May 21, 2004
I met Bill at the Pancake House in Cupertino, and we hightailed it up to San Francisco. I led this section, which is pretty unusual for me. Normally, I prefer to be in the back so I don't get everyone lost. We took Hwy 280 up the peninsula to the Golden Gate Bridge, and I learned firsthand how much difference fully-loaded hard bags can make to the SVS's aerodynamics. About 20 miles into the ride, I felt like I was riding the Nighthawk: my shoulders tensed up, my neck locked, and I couldn't move my head at all. It felt as though I was riding at 100mph into a headwind, but we were only going about 80mph. >:O Rarrrr! Must look into some sort of sport-touring windscreen for when I use the hard bags.
San Francisco was, well, San Francisco. It was about 60F and drizzling when we stopped at the Bridge.
It cleared up a little ways past Marin. We took Hwy 101 all the way up to Fortuna: three hours of boring highway and three hours of scenic swooping. The ride was happily uneventful most of the way up, though we did stop for gas at some bizarre Burmuda Triangle little town (my GPS didn't have its name...). First we had to ride through the entire town to find a single gas station, and then the signs pointing back to 101 did not, in fact, lead us back to 101. It was like Alternate Universe Gas Station Stop Land.
Eventually, of course, we ended up at the Chandelier Tree. I have no idea what our $2 entry fee goes towards at that place, but it ain't towards paving the road. Every time I go there, the ruts get deeper and the potholes get larger. They will soon eat the tree. I didn't get a picture of myself in the tree this time, but I did photograph our bikes with some frat boys in the background playing on their car. The Chandelier Tree is the happenin' place on Fridays, let me tell you!
For the uninitiated, the Chandelier Tree is 315' tall, 21' in diameter, and a sign nearby boasts its age as being a "maximum" of 2400 years. This is an interesting turn of phrase, as most redwoods live to be 500-700 years old, and the oldest recorded Coast redwood tree was only 2200 years old. So, really, god only knows what the groundskeepers mean by the tree's "maximum age". Presumably, it's a nice big pretty number to put on the sign for tourists to photograph for cousin Martha.
Speaking of god and redwoods, some people believe -- and rather vehemently so -- that god created the giant redwoods so that we may use them as a datestamp for Noah's flood. Naturally, this leads other organizations to spend an equally impressive amount of free time "disproving" the theory. So, there you go. See what you learn by reading this site?
Past Leggett, Hwy 101 becomes the road of Cheesy Tree Touristy Shit. This makes me really irrationally happy. Poor Bill has been stuck on 101 twice with me now, and has patiently endured my obsession with being a big dorky tourist. This time, we stopped at the Chimney Tree. The allure of the Chimney Tree is that the center burned out in 1914, leaving enough room for big dorky tourists to walk inside. There was, of course, also a gift shop.
Shortly afterwards, we rode past Steve (DogBoy) and Mark (SprintSTRider) outside some other Cheesy Tree Touristy Shit location. We pulled a U-turn and rode up to meet them. After kicking tires for a few moments, we rode on to our second (!) drive-through tree of the day: the Shrine Drive-Thru Tree in Myers Flat. This tree was cheaper than the Chandelier Tree and its road was in even sketchier condition. The most exciting thing about this tree was the steep uphill righthander immediately upon exiting said foliage. Whee!
Like any good motorcyclists, we opted for the Avenue of the Giants "scenic alternative" to Hwy 101. Neither Bill nor I had ever done the entire 35-ish mile length of the Avenue, and it was a lot of fun. There was very little traffic, and the roads were clear. Fun swoopys! Every other time I've been on the Avenue, I've ridden slowly (either by choice or by RV) and stopped for a bazillion pictures; this time we cruised through at about 60mph.
As most visitors to the area notice, it was vaguely Star Wars-y: zipping around corners and flicking the bikes amongst the redwoods. No Ewoks, though, though there might once have been: George Lucas indeed filmed the Endor scenes from Return of the Jedi somewhere alomgst the California Coast Redwoods. People's opinions vary wildly about the exact location, though the most popular guesses put the filming up near Crescent City (about 150 miles north on Hwy 101).
From the northern terminus of the Avenue of the Giants, it was just a hop, skip, and jump to our hotels in Fortuna. It was BBQ time in Eureka, so we all just checked in, dumped our bags in the rooms, and hopped back on the bikes to head to Dr. Gil's. Any fears we may have had about finding the place were assauged when we arrived...
Gil (Dr. Gil) and Becky (Beck-Zuki) did a great job of hosting a BBQ for a ton of obnoxious hungry biker scumbags. To condense three hours of Sport-Touring.net BBQ into a few sentences: it was really great to finally meet a bunch of people face-to-face. Colleen (DantesDame[x]) did a great job of printing out nametags for everyone, with both "real" and screen names, so there was none of the usual awkward "I only know you online" trying to figure out who the hell anyone was. The burgers rocked, the beer rocked, the cupcakes rocked.
The biggest gossip around the BBQ tables was about the two accidents. Most severely, RamJet's (whose real name I never caught) brakes faded in a corner, causing him to wipe out and break his collarbone. I never talked to him directly about the accident, so I don't know any more details, and don't want to spread rumors. He's OK, though, and did eventually make it to the BBQ on Friday night (in Gil's truck).
Secondly, Colleen lowsided her VFR in a decreasing-radius righthander somewhere on the way to the meet. Fortunately, her gear did its job, and I think she said she had one small bruise. The bike, sadly, didn't fare as well. That's what duct tape's for!
There isn't much more to say about Friday. Bill, Frank (Betamax), and I all headed back to the Super 8 in Fortuna at around the same time, and I went straight to bed.