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When I mention the trails to Taylor, he beams with pride. He and a local posse built many of them during the last three years, adding to the 160-kilometre network that was already there. "They're gentle enough for intermediates, but put speed behind them, and they get technical real quick," he says. A monster-size mountain bike, with tractor tires for wheels, stands outside the barn; it's what drew us here. And now I spot the sculpture's inspiration: Taylor's carbon-fibre mountain bike hangs on a nearby rack, its sweeping lines reminiscent of a bird in flight. "I wasn't so sure about the whole carbon-fibre thing; I come from a world where steel is real. But the ride is fast," he says. Then he adds what could be construed as the summation of his life's journey, or even of the Lost Coast itself. "And it's beautiful, which is important too."

Humboldt Redwoods State ParkA leprechaun, er, traveller, strikes a pose in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which attracts beings of all kinds.

Starting just south of Los Angeles, California State Route 1 is Hollywood's fabled pedal-to-the-floor, wind-in-hair escape, a twisting ribbon of blacktop that sweeps northward past sunny palms and guano-streaked headlands. For over 1,000 kilometres, the highway clings tenaciously to the edge of the continent – until it hits a bump.

A three-hour-plus drive north of San Francisco, the King Range soars up from the Pacific. Its steep, unstable slopes caused road builders to surrender and turn inland. As it leaves the surf north of Westport, the route carves a great upcountry arc, only returning to the ocean 200 kilometres later at the college town of Arcata. In the process, our driver later tells us, Highway 101, as this part is called, bypasses the longest undeveloped stretch of shoreline in the continental United States. It's a landscape of pristine beaches, sleepy settlements and ancient redwoods. Largely forgotten by the freeway traffic that hurtles past, this is California's Lost Coast.

Closing in on its southern fringe, we pull over in Mendocino, whose white-picket fences and Victorian homes are a world removed from Bay Area opulence. I see no franchises, no national chains, no malls. Rather, a scattering of historic water towers, most repurposed as studios or lofts, rise above restored facades. Everything appears shaped by the wind: the bent Monterey cypresses, the sparse shrubs, the low-crouched wooden cottages.

 a surfer at Shelter CoveA surfer takes an evening break from the breakers in Shelter Cove.



Comments… or add another

Marilyn and Mike from Shelter Cove

Sunday, June 16th 2013 12:02
Thanks for the write up. Lots more things to do here in the Cove. A fishing village for salmon, halibut and rock fish, winding roads and beautiful redwoods that end in the crystal blue-green water of the Pacific.


Monday, June 17th 2013 01:07
We live in Shelter Cove: heart of the Lost Coast. It is all that has ever been written about it.

Want to extend your life on earth? Move here too.

Mark Baeder

Friday, June 21st 2013 17:40
Great story! So glad how it turned out and honored to have been a part of the trip. To join the full adventure check out:
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