It was another cold morning (surprise, surprise) with the temperature hovering around 50 degrees when we left camp. However, the sun was shining and we warmed up quickly. ‘Warmed up’ is a relative terms these days. For us, it meant that we could take off our down and rain jackets and ride comfortably in a t-shirt. Today is July 31st. In NYC, it was probably 80 degrees (with 95% humidity) by 8am this morning. My down jacket would be no where in sight, let alone on my body. I can unabashedly say Dad and I were taken aback by the Pacific Northwest’s chilly weather.
Today’s route was entirely on Route 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. We hugged the coastline and passed through acres of farmland and small towns. If I were a cow, this is where I would dream of retiring. Temperate weather, constant wind to shoo away fleas, acres of land for grazing right next to the Pacific Ocean — yes, please! I wish I had a picture of a cow actually grazing on this little slice of cow paradise, but this view will have to suffice.
The awesome tailwinds of Oregon seemed to catch up to us today and we had some solid stretches where we were crusin’ with minimal effort. At one spot, Dad and I took a picture, mostly for the ocean view, but as you can see, the tree in the background really takes the spotlight.
After 50 or so miles of riding, we decided to take a coffee break in the town of Anchor Bay (pop. 340). It just so happens that a medicinal marijuana dispensary was located next door. Dad and I couldn’t help ourselves and rang the doorbell to enter. We were greeted by Tim, who we chatted with for the next half hour. Mostly about marijuana laws, how to procure a medical marijuana prescription in California and what’s next for the industry. It was an eye-opening conversation. I have to say, it’s been a bit of a culture shock coming from the East Coast and seeing how common pot smoking is here. We feel like uptight New Englanders (or as my dad says “constipated Yankees”) but we can’t help it. The broad tolerance and visibility of marijuana is very different to us. In any case, we couldn’t leave without taking a souvenir picture.
Tim mentioned that we would start climbing the notorious windy roads of the Pacific Coast Highway about 15 miles from Anchor Bay. He was right in regards to both the distance and the road conditions. This is the type of road you see in car commercials for the Porches, Audis, BMWs, etc. The views are stunning. Absolutely stunning. Too bad I wasn’t able to capture many of them on my camera since I didn’t want to fall over the 300+ ft cliff on my right. Or because I was braking as hard as I could and still going 20mph. Oh, and that there weren’t guardrails for half of this twisty, narrow stretch. It was a challenging technical ride as you had to control your bike going up a steep hill with non-existent shoulders and on the downhill, the sharp switchbacks required constant braking. I mean, I got a serious forearm workout today. But, the views always make up for it.
After the major climbs, we were about 15 miles from camp, so we picked up dinner in Jenner (deli sandwiches, chocolate milk and some random snacks) and went on our way. As we approached the town of Gleason Beach, we admired the houses that were perched right on the coastline and had unobstructed views of the Pacific. It wasn’t until we were about a football field away did we notice that the “empty lots” from afar were actually spaces from houses that had eroded into the ocean! Some of the houses still standing were tagged as unsafe to enter and occupy. Yikes.
We made it to camp with an hour of daylight to spare (woohoo!), when it started to sink in that this was our last night on the road. Evidently, this campground is the last night for a lot of other touring cyclists too. The bear box was filled with extra food (mostly noodle or canned-type food), maps, books, vitamins and was covered with doodles from those passing through. I kind of regret not writing something now….
Weather: Chilly morning that warmed up to mid-70s. Not a cloud in the sky.
Riding Conditions: Good except for those monster RVs and logging/shipping trucks that drive along Rt. 1 and put everyone around them in danger (other cars, cyclists, cars pulled over at scenic overlooks, etc.). And, return of the tailwind!
Campground: Bodega Dunes Campground at the Sonoma Coast State Park; $5/person, free hot showers (tip from a ranger we met at a gas station 10 miles away from camp), hiker/biker area was very sandy (hard to set up tent); Grade: B