Day 16: Eureka, CA to Richardson Grove State Park
We got a slow start due to the comfy beds and bad hotel TV. The kids really relish down time in the hotel and it’s hard to drag them away! We eventually got on the road and started pedaling towards the Redwoods.
We took a short lunch break in Ferndale, a quaint town with shops, cute restaurants and Victorian storefronts. Tim had been holding out hope that I’d agree to do the Lost Coast after reading about Todd’s Brompton trip a few years ago. The decision to go to the Lost Coast or not had to be made in Ferndale. I wasn’t feeling that ambitious and we decided to turn left instead of right out-of-town and save the Lost Coast for another trip. Before we left town, we stocked up on chocolate from the artisan chocolate shop, Tim got some dried sausage at the local butcher and we were on our way toward the Redwoods. This section of road was pleasant, off highway riding meandering through country roads and dairy farms. The 9-year-old LOVES cows and really enjoyed seeing so many of them along the way.
The route then follows the Avenue of the Giants, definitely a highlight. On a low traffic day, we had the roads mostly to ourselves. Such an amazing experience to ride through a grove of giant Redwoods! We arrived at Richardson Grove around dinner time, a small pleasant campground right in the heart of the Redwoods. The kids loved the campground, lots of enormous redwood stumps to climb and a small but well done visitors center right in the campground. 9-year-old boy nirvana, he loves the Redwoods!
Miles: 58 miles
Climbing: 5216 ft of climbing
Route: various: Hwy 101, Avenue of the Giants
High: The Redwoods!
Low: Didn’t realize there were no grocery stores after Ferndale so we ate some random, bottom of the pannier food for dinner.
Sleep: Richardson Grove State Park
Day 17: Richardson Grove State Park to Standish Hickey State Park
Tim tuned the bikes in the campground while the kids went to check out the visitor’s center. We also met campground neighbors and fellow bike tourists who arrived late the previous night, three college students riding the coast and towing two surfboards! [more about them later in the trip] Ah, the joys of youth. Fun to hear some of their stories from the trip.
We finally rolled out of the campground in search of lunch in the nearby town. We happened upon the drive through tree, paying the bicycle rate for the privilege of riding through a tree. Kinda cheesy, but the kids thought it was fun!
We ate some burgers from a General Store in Myers Flat. The burgers were really good, but the chef must smoke a lot of the local offerings from Humboldt county because it took him forever to cook four burgers!
Finally on the road after a big lunch, we spent the day pedaling along the Eel River in the heat. The Adventure Cycling route took us on and off the highway all day long. In retrospect, we should have just stayed on the highway the entire way to save time. The minor off highway detours weren’t worth the extra effort and time they took to navigate all of the highway entrances and exits.
We arrived at our destination in Standish Hickey just in time for a late dinner at the Peg House. Maybe we were extra tired and hungry, but this was the best food we’d tasted the entire trip. Bonus that we were greeted by “The Tandem Family” [see below] from Seattle! They were just finishing their dinner and we shared a beer with them while we waited for our food. After dinner we pedaled across the street to the campsite and quickly set up our tent and crashed.
The campground was filled with bike tourists we’d met along the way. When touring and staying in hiker biker sites every night, you get to know the other bike tourists. And as we learned, everyone has a title. We had already met “The Surfboard Dudes”, in Richardson Grove. Other bike tourists we met included: “The Cookbook Couple”, “The Tandem Family”. When we caught up to the group in the Redwoods, people realized there were two tandem families traveling the Coast and we became “The Other Tandem Family”. Though we never met them, we anticipated a meeting with the “Russian Vodka Dudes”. We heard they were lots of fun and generous with their vodka.
Miles: 48 miles
Climbing: 4650 ft of climbing
Route: Hwy 101, and some side roads
High: The Peg House
Low: The on and off Hwy route wasn’t worth the effort
Sleep: Standish Hickey State Park
Day 18: Standish Hickey State Park to MacKerricher State Park including Leggett Pass
We woke up seriously early the next morning (for us) and packed up camp in record time. We’d planned to have coffee and breakfast burritos at the Peg House before tackling the infamous Leggett Pass. We rode out of the campground to cheers from the other bike tourists, they were all surprised that our family was the first to roll out. They all eventually trickled over to the Peg House and most of them left the restaurant/store before we did, so the cheers weren’t really necessary but certainly appreciated!
