The third leg of our journey has brought us from the Northern California oasis of Arcata through epic trees and breathtaking coastline to the bustling mecca of the San Francisco Bay Area where we’re spending a couple of days exploring. Our path has brought us not only some amazing views and a better understanding of the land, but we’ve felt ourselves getting stronger and still more comfortable on our trusty steeds, and have made even more friends along the way, and learned some good lessons.
This stretch of riding has been chock full of good friends, old and new. We were sad to leave great pals behind in Arcata after such blissful days of surfing and oyster eating and hot tubbing, but the good ol Highway 101 did not disappoint by bringing us straight to the renowned Avenue of the Giants as we reentered the Redwoods. We had both driven the Avenue in a car, but pedaling through it was a totally unique and magical experience. We spent a memorable first night back in the tent tucked in a hollow between a few of the Giants, on a bed of their tiny, needly leaves. An entire day was spent cycling the 30-some magical miles along this most amazing stretch of road, weaving along the Eel river, passing under and around the main highway 101 and completely surrounded by the tallest trees on earth. We wished it would never end.
But it did! We celebrated its completion and the beginning of the next journey with excellent pizza in the tiny town of Redway, CA, at The Lost Frenchman. Delicious!
Further fueled by veggie burgers from The Peg House with the apt slogan “Never Don’t Stop” we made the most daunting, but in the end not-as-terrible-as-anticipated climb up the infamous Leggett Hill, a 5-mile, 1,800ish ft hill at the branching-off point of the scenic Highway 1 from the now 4-lane, very freeway-ish Hwy 101. We both found that pain in the uphill was doubly rewarded with an ex-hill-erating downhill that seemed to go on forever. We didn’t push a pedal for miles! At the end of the downhill was the greatest reward of all for us ocean-lovers - the return to the shining sea!
According to our bike trip guide book, we had officially entered the central part of the California coast, and we could tell!
Cruising through the rest of Humboldt County was just gorgeous, as was perhaps our favorite stretch of coastline yet in Mendocino County. A magical mix of rugged rockiness, thick trees: coastal cypress and some kind of pine and even some scrubby oaks, a dearth of traffic, and some truly adorable tiny towns convinced us that this was our favorite thus far.
Eventually we entered Sonoma county, where it got hotter, drier, and traffic surged. Of course, we were entering a heat wave, proximity to the SF Bay Area, and the weekend - perfect conditions for flocks of weekend tourists and it was almost shocking to suddenly be surrounded by so many people. We made it through the morass of cars and remarkably speedy older cyclists zooming past us and to a lovely campsite at Samuel P Taylor State Park, away from the heat in the redwoods of Marin county, and away from the crowds of strangers but we were thrilled to find the hiker-biker site filled with many of the fellow biker friends we’d made along the way! All of those bikers were ending the next day in San Francisco, and the memorable night had a celebratory feeling. We ourselves were celebrating the halfway point! We felt really good, feeling motivated and excited to continue on our journey. The next day we got to ride down one of Kate’s favorite roads, Sir Francis Drake Blvd, all the way to San Rafael, where we met up and brunched with a friend of Alanna’s mom’s, before continuing on to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge!
We found the bridge simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying - high winds, fog, tourists on rental bikes wobbling around, cyclists speeding by, and the dizzying height of the bridge, but were lucky to be crossing on a day with pedestrians blocked from our path. We sped through the peninsula past a remarkable amount of tourists (I thought we were in a lockdown?) at Fisherman’s Wharf before boarding BART (also Kate’s favorite) and making it to our next rest stop in Berkeley at a house Kate used to live at.
We spent our “rest” days exploring and eating as much delicious city food as we could fit into our stomachs, and seeing friends old and new.
It was so interesting to be immersed once again in a very urban are with so much humanity, in contrast to our quiet days further north.
So much gratitude as always for the kind and generous souls in our lives and for the copious fuel for our bodies and minds.
200 miles later and we are now in California!
One week ago, we left Coos Bay for a 41 mile ride to Bandon, Oregon. We arrived to the adorable Bandon Wayside Motel and RV Park, where owners Dave and Nicole showed us our tent site and encouraged us to walk through old town. Our one and only stop in old town was Tonys Crab House where to her surprise, Alanna fell in love with pan fried oysters.
