LA to Mexico by Lisa

This past week was the final stretch! After getting through LA, the miles flew by pretty quickly. Wednesday we rode to an Airbnb in Costa Mesa, near Newport Beach.

 Lots of riding on the beach through LA! 

Lots of riding on the beach through LA! 

 This is a terrible picture, but documentation that we tried In-and-Out Burger at least once. 

This is a terrible picture, but documentation that we tried In-and-Out Burger at least once. 

 Stopping for a cold drink in Long Beach. 

Stopping for a cold drink in Long Beach. 

 Just sandy, sunny riding all day! 

Just sandy, sunny riding all day! 

The next morning, Thursday, we left Costa Mesa with plans to ride to San Onofre State Beach, about 30 miles south. 

 Riding out of Costa Mesa. So many palm trees! 

Riding out of Costa Mesa. So many palm trees! 

 Stopping for....a milkshake. This was definitely still the morning. I’d call it a breakfast shake. 

Stopping for....a milkshake. This was definitely still the morning. I’d call it a breakfast shake. 

We didn’t get a ton of pictures from this day, but long story short, we got to San Onofre and the campground was pretty terrible. Hot, sunny, no shade, pinned between a nuclear plant and a Marine base. We got there around 2pm, took a look around, and decided we should just keep going further south. We wound up riding another 30 miles further to get to San Elijo State Park near Encinitas. 

We also don’t have anything to document our ride through Camp Pendleton! This Marine base allows cyclists to ride through if they submitted a request/background check (which we did) - the only other way through would be to ride along I-5. They don’t want you to stop, take pictures, etc. but the ride is at least 10 miles to get through the base. Our first time seeing road signs for tank crossings! We also rode right past several Howitzer teams doing live drills. It was definitely a surreal experience. 

 Went for a quick swim once we got to San Elijo. The water was warm! 

Went for a quick swim once we got to San Elijo. The water was warm! 

San Elijo had a beautiful beach, but as far as campgrounds go, it wasn’t much better than San Onofre. We were camped on the other side of a chain link fence separating the park from a highway and railroad tracks. Freight trains ran through the park all night long. And we woke up to discover our tent, bikes, and everything else covered in ants!

 Our feelings in the morning after no sleep and trying to get roughly one million ants out of all our things. 

Our feelings in the morning after no sleep and trying to get roughly one million ants out of all our things. 

We had been debating what day we’d actually ride to the border, but Friday morning we decided we were just going to do it that day - about 50 miles to get to the border. So close!

 Starting with coffee and pastries in Cardiff. Our mood improved dramatically! 

Starting with coffee and pastries in Cardiff. Our mood improved dramatically! 

Friday morning we rode through the northern San Diego suburbs, including La Jolla, before getting down to the waterfront and a quick ferry to Coronado to finish the ride to the border.

 We bumped into Sabine again on the ferry! She’s the German who’s been riding the same route as us. After finishing this ride, she’s going back up to Oregon and is going to start biking east across the US! 

We bumped into Sabine again on the ferry! She’s the German who’s been riding the same route as us. After finishing this ride, she’s going back up to Oregon and is going to start biking east across the US! 

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 View from the ferry. 

View from the ferry. 

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After getting to Coronado, we had about 20 more miles of riding to get to the border.  

 Riding along Silver Strand Beach. 

Riding along Silver Strand Beach. 

 On the other side of that fence is Tijuana! 

On the other side of that fence is Tijuana! 

 We made it!

We made it!

We decided not to cross the border, mainly because we knew it would take a long time to get through and back, and we wanted to get back to San Diego for the night. We got on the trolley, San Diego’s metro train, at San Ysidro and rode back into the city. 

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So we finished the ride - Canada to Mexico! The total came out to 1,979.3 miles. We’re both still in shock that the ride is actually over!

 The neighborhood we’re staying in in San Diego. 

The neighborhood we’re staying in in San Diego. 

 Celebrating Friday night with one well-earned margarita. Not pictured: how we promptly fell asleep at 8:30pm that night. 

Celebrating Friday night with one well-earned margarita. Not pictured: how we promptly fell asleep at 8:30pm that night. 

Yesterday, Saturday, we did some laundry, took all our gear to UPS to ship home (one 65lb box!), and dropped our bikes at a bike store that will pack them and ship them back to our bike shop in Chicago for a tune-up.

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 Bye, bikes! 

Bye, bikes! 

Now we’re just hanging out in San Diego until our flight home on Monday! 

Lompoc to LA by Lisa

We got a bit behind on posts—now we’re trying to remember everything that’s happened! After leaving Lompoc last Saturday, we had a short ride to a state park north of Santa Barbara - Refugio State Park. 

 Finally starting to feel like Southern California! Refugio State Park, with a beautiful beach running along the campground.

Finally starting to feel like Southern California! Refugio State Park, with a beautiful beach running along the campground.

 The hiker/biker campsite was pretty amazing - right on the beach under this grove of trees. 

The hiker/biker campsite was pretty amazing - right on the beach under this grove of trees. 

 Walking on the beach.

Walking on the beach.

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 Can never leave a cave unexplored!

Can never leave a cave unexplored!

The next morning, we were surprised to find that some creature had chewed a hole through one of my panniers! Most of the campsites we’ve been at have had bear/raccoon lockers for food, but this one didn’t. Since we don’t have a car, we locked up all our food in a pannier and locked it to a bike. The crazy part is that the animal must have been full after EATING THE BAG, because it didn’t even eat our food!

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On Sunday morning, we headed to Ventura to spend two days with Jacob’s cousin Ian and his family. 

