Pacific Coast: Mendocino, Sonoma

It’s still dark outside. I press gently on the thermarest to push the air out. I start to push the sleeping bag slowly into the compression sack. I load the bags onto the bike quietly trying not to wake my fellow cyclists from their dreamy sleep. I feel like an intruder, a thief. It’s true. I am stealing time. I am stealing calm streets, the cool morning breeze, the gentle lights of the sun, the first cup of fresh brewed coffee. Something like that.

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The side roads leading into Caspar and Mendocino are narrow and winding. Mendocino town site looks from 1800s. I ate a banana and an apple, watching waves crashing into beach. Back to Highway 1, the road goes up and down, but still gentle, or is it because I rested yesterday? Albion has just houses on both sides of the road. Little River is just a closed store. I catch Scott and Adam at a cafe in Elk. Fog comes in, surprisingly quickly. West wind pushes clouds from sea level up the high ridge into the road and beyond.

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After Navarro bridge the climb is hard, but wait after Elk, it’s the steepest yet. I walk the second switchback.

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At noon time, I am at the KOA campground. The state park next door is closed for the season and more importantly, KOA has (hot) showers, a jacuzzi hot tub and one-hour free internet. Deal. A father-son-cousin trio and then “Bob” shows up later. I walk to the beach and read about “mountain beavers” on some interpretive signs. Jacuzzi is nice and one-hour internet does not last long.

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Morning is chilly and fog does not lift until noon. Even then, it’s because I get to higher elevations. I get to a store and buy some coffee. I fill up too much and it spills all over at the checkout. I find a visitor center with wi-fi and spend almost an hour under morning sun. Roads are narrow and winding and they go up and down constantly.

Why does a dog bark at a cyclist? Are we cats on wheels? Are the wheels in motion the issue? It’s been almost two hundred years, get over it… Please?

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I am in Sonoma now. It doesn’t feel different, it’s just another county on the coast. But I guess where Mendocino is a transition between mountains and the coast, Sonoma is purely coast. It is colder and fog seems to be always there. It also seems like people have a lot of cottages and summer houses here. Lot’s of signs saying, “private property”, “no trespassing”.

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Fort Ross is a historical Russian settlement. Interesting that only 200 years ago Russians dominated the area from San Francisco to Alaska when British, French and others were busy with wars in Europe. And then Americans bought the place.

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The hills south of Fort Ross are the hardest of the day; steep and long. At one point the elevation gain brings me above the fog. A logging truck causes some excitement at a downhill switchback. We enter the curve at the same time and I almost lick the rear tires of the truck on exit, I don’t know how I survived.

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Sonoma Coast SP has many beaches and campgrounds, but only one has a hiker-biker site with hot showers: Bodega Dunes. That’s where I end the day along with five more cyclists around a camp fire.

21 days (+1 rest day), 1065 miles.

pc4View the full route

2014-10-05 Manchester Beach KOA 44 04:17
2014-10-06 Bodega Dunes SB 71 06:54