Sunday, October 5, 2008

Other Riding

In this post, we'll just be posting our day-trip rides before we get back to Seattle. This is mostly for us so we'll remember this part of the trip but you can follow along if you like :-)

October 3
San Luis Obispo - Prefumo Canyon/See Canyon/Avila Beach
24.5 miles, 1700 feet of climbing

October 5
Cupertino - Redwood Gulch/Hwy 9/Skyline/Page Mill/Altamont/Foothill
35.5 miles, 3350 feet of climbing

October 6
(Deborah) Mt Eden Loop
13.5 miles, 700 feet climbing
(Arn) Rancho San Antonio Hill Run

October 7
Page Mill/Skyline/Woodside/Portola/Alpine/Altamont Loop
26.5 miles, 2700 feet of climbing

October 9
Woodside/Mt Home/Portola/Old La Honda/Skyline/84 West/Stage/1/Tunitas Creek/Kings Mountain
40 miles, 4000 feet of climbing

October 11
Montebello Road Time Trial
5.4 miles, 2020 feet of climbing
36:40 Arn, 48:00 Deborah
(no warm-up, extra weight on bikes, wind, no sleep, and a stop for Deborah to remove clothing)
These times will probably never be equaled - even with better "conditions!"

October 12
Felton/9, sideroads/Brookdale/Alba/Empire Grade/Pine Flat/Martin/Ice Cream/Felton Empire
22 miles, 3200 feet of climbing

October 13
(Deborah) Mt Eden Loop + Regnart Hill Climb
18 miles, 1400 feet of climbing

October 14
(Arn) Rancho San Antonio Run

That's all folks - heading home today :-(

Friday, October 3, 2008

Superlatives and Statistics

1302 miles, 65550 feet of climbing, lots of road kill
29 elapsed days; 4 full days off (1 because of mechanical failure); 4 planned half days of riding
2 broken spokes, 2 flat tires - all on Arn's rear wheel

Favorite Places to Stay Open to the Public
TuTuTun Lodge Gold Beach
Overleaf Lodge Yachats
Glen Oaks Big Sur

Best Breakfasts
Craftsman B&B Pacific City
DeHaven Valley B&B Westport
Poppa Joe's Ferndale

Best Lunches
Mo's Chowder Oregon Coast
JD Bones San Luis Obispo
??? Restaurant in Elk CA

Best Dinners Available to the Public
Perbacco San Francisco
Ivanhoe Ferndale
Yachats River House Yachats

3 People We'll Never Forget
- David from DeHaven Valley Inn who shuttled us when we had a mechanical problem
- Stud-ette on Single Speed with flat pedals and one brake
- Crazy Lady at Subway in Garberville who makes sandwiches at a rate of 1 every 10 minutes with lots of sass

3 Towns Never to Visit Again

Favorite Stretches of Road
Big Sur, CA to Cambria, CA
Westport, CA to Gualala, CA
Avenue of the Giants CA
Prairie Creek Redwoods CA
Otter Crest Loop Road OR
Slab Creek Road OR

Worst Stretches of Road
- Highway 30 from Westport OR to Astoria, OR
- Highway 101 from top of hill after Crescent City, CA to beach before Klamath, CA
- Highway 101 from Gold Beach, OR to Brookings, OR (death by 1000 logging trucks)

3 Discoveries to Pack on a Tour
Fiberfix Emergency Spoke Repair Kit
Topeak Road Morph Pump w/Gauge
Shower caps and rubberbands to protect bike seat from dew

Best Pass of the Entire Tour
Truck Driver pulling half a house, crossing a bridge and stopping traffic so we could ride across.

Things We Learned
- Significantly more than 50% of all people are below average drivers
- Stop and smell the "roses" of the coast - skunks, logging mills, strawberries, ocean, power plant, fog, brake pads, and wild fennel
- We need different brakes - especially the front - on our bikes
- When you are cycle touring, logging miles to log miles to log miles really sucks. We need eye candy and little traffic to really enjoy the trip.

Best Towns to See Kitties
- Gorda, CA (a crummy little nothing town but lots of "shop" kitties in "town")
- Centralia, WA
- Davenport, CA

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cambria to San Luis Obispo

38.5 miles, 1300 feet of climbing, no road kill

We are done! D-O-N-E done.

Today's ride was a super fast, easy ride down the coast and inland to SLO. Beautiful scenery and easy riding.

We saw our single speed stud-ette again today, just when we were starting out from Cambria. The story gets even better as we spoke to her for a while about her bike. Arn pedaled up to her and noticed that she was riding with sneakers and flat pedals and asked what was up.

In life, the simplest explanation is often the best and the simple explanation was at work here. She wasn't training for anything. It was the only bike she has so that is what she rode. Flat pedals, single speed, only a front brake. She didn't even know what her gear ratio was (Arn estimates about 48-21). She is riding Seattle->LA. Wow.

We are glad to be done with the loaded touring though looking forward to a number of rides without weight on our bikes before heading back to Seattle. We think we are making a good decision to stop here as the traffic will start to become much, much worse once we get south of Lompoc and within 25 miles of Santa Barbara. Day rides will be much more enjoyable!

Check out our next post for some overall impressions of the trip. Thanks for all the comments and notes!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Big Sur to Cambria

75 miles, 5050 feet of climbing, road kill (2 mice, 2 rattlesnakes, 1 big unidentified furry thingy)

What a fantastic day of riding! Deborah's favorite day of the entire trip. One of the best two days for Arn.

It is hard to describe just how fabulous the cycling was today. Fantastic and varied scenery; long climbs and descents; and very little traffic.

What more could you ask for? We'll tell you. Turns out, CalTrans decided to give us a wedding anniversary present. About 10 miles south of Big Sur, they were stopping traffic for 20 minutes at a time while they did "scaling" on the cliffs above a section of road. The net effect of this was that for the next 2-3 hours, we had virtually no traffic - save for a blast of cars every twenty to thirty minutes that passed in a pack.
That's right. We got to cycle the absolutely best part of the California coast taking up virtually an entire lane of traffic. Truth be told, even without this CalTrans gift, the traffic would have been light.

