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Friday, 31 August 2012

Day 28: Heading for the 'frisco bay -Samuel P Taylor State Park to San Francisco

So we woke up and all five members if our tree circle camp group decided to ride together to San Francisco which was really nice. Our peloton set off from the park riding over some very rough roads and rolling terrain with a few hills but nothing like what we have seen recently. We stopped in the town of Fairfax to get some breakfast and then it was onwards to the big city.

Had a temporary stop in Larkspur as Amanda broke a spoke, luckily due to our previous misfortunes we had the tools to help her fix it, we all pitched in and with Todd's expert guidance Amanda fixed the wheel and we were on our way again. We rode down a bike lane then into  Saulisito, by now things were starting to get built up and we could see the city across the water, we climbed a hill and then there it was in front of us, the Golden Gate Bridge, by this point we had lost the others as we had stopped to take some pictures, which is a shame as they were all ending their trips in San Francisco and it would have been nice to say goodbye.

The bridge was crazy, lots of pedestrians and other cyclists but we managed to stop and enjoy the view and even saw some seals (or perhaps sea lions) playing in the water.Then we were in San Francisco.

We have been travelling for about a month now and we haven't been through a major metro area since leaving Vancouver so I must admit it was a bit of a culture shock, so many people and so much noise, I'd almost forgotten what city life was like, our hotel was downtown so we had to cycle through a park and then some busy city streets to get to the hotel.

We went out to stuff our faces with some diner food then rest day tomorrow to see the sites.

Miles today 33. Total miles 1190.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Day 27: The magical circles of trees - Bodega Dunes State Beach to Samuel P Taylor Park.

Along the trip you run into a lot of people following the suggested days in the book and since Manchester beach we had been bumping into and sharing hiker bikers with a few groups of peooke which is really nice. Last night sharing a picnic table with two girls from Port Townsend, Amanda and Rachel who actually knew the guy we had met in Bookings!
We all had a shorter day than yesterday, so took our time getting ready and headed out out around 10. The first 10 miles whizzed by, srriving in Valley Ford for some cookies and to stock up for lunch. We have both turned into eating machines!

The next few miles into Tomales following the sea inland along the bay, were a bit more trying, climbing 200 foot hills with a full on head wind and terrible road surfaces. One point coming downhill, the wind blew, my bike almost stopped it was so strong - you wonder if cars even notice when they drive along!

After Tomales was some long waited flat riding.... but nothing is that simple right? Right. The headwinds continued so strong, Dave my hero cycled I front with me tucked in behind so he'd take the brunt if it. Just like penguins.

We passed down along To males bay, which was just beautiful and Dave and I ate our sandwiches by a small secluded beach at Millerton Point.
Arriving in Olema we picked up our last groceries and found the bike oath leading to the campsite which was a welcomed break from the highway and bad road surface.
We hooked up with a Todd, a guy we had also met in Manchester and arrived together. The hiker biker in Samuel P Taylor is really large, but it's all on a hill so there is actually very little room for camping. Todd found some space past a falken tree and was like 'you gotta see this'
It was amazing, five or did redwoos trees all in a circle with space to camp in the middle. We decided to share the space and as we were setting up Amanda and Rachel arrived too who joined us.
Todd only had a small amount of food and rather him having to cycle to the next town (he had followed a different route) we all pooled our food together. It was everyone else's last night, so the girls had bought wine too! We had a feast of tuna pasta, cheese curd burritos, with crackers followed by briwnies and marshmallows.
It was a great night with great people.
Miles today 42. Total miles 1157.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Day 26: Switch back city - Manchester State Beach to Bodega Dunes State Beach

