Day 19: Sunday 22nd July 2013 – Fort Bragg, CA to Fortuna, CA
The coast road yesterday had had a lot of curves to it, which meant a lot of gear changes. Judging those curves wasn’t helped by the fog, and more than once I’d found myself coming into a curve too fast, and having to brake and knock the gear down where I shouldn’t. By the end of the ride, I was getting uncomfortable tinges in the region of my left hip / groin. I’ve no idea what I did to cause it, but the gear changing was getting a wee bit tender. I woke up this morning and that region is now full on aching.
Undaunted by my ageing body’s protests, I loaded the Trooper and then cut inland, along Californian Highway 20 to rejoin the 101. The day in Fort Bragg had again started out foggy and I wasn’t at all sorry to be leaving that behind and coming inland.
Within a few miles the fog had cleared and the temperature was noticeably rising. This was much better. You really can have too much of a good thing, like cold and fog, even when you are not long out of riding in the desert.
California Highway 20 is twistier than I expected, and tree lined nearly all the way.
I guess some bikers would feel challenged by those curves and want to push themselves to see how fast they could take them. Not me. If I wanted to ride hell bent for leather around bends, I’d have bought a metric sports bike. But I don’t. I have a cruiser because that is precisely what I want to do. Besides you can’t check out the scenery if the road is taking your entire attention.
That said, I did fee a bit of a wussy for the amount of times I pulled into turn-outs to let speeding cars pass through. I consoled myself with the assumed fact that these were locals who knew the road like the back of their hand. But at the end of the day, I was here for the scenery, not to prove a point.
I rejoined the main highway 101 at Willits and continued north along the intermittent dual carriageway. Even here I was getting overtaken on the corners, but by now I was gawping at the trees, man. I couldn’t wait to get off the freeway and in amongst them.
Before you reach the Avenue of the Giants, there is a sign-post for a drive thru tree at Leggett. There’s one than one drive thru redwood, but I didn’t go through one the last time I was here, so I pulled off, paid my $3 dollars and made sure I did this time.
Back on the 101, I finally saw the sign for the Avenue of the Giants information point and pulled over to take a look. The sign really didn’t tell me much other than to take the next exit, but as I pulled over to read it, there was a really dishevelled looking bicyclist, wearing at least 3 or 4 layers of dirty clothes in the, by now, 95F/35C heat. His nose was sunburnt raw. As fellow travellers on the road do, we exchanged words. His name was Talbot and he’d ridden his pedal cycle up from San Diego. His destination was up in the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, where the Trooper had had his one major break down on our last adventure. That is a trip of around 1,800 miles and he’d already ridden over half of that on a bicycle! Respect dude, that’s hardcore! It makes my motorised journey of the last few weeks look like a drive around town.
Finally, I got into the Avenue of the Giants. This was one of the main reasons I had come back to the west coast, to be able to ride amongst these giants again. I’m not normally a tree hugger, but these majestic beasts just insist on it.
Having come inland from the coast the temperature was already well up into the 90s on US-101, and yet it felt so cool and peaceful riding between lines and lines of these titans.
I could have stayed all day among the giants, but I still needed to get to Fortuna by evening, so it was back on the 101 for me. Despite being on a freeway for much of the time, the scenery is still awesome along this stretch of the highway. I arrived in Fortuna feeling very fortunate that I had had the opportunity to see this magnificent trees for a second time.