Having had some time to rest and relax in Nevada city, Go mountain biking with Jules and raise awareness for shelter box was amazing. I had been having so much fun the last few weeks but it was time to head back to San Francisco and head north. Although I’d had to say goodbye to Jules, Chris and Heather not to forget all the other lovely people in the city I now needed to get my head down to make sure I was in Alaska for when Avril, Amanda and Lucy arrived. I was so excited they were coming out and couldn’t wait to see them. I did however have some exciting scenery to see ahead of me with a rugged coastline and giant redwoods I knew I was in for some treats ahead.
Thursday 5th May
The day had come for me to leave San Fransisco and head north. I felt tired after a restless night but got up and packed my bags. I joined Claudette for breakfast which was lovely as we could catch up. I received a call from Jim a rotary member who I was planning on meeting and arranged a time and a place. I said my thanks to Claudette who had been an amazing host and set off up the step hill to the San Andreas lake. From here I could follow a foot path that ran alongside the highway for a few miles before I then had to join it.
Realising then I wasn’t going to make the meeting as planned I changed the time and pushed on along the coast. It took a while to reach the bridge with steep climbs which slowed me down.
The bridge soon came into view and as before just looked majestic as a backdrop as it sat between the craggy hills. I soon arrived at the entrance, took a few photos and made my way across.
The wind was less fierce then when I crossed it with Jules which made it much more pleasant to ride. Once across I dropped into Sausalito and reached our meeting point around 12.30pm.
The infamous fog moving into the bay
Jim Carriere was already there along with Chris Gallagher and Jeri Fujimoto. They were all so nice and keen to talk about my trip and support shelter box.
Jim Carriere,Jeri Fujimoto,Chris Gallagher and me
Once we had taken a few photos Jim then offered to take us all out for dinner at a lovely Mexican restaurant where it felt like I ate my body weight in burritos. It was so lovely being there and talking to them and their involvement with shelter box. Having had an amazing meal and time to spend with these great people it was time to head back.
Jim dropped me back to the harbour where I then had the opportunity to see a huge model of San Francisco. The model was built by the military of the whole bay area and was a simulator for water movement and land management.
Topographical plan of the bay area
Just a small part of the massive model
Being the size of two football fields it was pretty impressive. Not having to much time as I wanted to cover more miles I returned to my bike, filled my bottles and made my way out onto the highway.
Leaving the harbour I spotted this tall ship being built in a large building
From here I climbed out of the bay and over the pass to the coast. The road was steep with many climbs along the way but was made up for it with amazing views of the ocean.
As I continued to head north I spotted something shine on the side of the road, stopping to see it was pretty much a new samsung phone I picked it up and started to investigate.
With it having a flat battery I put the sim in mine and waited for a message so I could contact the owner. I continued on following the coast line through some amazing woodland then dropped to sea level and followed an estuary through marshlands.
It was beautiful riding through the trees
With the sun getting lower I pushed on to the next village to get supplies and so climbed up until I reached one. Seeing a restaurant and store in the centre I stopped to be met by Carlos a Mexican and Christian from Santiago in Chile who were really nice guys and even brought me a beer.
Chris and Carlos were great guys to chat to
We sat chatting for ages which was so great but with the sun due to set in an hour I needed to find place to camp. I got going out of the village and covered another 10 miles before I started to look for a camp spot. I kept an eye out for a good place and finally saw one on the road side behind some fir trees. It was a great spot to camp but hearing strange noises in the night I knew I was now heading into wilder places.
Friday 6th May
Even though I was on the side of the road I was out of sight enough that I went undisturbed. My legs were sore and tired so I got up and lit my stove to make coffee while I stretched.
It was a better day being warm, the was sun shining and the road was quiet. I packed away my things and continued along the highway that followed the coast north. The road climbed away from the sea and would often return climbing high above the water giving me great views out to sea.
Dropping back towards the ocean
Dropping down only to climb back out the other side
I reached the town of Jenner and spotted a Chinese restaurant to have dinner. The owners were so lovely and even gave me extra food when they saw my bike. I went to pay but being so kind they only charging me half price which was amazing plus I was now full of energy. Wanting to get as far north as I could I pushed on out of town and continued to follow the highway. It was beautiful following the road that would mostly have the sea to the left and would also go inland and through the trees that lined the road.
