WOW Ride-In: Redding

July 4, 2001

8:30am. Hobee’s Diner, Sunnyvale. 3124 miles, 0 trip miles.
Still waking up. I’ve got a large mocha and banana pancakes on the way; hopefully that won’t be too much sugar. Way to start out a trip with a stomachache. I feel like I’ve been transported back to Wisconsin — the diner is full of young families starting out their camping long-weekend vacations, and old couples. There’s a table of two older couples at the table next to me, and one of the men hasn’t stopped bitching about something since I got here. Most recently, I’ve been treated to a tirade on how someone “isn’t a quality person,” which is sort of sad. Well, they just left and my pancakes are here.

12:00pm. Pine Cone Diner, Point Reyes Station. 3208 miles, 84 trip miles.
I’ve only gone ~85 miles but it sure feels like longer. Highway 1 has been really pretty, but there’s nowhere to pull off — no shoulders and only occasional ~10 foot long strips of gravel along the side of the road. By the time you notice they’re there, though, you’ve passed them. So, no pictures yet.

The Golden Gate Bridge was fogged in, but I still stopped for pictures on the Marin side. I was stuck behind slow people on Highway 1 for about the last 20 miles — sometimes I couldn’t even accelerate through turns when the road got twisty. There was a huge traffic jam in Stinson Beach; not terribly surprising, it being a holiday and all. Still, being sandwiched between SUVs on narrow twisty roads isn’t my idea of fun.

Point Reyes Station is warm already, and there are lots of Harleys and other cruisers. There seems to be only one gas station on this side of town, and there was a pretty long queue, with $2.10/gallon. Blecch. The gas station’s customers were primarily middle aged men on cruisers and young guys with big cars. I parked at this diner next to a newish looking silver BMW F650GS with 2 helmets and gear. I wonder if they’re going north on 1, too. I’ve been looking at a map — it’s sort of depressing how little distance it looks like I’ve covered. I guess I’ll see where I am in another couple of hours and see if I want to cut over to 101 in order to make better time.

2:00pm. Duncan’s Landing (beach), Bodega Bay. 3247 miles, 122.7 trip miles.
Stopped to rest for a minute; my knees and wrists are pretty sore. A piece of my armor is pressing into my kneecap and bruising it a bit, I think — it feels fine when my leg is stretched out, but gets really painful when it’s bent while riding. I’ve noticed I put too much pressure on the handlebars when I countersteer in the twisties (hence the sore wrists), but while going so slowly in so many twisties, it’s hard to remember to squeeze the tank more with my knees (which hurt anyway). [Co-worker] Ceej was right — Highway 1 is extremely slow going. I’m sure it doesn’t help that it’s a holiday. Maybe at Jenner I’ll cut over to 101 and make up some time. Hopefully riding on a freeway would rest my knee and wrists too. I’m very tired of being behind drivers who brake excessively at every curve in the road — seems like they slam on the brakes and come to a complete stop right in the middle of every twisty. Makes it almost impossible to roll through the turn correctly.

The weather is nice, at least: I’m a bit warm while wearing my jacket, but there’s a nice breeze. It’s pretty foggy. I haven’t seen much of the coastline for the past few miles; it’s mainly farmland here. Lots of brown rolling hills and cows. People have been pretty nice — the waitresses at the diner were chatty about Highway 1 (“be careful, dear, people don’t drive so well there”), and a man stopped to talk to me when he came up to the counter to pay his bill. Everyone wished me a safe journey, and I got the “I wish I could do that!” line that all motorcycle travellers seem to get. I was surprised to hear it in Point Reyes Station, though, when I’d only gone 80 miles from home. I guess some people don’t even get that far away. I had really wanted to make it up to the redwoods today, but that’s looking improbable. I’ll definitely have to come back up the coast sometime with Peter; it’d be nice to putter around and see more things when I didn’t feel like I was on a time schedule.

