Ride Report: Taking the GSX-R750 to Northern California

After returning home from a 2,800 mile ride up through British Columbia to Hyder, Alaska on my V-Strom, I stayed home a full day and two nights to regroup. Then I left Monday morning on my 2012 Suzuki GSX-R750 and headed south. The intent was to work my way to Fortuna on the northern California coast, then spend a day riding the loop inland on highways 299, 3 and 36, then backtrack my way home. It’s a five-day ride.
The ride to Coos Bay was pleasant and I had excellent weather for it. I went south through Estacada, Molalla, and Scio, and confusing Lebanon before heading west on highway 34 to Philomath. I gassed up and ate a snack at McDonalds under wonderful sunny skies.
The stretch of highway 34 from Philomath through Alsea and into Waldport was like butter. There is very little traffic, the pavement is in excellent shape, and the blend of curves is like butter. The Gixxer barely broke a sweat, nor did I.
I stopped along the sea wall in Waldport to give my ass and back a rest. It was foggy and there was the faintest bit of salty mist in the air.
It was much cooler heading down the coast on famous Highway 101 than it would have been if I’d stayed in the Willamette Valley. The temperatures there were forecasted to get into heat-wave territory.
The Gixxer ran great. That bike makes me think a Swiss watchmaker and an Olympic athlete hooked up and had a kid. It’s not comfortable like Lay-Z-Boy, though. By the time I reached Fortuna, my butt hurt and my left knee ached a bit, but depending on how I time my rest breaks, I can almost go the same distance in a day on the GSX-R as I can on the V-Strom.
Almost.

 

Dinner that evening was a Paulaner Oktoberfest beer, salad, and beef rolls at the Blue Heron German restaurant a few blocks away from my motel. Thinly sliced beef roast wrapped around thick-slicked bacon, stone ground mustard, and a pickle in the center, covered with rich gravy. Yummy!

Ride Report: Day 2, Coos Bay, OR to Fortuna, CA

I slept well. The complimentary Best Western breakfast wasn’t too bad, especially compared to many others, with plenty of protein options and surprisingly good coffee.
It misted during the night so I had to wipe the dew off my bike before loading up. While watching a rerun of M.A.S.H. in my motel room last night, I heard Colonel Potter say something profound:
“The only guy I have to beat is the man I am right now.”
The ride continued south on Highway 101 and was pleasant with mostly cool air and occasional fog for dramatic effect. I stopped frequently because I had a short distance to travel and a long time to get there (unlike my previous trip to B.C.) Lunch was at the Subway in Crescent City.
Along the way I detoured through Prairie Creek Redwoods park and took a photo of a large bull elk, still in the velvet, having a lay-down snack in the brush.
Other than some slow drivers and a smattering of construction delays, it was an uneventful ride.
Dinner was piping hot fajitas and organic ale while chatting up the locals at the Eel River Brewery next door to the Super 8 in Fortuna.

 

Quote of the day: “I’m not one-dimensional but sometimes I make a good point.”

Ride Report: Day 4, Fortuna, CA to Coos Bay, OR

Happy Birthday, America! July 4th.
I saw a lot of flags on the side of the road and especially waving in the strong northern wind as I rode through small towns. Other than the wind, however, the ride north was pleasant.
I stopped in Brookings for a photo of the beautiful coast, then continued north. There were many people walking around Port Orford, apparently getting ready for some kind of parade or other celebratory activity that was about to start — I never could determine what, exactly — and then I got stuck behind a string of cars led by two nimrods that thought the speed limit was 35 mph. WTF? It took a long time to get past them.
After checking into the hotel in Coos Bay, I showered and napped. Dinner was at the Shark Bites restaurant a half dozen blocks away in downtown Coos Bay. I ate Dungeness crab cakes with a thai pepper sauce for an appetizer, and halibut tacos for the main course. Both were outstanding. They went wonderfully with an Eola Hills chardonnay.
I had a great conversation with the gal working the bar, a student dietician named Charlotte. We talked about food and discovered a mutual love of the Food Network show, “Chopped.” For my second cocktail of the evening, I challenged her to come up with something original using mint as the main ingredient. She made a drink with mint and lemon juice muddled together, then added cucumber soda, lime juice, and Tanqueray gin, served over ice in a Mason jar. It tasted like a fresh rain in Spring time so I dubbed her creation, “Spring Rain.” Soon everyone wanted one, and the owner, Charlotte’s brother, said it needed to be put on the menu after tasting it. It was a huge hit.

 

Shortly after 10 PM fireworks began exploding in the sky over the Coos River 100 yards outside my hotel room window. I had an excellent view of the whole show. The loud fireworks kept setting off the alarm of a car in the hotel parking lot.

Ride Report: Day 5, Coos Bay, OR to Sandy, OR

I woke to sunshine and relatively calm winds compared to the intense headwind I experienced riding north into Coos Bay the day before. After breakfast, I was loaded and on the road by 7:30 AM.
Traffic on highway 101 was very light so I was able to get sideways on the GSX-R750 in the twisties without too many slow cagers to contend with. Normally 101 is clogged with land barges and various other members of the Anti-Destination League. There is also a strong law enforcement presence, especially in the many small towns, along 101.
I gassed up in Waldport and had a snack, then retraced my steps inland on highway 34. It was a fast run and I had a gal in a Lexus keep up with me. Impressive. I stopped at the McDonalds in Philomath for an early lunch, then crossed I-5 into Lebanon where I got lost, again, trying to find the two lane highway north to Scio.
I ended up on Tennessee road, which zigzagged around, then dumped me onto the freeway in Albany. I tried a secondary road to Scio but it dropped me back onto I-5 yet again. I rode the freeway into southern Salem and took the exit to highway 22 eastbound, then stopped at a busy gas station in Stayton for a break.

 

After involuntarily slabbing it on I-5, I was eager for some curves, so I continued eastward on 22 until I reached Detroit. I gassed up for the last time of the day and got onto NF46 northbound past Breitenbush to Ripplebrook Ranger Station. There I got on highway 224 westbound into Estacada, then home. It was a familiar route and was a great way to end a rather long day in the saddle.

Ride report June 2012: Day 2

Coos Bay, OR to Fortuna, CA

I left Coos Bay at 8:30 am after a decent complimentary breakfast (with real food; the best of the trip). It was sunny and cool but not cold. Traffic on 101 was very light and I didn’t stop until I got to Brookings, just north of the California border. I parked in the shade behind a gas/food mart and ate a snack. After a bio break, I continued over the California border for the first of three times in a single day.

I cut inland on highway 197 then connected with 199 to Cave Junction, back in Oregon. 199 is scary in some parts, narrow and winding with deadly consequences if you go off the pavement. I fueled up in Cave Junction after riding 180 miles. A tall guy in rafting sandals asked me several questions about my bike as I gassed it up. He was considering getting a V-Strom. I then ate a BLT at the My Place Cafe next door.

It was warming up so I opened my jacket vents before heading up and over the pass back into California to Happy Camp. Patches of snow were visible in spots along the roadside at the 4,600 foot summit but the road was dry.

It was getting even warmer so I removed my jacket liner, then got onto highway 96 westbound. Soon I came up behind two new V-Stroms, but they were riding so slow I soon passed them both with a beep-beep and motored onward. My next break was Willow Creek where I got on highway 299 for the last leg to Fortuna. I rode 380 miles to that point. Dinner was a really tasty Italian club sandwich and French saison beer at the Eel River Brewery next door to my Super 8. Both establishments are highly recommended for riders.