Lower 48 States bike ride
Daily Log Notes:
Thursday, August 6
Lynden to Arlington
125km / 4701km; 6.3h / 254h; 650m / 47900m
Scenic, idyllic farmland the first 30km. Ripe blackberries are my 2nd breakfast! Email at coffee shop in morning. Following Hwy 9 down South. Several lakes along the way. Fresh baked breadroll, apricot muffin and coffee at 11am. Stop for late lunch near Acme at Blue Mountain Grill.
Also stop at Overlook Golf course at Big Lake, where Ray and Josh spontaneously donate $10 each to my cause! Phone call with Jill. Then scenic ride past a few lakes on to Arlington, where I’m stating for
Friday, August 7
Arlington to Bellevue (Seattle)
70km / 4772km; 4h / 259h; 770m / 48650m
Got up early with my first Starbucks coffee in months at 6:30am. Started riding at 7:15am in cool (13C), cloudy, light drizzle conditions. Warmed up on the 80m hill in the first km – there were more hills today than expected, especially towards the end in Bellevue.
Stop after 20km for 2nd, more substantial breakfast and email. Then continued the ride at 9 without any significant stops for the remaining distance. More and more traffic. One particularly bad area in Snohomish where there was construction (lane widening) and a 150m hill!
Using iPhone GPS for directions as I get closer to Bellevue. Nice stretch along the Samamish river trail. Finally busy city roads and steep hills towards the Bellevue area where my friend Karl lives with his family. Arrival there at 12:45p – this marks the end of the first long leg of my journey. I won’t be riding this bike now for 2 weeks.
Monday, August 24
Bellevue to Potlatch State Park
84km / 4856km; 4.2h / 263; 750m / 49400m
First short ride to Gregg’s Bike Shop in downtown Bellevue for tire / tube replacement and cable tightening. Haircut and lunch in the meantime. Then ride across Lake Washington bridge next to I90 towards downtown Seattle; mostly separate bike trail, except for a few stretches on busy roads. Downtown reminds me of the recent vacation there with Jill.
Arrival at Pier 52 and WA State Ferry to Bremerton. Beautiful views during 1hr crossing.
In Bremerton first 10-20km are not fun: Busy freeway, lots of traffic, hot and 150m climb make for unpleasant combination until Belfair. There I get some cash from an ATM, buy groceries and call Jill while sipping on a Starbucks latte. Things are looking better again
The remaining section on Hwy 106 along the shores of the Hood Canal is very nice. Low sun between 6:30-8:00p is reflected in the water; beautiful homes lime the shores…
Arrive at Potlatch State Park just after sunset at 8:10p and set up tent. Hot shower and sandwich, followed by email and some Kindle reading. Turn in at 10pm.
Tuesday, August 25
Potlatch State Park to Westport
142km / 4999km; 6.8h / 270h; 750m / 50150m
Some rain overnight, but clearing up in the morning with sunshine forecast for the afternoon. I read some more in the tent and get ready to move by about 10am. I am not in a hurry, but there is some headwind and the ride along Hwy 8 and 12 is not pleasant (too much traffic, but thankfully broad shoulder). I make it to Shelton barely 18km when I pull over for brunch at 11:30. I’m thinking at this pace I won’t make it very far … but I also need some substantial food, which I certainly am getting here. At 1pm I continue and now I go for the next 50 km without taking a break: Via McCleary and Elma I ride to Montesano. There I have my signature desert: Blackberry pie a la mode with coffee! Some email and then I continue along Hwy 12 to Aberdeen. This is now a 4 lane divided freeway, but it’s not too bad. Just a week ago I was driving here in the opposite direction with Jill getting from Olympic NP to Mt. Rainier NP! The road passes by the abandoned nuclear power plant of Satsop – built during the 70s until about 75% complete, then stopped due to a billion dollar budget overrun and finally abandoned – an interesting example of huge waste of taxpayer money!
After Aberdeen I ride South on the Pacific Coastal Highway 101, which will be the main road I’ll follow for the next couple of weeks! It’s another 30km or so until the Twin Harbor State Park near Westport where I camp for the night. Walk to the beach, but clouds prevent a Kodak moment sunset… I ride to Westport for some Seafood Fettucine, and on the way back it’s pretty dark so I need to be careful riding (only have a red blinker for the back of the bike). Crawl into the tent around 10:30pm.
Wednesday, August 26
Westport to Astoria
140km / 5130km; 6.5h / 276h; 750m / 50900m;
Relatively early start at 8:45am going South along Pacific Coast. At times nice views of the bays which now at low tide turn into large mud flats. Many birds here, including Canada geese, Pelican, fish eagle, etc. This may be the flattest stage since the Alaska border – reminds me of the two flat stages from Fairbanks to Tok. My first goal is Raymond at about 50km. Before I get there I see plenty of blackberry bushes, so I stop and eat a good 200 of the most juicy and sweet BBs ever – yummy! Then at 11:30 I reach the Corner Café which advertises “Free Wi-Fi” – just what I need as I plan to attend a FirstGiving webinar intended to offer help with the fundraising process. I also meet John who is riding his R1100S BMW motorcycle from British Columbia down the Pacific Coast towards San Francisco. We have a good conversation over lunch before we both get going again.