We’d been hearing and reading about Leggett Pass for a while and were prepared to suffer up the climb. It didn’t end up being as bad as we expected. Shh, don’t tell the kids, Tim and I secretly enjoyed it. After suffering up the long slow hot climb, we enjoyed the especially fun downhill!
We arrived at MacKerricher State Park in the early afternoon. The “Tandem Family” rolled in just after us and we all convened in the way-too-small-excuse for a hiker biker site. It was really just a car spot that the park designated as hiker /biker. A guy was already set up and using a big portion of the site, and we were pretty sure he wasn’t a tourist, it looked like he lived there. There was also one other tent set up in the site. We decided there was no way we could squeeze two more tents and 8 more people into the site and sent Tim to talk to the park ranger. The campground had extra sites, normally reserved for overflow, and let us move in along with our new friends. The “Tandem Family” and “The Other Tandem Family” in one site! We set up camp and still had spare time for playing on the beach before dinner. A first for the trip and super fun for the kids!
Miles: 45.5 miles
Climbing: 6353 ft of climbing
Route: Leggett Pass, Hwy 1
High: Climbing Leggett Pass, that wasn’t so bad
Low: CA State Parks budget cuts are glaringly apparent at MacKerricher State Park. One small hiker/biker spot that is just a car spot they designate for bikes. And dirty bathrooms, yuck, bring your own toilet paper!
Sleep: MacKerricher State Park
Day 19 MacKerricher State Park to Manchester
Edit: 11/2020: We received a recent email suggesting that this post could be interpreted as racist because our excessive use of Ks in the section about the KOA. We were joking about the KOA’s use of K and in no way intended to offend. (I’m honestly surprised anyone still reads this blog!)
After checking out the tide pools and watching the seals lounge around on the beach through binoculars, we packed up and left MacKerricher State Park. Satiated by breakfast in Ft. Bragg and with enough groceries to get us through the day, we pedaled out-of-town toward Manchester.
The route through Mendocino along Hwy 1 is absolutely beautiful. This stretch was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Amazing coastal vistas, perfect weather and curvy windy roads that keep logging trucks away. Most of the traffic was traveling at relatively slow speeds and the lack of shoulder didn’t bother us too much. The series of hairpin turns meant fun downhills, but also lots of climbing. The boy and I developed a pretty good rhythm. When we’d see the sign indicating a hairpin turn, he’d yell, “Tuck and Pedal!!” and we’d pedal vigorously hoping to keep momentum going into the climb that always followed.
We originally planned to camp at Manchester State Park, but upon arrival, we learned that they had no potable water and no showers. Desperately needing a shower, we opted for our favorite KKKKOA chain. I annoyed the kids and Tim for the rest of the evening emphasizing my K’s as we cooked dinner in the KKKKKamper KKKKKKitchen and listened to bad KKKKKKaroke entertainment from other KKKKKKampers. During the night we heard doves cooing above our tent and woke in the morning to a tent covered in dove KKKKKrap. That was the icing on the KKKKKKake. We cleaned it off as best we could and quickly packed up and pedaled out of there.
Miles: 45.6 miles
Climbing: 4279 ft of climbing
Route: Hwy 1
High: Beautiful ride through Mendocino Coast
Low: Manchester KOA
Sleep: Manchester KOA
Day 20: Manchester to Bodega Bay
We spent another day pedaling the Mendocino and Sonoma Coasts. Sonoma Coast is amazingly beautiful: rugged, sparsely populated, and beautiful vistas with perfect weather for bike touring. We pedaled up more climbs and descents and honed our tucking and pedaling skills.
We enjoyed the ocean views all day.
We also encountered lots of cows grazing behind fences and where there were no fences, cows sometimes wandered in the road. The boy loved it, we talked about cows for hours.
We ended up naming this big climb “Cow Hill”, and when we reached the summit, the boy wanted his photo taken with one of his bovine friends.
The distinctive architecture along the Sonoma Coast made the ride interesting too. We looked forward to spotting cool houses in the hills.
After 71 miles of climbing and sun, we were beat. We arrived at the campground at dusk and decided to take a rest day in Bodega Bay the following day.
Miles: 71.6 miles
Climbing: 6870 ft of climbing
Route: Hwy 1
High: Cow hill! Cows owned the roads, not the cars
Low: Nasty food at a convenience store 10 miles from Bodega Bay
Sleep: Bodega Dunes State Park
Day 21: Rest Day in Bodega Bay
Not much to report on our rest day, other than actual rest. And reading, and eating. After our experience in Gold Beach, I couldn’t convince anyone to go to the beach with me, so we just stayed in our sandy campsite.
