16th – 17th Sept
Salt Point SP to Bodego Bay Dunes 48kms
A beautiful night, slightly warmer, and a relaxed morning. No one was rushing off today, as we all had the impression it was “an easy” one. Bruce had told us all about the Fort, not far from here, and we had all made a mental note to stop in. We had time after all, easy day. So Bruce departed, then we did, then the rest. The first section, to the fort, was pretty nice, and we reached the Fort Ross in time for lunch and a good look around.
A few miles down the track, today, we went past Stillwater, where the other campground was. It did look nice, but we were sure we made the right decision.
It was worth stopping, and we enjoyed walking through the old Russian Fort. Originally it was constructed to support the Russian settlements in Alaska, by farming, fishing and hunting. It was almost destroyed in a severe earthquake, in 1908, but has been rebuilt in the original format. The workmanship is amazing. While wandering around, we spotted Bruce, just finishing his tour, and James and Janet just starting theirs.
Thanks for the heads up Bruce, we enjoyed the Fort. They run free tours too, but we didn’t stay for it. James and Janet did, and loved it.
No Fort is complete without some canons, and a nice view. Oh, and spot the Bruce.
Riding off, the road continued to increase in the dips and gullies, the shoulder completely disappearing, and the traffic becoming ridiculously busy. It is Sunday. The number one is obviously not the road to cycle on a Sunday. After Fort Ross, it wasn’t too bad, just stressful because of the traffic. All of which was very careful, and obviously used to delays on this road. We reached Jenner, and tried for some groceries, which was unsuccessful, so we ended up with an expensive, but delicious vegan sandwich, sitting in the sun listening to live Jazz musicians. Another great spot to stop, but oh no, we have a bloody schedule. So on we go.
Coming into Jenner, and we race down into the , and climb back out, chased by mega vans. It was nice to relax for a bit with the local music.
Now the road is right on the cliff edge, less than a shoulder, we can’t even ride on the white line, it’s half missing. We are also on a long, windy climb, over about six kilometres. Cars, RV’s, motorbikes, vroom, vroom, vroom, one after the other. Waiting behind us, trying not to pressure us up the hill, but we feel pressure. Every pullout, we drop off into, to let the long line of traffic go. It is exhausting and stressful. It is really difficult to appreciate the amazing coastal views in this situation. Not to mention, we are stopping so much, it feels like we’ll never get there.
Thankful for the wind behind us, and the patience of the billions of Sunday drivers. It really isn’t a good day to do this cycle leg.
On the downhills we could keep up with the traffic, and use the entire lane.
The hills did, ease up a bit, but we are still diving down into the gullies and bays, and then climbing back out, to do it again, every few kilometres. Great coastline, beautiful roads, just not on a Sunday. I tried to chat up a couple of motorbike riders, we kept bumping into, to see if they wanted to swap for a bit, but none would have it. Poopers!
There really were some beautiful views, and signs of the ferocity of this coastline.
Finally, we spotted the Bodega Dunes campground sign, and I was beyond relieved. It was getting cold, and foggy, and we were shattered from the “easy” day. Who the hell said it was going to be an easy day? We all underestimated it. We rolled up to the hiker biker camp spot, and stood in shock. It was just a giant black sand pit, with a couple of tables. $5 a night each, but hey, guys, this is not usable. Bruce had made it, and set up his camp on the sand, but we chose a spot that wasn’t on the sand, probably it wasn’t even a site, but who cares, I’m not doing the sand. Will and Bruce rode into town for groceries, while I got our little home sorted, and took a shower.
Woo hoo! We made it again. Bloody amazing days.
There was no sign of the other three amigos, so we presumed they had all stopped elsewhere due to the unexpected difficulty. I know Janet was starting to feel like me, a bit tired and fatigued. They were also due in San Francisco on Tuesday. Just as it was getting dark, and we’d decided they weren’t coming, Team MumSon, rolled in. 7:30pm! Wow, guys, are you okay, what happened? Well, it turned out that they had come across Alan, just after the big climb, and stopped to help him with his chain. He’d been having issues, but hoped it would make it to Bodega Bay, but it didn’t. So James had spent two hours with Alan, on the side of the road, learning and fixing the chain. Well done you guys! They hadn’t seen Alan since, and had ridden straight into town, and had dinner at the Mexican restaurant before coming to camp. Good thinking. Then, just as we decided Alan wasn’t going to get here, he rolled in, all bright lights and good attitude. Amazing guys, just amazing. It was pitch black and cold, and after a quick chat and catch up, we all retired to our tents. Easy, short day! Huh! You just never know.
