By all accounts The Tour of Unknown Coast route is supposed to be difficult. Hard. Epic. Rapha. Hubris had us making plans directly after the ride, you know, grabbing an early dinner, going for a walk etc. We’ll get a nice breakfast and just hammer it out. How hard could it be?
For reasons honestly unclear to me now we had decided to do it in reverse (counter clockwise) instead of the direction of the official route. I had explained that it seemed easier this way. That one could knock out the steep climbs right out of the gate instead of waiting until the end of the day when one likely be tired. I had even called ahead and asked why people don’t do it the other way. The fella at the bike shop explained that a lot of people do it with loaded touring bikes and the climbs are steeper, but the descents less harrowing. It’s just easier.
I dunno. It was pretty hard.
We started in Scotia and after some mellow rollers and windy farm lands we hit the hills right outside of Ferndale, the “official” starting point of the organized ride. They were steep. They were long. They were beautiful. The descents were exhilarating and terrifying, riddled with potholes and patchy gravel. The roads were very narrow, and what little traffic we saw added to the difficulty and anxiety of not wanting to stop your momentum up and also having nowhere to escape when going down.
We made it to the beach and it was stunning. Nearly ten miles of undeveloped California coast line with no traffic before starting a grueling climb back to the 101 after passing through the Humboldt Redwoods.
Things I wish I had known:
- That the road was in as bad of shape as it was
- There is just one place for water/food (Patrolia)
- How steep it is!
- How hot the day would become
- How much I liked it.
There isn’t much of a punchline except for maybe an older guy came up to me at the Petrolia store and asked about our ride. I explained our direction. He exclaimed, “Oh the hard way!” He used to race it “back when” and remembered the “endless hill.” The what? Oh never mind. You have to climb either way.