09.06.2002-09.28.2002       Vancouver, BC to San Francisco, CA
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I had been looking forward to the next leg of the journey. I had planned for my father to meet me in Vancouver and share the ride with me for a week. For a week I would enjoy his companionship as well as his distaste for camping. Yes, for one week I would give my camping gear a rest and enjoy the comforts of a warm bed and restaurant meals. Our travels began with a ferry crossing to Vancouver Island on a dreary day and continued with a ride into Victoria in the rain. As it often does, the inclement weather sapped my enthusiasm for any tourist outings. We caught an early ferry to Port Angeles the next day and from the decks watched the sun rise over a clear and calm morning, the sun illuminating the Olympic Range on the peninsula. We cycled along the eastern side of the peninsula, eventually following the Hood Canal. After Shelton we followed the thoughtfully constructed Adventure Cycling Coastal Route, which took us along scenic backroads with little traffic but with no shortage of canines. For months my Dazer had patiently waited at the bottom of my handlebar bag. I brought it into service on the backroads of Washington and used it with mixed results. It certainly “dazed” some dogs but seemed to have little effect on others. I decided that before entering Mexico I would bolster my defenses with the less humane but more effective pepper spray.

I was solo again as I cycled along the Columbia River en route to the Oregon coast. I had cycled from Portland to San Francisco on an earlier trip so the terrain was not unfamiliar. Nonetheless, I was still enthusiastic. The Oregon and California coasts are a haven for bicycle tourists, with numerous campgrounds offering cheap hiker-biker sites. These campgrounds serve as a point of congregation and refuge for the coastal cyclists. In Alaska and Canada I had failed to meet up with any other cyclists heading in the same direction as myself but I expected my drought of co-riders to end on the Oregon coast. On my previous trip I had met numerous cyclists touring from and to distant places along the Pan-Am. I had been envious of those cyclists and wondered when it would be my time to revel in the envy of others. That time had now come. This time I would not meet any other cyclists traveling from or to points further North or South than myself.

Like the campgrounds in the far North, the coastal campgrounds had their share of animal annoyances. However, the raccoons that prowled the coastal campgrounds would be a far more formidable enemy than the ground squirrels of the far North. On my first night of camping I heard a raccoon trying very hard to carry my food bag off. My food bag is bear-resistant so I wasn’t too worried. But after some time the noise became bothersome. I threw a few rocks at the hostile raccoon but this hardly discouraged it. I then decided it might be a good time to start emptying the canister of bear spray I was still carrying. I soon realized I had been very fortunate not to have needed it earlier. I fumbled around for several minutes before successfully disengaging the safety lock. That done, I decided to fire a test round before locking Mr. Raccoon in my headlamp sights and firing at him. I pulled the trigger and was surprised at the force of the spray and by the fact that after I had removed my finger from the trigger the spray continued. By design or malfunction I needed to pull the trigger back to its original position to stop the flow. By then the canister was basically empty and I was disheartened. All along the raccoon had patiently stood at the perimeter of my camp waiting for the ruckus to end so it could return to my bag. I looked into the eyes of Mr. Raccoon and, conceding defeat, returned to my tent. My humiliation would not end there though. I had foolishly fired my test round near my tent and would spend the rest of the night wheezing from the toxic gases. In the morning I found my supposedly bear-resistant food bag punctured with numerous holes.

Thick fog would plague me along the north coast of Oregon. The fog eventually gave way to several days of sometimes very heavy rain. For the first time on the trip I had felt quite miserable. I had faced much worse weather in Alaska, the Yukon and along the Cassiar so I was a bit disconcerted. However, one of the many luxuries of long distance cycling is it allows one ample time to ponder things, like the roots of one’s feelings. After some pondering I attributed my misery to the relative ease of the traveling of late and the relative abundance of luxuries/temptations that surrounded me as I cycled. At Coos Bay the weather cleared, making for a spectacular ride down Oregon’s southern coast. By then the campgrounds were thick with bicyclists so the nights were as enjoyable as the days. I had pulled several long days in Oregon and decided a rest day in Brookings would be appropriate before entering California for the final push to San Francisco. As I sat at Harris Beach at sunset I was grateful I had not wasted my rest day on a rain day earlier in the week.

The ride into California continued under favorable conditions. The ride amongst the redwoods along the Avenue of the Giants was especially pleasant, with the nice weather and lack of crowds that late September guarantees. Fog greeted me again as I returned to the coast on Highway 1. It gradually dissipated as I made my way down the Mendocino coast, just as my anticipation of arriving in San Francisco increased. I had cycled over 5000 miles on the journey by the time I reached San Francisco, far more than I could have possibly imagined. San Francisco had been my home prior to the trip and therefore would serve as the perfect place for the first real break of the journey. I would spend the next two weeks there resting, eating and spending time with friends and family.
DistanceElevation GainFlat Tires
Leg1139 mi/1833 km57260 ft/18786 m3
Trip5227 mi/8412 km49 mi/79 km4
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