Fort Bragg to Gualala – Oct 4th & 5th…
Stopping in Fort Bragg for our rest day was a much needed respite from sitting on the bike and pedalling all day long. And Fort Bragg was a good place to do just that, explore a bit and find some good places to eat and drink and generally relax. Fort Bragg is like most towns in the USA – spread out on a main drag with the regular shopping outlets, but in the main part of town there was a full city block of funky shops, restaurants and other more interesting outlets than the regular fare – a good collection of historic buildings were also there to capture the eye and enhance the experience. I spent a good part of my day off wandering around – did some laundry, had a coffee, had something to eat, had a drink – you get the picture!
So back to reality and after a quick motel breakfast – which was quite substantial, I set off on Highway 1 south again. Scott had set off a little before me, but I knew that we would meet up further down the road. Bob elected to split off from us as he wanted to spend more days on this part of the Northern California coast, but he may reconnect with me to travel farther south after San Francisco.
So I did meet up with Scott a little after passing through the town of Mendocino and we arranged to meet in the small town of Elk farther down the road. This part of the Mendocino coast is particularly scenic and it was a pleasure to ride along and let the eyes drink in the views. I could have stopped many times for photos as there were so many places that were spectacular but the camera just doesn’t capture what the eyes really see.
Safety barriers are a rare occurrence on these roads so constant attention is demanded from all sides – I think that I spend more time looking in my mirror and to the right shoulder than straight ahead.
However, we are seeing a few more barriers than we did farther north on this route – let’s hope that the trend continues. Once again we saw emergency vehicles rushing past us today and another accident on the opposite side of the road – all we saw when we got to the location were the emergency crews looking down an embankment?
So through the towns of Albion and Elk – we stopped for a second breaky in Elk where we met up with a young Canadian couple also riding south – to Mexico for them at a slower pace than we were on. We set off again – only a short distance from the restaurant in Elk we were greeted by the mother of hills so far on the coast. It wasn’t long, but that sucker was definitely a knee-knackerer! It was steep, with two hairpins – one left and one right. Well I rode (struggled) in my bottom gear and got around the first hairpin, struggled some more only to get the next hairpin where at the right turn the road was so steep – I’ll take a guess at 25% – that I had to stop! I dragged the bike to the other side of the road where the corner incline was substantially less and walked the corner – jumped back on then and made it to the top. Phew, there was a lot of harsh words directed at road-builders for a while until my heart got back to its regular beat!
After that boot camp of a hill every other one seemed much better! And there were a lot of hills today – lots of up and down, up and down – according to Google Maps, a total of well over 4300 ft of total climbing over our 93 km route today.
A little after Elk we lost much of our views as there was a low-lying fog on top of the ocean – and although our road was clear, it was difficult to see anything other than glimpses of the ocean beaches and outcrops below our shoreline route.
Being high above the ocean saved us from a foggy experience on the roadways, but we could still feel the cool damp air off the water.
After riding through Manchester, Point Arena and Anchor Bay, we decided to continue a little further south to the town of Gualala. We were originally going to camp here, but the cold damp air off the ocean changed our minds and we got a motel her – I can share the cost with Scott now, so the more expensive digs that I would not stay at normally, are reasonable when costs are shared – sorry Bob, your loss is my gain;-)
Oh, at some point this morning my odometer clicked over the halfway point of my journey – cool!
Well, time to forage for food, more tomorrow if possible – may camp again???
AdamK and (I hope Scott likes his snoring 🙂 ) Basil
Gualala to Valley Ford – Oct 6th…
After 91 km today we are very close to San Francisco, but one more day’s riding is required to get us within spitting distance and then the plan is to go into the city early on Wednesday morning, which will allow for some time to sightsee and drink in the ambiance of the city before searching out my digs.
Today was a bit of a let down due to the low lying fog on the ocean. There were virtually no views of the seashore all day due to the fog. Amazingly enough, our road was reasonably clear and with the use of our bright LED lights we had no trouble being seen.
We packed up early and left Gualala at about 7:30 a.m. in the very cool and damp air of the morning. For the route today there were very little services to keep us satisfied. We went through the small towns of Sea Ranch, Stewarts Point then we found the small town of Ocean Cove where we managed a coffee and snack. We met a fellow there riding his bike north – he looked totally unprepared and had some very light luggage on his bike. On further information we found out that he was from Victoria, BC and had delivered a boat to Bodega Bay and was riding home on a mountain bike. I asked if he was expecting bad weather as he travelled north and he said he could manage, but he was only in his shirt sleeves and told us that he didn’t even have a jacket yet. Well, we wished him luck and I hope that he’s okay and gets home safe – there’s a lot of road and weather between where we were and where he had to go. He seemed to think that he could just jump on a bus when he felt like it, but reality is that this coast really lacks in such luxuries as public transport. Takes all kinds? In fact, the last few days have been a real challenge to even to get cellular phone service or WiFi in this part of the coast.