As we got further south, the higher altitude air was full of lots of smoke from some fires still burning in Los Padres National Forest. Much of this area was closed 2 months ago because of fires. It didn't effect the riding but did effect the pictures a little.
We saw lots of touring cyclists today. When we were most of the way to Ragged Point - on the very last big hill of the day - we saw a gal up ahead of us who was absolutely suffering. She eventually resorted to pushing her bike. Arn joked that she was on a single speed. Well, turns out, she was. What a studette! We can't believe that someone would cycle this section of road fully loaded on a single speed. Perhaps she was a future Olympian? When we asked her where she was going, she replied, "To the beach." All righty then!
The last 25 miles from Ragged Point to Cambria was virtually effortless. Almost flat terrain with a tailwind and it was fun to push forward at 20-25 MPH after crawling through all of the hills. We thought about continuing on to Morro Bay (another 20 miles) but the choices for accommodations/restaurants weren't as nice as Cambria so we just stopped.

While here, Arn stopped into Cambria bikes. They have a huge web presence but a pretty ordinary shop in town. He spoke to one of the guys in the shop who mentioned that some group of riders was stuck at Ragged Point. One in their group had a broken pedal - another had a busted frame. OUCH! Hopefully they secured a shuttle.

Tomorrow we have an easy 38 mile ride to SLO and the end of our tour!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Marina to Big Sur

40.5 miles, 2550 feet of climbing, NO ROAD KILL

We have a theory on the lack of road kill - it is simple, actually. If you've already killed all of the animals, well, there isn't much left to kill.

With that thought in mind, we started out with a real treat - a ride on a bike path for the first 10 miles of our journey. The Monterey Coastal Bike Path is a beautiful right-of-way for bicyclists, joggers, etc. and winds from a little north of Marina at least to Monterey (where we turned off). Sometimes you ride right along the beach - a little bit of blacktop just a few hundred feet from the breaking waves.

After our treat, it was time for some penance, and that happened after a bit of town riding dropped us onto Highway 1. We kept hoping that traffic would drop off as we passed through Carmel, the turnoff for Carmel Valley and finally Carmel Highlands. Arn was still in a grumpy mood (because of the traffic) as we passed the Highlands Inn (where we got married).
Fortunately, the traffic did abate somewhat as we got further south and we hope that tomorrow will be even less as many go to Big Sur for the day and return to the Monterey Peninsula in the evening. The views along the coast were nothing short of stunning and the 1930s era arched bridges over many of the canyons were awe inspiring - especially when some dope passed us with a desire to test Newton's law of gravity on their own. Fortunately, for everyone, that test didn't happen.
We also have a real treat for where we are staying. If you go to Big Sur, check out the Glen Oaks Motel. It is a very recently remodeled mid-century motel and the rooms are really quite impressively done. In fact, we'd like to get their designer to redo our place in Seattle! All of the reviews on Yelp were over-the-top fabulous and deservedly so. Only about $1000 a night less expensive than Post Rach Inn. Really.

Sadly, our plans fell through for Cambria so we aren't sure what our next two days look like. 110 miles to San Luis Obispo - we'll be there Thursday unless we have some mechanical issues and we need to walk there - in that case, we are expecting to arrive sometime before Halloween. We may or may not have internet access tomorrow so blogging may wait a day...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Costanoa to Marina

62 miles, 2050 feet of climbing, road kill (2 deer, 2 raccoons, 1 squirrel, 5 hawks, 8 unidentified furry things, 1 snake run over by Deborah - snake status unknown)

Today was an olfactory day - we had the best smells of the trip and the worst smells of the trip. We'll start with the worst even though that smell came last as we rode through Moss Landing - the armpit of the Central Coast. We've been through Moss Landing many times before in a car and it isn't a pleasant experience going by the huge power plant. Let's just say that it is much worse on a bike!

But, our best smell was the smell of strawberries. We rode through strawberry field after strawberry field. The vines were swollen with berries and the fields were full of workers harvesting the berries. Not surprisingly, a goal for lunch was finding a farm stand and enjoying some of those strawberries. We can say that that mission was accomplished.
Earlier this week, Arn talked to his mother and she asked, "What are you guys doing on your anniversary?" Arn replied, "I don't know Mom, we thought we'd ride our bikes."

Actually, tomorrow will be the last day of our 14th year of marriage and we will have an easy day pedaling past the Highlands Inn in Carmel Highlands on our way to Big Sur. And, on Wednesday, our anniversary, we'll have a long, hilly ride to Cambria where we are hoping to meet some friends and stay till Friday or Saturday. Then a short ride to SLO and the end of our bike tour!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

San Mateo to Costanoa (10 miles north of Davenport)

50 miles, 3500 feet of climbing, road kill report soon

What a day! Save for the last 10 miles of the route, this is a route we know well - especially Arn - as he has ridden it many times when we lived in the Bay Area. We got to ride some of the classic roads on the Peninsula, and even had the correct timing to take advantage of Bicycle Sunday on Canada road. We saw hundreds of riders today while riding on the east side of the mountains - once we crossed Skyline, there were still lots of riders but they were more spaced out.

We also considered this our "make-up exam" for our shuttle day when Arn had a broken spoke. The Adventure Cycling Route has you travel from SF to our location today staying on the coast. Instead, we rode inland yesterday followed by a crossing of the coast mountain range today. Our "make-up" crossing of the coast mountains.

