Cycling the West Coast: Highway 1! [Day 24]

Luke Guilford | CycleCycle
Enjoying the Fort Bragg coastline. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford
Enjoying the Fort Bragg coastline. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Day 24

It was only a couple of miles before we reached the start of Highway 1. My stoke for finally reaching the legendary highway pushed me up the steep climbs that were awaiting us. The first climb was around 1,200 feet and went for about five miles, and due to the steep grade, it meant a lot of waiting on my father to climb.

I loved the dense forests and virtually zero traffic as we climbed Highway 1. It was nice not to worry about traffic and immerse myself in the scenery and my thoughts.

The road diverged.
Two roads diverged. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

To make things better, we had roughly a 12-14 mile downhill section after the climb. The road kept things interesting due to the combination of wear and tear on the road and the construction being done. I think I had to stop three times to tighten a few bolts since my bike was getting shaken to bits.

The downhill stretch seemed like free miles and a nice rest before the second climb. The good thing was the second climb was only 800 feet, but it seemed much steeper. This climb consisted of short pulls and long waits, as my father walked his bike for much of the climb.

Someone had a little too much freetime. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford
Someone had a little too much free time. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Finally, we broke out of the dense forests and onto the coastline, about six miles north of Westport. Something about reaching the ocean again sent my mind into straight euphoria. We cruised into Westport, a small little town with a one-pump gas station and market. We grabbed a little snack and sat on the porch, and took in the view.

A literal one-pump gas station. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford
A literal one-pump gas station. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Not only was it nice to look off to the ocean while I ride, but now the tailwind has returned, and it is ready to push me until I get off the bike in a little over a week from now. 

Scenic overlook, after scenic overlook, the Mendocino coastline was stunning! Highway 1 absolutely hugs the cliffside and allows for a much better scenic experience than Highway 101. We continued the curvy, beautiful route until we reached Fort Bragg in the evening. I had time to stop and get a new rear tire since mine was getting pretty thin.

Somewhere along the Mendocino coast.
Somewhere along the Mendocino coast. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

What pairs well with cycling? Beer and Pizza! We walked across the street from the bike shop for delicious pizza and beer. After chowing down, we biked over to Glass Beach, which used to be covered in glass pebbles, but now only has a few fragments scattered around.

So why is there a beach with glass pebbles? Are they sharp? How did they get there? So, the story I heard was that the beach used to be a trash dump location, and over time glass bottles have been broken down by the ocean’s tide and turned into smooth, colorful pebbles.

At almost any other beach, picking up and removing glass from the sandy shores would be encouraged, but not here. Removing glass from the beach here is illegal, although that didn’t stop the numerous people I saw taking souvenirs home with them. Nonetheless, it was a great time, but the sun was dropping quickly, so we needed to return to the road.

Highway 1 :) Photo Credit: Luke Guilford
Highway 1 🙂 Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

We finished the last ten miles and arrived at Russian Gulch State Park just before sunset. I loved this little campground, it was backed up next to the Russian Gulch State Marine Conservation Area, which consisted of beautiful cliffs and a little beach. We sat on the shore as the sun dipped below the horizon.

As you can tell, I love the ocean. Maybe I haven’t spent enough time around the ocean, but it amazes me every time I see it. Tomorrow, we plan to stop in the town of Mendocino, which was a recommendation from my uncle, who lives in Sonoma County. He mentioned it is one of his favorite towns, if not his favorite town, along the California coast.

Stats from today:

  • 56 miles biked
  • 3,600 vertical feet climbed
  • One new tire
Day 24
Day 24! The ocean again!

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