Bellingham to San Fran Road Trip (plus bikes)

We already had our flights back to Blighty out of Vancouver booked for June, but our premature departure from Colombia mucked up the schedule. We tried to pull the date forward and discovered that the nearest available alternative for our fare was from San Francisco! At first this seemed like a horrible inconvenience, but we quickly realised what we had to do! …….. Road trip!!!!!

We hired a rental car for a week and drove a thousand miles from Bellingham to San Francisco with the bikes strapped to a slightly rickety used bike rack we found at Value Village for $4. The road trip was a blessing in disguise, allowing us to slot in some fantastic riding in the California Redwoods, camping at Prairie Creek and King Range. We also met up with friends near Fairfax (home to the Marin County Mountain Biking Hall of Fame Museum) who gave us an expert tour of Point Reyes National Park. And so… the road trip turned out to be one of the highlights of our entire trip, and a perfect distraction from our quickly approaching return to UK soil.

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A family portrait was taken just before we set off on our bikes from Mexico to Colombia. Now it kept us company during the final leg of our journey.

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We had our first real encounter with the Redwoods at Prairie Creek where we setup camp and jumped on the bikes for an afternoon ride …

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Just a few miles from the campground, we met our old pal Pacifico at Gold Bluffs beach

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… and did whatever the hell we wanted …

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… because there was no one else in sight!

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In fact, we didn’t see a single other person on the trails or beaches for the entire day!

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Even 2.4″ tyres lack fat for the sand…

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… making for slow riding on the beach.

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With sand in my cleats, I managed to go down like a newbie when I couldn’t get my foot out.

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Wow, I haven’t done that for a long time. Much laughing from Jenny ensued.

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Endless beauty in all directions

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From the beach, we headed back into the forest…

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… over some streams …

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… until we came upon a herd of elk …

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… playing in the lovely NorCal sun …

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Does and calves grazed peacefully…

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… with only mild concern for our strange two-wheeled contraptions.

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Onwards to the Ossagon Trail…

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… for more massive trees!

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After a restful night at Prairie Creek, we drove onwards through the Avenue Of The Giants

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… stretching our legs at the rest stops!

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Indeed, these be giants.

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The Redwoods really need to be seen to be fully appreciated. The scale is massive.

King Range Conservation Area

A few hours down the coast we arrived at Tolkan campsite in King Range Conservation Area where we setup camp for the night. It’s a perfect starting point for the Paradise Royale loop, 15 miles of gorgeous singletrack over the King Range.

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Jenny decided she likes mountain biking… a lot!

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The Paradise Royale loop is gorgeous trail riding indeed, I’d say top 10 trail riding of all time for me… despite the cheesy name!

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Although there are some moderately technical sections and some slopestyle / freeride elements in sections, the entire loop is all rideable on a rigid bike… minus one or two stream crossings…

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… for example, this one …

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Of course, I waded across first to get the photo ops…

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… just before I leapt back into help Jenny before she was whisked away…

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Back on the trail, with a long switchback climb to the top…

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… still more switchbacks …

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…. nearing the top …

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… and finally some descending from the ridge …

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Stopping for a banana break…

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Last bit of climbing just before ‘Mad Queen’s Tango’ …

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Jenny celebrates the massive boost in her technical riding skills.

Fairfax, Forest Knolls and Point Reyes

From King Range, we drove down to meet friends in Forest Knolls / Fairfax and spent the next day exploring Point Reyes.

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Okay, it’s a long story… we were trying to simulate sunglasses…

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… for this group shot (photo by Khale Wallitner)

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Our first stop at Point Reyes was Drake Beach, where Sir Francis allegedly landed his ship before getting on with some pillaging …

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We probably didn’t need that extra pot of coffee.

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Beautiful rock and sandstone features protrude from the sand

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We found a perfect spot to chow down on our epic sandwiches…

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We all agreed Jenny’s was the best; the Reuben to end all Reubens, with locally made pastrami on Brickmaiden bread.

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Khale decided it was time to jump some gaps…

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… but not before he completed his daily levitation routine…

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… and then he jumped; I underestimated his vertical abilities and chopped off his uppers…

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… with a solid landing on the other side.

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The ravens watched over from above.

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The Great Beach (aka Point Reyes Beach) spans over 17 kilometers of undeveloped beach bliss…

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Khale and Katie hiding from the fierce wind…

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The Sea Lion Overlook is a steep trail with grave consequences…

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Many curious hunters

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Richie spots some cheeky sea lions…

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It’s steeper than it looks!

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If you squint, you’ll see large group of elephant seals partying on the beach. They make some pretty bizarre noises!

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Yeah, I’m not so sure the relationship was as amicable as is illustrated here!

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Some friendly deer greeted us on our way out to the Chimney Rock lookout…

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… no time to hang around with that last bit of sun hitting the sandstone walls…

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Finally, we made it to the free lounge area…

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And Khale gave us levitation lessons…

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… you just need a bit of wind really…

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… time for another break.

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Thanks to Katie, we stayed warm with hot tea…

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…. big gusts of wind!!

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The sky went through many different colours and the sun continued to dip below the horizon…

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… so we tried to stay warm …

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… whatever it took!

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I tried to learn a few tips from Khale and Richie, who are both accomplished photographers.

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Here’s one of my amatuer shots of Chimney Rock compared with …

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… Khale’s shot from a 2010. His photos is seriously amazing! (photo courtesy of Khale Wallitner)

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Mr Lebowski is Dude’s Californian cousin. He has the meow of a grown man and head butts everything he holds dear.

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You have to earn the hammock at Khale & Katie’s…

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… but once you’re up there, it’s totally worth it.

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With the rental car returned, it was time to check in. We decided against the big boxes this time and opted for a simple wrap with some old used clear plastic and duct tape we found lying around.

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