This marked Fairdale’s first team Field Trip. Sandy Carson and I (along with a few friends) rode bikes down the West Coast to San Francisco.
Travel Log [ Expand All ]
Day 0 Over the next couple weeks Fairdale will be on our first official Team Field Trip. Sandy Carson and I (along with a few friends I’ll introduce you to later) are riding bikes down the West Coast to San Francisco. Sandy has already started the journey leaving Seattle a couple days ago.
Because of some work obligations I am catching the guys tomorrow in Portland, Oregon. From there we will follow the coast along for nearly 900 miles down to SF. I’ll be keeping track of the trip here on Fairdale with daily posts and updates. Also, check out @sandycarson and @fairdalebikes on Instagram for photo updates and follow us on Twitter for even more from-the-saddle updates (@fairdalebikes). At this very moment I am typing on the airplane that is flying me to Portland. I’m so excited and can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and start riding. As soon as I got on the plane all the anxiety I’ve been feeling about the trip just vanished. I’ve been so worried I might not be bringing the right riding gear, or that my bike might not be set up right, or that I’m not a strong enough rider to keep up… all that is now gone with the realization that there is no turing back! I’m not committed to the trip and I gotta’ make it to San Francisco somehow if I want to be able to fly home. From here on out it’s all adventure. Plus, having driven this coast route once before I know how fantastically beautiful it is. Escaping the oppressive Austin summer heat for some cool sea breeze days full of fantastic views sounds amazing. Let the ride begin!
If it’s any indication of how my first day of riding went let me apologize for keeping this post short. I am so zonked from riding I’m not sure I can keep my eyes open much longer.
We left Portland around 10 AM and followed a route suggested by Ryan Barrett. It took us along the beautiful Nestucca River.
It did turn out to be a very epic and amazing ride but it was LONG and we had to climb a massive mountain to get out towards the Coast. Once we hit the coast we then had to find a hotel and surprisingly to me there are not hotels or city everywhere on the Oregon coast. All in all we did some 107 miles and a pretty intense pace including our outrageously big climb. There were points on the climb where I just felt like I couldn’t keep up with the guys and my legs were struggling to turn the cranks over. It went on for what seemed like ever.
The cool part of the day was an hours long decent from the top. I didn’t really ever feel comfortable on the long mellow downhill though, I kept expecting to round a corner and be faced with another massive climb. I guess I should have studied the map a little more closely… maybe we could have a few stressful miles of riding down a busy highway!
Saw a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean when we rolled into tonights stop at Pacific City. Tomorrow we’ll check the beach out a bit and enjoy things a bit more. From here we’ll be doing shorter jumps along the coast. Riding was particularly good today. The majority of the ride was on a route with almost no cars. Unbelievable scenery and great funny friends around to boot.
Day 2/ 55 Miles / $1660 raised.
Today we woke up in Pacfic City and had a nice breakfast at the Grateful Bread. I (after heavy persuasion from the crew) drank coffee. I think that stuff is pretty gross and never drink it, but I drank it this morning with the promise it would help me ride road bikes better.
Funny story, I used to be the head coffee roaster at a store and couldn’t stand the taste of it.
After that we went to check some big rock in the ocean called Haystack Rock. This turned into a photo shoot with me riding my bike around the beach, Seth dipping his gentleman’s area in the terribly cold water and all of us freezing our feet. I consider this a feat of feets since I dipped my toes in the Atlantic ocean just last week.
From there we started down the 101 highway towards Lincoln city and Newport. Let me tell you how the pissing rain day ride went from two different perspectives….
Perspective 1: Taj: Oh my god I am so cold… I just want a hot shower and be in bed under covers next to a fire place. There’s rain on my glasses and I can’t see anything. Just keep pedaling and it will be over soon.
Persective 2: Sandy, Seth and Nick: This is the most amazing ride ever! Everything is so beautiful, let’s stop to take a picture of this, and a picture of that! Let’s go swimming and drink gross coffee and laugh and smile and have a great time.
Of course I’m only joking. I did really find todays ride to be amazing despite some rough spots where I was just plain freezing. I eventually dressed in some of Nick and Seth’s extra gear and that helped too. Tomorrow I’ll have to find some warmer rain clothes…. and hell, I’d take this cold rain over Austin’s 105 degree heat anyday!!
