* Pictures online for this Part of the trip in the Gallery
section of this Web siteSeattle, Washington to San Francisco, California
Leaving Seattle after taking ten days off the bikes and saying goodbye to friends, family and the comforts of home turned out to be a little more difficult than we anticipated. But we were both excited to test out some newly acquired gear from our sponsors and a waterproof bag that replaced the ragged backpacks atop our rear panniers. The addition of this “Harald Bag” provided extra space to distribute our tent, food, and cooking supplies.
Between the two of us, we’ve lived in every major city along the route to San Francisco and during the first two weeks on the bikes we did not feel like we were back on tour, but rather using bicycles as a mode of transport to visit friends and family that dotted the first 500 miles of the route. Our first rest stop was after our first day of riding at Gregg’s parent’s house in Olympia Washington where we engulfed epic proportions of Gregg’s mom’s infamous “Gutbuster” casserole and caught up on the latest world news on their big screen TV. We suffered the first major heartbreak of the trip when Gregg’s Dad broke it to us the Olympia brewery had closed 3 years prior to our arrival. From Olympia, we camped at the base of Mount St. Helens, demolished the cookie and pastry selection at the Castle Rock Bakery, crossed the mighty Columbia River and rolled into downtown Portland, Oregon in the rain. We spent a long weekend in Portland celebrating birthdays, watching football with friends, and visiting relatives. En route to Eugene, OR, we decided to take a detour to Silver Falls State Park. Our beloved, RibbonOfRoad.com Web-master, Chris Nelson, became our first official trip visitor as he joined us at camp with a few beers and for a hike through the park’s 10 fantastic water falls (except for Frenchie Falls which produced a smaller trickle than Gregg’s typical morning jaunt to the outhouse).
We left Silver Falls with the intention of getting to Eugene that evening but didn’t account for getting separated in Salem. It took us a few hours to rejoin forces after Brooks abandoned Gregg on the interstate off-ramp while he took a cushy bike path through the city center. The mishap forced us to swallow our pride and spend the evening 40 miles short of Eugene, in Corvallis, home of the much hated Oregon State Beavers.
We spent another long weekend in Eugene, eating BBQ chicken pizza at Track Town Pizza, hacking up one of the areas finest Golf courses with Gregg’s college track coach “Coach Gillespie”, watching the Ducks beat the Huskies at Autzen stadium, and being interviewed for the KEZI evening news. We also hooked up with our bicycle sponsor, Co-Motion, at their company HQ for some story telling and a full bicycle overhaul. We spent the final evening in Eugene sharpening our baby sitting skills at Brooks’ cousin’s house so that the loving parents could celebrate their anniversary with a night on the town.
From Eugene, we rode west to Florence and joined the Pacific Coast bicycle route where we had campsite guests for the following 5 nights. Our visitors included: Beto, a friend from Costa Rica who we will hopefully meet again when we reach his home country; Jae, an untalented fisherman who cruised the coast for 4 days looking for the perfect surfer’s wave; and Jeremy and Nathalie, who drove 9 hours from San Francisco to join us at Redwood National Park.
In one of the most anticipated moments of the trip, we took full advantage of Oregon’s mandatory fuel pumping full-service, as we kicked back and waited for the Florence Chevron’s ogre of a gas attendant to retrieve and top off the cooking stove fuel bottles mounted on our bikes. Perhaps it was the gas fumes inhaled from the sloppily poured fuel, but we made a conscious decision to downgrade our campsite security from Code Red (Severe) to Code Yellow (Elevated) because we were officially out of bear country. That decision proved fatal in Sunset Bay State Park, when, at 3am, a posse of overweight raccoons penetrated our campsite perimeter, destroyed a waterproof bag, and devoured a weeks worth of our food. Brooks took inventory while Gregg chased the evil doers around camp with burning logs that he pulled out the fire pit to thwart off the possibility of a future attack.
Sunshine and spectacular fall weather followed us down the Oregon coast and we were pleased to see that many of the hills along the way seemed less challenging than we remembered (from our 2002 tour down the coast). The clear skies provided for incredible costal views and we peddled slowly and stopped frequently to enjoy the scenery. Entering Northern California the daily highlights shifted from ocean vistas to towering redwood trees. After Crescent City, we climbed through the fog to Redwood National Park where we put our bikes down and laced up our hiking shoes. We spent a day wandering beneath the tallest trees in the world and through a fern canyon that lead us to a meadow filled with male elk fighting for shagging rights.
Further south, we enjoyed weaving through the redwoods once again, this time by bike along the 22-mile Avenue of the Giants. While camping in a grove of redwoods that night, we befriended Doogle, an eccentric Australian who’s been on a non-stop bike tour since 1996. He started a blazing bonfire with a road flare and tire shreds that he had collected that day. He kept us up for the majority of the night telling tall tales that ranged from him fending off a black bear with his bare hands to slashing tires and generator cables of an overly boisterous RV camper. Heroically, he did manage to consume twelve 24-ounce beers during story time, which he pulled out of a conveniently located beer cooler that was mounted to his rear bike rack.
At Legget, we left Highway 101 and climbed our last major hill to rejoin the California coastline and Highway 1. Along the coast, the road never seemed to lose sight of the Ocean. We passed through Westport, Fort Bragg, Mendecino and Bodega Bay before meeting up with Brooks’ dad and fiancé in Olema - our final stop before San Francisco. Fittingly, the rain clouds parted long enough for all of us to eat lunch and visit the cemetery where Brooks’ mom was laid to rest after losing her fight with diabetes in 2002. Although a bit overwhelming, it was an amazing feeling to stand in front of the inspiration for our ride and fundraising efforts. We left feeling very proud of what we have accomplished thus far.
As the Golden Gate Bridge appeared from behind the fog and rain, it was easy to forget the fact that we had just slogged through seven hours of the wettest rain of the trip so far. We crossed the bridge, excited to be in the city by the bay, and ready for a wild Halloween weekend.
Special thanks to all our friends and family that made our trip down to San Francisco so comfortable. Hopefully your hospitality doesn’t make us too soft as we are about to take the plunge into Mexico.
Stage 1 Part 5 Miles: 1098.5 miles
Total Trip Miles: 4,200.1
Elevation Gain: 65,391 feet
Ride Time: 86 hours 56 minutes
Flat Tires: Brooks 7, Gregg 2Sponsored by:
Co-Motion Cycles, Schwalbe North America, Rudy Project, Outdoor Research, eRoi, ThinkHost, ZUM, Bay Club, Canright Interactive, R Bar, IBEX, Lombardi Sports, Jaunt