In planning this world cycle trip I thought long and hard about sunshine, terrain and places I generally fancied going. The pacific coast highway was chosen for sunshine, ease, reputation and chance to to test out our kit. With a few tent pole issues and the bikes now serviced so far all seems well. I have replaced my tent with a plush 3 man (lightweight but good on space) and discovered my Rohlhoff gear hub had a little less oil than it should which I have to say was a surprise, especially given The Captain seemed to ride well. What I hadn’t figured on was people we would meet, fog and mist and a sense of real America. It has been amazing.
Having left settle on 9th July, following out first encounter with the warmth of strangers, we headed north, via Bainbridge and Olympia before getting to Potlatch which had been the initial first stopover. Keen to get started on our bikes we were later to learn the lesson that adding an extra 150 ish miles reduces potential for days off. Consequently we then cycled everyday till arriving in San franscico on August 1st.
The first days wound slowly through long tree lined highways which it’s fair to say for us felt tedious and with little changing scenery, few people and quiet campsites.It was at Cannon Beach where the ride took on a new lease of life, amazing views, company and friendship. We met Tom cycling out of here and he would remain with us until the end of our ride. Ecola state park, next to Cannon Beach provided the first dramatic rocky coastline views we would meet many more times and the bar there was not only a shelter from the rain but also a great intro to Oregon ales.
As we continued through Oregon we met many more bikers and enjoyed some great campfires on the hiker biker sites. We said goodbye to a family from Vancouver over coffee in pacific city, got great food tips from Paul and jeanne in cape lookout and spent the later part of the trip crossing paths with Cameron and serge, finally biking into ‘Frisco with Bob. Tom, as noted above travelled with us through this time. In fact, I believe I’m proud to have introduced Tom to singing and riding…. Mostly all done to “we’re going up the sunshine mountain”! Sadly, no video/audio is available to link here….. Perhaps as well given most singing was done uphill, especially on the steep bits and I sense my breathing throughout may bring a different sort of blog follower!!
My previous trips to the USA have always been to cities, with the exception of a ski hol in Colorado, and the opportunity to get out to small towns, rural areas and the vast number of state parks gives a very different perspective. While some old logging towns have looked a little run down, larger towns and most shockingly San fransciso give a tough image of what it’s like to be having life hard here, the vastness, space and distance between small populated areas provides another picture.
Having left Oregon we entered into the state of California. While budget deficits meant state campgrounds were not so well serviced the facilities on offer for the hiker biker were still way beyond what a uk cyclist can see and the fact that shoulders exist on the roads is also an added bonus. The coastline through California continued to amaze and the ride into Jenner through from Gualala was one of my favourite riding days of the trip. A tough climb, over the coastline mist and fog leading to a superb switchback descent towards clam chouder and then camping with around 20 other bikers (all boys!) at bodega bay will stay with me for some time. As we began our final trip into the city there was one last surprise… A small town grocery store really did become a one stop shop for me. The best sticky bun of trip to date and a piano…. Only my third chance to play and it took only a few seconds for me to find my sheet music.
We’re ending our USA leg this evening with a live band and as we plan now to head out for some fine picking, bluegrass style, it’s time to sign off… Tomorrow we leave for Japan. If it’s anywhere close to the pacific coast then we are in for a ball.