We started the ride with a fun, quick ride over to Woodside Bakery where we met Dave A., our "domestique" for the next 26 miles to Pescadero. Dave and Arn have ridden countless miles together and it was fun that he got to ride with us for a part of our journey. In Pescadero, we stopped at our favorite deli for lunch and picnic sandwiches.
After, we parted ways and enjoyed a leisurely 10 miles to our resting spot for the evening. We knew it was getting close to Halloween as we saw lots of pumpkins near the coast.
Today was the first day in our journey when motorcycles were a real problem. Usually, motorcyclists are super courteous - especially Harley-riders. The people riding Japanese bikes are often riding for speed more than scenery and sometimes pass more dangerously. Well, today it was absolutely crazy with motorcyclists passing us going much faster than the speed limit, leaning into turns with one knee practically on the ground. On some corners, they literally were a foot away from us or less going way to fast. Fortunately, there was only about 6 miles of the trip with a high density of motorcyclists. Uggh.

Tonight we have another treat as we are meeting some other friends, Dave and Sue, and their family at a nearby farm (a friend of theirs owns it). After spending only 5 hours apart during the past 3.5 weeks, it is good to be in the company of friends to help balance out all of our blissful togetherness :-)

San Francisco to San Mateo (Saturday 9/27)

32 Miles, 1850 feet of climbing, minimal road kill

We had to get away from our very nice accomodations in San Francisco. One more day of decadence and we don't think we would have gotten back on our bikes!

Our route today was a very circuitous route to our friends Tim & Karen's house in San Mateo. Our trusty SF mapping software plotted us a nice route through the city, then it was the Great Ocean Highway and Skyline Drive most of the way down the Peninsula to San Bruno. This was followed by some fun riding on the San Andreas and Sawyer Camp Trails.

All in all, a fun but uneventful day of riding. Though we must say it was heaven to ride without panniers today. Norm & Kate drove our gear down to T&K's house and we all had dinner together. After 2 full days of no activity and no weight on our bikes, we felt like Superman!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

San Anselmo to San Francisco

22.5 miles, 1450 feet of climbing, no road kill - too busy navigating

Finally, San Francisco!

Neither of us slept very well last night - too much anticipation on getting to San Francisco. We had an easy ride through Marin and into San Francisco. Our Adventure Cycling maps had a nice route through Marin though there were lots of small twists and turns to follow while you were riding. Arn had planned a route to Norm & Kate's house using some software that tries to maximize use of bike routes/lanes and minimize hills while in San Francisco.

Not surprisingly, there was lots of fog on the Golden Gate Bridge but none in the city or in Marin today. In fact, it is one of the warmest days we remember in the city. It was so great to be welcomed into the city by Norm and Kate and some cold Coke Zero. Deborah even quickly got her pizza craving satisfied at lunch!

Our plan from here is to chill in the city till Saturday. Then on Saturday bike to the house of our friends, Tim & Karen, in San Mateo for dinner. We'll start on Sunday towards San Luis Obispo though the next blog post will probably not be until Monday. After SLO, we'll do some riding down there and then back up in the Bay Area and, finally, will return to Seattle on Tuesday October 14th.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bodega Bay to San Anselmo

52 miles, 2700 feet of climbing, road kill (3 deer, 3 raccoons, 2 birds, 2 snakes, 2 unknown furry things, 3 skunks)

Arn and Deborah switched roles today with Arn feeling back to normal and Deborah feeling ready to be there. The scenery was beautiful west Sonoma and Marin county rural farmland for much of the route - lots of sunshine - in fact, it was what we refer to as a "Henric day." When we stopped for a drink in Lagunitas the temps had to be in the 80s already.
Tomorrow we will have an easy 20 miles or so to the Meyrowitz House of Love in San Francisco. We've received our reservation confirmation and are anxiously looking forward to being off our bikes for a few days.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gualala to Bodega Bay

53.5 miles, 3550 feet of climbing, road kill (1 deer, 1 raccoon, 2 skunk scents, 2 snakes)

We woke up, looked outside and had this sudden, unexplained craving for a turkey sandwich. Okay, it was sudden but it is easy to explain as we had two not-so-wild turkeys roaming around our cabin.
Today was another beautiful sunny day on the California coast. The views were outstanding - especially between Fort Ross and Jenner. Today's topology was similar to yesterday. Few big climbs but lots of overall climbing - or as we like to say - "death by 1000 paper cuts."
After feeling like Superman yesterday (nothing like a wheel that spins), Arn was feeling a bit like Superman on kryptonite today. His right heel followed Deborah's lead and is now barking on every climb. Only two more days till San Francisco and a long, well earned rest!
One interesting site just outside of Bodega Bay was the view of homes getting ready to meet the sea. A couple had already fallen in - we saw foundations hanging over the edge of the road. Still, some folks are making a desperate attempt to save their properties by piling concrete "highway dividers" on the shore as a breakwater. At least one of the places was for rent!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Westport to Gualala

76 miles, 4950 feet of climbing, road kill (1 deer, 1 squirrel, 1 raccoon, 1 hawk, 1 bird, 5 snakes, 4 skunks, 3 unidentified furry things, 1 pile of vomit)

What a day! After feeling a bit depressed yesterday, having missed a nice section of the ride, today more than made up for it. Without question, the ride today was the best overall day of the trip. Fantastic scenery, great road surface, not too much traffic and a nice tail wind much of the time.
After a hearty and delicious breakfast, we left DeHaven Valley Inn rather late under beautiful sunny skies. We made rather quick work of the miles to the bike shop just south of Mendocino, then waited 75 minutes for them to have a lull in their customer traffic so they could fix Arn's spoke. We decided that the day was so nice that we wanted to cycle while the cycling was good. So, we rode and rode and rode. We would have ridden even more but decided to stop just north of Gualala to stay at St. Orres - a place Arn stayed at 20 years ago.
Barring any maintenance problems, we should roll into San Francisco on Wednesday sometime. Our current thinking is to stay in the Bay Area until Sunday morning or Monday morning, then bike south to Cambria/San Luis Obispo over the next 4-5 days. SLO will probably be the end point for our journey south unless we stop when we hit SF! The route near Santa Barbara has too much 101 pedaling and it isn't worth it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Garberville to Westport

50 miles - all in a Dodge Truck; who knows how much climbing; road kill (1 bear, 1 skunk, 1 deer on top of car)

It was with heavy hearts that we shuttled what would have been one of the highlights of the trip. Major karma and kudos to David, one of the owners of DeHaven Valley Inn (where we are staying tonight), for picking us up and transporting us and our bikes.

