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Pacific Coast Bike Route – Day 17 : Clarion Hotel, Eureka, CA > Humboldt Redwoods State Park

I don’t think I could have asked for a better day, weather wise, for a ride.

After being up late last night I fully expected to sleep in more, but my brain and body had other plans. My feet were on the floor by 6:30 and I made my way over to the breakfast area to eat. Loaded up with all the goodies. Biscuits and gravy, sausage, eggs, yogurt, danish, and, most importantly, coffee. It was your typical hotel intercontinental breakfast flair.

Back in the room I set about getting packed back up. I’d washed both sets of kit and they were barely dry despite hanging all night. I did feel kinda scatter brained trying to get everything put back together. Packing up camp felt easy compared to this. I triple checked the room for anything left out before finally heading out the door.

I back tracked a couple blocks to rejoin the official ACA route. I also had to write down some notes on how to get there as well. All my routing maps had me finishing yesterday/starting today from the Somoa Boat Launch and Campground. There was never a plan to ride in this section of town. It really wasn’t a big deal just something different.

Had a nice cruise down along the Eureka waterfront. It wasn’t as scenic as previous water front roads due to being a more industrial area. Lots of docks for fishing boats.

Eventually I transferred onto a multiuse trail that must be a rail trail. I never caught the name of it but it had some pretty parts. Unfortunately, it also had its share of either people living/sleeping in their cars at the trailhead or setting up camp just off trail. Not a big deal just unfortunate.

Soon enough I was back on US-101 and dealing with morning traffic. It was only for a short stretch before exiting onto Tompkins Hill Road. It was a great little side road! Spotted a couple cool old barns and just enjoyed the ride.

The road looped back around towards US-101 and I started to dread getting back on the highway. I was pleasantly surprised when the route simply continued onto Eel River Drive. Looking at the map now I think these two were formerly US-101, but I can’t say for certain. Either way I’ll take a nice back road before the highway anyday.

Coming into Loleta, things were more familiar. I’ve ridden this section before during a Spring Break trip. I’d stayed at an AirBnB in Ferndale for a week and rode a century in The Avenue of the Giants, the Tour of the Unknown Coast route, and a small out and back to the Humboldt Bay South Jetty. That last ride is the one that had taken me along this stretch of road and I got absolutely dumped on in the rain that day. It was a great ride!

As I approached Fernbridge I was not looking forward to riding across. Fernbridge is a historic two lane bridge that is very narrow. Despite being signed to not pass and bikes can take the lane, last time I crossed it returning to Ferndale I was passed multiple times. It was unnerving.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was work being done to the bridge and it was restricted to one lane with a pilot car. I pulled up and had a chat with the man holding the stop sign. It seems they are doing work related to an earthquake that occurred earlier in the year that caused some damage. Soon enough it was time for south bound traffic to go through and I brought up the rear.

Rolling through Ferndale I had my eyes open for two of my favorite places. The first is Red Eye Laboratories Art Gallery. I found his gallery back on the Spring Break trip I keep referring back to. I was hoping to stop in and see if he had anything new, but sadly no one was home. I was too early. Also I had hoped to get lunch at Tuyas, but they were also closed. Typical life in a small community driven by tourism during the week. I’ll be back and can hit them up then.

Afte making the turn east onto Bluff Street I caught a nice tailwind. As long as I was going east I was just sailing. Running around 20 MPH with very little effort. I’ve rode this stretch a couple times and thought it wouldn’t be interesting a third time, but I still found a couple cool things to snap a picture of that I hadn’t previously.

I just finished a few of the climbs when I came up on another cyclist. I recognized Ray almost immediately. We talked for a short bit before rolling on together for much of the rest of the day.

As we started coming into Rio Dell I told Ray, “Hey we’re coming into town, it’s just about noon, that means I’m on the look out for some lunch.”

“Yeah man I’m sure we can find something.”

We came up to DJ’s Burger Bar and it looked perfect. Ray and I parked on the patio which we had all to ourselves. I ordered a burger, onion rings, and Oreo blizzard while Ray order some onion rings. He was carrying a sandwich he bought the night before from the deli in Ferndale. Food on hand we sat, relaxed, and enjoyed the gorgeous afternoon.

Soon enough it was time to roll on. We passed through what was left of Rio Dell and all of Scotia. Then we were back onto US-101 for a little more than a mile before exiting for the Avenue of the Giants.

I absolutely love this road. Former US-101 alignment turned tourist attraction and scenic byway. With my Varia scanning the road behind me I was as free as an 11 year old riding down the middle of the road. I followed behind Ray and gave him a heads up when a car was coming up. He picked up on the notification sound pretty quickly and soon we were both just cruising and taking it all in.

As we crossed the South Fork Eel River, Ray looked over and saw everyone down by the river having themselves a good time. He says, “Ok Elvis, it’s early enough I’m going to go down for a swim. It’s been a pleasure riding with ya today and I’m sure we’ll hook up again.”

He peeled off and I continued on. Maybe a few miles later I pulled up to my campground. I checked in for my two nights and went to setup camp. While I was hanging around camp I did catch Ray go flying by! His plan was to camp at Hidden Springs Campground which is the next one along Avenue of the Giants.

I ended up meeting two cyclists at camp. One was camping at a hike/bike site just up the way a little further. The other rolled in to share my campsite. I had conversations with both, individually and together. The two of them knew each other from Rock Creek Campground, where I’m staying next. They’re both going north, but for separate reasons. And we had a great time chatting and visiting until we all decided to call it a night when it was nearly too dark to see without a light.

The first cyclist was El from San Francisco. They graduated in 2020 at the right of COVID. Leading up to their graduation they had planned on a huge bikepacking trip but COVID canceled it. They went into the workforce instead and spent the past three years working and saving money for this trip. Their goal is starting from San Francisco and go north. I can’t recall now how far north, but they’ll eventually set their sites east and go all the way across the country. More interesting is they’re doing it without any tour maps/guides!

The second cyclist was Christian from Hamburg, Germany. He has been on a few backpacking trips in the past including six weeks in Australia. Then there were the other trips that he briefly alluded to during our conversations. He is a programmer and recently lost his job. However, he already has a new position and starts in August. So while he is waiting to start the new job he figured he’d take the time to come to the states and explore. I believe he mentioned starting in San Francisco and will finish in Seattle where he’ll catch a flight home.

Great day of riding in great weather. I probably could have pushed on to Hidden Springs if I’d wanted, but I’m happy with where I ended up. Besides wouldn’t have had quite the same company! Looking forward a rest day tomorrow!

New bike fund: $5.78 (+$0.00)
13.11 new miles — From
Sunny-Sunny, 52°F-66°F, Feels like 59°F-75°F, Humidity 95%-43%, Wind N 2mph-NW 7mph – by
myWindsock Report —
Weather Impact: -3.1%
Headwind: 33% @ 0.7-3.4mph
Longest Headwind: 52m 14s
Air Speed: 12.1mph
Temp: 52.9-59.7°F
Precip: 0% @ 0 Inch/hr
— END —

Total distance: 57.47 mi
Max elevation: 415 ft
Min elevation: 2 ft
Total climbing: 2486 ft
Total descent: -2275 ft
Total time: 05:53:13
Published inCycling

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