Here I am cycling along the Pacific Coast’s Highway 1 in Northern California.
When you’re working in an office most of the year, and you only get a few weeks vacation, you really need to make the most of your time off. At Urban Outfitters, we got a four-day weekend over Memorial Day, so I took the whole week off to meet up with my friend Will Clarke in Seattle to do a bike tour along the Pacific Coast in Washington and Oregon.
It was wet in Washington. Duh.
On our second day riding in Washington, it started raining. And it was forecast to rain the rest of the week too. So we decided to rent a car to get down to sunny California … where everyone’s blonde!
When in California … you gotta go blonde. And hell no, we didn’t do it ourselves. We went to the salon!
We restarted our bike tour in Eureka, California. Cycling along Highway 101 kind of sucked. It was a wide highway, so it was good to have a lot of shoulder, but it was pretty boring. The highlight along Highway 101 between Eureka and where you meet up with Highway 1 to get to the coast was definitely the Redwoods. Make sure to ride along the Avenue of the Giants through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The road was quiet and the Redwoods were enormous and impressive.
It’s a fairly remote stretch. There might have been a campground or motel, but since we’d wasted some time driving in a rental car, we made a special effort to do some wild camping, especially since we were in a Redwood forest.
Yeah, we’ve got matching tents: TarpTent Contrail.
When Highway 101 split off onto Route 1, we climbed a mountain to get to the Pacific coast. And it was so worth it. The highlight of the trip was riding along the coastal road on Route 1. I’ve done a lot of bike tours, but I think this stretch was the most scenic. God must be some kind of crazy artist.
My Surly Traveler’s Check (aka CrossCheck with S & S Couplers) with a bikepacking setup just after reaching Route 1 on the Pacific Coast in Northern California
Since the Pacific Coast road is probably the most popular bike touring route in the US, I had some idea that there’d be lots of services along the way. I was way off. Route 1 was surprisingly remote. Every once in a while, we’d pass through a small town that had a gas station, or an over-priced convenience store.
Even with my bikepacking setup, I was able to find some room to dry my laundry using my cargo net.
We biked a few days along Route 1, and it was really incredible. The riding wasn’t too difficult. There was lots of up-and-down, and twists-and-turns, but all manageable and it made for more interesting riding especially with the view to the Pacific.
Since we’d had a lot of variety already on the bike tour, we opted for more. We decided to turn off Route 1 to go to Napa Valley. It was an okay choice. We had a long climb over the Sierra Nevada mountains, and the ride through wine country was pleasant, but it didn’t come close to the beauty of the Pacific coast road. If I had to do it over, I think I’d stay on Route 1 all the way into San Francisco.
Crossing the Golden Gate bridge into San Francisco was a nice way to cap off the trip. I didn’t feel all that victorious at the time though because we had to immediately think about getting back up to Seattle. We found a shitty Pakistani all-you-can-eat buffet, and considered all our options while we charged up our phones. After exhausting Craigslist, train schedules, and the idea of buying a car, we took the BART train to the airport, and rented a car through Alamo. Hertz sucked because they wouldn’t let us go over 600 miles in one day; they were going to force us to rent the car for two days. Alamo was fairly cheap, had no mileage restriction, and let us pick any size car. We ended up cramming our two bikes into a tiny car, which later made for an uncomfortable sleeping situation at the rest stop. 14 hours of driving later, and smelling like shit, we made it back to Seattle.
Bike touring the Pacific Coast in Northern California was incredible. Now I’ve gotta do the rest of California.