North Coast, 8/30-9/1

We failed yet again to get to Oregon, this time because most of what we wanted to ride was on fire. Though on the north coast the woods had not yet actually ignited, the drought was still with us: the Eel River is currently the Eel Riverbed, and Paradise Royale—which I had imagined looking like Fern Gully—reminded me, if anything, of  Santa Barbara.

But even bone-dry it was a refreshing detour. The loop’s main climb is encouragingly dubbed “Prince of Pain,” but because it’s a) purpose-built for bikes and b) not at elevation, it hurt way less than anywhere else I’ve gained 800 feet in under three miles. And there’s a (camp-chair) throne at the top.

QOM the easy way.  Paradise Royale also has a sweet skills area that I was too lazy (regal?) to try.

In Mendocino too we found many interesting things in the woods—including one of my favorite trails, Widowmaker, and local hero Roo Harris, whose book you absolutely need if you have any intention of locating it on the same day you start looking. While riding around in circles we also discovered a still-smoldering campfire. There was a lot of anxious debate and kicking sand around and pitiful use of Camelbak hoses before someone hit on the idea of peeing on the flames. And while I generally strive to be one of the guys on these trips …  in this case I took a pass.

Hidden treasures of Jackson State Forest. (But the beer stash is for trail crews; we left that alone.)

And because any trip with Jacob and Sean is as much about food as anything else—some parting shots below: the Peg House, recommended for deviled eggs, weed-themed accessories, and other Americana; Jacob presiding with biblical solemnity over a pizza menu, per usual; and the fine fruit of a farm stand off the Briceland-Thorn Road. It has an intimidating driveway, but at the end of it there are blackberry popsicles on the honor system. Worth a stop!

Ask him about the number on his shirt.

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