Waiting on the Skunk Railroad
Shortly after leaving my motel in Fort Bragg, I had to stop at a train crossing. One of Fort Braggs claims to fame is the Skunk Railroad (another is that it is the largest port between San Francisco and Eureka) which is now a tourist attraction. I was delighted to hear, and then see, an old steam locomotive come chuffing across CA 1. It was a nice way to start what turned out to be an excellent day of riding.
It wasn't windy this morning and it was cloudy. Riding south out of Fort Bragg revealed a much gentler version of California 1. It was also much busier, but it generally - not always - had good shoulders. The most exciting bits were the bridges with little or no shoulder. They were always at the bottom of hills <grin>, so I could usually get up to and maintain a good speed, about 30 to 35 mph, across them. Traffic, although moderate, wasn't a big issue.
As I rode south, the wind picked up, the clouds mostly went away, the ocean became bluer and the beaches became prettier. Sometimes spectacularly pretty. This part of CA 1 is a big time tourist and vacation home area.
Shortly after passing Mendicino, I was overtaken by two (Kent and Amanda) of the three tourist from Portland. Larry, the third member of that group had gotten sick when they had camped at Fort Bragg two nights before, and they had taken a rest day in Mendicino. He was doing better, so he had ridden out ahead of them that morning. Kent and I visited for a while on the road, then he rode on to catch up with Amanda.
I stopped for a break after about two hours of riding. Then rode on only to find, a few miles later, five tourist taking a break at Elk. The three folks from Portland were there, and they had just met two tourist from Canada who I met yesterday at Legett. We visited some more - this was a good day for visits - and rode on. All five of these tourists are in their 20s and have aggressive riding styles, so they quickly left me behind. The interesting thing is that I keep catching up to them again despite my plodding speed <grin>.
We met again later and had lunch together in Point Arena and met for the third time in Salt Point State Park where all five of them were stopping for the night. The two Canadians had just finished medical school and would be starting their residencies next month. The two guys from Portland are engineers and the girl is starting her last year of school in Physical Therapy. Nice folks who I really enjoyed getting to know.
There were some very hard climbs into the wind after the road descended several hundred feet to sea level and then climbed back up after crossing a stream. The steepest, just south of Elk, was a 12% or so grade with switchbacks (Groan!), but it didn't last very long. Most of the riding was rolling hill with a good tail wind. My average speed for the day was 12.5 mph, and, before, very hilly, last ten miles, it had been 13.5 mph. Those are respectable speed for me on a 90 pound bike through hilly country. The tailwind really helped.
Entering wonderland at the first, of six, cattle guard
Heading down from wonderland, with cattle on the road
After Fort Ross, CA 1 narrows and is gated so that it can be closed for bad weather or bad road condtions. CA 1 had several sections today where the outer lane had partially or completely fallen into the ocean. These sections were bridged or, in one case, the road was moved further inland. This is the most spectacular part of CA 1. There is an alternate road further inland so that traffic on this section of CA 1 can be rerouted in bad weather or for road work.
In this section, CA 1 climbs some 500 feet above the ocean while still being on the actual coast. The climb is long, but the views more than make up for it. There are several climbs as the road drops into and climbs out of coves. There are six cattle guards that delimt this section. I rode past half a dozen cattle on CA 1 coming down and a deer, off the road, going up.
The descent to Russian Gulch to as spectacular as the climb up. It is one of those descents where you hope you don't have brake or tire problems since there are many places where running off the road would mean a rapid, and fatal, descent to the ocean. Of course, after this great descent, you have to climb out of the gulch and it is another three miles, up hill and down, to Jenner.
I stopped at (the?) B+B in Jenner. It looks like this one real estate company has bought up all the available B+B and vaction rental housing here. My small room was $100, with breakfast, and that really isn't bad given the location. I'll stay here till lunch - the restaurant is good - and then I have an easy 45 mile ride to the meeting point where my friends will pick me up. My room is getting a bit chilly - the power has been out for two hours - and the restaurant may be somewhat limited in its lunch menu, but that is the price you pay for luxury <grin>!