After lunch I continue my ride on Hwy 101 along the coast. I pass two riders – Ryan and Leoni – several times as I need to stop and place a couple of phone calls related to my hostel and the express package (with SPOT) from Jill. They plan to ride down to San Francisco and then fly to Australia and ride the East Coast there – quite a trip!
After a total of about 120km I cross a small hill – at 82m the highest point of my day – and ride down towards the mighty Columbia River, which is just huge here near its delta into the Pacific. The Astoria Megler bridge is about 6.5km long, and near the Oregon side it rises up towards about 80m above the water. There is only 1 lane in each direction and the shoulders are very narrow, so it’s a bit nerve-wrecking riding there, especially the climb up to the highest point which takes me quite a while. However, stunning views to the East – with Mt. St. Helens far upstream – and with the near setting sun and Ocean-going vessels in the West.
Nice short ride into Astoria town with stop at the piers and some additional photos. Arriving at Norblad hostel at 7:30pm.
Thursday, August 27
Astoria to Netarts
133km / 5272km; 7.2h / 283h; 1200m / 52100m
I get up early to find a place for breakfast, which proves easy as
there are lots of little restaurants in Astoria. After a Hawaiian Omelet with gravy and hash browns I am ready for the day!
After another long bridge the road follows the Western Coast and is mostly flat. Unlike in Astoria here is still fog. I stop at Seaside and again in Cannon Beach; I take my time, hoping that the sun will burn off the fog.
When I reach the crest of a medium-sized hill at Oswald State Park I follow a little path, which according to the description in my guidebook leads to “unsurpassed views”. It can’t be the right path then, as this one leads in a half-circle back to the road, all in the forest, so no view This cost me about 45min, which is both a good and bad thing today: The good part is that this delay brings me to a lookout point above Nehalem Bay just when the fog is finally clearing.
Fantastic views make me stay for 15 min. A motorist mentions it has been foggy for the past 150 miles… The bad part is that I’m running out of daylight by 8pm on the scenic Three Capes Drive. After a coffee break in Nehalem at 5pm I’m getting into the zone and ride nonstop to Tillamook and then around Cape Meiras, the first of the three capes. The clear sky and low sun are very idyllic; unfortunately I’m a bit late so my sunset is hurried and after the last long climb which caused me to sweat profusely it’s getting cold on the windy descent. I find a place for my tent at an RV park and dinner at the nearby Schooner restaurant. Afterwards I crawl into my sleeping bag to warm up and fall asleep around 10:30pm.
Friday, August 28
Netarts to Newport (State Park)
102km / 5374km; 5.7h / 289h; 700m / 52800m
I get up and search for a bakery or restaurant for breakfast. I find a grocery store and have some pastries & coffee. Back on the road by about 9am. Shortly thereafter the rain starts. I climb the first big hill (275m), pause briefly at a hang-glider launch spot and take a short hike at the top towards the Cape – nice view, but windy & rainy!
After cold descent to Sand Lake I stop at the only place in town to warm up a bit. Eat 2 Hot Dogs, 3 bear claws & coffee. Then continue my wet ride for the next 2-3 hours and stop in Neskowim (50km). I have some Greek salad there, which tastes good but doesn’t sit well in my stomach during next long climb (250m).
Now the rain stops and at 70km the sun finally comes out I stop again for some email & phone communication, this time at a Cold Stone icecream shop. After phone call with Jill I have to do another 30km in 1.5h. Some rolling hills, nice scenery with the occasional glimpse of the Ocean and the evening sun.
Arrive at Beverly Beach SP at 8:10p and am surprised by how big and busy this place is! A bit damp and gloomy, but good hot showers. Meet Jenni from Portland who rides the Coast down to L.A. Crawl into tent at 10p and fall asleep despite the loud teenager group nearby…
Saturday, August 29
Newport to Florence (State Park)
100km / 5475km; 5.2h / 294h;
Leaving SP around 8:30 heading for town (Newport) a few I’m down the road. Stopping there for big breakfast. Hoping for fog to clear. Slowly continuing to Seal Rock; here I visit a chainsaw carving store and chat with the artist / owner about art, business and building a brand.
Continue on to Yachats, where I have some delicious Blueberry pancakes and chat with Jim, who recounts his 1979 bike trip – memories that last 3 decades…
Cape Perpetua is next and I stop at the visitor center; however there are still clouds so hiking up to the viewpoint wouldn’t make much sense. Discussion with a man asking “What did you learn on your trip so far?” quickly turns into a semi-religious Atheist vs. Creator dialog, which I need to end so as to not run out of daylight later.
Some hills and a short tunnel ahead near Heceta Head lighthouse. At times nice views from the road. Once a colony of sea lions can be heard and then seen 100m below on the rocky beach.
Sweeping views over sand dunes and beach just North of Florence, so I stop to dry out my tent and sleeping bag while making phone calls to Jill and Philip.
