Heading back north

Steve and Tara
Steve and Tara

I met a schoolmate, Tara, that lives in San Francisco for dinner and a trip through the California Academy of Sciences. (No, my gut isn’t really that big as you see in the picture; I was leaning back against the railing.) We ate at one of her favorite restaurants, Park Chow and ate dead fish — mahi mahi and halibut — then went over to the museum to see alive fish swimming around, including an enormous giant sea bass.

Steve and giant sea bass
Steve and giant sea bass

We then stayed up until midnight catching up on the last 20 years of our lives.

Despite a late night, I was up shortly after 6 am and got everything packed. I grabbed a quick breakfast at the Olympic Flame Cafe next door, then checked out of the hotel. When I went into the parking garage to get my bike, I discovered it was surrounded by exotic sports cars: Ferarris and Lamborghinis and Others, Oh My!

More than two dozen exotic cars
More than two dozen exotic cars

I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge by 8 am and headed back up Highway 1, the same way I came down.

Just north of San Francisco, Hwy 1
Just north of San Francisco, Hwy 1

I made it to Fortuna without any problems, although I had to dodge what looked like a gray fox but was probably just a young, skinny coyote as well as two female turkeys. It misted a little bit the last 20 miles of 1 but the precipitation was nothing substantial.

I checked into the Super 8 in Fortuna at 3:30 pm and got two loads of laundry started in their coin-operated machines. Dinner was at the Eel River Brewery next door. I ordered blackened salmon but it was super greasy and salty so they made a second attempt. That version was grilled and less salty but was over cooked. The ‘works’ baked potato and amber ale were good, however.

Tomorrow I head due east on 36 to Red Bluff, then will backtrack to Weaverville for the night.

Trip Day 3: Twisted Bliss

Monday June 1st, 3:47 PM – Fortuna, CA

It rained during the night but the skies had cleared by the time I got up at 6:30 AM. I drank the protein shake and ate the pear I had purchased at the grocery store the night before, packed the bike, and headed out. I was on the road by 7:30, an hour ahead of normal.

My route took me south on state route 3, and just past Yreka the road gained elevation. I passed through a few small towns like Fort Jones, Etna, and Callahan. I rolled through a high valley filled with cow pastures and the scent of the previous night’s rainfall.

Valley fog
Valley fog

Low clouds hovered above the valley floor, too timid to rise but reluctant to float away. Then I began to climb.

I had never heard of the Scott Mountains before today but I became very enamored with what I saw. They are rugged and appear unspoiled. In very little time I had reached 5,200 feet elevation and noticed the Pacific Crest Trail crossed the pass. The fun had only begun, however.

The descent down the south slope was steep, narrow, and rugged. The road surface was in great shape and the lane lines were bright and clean, but the turns were very tight and the steep drop-offs threatened to distract me from this very technical ride.

Scott Mountains
Scott Mountains

The red snow markers spaced closely along the roadside and the short, tight turns reminded me of a slalom ski course. Anyone who downhill skis could appreciate the experience.

The creek rushing down the gulley to my right was the headwaters of the Trinity River. After several challenging miles down the mountain, the turns eased up into 35-40 mph postings instead of the earnest 15-25 mph turns behind me. I often double the posted turn speed but during this stretch when they said a turn was 25 mph they meant it.

By the time I got to Weaverville I was ready for fuel, both in my bike and my stomach. When riding through the small town I located the Weaverville Hotel, another night’s stay on my return route north back toward home. After breakfast at the Golden Nugget cafe, I continued south a few short miles to the junction with hwy 299 and 3 and was immediately halted by road construction. I had to wait nearly 15 minutes before I could proceed.

Two trucks were in front of me. One pulled off onto a side road and I soon passed the other, and for good reason. The stretch of hwy 3 between Weaverville and Hayfork has an incredible run of 25-30 mph turns that are well-banked and fast. My bike was never in the vertical for more than a few seconds before leaning back into another near-peg scraping turn. Because of my space toward the front of the construction waiting line, I knew I wouldn’t have any slow cars to contend with.

The road climbed and dropped several times, twisting and turning the whole way. By the time I reached Hayfork, I was feeling alive in a way that’s difficult to describe. My riding skills are gradually improving and I’m noticing greater feel for the bike and how it handles. I was amazed I never scraped my pegs.

After Hayfork I left hwy 3 and got onto hwy 36 westbound. The turns got faster, with a nice mix of big sweepers and plenty of tighter turns to keep the excitement going. I had to pass a few people, several of whom pulled over to let me by, before I noticed a sign saying it was the law that slow motorists have to pull over. In Oregon you don’t have to pull over unless you have 6 or more cars backed up behind you!

I stopped for a break in Dinsmore before continuing on to Fortuna. I fueled up the bike then located the Super 8. Strangely enough, my GPS doesn’t think the city of Fortuna exists, despite its population of nearly 11,000 people. Susie at the front desk was very friendly and helpful, offering a rag to wipe down my bike as well as a tip that the brewpub next door grants a 10% discount if I show them my room key.