biking the lost coast 2

Biking the Lost Coast Part 2: Usal to Fort Bragg

The question you have to ask yourself biking the Lost Coast is how many days do you want to put in?

Even if you’re credit card camping like I did, clearly it’s a multiple day journey but with limits how you can break it down.

Day two fit that description with the longest stretch of dirt overlayed by being the most remote as well.

Pair that with completing a Rock Cobbler sized effort the day before, I was scared getting back on the bike with the shortest, yet most challenging portion of this journey.

While Shelter Cover is a great place to stay, riding out of it is this town’s worst feature with a two and a half mile climb out at over 11% that obviously feels worse with days of gear weighing me down.

The low clouds waiting for me at the peak made it tough to see the turnoff a quarter mile away to Cherisse Mountain Road.

Heading south for the next seven miles was of the undulating variety with a brief segment of dirt interrupted by pavement entering Mendocino County where the nomenclature turns to Usal Road.

The most important feature in this stretch is Whale Gulch School where I was able to reload with water for the last time in thirty miles.

Entering dirt Usal Rd was the most demanding stretch of this ride with the surface just muddy enough to inhibit, but just above spinning out.

Coupled with the constant rollers and mugginess, making progress was slow and mentally demanding.

While not too far away from the ocean, the cloud cover robbed me of views on this summer day as I counted the miles to reach the campground only having one personal encounter the first eighteen miles of this stretch.

riding through usal
Views of trees and fog was primarily what I saw today in Usal

Reaching the campground was a relief, but climbing back out was the toughest effort on Usal gaining nearly a thousand feet over a mile & three-quarters.

This section of dirt was the prettiest riding just above the shoreline as reaching Highway One kept me behind the Lost Coast for the next seven miles.

Looking back up the Pacific Ocean to appreciate what I’ve accomplished the past two days was a moment everyone should take, but I still had another twenty two miles of relative flatness to reach Fort Bragg.

Mark from Fort Bragg Cyclery put in a lot of time trying to fix my tire.

A third of the way on this stretch, I stopped into the community store in Westport to enjoy a constructed sandwich and chat with a couple of other cyclists also biking down the coast.

Even though I was physically stretched, I was still making good time, but worried as I noticed my front tire was wobbling robbing me of efficiency.

I stopped into Fort Bragg Cyclery was Mark spent an inordinate amount of time trying to solve this problem and when he wasn’t confident a new tire would solve it, I reluctantly pulled out my spare that I thought would exacerbate the issue being wider, but I luckily packed a narrower one that certainly helped.

My goal for the trip was to put myself in the best position by day three, but after the exhausting experience in Usal to the jubilation to reaching the road ending with the anxiety coming from my tire issue and the extra time addressing it, I ended the evening wishing I was in a better place mentally for the final push.