Nice downhill and tailwind sections here. In Florence short stop for groceries and then last 10km with tailwind via Glenada to Jessie Honeyman SP. Setup tent in hiker/biker area and dinner with many other bikers and Jenni.
Sunday, August 30
Florence (SP) to Bandon (SP)
117km / 5592km; 6.2h / 301h;
After breakfast walk to the nearby dunes. Sun is coming out and burning off the fog. Start riding at 10am. Significant hill (through construction zone with no shoulder) on the way to Gardiner &
Reedsport. There I buy a Subway sandwich, half for lunch and dinner each. Short detour to Umpqua lighthouse, but again with fairly steep hills. Meet Jenni and chat / decide to ride together for the afternoon.
Arrive in North Bend after crossing tall bridge with narrow sidewalk and strong gusty winds. Then some grocery shopping and coffee with banana bread. Continuing the ride via scenic ridge route and lots of hills. Unfortunately the ridge and the rest of the day is covered in cloud / fog, so no more sun and much cooler…
Eventually arrive at Bullards SP near Bandon by 7pm. Phone call with Jill, hot shower, setup tent, open fire and some simple bread and veggies for dinner. Sleep by 10:45pm.
Monday, August 31
Bandon (SP) to Gold Beach
100km / 5693km; 5.2h / 306h; 1030m
Cool and wet tent in the morning. Short ride from Bullards SP to town (Bandon) for breakfast. Doing email while having a ham & cheese omelet. No hurry as I’m hoping for conditions to improve like last couple of days. Indeed, the N wind sets in and so the next long section to Port Orford (50km) is much accelerated. At 40km the sun comes out and now with sun and tailwind the riding is just very enjoyable. Soon I reach Port Orford and stop for a small lunch while letting the sun dry out my tent and sleeping bag. Also some blackberries there for desert when packing up again
Unfortunately my good luck with the weather ends here as the wind shifts to SW and after just a few miles the clouds roll back in. So now it’s riding into a cold headwind under low clouds! Despite hard work I feel like I’m just crawling; the average speed plummets. It takes me 2h40m for just 45km. I realize at 5pm in Gold Beach that my last section on to Brookings at the CA border (another 50km) is too far for today with hardly any CG in between. Hence I decide to stay here for the night. I eat a chef salad at a local Pizzeria and call Jill and Philip. I also replace my front tube due to the old one slowly leaking air (probably a defect valve). Then I buy some groceries and roll around town to find a CG. I settle on Indian River RV which also has a nice lobby and free wireless Internet. After some Blog post and bread & cheese I retire to my tent at 10:30pm. Falling asleep to the sounds of the nearby Indian River…
Tuesday, September 1
Gold Beach to Elk Prairie SP
150km / 5843km; 8h / 314h; 1880m
Big breakfast at cafe next to lodge. Also email and further trip planning into Central America. Start riding at 9:15am. First section to Smith River over one big (220m) and another small hill (100m).
There (50km) I have rice & seafood at a Mexican place. From here continue to the CA border and on via small side roads to Crescent City. I stop for an afternoon mocha at Starbucks (95km, 4pm). Jill checks in via email from 35,000ft on her flight to Arizona.
Next is the big 370m Crescent hill. Now the sun has burned off the clouds and it gets nice and warm – after all we’re in CA now! It’s a long climb, but through great old-growth forest with some giant redwood trees. Ted catches up with me and later also Nick and Morgan.
They are on a 10 day trip going South through OR and CA. Some photos and short considerations where to spend the night. A dangerously close encounter with a speeding truck in a tight right turn on the way up scares me and gives me an adrenaline kick! I continue with the long 6km downhill and a very scenic section on the beach. There is the Paul Bunyan statue and the Trees of Mystery tourist attraction. The bike route now follows a scenic side road through the Prairie Creek
Redwoods SP. Another 300m climb late in the day with tree-tops still in the sun. On the long descent through the redwood forest it’s getting dark. I arrive at the Elk Prairie CG at the bottom of the hill at 8:15pm with barely enough daylight to set up my tent. Nice hot shower warms me up again after sweaty bike cloth made me feel very cold in the evening. Some fruit and nuts for simple dinner and into sleeping bag at 10pm.
Wednesday, September 2
117km / 5967km; 5.8h / 320h; 900m
Elk Prairie SP to Fortuna
Get up at 8am. Quick ride up to 1500yr old “Big Tree” for walk amongst redwood giants and photos. Back at camp I pack the now dry tent as sun came out burning off light fog.
Short ride at 9:30 still in street cloths to Orick (10km) for breakfast. Continue at 11am; short stop at Redwood NP Visitor Center. Route leads past two scenic lagoons with moderate hills between them. Hwy 101 widens from 2-lane winding forest road to 4-lane freeway. Next stop is Trinidad (40km) with beautiful Memorial Lighthouse overlooking Trinidad Bay. View reminds me of Greek Islands in the Mediterranean. Blackberry cobbler & coffee as afternoon snack. Back on the freeway for next 40km to Eureka (80km). Route leads around long bay and along Eucalyptus tree alley. Heavy traffic into Eureka. There I find directions to local bike shop using Google Maps and GPS on the iPhone. I replenish my spare tube and replace the cleats of my bike sandals. I buy some groceries for tomorrow morning and continue riding on freeway.
