Riding UP the coast of Northern California Tour Guide

We all have heard about riding “down the coast” of California, but rarely people talk about riding “up the coast”. I am partial to California over any other state, and I absolutely love riding in my home state, and especially in Northern California.


And so it begins. Slippers optional.

Last year, I decided that I wanted to “earn my turkey” and ride down to Santa Maria for Thanksgiving. This year, Thanksgiving was going to be at the ranch in Redding, so I thought there was no better way to go “home” for the holidays than by bike! Technically, we rode to Eureka and rented a car to Redding. We needed one more day to get to Redding and I would want to double check the holiday traffic on a somewhat busy highway.


Lunch break. Apple Fritter & Breakfast Burrito. Jenner.

Start: Petaluma

Destination: Eureka

What did we bring?

  • 1 Camelback: With flip flops, 1 long sleeve shirt, 1 pair of shorts, 1 extra sports bra. (This year I opted not to bring makeup or a book. True story.)
  • 2 extra tires.
  • 4 extra tubes.
  • 4 CO2 Cartridges
  • Credit Card/ID
  • iPhone and iPhone charger (for pictures for Instagram and to call my parents, duh)
  • Multi-tool with chain gauge
  • Extra Chain

What was the weather and timing?

  • Barely any chance of rain, lows in the 40s, highs in the 60s, and some morning fog.

What were ride times?

  • The days were short (sun setting at 4:55pm), and we started riding by 9:15am each day
  • Our shortest day on the bike was 5 hours, and our longest day was 7 hours.
  • Besides “pee breaks”, we usually only stopped once officially for a quick “lunch” break, but kept motoring due to limited light and time. We chose to start later when it was warmer but that made the riding a pretty serious focused scramble.
Days are short!

Days are short!

What did I wear? This is usually what I started in, but these layers could be used and shed as necessary. I was slightly concerned one morning because I literally had on all the clothes I brought, and new I couldn’t dress any warmer than I already was.

  • 1 set of leg warmers
  • 1 set of bibs
  • 1 Pearl Izumi baselayer
  • 1 jersey
  • 1 pair of arm warmers
  • 1 SRAM vest
  • 1 Pearl Izumi rain jacket
  • 1 neck gator
  • 1 headband
  • 1 helmet
  • 1 pair of Oakley photochromatic lenses (change darkness depending on lighting)
  • 1 SRAM socks
  • 1 Road ID
  • Defeet HiVis Orange Shoe Covers (for warmth and also visibility)
  • Defeet HiVis Pink Gloves

Day 1: Petaluma to Mendocino

  • Food and lodging: Petaluma Market breakfast burrito, apple fritter, and a dirty martini upon arrival in Albion. Stay at Albion River Inn. AMAZING views, food, and rooms!
  • Once I got past the miles that are my “interval roads” I was so excited to have a destination and to be able to soak the day in. Beautiful pavement, and all rolling Hwy 1 terrain. It does not get any better than this.  I learned that I loved Mendocino County and need to ride North more often.
Does not get any better.

Does not get any better.

Day 2: Mendocino to Humboldt

  • Food: Hotel breakfast, Snickers, Oreos, Almonds, Nutter Butter, and Yerba Mate (no food options from Mendocino to Humboldt make it gas station slim pickings).
  • There was one stretch here on 101 that was slightly nerve wracking. I hear there is a way to avoid these 12 miles by a slightly dirt road. But with limited light, we did not have time for exploration. However, I did consider hitchhiking that stretch of 101! It was about 7 miles of chaos, and then was smooth sailing into Garberville.
  • Take the 2 mile detour and pay the 5 bucks to ride your bike through a tree, it is well worth it.

Last bit of coast until the Avenue of the Giants.


Ride your bike through a tree.

Day 3: Garberville to Eureka via the Lost Coast, Panther Gap, and Ferndale.

  • Some very STEEP roads and some are dirt (Honeydew). You could also get a second hand high from riding through Humboldt during “harvest season”. Limited traffic, unforgettable scenery, and nice people!
  • By FAR the most challenging day where you climb an endless wall off of the Lost Coast and tears will be shed. However, the Lost Coast is the most spectacular coastline you have ever seen. No cars, beautiful water, and you are in a place all to yourself. Bring a climbing gear and some perseverance to finish this day.
  • I wish we could have ended this ride in Ferndale instead of making the additional 30k to Eureka, which also involved another stretch of 101. There is a way to skirt this, but you had additional climbing, and at this point, you are already pushing 10,000feet in elevation, and it added 12 miles which we didn’t have enough light for. After climbing Panther Gap from the Lost Coast, let me know if you want to add more miles and climbing!

The endless Panther Gap Wall.


One of my favorite things to do on a bike, besides of course win races, is to take my bike and my friends on an adventure. I would do this route again, but would love to continue north into Oregon if I had a few additional days. Heading north, you do make a gamble with the wind being in your face all day, but it was worth it and we had limited wind. A destination ride allows for you to plan your own adventure, and to explore roads you have never ridden. I highly suggest looking at some of this routes up and down the coast of Northern California. Enjoy the ride, but most importantly, be safe and prepared for your adventure. Check your equipment to ensure it is running smoothly, and bring spare parts and warm clothes. Check the weather so you know what to expect, and then let each day bring you brand new adventure!


Avenue of the Giants. I am a giant.

Pick a good crew to ride with, and an even number is best (unless it is only 2!).  You want even skills, ability, and motivation (and maybe someone to carry your Camelback!)

The sherpa and best training partner EVER, CRW.

The sherpa and best training partner EVER, CRW.


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