 Stopping in Santa Barbara for lunch. PB&J just doesn’t get old! Kidding, we’re really sick of it.

Stopping in Santa Barbara for lunch. PB&J just doesn’t get old! Kidding, we’re really sick of it.

 Bike path leading into Ventura.

Bike path leading into Ventura.

We had a great time resting for a day in Ventura. Ian and Vanessa (and Finn!) took such good care of us - and fed us so much good food!

 Abby the dog supporting our rest day.

Abby the dog supporting our rest day.

 We had so much fun - thank you for hosting us!

We had so much fun - thank you for hosting us!

On Tuesday morning, we started the two days of riding that would take us across LA. Our first destination was Venice Beach, where we had an Airbnb booked for the night.

 A quick pit stop outside Point Mugu Naval Base.

A quick pit stop outside Point Mugu Naval Base.

 Ian and Vanessa sent us off with a ton of homemade snacks, including these little peanut butter balls. We ate them all!

Ian and Vanessa sent us off with a ton of homemade snacks, including these little peanut butter balls. We ate them all!

 Biking through the Santa Monica Mountains.

Biking through the Santa Monica Mountains.

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After that, we hit Malibu and had pretty dense suburban riding the rest of the day. Malibu might be the worst stretch of road we’ve hit so far, actually. The only way through is a narrow highway, and cars can park on the right shoulder to go the beach that stretches for almost 20 miles. Not the friendliest place for cyclists! 

 A peek at some of the giant houses scattered throughout Malibu. 

A peek at some of the giant houses scattered throughout Malibu. 

After Malibu, we had a slow ride on the crowded Santa Monica and Venice Beach boardwalks before finally making it to our Airbnb for the night. Jacob’s former classmate from DePaul, Nathan, lives in LA now, and he took us out for dinner!

 Talking about theatre, probably.

Talking about theatre, probably.

 Stopped by the Santa Monica Pier!

Stopped by the Santa Monica Pier!

Monterey to Lompoc by Lisa

Spent the past week riding through the Big Sur and Los Padres National Forest area on Route 1, including a section of Route 1 that just reopened this week after being closed for a year after a slide. It’s been a week of mountains, bluffs, rivers, beaches, farmland, cold misty weather, hot sunny weather, and everything else in between. 

On Monday we rode from Monterey to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, where we took a day off for some hiking and exploring the park.

 On the way to Big Sur we stopped at Point Lobos to see sea lions, but also had the luck of seeing a pod of humpback whales feeding right off shore.

On the way to Big Sur we stopped at Point Lobos to see sea lions, but also had the luck of seeing a pod of humpback whales feeding right off shore.

 On the ride into Big Sur, headwind flipped to a crazy tailwind. We rode up a hill, without pedaling, at 20mph. At one point I honestly felt like we were riding scooters because we were rolling uphill so fast.

On the ride into Big Sur, headwind flipped to a crazy tailwind. We rode up a hill, without pedaling, at 20mph. At one point I honestly felt like we were riding scooters because we were rolling uphill so fast.

 Climbing up to Big Sur.

Climbing up to Big Sur.

 Getting ready for bed with some rounds of gin rummy. The hike/bike site at Big Sur State Park was beautiful - right inside a grove of redwoods.

Getting ready for bed with some rounds of gin rummy. The hike/bike site at Big Sur State Park was beautiful - right inside a grove of redwoods.

 Took Tuesday off as a rest day and hiked up the Buzzard’s Roost trail in the park. I swear this is a candid shot—this is how he looks at redwoods.

Took Tuesday off as a rest day and hiked up the Buzzard’s Roost trail in the park. I swear this is a candid shot—this is how he looks at redwoods.

 The view from the Buzzard’s Roost trail.

The view from the Buzzard’s Roost trail.

 After days of cold coast riding, it was a shock to our systems to go a few miles inland and hit 90 degrees.

After days of cold coast riding, it was a shock to our systems to go a few miles inland and hit 90 degrees.

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 After our hike, we spent the rest of the day hanging out by Big Sur River. 

After our hike, we spent the rest of the day hanging out by Big Sur River. 

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 Redwoods above our campsite.

Redwoods above our campsite.

On Wednesday we did a short but hilly ride to Plaskett Creek, a campground in Los Padres National Forest.

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 This was easily one of the most scenic days of riding we had, just blue skies and coast. We were bracing ourselves for bad traffic, but there was hardly any, which made the day even better.

This was easily one of the most scenic days of riding we had, just blue skies and coast. We were bracing ourselves for bad traffic, but there was hardly any, which made the day even better.

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 Found the perfect spot for our PB&J. And we had run out of other food (with no stores in site) so we just had two sandwiches each. Worth it for this view!

Found the perfect spot for our PB&J. And we had run out of other food (with no stores in site) so we just had two sandwiches each. Worth it for this view!

 After our ride to Plaskett Creek, we spent the afternoon hanging out at the nearby Sand Dollar Beach.

After our ride to Plaskett Creek, we spent the afternoon hanging out at the nearby Sand Dollar Beach.

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 I have never seen seaweed like this before. These things were like 10 feet long! 

I have never seen seaweed like this before. These things were like 10 feet long! 

 It was a pretty cold, misty night, and Plaskett Creek didn’t have showers, so we had to go to bed dirty. Our dinner was a $6 can of beans and a $6 can of chili we found at an insanely overpriced camp store. BUT we had a sunset view of the ocean from our tent.

It was a pretty cold, misty night, and Plaskett Creek didn’t have showers, so we had to go to bed dirty. Our dinner was a $6 can of beans and a $6 can of chili we found at an insanely overpriced camp store. BUT we had a sunset view of the ocean from our tent.

