After another night of sleeping well, I started with the usual free continental breakfast provided by the Super 8, sans protein. It usually gives me enough energy to make it to Weaverville where I stop for a real meal.
Fortuna is on the south side of a string of cities, including Eureka and Arcata. Since I knew I’d be tired at the end of the day, I decided to ride north on 101 through those towns and do a clockwise loop, to get that city riding out of the way up front. When I would finish at the end of the day, I’d only have a mile of easy freeway riding before getting back to my motel.
The run north went quickly, including the big mess through Eureka at 30 mph. I then turned inland on highway 299. I got stuck in a line of cars slugging along behind a slow semi. California drivers seem to be really good at letting me pass, though, which is something I miss when traveling to other states.
I stopped in Willow Creek by 9 AM for gas and a protein drink. The temperature was already getting warm. The leg of 299 from Willow Creek to Weaverville seemed a lot shorter than I remembered. I usually travel the loop counter-clockwise so that may have had something to do with my new perception. 299 is scenic and has a few wonderful curvy sections, but there’s a lot more law enforcement present so speeds must be moderated at all times.
Before I knew it I reached Weaverville and it was already getting uncomfortably warm. I gassed up the bike, then stopped at the Trinideli for a tasty BLT. Plenty of bacon! The Trinideli was for sale, too. For only $129,000 you could own a thriving restaurant in a small, quaint town.
The next leg, highway 3 to Hayfork, is my favorite road, ever. And I’ve ridden close to 65,000 miles of roads. It is windy, has great sight lines, and the pavement is in pretty good shape. However, as with all things of great reward, this comes with great responsibility. You cannot ride beyond your abilities or the conditions on this road and you must be completely focused at all times. You can find gravel on the inside of curves, oncoming trucks that have crossed the center line, slow locals and RVs, and all sorts of critters including deer darting across the road in front of you.
But, if you survive all those hazards and make it to Hayfork, you probably have a huge grin on your face and adrenaline pumping through your veins. Running highway 3 is best from Weaverville to Hayfork because most of the curves are uphill and that makes it easier to modulate your speed using just the throttle. It also takes a lot of strain and weight off your wrists which occurs when braking on a downhill curve.
I rode this leg with moderate assertion without being reckless and yet the enjoyment level was as high as ever. I may have enjoyed it more because I didn’t have any pucker moments, either from riding too fast or from close calls. The temperature was high and that is also why I didn’t push it.
A few miles past Hayfork the road branches west onto highway 36 which runs all the way to Fortuna. I had to stop for construction up in the hills and pulled up next to a grey-haired gentleman on a V-Strom 1000 with a silver tank. We chatted for a bit, and being on the faster bike, he let me go on ahead once the construction delay was over.
The rest of 36 passed smoothly under my tires. I stopped in a shady spot on the outside of a curve in the slow, gnarly section just west of Dinsmore. This is a section of 36 that has no center stripe and has multiple 10 and 15 mph hairpins that demand full attention. I drank some water and cooled off for a few minutes, then continued onward. Soon I was back on the road and zooming through a fun stretch of redwoods near Grizzly Creek State Park. The air got noticeably cooler the closer I got to highway 101.
When I pulled into the 76 station behind my motel I saw a couple riding BMW 1200GSs and heard them speaking in a southern accent. I caught a glimpse of their Arkansas license plates and discovered why.
I took a quick shower and ran a load of laundry before dinner. I ate at the wonderful Eel River Brewery next door and in addition to a couple of pints of their fantastic beer, I also had a fantastic conversation with two local guys named Loren and Rusty.