Our route today took us up on to a empty road through a national forest and then on to an amazing one-way road with a huge bike lane that lead us along a cliff over looking the ocean. As we got closer to Newport the guys were super stoked to see that dock thing that drifted over from Japan. They stopped off to try and look at it and I made it back to the hotel to get warm. Tomorrow we head south again without Seth. He is going to ride home to get back to work in Seattle messengering. He’s a beast on a bike and I was lucky to have him pulling me on some of those rides. Sad to loose one of the crew.
As John from Prollyisnotprobably.com warned me once about touring, “it doesn’t have to be fun to be fun”. After yesterday I will add my own line to that… “it doesn’t have to be fun to be fun, AND sometimes even then it’s not fun.”
The morning started out with Seth leaving the group and heading back to Seattle. We had so much fun with him leading us around . In his honor we started our ride with a nice little unplanned deviation from the bike route. No real reason to add mileage or extra climbing (fun?) to our route except that we thought it might be fun. It gave us a great downhill run on a winding road. My descent was improved with drafting a huge dump truck and just flying down the mountain.
The weather was good, a bit overcast and almost wet but didn’t rain. I was freezing from the start though and that would be the hardest part of the day for me… I just couldn’t get warm. We only passed through a few small towns during the ride and not one had a open clothes store.
I’ll be honest, it was the hardest part of the ride for me yesterday… Just so cold and progressively more and more unhappy about. I finally threw my jeans on and started riding in them. They weren’t the best riding clothes to be sure. I couldn’t really spin anymore because the jeans were so tight, so I took to standing and hacking at the pedals bmx style. I also pulled the pedal straps off that were soaked and making my feet numb… Returning my bike to flat pedals to further the bmx feel. It actually helped to keep me warm and seemed to speed me up. For once I could keep up with the guys on the hill climbs, and I discovered I’m much more comfortable as a stand up hill climber. To try and work out my cold and grumpiness I zoned out a few times and would push way ahead of the guys. Just pedaling hard, concentrating on breathing and enjoying the fresh air up here all alone.
The NW to me is fresh air. It’s so wonderful! All my Austin allergies evaporate and every deep breath tastes and feels good and clean. Love it up here for that. That and the amazing cliffs over the ocean beaches every 50 feet.
About 1pm we rolled into Florence and as promised by the locals the weather instantly got sunny and warm in “Oregon’s Banana Belt” region. And of course this was the first place I found to buy some warm clothes. A set of track pants and a thermal shirt later we were off. I was feeling annihilated after being cold all day so I stopped off to have a warm lunch and the guys rode out to the beach and sand dunes. They didn’t find much but they did spend a few laughing hours trying to draw gps map dicks in a huge parking lot with the strava app.
We met up and struck south again. I felt much better being warm and started to smile and have some fun. We had a couple big climbs and rolled into Reedsport. There’s a nice big skatepark there that was empty so I took a few pathetic carves on the road bike just ’cause I had to. Around 7:30 or 8 we made the decision to push even further down to Coos Bay. A lot more hotel selection there then Reedsport. That last push was a lot of fun. We actually got some organized pace lines going and drafted each other. Drafting is amazing on road bikes. You can’t believe what a difference it makes. The guy in front of you is pedaling his brains out and you can just coast and pedal lazily. Also, you can get Sandy Carson’s farts injected into your lungs at 30 mph… Ha ha..
We rolled into Coos Bay at dark and in the growing cold, found a hotel and even managed to find a pizza place willing to stay open and feed us pizza and beer.
Couldn’t get internet in the hotel room last night so I crashed out. Typing this post at the breakfast room this morning before we strike out south again..
87 miles – $1730 raised
Let me tell you how I’m living right now. After a fantastic soak in a hot tub with tear your skin off jets, I’m now laying in bed in my underwear eating a specially prepared veggie meal and beer that was delivered to me by tour mates Sandy and Nick. What’s more I just sent Sandy off to do my laundry!
So how did I manage this excellent state of existence you might ask? Well, let me tell you about my day. We woke up in Coos Bay and hung around the hotel for a while so I could catch up on the blog stuff. We got rolling around 10:30 or so and pedaled out of town. That first bit out of Coos kind of sucked because the 101 is a legit highway at that point. In just a few miles we were back to the quiet big shouldered two laned 101 we have been loving this whole ride.
