Sep 11: The Sea Ranch to Bodega Dunes State Park (45.0 miles)

Noor and I got up early, made breakfast, closed down and said goodbye to the Sea Ranch house,

packed up and started riding. Today our destination is south on Hwy 1 to Bodega Bay, where Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” was filmed.

It would have been awesome to stop for breakfast at Twofish Baking in Stewarts Point,

but they are on their well-deserved vacation right now. They did, however, they did leave an encouraging message for me

Thank you so much Margaret, Hilla and the whole 2F crew- you made my day!

And then we were off riding again. Noor filmed me as we proceeded south

More great views

And then a coffee break at Ocean Cove

Eventually we had to climb the big hill known as the Jenner Grade

We arrived at Jenner, at the mouth of the Russian River in time for lunch

Before we knew it we were at Bodega Dunes State Park. After a shower we chatted with the ever increasing number of bicyclers rolling into the campground (currently at six).

It was getting cold, so we decided to walk over and eat at the local Mexican Restaurant. On the way we passed the Children’s Bell Tower, inspired by the tragic murder of a local boy while vacationing in Italy. It was quite moving.

I also caught a glimpse of the old Bay Hill Mansion, where my sister and brother in-law were married 25 years ago

Happy anniversary Cathy and Bill!

We are camped on sand dunes up against a hedgerow of eucalyptus and cypress.

We heard news today that tomorrow’s route and campsite were closed due to the Alvin fire in Marin that started yesterday. We verified it with news reports and started worrying about where we could camp. We then called Rob and Katie, who were headed to that campsite and informed us that no roads are closed and the campsite is open, but has no power. We now just learned that Calfire has lifted all evacuations and closures so we are good to go!

Sep 9 & 10: Zero days in The Sea Ranch (0 miles)

Sunday and Monday were relaxation days. Noor, Rob, Katy and Carsten arrived on Sunday just as Liz loaded up to return to home (“Because somebody has to pay the bills”).

Here’s the international crowd: Katie, Noor and Rob

And Carsten

Everyone cleaned up, did laundry and helped prepare a great meal. Afterwards I started up the chiminea and we sat out back and I introduced the group to s’mores. They were a hit!

Monday morning Rob, Katie and Carsten returned to the road and Noor and I hung out at the house.

I already had known that Noor was a Doctor in Holland overseeing transplants, but today I also learned that she was a member of the Dutch Olympic Field Hockey team in the 1988 (Seoul), 1992 (Barcelona) and 1996 (Atlanta). And she has two Bronze Medals! Wow!

My Sea Ranch friends Tad and Maureen shuttled us to their house and treated us to another amazing “Che Tad” dinner. We returned home full and ready for bed.

Sep 8: Van Damme State Park near Mendocino to home in The Sea Ranch (55.0 miles)

Today is a nice, albeit hilly ride along the coast on Hwy 1 down to my home in The Sea Ranch.

I have special motivation today: a weekend with Liz!

Highway 1 has little to no shoulder on much of the route today, but the traffiic was very patient and accommodating. Lots of great views today!

I arrived at Anchor Bay just as Liz was finished with her Yoga class. She gave me a cold soda and we had a nice chat on the steps of the storefront.

We then remounted our separate modes of travel and continued further south to home. I spotted Rob and Alice, my Goid friends, Sea Ranch neighbors, and Ashland PCT Trail Angels just north of Gualala. They are headed back to Ashland for a while.

Liz was waiting for me when I arrived at home

Yay, over 1,200 miles done and only about 740 left!

Sep 7: Standish-Hickey State Recreational near Leggett to Van Damme State Park near Mendocino (61.3 miles)

Today will be a long day that starts with a couple a big hills. I’ll depart from Hwy 101 and start following Hwy 1, aka PCH, from now to the border. I’ll be aiming to get to a campsite just south of Mendocino, but most of the others are planning to camp near Fort Bragg.

There has been much anxiety amongst us about the two big hills that start our day today. I got up at first light and tried to quietly pack up while the others slept. One of the motorcyclists awoke and started his motorcycle just to hear it run, I think. I felt less bad about making noises so early. If that was not bad enough, a trash truck drove into the campground and started making the loud ruckus they make.

The first was the longer of the two, but I saw few cars and took it slow and steady, stopping occasionally, and found myself at the top in good time. I flew down the other side to the coast, arriving at Rockport in the fog

I then immediately encountered the second hill which I found more difficult even though it was smaller.

Much of the ride today passes through trees

And lots of great ocean views and small town markets. Its nice to be back on the coast!

I also saw this great attraction – it even has water squirting out of the blow hole!

I arrived in Mendocino and picked up food for dinner

And then arrived at my campsite.

A cool wind arose in the later afternoon and I found myself climbing into my tent and falling asleep very early.

Tomorrow I arrive at our Sea Ranch home where I will see Liz! Yah!

Sep 6: Burlington Campground to Standish-Hickey State Recreational Area (48.9 miles)

Last night I was joined by Rob and Katie from the UK, Carsten from Germany and Noora from Holland. We had all been surprised by the lack of a store in Redcrest and were all bemoaning the lack of our nightly beer. A group of motorcyclists arrived and set up camp next to us. Terry came over to chat with us and hear our stories, and then asked if we needed anything.

