Day Twenty Two – San Francisco, CA to Oklahoma City, OK

It’s time. 2 Countries. 3 States. 1,248 Miles. I’m happy.

I knew a few days ago that San Francisco was going to be my end. When I first started this trip, I budgeted to Los Angeles… I thought. Apart from the budget, I feel like it is time for me to be done. I was never obsessed with a “finish.” I did this trip for me, because I wanted to. I thought it would be fun. I thought it would be pretty. I had the time to do this trip that I had been wanting to do for two years. It was a great opportunity to do so. So I did it.

When I look back at the planning of the trip and the anticipation of the unknowable, it was just that, I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn’t really train like most would to spend miles upon miles on a bike. I worked out everyday but just not on a bike. My butt was sore for the first few days but never really my legs. Of course there was the normal leg soreness that 60 miles a day would give you.

I had an outlined schedule but was never stuck to that. I booked it through Washington and really took my time through Oregon and then I picked it up a little more through Northern California. In Washington, it was near 70 miles. Oregon was around 55 miles and California was around 65.

During my trip, the Oregon State Parks were the best hands down. They were always clean. They were always packed. They always included incredible scenery… I was never inland for camp during my week in Oregon. That also made for some weather that I didn’t have elsewhere. Washington was always hot. Oregon was cold. Long sleeves to ride in, sometimes even my rain jacket, and tights, long socks, beanie and long sleeves to sleep in every night. Northern California was a mixture of both because I was inland for some of the time.

I learned plenty this trip. 3 weeks isn’t a terribly long time and I met others that had been on the road for much, much longer but I was met with challenges just the same. I learned some bike maintenance that I didn’t know beforehand and I learned some stuff about myself as well. There were things I thought I could handle and didn’t very well. Other things I was uneasy about but handled like a champ. Dogs are a still my number one enemy. The mountain lion I saw 200ft away was nicer than nearly every dog I encountered.

I had so many, “Oh, shit” moments in these 3 short weeks. Ones when I crossed a country’s border. When I crossed every body of water on a bike, on a boat, on a bridge. When I’d come around a bend and see two snow-capped mountains off in the distance after spending 40 minutes on a climb. When I topped off my speedometer at 44.7mph. Ones when I smelled tho ocean for the first time this trip. When I was punch-dancing my rage out in a misty, wooded glen. When I rode in the rain. When I was next to the ocean ALL day. When I looked up at night and saw billions of stars with the sound of waves crashing in the distance. When I getting brushed by old men driving way too big RVs on a tight road. When I climbed 50 minutes in my smallest gear for that 7 minute decent. When I camped for 18 nights in a single person tent. When I rode The Avenue of Giants. When I felt the earth shake. When I rode into San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge.

In the end, I’m happy.

Day Twenty One – Samuel Taylor State Park to San Francisco, CA

Day Mileage: 28 miles
Total Mileage: 1,247 miles

I woke up pretty late considering my usual wake up time on this trip. I packed everything up and took a quick “shower” in a sink. This is the first time in 3 weeks that I wasn’t able to shower after a day of riding because there was a leak in the State Park showers and since California is in a drought, they said, “Nah. We’ll just shut to down.” Pretty incredible since I’ve only had a real bed 3 times in that 3 weeks. While I was packing, I was pretty jealous of all the day trippers and weekenders. They had some pretty cool gear and a ton of good food with them.

I knew it was a quick ride to SF, 30 miles or so, so I wanted to get going. I first had a chat with a guy in Lagunitas, about 3 miles into the day, over coffee and a bagel. From there, it was a few climbs and a thousand cyclists later, I was on my final climb leading to the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve been to SF once before and saw it from the Presidio, but this time I got to ride over it. It was incredible. I was done for the day, so I took a trip to a bike shop close by and found my way to where I was staying.

Day Twenty – Stillwater Cove State Park to Samuel Taylor State Park

Day Mileage: 67 miles
Total Mileage: 1,218 miles

Today was a different day. It was draft day. The fantasy football league that I’ve been in for 10 years now was holding its draft at 1:00pm my time. My friend Scott has developed a website that we can hold the live draft in real time and see who the teams have picked that a little more fun than yahoo for the out of towners, which I’ve been one for the past three years. I know, I know what you are all thinking but I’m sorry, we’re all taken ladies.

After looking at the map, the only possible solution was to make it to Point Reyes Station by 1pm in order to get wifi and to not have too much further to go afterwards. Problem was a Point Reyes Station was 56 miles down the road. That’s usually a full days ride….all before lunch. Away I went.