The wind today was epic. I think tomorrow is flag day and at one stop I noticed how all the 8 flags in front of the grocery store we were at were all blowing straight out in the exact direction we were going. It was amazing and we were flying. Today’s ride was mostly easy up hills or long descents. In either case we kept a pretty solid pace. At one point the wind was whipping and the road was smooth so I took the lead. I could hear the other guys behind me and so I started to get moving pushing as hard as I could. I kept hearing the click of Sandy’s derailleur so I just kept pushing and pushing leading our paceline. After a few miles I finally let up to drop back, low and behold there was no one! I was hearing the click of my bag rattling on my fender! I was miles ahead of the dudes… Literally because I was on a long straight road where you could see miles behind you. I was feeling good and new they were coming so I just kept on cruising. Turns out one of the epic sea/cliff views had lured them in for some photos.
Scenery today was either ordinary NW gorgeous forested roads or the trees would thin out and bring you near the beach to spectacular cliffs overlooking the coolest looking rock formations in different bays. Stunning to say the least! I stopped a few times to take pictures and the guys were still out of sight. I just kept riding with the wind and started to feel a hint of what people like about road riding. I was going so fast with so little effort… Just felt like I was flying.
I rolled into tonights stop in Gold Beach and stopped off at a pizza place to wait for the dudes to catch up. While waiting I sat with a senior couple Claire and Marvin. They’d been living on the beach in this small town for nearly 40 years. 5 kids later they seemed happy and content enjoying the beautiful coast they had. They filled my head with stories about the old days and the area while I rested my tired legs with a local beer. It was about as perfect a moment as i can imagine to be honest.
When the dudes rolled up they went to grab some food and I headed off to scure us a cheap room at the Motel 6. I’ve traveled a lot and this is the most remarkable Motel 6 I’ve ever been too! Completely modern looking rooms, hardwood floors, spacious and thee best jacuzzi I’ve ever been in! Tear your skin off jets that were amazing after so much riding. Once my hot tubbing was done I made it back to the room and sorted out my laundry. The problem is every single thing I have with me is wretchedly filthy so I piled everything into a bag and got in bed. Sandy and Nick showed up reporting that the Chinese joint they went to was closing but the owner was up to stay late and cook whatever they wanted. They brought me some specially made spicy veggies and tofu. They also showed up with a 12 pack of Olympia beer. They just left for their turn in the hot tub (and to drop the laundry off) and so here I am… Wrapping up the day with a nice meal and some typing in bed.
We reluctantly left the best Motel 6 ever in Gold Beach and started pedaling through town. We spotted this tiny weird skatepark just down the street and thought it was too good not to ride. Sandy popped his bags off and started carving the bowl. We managed this iPhone snap that came out pretty rad!
The ride out of Gold Beach was slightly less epic then normal, but then every time it might get boring you’d pop out on another crazy cliff with an amazing view.
Today I started to feel really good on the bike. Nothing was sore and I seemed to have energy to go as fast as I wanted. We had a lot of rolling hills so there was a lot of climbing. Sure enough Sandy and Nick stopped to take a photo the first time I got ahead and really started trucking. I came to what a road sign said was oregon’s tallest bridge with the guys no where in site. I had the idea to take a path down to the ocean and get a photo of them riding across. You would have laughed if you’d seen the scene I was. I ditched my bike in a bush and then started sprinting down some rabbit trail to try to get to an open side view of the bridge. I probably ran a mile through the woods with my dorky road bike helmet and spandex on before realizing the trees were too thick to see the bridge.
I lost the guys for a while after that… I’m sure they rode past while I was trying to climb out of the woods. We met up again in Brookings to mess around on the beach. Te water was soooooo cold we didn’t swim. We did have a good lunch though and Sandy climbed some rocks.
The ride continued to get more rolling and we were mostly going up or down. The amazing tail wind from yesterday continued so our progress was easy and fun. We blew into California and the road immediately took us inland. The tempatures went up and the air got still and wasn’t so fresh. In what seemed like no time we blew into Crescent City. We charged up our water bottles and started the climb out of town and into the Redwoods.
We’d been warned this climb would be brutal but it didn’t seem too bad to me today. Certainly wasn’t as gnarly as the climb we did the first day out of Portland. My flat pedal stand up and crank BMX style seemed to be working really well and I spent most of the ascent out of the saddle. There was pretty much no shoulder here so that kind of sucked, but the roads were really quiet. We blasted up the mountain and only stopped off so Sandy could climb across a massive fallen Redwood we saw (he’s the red spec in the photo above).