As I got closer to where I wanted to end up a guy waved me down only to find he was an Englishman called Peter who lived down near San Francisco. Having a place just up the road he offered me to stay which was to good to be true. He gave me directions and I arrived shortly after at a lovely place that looked out over the ocean.
Cowburt even commented on the amazing pictures
I was shown to my room and we had a coffee while my washing went on. It was amazing and so great to speak to a fellow English man. We headed into town to pick up a few things before returning and being given a fish super that had not only fish but also sausage and crab that I could wash down with a cold glass of cider.
It tasted amazing and couldn’t believe how lucky I was. We chatted through the night but with another long tomorrow I had to sleep to rest my legs. It had been another good day.
Saturday 7th May
Hearing Peter put the kettle on it was my que for getting up. Only having bought in one bag and a couple other bits it didn’t take me long to pack before joining Peter for breakfast. We sat and chatted while I drank three cups of coffee along with some food to get me going.
Peter was also off on a bike ride but he was heading off out into the forest. Wanting to get some miles done I thanked him for an amazing evening and letting me stay before riding up to the highway and heading north. Having been told about a chapel a few miles down the road I looked out for it and went in to take a look.
It was so beautiful with a curved roof that looked more like a hobbits home then a chapel and with stain glass windows all nicely fitted around its curves. Being a chapel for reflection I sat down and tried to reflect on my life.
I could see how it could be a great place to reflect but having had 3 cups of strong coffee and a long way to go I knew I wasn’t going to do any reflecting today.
From here the road undulated steadily with little in the way of climbs and steadily reached Point Arena which is not only the most westerly point in the USA but also where the continental divide reaches the land and where I dropped into a small flat valley. Being recommended the town of Mendocino to have lunch I pushed on dropping down a hill and starting a climb the other side.
One of the many RV parks up the west coast
The climbs could get pretty steep
As I turned a corner a saw a guy on a recumbent who looked very familiar. He called out my name as I approached and it turned out to be Vorn who I had camped with on the same over priced campsite in Malibu.
Vorn with his recumbent
It was great to see him and see how he was getting on, we chatted for a while but wanting to get as many miles covered as I could we wished each other luck and I continued the climb. Apart from the cloudy sky the scenery remained great all the way into town and I looked for a supermarket.
By this point it was already 3pm but looking at the GPS I had covered about 50 miles which I was pleased with and took the pressure off what I had left to do. I found a supermarket to grab what I needed then sat out on the grass to make lunch. It was a nice town to look at with beautiful buildings that lined the streets but being a weekend it was also full of tourists. I stayed for around 45 minutes before packing up my things and heading on. With Fort Bragg 10 miles north I pushed on into a greyer looking sky. The drizzle started but remained ok all the way through town. Not needing anything I rode through picking up a cycle path on the way.
An old railway bridge thats now a cycle path coming out the north of Fort Bragg
Following it out of town and getting closer to Westport I arrived at a chilly yet pretty state park. Spotting a boardwalk I rode my bike out to the end to find a small seal colony out on the rocks. Being already 6pm I headed back and looked for a place to camp and spotted a good one under some trees near the entrance. Wanting to cook away from my tent I set up my stove on a bench and cooked tea. As I was about to finish I was approached by a very nice group who asked about the flags on my bike. They were so lovely but being booked into another camp once we had finished chatting they headed off while I packed away. Once packed I headed to a good place to pitch my tent and set up camp. Hoping I didn’t face any creatures I headed to bed ready for another long day tomorrow and another long stretch north.
Sunday 8th May
Hearing footsteps on the boardwalk I knew it would soon be time to get up. Still being early and feeling tired a lay in for another 15 minutes before I started to pack away what looked like everything.
Although my accommodation hadn’t changed Cowburt had resorted to sleeping in mailboxes
The people that passed either didn’t say anything but I would always try and say hello to be polite. I was packed by 8am and headed to a picnic bench to have breakfast. It was a cool misty morning with the mist heading in land off the sea and lifting as it reached the cliffs.
I set off just after 9am and followed the footpath for a short while before it rejoined the road north. It undulated as it followed the sea and although in places it was steep, the views more then made up for it. I had managed to contact the owner of yet another phone I had found and after a few phone call and texts we came to a plan on how to get it back to him. Pleased I had helped someone else I reached Westport where I grabbed a few snacks for the climb ahead.
It was great to take a break but with the highest pass on the pacific coast laying ahead and wanting to get within reach of the Avenue of the Giants I pushed on. The road started to climb and the sun came out making my ride much more enjoyable as I weaved in and out the cliffs until the road headed inland.