Today was immense, I have never seen so many hills, plus we logged our highest mileage total.
If you have been reading our previous posts you'll know that this trip has already been filled with hills of all different shapes and sizes but today was just crazy!
We began by getting up early as we wanted to cover a fair few miles today, it was hard to tell when night had ended and day begun as the moon had been so bright last night even penetrating the thick blanket of fog that had left everything in the camp as wet as a big storm.
We set out over some rolling hills making good time as we sped along in the morning sunshine, by 11-30 we had already covered quite a few miles so we stopped for an early lunch in the town of Gualala, eating at a picnic table overlooking the ocean, surrounded by hummingbirds, butterflies and seagulls, lovely.
The ride then continued past sprawling community of well to do neighbourhoods called Sea Ranch, which had some interesting architecture, including an amazing chapel. You can tell many Hollywood types live around these parts, hiding out by the sea.
Then came the beginning of the climbs, as the highway hugged the cliffs it would rise and fall with each cove which would result in a sharp descent then a hairpin bend then a steep descent. This layout made it impossible to gain momentum from the downhill and take it to the uphill as you lost it all in the sharp corner at the bottom.
As the hills got taller, the views got even more spectacular and the heat was rising too so it was very demanding, at one point there were some vultures circling above, I think maybe they were waiting for me to keel over.
We stopped to refule in Fort Ross as we new the next 10 miles were going to be even more demanding. Highway 1 at this point climbs over headlands and cattle grids, which is sectioned by a gate to close off the road if it becomes too unstable. Evebpn though the climb topped out at around 700 feet, the climbs were steep and with the deep coves leading up to the climbs gave you no run up. But when you reached the top.... wow!
The fist pay off was amazing, swinging down and around the bends, surrounded by cliffs and ocean. Each climb took you to a greater view, but the last down hill was breath taking - no wonder they film so many car ads along this stretch. This down hill was just switch back after switch back, it was actually just as hard as the uphills.
A quick stop in Jenner for some chocolate milk and powered in through the last 10 miles to camp. Totally exhausted, but totally exhilarated.
Miles today 69. Total miles 1,116.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Day 25: Roller coastal ride - Fort Bragg to Manchester Beach state park

From the advice of the bike shop in Arcata, I needed to get my new wheel checked. The bike shop opened in Fort Bragg are 9:30 but the guy was busy so we had to wait around until about 11:30, after a well needed stock up at Safeway, we didn't get going until a little before one. Oh well.
We took a break at the Jughandle State reserve to fill up on fruit and sandwiches (the previous night's Denny's meal wasn't too nutritious).
The whole day was up and down, and not just any ups and downs these were coastal bluff roads. Each down wizzed us around winding roads with breathtaking views. When you hit the bottom mind, you hit the bottom. It was deffinately a day of using each and every gear.
Once you made it to the top and the amazing vista point, it was back down again - just like a roller coaster!
After the town of Elk, where we stopped to top up our water supplies and an ice cream treat for me, we hit the steepest (apparently the steepest climb on the route). Wow not only was it steep, but there was this really strong head wind. I literally had to wait for a break in the wind to pedal as fast as I could until the next gust blew.
The wind was so strong at one point it blew my front tyre off the road, but I managed to keep going. It was strange but we hadn't seen a single cyclist all day, but at the climb they all appeared. One girl was pushing her bike up, but I was determined to make it all the way. Dave was, as always waiting at the top, cheering me on along with the girl's friend. More cyclists appeared and everyone cheered at reaching the top.
So we have now conquered the highest climb and the steepest, and with over 1000 miles behind us, feeling pretty damn chuffed with ourselves.
The road continued like this all the way to the campsite. Manchester beach is probably the most primitive we have stayed in, with no showers or sinks and just pit loos. Its not too bad, its just really windy - we broken out our emergengy blankets tonight to make sure we stay warm.
Miles today 40. Total miles 1047.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Day 24: Every little helps... Richardson Grove State Park to Standish Hickey campground.

We had an amazing rest day with our friends Matt and Leah who drove up from Chico and brought us food and beer! After saying goodbye we didn't get packed up until late and didn't feel so up to the 1200 foot Legget hill, so decided to take a short day just 16 miles up the road (still lots of climbing) and settled in Standish Hickey hiker biker, but we figured going a few miles was better than none.

We took a break at Confusion Hill on route, which is one of only few road side attractions left.

After a hit ride we arrived at Standish hickey. It was the first hiker biker we were in where we were the only ones there. The only problem was we were really limited on food as there were no grocery stores on route.

Luckily Leah and Matt left us with some bits of food, so we managed to have a very nutritious dinner of freeze dried eggs with new potatoes, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and half an apple! Ready for our big climb first thing in the morning.

Miles today 16. Total miles 961.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Day 22 Hitchin a ride- Rio Dell to Richardson Grove State Park.

So the situation was this, I had a broken spoke on the cassette side and no tools to remove the cassette, only a bike shop would be able to help and the closest one was all the way back in Eureka, a town we had passed through yesterday morning! To make matters worse we were in a schedule as we had a camping spot booked and some friends to meet in the evening who were driving all the way from Chico to see us.

