Cycling the West Coast: Last Day on Highway 101! [Day 23]

Luke Guilford | CycleCycle
Somewhere above the Eel River.
Somewhere above the Eel River. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Day 23

We started the morning with a nice 12 miles through the last stretch of the Avenue of the Giants. I enjoyed the shade before the afternoon sun unleashed its wrath while climbing Highway 101. The first town we arrived in was Garberville, where we decided to stop for breakfast.

We stopped at an old diner that has been in business since the dawn of time. I ordered the “hungry person special,” and we enjoyed chatting with a couple of the regulars there at the cafe.

The Eel River Cafe. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford
The Eel River Cafe. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Afterward, we hit a grocery store to get some things for the next couple of days since our route will be a little remote for the next 70 miles until Fort Bragg. As we were shopping, we ran into a guy who cycled from Garberville to San Francisco, and he gave us some advice and things to check out on our way down south.

By afternoon, the sun was cooking us, and the climbs steadily beat us up. My father and I were cruising at our own pace for a while, and I must have gotten too far into the “zone” because I got a ring from my father saying he had a flat tire. I wasn’t too concerned since he had everything to hop back on the road. A few moments later, he said his tire pump broke… so I had to start heading back down the road to help him.

Oh, the wonderful shade these trees provide. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford
Oh, the wonderful shade these trees provide. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

I didn’t get too far down the road when he called again, saying our friend from the grocery store in Garberville stopped to help. After a few “I told you so” jokes and light heckling about being unprepared, my father was back on the road thanks to a little roadside assistance. Luckily, I didn’t double back too much, so we kept chugging along with a funny story and a reason to stick closer.

We endured about 15 miles of non-stop hills before getting any shade. We stopped at a tourist attraction called the “Grandfather Tree” to cool down. The tree was absolutely massive, standing 265 feet tall with a diameter of 24 feet. It also noted the tree’s age to be an estimated 1800 years old, which is insane to comprehend.

After slurping down some water and doing some light people-watching, we set off to make the final push to our campsite at Standish-Hickey State Park. We had about 22 miles left of mostly climbing. It was a lot of just putting my head down and grinding as we made the final push.

Grandfather Tree
The massive Grandfather Tree. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Everything went fairly smoothly from the Grandfather Tree, and we reached our campsite around 6 pm. Exhausted, we stopped at the only restaurant, called “The Peg House,” to grab a burger and beers. Either that was one of the best burgers, or the food just hits that much better after an exhausting day like today.

We met a few cyclists at the restaurant who just did a bike-packing trip around the area. It was cool to hear their story on how they’re long-time friends that meet up once a year for a bike trip. They were really nice guys, and one of them invited me to stay with him when I pass through San Francisco. Finding a place to stay in San Francisco will be a must, I’d like to be able to spend some time around the area and not just have to bike through it.

Today was the last day on Highway 101! As excited as I am to hop on Highway 1 tomorrow, I am not stoked for the big climb ahead. It should be the biggest climb of the trip, so hopefully, we can get some rest and hit it hard first thing in the morning. Back to the ocean we must go!

Stats from today:

  • 40-ish miles biked
  • 3,000 vertical feet climbed
  • Total flat tire count: 2
Day 23
Rough route of day 23.

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