Sunday, June 30, 2019

Day 29 - Lagunitas to San Francisco

Distance - 1250 miles! WE DID IT!!!
(Today was 29 miles to SF, then another 10 touring around)

This morning we woke up and packed our tent just like we've done each day this month. We loaded our bikes, and snuck in a few more laughs with our friends before departing.
As we climb on to our bikes for the start of the final day we have mixed feelings.  We want to stay in the forest forever, but we are so close to our final destination!
As we exit the campground we are treated yet again to a winding road through a redwood forest with a river running through it. Then we head up the first of several climbs today. California isn't finished with us yet!

As we get closer to the city, we see more and more cyclists. Dropping down into Fairfax, the cyclists come in droves. Most of the towns we've been through this month have had a population of 100-400 people - Fairfax has 8000!

We find a cafe along the bike route in San Anselmo and are assured by the many cyclists out front that it's the place to be! We are slightly overwhelmed by the number of people around, though we are only 20 miles away from the city! We go to grab a table, and a man butts in with his order number in hand,  puts it down on the table, says 'have you ordered yet?' and proceeds to sit down. How rude! Thankfully, we then meet a handful of other cyclists and locals who are very kind, and we share a table and some stories with them.
It's nice and sunny outside, and the cyclists who started in the city say the fog hasn't cleared yet and to stay in the sunshine a little more. We take their advice and go for a tour of the nearby Donut Alley in Larkspur! The smell of the donut shop is amazing, and the donuts are pretty good too.

We head out of Larkspur along Cape Madiera. We should know by now that cape is a four letter word for hill! These towns lulled us into thinking we would have a nice flat ride to the city! We happily enjoy a little more wilderness and the break from all the people. Best to be eased back into reality.

From there we take an awesome shared path  along the water into Sausalito, where we get our first view of the Bay Bridge! We are almost there! Of course we are riding right on the water.. so we aren't about to get to the Golden Gate without at least one more hill.

We reach the Golden Gate bridge and join the throngs of tourists taking photos. It is unreal. For the last month we have been telling people we are going to San Fransisco, but it doesn't really mean anything up until this point. We just biked 1200 miles to get here, and it's the coolest thing I have ever done. Get out of your car and on your bike! Now!

After a few touristy mistakes we find our way to the staircase we didn't know we were looking for. We have to carry our fully loaded bikes down a staircase, under the bridge, and up another one to get to the proper side of the bridge for riding!

Once we are on the proper side, we roll onto the bridge. There is a hilarious mix of road cyclists, tourists on rented bikes, touring cyclists and construction as we go. We are very used to the crosswinds on bridges now, but the tourists are not! At least there aren't pedestrians in the mix too!

Once across the bridge we escape the tourist insanity as fast as possible - there are WAYY too many people around for our liking. San Francisco has a population of over 800,000, and it feels like they all at this end of the bridge!

We head out along the coast and ride out to Land's End, Seal Rock, and past the Cliff House. We tour down the beach and through Golden Gate Park. The park is wonderful, there are loads of people out enjoying their Saturday having a picnic, playing games, and sailing toy boats across the ponds!

We exit the park and take the wiggle, a bike route that wiggles through several blocks of the city. We're never without other cyclists here and it's a really fun ride! We stop for a quick bite along the wiggle, and then head straight down Market Street through downtown to meet our friends and take the ferry over to Oakland. Riding Market Street through downtown is awesome. It's pride weekend and the street is alive with people! There's music playing everywhere, trolleys that run through the middle of the road, and a full lane for bikes where we happily cruise with many other cyclists. We arrive at the ferry terminal and meet up with our friends David and Tyler.
We made it!!!

We head for dinner at the brewery that's dangerously close to their place. The pizza is delicious, even the one with alligator tail (it tastes kind of like chicken?)!
We proceed to cover their apartment in our laundry (don't worry, it's clean now), and tell them we may never leave. Friends are amazing, thanks guys!!