7:00pm. Round Table Pizza, Fort Bragg. 3350 miles, 226.2 trip miles.
Decided to stop in Fort Bragg for the night. My wrists and knee were killing me, and it was all I could do to keep going through Mendocino and up the 5 miles to Fort Bragg. Walking the couple of blocks from the hotel to the Round Table helped my knee though — if I can stretch it out at all, it’s fine. I’m staying in the Harbor Lite Lodge, which is very nice. My room is spacious, very clean, and comfortable, with a balcony and great view of the harbor. Maybe there will be some fireworks tonight. I talked with Peter on the phone for a couple minutes, but he was pretty busy with the pool party going on at his house. It was nice to talk to him, though. While I’m riding, I don’t really miss being around people, and I don’t feel lonely or wish someone was riding with me. In the hotel room or at restaurants, though, I admit that it’d be nice to have someone to talk to and exchange opinions about the trip and the road. People really take notice when you sit alone at a table in a restaurant, too. Sort of weird.

Highway 1 north of Jenner was really neat; high hills with fog in the valley. I missed the turnoff to get over to 101, but I decided to just suck it up and keep going to Fort Bragg. I’m glad I did, too; the views were incredible. It’s very creepy to ride in twisties on the side of a hill where you can only see a flat layer of fog instead of any ground further down the hill. I was pretty surprised to see cows in the middle of the road north of Jenner, too. One large black cow looked at me blankly when I passed, and I was tempted to stop and take a picture, but decided I didn’t really want Bessie getting too curious about me or the bike, so I kept going. Moo. The road straightened out past Gualala (how’s that for a name?), so I could actually go around 50mph instead of the 35mph I’ve been averaging since San Francisco.

As I pulled into Point Arena, I had some horrible stomach cramps. I stopped for gas and ate some pretzels and drank a bunch of water while chatting with the gas station attendant (a very nice middle-aged man who was obviously excited about talking with someone not from the immediate vicinity). A Beemer rider pulled up for gas as well, and warned me about the heat in Redding. The pretzels and water stopped the stomach cramps almost immediately, and I kept going.

I stopped to put on a sweatshirt at a vista point just north of Manchester, since it was getting damn cold along the coast. The vista point was really pretty — hills with big thick green pine trees, fog rolling over the ocean, hawks circling the skies over the trees. I’ll be really glad to be riding in forests tomorrow, though — even though the scenery is gorgeous, it feels like I’ve been riding along a foggy ocean coastline forever. Some variety will be nice. I’m somewhat bummed that I didn’t get further today. I’d wanted to have two full days at the conference, but getting to Redding tonight along Hwy 1 was impossible with all the slow drivers and twisties.

A random guy around my age with shoulder-length dreadlocked blond hair just wandered up to my table and starting talking to me. He must have seen me looking at a map a few minutes ago, because he asked, “know where yer goin’? know how t’get there?” He sounded pretty stoned. I told him yup and he smiled and wandered off again.

The one good point about stopping in Fort Bragg tonight is that it’ll be nice to see the redwoods tomorrow morning when I’m awake instead of sore and tired.

9:00pm. Harbor Lite Hotel, Fort Bragg. Same mileage.
I’m feeling a million times better after dinner, a hot bath, and a walk. I lounged in the tub for a while reading a book on planetary exploration during the 1970’s (more interesting than it sounds), and then walked across the bridge to watch the sunset. As I was walking towards a bluff behind an RV park, I saw my stoner friend from Round Table riding a bike towards me on the other side of the road. He saw me and crossed the street and waved. He yelled “know where yer goin’ yet?” I grinned and said, “sure thing! how’re you doing tonight?” He yelled back, “great, baby!” and pedalled away into town. I didn’t see him again after that.

All the RVs in the RV park were decorated for the fourth of july, and it sort of made me think of Burning Man. Now I’m sitting in the hotel room, vaguely watching Junkyard Wars and listening to people on the beach set off fireworks. I feel sort of oddly lonely, but can’t really put my finger on it. I’m having a lot of fun being alone, but it makes me feel really very…well, alone. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just weird and more intense than I’d like. The intensity is strange. It’s probably why things like the RVs and fires on the beach make me think of Burning Man.

–> Go on to Day 2 <–

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