Day 36 – We were raided by raccoons in the middle of the night. I woke up to Jerry yelling and punching his tent. Then a terrible growl ripped through the darkness as a raccoon that was trying to get a bag of chips and scurried off into the woods. I shot up looking for my flashlight. It got buried in my clothes and sleeping bag. I thought that the raccoons were just outside my tent waiting to tear through the wall and grab the food in my pannier next to my head. I never found the flashlight. I sat up for a bit, listening for more intruders. Slowly, I fell back asleep.
In the morning, I found out that Hammock Frank was also battling off some raccoons. Apparently, they got into his pannier, opened the drawstring, pulled out his clothes and found the bread and hard boiled eggs at the bottom. All that was left were scraps of egg shell.
Russ and I rode into Fort Bragg to get some breakfast and wifi. We went into a cafe and ordered coffee. Russ scoped out some seats with outlets near them. We huddled around waiting for other patrons to leave, so we could change seats and plug in our gear. Finally, someone moved. Russ jumped up and threw his coat on the seat. I followed up behind him. “You can plug in over there,” Russ said. I dove under the counter, with plug in hand, and realized that there was a metal plate where the outlet should be. We looked around and realized that all of the outlets were covered.
This is when we finalized the “Requirements” for our morning stops. 1. There must be good wifi. 2. There must be power outlets. 3. There must be toilet paper in the bathroom. (Yes, we found a bathroom in a restaurant that was toilet-paperless.) 4. There must be cheap, good and high calorie food. Russ and I finished our coffees and hit the road.
We found a Starbucks on Yelp just up the way and made it our new destination. The food wasn’t anything fancy, and yeah it was overpriced, but we were in desperate need of power and wifi. Starbucks came through with both. We spent almost 3 hours updating our blogs. The Hammock Guys caught up with us and spent some time in Starbuck too. We got updated and hit the road for a long day of riding up and down the hilly coast.
It was a long straight ride from Fort Bragg to the Pacific. I tried to keep up with the Hammock Guys for a while, but they were just too fast. Eventually, I settled into a manageable pace. Russ and I stopped and grabbed some great photos of the coast. The fog had lifted and the sun was out in full force. Nothing but blue ocean and rocky coastline.
We were both getting hungry by the time we came to the town of Albion. We got to ride over a very high, white bridge, that straddled a rocky cove. In town we found a great little grocery store and deli. I ordered a big turkey sandwich with avocado and a side of Sun Chips. Sadly, we ran into more meth heads hanging around the town. It seemed like the California coastline was loaded with transients, and we just couldn’t get away from them.
Fueled up and feeling great, we continued down the coast. The amazing views made the endless climbs bearable. We caught up with the Hammock Guys and Rama in the town of Elk. They just finished some lunch and were getting ready to head out. Hammock Guy Tom let us know that the next climb was the steepest climb on the PCH, according to “The Book.” All 5 of us rolled out of town. We could see the climb up ahead. I decided to take it easy going up the hill, but Russ raced Rama and the guys to the top. He pulled ahead and beat everyone out. I came up last, but I was thinking that the hill was relatively easy. I probably could have pushed it a lot harder.
Then we all went down and around a corner, and that’s when we saw the actual “steepest hill” on the PCH. It was only a couple hundred feet high, but the grade was so steep that you could barely turn the pedals. Russ and the Hammock Guys went first and I did my best to keep up. I made the first turn and took a quick break. I was breathing like a maniac. I saw Rama coming up behind me and I went for the next chunk of uphill. I got to the next turn and it was so steep that I couldn’t pedal. I jumped off and pushed my bike around the turn, while sucking wind. I could see the guys at the top. I had to get up there. I hopped on the bike and pushed myself to pedal out the last 100 ft. I made it to the top and sat on the guardrail hyperventilating.
Yes, “that” was the steepest climb on the PCH. Rama made it up and we all relaxed for a bit before moving on. We had gone almost 40 miles and we still had another 20 some to go. The road continued to weave around with ups and downs. The downs were steep, windy and fun. But the ups kept wearing at us. We stopped at a couple of markets on the the way, grabbing supplies and snacks and taking little breaks. It was getting late in the day when we set out for the final sprint to the campground.
Everyone was exhausted and we kept leapfrogging back and forth with the Hammock Guys. Russ and Frank were ahead of me when we came down a steep hill with a hairpin turn at the bottom. I looked over the hill as I zoomed toward the bottom, and saw a row of RVs. Maybe this was the campground. I came to the hairpin and there was Hammock Guy Frank standing and pointing to the entrance of the Anchor Bay Campground. Russ shot past the entrance and had to turn around.
We all wandered into the park, glad to be at our destination for the night. Soon Rama showed up. We we were all setting up our tents, when we realized that Tom hadn’t arrived yet. Rama said his chain came off and that he had passed him a ways back. We all waited, took showers, started making food, and Tom still wasn’t there. We decided that he must have missed the campground entrance. Nobody had service, so there was no way to text Tom. Frank found some wifi and sent a message into the void. Every time we heard a noise we all looked over toward the entrance, hoping to see Tom rolling in.
It was almost dark when Frank finally received a Facebook message from Tom. He missed the park and rode another 10 miles to a state park. Luckily, Eiry and Boris were staying there, so he wasn’t alone. We planned to meet in Gualala the next morning. That night we all stayed up talking to Brittany, a cute girl that was staying at the beach with her parents. She was into yoga and music and was going to school in Seattle for marketing. Frank lit some candles and we all talked and listened to the waves late into the night. It was almost midnight by the time I went to bed. It felt like I had been awake for 2 days. So much had happened in one day. Tomorrow was supposed to be an easier. My legs would need it.
PS. Aunt Cindy decided to end her trip a bit early. She texted us and let us know that she would be renting a car and heading back home. Miss you Aunt Cindy!
(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)