Our story of a magical week of adventuring in the woods...
The forecast for Mendocino County, California during the Month of October can vary, greatly! With some helpful insight from a few close friends, other cyclists and adventurers, we were given pretty good word that October is one of the best months of the year to visit the Golden State and explore the far reaching hills, mountains and backcountry by bike. Turns out, they were right.
The week leading up to our first, and what will most definitely become annual, mixed terrain cycling experience in Mendocino was moderate at best. It gave us hope, as the fog slightly dispersed by 1 in the afternoon, leaving a bit of room for the sunset to poke its head in. However, it was a bit daunting as we counted down the days until friends dawned on the slightly spooky, mystical North Coast.
The Mendocino Mountain Range splits this damp, almost rain forest like coastal region from the arid, desert landscape of places like Ukiah and Willits, CA. In just 35 miles, the topography and ecosystem that exists on the western side of the Mendocino Range is so drastically different, you have to visit to realize. The best part about this is you can't fully experience it inside your car. The best way to travel the Mendocino Range is by bike.
What is an actively run and managed forest for logging purposes, the region is littered with dirt roads. Because this entire forest is logged, harvest seasons are posted and no traffic laws are to be highly respected. However, when in the know about where to go, you wont see a single other person for hours, probably even days! This was our experience, as we encountered only 7 other people riding bikes over the course of 14 days. Truly, one of the best on bike experiences of our lives.
As for October being the best time to visit thing goes, well that is completely the truth. As long as you have a good outlook and respect the weather gods, this Northern California location will deliver. 6 days of sunshine, warm temps and tacky loam to ride bikes on for hours, every day! Pack all of this into a 10 mile stretch of coast line, starting with Mendocino proper and ending around the Fort Bragg region, this compact and wildly beautiful place takes vacation cycling to the next level.
We must touch on the local food scene for just one moment, ok, maybe a whole paragraph! Have you heard of Mendocino or Fort Bragg? Thats a great place to start this local foods conversation. Better yet, when was the last time you ate Lingcod? We had never even heard of this fish, but it was one of 2 species coming out of the ocean this time of year, so we put it on our menu! Google Lingcod, you'll be interested to find out just how we prepared it! Think white fish, buttery, on top a german potato pancake and slow cooked, fennel and caraway cabbage. We had the opportunity to work closely with Princess Seafood. A top notch operation with an all female boat team! How cool is that, we loved telling this story, inspiring in an industry that is so male dominant.
From bakers to ranchers and everything in between, Mendocino County has it all. Such a tiny town offering so much, the artisan food producers in this region are surviving on their own terms, with the community that surrounds them. It was an intimate moment for us and our friends and family. On Wednesday afternoon of our week together on the coast, we all piled in the van and headed to the Fort Bragg Farmers Market. Such a special moment, all of us, moving from one stall to the next, surveying fresh produce, sea food, meats, cheese. We all had our say in the weeks menu and got to see it purchased, first hand. Something we have been wanting to achieve for sometime, and we could not have thought of a more magical place to achieve this goal.
15 meals, 170 miles, 19,000 ft of vertical climbing, 10 of the best people we could think to spend our time in Northern California with. A life changing trip we will never forget. We are still laughing about moments around the table, on the trail to Sherwood Peak and sunsets over the Pacific Ocean, around a meat and cheese board on the Mendocino Bluffs. Till next year, Mendo! Thank you for all the memories.
Where will The Cyclist's Menu adventure to next?
Winter Fat Biking ~ Cuyuna, Minnesota ~ January 9-14, 2017
Tucson Mixed Terrain ~ Patagonia, Arizona ~ February 20-25 & March 13-18, 2017
Mediterranean Mayhem ~ Mallorca Spain ~ May 9-15, 2017