 Thursday we rode to Morro Bay, which included plenty more mountain switchbacks.

Thursday we rode to Morro Bay, which included plenty more mountain switchbacks.

 We stopped at San Simeon to see elephant seals! This colony only formed in the 1990’s and now has over 15,000 seals in it. For an animal almost hunted to extinction, pretty amazing to see.

We stopped at San Simeon to see elephant seals! This colony only formed in the 1990’s and now has over 15,000 seals in it. For an animal almost hunted to extinction, pretty amazing to see.

 We pushed for another long day today (just over 70 miles) to get through a long inland stretch of hot farmland without many state parks or hotels.

We pushed for another long day today (just over 70 miles) to get through a long inland stretch of hot farmland without many state parks or hotels.

 After waking up to cold rain in Morro Bay, we were happy to get inland to San Luis Obispo, where it was sunny and warm and there were donuts!

After waking up to cold rain in Morro Bay, we were happy to get inland to San Luis Obispo, where it was sunny and warm and there were donuts!

Halfway through the ride today, we thought we found what would be a good shortcut to shave a few miles off the ride. Wrong: what we found was an insane hill, nearly 15% grade for almost 200 feet. Somehow we both got up it, but it is not an exaggeration to say I thought my heart was going to explode. Probably the steepest hill we’ve done so far. That’s what we get for looking for shortcuts!

A bit later, on a long stretch of road through farmland, I saw something ahead in the road. Before I could stop to ask what it was, we were biking through a full-on swarm of bees! Somehow we got through without either of us getting stung.

 We ended today’s ride by climbing the 1,000 foot Harris Grade Road over to Lompoc, which included some incredible valley views at the top.

We ended today’s ride by climbing the 1,000 foot Harris Grade Road over to Lompoc, which included some incredible valley views at the top.

The next three days are short rides that will take us through some great beaches around Santa Barbara. From there, we’re stopping in Ventura, then onto LA and San Diego and Mexico!

Hard to believe, but we have just over a week left. We can both feel the difference a month of riding has made - today would have wiped us out at the beginning of the trip, but we both felt pretty good at the end of the day. We didn’t even get more than 2 entrees at dinner!

For my part, I’m excited to cross the finish line, to be done with cold, damp nights and 2-minute showers and wearing dirty clothes day after day. But I’m sad this experience is coming to an end. For all the struggle and moments of misery, this has been a life-changing experience and like nothing else I’ve ever done before. Seeing the country this way, meeting people day after day, earning every amazing view by climbing some long hill, being close to the earth and all its beauty—how can it not change you? One more week on this adventure, but more living and adventures will follow!

San Francisco to Monterey by Lisa

We left San Francisco on Friday and have had a good couple of days riding, stopping in Half Moon Bay on Friday night, Santa Cruz on Saturday night, and tonight in Monterey.

 

 The view from Daly City south of San Francisco.

The view from Daly City south of San Francisco.

 Riding through the Devil’s Slide Trail, where we hit a wall of wind so strong we actually had to walk our bikes for a minute.

Riding through the Devil’s Slide Trail, where we hit a wall of wind so strong we actually had to walk our bikes for a minute.

 One of our camp meal specialities: couscous and veggies. Lots of carbs and quick to cook. Also, we have bowls, but we never use them—we have a communal pot.

One of our camp meal specialities: couscous and veggies. Lots of carbs and quick to cook. Also, we have bowls, but we never use them—we have a communal pot.

 Saturday morning, just south of Half Moon Bay, I got my fourth flat after not having one since northern Oregon.

Saturday morning, just south of Half Moon Bay, I got my fourth flat after not having one since northern Oregon.

 The culprit: a giant chunk of glass in the tire.

The culprit: a giant chunk of glass in the tire.

 Stumbled on a place called the Pie Ranch, so obviously we had some pie.

Stumbled on a place called the Pie Ranch, so obviously we had some pie.

 Lunch on the beach! PB&J and....

Lunch on the beach! PB&J and....

  ...a family size package of Nutter Butters, which we ate in 24 hours. No shame!

 ...a family size package of Nutter Butters, which we ate in 24 hours. No shame!

 We’re finally in the land of cheap produce - so many avocados!

We’re finally in the land of cheap produce - so many avocados!

 Jacob posing next to a field of Brussels sprouts—his favorite.

Jacob posing next to a field of Brussels sprouts—his favorite.

 Our cheap avocados for dinner!

Our cheap avocados for dinner!

Last night we were at New Brighton State Beach, which apparently people book for camping a year in advance. But since we were in the hiker/biker site, we just rolled in and paid $5 each for the night. We had a reunion of sorts with a bunch of people we’ve been passing over the past few weeks - a father and daughter riding from Sacramento, a guy from LA riding the coast to celebrate his 40th birthday, and a woman from Munich who’s riding the same route as us and left Vancouver right around the same time we did. Sean of the father/daughter duo bought some beer for everyone, and we sat around chatting until it was dark. It’s crazy to think of all the people we’ve met on this ride, and especially how we keep bumping into the same folks over and over again. It starts to feel like a little family that’s all riding down the coast together!

 For everyone who was worried we’d be too hot on this trip: not a problem. We’ve been cold basically every night. This is how we sleep.

For everyone who was worried we’d be too hot on this trip: not a problem. We’ve been cold basically every night. This is how we sleep.

 This morning, south of Santa Cruz, we biked through miles and miles of strawberry fields. It smelled like we were biking next to a lake of strawberry jam.

This morning, south of Santa Cruz, we biked through miles and miles of strawberry fields. It smelled like we were biking next to a lake of strawberry jam.