The first 15 miles of the day were all up and down but in the plus side along the coast. That made for a cold ride however. I posted a picture on Instagram that showed where I was actually riding. The cliffs were literally 10ft from the white lines on the road. It was fun and terrifying at the same time. One lapse and I was gone.

After pushing it all morning, I rode through Jenner, Bodega Bay, Tomales and finally Marshall before reaching Point Reyes Station with 5 minutes to spare. This is where I had my worse crash of the trip. As I was leaving a market, there were brick steps exiting the building. I stepped down and the next thing I knew I was picking up my cell phone and helmet and belongings because my feet ended up above my head and I ended up flat on my back. My clips just slipped on the bricks and boom. My elbow hurt but for the most part, I wasn’t scathed.

I reached Samuel Taylor State Park fairly early and set up shop. By the end of the day, there were 12-14 bikers in the site and it was kind of a party knowing that we were only a short ride to San Francisco. I went to bed around 9pm.. And woke up at 2:30 to the earth rumbling. A 6.0 earthquake shook Napa, but the only thing we felt was a slow rumble that lasted maybe 7 seconds.

Day Nineteen – Van Damme State Park to Stillwater Cove State Park

Day Milesge: 68 Miles
Total Mileage: 1,151 Miles

The first town I came to was only a half-mile down the road, Little River, CA. I stopped in for coffee with a guy named Carl who was also traveling down the coast but for the 5th time. I’d like to come back to Little River. It was right on the cove and it was a beautiful morning.

Today ended up being my best day on the coast. It was beautiful weather. Clear skies. Actual blue in the sky and sunny. And what perfect timing for great weather, I was on the coast for nearly the entire day with a perfect view. This is why I went on this trip for days like today. Alone on a road, in the middle of Northern California 300ft from the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean.

I stopped at a little joint in Stewart’s Point that was a general store and then some. I want to come back to the spot and just hang out for the entire day because it overlooked ocean and today just made it that much better. Cannot say enough good things about that spot.

I loved today. Tomorrow, I am going to try to get an early start… I’ll need to cover the majority of my miles before 1:30…. Fantasy Football Draft!

Day Eighteen – Standish Hickey State Park to Van Damme State Park

Day Mileage: 66 miles
Total Mileage: 1,085 miles

The day started somewhat earlier than normal. Coffee, breakfasts and hills were on the docket for the first part of the day. In the town of Leggett, there was the largest hill on Map 3 and the biggest up to this point. I knew that was soon and planned accordingly. I set up with this guy named Trevor and we climbed. Climbed and climbed. It took only 30 minutes to get to the top. What followed was 10 minutes of downhill but unlike other downhills, I braked. We’d go through hairpin turns, winding roads and I was cruising at 30mph through these turns… I was scared enough to brake throughout the downhill.

At the bottom, we rested a little bit and then pushed a little further. They were stopping about 20 more miles up the road and i was going a little further than that. I knew we had one more climb before reaching their camp but little did I know that this next little climb would be way worse than our biggest climb yet. The big climb, we started nearly halfway up. This next one, it wasn’t the case. It was hard and took a while. With sweat in my eyes, I finally reached the top and there wasn’t quite the decent I was looking for. It was then that we finally cruised into Fort Bragg.

I spent a good amount of time in Fort Bragg, checking out shops and the town itself before I took off for the final 10 miles to camp. I dropped off only 8 miles further down the road in a town called Mendocino for dinner. I went into a market and bought some meat and cheese. It was the best little ton market I’d been in this trip. Then it was onto camp.

At Van Damme State Park, I set up shop with 4 other bikers, one couple coming all the way from Anchorage. They met up with a friend who had a floor pump. Finally, my tires were at the correct tire pressure probably since Astoria, nearly 600 miles ago… Whoops. Time for bed, I finished Forrest Gump (appropriate) and went to bed close to 8:30.

Day Seventeen – Hydesville, CA to Standish Hickey State Park

Day Mileage: 78 miles
Total Mileage: 1,018 miles

I was ready for the day. I was well rested and well carb-loaded. Milton and Sally treated me as a member of their family. My rest day was incredible. I stayed in bed nearly all day catching up on some tv shows. By the time I got caught up, it was dinner time and my hosts took me to Ferndale to enjoy some lasagna at Pizza Co. I learned quite a bit of interesting stuff about the town…. The Majestic and Outbreak were both filmed there. It was a great rest day and I hope to come back to this area sometime in the future.

I took off and was barely off route. I jumped on the 101 and took that until I got off at the Avenue of Giants about 6 miles later and I was back on track. I spent the remainder of the morning on this incredible stretch of road. Redwoods everywhere. Incredibly tall, incredibly wide, incredibly incredible trees everywhere. It was hot but thanks to the shade, I didn’t overheat at all. Just a perfect start to my day.