The descent was a but bumpy but we were flying well over 50mph at parts. I got a little wobbly after a wind gust hit me unexpectedly but it was still awesome. We ended up back at the coast and caught a few setting sun moments.
We raced into Klamath feeling like we’d had an easy day. I had booked a hotel online fearing that a hotel on a Friday eve during tourist season might be hard to come by. We showed up and Gary Ellis was there! I got a picture with him. Surprisingly we were the only people at the hotel and the cafe connected to the place was closing. Luckily they agreed to stay open late and make us some food. This seems to be happening every night lately.
Today was some kind of break through for me. My body seems to be adapting to being a road bike rider and I never felt tired. I was even able to joke around and laugh with the guys while riding some. Climbs are getting easier and the almost 80 miles we did today seemed short and quick.
Tomorrow we’re going to do some sight seeing around the redwoods and the Trees of Mystery across the street from our hotel. Only 342 miles til San Franciso!
63 miles – We woke up today with no cell phone reception but an email from our friend Rob Jensen (aka Solid Bikes BMX rider) saying he would meet us between 9-10am in “downtown” Klamath to take us on a tour thru the redwoods.
I had the bright idea to skip breakfast at the cafe near our hotel and get food “downtown” when we met Rob. As it turns out there really is no downtown Klamath and breakfast ended up being what we could scrounge from a convenience store. I had two power bar things and a green juice. I was on a food to energy deficit for the rest of the day.
Random… Stopped to check out a herd of elk and life flight landed in the parking lot to help a seizure-ing tourist.
Being a little sleepy for today’s ride was ok today though because we took it really easy. Rob lead us up a big hill into the redwoods. It was a fairly long grueling climb but then…. Holy crap! At first we bombed down a big fun steep winding 40+mph hill and the I assumed the hill would end. In fact it slowed to a mellow leisurely downhill that pushed us through an amazing stretch of the redwood forest. We pretty much all coasted down no handed with our heads looking from side to side watching world class massive trees going by, shooting photos and staring in awe. At times the coasting was almost to a stop and then it would speed us up toward the next huge tree with almost never a pedal. Really it was the best way you could ever experience the redwoods.
After that the ride was frankly not a standout for a bit, but then Rob took us on an off shoot to the coast and things got beautiful and amazing again. We followed a cliff overlooking the ocean and as always it was (running out of cool words here) amazing. Eventually we ended up along a bike only road and then into some dead quiet farm roads. Those lead us into Arcata where Rob lives.
We stopped at Revolution Bike Shop and met some of Rob’s friends. Revolution is a pretty cool shop and even has a pump track out back. Nick did a bunch of laps, shop employee Brian showed us the lines, Sandy took photos, and I lounged around on the ground ready to fall asleep with some local beers.
Update! I am currently eating the food that Rob planted, grew, harvested and then cooked… Best meal of the trip! So awesome! Staying on his floor tonight and then hitting the road tomorrow. Can you believe where bikes take you?
I woke up this morning thinking about our gear and how well it’s done. San Francisco is only 289 miles away on the most direct route (which we surely won’t take) and we are still rolling along splendidly. Since I met up with the trip in Portland the only breakdown of any kind was when I got a flat going 40 mph down a gravel road and pinched a tube when we crossed a sharp cement bridge crossing. I wondered why everyone else was slowing down… I thought they were just being wuss’s because of the skinny tires. I didn’t think about how hard it was to bunny hop the back wheel over a sharp edge with a heavy loaded rear rack on the bike.
Bikes: Sandy and Nick are both showing some heavy rear tire wear. No surprise really since both of them are running 25mm road tires with all the weight far off the back of their bikes. You can see the wear lines showing through on both tires. Sandy got a flat before I got on the trip but hasn’t had any problems since. Nick’s bike just keeps on trucking but is in need of some brake pads.
Weekender production version.
My bike is the Weekender prototype I’ve been testing for a while. It’s essentially what you’ll be able to buy except I added the drop bars and front derailleur. I couldn’t be happier with it’s performance and it’s been great to ride. I do wish I had two rack bags so I had a little more room for stuff, but even with an overloaded one-sided-load the bike seems to stay stiff enough to keep me stable.
