May 15, 2016
Wailaki CG to Westport Beach RV Park
44.3 miles, 6:19 in the saddle, 5800 ft climbing
Total Miles: 626
I was damp and cool all night for some reason. I cleaned up with Wet-Wipes, but never seemed to get dry. My cycling clothes were all clammy and never dried out in the humid cool air.
I pulled out of Wailaki on Chemise Mtn Road for the unknown Usal Road. Chemise was nice riding but with some hard climbs. Much of it was paved and soon I was at the point of no return, the start of the Usal Road. The signs posted said it was closed to through traffic but I headed on. Soon I reached a gate, that I could easily get around, and others on motor cycles or ATVs had obviously gone around as well. I was not sure how long the road was but I soon encountered mileposts, every 1/4 mile usually, and the first one indicated 24.75 miles and they were getting lower. I assumed (and hoped) that that was the miles to where Usal Rd started at Hwy 1.
The road was quite rough, and sections would not be passable with a vehicle, but was enjoyable riding. It traversed steep hillsides and wound it’s way around the twists and turns of the ridges. It was slow going though, the mileposts a constant reminder of my slow progress. The downhills were as steep as the up hills requiring constant braking on the rocky, eroded surface. I checked my front rim once and was too hot to touch after a couple seconds.
I stopped part way through and had my coffee/PBJ combo, and tried to dry out some of my stuff. By then the sun was out and it was quite nice. Not hot, cool in the shade (most of the time) and warm in the sun.
After a long (slow) decent I finally arrived at Usal Beach, where there is a campground. I considered staying there but it was sort of unmaintained, pit toilets only, no water, and a lot of what appeared to be partyers, although being Sunday afternoon many of them would probably be leaving.
But I headed on, thinking the road now would be better. But wow, what a climb up to Hwy 1. It was a narrow one lane dirt road of incredible steepness for about 1000 feet of climbing. I was knackered, and getting low on water. I was really happy to see the pavement of Hwy 1.
I now had 13 miles left to Westport, where I decided I would get a motel if I could to recover. I finally arrived in Westport and found the Inn closed for remodeling. I backtracked a mile to what turned out to be a nice RV park. I was able to wash my clothes and had one of my freeze dried meals for dinner, which was actually quite good.
All in all, had I known how primitive this route was, and the steepness of the grades, I probably would not do it. But having done it, I’m glad I did.