Another strange occurrence today happened at the top of a climb where a road crew were working. We had just stopped there for a short rest when one of the crew walked over to us and said that we should keep our eyes out for a naked motorcyclist! What? Apparently, someone had parked their bike at the side of the road, undressed, neatly piled their clothes there and disappeared. Emergency rescue crews were seen a short time later rushing past us so one can only assume that the naked guy had been found. Strange things happen here in California!
After that little break and a shake of the head, we continued on to Fort Ross, but not until climbing a couple of quite high roads. I wish that I could have seen more because the view from over 500 ft should have been breathtaking. I did manage a clear shot on the second downhill – this road was wild to ride down with many curves and two really tight hairpin bends. I waited above the last hairpin and got a shot of Scott below.
Yep, he’s small, but I’m high up taking that photo!
After many ups and downs and those two big ones, we arrived at the small town of Jenner, where there was a very nice restaurant to refuel at. That out of the way we continued to Bodega Bay – which seemed a destination for the San Francisco surfers etc. Arriving there fairly early, we decided to push on to a quieter place and take a few miles off tomorrow’s ride.
Valley Ford is a (very) small farming community with just a general store, restaurant, and hotel that dates back to the mid eighteen hundreds – that’s where we are staying tonight. Kind of Fawlty Tower-ish, but quaint. When we got back from our restaurant dinner, we were checking out the coffee machine in the hallway, when a couple of ladies popped their heads out of their room door and said “We’re having a pyjama party!” Why they divulge that information I have no idea, but me being quick to respond said “Well, this maybe embarrassing ladies, as we don’t have pyjamas.” They had a good giggle over that which gave me and Scott a chance to quickly retreat to our room. Strange day, eh?
Valley Ford is still on Highway 1, but the road sweeps inland from Bodega Bay for some reason – must be something to do with the coastline geology being too difficult to build a road on in that area. Anyway, very shortly after leaving the coast, the temperature got warmer, the fog disappeared and the landscape changed as the photo above shows. From Valley Ford, Highway 1 sweeps back to the coast once more.
Some more pics at… Oct 6th
AdamK and (I hope we can see more tomorrow) Basil
Valley Ford to Corte Madero – Oct 7th…
Strange start to today – no water in the hotel – imagine all those flushes that couldn’t happen. We found that we didn’t have water and Scott soon found out that neither did anyone else in the hotel. The owners live off-site so I gave them a call at 6:30 a.m – happy or not this problem needed attention. They showed up soon after and the problem was resolved – none too soon as they would have been left with extra deposits to clean up!
After that kerfuffle, we set off to find breakfast as there was nothing open in Valley Ford and Tomales was only 12 km away. But what a workout for those 12 km – lots of steep hills and downhills took their toll before some breakfast was had. We arrived in Tomales, thankfully the restaurant was open there and we ate heartily.
We had left in a very light fog from Valley Ford and now there was nothing – it was a good feeling not to ride with that cold fog as a companion. But the road shoulders were still fickle as I’m surprised that for the Pacific Coast Bike Route the shoulders are not consistent. A constant vigil on traffic is necessary to ride this Highway 1 safely; the emergency vehicles that we see nearly every day remind us of that constantly.
After our breakfast we rode on to enjoy some wonderful scenery along Tomales Bay which is separated from the Ocean by a peninsula – hence the lack of fog as the peninsula was keeping the fog from coming inland.
It was a nice peaceful ride with minimal traffic along the Bay and the lack of fog was a real treat after two days of foggy outlooks.
We rode on through a couple of small settlements that didn’t have anything to offer until Point Reyes Station – a pleasant larger town with many facilities that we took advantage of and had a rest break. Continuing on we rode for another 2 km to Olema where we left Highway 1 to turn onto Sir Francis Drake Boulevard (SFDB). Finally off that road with the rolling hills, we were met with a stiff uphill and hot temperatures (it got up to 30 degrees today), but it went quite well and the road smoothed out somewhat after that. We even picked up a paved bike path a little further on which ran through Samuel Taylor State Park and rejoined SFDB.
