Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring Break Day 4

Morning 4 finds me finally making my way to the coast. The thing that has to be done on this ride is traveling Highway 1. The Coast Highway. So, I leave Red Bluff at 6:45 on State Route 36 heading to California 3 and Fortuna. The man and woman at the Motel said there shouldn't be any problem crossing the mountain because of the nice weather they have had for the last week. They also said they had gone to their cabin the past weekend and it was very nice. As I was leaving the woman laughed a bit and added, "But, we couldn't drive into our driveway, we had to walk in." I wonder why I didn't ask any questions?

This is what I found that they said wouldn't be a problem. Snow!!! and lots of it!! and cold!! 26 air temperature and -5 wind chill!!! This was the most technically challenging riding I have ever done. Once I was in the mountains there was no sunshine at all. The snow had been plowed, but there was water and ice on the road and it was the most twisted road of the trip so far. Add the fact that guard rails were non existent and that could lead to a huge drop off if a mistake were made. This 100 miles took almost four hours and I never got above third gear. It was very tiring and extremely cold. Over the mountain I only saw three cars and all of them were going in the opposite direction from me. I didn't get more pictures because it was too cold to take off my gloves and the stopping points were very limited for a motorcycle.

Finally I was down to lower ground and the weather front I had been hearing about all week was coming in. It was very overcast and damp. In Leggett, I found the turn off for Highway 1. I was just about to the ocean and it started to rain. Still no sunlight, the trees would have blocked it out anyway, and more twisty roads with many turns of 10 - 15 mph. It was 50 miles of very slow going, but traffic was never a problem.

Then..........finally the ocean and Highway 1. Cold, overcast, and foggy.

It was still beautiful and cold, but the rain had stopped. I stopped in Fort Bragg for gas and coffee and had a conversation with a older guy who was from Louisiana, not far from where I was born. Even though he has been in California for 45 years he still talks fondly of being in Louisiana. I asked his advise on a route to take and he suggested taking Route 20 getting off the coast. As he put it, "There ain't no good way to get out of here." So, at the turn for Route 20, I continued down the Coast Highway just because I'm hard headed. By Stewarts Point I was wishing I had listened. I was getting so tired that I was having trouble operating the clutch, shifter, and brakes. It was a feeling that wasn't very comfortable. I fially found a road that would get me out to Highway 101 and into Santa Rosa for the night.

This, hands down, was the most difficult day of the trip. I thought I had ridden in the cold before, but I hadn't. The cold just drained me and made everything more difficult. Part of the problem seemed to be that there wasn't any sunshine except right at sunrise and I never got warm until I stopped and took a hot shower.

Todays Route