Tomorrow we will take in the city and the pride parade, and Monday we will reluctantly get on a plane as our adventure comes to an end.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Day 28 - Bodega Bay - Lagunitas

Distance - 41 miles

"Nothing compares to brisket for breakfast" is the mantra we take with us as we leave camp this morning. The grocery stores around are tiny and expensive, and the other breakfast joints within 20 miles just didn't have brisket (or anything else) as good as we had last night! So we stop a short two miles down the road and are greeted by the same lovely gentlemen who served us the night before! Today - breakfast brisket burritos. Tomorrow - the world!! Err... San Francisco!

The start of today's ride is rolling hills through farmland, and provides ample opportunity to play Who's cow is it anyway? It has the added bonus of cows on hills near and far, so we really can't keep track of which cows we've already seen.
For some reason the hills today feel relentless. They're rolling and remind us a lot of our days in the Oregon dunes. It doesn't look like we are biking uphill but it sure feels like it!! There are also little spiders and their webs floating through the air that keep landing on us. I've pulled at least seven spiders off me by the time we're ten miles in. I can see the spider webs hanging off of Chris in front of me, and I can see the tiny tickly strands stuck to my oily sunscreeny skin. Doesn't this sound fun? I *guess* every day can't be amazing...
We pop out of the valley and cycle out along Tomales Bay. It's stunning and beautiful and a glorious blue! After conquering two climbs this morning, the ride along the Bay is California 'flat'! It's well known for its oysters, but we are stuffed with brisket, and are on a mission to get to the fresh fruit promised at the 30 mile mark!

The bay goes on forever, and we're trying really hard to appreciate the stunning blue waters... But we're both tired. Every hill gets harder and harder. It's hot outside, and there's now loads of tiny flies and spiders stuck to our sunscreen laden arms and legs.
We finally arrive in Point Reyes. It's a cute little tourist town with lots of shops and creameries selling local cheese and other goodies from the cows in the hills. We are GRUMPY. We've had some rare times on this trip where we haven't been entirely happy - *cough*insanely windy Crescent City *cough* - but today is a tired, hungry, buggy, hot, hilly, day, and it takes our trip grumpy meter up a notch. We've seen so many cows we are becoming them! Mooooooooo.

We get into town and neither of us want to grocery shop. Chris wants pizza but the shop across the street only sells it for 6$ a slice... But we're so hungry we could eat a whole cow (don't tell the cows that, we're surrounded!) No way are we paying 48$ for a whole pizza! So Chris goes into the grocery store in search of something better, but comes out empty handed. I like to think you could make a play out of the scene called "Two angry bikers on a bench". We bicker like  a proper married couple, and eventually find a cafe with pizza. Whole ones, for $15! We roll grumpily down the main street of this quaint little town.

We arrive at Cafe Reyes and have the patio to ourselves, and some exceptionally delicious pizza from a wood-fired oven. Once fed, we laugh our morning off and head out to get proper groceries for the evening.
We wander the town a bit and check out the local creamery - but find ourselves slightly disappointed that we can't find locally made ice cream! We are about to leave town when we see a nice lady with what looks like soft serve, so we ask where she got it. She launches into a speech about how amazing it is and how if you go to Point Reyes you can't leave without it. It's not ice cream, its locally made Buffalo Milk Gelato. It was absolutely delicious! We debate going back in for more, but in our grumpy stupor we've already been in the grocery store 6 times between the two of us.

We are about to head out of town, really this time, when we're stopped by a couple of locals who tell us we're going the wrong direction. Now, we aren't really going the wrong way, there's just multiple ways you can go. We can go 10 miles with 150ft of climbing, or 7 miles with 300ft. The locals tell us to go the 7 mile route.  We decide to do it, because we haven't been tortured enough by hills today! (and we're now fed and happy)

The last couple of miles into camp are on a well maintained paved trail through the trees. It's afternoons like this that make us want to keep riding forever! We set up camp and decide to take our unloaded bikes for a spin down the trail. WHAT IS AN UNLOADED BIKE?! They're so wobbly and weird we can't control them, and the trail is no longer paved so we're navigating gravel and our handlebars are flopping all over the place. We're trying to control our bikes, and ourselves because we're keeling over with laughter. We decide to turn back and bike through the campsite, but this adventure is short lived because HILLS.