What a pleasure to ride for about four miles with no traffic to worry about after the many miles on Highway 1 and 101. As soon as we rejoined SFDB, we were met with traffic that increased steadily through the towns of Lagunitas, Woodacre and others until we reached Fairfax where we were definitely in the suburbia of San Francisco. All of sudden it was like riding in downtown Vancouver and traffic all around us.
After Fairfax we wound our way through many streets and communities to arrive at Corte Madero – 80 km later. Not much here – shopping and a couple of expensive and crappy motels. But beggars can’t be choosers and sharing the cost with Scott makes the bite less deep. And we are only 16 km from the Golden Gate Bridge which will make for an easy run into San Francisco tomorrow morning.
Wow – that bridge has been a goal of mine for a few years now and finally tomorrow I get to cross that off my “Bucket List!” Beyond that there is still a lot of road on the coast before I can venture inland to Indio.
Lots of miles ridden, but lots to go and the body is feeling it, but one day at a time. A rest in San Francisco and a chance for plans for the rest of the trip will help and perhaps Bob will reattach and I’ll have a riding partner? Scott breaks off tomorrow as he will be going home to Vancouver on the train the day after.
Yes, I’m feeling it but Basil never seems to age though – how does he do that? 😉
More pics at… Oct 7th
AdamK and (San Francisco! I’d better get some flowers for my hair!) Basil
Corte Madero to San Francisco – Oct 8th…
We left our motel in search of breakfast a little later than usual due to the shorter ride required today. A bike path not far from our motel was a bonus , but it required the usual heart pumping ride up a couple of short extra steep hills to reach the start of the path. Scott missed the turn after a couple of inclines and I had to ride another hill just to stop him going any further – lots of fun and no breaky yet!
Well we got on the path and after that it was a pretty straightforward route to the Golden Gate Bridge – we did have to ask some cyclist commuters (of which there were many) a couple of times if we were on the right track or not. Not too long after starting we found a Whole Foods store that had a good breakfast buffet, so that was the fueling station for the morning.
For the most part we were on dedicated bike paths, but often we would have to ride on the bike lanes on streets to reach the bridge. However there was always somewhere to ride without a problem from traffic and it was nice to see an extensive bike route system that was well signed and was easy to negotiate.
We rode for about 14 km before we turned a corner and saw the fog low over the ocean – right where would should have seen our first view of the bridge – and there is was, almost covered in fog. Disappointed? Yes, but still thrilling to be there.
So we rode on and realised soon that we were almost under the bridge at sea level and the bridge was high above us – how the heck do we get up there? Elevator? Not likely! Soon we find the answer by following the bike route signs – a steep road with multiple switchbacks leading to the bridge deck. This road had barriers to prevent motorised traffic, so at least that meant no cars to deal with on the way up. It appears that the road may have been closed as an anti-terrorist measure to prevent any access to the underside of the bridge. So up and up and around and around – I had my GPS on and we eventually got up to almost 300 ft on this road!
Once at the top of the road and at bridge height, we discovered that only the east pathway for cyclists and pedestrians was open on a morning. To get to the other side we had to negotiate some steep stairs down to a walkway under the bridge deck. Then another steep staircase to get to the east pathway. Had it not been for Scott, I would have had to unload my bike and make multiple trips for my luggage, with two of us to wrestle the bike down and up we managed somewhat ok.
Finally we there and ready to begin the ride across – yes it would have been better with no fog, but we have no control over that and it was still very exciting to be finally making the crossing. We did get some clearing while crossing and took some photos when we could – they are at the usual location that the link at the end of this post points to.
There is a visitor centre at the south end of the bridge, so we took advantage of that and then had a coffee and said our goodbyes – well not really goodbye as we will meet once more for lunch tomorrow before Scott heads to the train station. I will be going sightseeing in the downtown core tomorrow so we’ll meet up there for a much deserved toast to the ride. Bob is only a day behind me and I expect to meet with him tomorrow evening and see what plans he has for continuing south on the coast.
My motel is quite a way from downtown (actually next to the SF Zoo), but the trolley and buses stop here so I shouldn’t have any problem getting around tomorrow. To get here from the Golden Gate bridge allowed me to ride through Golden Gate Park and then many residential streets – some hilly, some not so much, but you can guarantee that you’ll find a hill anywhere here. I couldn’t check in until 2:00 p.m. so I rode around, explored some more, had some lunch – generally just taking it all in – wow!
More pics at… Oct 8th
No report tomorrow, but I may post some photos from my day of sightseeing at the same link.
AdamK and (Ooh, a streetcar ride tomorrow – can’t wait!) Basil