Noora immediately responded “do you have any spare beers?”. And just like that we all had a beer!

Today was an average mileage day but with a lot of hills. I followed Noora all day, she keeps a good pace. We completed the Avenue of the Giants and proceeded on and off Why 101 to Standish-Hickey State Recreational Area near the town of Leggett.

There were not a lot of new things to see on today’s ride. The ride through the large redwoods was nice, but soon it turned into views of the South Fork of the Eel River and a few small towns. There were a surprising (and depressing) number of spent gas cartridges on the side of the road all afternoon today. I’m talking like nearly 100 all they way into and out of Garberville. I’m assuming they are from addicts abusing Nitrous Oxide.

I also did notice a very large bear poop on the side of the road, but alas, did not see any bears.

Noora and I arrived at camp, still in the redwoods

and was soon joined by Rob, Katie and Carsten.

A few people have asked me to compare my bicycling experience against my long distance backpacking.

From the equipment side, I pretty much took the contents of my backpack and balanced them weight-wise into my pannier bags. I did upgrade to a 2-person tent, and replace hiking clothes/shoes with biking clothes/shoes, and added tools and spare tires.

From the physical side, biking is much easier on my feet, a bit more workout for my ankles and my shoulders, and about the same on my legs. I tend to tighten my shoulders when climbing and am constantly trying to learn to keep them more relaxed. I am often wearing shorts and a tee shirt, so I am getting some pretty impressive tan lines on my hands, arms and legs.

From the mental side, bicycling is more demanding. When backpacking, I have lots of uninterrupted daydreaming/thinking time, but not so much with biking. I need to be aware of road conditions, traffic and road signs. This is especially true when screaming downhill at 30-40 mph. There is a lot of gravel and junk on the side of the road to avoid, and I’m constantly trying to determine if the car/truck/RV coming up behind me will see me and give me room.

So far, this has not been much of an issue, with drivers crossing into other lanes or slowing down to pass when safe. But every now and again some driver will pass me closer than I think was necessary.

At the end of the day, my butt and shoulders are sore from hiking compared to my whole body being tired when backpacking. I like the serenity, remoteness and often isolation that backpacking provides. I do like the greater sense of accomplishment from biking though – ending a day 60 miles away is pretty nice!

Also, the biking diet has a lot more fresh food!

Sep 5: Redwood Coast Cabins and RV Resort in Arcata to Burlington Campground in Humboldt Redwoods State Park (57.8 miles)

The Hiker/Biker site here is behind the store and 3-4 flood lights keep the whole area quite bright all night long. I tried blocking it with the tent rain fly and extra ground cloth, but to little avail. I had earplugs to help with the Hwy 101 noise.

The fog rolled in overnight so I was off to cold start this morning. I rolled into Eureka to find coffee to warm me up and then back on the road.

My ride today would have been over 60 miles, but a road closure detour and missed reconnect to the route shortened the ride a bit. Here’s roughly the route

To help plan my route I’m using maps from Adventure Cycling, an ebook “Cycling the Pacific Coast” and Google Maps.

These resources advise routes on side streets and bike paths and only use Hwy 101 when necessary. They are a bit out of date, and even Google was not aware of the road closure today. The detour sign was rather faded, so I assumed it had been closed for a while. I returned to 101, which had a nice shoulder but failed to exit at the next off ramp, so missed the side-road route through trees and farms. I also missed the hill on that route, so I wasn’t too bummed.

At last I reached the Avenue of the Giants turnout. The ride down this road is amazing by bike or car. The ride follows the Eel River

So many huge Redwoods have been preserved here: everywhere you look you see them.

My guides suggested that I do my food shopping along this route at a town called Redcrest. Unfortunately the grocery store there has closed, and the nearest food is 20 miles in either direction. I do have reserve food, and with what I could scrape together I’ll make it through tonight and tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow I continue on the southern portion of the Avenue of the Giants and then on and off 101 to the town of Leggett.

Sep 4: Elk Prairie Campground to Redwood Coast Cabins and RV Resort in Arcata (51.9 miles)photo

I checked for elk in the big field next to the campground before retiring for the evening. Saw only a deer and a rabbit.

It was a very quiet night and again I slept for 12 hours. I left before the other bikers and headed out to the tiny town of Ozick for coffee. My route today takes me by Patrick’s Point State Park, and the cities of Trinidad and Arcata to arrive at a private, but hiker/biker friendly campground called the Redwood Coast Cabins and RV Park between Arcata and Eureka.

On my way out of the park this morning I spotted my first Elk of the day

He was completely uninterested in the people walking or driving by.

A bit later I hit the coast

And spotted a gaggle of Canadian Geese headed south.

A bit later I came upon the site has had Elk every time I visit, and sure enough, they were there today

I arrived in the tiny town of Trinidad and had lunch on a bench overlooking the small harbor

A bit further down the road I got a great view of Trinidad and Patrick’s Point

In Arcata, an old railroad route and bridge were converted to a bike path and made for a nice way to cross the Mad River and pass through rural farm land.

I also passed by Humboldt State University, my first visit, and it looks like a really nice campus.

I arrived at my campsite destination with plenty of time to do a load of laundry, grab a shower and have dinner.

Tomorrow is a 60+ mile day, but the hills are not so bad and it includes a ride through the “Avenue of the Giants”.

Thanks for reading!