Way too much time has passed since I’ve gone on a motorcycle trip. The last time I went on an overnight ride was early April 2019. Which might as well be a lifetime ago, especially with everything else going on in the world.
So it was with great joy that I rode north last week. Motorcycling in the Fall is the best time to ride. Sure there is a chance of rain, but the weather is much nice than in the Summer and during the week the roads are even less likely to be too busy. This year I had the added bonus of being able to see a friend from Portland.
We met in Eureka, CA. I rode up the coast, while he took a shorter route down Hwy 5 to Grants Pass.
My ride north was nice, I’m still lacking confidence in my skills as a motorcyclist and during the ride up I took it really easy. There was a lot of fog as I followed Highway 1 north, some of it was very dense making riding unpleasant. I was nervous enough with out adding damp and questionable traction to my concerns.
I did catch a break from the fog in a couple of places, one of the nicest was a long the Panoramic Highway which cuts through Mt Tamalpais State Park. I’m glad I wasn’t swimming through fog for that since it’s a twisty piece of beautiful road, but as soon as I was close to the coast the fog was back and stayed for a while. The rest of the ride was nice, the fog was finally gone once I was north of Mendicino and I was able to enjoy a break in Fort Bragg before heading up to some of the best Road on Highway 1. I mean if it wasn’t for cars driving slow (which luckily there weren’t many) Highway 1 from Fort Bragg to basically Fortuna is great. There’s the amazing 22 miles from the coast to Legget and The Avenue of the Giants. Just lovely scenery and some great twisty road.
I did have to take a break as the afternoon wore on, my new helmet is still not fully broken in and I was suffering from a hot spot on my forehead. I was fortunate since the Avenue of the Giants is a great place for a break. It was very relaxing sitting in amongst those towering redwoods.
Overall I made good time. I arrived well before my friend and took my time getting some coffee and relaxing.
The next day, Friday, we took it easy. I haven’t seen this friend in a very long time and we had lots to catch up on. We had a leisurely breakfast before heading out to the Lost Coast. Lovely scenery and a fun ride, but I would love it if maybe they could smooth out that road. I spent about half the ride fantasizing about coming out with a grater and paving machine and smoothing it out. The coast is lovely and very stark out there. The other highlight is the last six miles of road through some of the largest Redwoods in the Humboldt State Park.
I had a long debate with myself on how to get home. I was feeling pretty worn out Friday night as I was making my plans and was seriously considering just taking Hwy 101 the entire way home. It would be boring, but fast and allow me to see my Wife and Daughter as soon as possible. I was definitely beginning to miss them both.
I ran several maps and couldn’t make up my mind on what to do that night. I eventually decided that I would just see how my morning went and make a decision from the road. I woke up later than I planned, sleeping in Hotels is not always the best, but I got a decent start on the day. I stopped for breakfast just few miles down the road in Fortuna. I was feeling a little more adventurous after getting some caffeine and food, but I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do.
I was still debating as I went past the entrance for the Avenue of the Giants, I mean I just had rode it in all it’s glory two days before, and for a four lane freeway the Redwood Highway (as they call 101 up there) is pretty beautiful.
Then I stopped at the vista point about 15 miles from where I had breakfast. It was beautiful. I’m not sure pictures do it justice. I was definitely rethinking just taking 101 south, it’s very boring compared to the coast and if I took 128 back to 101 it only added an hour or so to the ride.
I debated it for the next 35 miles on my way to Garberville, by the time I got gas I was almost positive I was taking the coast. Soon after I was happy to get out from behind a CHP car and turn right to continue on Highway 1 to the coast. Those 22 miles once again didn’t disappoint.
However, I was in for a bigger treat than I knew. I’ve ridden 128 a couple of times before. It never really stuck in my brain. I know one time I rode it in some pretty extreme heat and in relatively heavy traffic. I was hoping that I would be able to avoid those with the weather being a bit cooler and still a little early on a Saturday.
I was mostly right, the road was not heavily traveled in the direction I was going. I only came up on 4 or so cars and they all moved over for me. Which made the road an absolute joy to ride. I could just go at my pace which still feels slow to me, but maybe my memory is just on fast forward or something. It was just lovely. The whole thing. Starting out in some lovely redwood forest and then slowly working your way into the golden California hills, with vineyards and little towns.
It’s about 44 miles from Highway 1 to 101 along 128 and it was the best hour or so I had on a motorcycle this year. Maybe in the last two. (I haven’t been riding much) There was a point where I was nearly crying with joy. It was definitely a good ride.
The less said about the last hour or so on 101 the better. I made good time, I got some lane-splitting practice and I got home safe.