Project 2012: Day 259
When preparing for the trip, I queried the collective wisdom of riders on the ADVRider Forum. One of the local US riders, who has done this stretch of the coast many times, recommended turning off of 101 before Eureka and riding a loop in the Shasta Mountains. So we decided today, that rather than pushing South, we’d take a “day off” for some fun on the bikes.
Just north of Arcata you join the 299 going East towards Redding. There is a little commuting traffic on a 6 lane freeway for a while, but gradually the road narrows, the freeway ends, and before you know it you’re on one of the best biking roads in the world.
The corners have constant radii, and are fast. Rated at about 45mph, you can confidently ride these at 70. The speed limit is 55, and enforced via radar. But with little or no shoulder, there are very few places for police to sit with a radar.
The view is spectacular. The road follows the Trinity River from Willow Creek to Weaverville. This river meanders its way through the valley, seemingly at a constant elevation, tumbling over rocks into large pools. The road follows the left bank and just winds and winds and winds it’s way for about 100 miles.
There is a fair amount of traffic, even on a weekday, but there are plenty of “turn outs” for cars to pull over and let faster traffic pass. To be honest, you’re pleased when you come up to slower traffic, as it gives you a little time to rest.
I have absolutely no photo’s of this section of road. We simply were having too much fun to stop. Which is a shame, because as I said, the Trinity River is gorgeous.
Willow Creek & Weaverville
Before you head out to the riding section of the 299, you come across the little settlement of Willow Creek. Time for a fuel & drink stop. There I saw the extrapolation of the graph that is “large cruiser” motorbike. The Boss Hoss.
This all American machine at 502 cubic inches (8,000cc) is a V8 beast. Entirely impractical at 11 miles per gallon (~4.5km per litre). It makes a noise loud enough for some dear old ladies entering the store to comment “what a hooligan, I hope the Highway Patrol picks him up” and the irony was the air-brushed scripture verse on the side of the bike. A country of contradictions.
After the ride we lunched in the little town of Weaverville. Cutesy main street, with ye old fashioned shops and taverns, and quiet. By now we’d shed thermal liners as the temperature had risen from 58F (16C) to about 84F (32.5C)
The next leg was heading south on route 3. This road leads you along the back of the mountains. It’s demanding, fun to ride, but pretty unforgiving. Only a centre line, and sometimes none. The road needs a bit of repair. Whilst there are fewer turnouts, there is much much less traffic. We saw 2 pickups in our direction.
There’s also no guardrail. The previous evening, Amy, who’s boyfriend recovers totalled cars, was speaking about a totalled motorcycle he’d picked up on this road in the last week. Apparently a car coming the opposite direction had crossed the centre line. So to say I was alert is somewhat of an understatement.
The views here were of mountains and meadows, and the temperature HOT! It was up to 94F (37.5C) So all liners were off now. I’m pleased to say the Motoport Jacket performed exactly as advertised. Being a mesh, airflow was like wearing a t-shirt.
The final leg was heading back to Fortuna on the 36. Why of why are we always riding west at sunset. This road joins up with the Mad River (no joke). Lovely, but not a patch on the Trinity. Still we stopped at the Mad River Burger Bar for a milkshake.
They have 27 flavours. 27!! What’s that about. I mean, Mad River has a population of about 7, 2 of whom run the Post Office, and the 36 can’t have THAT much traffic. Can it. Perhaps extreme boredom inspires eccentric expression. Still, if you go, have a Peach milkshake (nom!)
Avenue of the Giants
We finished the day rejoining the 101 at Fortuna, then heading down the “Avenue of the Giants”, i.e. a road through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. This is a relaxed ride through these awe inspiring trees. The ride became more relaxed as the sun set, because it gets very dark, very quickly in the woods. With very few cats eyes to mark the way, well, you know how it goes.
Now camping in the HRSP is both awesome, and hugely expensive. There’s no power, and it’s $35 for a site. Admittedly, you are camping amongst the Redwoods, which is fantastic.
The last straw for Al was discovering first that we had to pay for a shower (coin operated) and then that we had no quarters. Priceless.
All in all we rode about 290 miles to gain about 50 miles south. But those roads, corners, the ride…