PCH Tour: Up and Over Leggett Mountain

Pacific Coast Highway Russ McCoy

Day 35 – I was up and at it bright an early. This day was going to be the biggest single climb of my trip. We were starting at around 900 ft above sea level and climbing up to just around 2,000 ft at the summit of Leggett, for over 1,100 ft of climb. Follow that up with another 700 ft climb at the bottom of the 1st mountain. My legs were still tired. They hadn’t had a chance to fully recover in weeks. But I was determined to make it over.

Cindy left first, heading for the cafe across the street. Russ and I were out next. We decided to try and find a cafe or market in the little town of Leggett, at the bottom of the big climb. When we rolled into town the market was abandoned and the only restaurant was closed. The owner of a small gas station told us that there was a good market with coffee up another hill about a mile and a half away. We decided to make the climb. There was no way we were doing the big hill on empty stomachs and without coffee.

It was a nice 200-300 ft climb to the top of the hill. In the market we discovered Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and a store full of food and coffee. I grabbed a doughnut and some snacks for the road. We drank our coffees on the bench outside and contemplated the climbs to come. Just as we were leaving, Rama rolled up to the store for some breakfast as well. We figured he’d be faster than us, so we left him behind and went back down the hill to Highway 1.

There was a small decent out of town before we had to down shift and begin the long windy climb up Leggett. The air was cool, the traffic light, and forest covered hill was peaceful. It was a shallow climb, which made it bearable. I stayed with Russ for the first several hundred feet and then he began to pull away. I huffed and puffed my way along, winding left and right and all along going up and up. I wanted to make the climb without taking a rest, so I just meditated on the road and settled in for a long climb up.

There were times where the mountain almost leveled off, which gave me a second or two of coasting so I could catch my breath and stretch my legs. A little over half way up I thought I was having a small heart attack, but I’m pretty sure it was just the coffee coming back up. Anyhow, I was able to keep pedaling and huffing and puffing, so I figured that I wasn’t dying. Around every turn was another incline. I kept hoping I’d see the top, but I tried to not think about how much further it might be.

My legs were on fire, and I could barely breathe when I saw the crest of the mountain. I got to the summit and my phone started beeping. I had service for the first time in 2 days. I stopped at the top and returned some important texts. I took a breather and some swigs of my water and got excited for the long 1,900 ft descent. It felt amazing. The temperature was just right and the road was so much fun to coast down. I took my time and savored the morning sunlight coming through the trees. I rarely went over 20 mph. I didn’t want the descent to end.

It wasn’t long before I reached the bottom. I went over a small bridge and cruised through some aspen groves, before coming to the base of the second big climb of the day. This one was a bit steeper. I really had to work to get around the turns. A little over half way up I relented and took a little breather break. My cardio still wasn’t up to par for pedaling a 100lb loaded tour bike up a mountain. Maybe it would be by the time I got back to LA.

I continued upward and made it over the top. It was another pleasant and windy ride to the bottom. As the descent came to an end I could see the ocean through the trees. A surge of energy came through my body and I pushed to climb the small hill to the lookout point. The ocean view opened up before me, and I saw Russ eating a sandwich next to a guardrail. We took a break and talked about how happy we were to see the pacific again, this time without fog.

Pacific Ocean South of Leggett

Warm sunny skies followed us as we pedaled up and down, left and right along the coastline. From here on out, the ride would be a constant roller coaster. We stopped in Westport for supplies and some snacks. Hammock Frank and Tom rolled in with Jerry, just as we were leaving. No one had seen any sign of Cindy. We figured she must have gotten ahead of us. Russ and I continued on for camp. The constant up and down had us shifting our gears every few minutes. It was like interval training all the way to MacKerricher State Park.

I was glad to make it to camp. I had conquered the climbs, but the day wore me out. We set up, had our beer, and ate our sandwiches. I went to the beach for some sunset photos, but just missed it by a few minutes. That night I cooked up 2 packs of ramen noodles and mixed in a pack of instant mashed potatoes and tuna. It was one of the most amazing meals of the trip. I finished it all and felt like I was going to explode.

Later that night we found out that Cindy decided to stay at a hotel in Fort Bragg. Maybe we’d meet up for breakfast the next morning. I went to my tent early to get some typing done. I was out by 10pm. What a day. I felt like I could take on any challenge the road would give me from that point on. Although, I was looking forward to some days off. About four more to go and I could get some much needed rest.

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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