Our departure the following morning quickly guided us to Facerock Creamery where we couldn’t pass up a cheese panini, mac n cheese, and overflowing “kid” cones that were a little painful to finish, but delicious non the less. The days ride felt pretty smooth eventually hitting the cute town of Port Orford where everything was closed, even “Tasty Kates” bakery that we were very excited to find but sad we couldn’t experience. The coastline views were incredible, with Humbug Mountain (our final location) in the distance, towering monoliths lining the shore, and kelp beds as far as the eye could see! Little did we know this would be our last full day of sunshine all week. Thankfully we ventured to the beach from our campsite for some river dips, beach stretches, and a glowing sunset.
We rose the next morning ready for our longest ride yet, (and last full day in Oregon) 52 miles to Brookings! A stop in the “Prehistoric Gardens” where life sized dinosaurs filled the Old Growth Forest and we were on our way. A thick fog rolled reminding us fall has begun and covering all ocean views along the Scenic Corridor.
Our departure from Brookings was very eventful. On our way into the town to scope out Matties Pancake House, where we had read about potential 3 hour waits, Alanna got her first flat tire! It seemed meant to be as Kate rode ahead and put her name on the 45 minute waitlist. We fixed the tire and rode up just in time to be seated and eat the most glorious breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs and Swedish crepes. It seemed like a well deserved treat. With very full bellies we quickly reached the border. To our surprise the words “Ride on Renlo” were carved into the post just under the “Welcome to California” sign. After a moment of Alanna thinking Kate wrote it and Kate thinking Alanna wrote it, we discovered that our new bike buds on a similar tour had done it for us. A happy heart moment. An easy 29 miles and we arrived to Crescent City.
A very slow morning allowed us to drink coffee and eat breakfast while watching hundreds of seagulls, pelicans, and black oyster catchers splash around in the bay. Our ride began with a very large hill from the beach straight into the incredible Redwood forest. We even succumbed to the tourist trap of the Trees of Mystery and honestly enjoyed it thoroughly! The canopy bridge walkways were epic, as was the gondola ride to the top of the mountain. The very, very large trees all around were beautiful, though not unlike the many trees you don’t have to pay to see. Very few cars and many long windy downhills made it a very satisfying rest of our day’s ride. We arrived to our campsite in Klamath watching the fog roll into the valley alongside the Klamath River.
Waking up to smoke in the valley was a bit unnerving but feeling okay to ride we began the journey back into the Redwoods. A pedal through the “Tour Through Tree” to start the day off right and straight onto Newton Scenic Roadway. Another day with very few cars, fun windy roads, and many many very large trees. This may have been our favorite day of riding thus far. Near Trinidad, we found the Big Lagoon Campsite which was a magical little place with a treasure filled beach of driftwood, beautifully unique rocks, and very large waves breaking on shore.
Leaving Big Lagoon took us to more scenic backroads and big rocks. Very excited to see good Catalina Islands friends in Arcata, we packed up our very wet tent and got on the road. After reaching a total of 450 miles we’ve been resting and refueling with fellow ocean-loving ladies, Greta and Christina. Our rest days have been very full with fish tacos, 2 surf sessions, hot tub soaks, mashed potato cones, local ice cream and pie, farmers markets and co-ops, and the oyster tour of Kate’s dreams.
We are loving this journey so so much, pedaling through so much beauty, snacking every chance we get, seeing friends new and old, and living moment by moment. Thanks for trucking along with us!
We have officially made it 200 miles down the coast to where we are now resting in Coos Bay, Oregon! Following the coastline has been nothing less than amazing, with the blue sky over the blue ocean, foggy mystical rainforests, and sand dunes as far as the eye can see! With many wonderful host friends down the coast to stay with, we’ve been averaging about 35 miles a day. Beginning in Seaside our stops have included Nehalem, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Yachats, Florence, and now Coos Bay. Our longest day was just yesterday at 45 miles with 2000ft elevation! We have thoroughly enjoyed spending time on the road and with friends, and are incredibly grateful for the generosity and cozy spaces they’ve provided. We’ve felt so supported, by friends old and new, even by the many strangers who’ve asked about our trip and cheered us on. So thank you!