The road from Garberville to Westport is beautiful, hilly and with not much traffic - especially after leaving Leggett. So, we were sorry we weren't getting the opportunity to bike it. But it was a good decision as Arn's wheel is too wobbly to risk on such a remote stretch of road. Tomorrow, we hope it holds the 30 miles to Mendocino - where the bike shop is open on Sunday.

We aren't sure where we go from there. We are debating whether to cut inland on 128 - Cloverdale - Calistoga - Wine Country or stay on the coast. If the weather is sunny, we'll be on the coast. If it stays foggy, we are going inland to find some sun for a few days before reaching San Francisco.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ferndale to Garberville

58 miles, 2450 feet of climbing, road kill (2 snakes, 2 unidentified furry things, 1 bird smushed as Deborah looked on and she says it was absolutely awful)

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.

We started with a wonderful breakfast at Poppa Joe's in Ferndale. The skies looked ominous as we ate breakfast and then as we prepared to ride the downpour started. First with a whimper, then with full on thunder, we decided that things must improve. And, improve they did, before they completely went south.

So, as we rode out of town, into a headwind, wearing full rain gear and trying to ride between the raindrops, Deborah got to enjoy the thrill of cow patties being slung into hear face from Arn's rear wheel. Little did she know, she'd have her revenge, of sorts, on Arn's rear wheel. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Our ride today was to be through beautiful country side outside of Ferndale then a few miles on 101 followed by 32 miles on "Avenue of the Giants" - a.k.a. Old 101 - and then a few more miles on 101 into Garberville. Before we hit Avenue of the Giants - named because it meanders along the Eel Rivers through Humboldt Redwoods State Park - we heard a pop. Unfortunately, the pop was not Deborah's pop tarts but Arn's rear wheel blowing another spoke. On the drive side, again, which means you need some special tools to fix it. Much to our surprise, our map indicated that our destination for the day - Garberville - had a bike shop.

So, on we rode, through the Avenue of the Giants on our way to fix Arn's bike. Arn rode with the brake rubbing the whole way. The "Giants" were spectacular and the rain had abated. In fact, the 30 or so miles through the Avenue of the Giants were some of the best biking ever.

Arriving in town, we made our way to the bike shop, only to learn that the mechanic only worked Mondays. The bike store owners were in East Bumblesf*ck to watch their son's soccer game and the person working there didn't know a bike from a hole in the wall. Furthermore, she was under strict orders to phone no one and to not allow anyone to touch anything (i.e. tools). And, they didn't sell tools either. She didn't even know the name of the mechanic so we couldn't call him. Ugghhh.

So, here we were in Garberville, with an arduous day ahead of us through the most remote part of our overall journey. 20 or so miles on a semi-remote part of 101 followed by 30 miles on 1 with lots of elevation change and no sign of civilization. What to do?? Risk riding with a wheel that is in pretty bad shape or find some alternative.

The choices:
a) Wait till Monday. Hope the mechanic shows up. If he doesn't show up, wait a week till the next time he shows up.
b) Rent a car. There are no cars in Garberville. Closest car rental is Eureka or Ukiah - about 90 miles away.
c) Get a taxi. There are no taxis in Garberville. Closest taxi is 80 miles away.
d) Take a train. There are no trains.
e) Take a bus. Turns out Amtrak runs a bus in California through Garberville. But the rules on using Amtrak as a bus is more arcane than the tax code. Turns out that if you leave from an unmanned station on Amtrak, the only place they can take you to is the next manned station. In our case, that is Martinez (just outside San Francisco), 200 miles away.
f) Have your wife go down to the lobby and beg other hotel inmates for a ride (this strategy nearly worked) to Ukiah or Fort Bragg - the nearest places with bike shops.

This is not a good set of choices. There was one other long shot option. We had a reservation for tomorrow night at a B&B just north of Westport, where civilization sort of begins again on the coast. Perhaps someone there might be willing to pick us up. Once there, it is only 20 miles through relatively friendly territory to Fort Bragg - certainly worth the risk on a dodgy wheel. As luck would have it, Deborah had established a friendly phone-a-friend relationship with Tammy - the apparent owner of Dehavens Bed and Breakfast and she graciously arranged a ride with someone to pick us up tomorrow. So, we look forward to our savior, David, in a red Dodge pickup tomorrow. After that, a short day on Sunday to Fort Bragg and overnight to get Arn's wheel fixed Monday morning when they reopen.

You might be wondering, why are there no photos from today?? The scenery, was, in fact, beautiful - some of the best for the trip. Take our word for it, please. But the fact is, we were riding like bats out of h*ll all day, because of rain or hoping to reach the bike store (hah!).

Lastly, on a day like this, what do two riders talk about:
Are you warm enough?
Yeah. Are you warm enough?
Those are big trees.
I like those trees over there.
How does my wheel look?
The same.
Do you hear a clicking noise in your head?
Yeah. It is the spoke rubbing.
We should only have 8 miles to go.
Sign says 9 1/2. Oh well.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ferndale Rest Day and More FAQs

0 miles, 0 feet of climbing, no road kill but one burnt building

Imagine our surprise when we woke to the sound of sirens. Arn asked what the sirens were and Deborah said it sounded like the tornado warning sounds of the midwest. A few days earlier, we heard tsunami sirens being tested. We suppose tsunamis could reach inland the five miles to Ferndale but it would have to be a hit from the north as the coast to the south was over a mountain range.

So, we tried to go back to sleep but then heard sirens and woke up to see fire trucks and smoke in the air. Just a block away, one of the buildings was on fire! And, not a small fire. Of course, we quickly got dressed and saw the scene below.
After a couple of hours, it seemed that the fire was out but the damage to the candy store was complete. We are happy to report that although damaged, the red building houses a bar and the regulars were in there drinking this evening!

