The Big Loop

Wednesday, Mark rode his Kawasaki ZZR1200 while I rode my V-Strom down to Fortuna, then we headed inland on one of my favorite riding roads: Highway 36. It was overcast but traffic was light and the road seemed to be in relatively good condition. As we rode to the top of the first pass we had to slow down for construction, shrouded in clouds, but once we crested the pass we had sunshine the rest of the way. We stopped in Mad River, hoping to get a snack at the small store/cafe there, but it was closed. We continued onward to the junction with Highway 3, where we turned left and continued on to Hayfork.

The section of Highway 3 between Hayfork and Weaverville is difficult to describe in words, but anyone that rides it knows what I mean when I say it is absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, CalTrans decided to hock a loogie into that particular dish. The road was resurfaced with a slurry-seal and gravel kind of compound so riding was slow. As we dropped down the eastern slope of the pass the pavement was solid but there was lots of gravel in the corners. That leg of the trip was ridden safely but the fun was spoiled.

In Weaverville we stopped at the Trinideli for a fantastic turkey and bacon sandwich. It was getting warm so after we ate we changed our riding gear for better venting, fueled up, then continued northeast on Highway 3. Our goal was to check on Mark’s boat tied up on Trinity Lake. We got stuck behind a string of very slow cars in a construction zone and never really got past them until we got to Trinity Center, 30 miles up the road.

Mark’s boat was fine, and after chatting with the owners of the boat launch, we suited back up and headed back into Weaverville, this time with a bit less slow traffic. The curves were nice but soon we were back in town. To continue the loop, we headed east on Highway 299, the main road between I-5 and the coast. It was well into the 80’s by this point and the riding was intense. The curves on 299 are faster than 36 and have much better sight lines, so carving them up is definitely a faster affair. We had to pass several slow vehicles as well as some tractor trailers, but they were nice enough to use pull-outs to let us pass.

We stopped in Willow Creek for fuel and water, then rode onward. Once we crested the pass at Blue Lake the air temperature got noticeably cooler. We stopped at an empty weigh station and changed back into warmer gear, then continued into overcast Arcata. The road up to Kneeland was free of fog so we took those tight, bumpy turns at a quickened pace. My V-Strom kept right up with Mark’s ZZR1200 and when we got to his house, Mark commented on how well the V-Strom corners. By the time we got back we had ridden 315 miles.

During dinner, a female raccoon came up onto the deck and pressed her face against the window, looking for a treat. Mark threw some dry cat food into a bowl and set it on the deck table for her consumption. She chowed away, mere feet outside the window, looking at us with every bite. Eventually she had enough and probably heard something scary in the woods. She grabbed one more nibble to go, then left.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *