Day 25: Manchester Beach – Bodega Dunes
Distance: 74.70 miles.
Average Speed: 9.8 mph.
I know I’ve said this before, but today was tough. It was a long route, completely on Highway 1. There were small hills, medium hills, big hills, steep hills, shallow hills. Hills.
As I was packing up, a Dutch couple, Kris and Bernadette, came to say hello, they had set off from Los Angeles, and were on their way north to Anchorage, Alaska. A four month trip. That was nothing compared to Kevin, the other member of the campsite’s hiker/biker ‘club’. He had set off to walk the Appalachian trail two years before and was still walking. Planning to walk north up the Pacific Coast before taking a break for a year. After that, he would set off to walk the Great Divide and Pacific Crest trails too.
Finally setting off, at 20 past 10, it was cold and drizzly. I stopped to put on my waterproof overshoes, and was asked if I was ok by a dog walker. When I responded, she asked if I was Scottish, debating whether I was from Glasgow, before deciding my accent was a little more subtle. It turned out she’d played a courtier in a rendition of Mary Queen of Scots and had studied the accent for that!
Cool and damp, through nondescript farmland, it was a good time to put some miles in. I decided I’d do the 20 miles to Gualala before lunch. But the going was slow with a number of steep inclines sapping my energy reserves. I managed 12 miles, then stopped for a couple of rolls.
Carrying on, the hills didn’t let up and I struggled into Gualala. Finding a Bakery/ Mexican/ Pizzeria in a small shopping centre, I ordered a large slice of pizza and enchiladas as well. The pizza was good and the enchiladas came as a huge plateful with refried beans, rice and salad.
It was good fuel for cycling, but I felt terrible for the first couple of miles, as my body tried to process the massive amount of food. By the time I was feeling better, the route had become a procession of rolling hills, which was much more pleasant. Then, just when I was getting comfortable, a river inlet would indent the coast, with the road dropping steeply down to meet it, and climbing back up the other side.
At half past 3, having just passed 40 miles for the day, my front gear cable snapped. Luckily, it was an easy fix and I was back on the road in quarter of an hour. I was keen to press on, concerned that, as it was a holiday weekend, camping might be an issue, a concern supported by the string of ‘full’ campsites I passed on the route.
At 50 miles, the road started to climb, continuing on for quarter of a mile through roadworks and then over some cattle grids, eventually I realised I was at 185 metres, then the road dropped slightly, before plateauing and rising back up over the top of a ridge, with a fast twisting descent down the other side. All with great views along the coast.
Just passed Jenner, I passed a couple of cyclists on a bridge, just before the last big climb of the day. After the climb, one of them passed me then sped off ahead. A few miles later, as I headed towards Bodega Bay, he returned going back the other way, explaining that the Hiker/Biker camping was this way. Following his lead, we returned 2 miles back to Wrights beach. It had camping, but not Hiker/Biker, so we turned round again, and headed back along the road to the Bodega Dunes campsite.
Bodega Dunes was also ‘full’, but not for cyclists. On a very busy weekend for campsites, the hiker/biker section had one other tent in it when we arrived.