Biking Northern California -- Wine Country and Coast

Day 6 -- Guerneville to Bodega Bay, Part 1

Route for Day 6

All of the days so far had dawned cold and overcast, so I expected nothing different. Even so, it wasn't quite as cloudy nor quite as cold as it had been on other days. During breakfast I ruminated over the route we were to follow. It was to be our longest day -- about 36 miles -- and I thought the most difficult. On the latter point I was wrong, as I discovered on our last day, but more about that later.

The route, as you can see, headed southwest following the Russian River to the coast. However, halfway to the coast a detour was proposed to take us north about six miles to the small town of Cazadero and then to return on essentially the same road back to the rver before continuing on to the coast. I was thinking during breakfast that a detour of twelve miles didn't make a lot of sense. Why not just bike straight to the coast? Of course, this depends on why you're biking in the first place. Is it to get somewhere, for exercise, or to experience the scenery? In any event the people at LifeCycle Adventures, who knew better than I, had thought it was worthwhile, so who was I to question their judgment?

The guidebook, which knew everything, recommended that we stop at the supermarket in Guerneville to get sandwiches before leaving town, so that is what we did. The supermarket had a sandwich line that was doing quite a good business that morning. Outdoorsy-looking people were getting set for hiking or whatever it was that people did around that area.

The highway followed the river for about seven miles of reasonably flat biking. At three places there was road construction with one-way traffic constrained to one narrow lane with concrete barriers. Traffic lights controlled the flow, which was fine for cars but somewhat awkward for bikes. At one of these points a construction worker showed us that there was a button by the side of the road to control the lights for bikers. Even so, I worried about getting to the end of the construction before the light changed and the cars would be coming at me in the narrow lane. Mostly, though, I made it except for one time when the oncoming cars waited a bit for me.

The road from Guerneville; construction ahead

The road through this area was mostly forested and occasionally we had good views of the river. Several times we saw llamas alongside the road.

We get eyed by a llama

Presently we reached the turnoff on the small road north for the detour up to Cazadero. The all-knowing guidebook said that this was a steady climb for six miles. The beginning was unpromising as we passed a working quarry with busy trucks and messy road. However, as soon as we got past that ugliness, the ride became most pleasant. There was a creek on our left and the road was framed with large trees, including many redwoods. There was an occasional home set back in the woods, and we wondered aloud what these people did and why they lived in this wilderness. The climb was moderate, if at all, and I started to enjoy the ride immensely. There was almost no traffic whatsoever. In fact, after finishing the entire trip, I believed that this detour was the best part of our whole journey.

The road to Cazadero

Enjoying the solitude

At about three miles to Cazadero the road split. Both paths went to Cazadero, but the guidebook advised that the one on the left had steep climbs, while the one on the right was gentle. So I went right, while Len went left.

"I'll take the high road and you take the low road"

As I pulled up to the general store in Cazadero, I realized that for once I had beaten Len to a destination. Aside from the store and a fire house, there didn't seem to be much to Cazadero. However, the trip itself had been the treat, and the general store was the very model of what such an establishment should be. While I browsed, two women were trying to buy out the store. At the prevailing prices, that would be quite expensive. They were both dressed for Halloween in black and orange, and for such a out-of-the-way place, they were quite well dressed. I asked about Halloween in this little forgotten town, and they said it was a big deal at the firehouse, but there weren't many trick-or-treaters. I could understand that. You'd have to walk miles just to visit a few houses.

The general store in Cazadero

I'd like to say that we coasted back down the six miles to the main highway, but just as the trip up didn't seem to be a climb, the trip down wasn't downhill either. However, it was equally pleasant.

After regaining the highway towards the sea we stopped at the little town of Duncan Mills to pull off and eat our sandwiches. This place was strictly a highway stop for tourists in a hurry to get somewhere else.

Eating lunch at Duncan Mills along the highway

We were nearing the third phase of our trip. The first phase had been the wine country, the second had been the forests, and now we were approaching the coast. Since there is still a lot to write about this long day, I'm going to continue on another page with part 2.

Proceed to Day 6, Part 2 of the California Trip

Back to Overview Page for the California Trip