At one point someone’s bike fell on mine and broke a spoke which threw my wheel out of true. I never bothered to fix it though since with disc brakes my braking is still good. Having the discs on the days when we road in wet weather or got our bikes covered in beach sand was a big plus. While the guys had to find hoses to get the sand off their rims my brakes were perfect.
I highly recommend fenders for a ride like this. Having them has kept me a lot drier then everyone else on rain days just since you get so much less splashing. I wish everyone else had them too because when you ride behind someone with no fenders in the rain you end up eating all the grit and mud they kick up.
The compact chain rings up front with the Weekenders mountain bike gear cluster in the back has given me a full range of gears that I’ve been happy with. If we were camping and carrying all that additional gear I might have geared down a tiny bit or put a triple on up front. The setup I have has been ideal so far though. Only had to stop to adjust things once after I made a mess of it while trying to turn adjustment cables while pedaling.
My bars are a bit too low. This being a sample we chopped the steer tube and slammed the stem for photos. I picked up a riser stem but I still have by far the lowest bars on the trip. My bike is set up more like a race Bike and less like an upright tourer. I kind of wish I’d just left our Archer bars on here the way the bike will come stock. Even so I’ve been comfortable on the bike and my back/arms have never been sore due to riding position.
The Continental Contact tires we fitted on the bike have lived up to their reputation for sure. While the other guys are showing massive tire wear my tires still look brand new. I’m much heavier then the other guys too. the rims we are using on the bike have held up extremely well on the Fairdale Parser bikes and look to be more the up to the task of touring too. Hubs are rolling smooth too.
My saddle was a hook up from Specialized at the last minute and I threw it into my bike box after my bike was all packed up for the trip. That was a bit risky having never sat on it before the ride but it has worked out. I was pretty sore about the 3rd day of riding but I seemed to have toughened up now and feel grateful to have a seat the fits me.
The only real difference between this sample frame that I’m riding and the production Weekenders is that we changed the mounting point for the rear rack/fender from the seat stay to the dropout. This is a bit more traditional and also helps to move the rack and any bags on it further out of the way to improve heel clearance.
Ok, we’re loading up and about to head out for the day. Avenue of the Giants through the redwood forest today! Get ready for some big stick photos!
Ok…. Let’s keep this short. It’s almost midnight and I’m tired. We didn’t really ride that far by our standard, but we did ride ALL DAY LONG.
We left our buddy Rob’s house and headed back into Arcata. Had some breakfast, bought a back up tire, and stocked up on our usual supply of bananas, chips and energy bars for the ride. Pretty normal. It was a short ride into the next town over, Eureka. I don’t really want to offend anyone, but let’s just say Eureka was the roughest town we’d seen on our trip. It was a wild scene… We pedaled through the town and there were zombie tweakers pushing shopping carts all over the place. We found a cool wall to take photos and groups of methed out looking people kept forming up and lurking around us. Truthfully it was depressing and I felt bad for whatever has happened to that town. I lived in Bethlehem for a while and that was a town that had been devastated when all the steel mills closed and of course i grew up near detroit. Really sad when a towns whole economy tanks and people are in trouble…
We rode on.
The bike route took us on to the 101 which at this point is a full on 4 lane highway. Not pleasant to ride on for sure. After all those days in the cleanest air ever riding along a highway full of traffic pumping exhaust fumes into our lungs sucked. The upside was that there was nothing to do but power on and crank away. The miles blew by and before long we were at the Avenue of Giants.
The Avenue of Giants is a road that roughly parrallels the 101 but leads you through several amazing redwood forests. zzzzzz zzzzzzz…….
So above is where I passed out mid-typing last night. We rolled in at dark in growing cold. After a whole of day of pedaling I was exhausted. We lucked out that there was Scilio’s Steak-seafood-Italian-Mexican-vegetarian restaurant willing to stay open and even more-lucked out there was room in a hotel. By the time we were checked into the room it was well after 11 and I could barely keep my eyes open.
Back to the Avenue of Giants and where we left off before sleep so rudely interrupted us… It’s a road through big ass trees! We rode so slowly down that road. It couldn’t be helped. We were in such awe of our surroundings we kept stopping, taking photos and admiring the view. As the day progressed and the sun started setting the sun light started shining from the horizon, little pockets of light would some how make it through the hundreds of trees to send little golden spotlights through out the forest. That slowed us down even more.
