- Date: Wednesday, Thursday. May 22, 23.
- Distance: 150 km.
- Route highlight: climbing after Leggett, and reaching the ocean again.
The climb after the town of Leggett to 2000 feet was supposed to be the hardest on our route, but we think it wasn’t too bad. The climb was gradual, going through a beautiful mixed forest including redwood trees. Now, we were off highway 101, onto highway 1: the coastal highway from Leggett to San Francisco.We were headed to Cleone (a few miles before Fort Bragg) because we were invited by one of our followers on Instagram, called Astrid. Never expected virtual contact that started on Instagram to lead to an actual meeting! While drinking a coffee on the way, a women approached me and said “Hi! You must be Tim, I’m Astrid”. The born Swiss who’s lived in the US for most of her life was on her way home from a trip and spotted our bikes, notably the red and yellow panniers. We met her at her lovely house again 20 km down the road in Cleone.While talking in front of their barn, Astrid’s husband Robert arrived by bike from work. He was born in Rotterdam (where we live) and left at a young age but could still speak some Dutch. They had recently taken a year off and did a bicycle tour in Chili, cycling the Carretera Austral. In Astrid’s words, it was wonderful but tough. Beautiful nature, very kind people, but also (in spring) a lot of wind, rain, rough roads, and challenging to get enough food. This route is also on our list, so we’ll have to prepare well! We got to meet their youngest daughter Arianna as well, and ate dinner together, talking about travel, the US, and each other’s lives stories.The next morning, we cycled together with Astrid along the ocean (5 minutes from their house!) to Fort Brag.We were lucky to get treated with some delicious coffee and pastry at the bakery. Here, we met Jakob, a Dane who lived in Canada for a few months doing volunteer work, rock climbing, and skiing, and impulsively decided to go on a bike tour along the coast. Within a week, he bought a classic touring bike, panniers, camping equipment and everything else he needed second hand. He was travelling alone and going fast – over 100 miles a day. He was going to take it easier today so maybe we would meet him at the next state park.Starting late at 2 pm, we cycled 80 km to Manchester. Due to the many coves, the road here frequently dips down from a high cliff down to sea level, and then climbs up very steeply again. We found this tougher than Leggett Hill!Luckily, the weather was great and the cycling got especially good after 5 pm when the roads got really quiet and the lowering sun was creating beautiful light and colors. We saw many elk and some wild turkey on the way too.The commercial KOA campground in Manchester was too expensive at $40 for a tent. So, we continued a bit further down the road to the state park, but it was closed! We still entered the campground and saw a camper saying “host”, but nobody replied to our “hello, is there anybody?” We walked around as it was getting dark and found a great spot nonetheless.