Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A California State of Mind

Over the past couple of weeks, I've told you about the bicycle tour that I have planned for the west coast. I will start in Vancouver and go along the edge of coast of Washington. Then, I'm mostly on the coast for Oregon. The last week will be California.

I thought about doing these differently. You can go north, of course, but the prevailing winds supposedly make this hard. I also considered California, Washington, and then Oregon, but couldn't make that work even with theoretical physics.

The downside of doing California last is that it will be tough. Washington and Oregon have a few 500-foot climbs -- in California I'll climb to over 1000 and 750 feet on the first day. One day, I have the option of doing 75 miles with 9500 feet of climbing, or can wimp out and do 40 miles with 1800 feet. Either way, the next day I have to climb up to Leggett at over 1500 feet, and the next-to-last day is over 90 constantly rolling miles with over 5500 feet of climbing.

By the time I get to San Francisco, I will be ready to get on a train and sit for a few days.

  • Crescent City to Patrick's Point. Two miles from the start, we begin climbing. Over four miles later, we can stop end enjoy the view of the Del Norte Coast Redwoods Park, and then descend for a few miles. It's mostly state parks and Hwy 101 today, so I'm going to stop for a second breakfast in Klamath. I'll need that for the climb that starts right afterwards, on a side road through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Another long descent takes me back to 101 and a series of parks to the coast. We stop in Patrick's Point, where there is either camping or hotels.
  • Patrick's Point to Ferndale. Today's the easy day, getting ready for the Lost Coast Alternate option tomorrow. We roll along the coast through Trinidad, McKinleyville, and Arcata to Eureka (I so want to put an exclamation point there). This will be a nice stop for lunch, and then on to cross the Eel River at Fernbridge and move away from 101. Tonight's stop is Ferndale, which has camping and a hotel.
  • Ferndale to Myers Flat -- the hard way. We move well away from the road more travelled here, following the Adventure Cycling Association's Lost Coast Alternate. In the first eight miles we climb almost 2000 feet, then descent to the Bear River neat the coast. The route is flatter there, heading to Petrolia. After a stop to fill everything, we start back inland along the Mattole River to Honeydew. Again, here we will fill everything, because we're about to begin climbing again ... for eight miles. There, we enter Humboldt Redwoods State Park. After descending back into the woods, we roll along to the Avenue of the Giants, which mostly follows 101. In a few miles, we are at our overnight stop in Myers Flat, which has a campground and a hotel.
  • Ferndale to Myers Flat -- the easy way. Remember when I told you that failure to plan is a plan for failure? Well, this route is just in case the previous two weeks have been a little rough on the old body, or the old bike, or the weather sucks, or my gingivitis is acting up. Basically, this version heads back to 101, getting off about halfway onto the Avenue of the Giants. It meets up with the long version just before Burlington. There are plenty of climbs and miles in this route -- and more towns to get water and food.
  • Myers Flat to Leggett. On paper, this almost looks like a day off. Then you look at the elevation profile, and realize that it's mostly a rolling 45-mile climb to 1000 feet. I think it will seem like a break after the Lost Coast Alternate, but climbs this long can sap your strength. The road is either the Avenue of the Giants or 101, with a detour to Redway or Garberville for a second breakfast. Most of the route is 101, with some breaks on CA 271. Just past Leggett, we stop at Drive-Thru Tree Park, which has a hotel and camping.
  • Leggett to Albion. This one really should be more of a day off. We stay off 101 for a few days, and start with a little descent from Leggett. Unfortunately, we then climb about 1200 feet in just under five miles. From there, it's a gentle 12 miles mostly downhill on CA 1 to Rockport. There's another little climb past this town (700 feet in two miles), and then it's rolling for the rest of the day. After a store stop in Westport and a lunch break in Cleone, we pass through Fort Bragg and Mendocino, over the Big River and through Little River, and wind up in Albion. There's a nice hotel on one side of the river, and camping on the other.
  • Albion to Bodega Bay. So, we kind of had two days off. It was so we could survive a 90-mile day with almost 5500 feet of up and down and up and down climbing. Sorry. Navigation should be simple, as it's CA 1 almost all day. And, although they are quiet roads, there seem to be enough small towns or stores to keep us supplied. About mile 80, we cross the Russian River, and maybe some good wine will help ease our pains. Tonight, we can either camp or get a hotel in Bodega Bay.
  • Bodega Bay to San Francisco. This day should be a blast, with just enough length and climbs to make it hard, and a few scenic trails as we approach civilization. We climb inland, then climb back out to the edge of Point Reyes National Seashore. There, we leave CA 1 to get on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard for 10 miles of mild uphill. We continue through the small towns of Sonoma County using back roads and bike trails, heading into Sausalito to cross the Golden Gate. San Francisco is supposed to be a bicycle-friendly town, so it should be easy to ride to a good hotel and finally get a bath.
Anyway, that's the plan right now. I've got six months before I start, so things may change some. I'll probably try to reserve campgrounds and things in a month or two, so if you think you want to join me, let me know. Either way, expect a few blogs and pictures during this -- it will almost be as good as being there.

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