We arrive back at camp and greet our friends from the night before, Paul and Dave. We are soon joined by Matt (who we thought was long gone but stopped to play music at a local restaurant and thus is behind schedule) and a couple from Idaho (Malcolm and Hunter). This is now the busiest hiker biker site we've been to since the start. Everyone is super nice and fun, and surprisingly most people we meet out here have at least one degree under their belt.
Paul soon discovers there's a secret free shower, so we all rush to use the hot water before it disappears - which is ridiculous because its only 50 cents for a 5 min shower. We saved 50 cents!!
We laugh about our loud msr dragonfly stoves (THEYRE SO LOUD), share bike stories, and pass around the torture stick so people can roll out their muscles (and laugh and cry).
As we eat dinner, and teach Malcolm and Hunter to play Race for the Galaxy, another 3 bikers arrive.
It's a perfect final evening in the wilderness, surrounded by amazing people all traveling the same route each in slightly different ways with different destinations.
The bike community out here is incredible. Can we please stay out here forever?

Friday, June 28, 2019

Day 27 - Stillwater Cove to Bodega Bay

Distance - 26 miles ...almost not a rest day?

We can sum up the riding in California with three simple words - cars, climbs, and corners!
Today there's a couple of bigger climbs, and then the rest of the day should be flat. We aren't sure what 'flat' means here, but we're pretty sure it includes rolling hills.

We wake up, pack up, eat breakfast with Matt and say goodbye as we head out. We're expecting a similar ride to the previous days, but California always seems to have a surprise for us.

As we pass through Fort Ross the clouds roll in and we're riding in a cool foggy wonderland with ocean cliffs next to us.
We head up the first climb and the views are unbelievable. We are above the clouds and it looks like we're in an airplane! We make it to the top, and as we descend we wind down around switchbacks, some of which have guardrails! It feels like we could fly off the edge of the world! I can't decide if the emotion I was feeling was pure joy or terror... It was so wild!

We climb and descend again into the small town of Jenner. We're already over halfway into today's ride, so we stop for a cup of tea next to the misty river. There are people swimming in it! Brrr.

We head up one last climb, not nearly as insane as the first ones! Then its five miles of California 'flat' - we were right it was definitely rolling! The highway here is so close to the cliffs that if you look down to appreciate the coastal view you could ride right off! There's also several places where the road has washed out and they've either fixed it or are working on it.
We stop to take in the view at a small pullout, and are surprised to find a sand bar completely lined with seals! There must have been over a hundred of them!
We arrive in Bodega Bay, set up camp, and wander the half mile into town for a late lunch. We find an amazing bbq joint (Ginochio's Kitchen) and get a large platter with pulled pork, brisket, sausage, ribs, and sourdough bread. It might just be the best meal we've had out here!

We wander back to the campsite for some flat happy time (reading and naps). It is a rest day, after all!

After having a small dinner, playing some games and chatting with the other cyclists in camp, we head to bed early in preparation for our last day before San Fran.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Day 26 - Manchester to Stillwater Cove

Distance - 20 miles? 36 miles? 40 miles?
Distance to San Fran - less than one Fatdog!!!
Quote of the day - "I never thought I would bike 20 miles, eat a whole chicken, and bike again"
Today we had no idea where we were going. Okay, I guess we sort of had some idea. We woke up to mist, which quickly subsided - but made for a surprisingly warm and humid day.
Thinking we would have a short rest day, we hiked a mile out to the ocean to take in the view. The views were stunning, and we had the beach to ourselves - but the water was freezing!