 The avocados keep getting cheaper!

The avocados keep getting cheaper!

 The avocado was 20 cents, and we got a crate of strawberries for $2. We ate all the strawberries right outside of this farm stand.

The avocado was 20 cents, and we got a crate of strawberries for $2. We ate all the strawberries right outside of this farm stand.

 Also stopped at an artichoke farm for some fried artichokes.

Also stopped at an artichoke farm for some fried artichokes.

 Rode through the dunes just before Monterey.

Rode through the dunes just before Monterey.

 Wrapped up the day with an obscene amount of vegan Mexican food in Monterey. Our days are just riding, eating, and sleeping. That is literally all we do.

Wrapped up the day with an obscene amount of vegan Mexican food in Monterey. Our days are just riding, eating, and sleeping. That is literally all we do.

Tomorrow we’re headed to Big Sur, and from there we’re about a week of riding away from LA!

San Francisco! by jacob janssen

Today was a rest day, and our first day staying somewhere with more than one food option. Heck, there were even several exclusively vegetarian options. 

We started our stay in Oakland where we had an Airbnb with the most important task of all, laundry. When you are camping every night you have to resort to cleaning your clothes in the shower or in a dry bag. It’s not super effective. But the place in Oakland had laundry included. 

In the morning we ventured out into the city and Lisa started the day right with an enormous English muffin for breakfast. 

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Because an English muffin really isn’t enough for breakfast we next stopped at Tartine. Tartine is a famous bakery, and the line out the door proved it. 

 Second breakfast.  

Second breakfast.  

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After our second breakfast we set off for the Mission District. We visited the mission San Francisco de Asis, the city’s oldest standing building. It was built in the late 18th century when California was a Spanish colony. The building hosts a small chapel, museum, and burial ground, all next to a basilica. 

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Our next stop was Rainbow Grocery. A sort of Mecca for bulk bin buyers and the crunchy granola set of foodstuff foragers. 

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 Lisa agog at the selection.  

Lisa agog at the selection.  

 Lucky for us they had many flavors of kombucha.  

Lucky for us they had many flavors of kombucha.  

After lunch, we headed in the direction of City Lights Books, Ferlinghetti’s old bookstore and home to West Coast literary luminaries since the 50’s. Their non-fiction section was matched only by their poetry section. Unfortunately for us we have no room in our panniers for books. 

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We finished the night with a meal of dim-sum at a small restaurant in Chinatown. We had some excellent dumplings and the best fried tofu we’ve ever had. 

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We also grabbed a little ice cream on our way back into Oakland because we need to carb up for our ride tomorrow. 

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Leggett to San Francisco by Lisa

Where to even begin?! We haven’t had much cell service for the last week, so haven’t had a chance for any updates. But so much has happened! We did the biggest climbs of the trip, started riding Route 1, met another biker who we wound up riding with all week, and then today - crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco! It’s been a week that feels like it was a month long.

Last Friday we did the Leggett climb, which is the notorious long climb that everyone talks about on this trip. We all psyched ourselves up for it and then....it wasn’t that bad! It was definitely a long climb, but we got an early start, and it was followed by a 10-mile descent that was unbelievable.  

 

 The descent after the long climb at Leggett.

The descent after the long climb at Leggett.

I don’t know if words or pictures can do it justice. At one point, after descending a couple miles, we came into a misty section in dense forest, along a creek, and suddenly two elk with huge antlers were right there in the forest staring at us. We didn’t get a picture, but rode past silently while they watched us. I’ll remember that moment for a long time to come.

 After the Leggett descent (behind Jacob), breaking out onto Route 1 on the ocean.

After the Leggett descent (behind Jacob), breaking out onto Route 1 on the ocean.

 We ended that day in Mendocino with pie and coffee and nothing has ever tasted that good.

We ended that day in Mendocino with pie and coffee and nothing has ever tasted that good.

In Mendocino, we met another biker, in his sixties, who’s doing the same route as us. He kindly made a fire for everyone at the hiker/biker site that night, and we had a nice evening around the fire together. That helped me forget my anxiety over the mountain lion warning the park ranger had given us—one had been seen at that park the last week. 

 Riding the next day (Saturday) from Mendocino to Gualala. It was a long, hilly, cold day, and we ended at a county park where we couldn’t take showers. General misery and not many pictures from that day. 

Riding the next day (Saturday) from Mendocino to Gualala. It was a long, hilly, cold day, and we ended at a county park where we couldn’t take showers. General misery and not many pictures from that day. 

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On Sunday, we rode from Gualala to Bodega Bay. This was the toughest stretch of Route 1 we’ve done so far. Tons of climbing, no shoulder, narrow roads on the edge of a cliff, and tons of traffic. The views were amazing, but we were definitely on edge all day.

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 We stopped at Fort Ross, a Russian colonial fort and the furthest south the Russians came from Alaska.

We stopped at Fort Ross, a Russian colonial fort and the furthest south the Russians came from Alaska.

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 Not gonna lie, the climb and descent after Fort Ross was terrifying (Jacob says it was fun). A crazy series of switchbacks along a cliff edge. But the view was pretty spectacular.

Not gonna lie, the climb and descent after Fort Ross was terrifying (Jacob says it was fun). A crazy series of switchbacks along a cliff edge. But the view was pretty spectacular.

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We decided to take a rest day in Bodega Bay at Bodega Dunes State Park on Monday. Our legs were pretty worn out after the week of climbing.

 

 Breakfast in Bodega Bay. One great thing about bike touring = eating ice cream sandwiches for breakfast with no shame!