Ferndale is home to many interesting heritage buildings and a beautiful old, mountainous cemetery. If you didn't know before, Arn and Deborah like to wander old cemeteries so this definitely was a major attraction for them as was the outside of the Gingerbread House below.

Without further delay, more frequently asked questions...

1. After two weeks of riding, do you know why you are doing this?
A. No.

2. How far have you ridden so far?
A. 745 miles, 32000 feet of climbing, untold animal carnage.

3. How did the rest day feel?
A. We actually felt kind of cheated. Today was the nicest day - by far - in over a week and tomorrow might rain.

4. Have you met any interesting people?
A. We have met all kinds of people. We've talked to a lot of people that have shared their bike tour experiences. We have talked to people who shared their dreams of doing the same. And, we've talked to people who think it is flat out crazy. In the last 24 hours, we chatted with a honeymooning couple that stayed at the same B&B in Trinidad and passed us on the road (they took note of all of our rain gear and thought we were "animals"). We had breakfast this morning with a woman that left Ohio on her bike in June and plans to return next July. Deborah and a few women at the wine bar laughed over their shared obsession for Diana Gabaldon books.

5. What has been the best part?
A. The roadways off of the highway have been relaxed and scenic (for the most part). The true highlight was 10 miles in the redwoods with no cars and a closed road.

6. But hasn't the best part been getting to eat anything and everything you want to?
A. No. Eating "Michael Phelps" style is not great. It is about fueling up and loading calories. Read: feeling stuffed. It was interesting to watch Nancy at breakfast (tiny cyclist from Ohio). She downed two HUGE pancakes, 4 strips of bacon, 2 fried eggs, about a 1/2 cup of maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of butter, and several cups of hot tea. The only thing worse is knowing that we will do the same tomorrow morning before we ride.

7. What has been the worst part?
A. Have you been paying attention? It is the dread and terror riding on Hwy 101 with RVs pulling god knows what.

8. What have you learned so far?
A. Deborah has learned that her ASSOS cycling shorts will delaminate before their time, Clearasil bleaches khaki shorts into some funky shade of orange, and laundry mat dryers will put holes in your shirts (two). Arn has learned that he doesn't want to ride cross country.

9. How far are you going on this journey?
A. At least to Ferndale.

10. Is there anything you wish you have from home that you didn't pack?
A. Deborah would like a pair of unbleached shorts and her laptop (but doesn't want to carry it). Arn would like a bottomless bag of pretzels that weighed one ounce. We'd both like a visit with our massage therapist.

11. Anything you'd change on your bikes or setup?
A. Our front forks are way too flexy and the brakes cause too much jumping. The forks can take a disk brake and that would provide better braking and also the location of the brake would probably eliminate some of the crazy shaking we can get. Arn would also get a rear view mirror so he can see the logging truck that is about to hit him without turning his head. Arn would probably also carry more spare spokes.

12. Anything you'd tell someone about to start out on a tour of the Pacific Coast?
A. Have fun and hope for good weather. Don't go in the summer when there is even more traffic.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Trinidad to Ferndale

50.5 miles, 1560 feet of climbing, road kill (at least 6 skunks, 1 raccoon, 1 bird, 1 snake, 1 unidentified furry thing)

The sun will come out, tomorrow
So you gotta hang on til tomorrow
Come what may...

Tomorrow, tomorrow
I love ya, tomorrow
You're always a day a--way!

Whoever wrote that can shove it up their butt to where the sun doesn’t shine. Tomorrow isn’t coming. In fact, there was more sun on Wall Street today than on us. Can you detect that we need a day off the bike and some sun?? We thought you could.

When we left home, we carried rain gear in case we got caught in the rain. It was purely a preventative measure – our plan was to sit out any rain. Plans change, especially when you wake up to unexpected spitting rain and low cloud on the coast. And, oh by the way, we already had a reservation for two nights in Ferndale as we were planning on biking today and taking a much anticipated day completely off the bikes tomorrow.

So, after a nice breakfast at our B&B in Trinidad, we set off on wet payment in full rain gear after checking the weather forecast in SUNNY Seattle. Fortunately, our route today was supposed to only have 5 harrowing miles on 101 with the remainder off of the highway. That plan also changed within the first ½ mile when we were greeted with a “road closed” sign. This would turn out to be a theme of the day. Onto 101 we rolled for a bonus 4 miles of dread and terror in the spitting rain. We made the observation that when it is raining, RVs pulling SUVs seem to be staying in the campgrounds so perhaps there is an upside to the bad weather. The downside is that we were covered in road grime – enhanced by a few passing trucks slinging water in our general direction.
We went through the scenic towns of McKinleyville, Arcata, and Eureka which aren’t actually so scenic, except for a super deluxe bike trail near the coast between the first two towns. While on that trail, we saw lots of bird life including some white storks and great blue herons. A highlight of the day was stopping at a 50s hamburger joint in Eureka – opened in 1951 and still displaying the newspaper advertisement from their grand opening day. A lowlight was miles of construction that tested our cyclocross skills. Muddy, slick, steep, dirt roads don’t work so well with slick tires and panniers.
As we got closer to Ferndale, our last 10 miles or so had us in violent cross winds and then brutal headwinds. The cross winds almost dumped Arn to the ground when it snatched the rear end of the bike on a steep downhill. When facing the headwinds, it was the first time on the trip that while Arn was pulling, Deborah was telling him to speed up. Yeah, it is easy to be a comedian while you are drafting.

When we finally rolled into Ferndale we saw a little blue sky for the first time in 4 days – it is gone now – not to worry. But Ferndale is a super cute Victorian town sporting lots of beautiful heritage buildings. Arn can appreciate the buildings on the outside but the thought of staying in a room with his and hers matching clawfoot tubs and 600 or so doilies just wasn’t in the cards for Deborah tonight. So, instead we are in a room with his and hers queen sized beds – yeah, baby.