At Fortuna I stop and roll into town looking for dinner and a CG. I eat at KFC to satisfy my craving for chicken meat. Luckily there is a CG less than 1 mile away; I hurry over there at 8pm as it’s getting dark earlier now. When I pull up there are Emily and Danielle who also stayed at Elk Prairie SP. Luckily the office is still open (closes at 8pm) so we get a hiker/biker site and split the cost 3 ways. Some bread and snacks. Phone call with Jill. Then 1/2h into hot tub, which warms me up and is very soothing. Typing these notes (twice actually as iPhone inexplicably reboots without saving my draft – extremely annoying!) and going to sleep at 11:20pm.
Thursday, September 3
Fortuna to Leggett (SP)
122km / 6090km; 6.5h / 327h; 1390m
Get up around 7:30 for cereal and milk breakfast. The sun is out and helping to dry up various clothing items. Leaving the CG around 9:30, getting right back on the 101 freeway. It’s 20km to the Redwoods – and an unpleasant hot ride with road construction and re-surfacing.
Start of the “Avenue of the Giants”. There are fantastic redwood groves here with many tall trees right next to the road. The entire distance is 53km, so this will take several hours. First stop for coffee at the “Immortal Tree”, so named due to having withstood a lot of adversity over its 1000yr lifespan.
Then catching up to an elderly rider; turns out Jim is riding with his son Andrew on roadbikes (no weight) while his wife Malihe (Iranian) drives the car! So they stop every now and then and enjoy a perfect support system. (They do the Pacific Coast over several years, a few weeks at a time.) Next stop in Myers Flat for sandwich and coke.
Road is nice and shady, but also quite a lot of hills. Once through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and back out on 101 it gets very hot. Stop at Garberville (85km) for drink, yoghurts and bananas. I sit in the shade to cool off. After 1/2h Jim rides by and I decide to join him again. It’s another 35km to the SP; however there are lots of hills and so this takes quite a while. Jim and Andrew ride along and Malihe offers support at several stops along the way. Very scenic evening light and crossing tall bridge near “Confusion Hill”.
Reach the Standish Hickey SP just before Leggett at 7pm. Set up tent; then I have a burger from the Peg Grill just across the street, followed by a hot shower and some story telling with four other riders here on the CG. Sleep at 9:30 to intensely loud cicada insects.
Friday, September 4
Leggett SP to Manchester SP
139km / 6229km; 8.h / 335h; 1630m
This was a very long day. I leave early to tackle the big hills right after Leggett. First I stop at the mini grocery store in Leggett. It’s still pretty cool outside, but that’s good for climbing a long hill. Plus the sun is out early and warms up nicely. The hill climbs up to 2000ft (610m), but Leggett was already some 800ft up. Unfortunately there is no good viewpoint on the top, so only occasional views of the surrounding landscape through the forest. A long descent follows, which brings back a chill in the cool air. Also, I have to ride carefully, as some turns are tight – it feels like on a motorcycle. After reaching near sea-level there is a second hill of 700ft, which adds up to a sizable total for the morning. After the second hill the road reaches the Ocean again; there is still some fog from the Ocean, but it begins to clear and be sunny also on the shoreline. Continue on to Westport, where there is only a mini grocery store. There is Rory, one of the four bikers at the SP last night who is also riding down to San Francisco. Somewhat hungry we both keep going South. The next big place is Fort Bragg (75km). There we both run into one another again at a Pizzeria / Pub which serves up a lot of beers in addition to a fresh Pizza Calzone. The clouds start rolling back in, and with it there is a chill in the air again.
I stop again after just a mile or so at a Safeway to buy some groceries and to talk to Jill on the iPhone. I end up eating half of the groceries right there in the store with a little coffee. After almost 3 hours in Fort Bragg I continue in much better mood and well-fed. The next section along the coast is very scenic. After Mendocino the sun comes out again and it is just very beautiful. I continue riding South past a little place called Albion and finally reach the little village called Elk. There are two busy restaurants and I stop for dinner. The sun will set in about half an hour and I still have 14 miles to go to the next State Park or campground! What to do? I decide to have a good double dinner (Quesadillas and Pizza) – and then ride after the traffic has died down after 9pm in the moonlight! This plan works out nicely as the clouds recede out over the Ocean and the full moon creates enough light to guide me along the way. Some of the cliffs look mystical in the moon light! I also have my headlamp and of course the rear blinker on the bike to be seen by cars. I reach the Manchester SP around 10:30pm and quickly set up my tent to crawl into the sleeping bag by 11pm.