As dusk set in the trees we realized we still had 17 miles to the newest town. We finished out the Avenue and hopped back on to the busy 101 highway. We finished it as fast as we could and rolled into Gaberville just a bit after dark.
Today we have no choice but to ride the 101 highway for a while longer. After about 20 miles we can split off and head to the quiet coast road 1. This will add about 80 miles to the ride putting us about 3 days away from San Francisco (250 miles or so). Looking good so far.
Beam me up redwoods!
We stopped off at one of the many roadside tourist attractions along the 101, bigfoot’s house. I was itching to pedal. I didn’t even go inside to look. I don’t know what’s happened to me but all I want to do is get into my rhythm and spend the day riding. Wow! Apparently I have a rhythm!
All of my cycling friends told me that on a big ride like this, “you just need to find your rhythm and stick with it.” This wisdom made no sense to me. How can I keep at my own pace when I have to keep up with these other two guys? Now I guess I get it. There’s a some serious ebb and flow on a ride like this. You don’t all hang out and ride together all the time and you don’t need to match pedal for pedal your buddies speed. Sometimes a narrow shoulder forces you into a long drawn out single file. Sometimes two of the guys are riding side by side talking and one guy is ahead or behind on his own. The unspoken rule of thumb is just stay on the road if something goes wrong. That way the others will see you and help you out if need be.
Today I think I found my rhythm or pace or whatever. It’s funny because I’ve been riding with the guys for only seven days and already I feel completely different on my bike. I feel so much stronger and no climb or distance or time in the saddle intimidates me anymore.
We headed out this morning from Garberville and rode the last chunk of highway 101. We pretty much got that over as fast as we could. When we hit the split to the 1 at Legget, CA things got much quieter and WAY windier. The road started climbing and twisting. Like I said, I was feeling it today so and up out of the saddle I went. I soon put some space between Nick and Sandy and kept on pushing. The road continued to climb and climb. I passed a few other touring people laboring up the pass and all I could feel was my breathing. The weather felt perfect and I was barely sweating but not cold. I just kept climbing. I reached a peak and thought about waiting for them to catch up but felt too good to stop.
At this point I’d have to say it hit me that it is weird doing this whole trip with no map, no computer and generally no idea where we are going. We never know if we have a climb ahead of us or if the next town will have a hotel, or food. For instance, we had no idea we’d face one of the biggest climbs of the trip today.
The descent down was unreal. The road was still winding all over the place but heavily banked. This was one of those times I wished I had a computer on my bike because i’m curious how fast I was going. Must have been about 200 MPH! Well, it felt like it anyway. After a long while things flattened back out and then started into another big climb. I felt too good to stop pedaling and so this became a bit of the trip just for me. My legs still felt strong and so I just stood up and kept cranking up the mountain.
Another amazing long descent went by and I blasted out of the trees and into the blazing sun looking at the ocean. From there I followed the ocean along on more rolling roads into Westport. I finally felt bad for leaving the dudes so far behind and stopped at the only store in town. On the porch were two locals having beers and swapping stories about mafia hits and murders in the neighborhood. I ordered a sandwich and popped open a beer to listen. The stories they told were crazy. Meth, weed growers, guns… You’d think I was in a COPS show. Actually I was in a town with a population of like 40. Sandwich done, beer gone Nick and Sandy finally arrived. After they recharged on coffee and water we struck out for Fort Bragg. Again my legs wanted to party and so Nick and I took off at warp speed. This was the first part of the ride with rolling hills that you could actually maintain speed up the next hill. It was awesome and possibly the fastest pace of the entire trip. Sandy’s photog eye lured him off to shoot photos here and there and so Nick and I waited for him just off the road inside the town of Fort Bragg.
In Fort Bragg we found a not very nice, not very cheap hotel. Next door is a Safeway and some questionable noodle type food is currently being cooked in the rooms microwave. I will pick this back up tomorrow. We reckon we have only two more days till our goal in SF.
109 miles – Raised $1850 for Humane Society so far (today’s the last chance to donate!)
We started our trip out of Fort Bragg in usual fashion. Everyone got spandexed up, stuffed everything back into our bags and then rolled down to the nearest grocery store. Space is huge commodity in my bag so about all I could fit was 4 different energy and nut bars. Refilled my water bottles and took my turn watching the bikes while the other guys did their shopping.