After I reached Benbow, the town I originally was thinking about stopping, I decided I could keep going and push it a little further. Once I did, I ran into Becca and her dog as well as Alan again. We talked for a bit and I set out only to stop a mile down the road for a picture opportunity… 1,000 miles!!! After that milestone, it was a loooooong trek to camp. Many winding roads and uphills that led me all the way to camp. Across the street from the park, there was this awesome little grill/market/store/house that had an awesome set up. I had some beers and watched a non-rain delayed Cubs-Giants game.

Picture Recap – Day 11 through Day 15

Day Fifteen – Elk Prairie State Park to Hydesville, CA

Day Mileage: 77 miles
Total Mileage: 940 miles

Day 15 began like all others except this day, I wanted to head out a little earlier so I packed up and was on the road just shortly before 8am. I stopped in Orick, 5 miles down the road, for breakfast. I got a hold do Holly Partin’s aunt Sally. I had never met this lady but she was going to nice enough to put me up for 2 nights in what I thought Eureka. We got a hold of each other and I got her address…. 25 miles further than expected. I needed to get going.

The trip into McKinleyville, Arcata and into Eureka wasn’t terrible, just miles that needed to be ticked off. I stopped in for lunch… 50 miles under my belt and still 25 left. I knew I had a rest day coming so the next 25 wasn’t so daunting, I headed out and went off route to get to my destination. The good thing was to get back on route the next time I needed to, it wasn’t putting extra miles on.

I pulled into Fortuna and knew I was close. I got a drink and took off for the final 5 or so miles. Luckily, as with most days, you can never end a day on a downhill. I climbed and climbed and finally reached my destination at 5pm. I was greeted with open arms by Milton and Sally. I got showered and Milton prepared a home cook meal for me with several items from there garden. It was delicious.

From there, I hit the sack pretty quick. 77 miles, a great meal and a real bed…. Which bedtime came super early that night. Rest day…. sixteen.

Day Fourteen – Harris Beach State Park to Elk Prairie Redwoods State Park

Day Mileage: 67 miles
Total Mileage: 859 miles

I got out near the same time this morning and stopped for my first bad meal of the trip at a local diner in Brookings. I knew it was only a few miles to the California border and that made me excited to start the day. After breakfast, the road was flat but again very foggy so the ocean view leaving Oregon left much to be desired.

I finally reached California, the last of three state borders to cross. It gave me a little boost and the rest of the morning miles into Crescent City were a breeze plus we finally saw the ocean again thanks to the lifting fog. I met up with Alan in Crescent City and we decided that we’d stop in for a bite before tackling one of two large climbs left in the day. Heading out we knew we’d be at different paces but expected to be at the same spot again tonight.

The climb was the biggest yet. It took 50 minutes to climb up to 1200ft from sea level. The downhill was a very nice 10 minute coast. Hit a few more towns before having to climb the last one of the day which seemed brutal because only 7 more miles were left to camp. After the climb it was literally all down hill and through the Redwood National Forest. These things are incredible. So big.

Tomorrow, Eureka for a rest day finally.

Day 14 Bonuses

Herd of 30+ elk in a field

Day Thirteen – Humbug State Park to Harris Beach State Park

Day Mileage: 58 miles
Total Mileage: 792

The day began considerably warmer than the previous couple of days, drier too. I knew i had a big climb to start the day since I was at mount humbug and have yet to climb a mountain. I put on my shorts and shirt and got on the road right around 9 am. The sun was out and I figured I’d be in for a great day and it would be my last full day in Oregon.

Once, on the road, I indeed had that large climb. It was hot. I was sweaty but the higher I got, the more mist was on the roadway and the fog got thicker. The downhill of this mountain was fun. It would have been even more fun had I not been freezing for the entire way. Once I got to the bottom, I stopped, put on my long sleeve and continued on my way…. Only to find sunshine and mild temperatures. I reached Gold Beach and stopped for lunch.

The rest of the day was a mix of cold and hot but still mostly foggy. The vistas weren’t worthy of stopping for because one could only hear the ocean, not see it.

When I reached Harris Beach, I was only a mile to Brookings. I set up camp, grabbed all my dirty laundry, read laundry, and made my way to the laundromat. I did my one load and headed back. I could not wait to sleep in fresh clothes.

Day 13 Bonuses

  • cedar valley rd. picturesque, dogless, flat
  • long sleeves – those downhills are cold
  • ice cream trucks that roll through the campground