Saturday, September 5
Manchester SB to Bodega Dunes SP
113km / 6342km; 6.2h / 341h; 1590m
Again a relatively early start to get to the next town (Point Arena, 12km) for breakfast. They have a seafood festival here in town, but it starts only at noon. So I just have some breakfast at a local diner and do some email. (Actually need to carry the laptop down the street to find a working wireless after typing the emails last night and this morning in my Outbox…)
I split the ride in three pieces today; the first is to Gualala at 35km. There I have some more breakfast at a coffee shop with wireless Internet. More and more tourist traffic here in the little beach towns. Then I continue on South towards Fort Ross. I get into a good rhythm and the miles go by fast. Soon I near the 70km mark around Fort Ross. I stop at a small grocery store and buy some milk so I can eat my cereal which I have been carrying since Fort Bragg. I also chat with John and Ludmilla, his Russian wife. Coincidentally there are some Russian local workers here, as Fort Ross was established in the mid 19th century by Russian fur traders to supply their camps up North in Alaska! Interesting history there…
We also witness police arresting a drunk motorcycle driver, who gets handcuffed and driven away; California apparently has very strict laws against DUI.
After Fort Ross there is another big hill. While the scenery is very nice with up to 500ft steep drops down to the Ocean and some cows roaming the road just like in the Alps, it is taking longer than I expected to cross these hills. As a result, the last third of today’s leg sees me riding all the way to sunset after the town of Jenner near the Russian River. (We are in Sonoma County, and there are wineries named after the Russian River…). I pedal into dusk which makes me uneasy as the fog and dusk makes it harder for cars to see me. Finally I pull into the Bodega Dunes SP. It was a long day after all. The hiker/biker site here is sandy and sloped, so not ideal, but I’m tired enough not to care. Also the hot shower isn’t really hot, just luke-warm, barely enough to warm me up after I had gotten really cold from the chilly foggy air and sweating over the Fort Ross hills.
Sunday, September 6
Bodega Dunes SP to Samuel Taylor SP
71km / 6414km; 4h / 345h; 1000m
Even though 70km doesn’t sound like much today was quite a strenuous day due to many short steep hills. First I ride in street cloths to Bodega Bay. I have laundry to do as well as inspect the bike due to the rear wheel spoke break last evening. Also I meet with the two German couples (Bernd + Heike, Willi + Chris) for breakfast at “Tides”. Here we can observe lots of seals as well as Pelicans hunting for fish right outside the window! Then I ride back to the Laundromat for the drier and call Jill. I clean the bike but decide not to mess with the back wheel (wait until I get to bike shop instead). Buy some groceries and get going after 12:00p.
Road has a lot of up & down. Right after the first long uphill I clock 76km/h on the tailwind-assisted downwind. The road leads to Tomales where there is some street festival going on and a lot of traffic. I don’t get into any rhythm and today seems very tough. Only once at the little town of Marshall there is a flat stretch of 4km with tailwind – ah, what a relief that is!
Next is the little town of Point Reyes (55km). There long stop in afternoon with food (1/2 chicken, yoghurt, banana milk) and wireless Internet from a sunny park bench. Finally last 15km of the day with one more 100m hill and a very nice 5km bike path along a little creek to SP. There red wine with the Germans at campfire and sharing a site next to overflowing hiker/biker site. Sleep at 11:30pm.
Monday, September 7 (Labor Day)
Samuel Taylor SP to San Francisco
73km / 6487km; 4.5h / 350h; 850m
The day starts off with cool temps in the shade of the Redwoods. I enjoy the sun of the open fields after a few km. I stop for breakfast at a little roadside cafe; unfortunately I witness the death of a cat which becomes road-kill. My waitress is so distraught that she needs a break – but my blueberry pancakes are still good. Phone call with Jill. I also see the German couples pass… so much for my head-start in the morning!
The road reached the city area and there is a set of bike paths (however not always easy to find). At 40km I reach Sausalito, often by following other bikers or asking pedestrians. I navigate city traffic of an arts festival and then stop for an icecream at the Sausalito bay. Memories of 22 years ago when I was here just out of college…
Then a few steep hills and I reach the beginning of the Golden Gate Bridge. I ride up to the scenic overlook some 250m above the water. On a day like today this is definitely worth it! The view from the top is stunning – just like I imagined it to be. (Yesterday it was all covered in fog so we are lucky today.) Filming the descent with Mino on helmet-mount. Short encounter with both German couples again. Then crossing of bridge with lots of bike traffic and taking more photos. Weaving along the bay towards Fort Mason where I ask for available space in the Youth Hostel; there is exactly 1 bunk bed available. After check-in I ride along Embarcadero to REI store to inquire about fixing the bike. We set up an appointment for the next day as they close at 6pm. I then find another bike shop that closes at 9pm and leave the bike there for repair. More phone calls and email. I walk to a nearby Italian restaurant for dinner. Then Internet work from a hotel lobby and finally back to bike shop. Unfortunately they didn’t fix the wheel as they were not comfortable taking off the rotor of the disc brake. So I’ll try REI tomorrow. I ride back to the hostel and meet another biker who guides me the rest of the way – turns out Dan is working at the REI store!
More Internet work at the hostel and sleep around midnight.
