July 5, 2001
11:30am. Denny’s, Fortuna. 3473 miles, 348.6 trip miles.
Brrrrr! I’m just starting to warm up after having drunk a huge hot chocolate. The last ~20 miles have been foggy and grey and cold. It’s not really shivering cold, more like the kind of cold that seems to just seep into your skin and chill you from inside.
I left Fort Bragg around 7:45 this morning. While I was putting the saddlebags on, an older man walked past me and stopped to say good morning and asked about the bike and where I was going. He mentioned that his son had a Kawasaki sportsbike, and I chalked him up to be one of those good-intentioned older gentleman who loves their child (or any member of the younger generation) but just can’t understand why they do crazy things like ride motorcycles. We ended up walking together over to the lobby for the continental breakfast, and out of the blue he mentioned that he has a GoldWing. Somewhat surprised that he rode as well, I asked him if he liked it. “I should,” he laughed. “It’s my eighth one!” So much for stereotyping people. He told me about a trip he’d taken on the GoldWing to Death Valley and how he’d really enjoyed that trip. I’d imagine at least Death Valley was warmer than Fortuna.
Highway 1 north of Fort Bragg is gorgeous. It’s forested and twisty, like Highway 9 up in the foothills. At times, I felt like I could have been magically transported back to Saratoga, and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. There weren’t many cars, and those that were going more slowly generally pulled over into turnouts as soon as they saw me behind them. I’d imagine the locals are used to motorcyclists on roads as beautiful as these.
I stopped in Leggett this morning, at the junction of Highways 1 and 101, to see the drive-through tree. I have a book by Clement Salvadori,Â Motorcycle Journeys Through California, which has a photograph of the author and his bike in the drive-through tree, and for some reason, ever since I read that book, I’d wanted to ride under it myself. So I did. 🙂 I paid my $2 ($3 for cars) and rode along the bumpiest, dirtiest, gravelliest road I’d ever been on, through the little park, until I came to the Chandelier Tree. I took some pictures of just the bike, and then asked a nice lady in the gift shop to take my picture on the bike. Somehow I managed to avoid dropping the bike in the gravel, though I had a close call at the exit to the park, where there’s a stop sign in the gravel at the top of an incline.
It was nice to get on 101 after Leggett and go actual freeway speeds for a little while. 101 is actually really pretty between Leggett and the Humboldt County State Park — gently swooping curves with nice views of the forested hills. Very different from the over-commericialized 101 down in the south bay. Partway up 101 was an exit for the Avenue of the Giants — a “scenic alternative” that runs parallel to 101 through the state park for about 20 miles. It’s all redwood trees, and it’s absolutely amazing. It’s unbeliveable how tall those trees are. Even though I’d seen pictures of the redwoods a hundred times, I was still utterly amazed while riding along underneath them. I highly recommend this road. While I was pulled over taking pictures, a couple pulled up behind me in a rickety old gray van from Georgia. I got to talking with the wife, and she said that they had 10 children, and now that they were retired, they were travelling the country to visit them all. They’d come up from San Diego and were headed towards Seattle. She was jealous of my motorcycle, since their van got 13 miles per gallon (“19 with the air conditioner off!”). Yikes. I took their picture under a tree, and they headed onwards. Later on, I rode up behind them (it wasn’t too difficult to catch up with the van), and they pulled onto a turnout for me to pass. We all waved, and they headed on to Seattle while I kept going towards Fortuna. I’m about to get on Highway 36. I’ve heard it’s really a great road, so I’m looking forward to it. I hope it’s not too terribly twisty; my wrists are sore again. I’ll be pretty happy to get into Redding.
6:30 pm. Red Lion Hotel, Redding. 3635 miles, 510.8 trip miles.
God, I’m tired. I’m assuming I’ll feel better after dinner. There’s a weekly event in Redding, every Thursday night in the summer, called MarketFest; I would have loved to have gone, but it’s too far to walk and there’s no way I’m getting back on the bike right now. I feel like I’m the only one at the Ride-In who isn’t here with friends. People smile in the hotel hallways, but they’re always in a group of at least two people, smiling and joking like they’ve known each other forever. I’m sure it just seems worse to me because I’m so sore and exhausted. The last 100 miles or so were incredibly hot — as long as it took me to get up 1, I’m glad I didn’t spend all day in this heat. I forced myself to pull over every half-hour whether I wanted to or not, to drink increasingly warm water and wet down the bandana I put around my neck. I found that by covering the bare skin between my helmet and my jacket collar with a wet bandana, and drank enough water, I was actually able to ride into Redding relatively alert and coherent. I passed a bank sign coming into town that put the temperature at 117 degrees F.
