OK, sorry for the delay. Apparently my boss wants me to work on, like, company-related things when they come up, instead of trip reports. Who knew?
Since I had ridden to Anderson on Hwy 299, I wanted to take Hwy 36 back. The problem was that my GPS wanted me to get on I-5 back to 299 and retrace my steps for 50 miles until Hwy 3 connects 299 with 36.
I realize that that made absolutely no sense to anyone who hasn’t been on these roads. Here’s the “direct” route that my GPS wanted me to take:
Fortunately, as I was leaving, Rick and Seth said, “oh dearie us” — or something like it — “you need to take the shortcut.” And thus I discovered County Road A16 (aka Platina Road).
A16 is about 30 miles long and took me about an hour, which should give you an indication of both the technical nature of the road and how many times I stopped for photos. 😉 This road is amazing. The pavement was smooth and consistent; the road itself ribboned around the hillsides. Wildflowers dotted the shoulder and the rock faces; pinecones as big as my head lay in the dusty shoulders.
I can’t remember the last time that I could so clearly envision my surroundings prior to the road being built. Instead of the road being constructed by man and bulldozer and dump truck, god simply reached down with a cutlass and slashed out A16, leaving the rusty dirt behind like a wound.
A16 meets up with Hwy 36 at Platina, a small town of about 200 people nestled in the hills.
Once on Hwy 36, the weather took a turn for the worse, so I don’t have many pictures of this section. Recent landslides left the insides of turns gravelly, with baseball-sized rocks right at the turn apex. The air was heavy with mist and fog, and I was constantly on the lookout for deer. One jumped into the road early on — far enough ahead that it wasn’t a danger, but it put me on edge for the rest of the ride.
By the time I reached the 4000′ summit, the fog was reaching up from the ground in tendrils.
Partway down the hill again, I rounded a corner to see a few familiar bikes at a turnout — Chris (naked_sv), Frank (xs400), and Eric (Frank’s brother — I don’t know if he has an STN name). I had just been thinking how funny it was that I was riding one of the most popular motorcycling roads in the country and I hadn’t seen any of my 65 fellow WCRM attendees all afternoon.
It turned out that they were stopped for a quick roadside fix — one of Eric’s front brake pads had fallen out after a recent bumpy section of road! Luckily, they were able to find it when they went back (god knows how), and when I happened upon them, Eric was rigging up a new way for the pad to stay in.
A few turns up, we found Diana (MsLusty), who’d been leading the group of guys and was patiently waiting for them to reappear. A passing motorist had seen her waiting on the side of the road and had told her “your friends are back a little ways doing something to one of the bikes”, so she wasn’t concerned.
We all rode back together into Fortuna, taking it slowly in case Eric’s brake pad escaped again (it didn’t). When we arrived back at the Super 8, I was pleased to have found Diana as it turned out I’d left my hotel key in the room that morning. Oops.
We showered and changed and headed back over to the Eel River Brewing Company for more beer, food, gossip, photos, and beer. Diana and I learned our lesson from the previous night and shared a dinner. 😉 It was STILL almost too much food.
To Be Continued….only one more day to go. 😉 You’re almost done!