way. I’m more comfortable and can pedal faster – or maybe having the day off allowed my legs to recover a bit. For whichever reason, I shave two whole minutes off my Fernbridge-to-Ferndale time. This fills me with a completely disproportionate sense of accomplishment – again, I think of the people who commute day-in, day-out. Or people who ride to Orick. Or Korbel. Or Crescent City. Up mountains. That sort of thing.

But the satisfaction renews my energy when the time comes to face the hill out of Ferndale. Sure, a banana slug still probably keeps a better pace than I do, but I arrive at CR a few minutes faster than I did on Tuesday. I’ve been playing a game with myself on the downhill: let the speedometer get one mph faster than the previous day. So far my top speed is 27 mph.

A brother and sister wait at the bus stop with me. The brother cracks jokes, displays exaggerated courtesy as if he’s onstage. This continues on the bus, where the two of them break into songs and skits – from Invader Zim, if memory serves.

They exit in Eureka; a woman I know from KHSU gets on. “Peggy!” I shout. She sits next to me, we chat until Manila and then I’m home.