After a fun and exciting day exploring the Lost Coast I left Real Northern California to return home to Supposedly Northern California. Rather than retrace my route down US 101 I opted to take Highway 1 most of the way and split the ride into two days.
The first stretch, from Leggett to the Pacific, has got to be one of the best rides in California. It’s long, hilly but not too steep (in most places), with lots of twisties, punctuated by straightaways. Plus, as the state’s flagship highway, CalTrans keeps it in very good condition. The only downside, for Bay Area riders, is the time it takes to get there. I suspect it’ll become one of my annual go-to rides.
The tone of the ride changes once you hit the Pacific. It’s not as challenging, but it has got enough twists and turns to stay interesting…and the views are fantastic! I couldn’t have asked for a better day to ride — blue skies, pleasant temperatures and very little traffic going my way1.
It’s hard for a photo to capture just how vast the views are.
I stopped for a tasty little lunch at the Greenwood Restaurant, south of Albion, which had its own share of spectacular views. Greenwood boasts several inns, and is definitely worth considering as a place to overnight when you cruise the coast.
I wrapped up the first day riding the coast in the Fort Ross Lodge, a little place north of Jenner. I’d stayed there years ago on my first ride up the coast and liked it2. It was wonderful being able to enjoy the hot tub and then kick back for a little reading while watching a beautiful Pacific sunset.
The next day, the last day of the ride, offered a very different experience: the entire coastline was socked in by fog and low lying clouds.
Riding along a twisty coastal highway when the visibility is often less than 100 yards — and you’re acutely aware that, guardrail notwithstanding, the first stop if you somehow went off the road would involve a fall from a great height onto rocks — is not the usual experience. But needs must, and once I turned inland towards Petaluma and US 101 things reverted to California coastal normal. Meaning a great ride through tremendous vistas :).