We head back and have nice warm showers before packing up and saying bye to our new friends. Nobody is really in a hurry to leave the hot tub, warm showers, and communal fire.
We plan to ride 20 miles into Gualala today. The scenery is similar to the days before with ocean and farmlands. The roads, on the other hand, continue to get worse. How can you get worse than "rolling" hills with no shoulder and massive trucks? You add 6 inches of shoulder, but pave the road with a material so shitty that it rubs off and leaves behind a very bumpy road and a useless shoulder full of gravel. Wahooo! We can't complain too much - At least 90% of the traffic is courteous, and the ocean just keeps getting more turquoise and wonderful!
We make it to Gualala in no time and take a picnic lunch down to the campsite. We are hungry bears today and picked up a fan favourite - a whole roast chicken (we are monsters). The campsite is cold and shady and not what we were hoping for. Lucky for us there's many campsites to choose from, so we decide to go another 20 miles down the road - we are quite well fed after all.
We make a quick pit stop on our way out of the campsite and I must have propped my bike up poorly because it squashed my helmet and broke the cord into my intercom. I didn't realize how much I loved my intercom until I thought it was broken. I freaked out just a little. Without it how will I know who sees the cows first?! Tears may have been shed.
We manage to plug the cord back in and get at least one of the ear pieces to put out sound! I'm thankful it didn't happen earlier although maybe I wouldn't be so dependant on it if it had!
The next 20 miles are actually very pleasant. The road is paved nicely, and the hills are the nice floaty rolling kind! We also have a tailwind to push us along, and clouds reflecting beautifully on the ocean.
One of our friends from the night before (Matt from the Netherlands) catches up to us, and we end up riding an extra 3 miles to another campsite just past where we had planned. At least it will make tomorrow shorter!
We set up camp, laugh at the fact  we're all eating a bikers classic dinner of pesto and pasta, and wander down to the cover to see the still water - it is Stillwater Cove Regional Park after all. It wasn't all that still, and it was still very cold! We had Matt test it out for us this time.

As we played we may have accidentally polished off the cookies we bought for tomorrow. Don't buy baked goods early when you're biking... For some reason they never make it to the next day!
We taught Matt to play Race for the Galaxy - so basically just confused him for a couple hours - but he was a great sport!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Day 25 - Fort Bragg to Manchester KOA

Distance - 32 miles
Today we had a nice lazy morning, we slept in! Until 8 am. I know it doesn't sound like sleeping in, but we've been up and out of camp by this time most days.
We tackle the steep hill out of camp. I'd like to say our legs are getting used to these, but I think they cry a little each morning.
A short 2 miles in we stop at a bakery cafe in the small town of Mendocino. We start with a strawberry cheesecake danish, and finish with quiche and a breakfast burrito!
Today is a lot like yesterday, with beautiful ocean vistas. There is perhaps a little more shoulder on the road today, occasionally...

We stop in Elk for a picnic lunch at the park. Sadly there are no elk to be seen. But there are really cool rock arches surrounded by turquoise water.

Then we are back to more hills! We are very glad we split this section over a couple of days! There is one hill in particular that stood out from the rest. The downhill wound around the corner and just kept dropping. Similarly, the uphill was winding and steep. So steep that before we rounded the first bend we were concerned we weren't going to make it - and there were two more!! Oh, and traffic. On the final ascent there's a really cool bird (falcon?) hovering in the wind. It was so still at first I thought it was a kite! It was a welcome distraction from the burning pain in our quads!
Again I want to call the hills we tackle rolling, but we can never seem to make it up the other side. Then there's the river valleys. Why did nobody tell us about the river valleys? We go from beautiful stunning views biking on cliffs above the water, then all of a sudden we're flying downhill and around a corner. By corner I mean winding hairpin turns. Then as you cross the river the wind picks up and you have no idea what direction it's about to push you. On the really lucky ones you get a wicked headwind on the uphill. It's hard work, but once we have tackled a few it's actually quite fun!