Breakfast in Bodega Bay. One great thing about bike touring = eating ice cream sandwiches for breakfast with no shame!

 Our campsite in Bodega Bay, along with our riding buddy this last week, Harrison. We met him on the road right before Leggett (and had also run into him in Oregon at one point). We kept the same pace, so wound up riding together all the way to San Francisco. Also, guess what? Trying to dry your clothes outside on northern California beaches NEVER WORKS. They never dry.

Our campsite in Bodega Bay, along with our riding buddy this last week, Harrison. We met him on the road right before Leggett (and had also run into him in Oregon at one point). We kept the same pace, so wound up riding together all the way to San Francisco. Also, guess what? Trying to dry your clothes outside on northern California beaches NEVER WORKS. They never dry.

 The beach at Bodega Dunes State Park. 

The beach at Bodega Dunes State Park. 

Yesterday, Tuesday, we rode from Bodega Bay to north of Lagunitas. It was a shorter ride, less climbing, and the sun finally came out!

 Heading south of Lagunitas.

Heading south of Lagunitas.

 Stopping for lunch (PB&J forever and ever!) on Tomales Bay.

Stopping for lunch (PB&J forever and ever!) on Tomales Bay.

And today was the big day - we rode across the Golden Gate Bridge and into San Francisco!

 Riding through the suburbs north of San Francisco. 

Riding through the suburbs north of San Francisco. 

 Rolling up to the bridge!

Rolling up to the bridge!

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 Stopping for lunch in San Francisco and attempting to lock our bikes together.

Stopping for lunch in San Francisco and attempting to lock our bikes together.

 Taking the ferry over to Oakland and saying farewell to Harrison - today was his last day!

Taking the ferry over to Oakland and saying farewell to Harrison - today was his last day!

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We’re taking tomorrow off in Oakland/San Francisco and planning to spend the day eating and not riding our bikes!

Smith River to Eureka by Lisa

On Sunday we started what’s several days of riding through the northern Redwood forests in California. Sunday we rode almost 60 miles to get from the Oregon/California border to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, where we spent Monday resting and doing some short hikes in the park.

 The unexciting corner in Cresecent City where I waited while Jacob biked around trying to find a place to buy a new hand pump. Ours broke, so we needed a new one in case of any flats!

The unexciting corner in Cresecent City where I waited while Jacob biked around trying to find a place to buy a new hand pump. Ours broke, so we needed a new one in case of any flats!

 First moments into the Redwoods south of Crescent City, and also moments before we started the second biggest climb of this trip - nearly 1,500 feet.

First moments into the Redwoods south of Crescent City, and also moments before we started the second biggest climb of this trip - nearly 1,500 feet.

 The view after that big climb!

The view after that big climb!

 PB&J for lunch forever.

PB&J for lunch forever.

 After one more long climb on the Drury Scenic Parkway, we had a long, slow descent into the park. The picture does nothing to capture it - totally silent, surrounded by enormous trees as far as we could see. It was breathtaking.

After one more long climb on the Drury Scenic Parkway, we had a long, slow descent into the park. The picture does nothing to capture it - totally silent, surrounded by enormous trees as far as we could see. It was breathtaking.

 Our campsite in the park at Elk Prairie Campground. There were signs everywhere warning of the wild elk, but we only saw a few from a distance.

Our campsite in the park at Elk Prairie Campground. There were signs everywhere warning of the wild elk, but we only saw a few from a distance.

 Hiking the Cathedral Trees trail on Monday.

Hiking the Cathedral Trees trail on Monday.

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On Tuesday, we got an early start and rode to Eureka. 

 Beaches around Trinidad, CA.

Beaches around Trinidad, CA.

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 Stopping for lunch (PB&J, obviously).

Stopping for lunch (PB&J, obviously).

 Dinner in Eureka, continuing to shock servers with the amount of food we order.

Dinner in Eureka, continuing to shock servers with the amount of food we order.

 Demonstrating my classy bike glove tan lines.

Demonstrating my classy bike glove tan lines.

Today we’re riding the Avenue of the Giants, one of the most famous stretches of this route. Then the next two days will include some significant climbing around the town of Leggett, CA. The Leggett climb is notorious among all the bikers we’ve met. We should hit the worst of it on Friday - a five-mile climb that goes above 2,000 feet. But the good news: that’s the last big climb of the trip, so I’m pretty sure we just roll downhill all the way to Mexico then. Kidding! But it’ll be the last long climb, which we’re both excited about. And in a week, we’ll be making our way over the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco!

Crossing into California by Lisa

After a few days without much cell service, we finally have reception again, so time for a quick update! Thursday and Friday were both mostly uneventful days. They were short days mile wise, but we were biking straight into the wind both days, so they felt long. Today the wind finally shifted, and we had an amazing ride with lots of tailwind and beautiful scenery - the last of the Oregon coast. We were going to end the day in a state park near Brookings, OR, but we were both feeling good, so pushed a bit farther to cross into California and treated ourselves to a motel for the night. It is NOT fancy, but feels pretty great after all the nights in our tent.

 On Thursday we rode the Seven Devils Road, which as you might guess, was very hilly. But there were some great views at the top! Note the assorted towels and clothes on the back of the bike - we’re washing our clothes every night at our campsite, but nothing is ever dry the next morning. We are literally biking down the highway with our underwear strapped to the backs of our bikes.

On Thursday we rode the Seven Devils Road, which as you might guess, was very hilly. But there were some great views at the top! Note the assorted towels and clothes on the back of the bike - we’re washing our clothes every night at our campsite, but nothing is ever dry the next morning. We are literally biking down the highway with our underwear strapped to the backs of our bikes.