I climbed steadily through the trees getting ever higher but all the time taking it steady. After around 6 miles of climbing the road ramped up but at a nice gradient that I could still keep up a good pace.
Although in places it was steep I could still keep up a good pace
On turning a corner I spotted a car stopped and the couple I had met yesterday waiting with some bananas and carrot sticks. It was so sweet of them and so great to see them but just wished I had more time to chat. They headed on and I continued to climb to 550 metres before it dropped through the trees to the river. With a short climb to the highway I saw a sign for Leggett and the famous drive through tree. Being an image I had seen as a child I was so excited and turned off to find it.
After 5 minutes I arrived at the entrance and rode through huge redwoods to arrive at the tree. It was so cool to see it and I couldn’t believe I was here riding through a tree I had only imagined.
I spent a little time sat mesmerised by this huge tree and got talking to a few really lovely English tourists. It was so great to be there but as I had only covered 40 miles I wanted to get another 45 done before I stopped. I joined the 101 and headed north once more this time on a much faster road.
Although there were still climbs they were a nice gradient as I followed a series of rivers. Making good progress I got to within 15 miles of what I had in the GPS then Spotted a turn off sign for the Avenue of Giants in one mile.
It wasn’t long until I reached the turn off and after a couple miles stopped at a restaurant to grab some dinner. Not having eaten anything other then two bananas, a bag of carrots and a couple Snickers bars I was hungry and needed to eat.
Now being late and only having 45 minutes of light left I got going and headed for a campsite. Still being 9 miles away I rode through the huge trees encapsulated by there size. By the time I reached the campsite the office was closed so I pitched my tent. Already having had my tea I could relax, stretch and sleep ready for a ride through the huge forest and another big day on the road.
Monday 9th May
As the sun started shine through the trees I woke up from a deep sleep and decided to get up. Even though it was only 6am which is a very rare occurrence in my life I wanted to cover as many miles as I could. I left my camp and rode a mile down the road to the shrine tree which had a hole big enough to drive through, spotting some benches I decided that before I covered to many miles I would first have breakfast.
Once I was packed I continued on slowly winding through the huge redwoods just in awe of their sheer size. They were mesmerising almost putting me in a trance as the sun flashed through the gaps in the trees that rose high above the forest floor.
It was as if they were watching me just as they had watched everything before me over the past 2000 years where civilisations came and went and where thrones were won and lost yet here they stood in silence surveying all that came and went.
As I reached the end of the deep forest I spotted two guys sat in a timber cabin drinking coffee. Not having had my coffee yet I pulled in to buy myself one only to find it was two carpenters on their morning break. This luckily didn’t stop them inviting me in and joining them for a cuppa. Being in the business of making signs from everything from redwood to stone they showed me around and how they make them. It was so kind of them to do that and great to have met them both. Now being charged up on coffee I was ready to hit the road and head north.
From here I joined the highway and started to make good progress. I reached Fortuna after a few hours stopping for a snack before riding on to Eureka to have lunch. Spotting a Chinese restaurant I went in to get a good meal inside me. The owners were both really lovely to chat to and very kind to give me extra food and only charging me for half. From here I left the highway and followed a footpath that followed the coast.
This lasted for a few miles before it ended and rejoined the highway. With little in the way of traffic and lots in the way of scenery it made for a pleasant ride passing national parks that ran parallel to the highway.
Stopping at a lagoon to take a picture a vehicle pulled up and a guy very excitedly started to talk to me. He asked if I remembered him and foolishly I said yes which was party true but from where was still a mystery.
A herd of Elk grazing in the field just off the highway
After chatting for a few minutes I remembered I had met him just south of LA but couldn’t believe he had remembered me. It was so kind of him to stop but with them needing to head on we said our goodbyes and set off. With the sun going down it was now time to start to look for a place to camp.
Reaching the Humboldt lagoon and seeing a nice flat area with benches, beaches and bathrooms it was perfect. Spotting two guys at a bench ready to cook I went over to chat to them. It turned out to be Jake Phelps who is the editor of the skateboarding magazine Thrasher and Mark Hubbard who builds Grind line skate parks.
They were so cool to chat to and seeing their truck and listening to their stories was just awesome. They were like kids in adult bodies and I admired them both for their energy. Once they had finished their dinner it was time for them to leave and drive for another 3 hours south but before they left they asked if I wanted a skateboard deck.