The ride out of Fort Bragg and really most of the ride today was on small or completely non- existent shoulders. We had some wifi in the hotel and at least the ride looked pretty desolate. There’s surprisingly very little out on this part of the California coast.
However there actually turned out to be quiet a lot of traffic on the highway 1. Sandy bought himself a new knee brace at the grocery store and was feeling good. In fact, he got a ways ahead of Nick and I, popped in his headphones and unable to hear what was behind him went blasting along on the most dangerous stretch of road to date.
Nick and I made good progress for about 20 or 30 miles. The roads were constantly up or down and usually inland. Combine that with our ever present tailwind and comparatively bland scenery and there was nothing to do but just get these miles over with as fast as possible. Then a pair of logging trucks tried to kill us.
Sandy broke 1000 miles today on his own.
The road was long and straight as far as we could see and two loud trucks were coming up behind us as well as a couple cars toward us. There was no shoulder at all and even the white line was cracked and broken away. Cycling instinct told me this was going to a tight spot as I could hear the monster trucks behind us weren’t braking. I was riding what was left of the white line with a drop off to the side of the road and I chanced the smallest bit of peripheral glance behind me (at the risk of coming out of line or falling off the road) when I realized the truck was coming straight for me. I managed to flinch enough to get the bike off the drop off, feeling part of the truck just missing my elbow and go skidding into the ditch. The truck behind him swerved at me and rode the cracked white line to further show their road dominance. Nick ahead of me faired no better. The first truck missed him by inches and the draft of a truck passing so close sent him wobbling. The next truck was even closer with him fighting to keep control and how he missed getting smashed is beyond me.
The trucks never so much as braked and were not willing to give an inch to keep from crunching us. There is a bit of animosity towards cyclists out here. Generally people are nice but there are a lot of locals who get really annoyed by all the cycling traffic down the coast. We’ve passed lots of different groups on our rides and there are people from all over doing more or less the same ride as us. I can only imagine how bas that situation would have been had those trucks done that to some of the less experienced riders and familys we’d passed that same day. For being one of the most famous cycling routes in the world this section of the road was pretty disappointing.
After that I went through the typical cyclist thought process… At first I sprinted off on a 20 minute angry adrenaline filled charge thinking what I might do if I caught up with the truck. Once I’d burned off the anger I just got sad and started thinking what island nation without cars I might move too. After that the ride seemed a bit gloomy for Nick and I and we flinched every time a big truck passed near.
Many miles and hours later we finally caught up with Sandy. In typical Sandy fashion he was completely oblivious to the dangerous road and had a wonderful/ safe ride even with headphones in his ears. His saving grace was that we found him lounging at one of the most amazing cliffs overlooking the ocean we’d seen all trip. We rested for a while and eventually Sandy had Nick and I laughing again. Cheered up we set off and I saw how Sandy was handling the narrow shouldered road… Just like every road we’ve been on! Riding two abreast where he pleased… Laughing and not even noticing himself swerving this way and that while he was talking. Cars and trucks be damned, this was his road!
Sandy’s view from rock top.
The road kept getting hillier as we went but other then stumbling across a car commercial being filmed on a really windy bit it was just a lot of covering miles. We’d set our goal on Jenner as one of the only small towns that might have a hotel for us. When we rolled into Jenner we were all tired, and at our limits. No rooms available in Jenner though so at dusk we had to push on to the next town. We had no cell phone service either so we could only hope there was a room there.
14 miles later we hit Bodega Bay. A hotel gave us a discount since our ride was benefitting the Humane Society and (as always) we squeaked into a restaurant just before they closed. Today was a long ride and very hilly. It’s brought us with in 70 or 80 miles of SF though and we should be there on our next ride.
In the morning in the hotel I read that heading into SF on the twisty, windy, mountainous and shoulderless highway 1 during evening rush hour was about the worst thing you could do, so that’s exactly what we did.
We left Bodega Bay without really finding any food other then a few scraps left over from the small hotel breakfast. Right outside Bodega the shoulder opened up and the riding was nice. The shoreline highway 1 takes a decent deviation inland at this point and the temperature got very warm. Nick, who’s straight outta’ Liverpool ( and knows the Beatles), was having a hard time with it. After so long on the cool and refreshing coast the heat and sun seemed super intense but it was no where near Austin summer heat. It occurred to me that it was the first time on the entire trip I’d heard Nick complain about anything, “it’s bloody fuckan’ hot it is ya’ bugga’” or something like that in my terrible Texan’s impersonation of an English accent. Since he’d pulled me through so many rough spots on the trip and listened to me complain about every hill since Portland I did my best to pull him through the ride.