Tomorrow is a rest day but we’ll find time to post some new frequently asked questions. We’ll be in Garberville Friday night and then a couple of miles north of Westport on Saturday evening. California friends - call us on the cell phone @ 206-334-4479 if you are looking to get away this weekend. We’ll let you use our bikes and we’ll take your car back for you. In fact, anyone that can provide a description of the sun, warmth, shadows or other signs of late summer/early fall, call us tomorrow as well. We’ll probably be in a drunken stupor, but we should be able to hear the phone ring.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Crescent City to Trinidad

61 miles, 3850 feet of climbing, road kill (2 hawks, 2 skunk scents – no bodies.

It was the best of days. It was the worst of days. The day started out at Denny’s for breakfast and oh what a good biker’s breakfast there is at Denny’s. We also met another touring cyclist there, Dick, from Columbia, Maryland. We ended up cycling all day with him to Trinidad but sadly lost him just outside of town. He was a super nice guy on a tour to San Diego and we wish him well the rest of the trip.

But, back to breakfast. The breakfast arrived and it was trembling in our presence. We made quick work of it and set out for the biggest climb of the trip. In the cold and the fog, what a surprise! In fact, we forgot to mention that the bike mechanic in Brookings said they hadn’t seen the sun in 3 weeks. A local Crescent City resident told us they expect the sun to make an appearance in October.

So, up, up, up we climbed. Even with the fog, there were some impressively large redwoods to stare at during the climb and we all made relatively quick work of the climb. Our new found friend, Dick ran truck interference on the downhill but the narrow road, lack of shoulder and idiotic drivers made the descent absolutely harrowing. A couple of times it looked like we were going to be the road kill today. By the time we made it to the bottom of the descent, “ESB tour” had turned into “extra scary biking tour” and “Eureka = stop biking tour.”
Fortunately, things improved and in a most dramatic and expected way. We biked another 12 miles and came to our scenic road through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. When we got there, much to our disappointment, the scenic road was closed. But in talking with a Caltrans worker, it sounded like we might be able to get through on bikes. So, we attempted it and were rewarded with the best 10 miles of our trip so far. Huge redwoods and we cycled right down the center of the road! The creatively named “Big Tree” was 1500 years old, 21 feet in diameter and 304 feet high. It was sad to join the traffic again after this treat.
Tonight we are in the tiny town of Trinidad, California. Apparently, 3000 people lived here during the gold rush – now there are about 300. Still, it is a beautiful setting overlooking the Pacific with nice redwoods everywhere.

Monday, September 15, 2008

TuTuTun Lodge to Crescent City, CALIFORNIA

65 miles, 2700 feet of climbing, not much road kill (2 possums, 1 raccoon, 1 snake)

Today reminds of a line from a favorite book: “Things must improve”. Our day started at the Tu Tu Tun Lodge and the delivery of fresh squeezed orange juice and hot coffee at 7:15am. This was followed by a “Michael Phelps” style breakfast of eggs, potatoes, bacon, and toast. We describe this detail because this was the highlight of the day. With almost all of our clothing on, we started riding by 8:30am in very dense fog and chilly temperatures. Oh, and as a bonus, like yesterday, we had headwinds. Right out of Gold Beach, we started with a long steady climb. This was helpful for trying to stay warm. The views were stunningly beautiful --- or so we are told because we could see NOTHING! It was frightening to realize how close oncoming traffic was before we could see headlights. This was SERIOUS fog. So serious that Arn was now wearing four layers up top and had finally broken out the leg warmers for the first time on the trip.
Now, you might be thinking we would hear fog horns in the distance (given that we were riding on the coast). You could think of it that way except the fog horn was connected to logging trucks. It wasn’t a truck or two. It was every logging truck driver in America driving south between Gold Beach and Brookings hauling half the remaining trees in Oregon this morning. As scary as this was, it paled in comparison to the continuous stream of RVs pulling boats, SUVs, and anything else they could hook behind. Don’t they know gas is $4 a gallon? Are they in some kind of race we don’t know about? Is there a staging going on for RV parking spots?
One of the lowlights of the day was going over the highest bridge in Oregon. Really – that is what the sign said. We couldn’t tell you what it spanned as we couldn’t see across the bridge, below the bridge or what not. At least we crossed during a break in traffic. At this point, we were 30 miles into our day really suffering and depressed. This was supposed to be fun, wasn’t it? Things must improve.


Just when it looked like things couldn’t get worse, they did. What was that sound? A pop of a rock and then it sounded like metal on metal. And Arn can’t peddle. So, in the middle of another miserable climb we pulled off to the side to see that Arn had broken a spoke. The rear wheel was now taco’d a bit but he thought he could still ride it. But we needed to do something about the rear brake as it was now rubbing the wheel at the taco point. So, Arn tried to re-center the brake but instead of re-centering, the screw that compresses the spring was stripped and couldn’t get any compression. A bit of time was spent rigging up a half solution that would still allow for braking with one side rubbing a little all the time and the good side providing braking power. Ugghh. We glanced at our map and found out that there was a bike store in Brookings – 7 miles down the road. We hoped that our half-cocked solution would hold till then.

Rolling into town and into the bike shop, we weren’t expecting much. Arn had a spare spoke but our brakes are essentially cyclocross brakes and we needed a replacement as the housing for the centering mechanism was stripped. After a bit of discussion with the owner/mechanic, he thought he might have some used brakes that could work for us. Okay, we went to get lunch while he worked on the wheel and the brakes. When we returned, the wheel was fixed but the brakes were not. Though at this point he suggested heading to Ace Hardware to pick up a slightly bigger screw and see if we couldn’t make it work. The friendly Ace Hardware guy found some self tapping bolts and voila, we were back in business!
Fortunately, our route in the afternoon was mostly off 101 and we saw 1 logging truck the entire afternoon (versus about one every 5 minutes in the morning – really, that many). After arriving in Crescent City, we decided to head to the laundry mat to do some laundry and write this blog. While there, we ran into another touring cyclist who has been touring for FOUR YEARS. 30 countries. 50,000 miles. Fully loaded he said he can carry enough food/water for 5 days and his rig weighs 170 pounds. He isn’t hauling that much right now as he only needs to get food for a day at a time on the coast. WOW – we are so not worthy.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bandon to TuTuTun Lodge (Gold Beach)

54.5 miles, 2400 feet of climbing, a very bad day for the animals (1 deer, 3 skunks, 1 porcupine, 1 raccoon, 1 possum, 2 snakes, 2 birds, 5 unidentified furry things)

Well, if you watched yesterday's video, you'd know that it was quite windy last night. After a restful night's sleep (Deborah's sleep = 10+ hours - straight through!), we awoke to a very, very foggy morning. Which, on the coast means cold and foggy. All that was missing was the wind - but not to worry, it found us soon enough!

