Bicycle TouringOur StoriesUSA

Manchester to Stillwater Cove to Bodega Dunes

posted by Tim May 28, 2019 2 Comments
  • Date: Friday, Saturday. May 24, 25.
  • Distance: 125 km.
  • Route highlight: Fort Ross, coastline, seals and pelicans.

Last night felt quite wild. We heard crying coyotes and the guard dogs barking back at them. We felt deer / elk walk around our tent, their paws softly landing and denting the ground slightly, and we heard their mouths ripping off chunks of grass and then chew on it. In the morning, their excrements were surrounding our tent, so we hopped over them while packing and breaking down the tent at 6 am.

Most of the cycling in Northern California was beautiful again.

However, highway 1 was busier this day and often narrow, without shoulders. Perhaps there was more traffic due to memorial day weekend, although that traffic should have been mainly heading north (people coming from the San Francisco area). Many campsites were fully booked and the commercial campsites looked pretty awful, jam packed with people, all making fires, barking dogs, and people shouting. I stopped shortly on the side of the road next to a commercial campsite (called Ocean Cove) to look at the map, when a car honked at me, seemingly wanting to leave the campsite. I thought he didn’t have enough space for his liking to turn right, so I moved a bit more to the side. He honked again. While I thought, “what do you want? Couldn’t you roll down your window and speak in a civilized way instead of just honking at me?”, a woman from the other side yelled “you’re on the fucking parking space!”. I thanked her for clearing that up, and was happy to continue to the state park campground.

We arrived early at Stillwater Cove state park and were happy to see Jakob arriving a bit later. We ate dinner together and walked to the beautiful nearby cove.

The next day we visited Fort Ross: an old preserved Russian settlement, built in the 1800s for a Russian-American trade company. The fort was largely built with the near perfect straight redwood trees. The location was ideal, next to the ocean, close to rivers, and it had a pretty flat terrace for growing crops. The settlement thrived in its time, but was eventually sold to the Americans.

Our book describing the route promised the 10 miles following Fort Ross to be strenuous, and it was. Lots of steep climbs. Up and down, up and down. There was a lot of traffic going north, we were happy to cycle south. This was the first time we saw and talked with a few road biker too, who were spending their weekend off cycling a part of highway 1.

Right before the Russian River, we found a pack of seals sunbathing on the ocean shore, pelicans flying over them, and eagles hunting for prey.

The Bodega Dunes state park campground was nice: at a good distance from the main road and close to the ocean. We thought we were the only ones, but when we came back from a walk on the beach, 2 other cyclists had arrived: Christian (originally from Denmark) and Clare. They were on an overnighter from Berkeley. Nice to see that people are making bike trips in their weekends. It was nice talking to them too.

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Chris May 29, 2019 at 19:13

Hey. Met you on the CalTrain to Pali Alto. Hope you have a great finish to your trip.
I think I may have to retrace your route back up to Seattle by bike, as last time I did it with a motorcycle.

Tim May 31, 2019 at 21:33

Was nice meeting you! Yeah it’s a nice route, you should do it, but it’s better from North to South.


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