The next morning, we woke up to an incredible sight. We had stayed the night in one of the most beautiful redwood forests I’ve ever encountered, but we didn’t know it until the morning light filled the sky. One of the best parts of travelling on the road is being surprised by new views when the sun rises.
After packing up, we headed into town for a warm meal at a diner, and hit the road south. With some discussion we settled on Mendocino. We had heard rumors of top-notch singletrack hidden in the coastal forests, so we knew we had to give it a try. With only the Trailforks app to guide us, and some less-than-clear directions from an old man on an XC bike, we headed out.
We aimed for Manly Gulch and pedaled our asses off to get there. We rejoiced upon finally reaching the summit, and the trailhead. It was all downhill from there and we were stoked. The trail crossed steep ravines, with redwoods on our left and a long drop-off to our right. A skinny trail, tight trees and high consequence trail edge made for an unforgettable ride. Tight switchbacks were intermingled with fast straight sections that swooped through the trees on the edge of the ravine. We charged ahead giving it our all, carving up onto the sides of the trail any chance we got. We figured that since we’d climbed up so far to reach the trailhead, it would be downhill the whole way back. We were wrong.
Instead a grueling fire road climb up and around the ridge stood between the van and us. By the time we got back, our light trail snacks and water bottles had long since been consumed. Famished, we fired up the grill and had some trailside hot dogs topped with shredded cheese and crushed Doritos. It was gourmet food at it’s finest.
With an upcoming engagement in Santa Cruz the next day, we hit the road early so we could camp and make it through San Francisco early the next morning. We were excited to be getting closer to Santa Cruz with the opportunity to ride some new BMC bikes.
Trading our sleeping bags for beachside beds wasn’t all bad and we welcomed the clean shower and toilet after a couple days on the road. Our stop was just long enough to sit in for a product presentation of the new BMC Trailfox AMP and Speedfox AMP. You can check out more from the media camp here.
Sadly, our time at the beachside hotel in Santa Cruz was limited and Sea Otter was calling. We loaded the van and prepared for the long days ahead. But first we had to make it…after driving through rural, desolate highways the last few days, it felt odd to be surrounded by suburbia and endless traffic. We contemplated playing hooky and pointing the van another direction, but our bank accounts suggested otherwise.
As we stared at the long line of cars creeping into Laguna Seca, our stomachs began to tense up. It was like the butterflies we used to get before a race weekend but a bit deeper. Sure we love socializing with friends and checking out all the new stuff, but we also know the fate of our little homegrown operation greatly relies on the support from the big wigs in the expo area below. Soon enough the smell of sunscreen and donuts filled the air as we signed in at the Media Center and we were off. The butterflies were gone and now it was time to race.
Thanks for coming along for the ride and stay tuned for part two of our journey! Anyone down for a party caravan to Sea Otter next year?