After two big climby days on the lost coast, I had planned a relatively low mileage day for day five of the tour. My knees were starting to creak a bit and my friend Esteban managed to tweak his Achilles heel, probably on one of the steep hike-a-bike sections. We started the day with a terrific breakfast at an organic hippie cafe in Fort Bragg.
After topping up whiskey stocks at CVS, we headed into Jackson State Forest. We were a little tentative about this detour since we were cooked from the previous two days, but the climbs were relatively gentle and it was well worth the trip.
After realizing that we were going to finish the day extra early, we decided to press on to Manchester as we heard that the KOA had good laundry facilities. I had never stayed at a KOA before, but this particular one was actually better than a lot of the budget-cut-strapped state parks I have stayed at. The luxury of clean clothes made it well worth the extra mileage that day, which we finished up with 58 miles and 4137 feet of climbing.
We rose early the next morning and headed through the fog into Point Arena looking for some breakfast, but just about everything was closed. This is one of the problems of having an early internal alarm clock. Luckily, the organic coop supermarket had some pretty good breakfast burritos, which I ate sans tortilla.
We ended up spending about two hours inside waiting for the fog to die down, and trying to figure out where to stop for the night. Our decision to press ahead the day before had put a wrinkle into my carefully designed itinerary. It’s good not to be too fetishistic about an itin. On the other hand, we met a couple of guys from the midwest touring north to south. They had been so determined to be spontaneous that they didn’t even do enough research to realize that north to south kind of sucks due to prevailing winds and the fact that the best views are on the right-hand side. Anyway, after a lot of figuring, we settled upon the idea of camping at a primitive campground near Jenner.
We stopped for supplies at what looked to me like a run-of-the-mill roadside general store, but the place ended up having some ridiculously gourmet stuff. I would have been happy for a candy bar, but this place had snacks like olives and cheese. It was clear we were out of the great north and getting closer to San Francisco. Potato salad with wild salmon on top went down a lot better than some of the other meals on the trip.
We also ran into two young guys touring from Portland to San Diego on Fixies. They had been doing about 100 miles per day and one of them mentioned that his knee was starting to hurt. Go figure!
One of the best detours of the entire trip was our decision to leave the coast–where the traffic was really starting to annoy me–and head inland up a dirt road called Kruse Ranch.
This lead to some terrific country roads high above the ocean.
And one screaming descent back to the ocean.
We were excited to finally make it to Jenner and discover that there was a tandoori place not far from the campground we planned to stay out. Only problem was that the campground itself ended up being closed for the season due to state budget cuts.
We considered doing a bit of stealth camping among the overgrown weeds of the derelict and abandoned feeling campground, but since it was located right next to the ranger’s house, we decided to press on. I was really bummed to ride by that tandoori place on our way out of Jenner! This also meant that our plan to begin the next day with a dirt road climb up to Occidental were spoiled, but everything turned out OK in the end.
After rocketing a dozen miles down the coast boosted by heavy tailwinds, and passing a completely full campground, we arrived at Bodega Dunes State Park, only to be told that all hiker biker sides were full, as was the county park campground on the other side of the bay. After some pleading, the ranger finally gave us a spot though, for which we were pretty grateful.
An excellent Mexican restaurant down the road made up for the tandoori. We finished the day with 72 miles and 4600 feet of climbing, well more than we had been planning, but it was a terrific day all the same.