Tuesday, September 8
Rest Day in San Francisco
Wednesday, September 9 (9/9/09)
San Francisco to Santa Cruz
142km / 6641km; 7.5h / 358h; 1550m
Relatively late start at 10am after breakfast and grocery shopping. Route first leads back to Golden Gate Bridge, then NW corner of SF along Pacific Coast. Today is a good example of varying micro-climates: Sunny at hostel, cloudy along first 30km, then sunny again. I know the first sections from previous stays in SF, but not further S towards Daly City. I get pulled over by a cop due to my not stopping at Stop signs; the police officer finally let’s me go, but implores me to “make a better effort” at stopping. Yes Sir!
After quick coffee & pastries from nearby SafeWay store continue straight S parallel to shore past Fort Funston. A big 200m hill in Daly City, followed by steep downhill on Sharp Park Road. Next is Rockharbor and a few other popular surf spots with good facilities.
After another big hill and then the Devils Slide I reach Montara and later Half Moon Bay (60km) around 3pm.
Here a wire got stuck in my trailer tire and causes a flat. I get some food and have a snack first, then quickly fix the flat while sitting in the sunny parking lot. It’s almost 4pm. How much further should I go? There is a long stretch (50km) with no food / restaurants ahead; next camping is almost 90km out! I decide to try going for Santa Cruz, still 80km to go. I get into the zone and make good progress, despite a third really big hill after Half Moon Bay. Beautiful cliffs and dry grass above them. Eucalyptus trees are more dominating now, almost no more Redwoods. Very picturesque is the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, which also has a hostel. After 2h45min of nonstop riding I reach Davenport with its big Lumber factory. Call to Lou to arrange meeting tonight in SC.
Then my gear shifter cable snaps. I can no longer shift gears! Manually I try to set the right gear for flat ground; downhill -> coasting, uphill -> momentum or getting off and pushing! Local rider Kelly stops and helps, then continues with me to SC where she shows me the way to downtown.
Meet with Liu who drove down here from Palo Alto. We had met at the Toad River Lodge in the Yukon and since then stayed in touch via Twitter. Nice evening with philosophic discussions over Pizza and icecream.
Then I find an inexpensive hotel room via Kayak.com, phone, GPS and Google Maps less than 2km nearby. Get to hotel room by 11:30pm.
Thursday, September 10
Santa Cruz to Monterey
82km / 6725km; 4.5h / 363h;
I enjoy the luxury of my own room and wireless Internet for some email over breakfast. At 10am I am at the nearby bike shop to drop off my recumbent for the cable repair. It takes until 1pm, it also includes brake pad replacement on the rear brake. By the time I’m loaded up back at the hotel and ready to go it’s 2pm.
Leaving the city of Santa Cruz is surprisingly difficult when you can’t just jump on the freeway. There are lots of side streets, over passes, and traffic lights. It’s slow going and the hills cause a lot of effort. Eventually I reach the surrounding farm lands where artichoke and strawberry fields line the street.
Unfortunately the fog is rolling in again which makes the next 2h somewhat gloomy. Only at Seaside just before Monterey does the fog clear and there is a half hour of sunshine left. I head for Fishermen’s Wharf and the Aquarium. Of course it’s far too late for a visit… and I’m hungry. I look up a nearby Indian restaurant and head there for dinner. Phone call with Jill over dinner. Then 2km uphill to Vet Memorial Park, a dark and quiet place in the middle of the city of Monterey.
Reading Dalai Lama while iPhone is charging. Met Sheldon (daddydaddydaddy.com) who video-interviews me about my project in the restroom! Then daily log and sleep by 11:30pm.
Friday, September 11
Monterey to Kirk Creek
98km / 6823km; 5.5h / 369; 1500m
Leaving early at 7:45am by climbing the 200m hill on Skyline Drive. Descent to Carmel and stop at mall with Safeway. Minor bike adjustments and morning coffee; phone call from my parents. Then 50km ride to Big Sur. Very scenic stretch of the Coast, big cliffs and bridges across river chasms. Lots of hills, but great views as rewards. I ride a bit past one restaurant which ends up being pretty much all of Big Sur – somehow I thought Big Sur was like a little town… I stop at the next place (60km) for coffee and muffin. Solving physics problem for my daughter Sarvenaz on napkin and sending her a photo of the solution I continue ride to Lucia (90km), the last place prior to Kirk Creek Camp site. Here I chat with Andreas and Patrick, two Swiss guys on rented Harleys on their way to Denver, CO. I decide to have dinner here since there are no more facilities later today. Beautiful setting overlooking Ocean 100m below, late afternoon sun, nice atmosphere, good food – pretty much the ideal dinner location and experience.
Lastly short climb and then descent plus a few km level road to CG. Set up my tent in fading daylight and chat with other riders at hiker/biker site.
Falling asleep at 9:30pm to intense pounding of surf just below.