A plan was hatched and it went like this; I removed the back wheel from the bike and left the motel bright and early, luckily there is a public bus in the Redwoods so I was able to ride that to backtrack to Eureka, it took about an hour and twenty to cover the distance we had cycled yesterday although it was a more direct route so I didn't feel too bad. I got to Eureka and got the wheel fixed by the good people at Henderson Center Cycles and also picked up the tools to remove the cassette if this happens again, damn the extra weight, I will not get caught in this situation again. Now I just needed to get back to the motel to be reunited with Holly and the rest of my bike. Problem was there was no bus until 2, and a taxi would cost 65 bucks, the guy at the bike shop suggested I hitch hike, he even made me a sign and gave me a lift to the freeway, what a nice guy. I didn't have to wait long within twenty minutes I got a ride, it was a guy who was on his way camping and said he wouldn't normally pick up a hitch hiker but he could tell that I was in a bind, I think it was the bike wheel! He also said he could tell that I didn't smell! Ha ha. Really nice dude and I'm so thankful he picked me up, helped keep us on track, I made it back to the motel before check out time, fitted the fixed wheel and we were on the road by 11, not too shabby.

We had over fifty miles to do to get to the campground so had to go fast.

Not too fast though as the early part of our day took us along the legendary Avenue of the Giants with many more magnificent redwood trees, it was hard to keep our eyes on the road, necks straining from looking up at all the huge trees. We also hit 900 miles, which we anticipate to be half way, so this was a major psychological boost for us.

The day involved some slow and steady climbing as we were heading into some of the higher sections of the tour, we climbed through some amazing mountainous landscapes hoping to make camp before sunset and then we headed back into another redwood forest, where our campsite was. We managed to get set up before it got dark, and then our friends Matt and Leah arrived, and they had beer! Which was just what the doctor ordered, a warm campfire and a cold beer, thanks guys!

Miles today 55. Total miles 945.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Day 21: Broken spoke 3- not again! Arcata to Rio Dell

We had a delicious vegetarian breakfast in Arcata at the... whilst the good people at Revolution Cycles fixed Holly's wheel, in the end though we decided to just get them to replace the back wheel as with this many breakages we couldn't be confident on the existing wheel going the full distance so seemed best to replace it ASAP.

From Arcata we rode through Eureka, stopping to check out some of the nice architecture that this town is famous for. From there it was back to the 101 which was now a freeway for a few miles which was a pretty joyless slog as the road was very bust and there was nit much to see.

As soon as we were able we left the freeway to take the scenic route, this added a few miles on to our trip but was much nicer than the busy 101.

We stopped for lunch at a bird sanctuary and then peddled on through the country towns of Loleta and Fernbridge before stopping to buy some peaches at a fruit stand.

The day continued through more beautiful relaxing farmland and into the Victorian town of Ferndale which was picture postcard pretty and we stopped and had a nice vegetarian chilli at the lost coast cafe.

From there our route took us back to more farmland this time with some very steep rolling hills, coming down one of these hills the unbelievable happened, I broke a spoke! Oh why oh why had we not replaced my wheel this morning when we replaced Holly's?!? The nearest bike shop was all the way back in Eureka and the day was ending so there is no way we could have made it back there in time and we couldn't replace the spoke as it was on the cassette side and we did not have the necessary tools to replace the cassette.

My bike was able to soldier on four more miles at a slow pace as the wheel was now seriously bending out of shape and we got to the town if Rio Dell just before it got dark and we checked into the local motel and set about hatching a plan as to how we could get the broken wheel fixed.

Miles today 45. Total miles 890.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Day 20: The Return of the Broken Spoke - Prairie Creek Campground to Arcata.

No elk this morning unfortunately, but lots of fog. We left the campground after 10 after waiting for the fog to clear. Heading back out out onto the 101 South we hit the small town of Orik in search for some wifi (we had been in contact with some warmshowers hosts so needed to reply). There was a great cafe where the owner was real bike friendly, even allowing us to leave our bikes in the second room while we sat in, only intending on buying a coffee, we decided to take an early lunch as its not often we get to sit inside.
Dave ordered a burger, while i took the unconventional lunch of strawberry and rhubarb pie with ice cream - mmmm. It was all so good. There was country music playing, my coffee cup was never empty, we could have stayed there all day.

Back on our bikes entering the Redwoods National Park, the 101 takes you through two lagoons which were really pretty. The 101 however was not, sonwe toom the side tour aroundto Patricks Point.

