Day 25: Manchester Beach – Bodega Dunes

Day 25: Manchester Beach – Bodega Dunes

Distance: 74.70 miles.
Time: 7:35.
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.

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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.

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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.

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