Bodega Dunes campground is low-key. The hiker biker campsite is pretty big and easily swallowed up the five groups who wandered in throughout the day. This campground also has free showers. Bonus for stinky bike tourists!
Later in the afternoon the “Tandem Family” showed up in the campground. We were so happy to see them. All eight of us went into town for dinner that evening for some fish and chips.
Miles: 5 or so
Route: back roads into town
High: Rest and seeing the “Tandem Family” again!
Low: Can’t think of one
Sleep: Bodega Dunes Campground
Day 22: Bodega Bay to San Rafael
The last day of riding, we’re almost to San Francisco. This day was all about food and pedaling. We stopped to stuff our faces with delicious lunch at the Valley Ford Market. A perfect place to get eat lunch, the store was incredible. As we were getting ready to start pedaling again “The Tandem Family” showed up! We chatted a bit and we were off. This was the last we’d see of them on the trip. We were ending our trip in San Francisco and they were continuing on to San Luis Obisbo, South of Big Sur. We’d catch up with them in Seattle when we all returned.
Tim had heard of Hog Island Oyster Farm from his sister who is a water quality specialist and food scientist at the University of Washington. Naturally he wanted to stop in and eat some oysters. I was being a grumple pants and really didn’t want to stop, I was anxious to keep pedaling and ensure we arrived in San Rafael by sunset. But I’m so glad we stayed, what a beautiful setting. I wished we could have spent more time eating oysters (and sampling wine) on the beautiful patio. Another time, no wine for us if we want to make it to San Rafael by sunset!
When we pulled up, we saw some familiar bikes and noticed “The Cookbook Couple” sharing oysters in the sun too!
Tim and our daughter shared a dozen oysters.
With bellies full of oysters, we got back on the bikes and continued to ride South.
My good friend, Steph, whom I’ve known since first grade drove out to Lagunitas on the outskirts of Marin to greet us as we emerged from our ride through Samuel P Taylor State Park. We were so happy ( and a bit emotional) to see them and share our excitement of finishing the tour. Steph dropped her husband, Jim, with his bike and he escorted us through Marin to their house in San Rafael. Along the way, we met several people on bikes who rode with us a few blocks at a time and quizzed us about our tour. Friendly bike people in Marin!
The ride into San Rafael was beautiful!
Miles: 55.6 miles
Climbing: 3937 ft of climbing
High: Hog Island Oysters
Low: mom was grumpy
Sleep: Friends house in San Rafael
Day 23: Rest Day in San Rafael
Miles: 10 miles
Climbing: not sure
Route: local roads
High: Good Friends, Good Food
Low: I can’t think of one
Sleep: Friends house in San Rafael
Day 24: San Rafael to Oakland via the Golden Gate Bridge
We packed up the next morning and started pedaling toward the Golden Gate. I had made plans to meet my sister, and her two daughters near the Golden Gate so they could ride the bridge with us. Of course, we got lost in Marin and the ride took longer than we had planned. We finally made it to the bridge and my sister and my nieces were cheering for us. We were elated and just a bit misty eyed! As we rode up, the 9-year-old said, “Mom, I’m really proud of myself.” I agreed, I’m proud too.
Lots of photo opportunities in the viewing area at the Golden Gate. We lingered for a while and snapped lots of photos!
The cousins at the Golden Gate.
Our trip was officially over. 22 days, 947 miles! Tim and our daughter both said they were ready to keep going, they wanted to continue down the Coast. But we had to get back to Seattle and didn’t have time. We vowed to finish the Pacific Coast another time!
Miles: 20 miles
Climbing: not sure
Route: Local roads and Bart
High: Crossing the Golden Gate
Low: Getting on the wrong Bart Train
Sleep: sisters house in Oakland
We spent two days with my sister and her family. More napping. More relaxing. More hanging out with family. We were all exhausted and the parents didn’t have energy for tourist activities. The kids were disappointed that we didn’t spend more time in San Francisco. We vowed to spend more time being tourists next time!
We also reserved a rental car and Tim disassembled the bikes so they would fit on the trunk rack we borrowed from my sister to transport the bikes.
Looks cumbersome but the bikes don’t stick out beyond the mirrors. We drove late into the night since we had to return our one-way rental car in the morning. Thirteen hours later, we were back in Seattle.
Here’s a link to our Flickr photo stream from the trip.