I got to meet up with a buddy of mine from the Bay Area who moved up to Eureka about a year ago. Adam was one of the first few folks I met out here that rode bikes whom I had known from the usenet group rec.motorcycles. We had breakfast, kicked some tires, and caught up on old times.
Every ride has the part that you have come to do. For me that was to ride Highway 96. It really too far to go on a weekend, so this trip seemed like the perfect time to get up here. 96 squiggles near the coast following the Klamath River through the Trinity Alps mountain range.
Most of the coastal lands don’t have much if any fall color as the trees are all coniferous. I was heading a good bit inland today so I was hoping to find some more deciduous trees. Leaving town on 299 I climbed near the top of the pass and stopped at a rest area that had a beautiful overlook of the valley and ocean below. I ran into an older couple from Canada who were touring the states. Both of them were photographers themselves, so it was neat to compare notes on how to take certain shots. Soon after they left, another couple from the UK arrived and were just amazed at the amount of open land we have here in America. I know I often forget how lucky we are as a nation to have the amount of preserved land that we do.
Some folks had told me from South Bay Riders that gas is slim on 96, so I filled the bike up in Willow Creek. It was the classic comedy of errors. The first gas station did not take American Express. They only took MasterCard. I had Visa. At the second gas station I couldn’t find my wallet (I keep my AmEx in my jacket). Rifling through three saddle bags later… It’s in my back pocket. Yeah, I’ll take the stupid award on that one.
The first part of the 96 went through the Hoopa Indian Reservation. It was the first time I’d ridden through an Indian reservation, so I didn’t really know what to expect. It was much like the rest of the area. Had I not known, I’d never had guessed. The road reminded me a lot of back east as a lot of the forest was new growth with a lot of underbrush. You could tell that the lack of rain was hard on the foliage here. Most of the trees that should be turning color were pale color at best, fried brown at worst. The road itself started out really technical, but mellowed out into a bunch of turns one could easily see through and ride at a smooth pace. You really felt the wide open spaces here.
I passed a car maybe every 10-15 minutes, only had to pass one car, and never had anyone follow me. With about 20 miles before the last turn, the road was being resurfaced. There were lots of grooves, gravel, and oil to turn a nice day not nice.
I got a tip from a buddy to take Scott Bar Road, which saved me about 30 miles in travel. It started out great, then quickly became goat trail central. Tight turns, narrow roads, it was all that and more. The great thing about this area is that all the roads remind me of something back home, but you have 3-5x the distance to ride. Bliss!
The days are shorter now than in the summer. The daylight of course is less, but it takes longer to warm up in the morning and as soon as you lose the sun it gets chilly! I hit highway 3 at about 5pm. I’m losing the day, but it’s the part I enjoy most. The setting sun casts interesting shadows and colors all over the landscape. All I can say is that this road rocked. It had the right balance of straights, gentle sweepers, and twisties! It was the perfect end to the day. I pull into Weaverville about a half hour after sunset.
I hit up the local grocery store for dinner as I don’t personally like eating in restaurants alone. It was nice to be asked if I needed help finding things. It’s a place where near everyone knows everyone, but not everyone as I was asked if I was at the town’s bbq fest that morning.
One of the pleasures in riding is that you get to meet new folks, see new places, enjoy full days, and sleep hard.