Days 28 & 29: The Final Stretch

Day 28 (2016-09-23): ~25 miles from Stillwater Cove to Bodega Dunes campground, Bodega Bay, CA. Highway 1 with climbs along ocean cliffs.

Today was a really short riding day. From where we stayed at Stillwater Cove we needed to stop once before getting to the outskirts of San Fransisco, and the only place we saw with hiker-biker options was Bodega Bay. It was either 80 miles or 25/55, hence the short day.

Much of the morning was spent climbing and descending the cliffs along highway 1. There was little to no shoulder with a very steep drop down to the ocean on one side and solid rock on the other. Plus winding road with blind turns. Not the best for riding with traffic but certainly fun terrain to ride. Going northbound here would be the worst, since drivers would be even more blind to cyclists coming around the corners. One area even reminded me a lot of the Alps you see professional cyclists riding with long switchbacks cut horizontally into the mountain. Of course, our elevation was nothing like the Alps!

You know it’s a bit sketchy when even all the guys on motorcycles are taking these turns carefully.

 

It’s not quite the alps, but these winding switchbacks remind me of the super professional cycling courses in the European mountains.

It was another hot day today and although we only went 25 miles I was feeling tired by the end. Mexican was on Lindsey’s mind and we stopped at the first place we saw. I was unimpressed with the lukewarm fajitas and wheat tortillas, when I ordered corn. It was the only Mexican place in town though, so not surprising a few people we talked to said it was good. After lunch we went to the nearby Bodega Dunes campground in the Sonoma Beach State Park. PRO TIP: This campground has $5.00 hiker biker sites here but beware it is just a little sand pit with a fire ring and three tables.

We met two kiwi couples and chatted for awhile before setting up and eventually crawling into our tent to escape the sandy wind and read for a while. We were joined by Mary-Lynn, the Canadian we met in the redwoods, as well as a solo guy, a pair of french dudes, a pair of backpackers, and some girl who was traveling very light. As the sun disappeared over the sea we re-emerged and used the last of our fuel to boil a bit of water for a packet of instant baby reds with green beans and red onion added for a bit of flavor and crunch. It was a “whatever is left’ meal for sure – we don’t have much left but tomorrow we will be in the outskirts of San Francisco so there is no use stocking up. I downed some more trail mix and chocolate with peanut butter to finish off the night.

We prepared our overnight oats again – man, this is such a good idea. I wish we would have done it earlier. Sure, it is a cold breakfast but it makes for a quick morning and requires no fuel. Plus, the texture is better since we never boiled the muesli for the full 7-8 minutes. Better texture in less time with no fuel- I highly recommend! We finished the night watching Angels & Demons on Lindsey’s laptop – we haven’t used it much but it sure is a luxury to be able to watch a movie every now and again.


 

Day 29 (2016-09-24): ~55 miles from Bodega Bay to Fairfax, CA. A mixture of highway 1 and other state routes, with a little bit of trail.

Today was going to be a long day of heat, curvy and hilly terrain, and 50+ miles.  We wanted an early start (early for us, that is). We were up around 7:30 and actually hit the road at 9 – a first for us. The overnight oats definitely helped. There was a lot of shuffling things about. This is probably one of the biggest time sucks in cycle touring that I’ve noticed so far. People who can set up camp without throwing everything everywhere and can also put things away right the first time, and not need to take them out again, are the most efficient at camp. We, on the other hand, tend to take over an entire picnic table with our shit and there is a lot of moving, packing, unpacking, and moving involved in breakdown. Don’t be us.

We rode out of camp chilly from the shadows and breeze but it didn’t take long for us to rip off the layers and start sweating. We went inland through dry terrain with a hot sun, cloudless sky, and stifling heat for a while before breaking back to the coast. A couple of roadies passed us and recommended two bakeries – cyclists are always thinking about food. Turning towards the Pacific and away from the main road towards Petaluma, highway 1 ran for about 10 miles with minimal traffic. Cruising through the small town of Tomales I spotted tons of bikes parked out front of a bakery – this must be one of the top spots. We got some snacks and talked to a couple roadies who told us about the terrain and some of the rides they do. They didn’t specifically say, but it sounds like they are the Saturday Morning Bakery Club for Old Gents. Or so I imagined.

Tomales Bakery is frequented by the Saturday Morning Bakery Club for Old Gents

By this time the heat was probably nearing 90° and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so the cool breeze as we rose out past Tomales Bay was much appreciated. Apparently, today was a big bike day – a gran fondo (long distance race) and Bike MS were both happening today. We are in Marin County now which, for me, is earning it’s reputation for the bike Mecca of the US. We must have seen a thousand roadies cruising the opposite direction.  It was nice to see so many other bikers, although some of the safety benefits of increased driver awareness were worn away by increased driver frustration and impatience. We saw one dude pulled over and being out in cuffs by a motorcycle cop – I sincerely hope he was taken in for harassing cyclists since the cops were out at a few spots along the route.

We eventually peeled off from the main event route and snaked our way from the coast back inland towards Fairfax, where we had arranged to stay with a Warm Showers host. As we got nearer my anticipation and excitement began to rise. It’s been almost a month on the road and we’ve covered over 1,000 miles. Although San Francisco is not the end it is the first major milestone of the trip and I’ll be glad to finally cross the Golden Gate Bridge tomorrow!

We reached Fairfax around 16:00, not bad considering we covered 55 miles of hilly terrain in about 6 hours, including stops. Our Warm Showers host is in Pennsylvania right now but he let us stay in his studio and had the woman living in front of his place show us in. It’s not exactly a tiny home but it is definitely small, with a lofted bed and only one room (plus a bathroom). I loved it!


Lindsey and I washed up and prepared to head into town for dinner. Man, it sucked to put dirty-ish clothes back on but at this point nothing is clean. It has been two weeks or more since we have done a full load of laundry and small scrubbing sessions only do so much to reduce the funk. We were disappointed the house has no laundry but we’re going to ask the host to stay another day and, if he says yes, there is a laundromat in town. It would be nice to relax and clean up before hitting the city!

The Indian dinner at Cafe Lotus was a $56 splurge and absolutely the most enjoyable meal I have eaten since leaving Seattle. We started with a mango lassi, a thick and creamy drink made with mango and yogurt. Unbelievably refreshing after our hot day. Then came a shared plate oh curried chickpeas, spinach, and more in a pastry shell. We each got a meal and shared some, me with the Aloo Gobi (a typical curried cauliflower and potato dish) and Lindsey with a pesto paneer kebab that came out sizzling like fajitas. Oh man, I was so happy!

I love eating. On the road I don’t crave ice cream or burgers. I crave Indian and Ethiopian food – healthy, spicy, flavor-intense, and vegetarian. Yum!

After dinner we strolled about and happened to walk by the local movie theater just as Storks, an animated, movie was about to start. Man, I laughed a lot! Wolf submarine! Highly recommend!

We split a milkshake after the movie and headed home. We both were tired and happy to hit the hey after a long day. After a long, sunny, hot day a great meal, movie, and light dessert hit the spot!

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