Just a short final post for this section of the trip covering our final stint into San Francisco.
After an extremely relaxing time in Fort Bragg we were loaded up and back on the bikes. When we pulled into town two days earlier we were feeling pretty tired, so we had set ourselves a target of 41 miles to a State Park near a small town called Manchester for this next leg out of Fort Bragg. The morning flew past and we arrived at Manchester State Park just after midday so we stopped in the town store, bought some lunch and sat outside to eat it. We felt good and so we decided to press on to the next town of Gualala just over 20 miles away. Whilst eating our lunch Donni (a guy from the Philippines), and Lauren (from Hawaii) cycled past. We had met them a couple of times before and they stopped for a chat. They too were also headed for Gualala. We have both really enjoyed meeting up with like minded people on this trip, staying on campsites with them and exchanging stories and ideas and then crossing paths with them on the road during the day or bumping into them a couple of days later.
We pressed on to Gualala and we were both feeling quite strong. The scenery was incredible, some of the best we have had, and to make things even better a tail wind was building! Into the town we rode (63 miles done) and it was mid afternoon. The town had a good selection of stores and we stocked up for food for the evening. There was a barbeque on the go outside the grocery store and we found Donni tucking into a whole rack of ribs!! Everyone is doing the trip slightly different in length, time, type of bike and how much they are carrying. Donni is at the extreme end of weight, he has everything super lightweight, he is carrying no cooking equipment and eats when he can. His bike fully laden is as heavy as our bikes with nothing on.
Once loaded with groceries for dinner and breakfast, we looked at each other and said “lets go on to the next campsite after Gualala”. Steve looked at the map and found the next site was another 20 miles away “Lets do it”. The next 1 hour and 20 minutes was some of the best cycling so far. We had smooth asphalt, rolling hills, blue skies and a tail wind. We pulled into the campsite tired but extremely satisfied with our days work. We pitched the tent, showered, made dinner and had a fantastic nights sleep. 83 miles, our longest day yet!
The next couple of days were much of the same…..but not as long. It was a holiday weekend so the roads were a little busier near the small towns but most of the time we had the road to ourselves. The views were of steep, green pine forests to our left, a strip of asphalt winding its way like a long black ribbon into the distance, to the right was a couple of hundred metres of grazing farm land before a steep cliff fell into the blue ocean. It was great cycling.
Because it was holiday weekend we had pre booked a couple of commercial campsites six months ago as we did not know what the situation with space would be like. One night we stayed at a great site in Bodega Bay with a pitch right by the water. We were the only tent on the site in the middle of some monster caravans and motorhomes. When we arrived our ‘neighbour’ started laughing, “twenty years I’ve been coming here and seen people turn up in everything, but never on bicycles”. Everyone was really friendly and offered us food ….. they must think we need feeding up! One lady saw us struggling starting our campfire and came over with some amazing gel sachets which took seconds to get our wood roaring. She then came back with 8 more sachets to keep us going for a few days. People have been so kind and generous it’s really taken us by surpise.
After Bodega Bay we set off to our next site and saw a couple we had met before at the side of the road, Sylvia from Spain and Danny from Israel. They are cycling indefinitely so when they get to the Mexican border they are turning left and cycling across Mexico! We ended up staying at the same campsite with them that night and enjoyed chatting around the campfire together, talking until way too late! It was strange, but lovely, to hear them say exactly the same things about life as we have said and how their reasons for travel are very much similar to ours.
Also, when we arrived at the campsite we decided to have a sort out of our gear as the first leg of the trip was coming to an end. Sarah started to lay things out and pretty soon it was looking quite impressive. We decided to seriously look how we can cut down for the last 650 miles. One thing for sure, is that we are disposing of the cycle tops which we wear every day and consequently feature in every photo! We will treat ourselves and buy a new one each. Clothing doesn’t feature much in our equipment!
Also that day we had bumped into Donni from the Philippines and Lauren again. We found a bench and Steve and Donni started chatting about bikes and training. They began making plans about doing a fast, long distance cycle together in a couple of years but with no camping, no carrying of food, just a couple of weeks of hard cycling. Sarah said she could drive the route as support crew and all of a sudden a gesting plan started to to become serious. It ended up with them agreeing to train together for a few weeks in the Philippines (in 18 months time) and then do a ride together in the summer of 2021. Lets see how that one pans out!!!
Our final day into San Francisco was a 37 miler and was an absolute unexpected pleasure. We had visions of stop/start traffic chaos and it was nothing like that. We didn’t even hit a sizable town until 20 miles to go. The cycle friendly city guided us with bike lanes, multiple signs along residential streets, and cycle paths with people shouting “Where are you headed?” and “Good job”. It had been another beautiful day…..until….we climbed over Marin headland and onto The Golden Gate Bridge. We were greated by thick fog and only glimpses of the iconic structure. As soon as we descended off the bridge and made our way along the bay to Fishermans Wharf the fog lifted but over our shoulders the bridge was still clouded in fog!
We had set off from Roche Harbour on San Juan Island 29 days and 1174 miles ago. We had booked our hire car for 12 noon that day and we arrived at the rental agency at 12:01 “I knew we shouldn’t have stopped for that last photo” said Steve…..if anyone knows Steve, he judges his cycling times to perfection and this was no different!!!
We now have taken a month off from our route with the bikes. We still have 650 miles of cycling to get Mexico but we are both extremely proud of what we have achieved so far and to be honest we are both excited about getting back on the bikes and finishing it off.
The blog will continue whilst we are taking time out in Nevada, Utah and Arizona so you can follow our antics!