We have two choices in the same area for camping tonight. One is a state park like we're used to, the other is a KOA, which we have heard are on the expensive side. We start with the state park. The hiker biker sites are $10 per person and it only has outhouses. The site is just an overgrown field. We head back up the road and discover the KOA is also $10, but has the following:
-a pool
-a hot tub
-warm showers (not coin operated!)
-a cooking shelter with sinks, stoves, and a microwave
-an ice cream social
-a movie night
-a community fire pit surrounded by chairs with a maintained fire
Naturally, we went back down the road and stayed in the overgrown field. Can't be too spoiled.
After having just sat in the hot tub for too long, we are currently making dinner in the cook shelter next to a roaring fire. Tonight's dinner is chicken prosciutto and butternut squash ravioli with a spinach pesto sauce.
We are so, so spoiled!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Day 24 - Leggett to Fort Bragg

Distance - 52 miles
It's time to say goodbye to our good friend hwy 101 and merge on to hwy 1 for some more coastal excitement! Oh yeah, and the big hill!
We're up early at The Peg House (it's the only place around) treating ourselves to large breakfast burritos before the climb. We snag a couple fresh baked brownies - we were there so early they hadn't even been cut or iced yet! We throw in a cookie too, who knows how long this climb is?!
After a few rolling hills out of the campsite we are headed up the hill! It's not a steep grade, it's actually quite pleasant. The trees surrounding us are beautiful and the birds are singing.
The logging trucks occasionally whiz past and nearly knock us off the road. I'd like to tell you we were on the shoulder, but it's a narrow winding uphill and there isn't one! It's so narrow you can't even ride on the white line. At least there isn't too much traffic!
We get to the top of the climb rather easily, and wonder what the fuss is all about. The downhill is even fun! It's not too steep. Why did everyone say to check my brakes for this?
We get down into the first small town, and three small dogs come out of nowhere barking and chasing after Chris. He managed to escape the ankle biters - but I'm going head on into them! The small one comes for my ankles, the big one sets up a block in front, and the third one has disappeared into the bushes for the surprise attack. I narrowly escape. Who knew the scariest part of the Leggett hill would be the dogs?!
Oh but wait, we're not finished with the downhill yet. The second part of it is a little more scary, but not the worst we've done. It's actually just really cold. We don't want to stop because we keep thinking we're almost down. We eventually cave and put on our arm warmers.
Shortly after we come across a man walking in the middle of the road, who says "You got a great day for this, nice weather and almost no traffic." We smiled and agreed - but why was this man in the middle of nowhere walking in the middle of the road?
The trees are becoming more sparse and we think the end of the downhill is near - and we are right! Unfortunately this sends us into or second climb of the day - arm warmers not necessary. This one feels harder than the first. Not sure if it's because it's steeper or because we've already done one! The downhill is equally as steep with some hairpins thrown in for good measure - now I know why they said check your brakes! At least we're warm this time. After this we pop back out onto he coast. We love the coast. The views are always stunning, and it smells so good!
We arrive in the closest town with services, Westport, 30 miles from the start of our day. By services we mean one store that sells limited groceries, has a deli, is the post office, and has a single gas pump out front. We have some of the tasty deli sandwiches and buy all the fresh fruit that looks okay - which is a small apple, a nectarine, and a plum.
From here we continue along the coast via several rolling hills. This coastline has the added bonus of no shoulder and active construction, which adds some nice haul and cement trucks in amongst the hairpin turns. Please save me! We pull off where we can to let the traffic go by, but it isn't always an option and sometimes we just have to brace ourselves.
We aren't having enough fun, so let's throw something else in the mix. How about a man walking a wheelchair with a dog in the lane coming at us? You just can't make this shit up!
We've seen the coast, we've seen farmland - now we've got coastal farmland! There are cows, but neither of us have the energy to moo at them or count them.
Will the rolling hills ever end? These aren't nice rollers where you can fly down and up the other side with ease - they take work!
Now might be a good time to tell you that today we had a choice. Stop and set up camp 3 miles from Fort Bragg and bike a 6 mile round trip for groceries, or bike 11 miles through town to the camp on the other side. We are high maintenance and want real fruit and vegetables - so we add 11 miles. Also because we love biking. And hills. Mostly rolling hills. Monotonous ones that continue for hours are preferable.
We get into town and find ourselves some nice fresh fruit and vegetables and we are happy campers again.
The ride to camp is short and uneventful. Camp, of course, is down another big hill.
We set up camp and head out to explore the campsite. It's in a gulch and has a stream running through it out to the ocean.
We hike back up the hill (why hills, why?) to the day use area to see the sinkhole - which is a sea cave where the roof has opened up. The views from the headlands here are stunning!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Day 23 - Burlington - Leggett