I fixed another broken nipple… So this is why wheel builders tell you to use spoke prep!
We charged ahead to get this part over with and lost Sandy when he stopped off to pick up acorns or something. The road went through some rolling farm land with some moderate climbing and temperatures continued to climb. Nick and I stopped at the first convenience store (or if you’re from Michigan like me, Party Store) we found. We were dying for something cold to drink and wanted to wait for Sandy. We found a little shade and downed a few gatorades. I had some cell service and discovered we were way off course and well into Petaluma. I called Sandy and he reported being lost too. He was a ways behind us and was going to double back to pick up the unmarked turn off to the highway 1. Nick and I were so far ahead it made sense for us to continue on and take a more inland route back to the 1. Sandy could meet us there.
Getting back to the 1 from Petaluma turned out to be a pretty big undertaking. Nice roads but a whole lot of big climbs. I’m certain that if we had those elevation computers on our bikes today would have been the biggest climbing day by far… Maybe that first day out of Portland was bigger, but today was in the heat. It was about 15 miles back to the coast and we met Sandy up in Point Reyes Station. Having done some 50 miles with no food the decent burritos we found there seemed like the best things ever. While hanging around eating we discovered that Sandy didn’t have a pump with him and that his wearing rear tire was now showing threads of the casing almost all the way around. It was lucky he didn’t get a flat out on his own with no way to fix it in the heat of the inland.
In Point Reyes Station we noticed there were a lot of cyclists racing around and that number would grow the closer we got to SF. We headed out again and then shoreline highway finally started to bring us closer to the actual coast and it’s cool breezes. When we hit the coast the climbing started for real. Big winding climbs snaking up the cliffs along the ocean. I noticed how as big and daunting as the climbs were my legs could just keep pedaling up anything. Infact all of us were now seasoned tourers and could just keep pedaling through anything that got in our way.
But getting in SF wasn’t going to be easy. Up and down we went on increasingly narrow, twisty mountain roads. Of course, as I mentioned earlier we were getting closer to the city at just about 5 o’clock rush hour so traffic picked up greatly. In all honestly though the traffic really wasn’t an issue. There was a lot of cars going past us and no shoulder but they all seemed to have encountered cyclists before and managed to not threaten us too much. On the downhills we were faster then cars and having to ride the brakes some. On one steep decent where we had some open road Sandy and I let it fly and were racing down with Sandy a bit ahead of me. Suddenly with a loud clack he hit a eight foot long 4 inch diameter PVC pipe that was laying across the road and sent it skipping towards me. Disc brakes howling I managed to swerve around it and somehow Sandy, who was all tucked for aero speed and never even saw it just monster trucked right over and kept going.
Pine cones, dream catcher and Scottish Lycra lover, Mr Carson.
At the bottom of our last descent we could tell we were just outside the city. Traffic was raging and everything was built up. A quick stop at a bike shop we stumbled upon directed us to the bike route that would take us to the Golden Gate Bridge. In a few miles we rolled up our last small climb (which would have been big back when we started the ride) and to the start of the bridge.
We made it! Raised some money for some cats, saw a whole lot of amazing things, and all survived. Our bikes all made it too and even Sandy’s thread worn tire never needed to be replaced. Somewhere along I discovered I was capable of riding all day and up mountains and became a “road biker”.
Alan, Nick and Sandy have a toast in San Francisco.
I’m going to have to let this all sink in and process for a while before I can report back exactly how I feel about the trip. Right now I’m just glad to have a day off the bike and be resting. The trip was full of amazing adventures and every hill top was a feat of personal accomplishment. The friends were exceptionally good to me and my body seems to have held up just fine. How soon I’ll want to launch out on another big ride I’m not sure. Sandy seems to have planned about 4 more while on this ride… He kept mentioning doing a European one to help launch Fairdale over there so we’ll keep you updated.
Sandy and Nick racked up 1135 miles on their ride for Seattle to San Francisco.
I clocked in 853 from Portland to SF.
Once I get back to Austin I’ll go back through and add some maps of each days ride along with some technical notes. Then we’ll start a “field trip” section on the website for reference in case we’ve inspired anyone else to take a trip AND to house all the future trips we have coming up.