A few weeks ago Pamela and I took off to Portland, OR to road trip with friends in their Sprinter, south to northern California’s town of Ferndale. The purpose….tick off a bucket list item. Riding the tour of the unknown coast. This ride has been on my radar for the last few years. Ever since my friends Greg and Holly told me about it, 6 years ago. Sadly the timing never worked out in my favor as it overlaps the Tour of California (What a race this year by the way). As a member of the Pro Leisure Tour due to my extended sabbatical from Skratch Labs, Pamela and I jumped at the opportunity to do the ride with Greg and Holly. One of the cool parts is that we were going to be camping in a Sprinter and towing a Shasta camper. I am sure that I can write for days about the trip and the riding, but I’ll do my best to keep it brief for your sake and for the fact that our DIY Sprinter build has a to-do list that needs attention 🙂 The trip sparked our lust for our sprinter and our desire to get it buildout ASAP. Having the ability to trial-run Greg’s sprinter gave us great insight into what we feel might work and how we might tweak things to our liking. More of those details in the build entries. Back to the ride and the trip at hand. TUC as it’s called is known as California’s toughest century. I can say that it lives up to its name. At 100 miles and just shy of 9,6540ft of climbing it’s a great day in the saddle. The numbers might seem doable…but don’t be fooled. The hardest part of the ride comes during the last 24 miles when you climb 5,500 feet and endure a section of road that is 1 mile long with an avg. grade of 19% with an elevation gain of 1,100 feet. Once you crest the top you feel spent and excited as you descend the backside of the hill. When your mind relaxes and wanders to thoughts of the amazing BBQ awaiting you at the finish, you’re slapped back into the task at hand thanks to the never ending hill. This hill lives up to its namesake. It seems to start out nice and mellow with a switchback or two (lucky for me I wasn’t able to see more than 20 feet in front of me due to the dense fog and low lying clouds). This section of the ride reminded me of climbing in the Alps of France. Just as you think you’re done with the climbing your legs tell you differently as your cadence slows and quads begin to burn…The never ending hill grinds on for a total of 8 miles and gains roughly 4,000ft. OUCH. Yet rewarding and breathtaking. As you descend the never ending hill back to Ferndale, you want to enjoy the moment. You want to take in the wind blowing on your face as you exit each turn. However you can’t fall asleep behind the bars as the road is rough and littered with potholes ready to eat you alive. It’s not until the last 200 meters of the descent that the roads smooths out and the tension in your shoulders, neck, arms and eyes dissipates and a smile from ear to ear emerges knowing that you’re 500 meters to the finish once the road flattens out. From what I just wrote it seems like this ride was boring until the climbs. This isn’t the case. Before the climbs we rode through the Redwoods on two different occasions for a total of 16 miles. This was a jaw dropping experience. The smile and memories haven’t left me and its been a week. I can say for sure that this trip is prematurely etched into my brain, not just for the amazing riding, but for we did and experienced. The trip was 5 days which felt more like two weeks. After the ride we camped just down the coast with no cell service for two days. Unplugging was, relaxing and rejuvenating. It’s a great way to remind oneself that life goes on and emails, notifications etc can wait as life goes on without an immediate response. Enjoy some of the images that accompany this post. There will be a second post covering the camping, seal sighting during our 3 miles coast hike and more. Next up, details on the fast moving Roaming Robo’s Sprinter Van DIY buildout. Stay tuned.