After just one day riding, we waited out some wild winds and rain in Nehalem for a day at our friends’ cozy home. As soon as the weather let up the next morning, we began the ride to Oceanside and were surprised that not one drop of rain fell on us. Passing through Tillamook, we had to stop at the Tillamook cheese factory for Kate (and Alanna, too) to experience some massive scale cheese-making machines and ice cream, cheesy noodles, and cheese curds. We made the mistake of getting our ice cream in cups, while we should’ve gone for the lower-waste option of cones. *Note to self: when carrying all your trash with you, and in life in general, cones > cups! Way too full of dairy, and burdened by our accumulated to-go waste, we made it over some substantial ups and downs to the cutest cliffside city.
Christian, or Oceanside host, surprised us and arrived home with a large amount of oyster mushrooms he had just found, from which he made a wonderfully warm soup! As we waited for more rains to die down the next morning, we thoroughly enjoyed some drizzly beach time, the highlights of which was watching a family frolicking on the beach and many bouncing beach babies.
Our ride to Pacific City was along the 3 Capes Scenic Loop which was super stunning. Cape Lookout, an 840 ft hill, was our hardest climb thus far. The climb took us into a socked-in, foggy rainforest - the beauty of which offered a slight distraction from the struggle. We were welcomed to Pacific City with a stormy ocean beach walk with a one-of-a-kind dog: the Great Sheepadoodle, Napoleon, and his wonderful owners Alex and Sean. Highlights of our stay in Pacific City consisted of Sean’s garlic bread pizza creation, lentil soup, a film photoshoot by Alex, many great puppy cuddles, and shared memories of our beloved Cameron. Fueled the following morning by scones from the neighboring bakery, Grateful Bread, we were off to Fogarty Creek!
A few miles in to our morning, our friend Sam joined us for a days ride! The pedal featured another substantial hill as well as some great views, plus it was our first day of full sun, perfect for our first night of camping. Fogarty Creek was a magical little spot, tucked into the trees on a cliffside overlooking the ocean. Upon arrival we set up our home and with the sun still shining we ran down to the water where we cooled off in the ocean and soaked in the creek. Kate made a delicious and hearty meal of noodles and veggies, including a homegrown zucchini from the wonderful Lydia! We rose with the sun, opening our tent to see whale spouts off in the distance! Perhaps the most exciting way to start a day.
We bade farewell to our magical campsite and continued down the coast, stopping at some notable spots like the “Devil’s Punchbowl” on the beautiful Otter Crest scenic road, and then in the bustling metropolis of Newport, Oregon, where we made our first food co-op stop to stock up on some minimal packaging foods to help in our minimal waste effort. Also in Newport, we were thrilled to get to meet up with Kailey, a friend of ours from Catalina Island! Always nice to see an island (and Oregon State University) friend and catch up! We crossed the grand Yaquina Bay Bridge and finished the 36 mile day just north of Yachats, OR, at another OSU friend Alissa’s incredibly charming A-frame forest abode where we showered, cooked, and slept al-fresco!
Refreshed and fed by the awesome vegan establishment The Green Salmon the next morning, we left “the gem of the Oregon coast” and began maybe the most scenic ride yet through the Cape Perpetua coastline. We compared the cliffs and curves and views to Big Sur, but with a lot more trees and probably less incline. Dropping out of the cape, we came into the Oregon dune landscape that we’ve followed for the last few days. Passing some beautiful stretches of beach and dune coastline, we ended the day just past Florence, OR, at the campground at Honeyman State Park surrounded by tall, tall pine and fir trees. A short stroll from our tent brought us past pocket lakes and up to some massive sand dunes and the perfect sandy rest, stretch, and swim spot.
Awaking after a good rest under the trees we set off on our longest pedal yet, 46 miles to Coos Bay. For being a longer ride, it wasn’t extremely hilly and actually kind of flew by. We saw a lot more dunes and trees, and crossed three bridges, one of which was mildly terrifying with some incline, crosswinds, lots of trucks and semis, construction, and no shoulder added to the mix, but mostly considerate drivers and more and more comfort on the highway saw us through safely.
We write this post from the cozy Coos Bay apartment of Bree, Alanna’s high school friend, on our first *planned* rest day, doing laundry, lots of stretching, watching Disney movies, and holing up indoors from a new load of smoke that’s rolling through the west coast. Our thoughts are on what the next legs of our ride looks like, how we may have to adapt to the smoke and fire conditions, and with those directly affected by the fires.
THANK YOU to all of our tremendous hosts and to all of you for following along! We are very excited to continue trekking south.