Distance - 47 miles
Hills - too many to count
Heat - off the charts (only 28 degrees, so if you divide by 348/897 and muliply by 2.54674 you should get Fahrenheit, right?). Don't even get me started on miles and feet.

Today we wake up among Giants.
We peacefully set out among the trees. They are stunning and beautiful and we never want to leave. The temperature is perfect as we wind around the trees on a smooth paved road next to the Eel River. Its a perfect morning in the Avenue of the Giants! We roll along singing our own (horrible) indie folk song about staying and biking in the redwoods forever. It's hard to describe how big these trees really are. Not only are the trunks big enough to drive your car through, the are up to 370 feet in height! Looking up is dizzying!

Our first stop is Miranda, where we sit on the curb at the local grocery and stuff our faces with cereal, Greek yogurt, and watermelon! We've had limited grocery options the last few days and the break from greasy diner food is quite welcome. We get the watermelon thinking we'll either eat it all or leave behind what we can't. After all, today we start the ascent up the most famous hills on route. I, of course, forgot who I was biking with. Why would we leave half a watermelon behind when we have room to carry it? My husband is insane, and it's kind of awesome.
Not only does today have the most elevation we will do in a day, it's also hot and exposed once we leave the shelter of our giant friends. 
We cruise on and off the highway to ride through the small towns of Redway and Garberville. The side roads are quieter, and still have stunning river views. There are loads of people enjoying the river on this glorious sunny day. At times we wish we were off the bike and playing in the water too! 
We pick up lunch in Garberville so we can have a nice picnic in Richardson Grove State Park. Then its off the highway for another quiet side road. This one drops down near the river, and then turns into a slightly terrifying gravel (but maybe once paved?) hill. We survive the short hill, and are very thankful its pavement after!
We make it to our lunch stop and find a picnic table surrounded by redwoods right next to the river. We get our wish because there's a beach full of people playing in the river - and we get to join for a refreshing swim!! Okay, now we definitely aren't coming home. Where is home? Home is where the tent is!
We only have 15 miles of heat and hills left, so I guess we have to get back on our bikes.
Hill, heat, hill, heat, repeat! This is the start of the climb up the famous Leggett hill which we will finish tomorrow. We hit a road closed sign and have to take a minor detour - we're pretty sure it adds more hills. Yay hills! 

The hills we're riding through look a lot like home. The Eel river beside us is still a beautiful blue. We wish we were the kayakers paddling away down there.

We arrive at the campsite only to find out that it's cash only. Of course we've had cash every other time... But they've always taken card and we've perhaps gotten a little complacent. The store across the road won't give us cash back and theey tell us there's an atm 7 miles back up the road, so we bum $4 off a nice gentleman.

We set up camp and seek the river for another quick swim before dinner. The path to the swimming hole is steep switchbacks and stairs. LEG DAY. EVERY DAY. The swimming hole is wonderful, we may have stayed there indefinitely - but we need dinner!
We head across the road from the camp to the Peg House - whose slogan is an appropriate 'Never don't stop.' They have delicious burgers and live music! We feel quite spoiled sitting under an umbrella drinking our rootbeet floats. It turns out the nice gentlemen who lent us the money is the lead singer in the band! The Eclectic Coyote Band! We plan to donate to the cause in return for the favour :)

Tomorrow we start the day with a 5 mile uphill climb - wish us luck!