Apr 15 – Olema, Pt Reyes
I took three days off after arriving in Monterey. On my day in Monterey, I visited the aquarium, washed clothes and got a new odometer for my bike. The next day I took a bus/train ride the 140 miles into San Francisco. I did not relish facing the wind while struggling with the complications of getting into the big city, or at least that is the rationale I used. Taking my bike on both the bus and the train could not have been easier, and gaining a bit of distance in this way will allow me relief from the worrying about how slow I have been going. Using this thinking I booked into a hostel in SF for two nights, which meant that I had a Sunday free in town. I enjoy biking around new cities, and Sunday is usually the best day to do this. I cycled down through Chinatown to Fisherman’s Wharf and then out to the Golden Gate Bridge, returning through the Presidio, the military area that is quite park-like.
I stopped in Japan town and spent most of the afternoon enjoying their Cherry Blossom Festival. I ate some Japanese noodles in a beer garden, washed down with a Kirin, watched a beauty pageant, drum groups and martial arts demonstrations. There were many people out on the cold windy day. In many ways the weather reminds me of my cherry blossom trip to Japan. It was mostly cold there as well. When ever I see cherry blossoms I am sure to feel the chill of a cold damp wind.
The SF hostel I stayed in, like the one in Monterey, made quite an effort to provide some entertainment. We had a vegan Indian dinner on Sunday, free of charge, while a bollywood movie played silently in the background. There won’t be any other hostels until Portland, and I will miss them.
I got away from the hostel at about 8:30, and found my way over the hills to the Golden Gate Bridge in just about half an hour, thanks to having scoped my route out the day before. The wind was already up, but it didn’t bother me early in the day getting through SF, then through Sausalito, and up the first significant climb into the Marin Headlands. Once up, the wind began to throw me around on the down hills, but climbing wasn’t too bad, because then I was in the wind shadow of the hill. This section had some very significant climbs. I had lunch early and then stopped at Pt Reyes Sta to ask about accommodation down the road, and was sent back a couple of miles where I have ended up in a B&B, as there was nothing ahead for close to 40 miles. I only got in about 40 miles net, because of this. I will have to work harder on planning the days. The wind means that on the road the best I can average is about 10 mph. Ahead, I think I will always have hills to deal with. So I just can’t make some of the big jumps that I am used to doing. The B&B is nice, and they are bike people so gave me a 15% discount.
Apr 20, Crescent City, Ca.
Since San Francisco I have had continuous hills, mostly very steep and tiring. Mostly on Highway 1, which is a narrow two lane with mostly no shoulders. It is in good shape, but there has been no engineering, in that the road is just rolled out over the hills, with no effort to fill in dips or cut corners. As such the speed limit often drops to 20 mph, which means that there is very little traffic at this time of year. Never far from the ocean the views are incredible, all of which means that this is an incredible cycle road, provided of course that you like hills and that you are heading south.
But of course I am heading north, and so some time after 10:00 am I am hit with severe winds, which has sapped much of the enjoyment from me. My distance gained each of the five riding days since SF ranged between 40 and 70 miles. It would have been possible to squeeze out a few more at times, but I had also to watch where the next accommodations were because I was going so slow I just could not push on to a distant place.
In those five days, I once caught a shuttle bus for 25 miles to get over some long hills and to get to the next place where I found a hotel,. I probably would have taken more, but they don’t run very often and not always along the whole road.
My best day, of these five, was the fourth. I headed inland a bit, climbing over two mountains, one of which at 2000 ft is the highest climb on the whole coastal route. The road was even narrower with a multitude of switchbacks and almost the only traffic was the odd lumber truck to add spice when it caught me on one of the switchbacks. What made the day, was the complete absence of wind, in part due to the deep red-wood forest that I was in. At the end of this day I camped, again in a redwood grove. All other days I have been in motels as it is just too cold and windy to sit out in my tent. At the campsite, I had a nice evening with a woman who was out getting her cycle gear and legs ready for an Adventure Cycle outing.
My fifth of these days, included a 32 mile stretch of highway, off of Hwy 101, that the route now follows, called the Avenue of the Giants. Along this stretch are numerous groves of Old Growth redwoods, that have escaped logging. I stopped many time along this stretch, walked in the groves and even watched a movie in one of the Information Centers. Unfortunately my smelling the redwoods meant that it was late in the day by the time I had to get the final 15 of this 70 mile day into the next town. And the wind was now back up again. But still it was also a good day.
Today, April 20, I awoke very tired after my many days of hill and wind bashing. It was also raining. So, I found a bus, and spent the day making my way to Crescent City. Along the way I spent much of the day at a small town called Arcata. It was a bus transfer spot, and I went to a birding area and a community centre where they had a birding show. Unfortunately it was too windy to actually see many interesting birds. I completed my day off of the bike, by busing the rest of the way to Crescent City. This bus day gained me about 100 miles, and put me close to Oregon.
Apr 22, Coos Bay, Or.
Over the last two days I cycled from Crescent City to Brookings in Oregon and then on to Gold Beach. I had found a bus schedule for today, and at Gold Beach I had time to have a late breakfast and then catch the afternoon bus to Coos Bay. The wind was quite stiff each of the last two mornings and yesterday I just quit riding at noon, today I was lucky in getting a bus for a couple of hours. Ideally, rather than killing myself of just quitting, I will ride for a few hours in the morning and then catch a bus in the afternoon when the wind picks up. Unfortunately these little bus services are not connected. Each road section is a new service and I have no way of finding the schedules in advance. So, it is a day by day thing.
It also probably means that I will not be riding all the way to Calgary, but that issue is still some days away. In California while I cycled about 80% of the 1000 miles, it looks like I might be riding more like 50% from here on. I had been getting quite despondent about the riding and with this new approach I am less so. We will see how it goes in Oregon.