 Friday we rode to Humbug Mountain and stayed at the state park there.

Friday we rode to Humbug Mountain and stayed at the state park there.

 Humbug Mountain

Humbug Mountain

 Beach at Humbug Mountain

Beach at Humbug Mountain

 We rode over that bridge! Humbug Mountain again.

We rode over that bridge! Humbug Mountain again.

 Prehistoric Gardens - we didn’t go in.

Prehistoric Gardens - we didn’t go in.

 The coastline near Gold Beach. The pictures don’t do it justice - the views were incredible today.

The coastline near Gold Beach. The pictures don’t do it justice - the views were incredible today.

 We did the biggest climb of the Oregon coast today just south of Gold Beach. Came down the other side looking at this.

We did the biggest climb of the Oregon coast today just south of Gold Beach. Came down the other side looking at this.

 Carb loading, obviously.

Carb loading, obviously.

 Made it to California!

Made it to California!

Surviving Hills by Lisa

Although we’re only two weeks in, I (Lisa) have already banked up a wealth of advice on how to survive long climbs. Riding around Chicago and doing a few spin classes a week didn’t really prepare me for the mental/physical challenge of getting up some of the hills we’ve seen so far. Here are a few of my tactics for getting to the top of a hill:

  1. Sing a song to yourself.  For some reason, right now the only two songs I can remember all the words to are Angel From Montgomery and Kiss From a Rose. I’ve sung each one I’d guess about 100 times at this point, so they’re burned in my brain forever.
  2. Guess how many minutes it’ll take to get to the top and then count the seconds to see if you’re right.
  3. Guess how many pedal strokes it’ll take to get to the top and then count the pedal strokes. 
  4. Stare at the ground and only look up every minute or so. There is nothing more depressing than staring up a hill that’ll take 15 minutes to get up—it feels like you’re barely moving. 
  5. Chant mantras. My most effective ones have been:  “I am strong,” “My legs are a machine,” “Shut up legs” (thanks, Ben), and Jacob’s favorite, “I AM A WOMAN.” There are also a few in there that involve cursing the hill, but you’ll have to ride one with me to hear those.

It’s crazy what a difference two weeks has made. Hills that would’ve killed me in those first days are a breeze now. And there is nothing like pounding up a hill for a mile, then getting to an ocean view vista at the top and a 30mph descent down the other side.

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Lincoln City to Tugman State Park by Lisa

Three days gone by! They’re really starting to blur together into one long day. Every place we stop, we get asked where we’re coming from—and we both stare at each other and try to remember. So, on Monday we took a day to rest in Lincoln City at Devil’s Lake State Park. The city isn’t great (bookended by a casino! and an outlet mall!), but the park was nice and the beach was lovely and it was a good place to not do anything for a day.

 

 Beach in Lincoln City.

Beach in Lincoln City.

 The fancy hiker/biker sites at Devil’s Lake have lockers, which included an outlet inside for charging devices. We spend a lot of time trying to conserve our phone batteries and figuring out where we can charge them, so that was nice.

The fancy hiker/biker sites at Devil’s Lake have lockers, which included an outlet inside for charging devices. We spend a lot of time trying to conserve our phone batteries and figuring out where we can charge them, so that was nice.

Yesterday we got back on the bikes and rode to Beachside State Park north of Yachats. We made great time with a tailwind, so we had a few hours to relax on the beach (I took a nap; Jacob dug a hole).

 Boiler Bay

Boiler Bay

 Views around Depoe Bay. We saw dozens of gray whales here, spouting just off shore.

Views around Depoe Bay. We saw dozens of gray whales here, spouting just off shore.

 Cooking some beach soup.

Cooking some beach soup.

 Sunset at Beachside State Park.

Sunset at Beachside State Park.

Today was a tougher ride with strong headwind, rain, and much chillier temperatures, barely getting to 60 degrees. We rode about 60 miles to get to Tugman State Park, where we had reserved a yurt to get a break from our tent and sleeping on the ground.

 Misty riding through Cape Perpetua.

Misty riding through Cape Perpetua.

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 Lighthouse at Haceta Head.

Lighthouse at Haceta Head.

 Our first fire of the trip! Cooking some Fourth of July veggie dogs.

Our first fire of the trip! Cooking some Fourth of July veggie dogs.

 We ate it all, plus s’mores. And a giant bag of taffy.

We ate it all, plus s’mores. And a giant bag of taffy.

 Out fancy yurt and all of our clothes (washed in the shower! so clean!)

Out fancy yurt and all of our clothes (washed in the shower! so clean!)

Tillamook to Lincoln City by Lisa

All day while we’re riding, I plan out long, elaborate blog posts, but at the end of the day, we’re both so tired, we can’t remember them. Today was tough - three significant climbs, one at Cape Lookout nearly topping 1,000 feet. We also barely slept last night thanks to the couple having a loud late night fight at the campsite next to ours. We have a pretty thorough understanding of their problems now and both agree that Marco just needs to shut up and go to sleep.

 Passing by Tillamook Creamery.

Passing by Tillamook Creamery.

 Also stumbled on Jacobsen Salt Co,, hand-harvested sea salt. This is their entire production! We bought four sea salt caramels each, and as soon as we left, we realized it WASN’T ENOUGH. We talked about how we wished we had more for about an hour.

Also stumbled on Jacobsen Salt Co,, hand-harvested sea salt. This is their entire production! We bought four sea salt caramels each, and as soon as we left, we realized it WASN’T ENOUGH. We talked about how we wished we had more for about an hour.

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 Near Netarts.