Saturday, September 12
Kirk Creek to Morro Bay
109km / 6940km; 5.5h / 374h; 1200m
It’s foggy in the morning when I leave the CG at 9am. First stretch is to Gorda (14km). There I have blueberry pancakes for breakfast. There are all these Audi vehicles on the road; there must be some Audi-sponsored event going on. It turns out it’s a bike ride for 1000 people for BestBuddies.org
As a result there are lots of riders on the road going over the double-hill before hitting flat terrain for the remaining distance to Hearst Castle / San Simeon (55km). I ride with some other riders into the official finish and they greet me with applause and give me a medal. I also can enjoy their buffet food and drinks / Gatorade.
After lots of eating, drinking and some phone calls I get to present my project via the loudspeakers to several hundred riders and volunteers in the finish area – very nice commercial 😉
Finally I continue at 3:30pm towards Morro Bay. The next part is super nice, with flat, smooth surface, good shoulder and tailwind so the miles fly by. Dry farmland with cattle and some zebras grazing. I see Nick and Morgan again, whom I had met in Oregon already. Soon I reach Morro Bay (105km). Short ride through town to SP under some tall Eucalyptus trees. I set up my tent, take a warm shower, and then ride back to town for groceries and Italian dinner. Ride back to tent in drizzle. Sleep at 11pm.
Sunday, September 13
Morro Bay SP to Lompoc
128km / 7081km; 6.5h / 382h; 900m
Relatively early start at 8:45 after full breakfast at campground. Getting on Los Osos Valley Road and riding away from the Ocean towards inland farms and pastures. In San Luis Obispo (25km) I have some coffee to post a Blog and recharge my iPhone. Continue at 11:00am. Unfortunately I take a left turn where I should have taken a right due to a double-direction arrow for bikers (with the right arrow bent and not visible!). This costs me about 8km and nearly 1/2h of extra riding. Frustrating, but stuff like this happens…
Pismo Beach (45km) is very nice with groomed gardens and playgrounds. Then the road goes inland and passes farms and open grassland. In Guadalupe (75km) there is a strong Mexican population and they have a street festival celebrating Mexico’s independence. Next stop is Orcutt (95km), where I detour from the Hwy into town to buy some cool drink and refill my water bottles.
Now there is Harris Grade Road which goes over nearly 1000ft (300m) pass; quite scenic, reminds me of some passes in the Alps.
After the downhill I reach Lompoc (125km) and decide to stay here for a good campground and steak dinner – after all I crossed the 7000km mark today!
Monday, September 14
Lompoc to Ventura
144km / 7225km; 7h / 389h; 800m
I leave early as this is going to be a pretty long day. So do Anna & Heidi who I had seen at the Kirk Creek CG and Morro Bay CG the last 2 nights. (They take the inland Route via the Santa Ynes Valley to Santa Barbara.)
First order of the day is to cross a 300m hill South of Lompoc to get back over to the Coast near Gaviota. 7% grade down provides speeds up to 72km/h. Then a long stretch of riding on the 101 Freeway. (Noisy but fast, good shoulder and safe, except for one narrow bridge.) Beautiful coastal scenery, with palm-lined campgrounds, oil platforms off-shore and dolphins visible near shore hunting fish together with pelicans.
I hear more spokes break on my rear wheel so I decide to stop in Goleta just prior to Santa Barbara at a bike shop. Noah from “Bicycle Bob’s” replaces no less than 6 spokes in my rear wheel while I fix the worn out plastic rings in the central frame joint. This takes up my lunch break time without lunch, though, which means I’ll be very hungry tonight…
In the afternoon I ride through Santa Barbara. Stop at Stearns Wharf for quick snack and photos. Beautiful city and beaches. I decide to go further to Ventura. Sun is getting low and painting nice light on coastline. Last couple of miles meeting Rosa who is on a training ride ANC guides me into town and points out a nice Italian restaurant. Phone call with Jill. Then double-dinner (pasta+pizza). Finally rolling to McGrath SB late in the evening (10:30pm) for camping.
Tuesday, September 15
Ventura to Malibu (Leo Carillo SB)
53km / 7278km; 2.75h / 391h; 49m
After letting the morning sun dry out my tent fly I start the day by going back a mile or so to the Venture Harbor & Marina by 8:30am. I give serious thought to taking a day off and exploring the Channel Island NP by boat tour. Spending time at the Visitor Center with great views of the marina from their observation tower.
Then rolling to a nice breakfast place on the marina with wireless Internet. After extensive double-breakfast (omelette+pancakes) and emailing I start riding South at 11:30am. It’s almost noon by the time I pass the campground again. However, today will be an easy day due to positioning for the crossing of the Los Angeles urban area the following day.
In Oxnard / Port Hueneme I stop at a grocery store for some food. I notice another touring bike outside and park my bike next to it. After shopping I meet its owner, Martine, from Holland. As she also rides South we decide to ride together for the day.
Route passes a naval airbase – rest stop at a missile park with propped up fighters – and along the Freeway PCH where there is only one road due to the steep mountain shores. Beautiful afternoon sun along the Coast, past Sycamore Canyon CG on to Leo Carillo State Beach. There is one more RV park in Malibu some 10 miles further, but given that it’s a private CG they have no hiker/biker rates, but a ten-times more expensive rate of $47/night! So both Martine and I decide to stay at Leo Carillo SB after a short half-day of riding. There is time for a swim in the Pacific with some bodysurfing in the 8ft waves, followed by a hot shower and self-cooked pasta dinner. Early to bed under Eucalyptus trees and a starry night.
