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Feed: Simple Salvation off the Pacific Coast Highway

Sometimes the most generic convenience store can provide lasting memories based on what it takes to get there, with a familiar soda to boot

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Leggett Market & Deli

Location: 67660 Highway 271 Leggett, Calif.
Why: Simple, but familiar fare for bicycle tourists on the road less traveled

The tickle in my throat and pounding in my head required sustenance. Of any variety, really. We were miles upon miles from a populated town, I thought, and a deep worry began to reign over me, fantasies of a perfect cortado paired with a pastry tailored to my many food allergies became increasingly prevalent.

A few hundred feet of elevation gain later, up and away from California’s coastline on route 271, the road began to crest and there, in plain sight, was a market. Picture your typical small town American convenience store — a glorified gas station of sorts. The market was strewn with many basic essentials, even some modern Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors, but most of what lined the shelves was generic packaged products, seemingly outdated to the typical urban dweller. Though, in the back, the produce case was filled with vibrant fruits and vegetables, grown no more than several miles away. Ah, the beauty of California.

“How did you end up here?” the cashier asked, staring in disbelief.

The selection was small but, in this moment, perfectly tailored to my needs. I grabbed a Mexican Coca Cola, a bag of chips, and a few other packaged items I would never eat elsewhere. Sitting down to eat and drink and chat with the good natured locals perched atop this road less traveled, the corner market buffet was salvation in its purest form. No soda pop has tasted the same since.

Nestled on the outskirts of Mendocino County, atop the climb that diverges its travelers from the hustle and bustle of Redwood Highway to the breathtakingly beautiful, however mysterious, Highway 1, lays this little market. Simply named Leggett Market & Deli, it is nothing spectacular. Unless, of course, you have traveled by bicycle, as I had, for a seemingly innumerable number of miles down the relentlessly bending Pacific Coast Highway. It’s only then that the Mexican Coca Cola and bag of chips reveal their true glory — more glorious they ever would be at your local convenience store, however parched, however desperate.

Riding the Pacific Coast is a classic for any bicycle tourist and the mere utterance of the word “Leggett” churns stomachs. It has been deemed “the hardest climb on the Pacific Coast,” climbing from sea level to roughly 2,000 feet in less than five miles. With loaded panniers and stale legs, it’s undoubtedly a slog.

To reach Leggett Market & Deli traveling south, continue on Highway 101, past Garberville and Humboldt Redwood State Park. Entering Leggett on the 101, take the first left up Highway 271, which runs parallel to Highway 101, and travel a few steep miles to the market.

If you find yourself touring the Pacific Coast after Highway 101 meets Leggett, take that mysterious left turn. It will hurt, arguably more than Leggett, but the reward of a simple snack and recognition from the local folk will be worth it.

Relevant ride: Coastal road