Carrying enough stuff already I said no but keen to pass one on I was now carrying even more stuff. It was very kind of them to do that and so I was left on my own with the sun now set and the night getting cooler.
It had been such a great day having ridden through the forest, seen amazing sights, met some amazing people and covered 96 miles in the process. Life was getting better.
Tuesday 10th May
Having seen a bear sign on the bench I was aware I could be disturbed in the night but was left to sleep. I woke to a lovely sunny day and a few people in the carpark already having been up for hours to get here.
I got up and popped the stove on while I packed away my things. Wanting to try and keep up my distance I got back on the highway and headed on. The road from here started to head inland slightly and once again deep into more redwoods.
They were just breathtaking to watch and I was quite happy just cruising through all be it slowly as I climbed. After a few hours of beautiful views the road dropped where I could enjoy my efforts and glide through the trees to Crescent city. Once I had grabbed some lunch It was time to head on and ride the pacific coast highway to the Oregon border.
It wasn’t long before I arrived at the Oregon sign which really felt like I was almost to the top of the states. It was almost instant how the scenery changed with the ocean coming into to view and rocks protruding from the sparkling water like guardians standing strong against the relentless pacific storms.
As the road climbed above the sea the trees protected the highway with viewpoints out to the horizon. It was great following this road and I felt lucky I had got the opportunity to do this. As the sun started to get low and having covered the miles I wanted I started to look for a place to pitch my tent.
Seeing a sign for arch rock I knew I had to take a look only to find great places to camp, toilet, benches and amazing views. I parked my bike on a bench and walked out to the view point to see the sun getting lower. It had been yet another great day with incredible views, crossing a state border and covering 82 miles. I’m starting to get used to this touring lark..
Wednesday 11th May
It was so lovely to wake to the sun slowly lighting my tent with the sound of the waves hitting the rocks below. Knowing I had 70 miles to cover to reach Bandon I didn’t want to lay in to long so popped the stove on and packed away my things.
It was a beautiful day with blue skies and hardly a breath of wind making me happy I wouldn’t be in for a tough day. I set off just before 9.30am and after a short climb descended to the sea.
It was so beautiful with the mist lifting off the water and the waves bouncing off the rocks. The last few days had been long but they had been beautiful which made me want to come back and spend time here without the need to keep moving.
I was however making amazing progress and on track for reaching Alaska when I had planned. By the time it was 3pm I had covered 45 miles and so stopped for lunch in a Co-op which was perfect.
I had received a message from Bill Woodard who had been helping me out and now had a contact and a place to stay in Bandon. I made a call to a lady called Nora who sounded lovely and worked out I would arrive around 5.30pm. I got my head down and after a couple hours arrived at the Bandon Hotel where I was staying. The hotel receptionist was so lovely and showed me my room while we chatted. The hotel was beautiful and I couldn’t believe I was being treated to such luxury.
With views out to the bay and a very hot and powerful shower I knew I was going to enjoy it here. Having an hour to freshen up I was soon met by Nora and her husband Dennis where I was taken to dinner to meet Chuck who was another Rotarian. It was so amazing to be treated to dinner but even more amazing meeting them all. They were all so lovely and made me feel so welcome. I always found it hard meeting new people that I would have to say goodbye to but I also felt lucky I got to meet them in the first place.
Dennis, Nora, Chuck and I
Feeling full and after a long day Dennis and Nora took me around to see the town but unfortunately with the fog was almost impossible. I was however very grateful for their kindness and would leave this town with wonderful memories a an amazing rest in a very comfy bed.
Riding back over the Golden Gate Bridge with a fully loaded bike felt incredible knowing I had ridden here and the reward was riding the beautiful pacific coast highway north and getting to see not just the rugged cliffs but also the giant redwood forests with my own eyes after only ever dreaming of them and seeing them in illustration books or in documentaries. Having ridden through California felt amazing but reaching the north of California and Oregon felt different. The temperature was getting cooler and fresher, the roads were smoother and the people seemed to be more relaxed. It also reminded me of home with the smell of the fresh grass, sea air and forests floors. Arriving in Bandon was going to be the start of my involvement with the rotary who are very closely linked to shelter box which is the charity we support and having met my first hosts along with a lovely group form Sausalito I couldn’t wait to meet more. If they were anything like the members I had met so far I was in for an amazing time meeting the kindest people and I couldn’t wait.