The routes for Thursday were easy to assemble. Our ride would be from Redding to Fort Bragg, and would turn out to be the one I liked the best. We would start out in north-central California, and wend our way south and west to the coast at Fort Bragg.
Leaving Redding on Highway 299 to the west, we rode for about 20 minutes before getting to a construction zone. There’s a nice section of Highway 299 that’s twisty and has some nice bends, but it looks like Cal-Trans is going to straighten them out. We filtered to the front of the construction stop and waited for the pilot car to take us through the three miles of work-zone.
Once on the other side, we enjoyed some nice high-speed sweepers, and eventually arrived at Weaverville where we found a diner for a forgettable breakfast stop and a gas station to top off our fuel tanks.
Weaverville was a few miles off our planned route and, after breakfast, we backtracked to pick up Highway 3 to the south. I had asked Dan if he would mind leading the group for a while and, as he led them out of Weaverville, I took my time suiting up and getting my leg over the saddle. When I got to the Highway 3 turnoff, Marv was there waiting for me. The other guys had moved on to enjoy another twisty adventure. A few miles up the road, I turned on my video camera and followed Marv through the Trinity National Forest, through Hayfork, and south to the junction with Highway 36. We caught up with the rest of the group there, and continued west on Highway 36.
While planning this route I found a small diversion I wanted to explore – the road around Ruth Reservoir. We turned south, went down the east side of the reservoir and, after crossing the creek that feeds it, proceeded back up to Highway 36 on the west side of the reservoir. The road down the east side was a sweet ride, while the road back to the north on the west side had a section that was fairly rough. We took a long break in a large pullout, and then continued west on Highway 36 to the junction with Highway 101.
We rode down Highway 101 for a few miles, and then exited to ride through a portion of the Avenue of the Giants on Highway 271 that parallels Highway 101 for spell. It’s in a valley that winds its way through some stands of giant redwoods. It’s a wonderful place to cruise through slowly, admiring the trees.
After a few miles in the redwoods, we bounced back up to Highway 101 and followed it south to the turn-off to Fort Bragg on Highway 1. We rode that rollercoaster west until it spilled us out on the beach 15 miles north of Fort Bragg. That’s a wonderful piece of coastline and coastal highway.
The trip south on Highway 101 was uneventful, except for a young woman walking down the middle of the paved freeway median, in the middle of nowhere, on a 4-lane highway where the sparse traffic travels along at a pretty good clip. She seemed to be looking for something, but there was no sign of a vehicle, or how she had gotten herself out there. It was dangerous situation for her, and it appeared she might not be ‘all there’, but I don’t know why I felt that. Maybe it was her gait or posture, but she seemed a bit lost. There was something odd about the situation, because the event would come up at dinner that evening, and we all had a pretty weird vibe from it. I just chalked it up to one of those things you’ll see in Humboldt County.
In Fort Bragg we checked in at the Motel 6 after being suckered with the “lost reservation” prank again. (See this previous ride for a previous report for more on the mystery of lodging reservations disappearing.) The desk attendant had been asked by our friends to tell us he’d lost our reservation. He nearly had us again, but my instincts didn’t let me get pulled in this time. I knew it had to be a joke. When he told me the only room he had left that wasn’t being renovated was $153 a night, I knew it was a prank – this was a Motel 6.
We cleaned up and went up to a local tap house for some tasty pizza. We had reached the end of the outbound part of the ride, and would begin wandering toward home the next morning.