Other than the heat, I had a really fun day riding, so I’m a bit frustrated that now that I’m actually in Redding, I’m bummed because I feel like the trip hasn’t been as amazingly fun as it “should be.” It really must be a function of how tired I am, though, because I felt great all morning and afternoon. It’s only been the last couple of hours that I’ve been getting increasingly down. Highway 36 really was a beautiful ride. Lots of swooping turns, and extremely low traffic. The other riders I saw were extremely friendly; I got lots of enthusiastic waves and shouts. The scenery was just amazing — huge rock formations that looked like normal moss-covered rocks until you realized that they wereÂ right next to the road, and those wereÂ full sized trees, not moss. They were huge and gorgeous and literally took my breath away more than once.
I got a little lost entering Redding, since I didn’t know which exit to take, but I stopped at a gas station, and the attendants knew exactly where to point me. They were three women; one older one and two teenagers, and the older woman assumed (correctly) that I was in town for the Women on Wheels Ride-In. The teenagers hadn’t heard of it, and they thought it was just the coolest thing ever that there was a convention in town for women motorcyclists. One of them followed me out to my bike to look at it and gave me a big smile when I left. I got to the hotel just as the registration booth was closing. One lady hanging out at the booth asked me how old I was, and seemed shocked when I told her that I was 24. Apparently I look even younger than normal when I’m sore and tired and drenched in water and sweat.
I’m sort of bummed that I seem to have missed most of the seminars that were going on, but truthfully I’m surprised how few there were.Â Dee Gagnon gave a slideshow presentation on Wednesday, there was a “how to pick up your bike” demonstration at 5pm tonight, and a BMW anti-lock brake demo at 5:30pm, and that was it. There was one poolside get-together, on Wednesday evening. I guess if you get here late, you’re expected to know people already, or you have to fend for yourself. Tonight I’ll fend for myself — tomorrow morning I’ll get up and go to the bike show at 9am, and maybe I’ll meet some other people to ride to Shasta Lake with tomorrow afternoon. I don’t think I want to do the 140 mile round-trip ride to Lassen. We’ll see. I really want to visit that park, but it’s so ungodly hot, and it’d be nice to have a day without extensive riding. The dam ride sounds fun, too, and shorter. It sounds fun to go to the bike show tomorrow morning, go for a couple hours’ ride, and then maybe hang out by the pool before tomorrow night’s banquet. Maybe after dinner I’ll walk around outside and look at all the bikes.
Wow, the waiter seated me at a huge corner booth here for dinner (I’m eating at the hotel). A nice big table for me and my imaginary friends. The couple next to me seem to know the waiters. I guess they live nearby and eat here often? Or maybe visit Redding a lot? Who knows. I saw a woman in the hallway earlier wearing an svrider.com T-shirt. She walked out the door with a bunch of friends before I could approach her and ask if she was on the sv mailing list. I did see a blue SV650 in the parking lot near where I parked mine; maybe it’s hers.
9:45pm. poolside, Red Lion Hotel. same mileage.
I went for a walk tonight to get a candy bar at the gas station next door to the hotel. I intended to keep walking for a bit past the hotel, but as I passed the driveway, I saw a blue SV pull into the parking lot. I assumed it was the woman I saw this evening, so I quickly hurried back to the back parking lot. She was standing by her bike when I walked up, so I introduced myself. It turns out that it was Sara from the northern CA SV list that I’m on — I recognized her bike’s name: “Scrappy Doo.” We ended up standing in the parking lot and chatting for a while. It turns out that the SV I’d seen pulling into the lot wasn’t hers — while we were chatting, another woman walked by with riding gear on. Sara waved to her, and she said, “there’s a red S model parked right next to mine!” Sara pointed at me and I grinned, “that’s mine!” She smiled and walked into the hotel. And so I met Danelle, who rode in from Denver. Sara is really nice and easygoing; we stood in the lot and talked about our bikes for a little bit. She told me about the local Women on Wheels chapter, and said I’d have to get involved. They’re going on a ride out to Lassen tomorrow, and Sara invited me to go with, but I’m still leaning towards doing the dam ride. Maybe I’ll see how I feel after some coffee in the morning. 🙂 Even if I don’t end up doing any riding with them, I’m glad to have met Sara in person — I’d been reticent to go to any of the NorCal SV rides without knowing anyone.
It was really neat to walk around the circular parking lot and see all the different bikes from all the different places, and know that most of them are womens’. Likewise wandering the hotel hallways and seeing so many people wearing the telltale bright orange wristband (given out at registration so we can tell who else is an attendee, even without helmets and gear on!). I wandered around the lot earlier, looking at all the custom cruisers and touring bikes and even the occassional sportsbike (I saw a new VFR, and even Dee Gagnon’s famous Red Pony!). I took some pictures and just couldn’t help but smile. It was nice to talk to Peter again tonight. It’s great that he’s so supportive of me and my going on this trip alone. He sounded pretty interested in hearing about my day, and was enthusiastic that I’d done things like the drive-through tree, etc. I really love hearing enthusiasm from others, particularly when it’s about some crazy thing I’ve gone and done. 😉 As you can probably tell, I’m feeling a lot better after having eaten and walked around to stretch my knee out. Tomorrow will be a fun day.