Our route today was on 101 south through Port Orford, continuing to Ophir and then taking Cedar Valley Road to the Rogue River and making a left to our lodge. We were staying in the middle of nowhere in Bandon and our hotel didn't have breakfast so after a couple of pop tarts, we started out - hoping to catch breakfast on the road. Little did we know that everything was closed on Sunday in these parts. A

About 15 miles out, we began fantasizing about "Crazy Norwegian Fish and Chips" in Port Orford. Really - they were ranked in the top 10 on the coast by Sunset magazine. We were hoping that the crazy Norwegian was crazy enough to serve fish and chips for breakfast since we were going through Port Orford around 10:15. We knew we were crazy enough to eat fish and chips for breakfast! Sadly, this Norwegian wasn't that crazy so we were forced to go to a nice little bakery that serves slow food. Or should we say, serves food very, very slowly.

Though, we did learn something important about this part of the Oregon coast. Apparently, Port Orford and Gold Beach (and everywhere in between) is the crystal meth capital of Oregon. We don't know if that is true (lots of places claim this title), but we can tell you that a graduate from "Johnny Meth-head's School of Asphalt and Paving" paved the shoulder between Port Orford and our turnoff 16 miles later. Graduates from this school excel at driving over wet pavement in heavy trucks forming permanent washboard asphalt for the shoulder. But that's not. They also fail to remove road kill from the side of the road as well. They simply create burial bounds or death traps for cyclists. They also excel at laying asphalt with such precision that it creates simulated earthquake fissures running parallel to the highway - again, another death trap for the touring cyclist.

The good news about all this fog today was that it largely obscured our view of the coastline thus allowing more time to focus on the asphalt. We also had the good fortune to pass "Oregon's Prehistoric Garden." Turns out dinosaurs are roaming this part of the coast though Deborah didn't seem overly concerned about them. Another unusual sight was seeing 3 men at various places on the road - all walking, all looking for a ride. They could have been meth-heads or they could be escaping from the dinosaurs - we aren't sure.
Most of our days we could say that the journey was the reward. Today, the end point was the reward and we are staying at what could turn out to be the best place of the trip - TuTuTun Lodge on the Rogue River. We are a sunny six miles from the coast and dinner looks like it will be nothing short of delicious.
Unless our legs blow up, tomorrow we will cross into California - Crescent City is about 72 miles away - wahoo!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Winchester Bay to Bandon

53 miles, 2450 feet of climbing, a bad day for the animals (3 furry things, 1 raccoon, 1 possum, 1 kitty :-(, 1 crow, 1 snake, 1 hawk).

After a very restful sleep in the sleepy town of Winchester Bay, we had a not-so-scenic ride today to Bandon. Our route went south along 101 through North Bend (with a brief jaunt on a side road called Wildwood). When we approached North Bend, there is a huge, steep, narrow steel bridge that is a mile long and closed to bikes. So, we had to hoof it across the bridge on a narrow walkway while the cars whiz by you one foot below on the road bed. Not a highlight of the trip!

After North Bend, our route left 101 and heads south through Charleston and then on some sleepy roads through clearcut logging territory. The roads were actually very nice for cycling as they were virtually traffic free and the surface wasn't bad either. At times we had nice views but mostly we had views of clearcut forests. Despite no traffic, Deborah's legs were killed-by-road (and too little breakfast). When we finally stopped for lunch, Deborah inhaled her sandwich faster than Arn ate his. A first in 14 years of marriage!

We arrived in Bandon to an absolute zoo. It is their Cranberry festival weekend and the streets were closed "downtown." We saw a few Cranberry Princesses walking around - we think that anyone that can fit in the dresses can be a princess for a day or two. Leaving downtown and heading towards the shore, you are greeted with some of the most beautiful vistas of the day - really jagged rocks partway off shore.
As we rolled along the shoreline, we came to our hotel for the night - the Sunset. We checked in and walked into our room only to find that the room smelled of vomit. Apparently, management was aware of this smell and said that it just needed to air out though didn't argue when we said we'd try to find something else. All of their other rooms were booked - coincidence? - I don't think so. We were very lucky to find a nice room just 1/2 mile back north - into the wind. If we had to bike north into this wind all day, we'd be heading back to Seattle via bus, train, plane, you name it. Anything to avoid the wind.

Deborah will be dreaming of a Michael Phelps breakfast tomorrow!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Yachats to Winchester Bay

54.5 miles, 2700 feet of climbing, road kill (1 raccoon, 1 crow, NO SNAKES)

Well, last night we enjoyed one of our best meals of the trip at the Yachats River House - absolutely delicious. In fact, the stay at Overleaf combined with our meal made for our best overall experience between lodging/food of the trip. We'd highly recommend a stay in this part of the Oregon coast as a relaxing getaway.

Our route today was 100% on 101 but the surface was generally good; traffic was lighter and the views during the first half of the ride were among the best of the trip. We found ourselves pulling off at many roadside pullouts and pocket state parks enjoying views of crashing surf along the coast.

