California's lore and legend within the bike-touring community is well-covered, and for good reason. There is no other place in the United States that offers such consistently beautiful vistas on such a well-planned and well-maintained transit infrastructure network. Biking in California rules.

And so it felt good to reconnect with the state's warm northern coastline again: I'd biked from Portland to San Francisco with the Illini 4000 four summers prior. Knowing what to expect didn't diminish my expectations or excitement in the least; I was maybe even more excited to take in NorCal's beauty this time around.

The highlight of the northern part of the state are its Redwood forests. From time to time, I'd step off my bike and wander into the woods and away from the road, readily absorbing the silence of such an ancient place. If you spend enough time in there, it's pretty easy to imagine a dinosaur poking its head out from behind one of the woody giants. It's a special place.

Emerging from the Redwoods, we followed Highway 101 away from the coast and into the mountains before the road spit us out once more at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Setting up a tent on a coastal California cliff while the sun sets on the water to the west is something I'll never forget.

After being treated to such spectacular riding, we rolled into San Francisco and to the welcoming arms of my cousin Stephanie. Spending a week with her in her city was a perfect refresher, and I can't thank her enough for giving up her apartment to us for our time in the city on the Bay.