All the side roads have pretty rough road surfaces and can be much hillier than the highway, but they are so much more relaxing to travel along.Entering Patricks Point State Park we headed actually right down to the point leaving our bikes for a well deserved stretch of the legs. The point was stunning, but we could hear sealions barking at each other from the other side of the rock, but they were all sheltered by the fog so no pics I'm afraid.We did see one bobbing in the water but was too quick to get a pic.

There was a climb if only about 300ft but i think i got a little over excited on the eay down... And i did it again, i broke a spoke!! And yes it wss on the cassette side - argh. We were 29 miles from the next bike shop in Arcata and had no other choice but to release the break out and keep on rolling, slowly but surely.
Back out into the busy highway was not a nice place to be, so using our ACA map we took a side path along clam beach drive which was so much nicer than highwy riding. But it really wasn't our day as we didnt realise part of the path was unpathed - not what you want with a fully loaded bike with a broken spoke. It was a few miles back, so we decided to roll them over the gravel. It was really hot and the bikes reslly heavy, but made it to the other side of the path. We started chatting to another cyclist called Dennis who was local and told us about which bike shops to go to in town. It was 5:40 and we wete 6 miles from town, we had to take the highway.
Arriving in town about 6:15 we followed Dennis's directions, first cycle shop closed, the second wlso closed but a gut appeared and said they would squeeze us in first thing in the morning. There was nothing more we could do but find somewrhere to stay.
Arcata is a really nice uni town so it was bustling with young people and great for us as we found place that sold 12 buck 18'' pizzas and 2 buck beers. With our ever increasing appetite, we managed to eat the whole thing, but i was wasted on a beer - oh dear.
Miles today 44. Total miles 845.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Day 19: Tall hills and big trees - Crescent City to Elk Prairie Campground

Setting off from Crescent City just after 10 our next 10 miles we're uphill... And not just up a hill, up a 1100ft mountain. This is by far the highest climb we have had and also the steepest. There was no shoulder, but the majority of the traffic was really courteous and used the overtaking lane. It was freezing, but when I reached the top I was dripping from both sweat and the fog, which was do thick it was dripping from the trees too.
After having a break we noticed all the amazing Redwood trees around us - they were like giants, big friendly red giants and blue sky.

There were two further climbs before the big downhill, which took us down into Klamath, by the trees of mystery. We were freezing do stopped at the cafe which was a real underwhelming experience, but we just needed to get warm. There were only a few other shops, all with slot machines.

After another 10 miles we reached our second climb of the day. Along the 101 we climbed for about 5 miles, slow and steady, slow indeed as there was a really strong headwind, so even though it was sunny - we were still cold. Our route took us off 101 and along the Newton B Drury Parkway through the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
This second climb took us up to just under 1k ft, reaching the top we were rewarded by the most amazing view of all the redwoods. The trees are simply stunning and huge! It was all downhill to the Elk Prairie campground, most of which I was looking up at the trees.
Setting up camp in the hiker biker campsite, we are under strict instructions not to leave any trace of food and put all food products even toothpaste into a bear locker. Let's hope we only get woken up by the Elk in the campground and not any furry black bears!
Miles today 34. Total miles 801.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Day 18: Rest days can be like stopping half way up a hill - Brookings to Crescent City

Taking our second rest day in Brookings, it felt a real accomplishment to have finished Oregon, but getting started today was really tough.

First stop was the bike shop for new chains, our first had done over 1500 miles so pretty good going, but with a large distance between bike shops we didn't want to take any chances. Not opening until 10 we didn't get going until midday by the time the guy had finished, but we got chatting to a guy from Port Townsend who had hitchhiked to the shop as his wheel was broke who was really nice so the time went by quite quick.

We don't know if it was the new chains or just being generally tired but I literally couldn't get going faster than 10mph, but finally made it to the California boarder. Oregon has been totally amazing, but we must say wear looking forward to getting warm!

Our route took us in a detour through farm land which was really nice to get off the highway with a little bit of sunshine. We stopped inGot Dick for some lunch and chatted to a couple of locals, which was funny as one guy just didn't seem to grasp we we're on push bikes and not motor bikes, which led to an interesting conversation.

After reaching Crescent City we we're both exhausted and feeling abut under the weather so we decided to call it a day and grab a room in a motel. Hopefully we'll feel better tomorrow.

Miles today 29. Total miles 767.