Yesterday I flew a rented Cessna 172 up to Ocean Ridge Airport
and then embarked on a bike ride from there.
I put together a KMZ file that has the route as well as some waypoints with photos. You can download it for viewing in Google Earth here
or view it via Google Maps here
. Finally I have a bikely version (no pics though) here
I had previously taken my bike to the airport and loaded it into an airplane to make sure it fits so I knew that wouldn't be an issue. I took both wheels off and put them in wheel bags in the cargo compartment behind the rear seats. Then I took the seat off and wrapped the frame in an old blanket and loaded it into the back seats. The seat and my backpack full of biking gear went into the cargo area and I still had plenty of room up front. I know lots of people will want to tell me about folding bikes but right now I don't have one and don't have the money or space for another bike but it is on my "to buy" list for the future!
Anyway I was flying along out north of Point Reyes right along the coast when I noticed a harbinger of things to come that day - the GPS was showing my ground speed at 67 knots but my true airspeed was 115 knots! Yes I had 48 knots of headwind! This is about 55mph. At first I was in disbelief but the GPS and DME (ground based aviation navaid) both confirmed it and I slogged through the air like this for the last half hour of the flight.
Once on the ground, my plan was to head north on Old Stage road to Ten Mile road and then head east on Eureka Hill road to go up to the old Point Arena Air Force station up there. Then I would come down into the town of Point Arena and head north on Highway 1 for a few miles, turn around and go south to Gualala before turning on Old Stage again and returning to the airport.
Right off the bat I was riding into a headwind and I was in my 36 chain ring most of the time, barely shifting onto the 50 for the downhill side of the rollers and then back down into the 36 as the wind instantly killed off any momentum I had. My starting elevation was 940 feet and these rollers lasted a few miles until I turned right on Eureka Hill road. This dropped me down to a river crossing and then it was up on the other side towards the old Air Force station.
Immediately after crossing the river the road pitches up and is unrelentingly steep for the next 3 miles. In this span of road it climbs 2000 feet for an average grade of 12.6%. Of course there are many short stretches a lot steeper than that. My legs felt surprisingly good on this climb and the trees were blocking the wind. It was nice to not have 20-30mph of wind rushing by my ears. I found it very serene and enjoyable. The descent was fun but I had to be very cautious to not let my speed get out of control. Also it was a little hard to see the road surface due to shade from the trees but I managed to get down without incident.
Next I explored Garcia River road, another dead road but much more "rustic". It was like a bumpy version of Tunitas Creek if you can imagine that! The descent literally rattled me up a bit. During the climb back up was fun to steer around the potholes and the grade was nice and easy, probably 7%
Afterwards I headed into Point Arena and got a sandwich at the general store there. I knew at this point there was no way I was riding northbound into the wind as planned. However after my meal I decided to "test" the headwinds by going northbound on Windy Hollow road. Wow. It was on this road that I stopped cursing the wind and just had to laugh at it. It just suddenly seemed so ridiculous and hysterical that laughing was the only option! It was granny gear almost all the way (36-25) on this 1.8 mile stretch even though it was mostly flat! I finally got to a fork in the road. The right fork said "Not a through road" and the left fork had a gate across it. The sign on the gate said to call Mendocino County for a key to the gate for boat launching purposes. It didn't say private property and so I crossed it. About half a mile later the pavement ended and a pair of dirt ruts cut westbound through a field. I turned and rode another half mile until meeting up with Highway 1. That was a fun little excursion.
Hwy 1 was certainly nice! So smooth and wide and relatively flat and now with the wind at my back! I was feeling pretty good and decided to go visit the Point Arena Lighthouse which meant turning back into the wind
. It was on this road that I crashed. Approaching the lighthouse I reached with my left hand to get my camera from my jersey pocket. A gust of wind came and suddenly I was down hard on my right side. My injuries were just mild rash on my hip and elbow and a couple of dings to my right hand. My front wheel got misaligned with the handlebars and the plastic caps on top my shifters got crunched pretty bad but no serious damage. I straightened the front wheel and continued to the lighthouse but it kind of put a damper on the rest of my visit there.
After leaving the lighthouse the rest of the ride was kind of a blur. I finally had tailwinds but I was tired and just wanted to get back to the airplane and so I didn't enjoy this part of the ride as much as I expected. Then at the end I had to climb 900 feet from the coast to the airport
61 miles, 7100' climbing