Near Netarts.

 Beach views coming up a hill at Tierra Del Mar.

Beach views coming up a hill at Tierra Del Mar.

 I honestly can’t remember where this was - but we saw it today.

I honestly can’t remember where this was - but we saw it today.

 More beach somewhere!

More beach somewhere!

 We ate this whole pizza and a brownie the size of Jacob’s head.

We ate this whole pizza and a brownie the size of Jacob’s head.

Cathlamet to Tillamook (Oregon!) by Lisa

We crossed into Oregon yesterday via a tiny ferry from Cathlamet, WA to Westport, OR.

 Riding the ferry across the Columbia River.

Riding the ferry across the Columbia River.

 Following the Columbia River west to Astoria, OR. Not pictured: many long hills. 

Following the Columbia River west to Astoria, OR. Not pictured: many long hills. 

 The Astoria Megler Bridge - this would have been our other option for crossing into Oregon, but we were deterred by the fact that it’s four miles long, uphill, and doesn’t have a shoulder. 

The Astoria Megler Bridge - this would have been our other option for crossing into Oregon, but we were deterred by the fact that it’s four miles long, uphill, and doesn’t have a shoulder. 

 The view as we crossed into Lewis and Clark National Park. 

The view as we crossed into Lewis and Clark National Park. 

 We stopped at Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark spent the winter on their expedition. 

We stopped at Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark spent the winter on their expedition. 

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 Following the Lewis and Clark River south to Seaside, OR. 

Following the Lewis and Clark River south to Seaside, OR. 

 Another flat! 

Another flat! 

This morning, we had planned to get an early start, but woke up to rain, so we slept for another hour until the rain stopped. Then we headed south on 101 for a full day of riding on the coast, ending just north of Tillamook, OR.

 The beach in Seaside this morning. 

The beach in Seaside this morning. 

 A pit stop at Cannon Beach. 

A pit stop at Cannon Beach. 

 More Cannon Beach.

More Cannon Beach.

 Riding through our first tunnel! They have a button for cyclists to push so that lights flash to warn cars that cyclists are in the tunnel.  Still a little terrifying.

Riding through our first tunnel! They have a button for cyclists to push so that lights flash to warn cars that cyclists are in the tunnel.  Still a little terrifying.

 Resting after a long climb, overlooking Manzanita. 

Resting after a long climb, overlooking Manzanita. 

 We had views like this for most of the afternoon. 

We had views like this for most of the afternoon. 

 Coming into Tillamook Bay. 

Coming into Tillamook Bay. 

It feels good to be on the coast, but this leg of our trip is definitely different than Washington. In Washington, we were in small towns and on country roads. Here we’re going through coastal tourist towns on a busy road. Also, apparently Oregon is land of the RVs. I can’t believe the size of some of them—bigger than a city bus! And definitely not driven by the most competent drivers. But in the midst of the traffic, there have been some amazing moments. We passed a huge herd of elk yesterday outside Astoria. This afternoon, a bald eagle cruised right over our heads. These roads are much harder on a bike than in a car, but we get to see all the amazing little details that our RV roadmates are missing out on.

So far we’re six days biking without a rest since Seattle, and we’re both feeling it. We’re hungry (even though we’re eating A LOT) and sore (beyond sore) and I’m sporting a sunburn on both my legs. But we’re planning to get to Devil’s Lake tomorrow, north of Lincoln City, and then take a day off to sleep in and eat our body weight in diner breakfasts. For now, I’m going to go heat up a pot of beans, take a shower, and go to sleep!

Elma to Cathlamet by Lisa

We’ve officially crossed the entire state of Washington as of tonight, and we’ll be crossing the Columbia River into Oregon tomorrow. Yesterday we rode from Elma to Lewis and Clark State Park, just north of Toledo, WA.  It was another cold night, and we had the bonus of biking in rain for the last hour of the day. And setting up camp in the rain. And eating our pot of instant mashed potatoes for dinner...in the rain.

 Starting the day off right! Turns out I (Lisa) have been biking with an ear infection for the last week—but a quick doctor’s visit and some antibiotics and I’m feeling a million times better. 

Starting the day off right! Turns out I (Lisa) have been biking with an ear infection for the last week—but a quick doctor’s visit and some antibiotics and I’m feeling a million times better. 

 Biking through downtown Centralia, WA. We finally found a bike shop and could pick up some more spare inner tubes. We had two flats in two days, so had been biking the last day with no spares.

Biking through downtown Centralia, WA. We finally found a bike shop and could pick up some more spare inner tubes. We had two flats in two days, so had been biking the last day with no spares.

 Getting ready for a steep descent! He hit 40 mph on the way down. 

Getting ready for a steep descent! He hit 40 mph on the way down. 

 Our rainy little campsite at Lewis and Clark State Park. 

Our rainy little campsite at Lewis and Clark State Park. 

Today we rode to Cathlamet, riding along the Cowlitz River and then the Columbia River. We did almost 60 miles today, and the last 20 were in stiff headwinds on a busy road with no shoulder. Fun!

 Mural in Toledo, WA. 

Mural in Toledo, WA. 

 Quiet backcountry roads all morning. 

Quiet backcountry roads all morning. 

 Crossing the Cowlitz River. 

Crossing the Cowlitz River. 

 So glad we found out about this medicine for weak women. JUST KIDDING. 

So glad we found out about this medicine for weak women. JUST KIDDING. 

 Yet another meal of peanut butter. Lunch in Castle Rock, WA. 

Yet another meal of peanut butter. Lunch in Castle Rock, WA. 

 We found a farm stand with giant blackberries (or marionberries?) and ate them on the side of the highway.

