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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.

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