We also had the good fortune to enjoy lunch with another long distance rider today, Sue, from Toronto. We started riding with her just before one of our two tunnels in Oregon. She is riding with someone else from Seattle -> San Diego though it sounds like they typically catch-up with each other at camping spots. We saw her riding partner later in the day and he said he was riding a 70 pound bike with all of his gear - bike alone was 33 pounds. That is a lot of weight. We are definitely glad we are going the "credit card" touring option (i.e. stay in motels) as our total weight for bikes/gear is more on the order of 40 pounds.

But, back to lunch! We ate at the last Mo's of our trip in Florence. Nothing like a good bowl of clam chowder sitting on the shoreline and watching a seal play in the water!

After lunch, we rode through Oregon Dunes National Monument. We couldn't see much from the road but we know from previous experience that there is some great opportunities to race up and down the dunes in ATV like buggies.

Just before reaching our destination, we caught up with 2 women that were on a 1 week tour of the coast. They were pulling all of their gear in "BOBS" (trailer that attached to the back of your bike). Some people really like the trailers because they can carry a great deal of gear and have a low center of gravity (so the bike handling is better). But, they are heavy - in fact probably weigh as much as ALL of our gear. It also sounds like they are not without their mechanical issues as they mentioned to us that they spent some time in the bike store (after getting a lift from a kind stranger) fixing a bent derailleur hanger caused by torque from the BOB.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New FAQs

So, we've been at this about 8 days now and there have been some additional questions that you might have. Without further delay, the FAQs, part II...

1. Why are you doing this?
A. We still don't know.

2. You seem to have a fascination with road kill, what's up with that?
A. With all of the trucks whizzing past us, avoiding becoming road kill is definitely on our minds. Traffic is definitely diminishing a bit as we pedal further south (before it picks up again in California).

3. Will you go all the way to San Diego?
A. We don't know. Ask us when we are further south.

4. What's the best part of the trip?
A. The riding and the time together.

5. What's the worst part of the trip?
A. Didn't you read question #2? Even though we are doing the ride at the optimal time of year, there is more traffic than we hoped.

6. Is there anything that you wish you had brought that wasn't on your packing list?
A. Deborah wanted a sleeveless jersey for the (unexpectedly) hot weather. Arn is hogging the computer, as usual, but Deborah is still glad she didn't carry a laptop.

7. Any surprises in how your body feels?
A. Deborah's surprise is that her feet are bothering her more than expected. She's having to tape them and is hoping that will help. Arn's surprise is that his butt is still attached to his body because it has been screaming bloody murder for 400 miles now.

8. How's the diaper creme working out?
A. Deborah's gone to a diaper creme by day, Clearasil by night strategy. If you have to ask, you don't ride enough! After four days, she thinks it is working. She doesn't seem to be screaming as much as Arn.

9. Are you eating more than normal?
A. Yes. Deborah hasn't eaten this many pop-tarts since she was a kid. Seriously, though, we've enjoyed lots of great seafood while riding down the Oregon coast. When we see food, we eat it.

10. Are you getting along with each other?
A. We don't get along with each other at home, why would you expect that we'd get along better with sore butts, tired legs and a constant fear of being tomorrow's unidentified animal?? Though perhaps the old adage "misery loves company" applies here.

11. Why are you writing these blogs? Don't you have anything better to do?
A. Not really, and it gives us a chance to relax and stay off our feet.

12. Has it been tiring?
A. Deborah's been sleeping 9-10 hours a night. Arn says his legs and butt are the weakest links.

Newport to Yachats

23.5 miles, 650 feet climbing, road kill (2 crows, 1 snake, 3 unknown furry things).

Today was our semi-rest day. We decided last night after we walked around Newport that it would be better to do today as our semi-rest day. There is a very nice resort in Yachats called the Overleaf and we are enjoying it as we write this. In fact, Deborah is booked for a massage later - what decadence (our view from the Overleaf is below!)

Our journey today started with a late wake-up and a big breakfast in Newport. We didn't need to be anywhere fast today and only had 20-25 miles of biking so we knew it would be a very leisurely day. Even so, we went to hyper alert mode while crossing the Newport bridge. We knew we were in trouble when there was a "bikes on bridge" flashing light that you can illuminate before crossing. This is sort of like waving the red cape at the drivers - LOOK - BIKES - LET'S GET THEM! The bridge is thankfully only 1/2 mile long but we still had a couple of idiotic passes by drivers though most were very nice.

The route down the coast is light on traffic after leaving Newport. Lots of parks to stop at and take a quick look at the coastline.

The only town we passed on the way to Yachats was Waldport. The bridge into Waldport isn't scary at all as there is a wide shoulder all the way across.

We actually stayed in Waldport on our very first vacation together 16 years ago. We stayed at a super goofy bed & breakfast that we are happy to report is still there - as we passed it today! What was goofy about the place was that the owners liked to mess around with your stuff. They thought they were straightening things out to make everything look nicer but we thought they were a bit anal retentive.

Our rest day today sets us up for our next 4 days of riding where we have 50-65 miles of riding a day between places to stay. Winchester Bay, Bandon, Gold Beach, Crescent City (CALIFORNIA!). Usually, we only book for the next day after we finish a day's riding, but, we really wanted to figure out Friday and Saturday nights in advance on the Oregon coast as things can get really tight. And, it turns out that this is the big weekend in Bandon as they have their Cranberry Festival this weekend. We managed to snag a room for Saturday night only because there was a cancellation (many, many places are very booked).

Winchester Bay and Gold Beach each hold a little significance for us as they mark places that we understand the distance from Seattle. Winchester Bay is at the mouth of the Umpqua River. Arn and a riding buddy, Dave, biked the North Umpqua River Trail last September. It is a 3-day mountain bike trail that starts in the Cascades and ends about 20 miles outside of Roseburg, Oregon. So, seeing where the Umpqua River meets the ocean will be a real treat. But, Gold Beach has even more appeal as it is where the Rogue River meets the ocean. We've kayaked the Rogue in 2006 and 2007 so getting to bike along the Rogue River and stay along the Rogue will be our 2008 Rogue River experience!