It’s amazing what can change from one month to the next. In western Oregon, we had record-setting low precipitation from July through September. And then October arrived and said, “Eff that!” I think October may have set a new record for high precipitation.
This is the season when my Gixxer becomes sad. I’m not afraid to get the bike wet but I’m concerned about riding a bike with so much torque and horsepower on wet pavement. This time of year, when all the leaves are falling, is especially dangerous because the wet roads are extra slick.
In other news, I’m already itching for another long trip. Normally I don’t start getting the urge to plan long bike trips until January or February, but this year it has hit me early. The fatigue and strain of my 5,000 mile trip back in June is long past and over time the positive memories and feelings of such a journey take dominance. This time, I’m longing to go somewhere even more exotic. Perhaps an early Spring ride to Death Valley to see the blooms? Or maybe a mid-summer jaunt further up into Canada?
A co-worker’s wife and four kids visited him at the office. While in the conference room, one of his daughters looked out the window and saw a tall, grey and black motorcycle parked outside. “Daddy! Daddy! Come look! There’s a motorcycle outside!”
When I ride, I often see small children staring at me, eyes wide and mouth agape, as if a wizard riding a red dragon just landed in front of them. It’s a sense of awe that I recall experiencing when I was a kid whenever I saw motorcycle riders.
We went outside and each of the four little ones got a chance to sit atop the V-Strom and get their picture taken. This little guy was absolutely dwarfed by the tall bike but definitely seemed to grasp that it was something special despite his very young age.
“Speed has never killed anyone. Suddenly becoming stationary, what’s what gets you.”
Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear
Sandy, OR to Coos Bay, OR
The weather was perfect for riding … sunny and in the mid 60’s. I started my route on roads through a fancy yet rural neighborhood, where rich executives from Portland have million dollar homes on 20 acre plots. I then took highway 99W down through the Willamette Valley to the college town of Monmouth where I headed west on rural Kings Valley Road. Along the way I followed a young buck deer as he ran down the center of the road, still in the velvet.
In Philomath I fueled up my bike at Chevron and my belly at the adjacent McDonalds, then headed west toward the coast on highway 34 through Alsea to the coastal town of Waldport. The road was in fantastic shape and traffic was light.
In Waldport I headed south in highway 101, then pulled over at the Smelt Sands wayside in Yachats (pronounced ‘yaw-hots’). I walked down to the rocks and waves and took some pictures and even some video on my GoPro HD.
Back on the road I got stuck behind a land barge (RV) from British Columbia with a dozen cars piled up behind it. It took a while but I was eventually able to pass.
I got into Coos Bay and checked into the Best Western by 3:30 pm. After a nap and a shower I walked down to a local restaurant, Shark Bites, but they were closed so I ate next door at EZ Thai. The phad thai was adequate but unremarkable.
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.