Bodega Bay to Samuel P Taylor State Park 67kms
Bruce wasn’t going any further than here, so he was having a nice chill morning. Alan was going to get his bike sorted, so he was also, just chilling. Another cyclist, who had arrived in the dark, Will, chatted to us all during the morning. He is a local San Franciscan, and cycles the coast regularly. He is checking out different roads, tracks and route options. He was a wealth of information for us all. Public transport, trails, bike shops, you name it, he had info on it all.
So James and Janet headed off, another big day ahead, and after yesterday, none of us were underestimating again. We were about an hour behind them, and the fog had rolled in. Bugger. But it didn’t last too long, as we were now heading inland for a while. There is a coast route, but it is much, much hillier, and busier as far as cars go. The sun came out and the vegetation changed to dry farming and more desert like. We were riding through the valleys, with the hills either side of us, and that was a pleasant change.
Of course there were hills, the day wouldn’t be complete without some grinding in first gear, but there were less. After heading east for the first section, we turned south on the number one, which the roadworks crew were busy resurfacing, and had to stop at the bottom of a small incline. When it was our turn to go, we thought they’d make us wait until the cars had moved off, but no, they sent us first. Giving us a head start was not really too good, we just felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Running Man. Giant pickups and trucks all coming after us, wanting to run us down. Of course they weren’t doing that, but it felt like it, so we pumped our legs as fast as we could go, up the hill, over the sticky, new tar. It was bloody tough, and when I finally got to the top, the other lollipop man was having a good old laugh. Hhmmph!
Then we climbed another larger hill, before rolling into Tomales at speed. Another cute little town, with some nice buildings. We braked, and decided to stop for lunch. As we turned around to find a deli, we spotted James and Janet, so joined them for lunch. They had the same experience on the roadworks as us, and we all had a good laugh about it.
Neither of us has taken many photos today, we must be buggered. Tomales was a good break, and a very nice sandwich.
Onward we all go, at different speeds, and as we head south, we come around and along Tomales Bay, which is quite a long inlet with many small waterside communities. Of course it was not flat riding along the inlet, as it would be in Western Australia, but more of the old up and down stuff, we’ve been doing. We spotted Team MumSon, in the distance, as we came down one gulch, and they were going up another. We passed by Marshall, which was an interesting place. Lots of residences, that were built on piers, over the water. This inlet is a big oyster area, but no time for that stuff, we are after the other duo.
Up and down a few more times, then we lost sight of them. Where did they go? They are just over a couple more hills. Nup, gone! Well, never mind we’ll see them at camp soon enough. At Port Reyes Station, we had to stop and get groceries, and this is where there are two route choices. The Adventure Cycling Association map, sends you east from here, where as we are following The Pacific Coast Cycle book, by Vicki Spring, which tells us to go south to Olema. It looks flatter, and takes us to a nice cycle path that goes straight to the State Park we want. As we pulled up at the market, we spotted the other duo, who were doing the same. We were all sick of riding, and ready for a bike trail. We rode together out of Port Reyes, and finally got up the last hill of the day. We were all a bit sceptical that we’d actually reached the top, but all of a sudden we were zooming down the hill, enjoying the thought of the bike trail, and just about sped right past it. We all whacked on the brakes, did a u-turn, and got on that bloody flat path. Aaarrghh, how nice. The Cross Marin (the county name) Trail. We all enjoyed this last 3 miles, spotting more Redwoods, and not even noticing that we were actually riding uphill. Then suddenly, we arrived at the Samuel P Taylor State Park, and found the hiker biker area, which was right next to a lovely little brook, in amongst the Redwoods.
Nothing better than ending a tough days ride with a cycle path through the Redwoods. Then a secluded camp, with babbling brook and more great trees.
This one is only 50kms from San Francisco, and is slightly more expensive. It also has a limit of one night, and only eight people, where the others were three nights. Apparently this stops people from the city coming out for the weekend too cheaply. We were the only four people tonight. We were all worn out but amazed we’d be in the big city tomorrow.