June 3 to July 2, 2014 (Crescent City to San Diego, CA) —
June 3 – Crescent City to Klamath, CA (22.63 miles and 2,145′ of climbing):
Crescent City met our arrival with brutal headwinds (and a barefooted meth head walking in the middle of a back road). Bad omens. In the morning, within 5 blocks of our motel, I had (1) gone the wrong way, (2) gotten a flat tire, (3) changed the flat, (4) gotten another flat, and (5) had to change the entire tire and tube. There was more than one moment where we thought about just going back to the motel and hiding under the covers, but we really wanted to get out of Crescent City. Thank goodness we had picked up a spare tire.
After that start to the morning, we had one of the hardest climbs of our trip. The climb was long, foggy, and lacked a real shoulder for large sections due to construction.
After the hairy descent (of which there are no pictures because, well, it was hairy), we took a break with Babe.
It’s pretty creepy when Babe talks to you when you touch its ball(s?).
At lunch, we called it a (short) day in Klamath, checked into a hotel, and ate re-heated lasagna from the gas station next door for dinner. I curled up in the fetal position while V gave the bikes a full tune.
June 4 – Klamath to Arcata (66.24 miles and 4,570′ of climbing):
After a good night’s sleep at the only hotel in Klamath, we headed south through the redwoods.
We also passed several herds of elk.
We cycled past the Humboldt lagoon and then stopped at a state park for lunch with a gorgeous view of the ocean.
We had planned to spend the night in Trinidad, but vetoed the one inexpensive option due to, shall we say, lack of sanitary conditions.
We pushed on to Arcata, partially on cycling trails created from an old railway including this bridge over the Mad River.
In Arcata, a college town, we were greeted by tons of dirty hippies. [Sorry, Rich, but dirty Humboldt County hippies are not my thing.] But the town had a nice vibe otherwise.
We collapsed into our hotel on the town square and ordered pizza from next door, exhausted but content after a very long day.
June 5 – Arcata to Ferndate (36.06 miles and 1,063′ of climbing):
In love with the area (if not the town), we decided to stay the weekend and organized an airbnb.com stay at a farm near Ferndale.
We stopped off at a great bike shop in Eureka called Adventure’s Edge. They did a few major repairs that V’s multi-tool was incapable of handling, such as tightening my headset which had begun to wobble a bit on descents. From Eureka, we stopped at an amazing fruit stand then pushed on to our farm stay.
And then we got mocked by the speed camera.
In Ferndale, we stopped for lunch and supplies. Although Humboldt County is better know for one of its (now quasi-legal) agricultural products, we found something else that was so good it deserves some fame: Cinnamon roll stuffed with sweet cream cheese and topped with local raspberries. Worth every inch of the 291 miles biked that week to get there.
We continued to our farm stay just outside of town, where the locals greeted us first.
Then our lovely hosts. The farm, one of the last remaining privately held large acreages in the area, was great and the food better.
June 7 Lost Coast Day 1: Ferndale to Honeydew (41.18 miles and 5,610′ of climbing):
After a rest day at the farm, we decided to head out to the Lost Coast, a rarely traveled part of Northern California. There were two major climbs on our first day and both were long and brutal – we walked for the only time all trip (a 150 yard stretch when the road hit a 20 degree pitch at one point).
We somehow made it up the second climb. There were some switchbacks as we went up the hill but it was pretty steep the entire way.
And then, at the very, very bottom of the second glorious descent, I blew another tube.
This time I found a cut in my front tire – which was bad news since I had already used our spare to replace my rear tire and we were two days’ ride from the nearest bike shop.
The views were gorgeous, and after I (for the third time this trip) used a dollar bill to reinforce a blown tire, I started to inflate the tube using my hand pump. At that point, some trail angels stopped to ask if we needed anything. They were the only car we had seen in over an hour and they were cyclists visiting from Hawaii (they had a tandem bike on their roof rack but had taken the day off from riding). Thankfully, they had a floor pump in their car so I did not have to waste too long getting my tire up to snuff.
We continued along the coast and it was undoubtedly the most beautiful stretch of our entire trip. And there was no one – no one – around.
There are only two towns in the entire Lost Coast area: Petrolia and Honeydew. We stopped off for a salad at the Yellow Rose Cafe in Petrolia (so named because it was the first place in California where an oil well was drilled). The people were terrific, as were the ice cubes (it was really hot outside).
Another hard push up a minor ascent and we rolled into our campground for the night. And were greeted by our second set of trail angels that day: Not only did Ian have a cold beer for me (I had grumpily refused to carry the extra weight even though V, who is wiser, had bought herself a beer at the store in Petrolia) but his partner Mel had a spare tire so we now had a back up in case my repair job blew. We also met a guy from Namibia who lived nearby and was biking into Petrolia each day to watch the World Cup at the pub “so that at least I can tell myself that I’m getting some exercise while otherwise sitting in a pub all day drinking and watching soccer.”
