Day 15 – Fort Bragg, CA to Grants Pass, OR
Distance: 443 miles (712 kilometers)
Low temp. : 7 celcius (highway 1 to Hydesville, CA)
High temp. : 42 celcius (most of the way in the afternoon, from Shasta City onward)
Time on bike: 8:00am-5:30pm
Another long distance day but a good mix of sights, great roads, and later in the day, covering miles to make ground.
The morning started out very cool. 7 celcius is the coldest temperature of the trip so far. It was foggy, misty rain and very, very cold. I got suited up in all the rain gear and my layers, got some gas and headed out for the last day along the ocean and in California.
About ten miles down the road the fog lifted and the rain stopped but it was still quite brisk. Rain gear stayed on to keep the cold wind off.
It’s always tough seeing the last bit of ocean on the way home. I really look forward to seeing it each trip and I’m always kinda sad to say goodbye. Just past Westport and the last stunning coastal view along highway 1 the road shifts eastward.
I’ve done this section before. It is fantastic and is one of the twistiest and vacant roads. Most avoid the extra time and distance of the coastal route for highway 101. Lucky for me as there were only about 5 cars, which I passed, for the entire 60 mile trip. It is switchbacks through dense forest that goes up and over the mountains then the same over the other side and back down to highway 101. You can tell how good a route is by the wear area on your tires. There is no unused tire left on the front or back tire from leaning into the corners. Great fun!
Quick zip down 101 and a detour off to the Avenue of Giants. It’s a great excuse to get off the freeway for 30 plus miles. Why more people don’t is beyond me. This is my second trip down this sideroad and I still can’t help but be a bit overwhelmed by trees that were here before Columbus’ journey to North America. No picture does this area justice. The trees are as big in diameter as most large semi trucks. Even the bark and folds In the trees’ skins are immense. I love this road.
Quick stop in Hydesville because I need a snack and I’m nearly hypothermic. Put my rain gear on again and another couple layers. 15 minutes later the temp rises to over 20 degrees and the gear comes off for the rest of the day. On the west side it is foggy and cold. Up and over the mountains and it is arid and very dry. Best of all it is warming up.
Highway 36 links to highway 3 and 299. It is 140 miles of twisty roads. Some large long sweeping and some barely wide enough for two vehicles. About that. Today was the closest I’ve ever been to being hit by another vehicle. A idiot in a jeep going way too fast the other direction on my side of the road on a tight corner. Luckily I reacted first and got over to the right side of the road, which I sty very near on roads like this just for this reason. The clown actually panicked and let go of the wheel while slamming on the brakes. Narrowly avoided and off I went again.
From this point on in the day the heat kept coming. The end of day reward was 42 degree heat. Really, really hot when the bike is also 106 celcius. The heat melts the ‘tar snakes’ which fill the cracks in the road which also become incredibly slippery. Definitely need to be avoided as I found out.
The rest of the journey was fun and no more close calls. I was completely wipe out after the curvy roads and got on the interstate I-5 to zip up to Grants Pass for the day. The interstates are a great way to make up time but a completely lifeless journey. A necessity to get to the VFR meet but not a great way to travel.
I’ve been lucky enough to have just enough time to travel far each day while seeing and enjoying some of the side roads a bit, too. Not bad considering.
Tomorrow more of the same. Travel some fun side roads and make some time with bursts on the interstate. Tomorrow I’ll meet up with the other VFR riders in Troutdale just outside of Portland. It’s supposed to be scorching hot there too – 40s.