After the Avenue of Giants, we climbed West over the coast mountains again and joined CA 1, the Shoreline Highway
We climbed 5,600 feet of vertical over 80 miles. Our longest and most ambitious single day of riding on the Pacific leg of our tour.
The Shoreline Highway hugged the coast even more closely than 101 had since we left Oregon. Despite the views, we regretted taking this route because the shoulder was almost nonexistent. Trucks and RVs ripped past us around blind corners, often with only a few inches in between us and them.
From a fellow cyclist, we heard that traffic got much worse as we neared San Francisco, so we diverted through the Russian River Valley at Sonoma Coast state park.
We bumped into our new friend Jörn (in the orange short) in the valley. Jörn, whom we’d first met a few days prior, was riding from Vancouver to San Francisco. We decided to ride and camp together on the last night of both of our respective journeys.
We bought a whole chocolate cake, a few pots of ice cream, and Jörn supplied bread, cheese, wine, and his flask of rum. We had a great last night together. We feasted and chatted on some horse farmer’s ranch along the Lagunitas River. We were interrupted every so often by the occasional dog barking at the nearby barn. But we remained undiscovered and had a restful night.
All I could think of as I set up my tent, inflated my mattress, and automatically did my nightly duties, was: This is the last time I will do this for a while. Tomorrow, we arrive in San Francisco, and return to “normal” life. But all I can think, now, is that this feels right, this feels normal; I can hardly imagine not sleeping out in the open air every night.
A horse snorted nearby as I was falling asleep. I chuckled. I love this lifestyle, I thought; I’m going to miss touring dearly.