Wednesday, September 16
Malibu to Long Beach
117km / 7396km; 6h / 398h; 500m
Today will be a long day. It roughly consists of three parts: First some 40 hilly km along Malibu (city sign says “Malibu – 27 miles of scenic beauty”). Then some 40 flat km of mostly bike path right on the beach past L.A. airport to Redondo Beach. Finally crossing L.A. over to Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach / Newport Beach. We (Martine and I) get up early and leave after breakfast at the SP around 7:30am. It’s nice to ride early with less traffic and into the rising sun when it’s still cool. Some lingering fog banks near Malibu, but they quickly disappear as the temperature goes up. More rolling hills here than I expected, but nothing higher than say 50m or so. There are a lot of big mansions here in Malibu, so I take several pictures trying to capture this amalgamation of real estate wealth. Around 40km we reach the Los Angeles City Limit sign which states nearly 4 million people living there. The terrain is nearly flat now. Soon there is a nice bike path directly on the wide beach. Luckily there aren’t many people on the path so we can ride comfortably. We stop for a second pancake breakfast/brunch in the shade as the sun is heating the air up considerably.
Thereafter more riding along bike path – the sand is slippery and requires caution in the turns. Sure enough we come upon a scene of an 11-year old girl having crashed on a bicycle in a turn. She is crying, bleeding from her lips and has some bad road rash on her knee and elbow. Lifeguards are over momentarily; we try to help by locating her family members which supposedly are nearby. As soon as we know the girl is in good hands and receives medical attention we continue. We stop in Hermosa Beach and then Redondo Beach taking in the beach, surf, volleyball scenery. Also looking for a coffee shop or some refreshments. We finally stop at a Starbucks, where I first get into conversations about my bike and trip with two local residents before enjoying a Java Chip Frappucino.
I’m now starting to reach out to my former colleague and friend David who lives in Newport to coordinate my arrival while Martine is making her own plans trying to catch a ferry to the Catalina Islands the following day. After some more city riding along major West-East roads and a Los Angeles river canal bike path we reach Long Beach, where we have a final lemonade / coke and icecream. Ride-Eat-Rest-Repeat!
I stop at a drugstore to buy shampoo and call my wife. Since David didn’t expect me this evening I need to change plans and find a way to stay the night without campgrounds. As it’s getting dark I ride only a few km to the next motel and check in a relatively cheap room for the night. Right across the street is a California Pizza Kitchen restaurant, so another double-dinner and I’m good. Nice to sleep in a comfortable bed again…
Thursday, September 17
Long Beach to Fallbrook
141km / 7537km; 6.6h / 405h; 900m
Again shooting for early start after cereal breakfast in the hotel room. First leg is to Newport Beach for a rendezvous with David over brunch. I ride to the Balboa Island Marina (30km); from here I take a short ferry back to the PCH as there doesn’t appear to be a bridge and I don’t want to ride several km back again. Nice meeting and catching up with David after what probably was 2-3 years of us not having seen each other. Also checking into distances to the next SP and/or the Camp Pendelton area. I continue the ride around 11:30am.
The next sections are Laguna Beach and Dana Point. Here I stop at a scenic lookout where I take a few panorama shots of the marina below. A strong scent of Eucalyptus trees is everywhere now. The ride is fast due to some tailwind, the heat is on, there are several small hills and I sweat profusely. I stop at San Clemente after rolling along a small foot-/bike-path next to the railroad right along the water. More phone calls and planning for the remainder of the day. I had been invited to the house of a family which I had met two months earlier in Fairbanks, Alaska. Their home is in Fallbrook about 50mi North of San Diego. So it is within reach for me today. However, it is 20+mi inland from Oceanside! But first I need to cross the Camp Pendleton marine base area. At one point the bike path ends with only Interstate I5 as a direct continuation. So for 5mi I ride on an 8-lane Interstate Freeway next to deafening noise of 18-wheelers roaring by at 65mph. But at least it’s over quickly due to tailwind and vehicle draft…
In Oceanside I stop at a gas station for some cold Pepsi and check the GPS. There is a very ice bike path on the levee next to a dry riverbed for the first 6-7mi. Then the route follows Hwy 76 which narrows as I get further inland and ends up with barely a small shoulder on it. Unfortunately there are about 800ft to climb up to Fallbrook and it’s getting dark. So I ride pretty much full power for the last 1.5hr with no stopping. Consequently I’m soaked in sweat but also psyched when I finally reach the friend’s place after just having had to put on the lights on helmet and bike as it gets dark a little after 7pm. So glad to finally be here at this nice home away from home!
Friday, September 18
Rest Day in Fallbrook;
Bringing the bike to REI store in San Diego for preventive maintenance and tune-up prior to entering Mexico.
Saturday, September 19