Satisfied, and buzzed, after a long day, we drifted off to the sounds of a raccoon trying to break in . . . .
June 8 – Lost Coast Day 2: Honeydew to Garberville (53.91 miles and 6,952′ of climbing):
We had another early start due to some huge climbs on the agenda, so we passed through the actual town of Honeydew before most of the locals were stirring. The few we did see confirmed a description of the town that we had heard: It’s residents were either Wanted or Unwanted.
A brutal climb out of Honeydew gave us gorgeous views of the green and gold hills, which looked like Tuscany.
At the summit, we had Pete’s bike tour lunch of peanut butter on tortillas. It tasted fantastic, although I would have eaten a shoe at this point. After a long, bumpy descent that left our hands aching (but was still fun), we entered civilization again and then the road through the Avenue of the Giants.
We stopped in Redway to pick up supplies at the Redway bike shop, and were treated wonderfully by the owner and his mates. In addition to good company and quite a few beers, the owner managed to fix a bottom bracket problem that had popped up during our time on the Lost Coast.
After closing down the shop (i.e., running out of beers), we rode on to Garberville, which was super methy but the Italian restaurant served in quantity so it was good enough for the night.
June 10 – Garberville to Westport (52.87 miles and 5,974′ of climbing):
Had we not ridden the Lost Coast, today would have had the most climbing of the entire trip. But, after those two days, today was relatively easy. Except for our dead legs.
The scenery was grand, and we were happy to leave the 101 again.
We also were happy to see San Francisco make an appearance on the mileage signs.
After the long climb, we had one of our best descents on smooth road with plenty of S-curves and few cars. When we finally popped out of the trees at the coast, it was just as gorgeous.
We finished our a long day of climbing and settled into Westport for the night. We stayed at the Westport Inn, which was notable in that, after the office closes, they leave keys in the doors of the available rooms and trust that travelers will pay in the morning.
June 11 Westport to Mendocino (26.29 miles and 1,781′ of climbing):
A short day due to brutal headwinds brought us to Mendocino, known as the location where Murder She Wrote was filmed and where various celebrities own houses.
It’s a lovely coastal town, and is also home to a bunch of tree huggers.
We refueled with some health food befitting this hippy town.
June 13 Mendocino to Gualala (49.66 miles and 3,884′):
After a rest day in Mendocino, another lovely ride along the coast brought us to Gualala.
No pictures of the town, but they did have a BBQ restaurant that was pretty damn good (even V thought so). Or maybe we were just really hungry.
June 14 Gualala to Petaluma (79.31 miles and 4,904′ of climbing):
From Gualala, we followed the coast for a while before turning inland through farmland and wine country. The temperatures started to climb but eventually we saw civilization:
June 15 Petaluma to Larkspur Ferry (34.28 miles and 2,221′ of climbing):
After an overnight at the Sheraton in Petaluma, our ride into San Francisco was supposed to be easy. That was before (1) a road closure put us on the 101 in the midst of construction with no shoulder at all; (2) an alternative route literally called “bloody corner” due to the number of accidents and no shoulder; and (3) a bit of backtracking on side roads to deal with (1) and (2).
After battling Marin County drivers for hours, we made the afternoon ferry out of Larkspur and arrived exhausted at the SF Ferry building.
We checked in to the fancy Palace Hotel, using some of our dwindling supply of Starwood points, and relaxed for the night. Excited to see friends, we caught the World Cup at the number one burrito place in the U.S.:
Surprisingly, they didn’t have the game on (or a tv), so between Deep’s Mac and V’s hot spot, we created a screen where everyone in the place watched.
After a few days catching up with Eug, Sonya, Deep and Gina, we hopped the train south in a rush to get to LA for a wedding. Friend was kind enough to host us at their place in Brentwood, and we had a blast catching up with him, Eileen, and the Giffords who joined us for a night of good food (V’s steak frites!) and laughs.
We had nothing but bike clothes, so thankfully Friend and Eileen dressed us in their clothes so that we were respectable for the wedding. Between the bike tour and Costa Rica, it was the closest that I’ve come to looking like to a grown up in two months.
Another Burrito Bracket visit was required before our departure, so we hit Al & Bea’s near downtown LA.
Really great bean, cheese and green chili burritos, but V and I agreed that La Taqueria was better.
Friend and Eileen then dropped us at Union Station with our bikes, and we hopped one last train back to SD carrying a present from them — two huge slices of cake from LA’s famous Susie Cakes. We got to Mark’s house and feasted on cake and Guinness to celebrate completion of our tour.
Mark put us to work on his construction project, which confirmed that we – or at least I – never want to work again.
In addition to hard labor, we used every waking moment to pack and get ready to move to the other side of the world. Next up: New Zealand!