Days 26 & 27: The Rocky Coast

Day 26 (2016-09-21). ~45 miles from MacKerricher State Park to Manchester State Park, CA.

This morning I woke up wanting to be efficient and hit the road quickly. We awoke at 8:00 but didn’t hit the road until about 10:15. Not exactly what I had in mind. We also stopped at Safeway in Fort Bragg for a couple of light basics, and spent $40…not exactly what I had in mind either. We never seem to accomplish anything in the way that I hope. Gah!

Riding today was hilly and curvy along the 1 but mostly uneventful, except for a run-in with logging trucks. We were on a windy section with no shoulder when a couple of logging trucks came up on our tails. I was following Lindsey, and I let her know in advance that the trucks were coming. She proceeded to get as close to the edge as possible on a windy section with a drop-off immediately at the edge of the road, blind corners, and few places to safely pull off. As the trucks passed she slowed and stopped – while behind her I was trying to  ride and keep an eye on the trucks. I slammed on my brakes, skidding to a halt before hitting her. It got my blood pumping for sure.

PRO TIP: in this situation, just take the lane. If they’re willing to run you over point-blank you were fucked as soon as they got on the road, and nothing you can do will change that. Take the lane, force them to wait, then get off the road or onto the shoulder as soon as possible. I’ve also found that a helpful wave to indicate it is time to pass helps show the driver you’re not being an asshole but practicing defensive riding.

After the trucks passed Lindsey kept riding and I had to calm down a minute, but when I caught up I was severe. “You have to either take the fucking lane or get of the road.” Hiding at the edge like that will get you killed!” A few miles later I made sure she did not think I was being unkind, mean, or cruel – just serious. She is too damn timid and it’s dangerous. When you try to hide like that you give up all your power and leave the outcome to the truckers – while you try to be tiny and pray they don’t hit you. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather take control than let someone who thinks they own the road decide my fate.

Some of the exposed coves generate a ton of side-winds – be careful! I find it helpful to keep a speedy pace – the laws of physics (vectors, yo) mean the wind will push you less the faster you move.



Right now we are sitting on a porch in Elk, a small town about 13 miles north of our campsite. I’ve been catching up on today’s journal while she got her warm tea fix. I’ve been trying to use this down time to accomplish something, instead of just waiting around So far it has really helped me keep up with journaling since I don’t always dedicate much time at the end of the day.

We were unable to fill up water here and the last 15 miles were a little tougher for it. There was this one section – just south of Elk – with a very steep climb through a couple of switchbacks. It was short, but at one point I even had to stand up in my lowest gear. Lindsey pushed her bike for a while. I’m no expert but I’d say it was 12% or more. The headwinds didn’t help either.

Nasty switchback a mile or two south of Elk – be prepared to push yourself hard or push your bike.

We rolled past the sign for Manchester State Park, noting only picnic symbols – I thought maybe the campground was ahead. So we went through the tiny town, stopped and got a can of beans to add to dinner, and continued on to the ither state park access road. We missed it the first time because there was no sign – clearly what we were looking for. After some turning around, Google, and map work we learned that the campground is only open April – June! Well, with nowhere else to stay for some time we circled back, hoping to perhaps stay there anyway or try the KOA. Well, KOA was $40 for a tent, so fuck that (apparently they have hiker-biker rates, but ti wasn’t listed on this price sheet).

We continued on to the state park where Lindsey suggested we get a cabin at the KOA for $80 and she would pay for it, knowing I am not interested in spending that much money. I gave my honest opinion that I would like to stealth camp and wasn’t interested in staying at the KOA, but if she wanted to pay for it let’s do it. Turns out it didn’t even matter – as I scouted out the park while she thought about it  a camp host found me.  Apparently, the park is closed but hiker-biker folks can use it so we’re not stuck with another 20 miles to the next campground. The nice man even gave us free firewood and put us in a different site where the cold ocean wind would be less intense. So here we are with full stomachs, a fire, a safe place to stay – everything worked out great!



Day 27 (2016-09-22): ~45 miles from Manchester State Park to Stillwater Cove Regional Park campground, CA. Entirely highway 1 windy & curvy.

Today started out pretty efficiently with a no-cook breakfast of peanut butter, honey, and banana on sandwich thins. Lindsey says we are pretty low on cooking fuel so we figured we would save it for dinner and eat a cold breakfast. We were ready to leave within an hour and a half – probably a record for us – but lingered a bit longer to address Lindsey’s shifting issues. Problem solved, we chatted with the camp host and ranger and hit the road.

We rode only about 8 miles before coming to a Co-Op in Point Arena where we had a couple of warm drinks, a snack, and used the wifi for about an hour. I caught up on a few of days of journaling and turned out three blog posts set to publish over the next few days. I like that I can schedule them in advance so I can keep a more steady stream of updates when wifi is sporadic.

Riding today was one of my favorite days so far. It was a rocky coast with little beach but a whole lot of scenic road. At some point we crossed into what is clearly an elite retirement and house rental area with large homes on the water and private cul-de-sacs leading to them. The big fuck-off trucks also transitioned into Beamers and Prii (multiple Prius vehicles) which was mostly an improvement over the trucks. Traffic was low too, and I spent most of the day listening to podcasts and cruising at a comfortable pace. Oh, and did I mention the was a tailwind almost the entire day?

I rarely feel comfortable zoning out on this route, but this section of highway 1 was quite and listening to podcasts was so zen!

We passed a couple little shops in little towns, mostly rural except for the weird elite area north of Stewart’s Point. There was one group of old roadies who passed us on their road bikes. Apparently they frustrated Lindsey with their “‘atta girl” remarks to her. Typical old men. Since we were low on fuel we stopped a about a mile north of camp at a little private campground with a small store to buy smoked brats, chips, and a 22. No cook dinner – just a fire to warm it and us up.

I worked on my fire skills tonight. Eventually I want to be able to easily start a fire with the magnesium flint and steel box I have and little to no tinder. Growing up we always had plenty of fire starter material so I never really had practice at getting fire started with limited resources. For now, I am working on being efficient with a lighter and a little bit of paper or other man-made tinder. I got the fire to light on the first try and, by the time Lindsey got back from her shower, it was burning nicely. I waited for some good coals, whittled a few good roasting sticks, and happily listened to the sizzle as the grease from the sausages fed the fire.


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