A slightly delayed post from my cycle between Portland and San Francisco. I took a series of sneaky back roads out of Portland, cycling along the Nestucca River Road to reach the coast once again. The Oregon coast is beautiful, scattered with campsites which offer $5.00 hiker/biker rates and popular with cyclists so plenty of folk to chat too! I got a bit lazy with the photography because I felt peoples appetite for coastal views from a lone cyclist would be limited…we live in the days of Google street view after all!
Coastal Oregon turned into coastal California. I decided to take a couple of detours being slightly ahead of schedule, the first being the Lost Coast Highway which starts in Ferndale and drops you into the redwood forests and Avenue Of The Giants Road. I arrived in Ferndale quite late and exhausted. On long trips you often need a bit of luck and it arrived just at the right time in Ferndale in the form of two retired artists, Mylo and Dee who invited me to stay at their place overnight. After putting my tent up they fed me and gave me use of their shower which is no small luxury on the road! The next morning Mylo took me to a cafe called Poppa Joe’s in town for breakfast before I set off up the BIG climb. Poppa Joe’s is a jewel of a place, open at 6 am, the local diary men come in and play cards after the first milk of the day. No TVs or distractions to proper conversation, banter and good food! The lost coast was incredible, other cyclists I had spoken to beforehand either said it couldn’t be missed or miss it at all costs. The reason soon became clear, the coast lies on the west side of a mountain range so you have to climb to and from it, the road surface is horrendous, commonly meeting wheel swallowing potholes half way round hairpin bends on the descent. However the coast when you get there is pretty incredible and the mountain scenery breathtaking. The final descent back to the highway drops over 2000 ft through giant redwoods, brake blocks and forearms burning.
The theme of kind Americans has been continued. I came across a gent who had the heaviest load I’ve ever seen on a bike, like one of those overloaded Indian trailer pictures you see. When I spoke to him it quickly became clear he had poor hearing, almost deaf, either that or he enjoyed shouting everything he said when I was standing less than a metre away. Anyways, he explained: ‘I LOST MY WIFE FOUR YEARS AGO AND HAVE BEEN CYCLING EVER SINCE’, turns out the medical bills associated with his wife’s illness had bankrupted him. He had a tin of tuna for his lunch and offered me half of it, poor but generous. When I first introduced myself as Ben he shouted: “WELL ITS NICE TO MEET YOU LEN, IS IT LEN AS IN LENNY?”. I replied no, Ben as in Benjamin. He replied: “SURE, WELL ITS NICE TO MEET YA LENNY”.
I also cycled through Garberville, Humboldt County which I’m told is the pot growing capital of the world. The same day severe forest fires were burning in the area so the air was thick with smoke. Combined with the general smell of cannabis which hangs around the town it just looked like the stoners were having an industrial level blaze up. Stopped at traffic lights, a small rusty blue car pulled up next to me, rear seats and boot packed with plants and a steady reggae beat pumping from the radio. Love it when the stories are true!
I ramble, other things which have been cool – watching grey whales from clifftops at lunch, drinking beer with other cyclists, reaching San Francisco after all this time!!