In October 2017, Bedrock Co-Founder Dan Opz, went on an ~850 mile bike adventure along the Oregon and Californian coast in pursuit of the open road. Dan writes about his coastal adventure below.
Legs completely gassed, all I could hope for was to not fall off my bike as the relentless 20+ degree slope climbed to the top of the Lost Coast. Bike touring with my damp wetsuit and surf-mat gear had its advantages, but at this moment I hated every pound of the extra weight.
Around the next switch-back the hill grew steeper, my speed slowed to zero, and all I could do was self-eject onto the road before I fell off my bike uncontrollably. With nothing but Hell Grade incline ahead and a heavy fully-loaded steel bike in my hands, I felt foolish for taking the Lost Coast scenic detour.
Back in the summer, I dreamed of combining one of my favorite forms of human-powered travel with surfing. I loved the idea of cruising coastally by bike with my self contained camping and surfing setups - ready to hop off the road and into the water at the sight of a peeling wave on the horizon. This dreamy idea took me down the research rabbit hole of bike trailers, bikepacking setups, and compatible surf equipment.
Ultimately I decided to take a lighter path than the heavy-weighted surfboard/trailer combination. I remembered seeing a video from the 70's of George Greenough, of Crystal Voyager fame, sliding down a wave face with what looked like an inflatable camp mattress. The idea of being able to rollup and pack away a surf riding vehicle into the space of the compressed sleeping pad immediately attracted me. I ordered my first inflatable surf mat and my plan of biking and wave riding the Pacific Coast started to materialize.
After studying the map and consulting with friends, I decided to bike the most scenic chunk of the West Coast: I would start at the Columbia River in Astoria, Oregon and head south to Bedrock Sandals Headquarters near San Francisco. Having worked on product design and development all year I was excited to personally test a new 2018 sandal model on a big adventure; this would be the only pair of footwear that I would use on the entire trip.
As I rode south, I hugged the coast as often as possible, mostly following the ACA map along route 101 / 1. I managed to convince my childhood friend, Andrew, to ride along for the first 2 weeks. Old friends enjoying a new adventure together made the travel through Oregon even more light-hearted and fun.
The weather was beautiful for the first week southbound thru Oregon. We weaved in and out of coastal bays, cliffed roadsides, and expansive dune terrain. In northern Oregon Andrew and I wet-suited up and caught some surf at the Cape Lookout State Park where we camped out that night. The ocean was huge and choppy but we had fun riding the reformed waves closer to shore and grabbed hot showers at camp post session.
Further south we passed through scores of small rural towns that dotted the Oregon coastline. As we biked through Newport, the highway rejoined a dramatic cliffed ocean and roadside along the edge. We pressed on past dark with a rockin' tailwind to make it to Washeburne State Park for the night.
Hikers and bikers traveling through state parks on the west coast enjoy the privileges earned by getting there under human power. Typically camping costs $5-8 per person and there's always space even during the busy summer season. Some parks even have shelters and power charging stations. Beware of the savvy state park raccoon populations at night though, zippers and buckles are no match for these dexterous food thieves!
Years ago when I lived and traveled in my 87' subaru-powered vanagon, I spent some time surfing in a small town with a beautiful south facing bay. Andrew and I took a "zero" rest day here, sliding some fun waves and soaking in sunny skies.
Early next morning I pushed over 90 miles to make it to California, where the best surf awaited us. With some clean peeling waves I decided to rent a surfboard and got 3 sessions in throughout the day. I tucked into a couple tube sections and wore a big grin out there!
After a final sending-off session, with the waves at our back, Andrew and I parted ways and I continued on south through the most challenging section of the Pacific Coast Bike Route: Northern California. Soon into the next section, I rendezvoused back up with cyclists I had met on the road in Oregon.
At this point in the adventure, I was back on home turf as I rode south through Humboldt County. Bedrock co-founder Nick and I started making sandals here in 2010 as we did salmon conservation field work. After our Kickstarter launch in 2011, we built the first batch of 312 pairs of original Bedrocks in a friend's cabin along the nearby Lost Coast. At the time the only tools we needed for sandal making were hole punches and box cutters. I wanted to revisit the Lost Coast, except this time, pedaling my bike rocking our new 2018 design - how far we've come!
Touring through the Lost Coast with a fully loaded bike, as I would soon fully learn, would prove to be more parts agony than I imagined. In between the misery I found even deeper rewards in the remote rugged scenery and feeling of accomplishment at the top of the 2500' Honeydew Hill. At the days end I took a dip into the healing waters of the Mattole River where I hoped juvenile Chinook and Coho salmon may have also been swimming. I'm proud to continue supporting environmental efforts in the watershed out here through our 1% for the Planet contributions to organizations like the Mattole Salmon Group.
Kiko, Allison, Leslie and I continued southbound through Humboldt's towering coastal redwoods. The first big fall rain storm loomed in the weather forecast. Allison and I hauled to Leggett's Standish Hickey park to setup our tents before the skies broke.
We lucked out to find the hiker/biker campsite there had a roofed enclosure to get out of the rain. Another friend from the road pulled into the campground just as the rain really started to fly. Adrian arrived by skateboard and is riding from Canada all the way down to Patagonia! I teased about how much nicer it would be to spend the night in the camp bathroom than in a wet tent. Adrian, however, was not joking at all. After being on a road for the last couple years skating around the world, Adrian had no romantic illusions of spending a night out in the rain for the sake of tent camping. He laughed and hunkered down into his private motel room for the night.
The next day Allison and I followed California Route 1 back towards the coast. We climbed the Leggett hill and soared down the snaking 1500' descent back to the ocean. My legs were gassed after the Lost Coast and Leggett Hill, so I plugged in my earbuds and listened through some of my favorite podcasts, pushing into Fort Bragg.
I waited for Allison at a public bus stop in town, sprawled out on the bench. Allison rode up and I quickly realized all was not well. She had fallen off her bike about 1/2 a mile back and the cassette diced into her leg. Scrambling to help, I started to clean the deep cut with water and rubbing alcohol but realized that she needed stitches.
At that moment a big truck pulled up off the street and Beckey, an amazing soul, offered us a first aid kit to use. After I explained we needed to get stitches, Beckey drove us to the emergency care and gave us the keys to her home to spend a couple nights so Allison could recover. These moments where complete strangers selflessly take care of you always brings me the most meaning and inspiration in my adventures.
From Ft Bragg, I trucked southbound with a steady tailwind and sunny skies along one of the most scenic stretches of California Route 1. Along the way I stopped into some south facing coves and found another surf mat session in some fun shorebreak as the end of the adventure approached.
Further south as I neared San Francisco, the amount of bicyclists and suburban traffic grew. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge into the city felt like a proper Bay Area homecoming for me. I dragged my fully loaded bike into the busy Embarcadero BART station, to cross the bay and officially arrive home.
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