We found a farm stand with giant blackberries (or marionberries?) and ate them on the side of the highway.

 Biking along the Columbia River. 

Biking along the Columbia River. 

Seattle to Elma by Lisa

We’re now two days out of Seattle and just a few days from crossing into Oregon! We had a short ride yesterday after taking the ferry from Seattle back to Bremerton, biking about 30 more miles and staying in a magical waterfall forest beach state park near Belfair, WA.

Today we rode close to 50 miles to get to Elma, WA where we’re staying at an RV park that hosts cyclists for cheap (and also gave us homemade chocolate chip cookies when we got there).

Both yesterday and today we had amazing encounters with kind strangers. Yesterday after loading up at a grocery store, Dave stopped to chat with us - turns out he regularly hosts cyclists through Warmshowers (a couch surfing site for cyclists). After a long chat, he headed in to get his groceries, and we got ready to leave - and then discovered I had a flat. Dave came to the rescue with his pump so that we didn’t have to fill up a new tube with our little travel pump.

 A friendly bike angel! 

A friendly bike angel! 

Today, we stopped at a Taco Bell for a quick lunch and met Wayne, who was curious to hear about our trip - and then offered to buy us lunch. He sat and chatted with us while we ate, and we learned that he’s an avid skydiver (and in his late 60’s). He was on his way to do a jump today after lunch. He doesn’t know how many he’s done - more than 3,000.

In addition to our string of encounters with friendly Washingtonians, the scenery has been amazing.

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The beach at Twanoh State Park. 

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Magical forest at Twanoh State Park. 

 Happily at the top of another hill. 

Happily at the top of another hill. 

Port Townsend to Seattle by Lisa

Yesterday was our longest day yet, nearly 70 miles. The first few days we did 1500-2000 feet of elevation, but yesterday we did almost 4000 feet of elevation. It was a hard day, but included a lot of amazing bay views and pine tree-lined country roads. During one particularly bad climb, a car pulled up next to us and the driver yelled, “You got this!” Thank you, random encouraging stranger! We also biked across the Hood Canal Bridge, third longest floating bridge in the world at over a mile long. The day ended with a ferry into Seattle, a few more miles biking across the city, and an Airbnb with a jacuzzi tub.

 Larry Scott Trail out of Port Townsend.

Larry Scott Trail out of Port Townsend.

 Somewhere between Port Townsend and Port Hadlock. 

Somewhere between Port Townsend and Port Hadlock. 

 Marina at Port Ludlow. 

Marina at Port Ludlow. 

 In Port Ludlow, we met Cliff and Collette, who retired to living on a sailboat, along with their adventure cat, Libby.

In Port Ludlow, we met Cliff and Collette, who retired to living on a sailboat, along with their adventure cat, Libby.

 On the ferry from Bremerton to Seattle. 

On the ferry from Bremerton to Seattle. 

 Seattle

Seattle

Bay View to Port Townsend by Lisa

 Nothing like riding on the highway to wake you up!

Nothing like riding on the highway to wake you up!

 Pass Lake in Deception Pass State Park.

Pass Lake in Deception Pass State Park.

 Getting ready to bike over Deception Pass.

Getting ready to bike over Deception Pass.

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Little rest before climbing a big hill.

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First ferry ride! Fort Henry to Port Townsend. 

 The pure magic of finding an outlet on the ferry. 

The pure magic of finding an outlet on the ferry. 

 Packing up in the morning from our beach front camp site at Fort Worden State Park.

Packing up in the morning from our beach front camp site at Fort Worden State Park.

We’re heading out of Port Townsend this morning, on our way to Seattle for our first rest day!

Vancouver to Bay View by Lisa

The first two days of riding are done - about 110 miles so far and plenty of hills. We’re currently laying in our tent in Bay View State Park, probably falling asleep before the sun even sets. We spent yesterday riding out of Vancouver and through southern suburbs to the US/Canada border. 

 Our lovely Airbnb hosts in Vancouver took this picture - and lent us their personal bike workshop space for last minute repairs.

Our lovely Airbnb hosts in Vancouver took this picture - and lent us their personal bike workshop space for last minute repairs.

 South of Vancouver, hot and hungry, we stumbled on this farm stand...   

South of Vancouver, hot and hungry, we stumbled on this farm stand...

 

  ...and ate these strawberries.

 ...and ate these strawberries.

 

We ended day one at Birch Bay State Park, just across the border in Washington.

 Biking up to the border. 

Biking up to the border. 

 Fateful Chinese takeout in Birch Bay.

Fateful Chinese takeout in Birch Bay.

 Incredible sunset to round out the day.

Incredible sunset to round out the day.

Day two we biked about 50 miles, through Bellingham and over Chuckanut Mountain, landing in Bay View. 

 Carbs forever. 

Carbs forever. 

 The view from Chuckanut Scenic Drive.

The view from Chuckanut Scenic Drive.

 Sunseting at Bay View State Park. 

Sunseting at Bay View State Park. 

There are too many highlights to remember already from these two days, but we have met so many kind people that want to chat with us about what we’re doing and where we’re going. A man on a scooter pulled off the road to tell us about a good bakery. A construction worker on the street let us squeeze through a closed street while she kept the traffic stopped. Dozens of people have waved and smiled. A youth screamed to his friends, THAT GUY HAS A GOPRO!

The hills have felt pretty rough so far, and they’ll get worse—but we’ll get stronger! We’re both pretty sunburned and sore. But laying in our tent right now, under pine trees, listening to birds, smelling the ocean, housing an entire sleeve of Oreos without consequence, life feels pretty good.