I said goodbye to these two amazing people this morning. I met them on the Internet and they didn’t know me from Adam, but they collected me from the airport, put me up for the night and sold me the best damn chopper I could ever want for my road trip. Then they rode with me for almost six hundred miles of the Pacific Coast highway, just because they wanted to see me off on my journey and “it seemed like the right thing to do”. Hope our paths cross again, Mr and Mrs Miyagi.Once I’d waved them off (and filmed them riding away for my little movie project) I set up my iPhone charging kit and handlebar mount on the bike because I’m doing my own navigation now and I don’t want to get lot. Not that riding down Highway 101 is likely to throw up too many difficulties, but I like that reassurance on my ‘bars.
Leaving Crescent City, I rode south, looking forward to catching my first sight of the redwood forests. Within a couple of dozen miles, I wasn’t disappointed and passed by a giant Paul Bunyan statute – which was worth a swift U turn for a photo op…
I bloody loved riding through the redwood forests. These colossal lumps of lumber are incredibly old and have a presence that has to be seen to be experienced. The forest smelled lush and alive as I motored through and for the first time in the ride so far, listed to some tunes on my earphones. The chop’s a very loud bike, but before I came away, I had some custom moulded hearing protection made up and I’ve got a pair set up as headphones, which I’ve got plugged into a Bluetooth thingy and hooked up to my iPhone. Is it a bit sad that I chose the Sons of Anarchy (Redwood Original) soundtrack?
No trip down the 101 is compete without a stop at the drive-thru tree in Klamath and I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity to ride my bike through it:
This was another stop that Julian and I made on our tandem tour ten years ago and I remember the awful diner by the roadside with the angry Rhea in a field outside (big trees, big birds – there’s a theme here…)
I had a lovely chat with an Aussie guy outside who came over to talk about my bike. Steph was right – this isn’t a machine that you can park up without attracting attention from people in the know about such things. It was the first of several such conversations today and I love the fact that it gets me talking to strangers. Pressing on, I passed yet more familiar country and towns – including the post office where, fed up with hauling our gear up and down hills we stopped to mail a load of unwanted kit back home to ourselves so it wouldn’t weigh us down.A free motel breakfast in my stomach, I didn’t stop for lunch – I just grabbed a packet of cashews when I stopped for gas and kept on going. Check out the little place where I fuelled up:
Turning off the 101, I picked up Highway 1, headed for Fort Bragg. We didn’t take this road on our cycle tour and if you ever find yourself cycling down the Pacific Coast, I suggest you don’t either. It was only forty miles of riding, but bloody hell – it was switchback city through the forest. Up and down the mountainous coast, round some of the tightest bends that California has to offer, it took me an hour and a half to do this last leg. On a bicycle, it would have been all day and then some. I was a bit nervous about overcooking it on the downhill bits, so I rode quite conservatively. Between the opportunities for meeting an unpleasantly squishy end against the rocks and the ever-present possibility of cooking the (original equipment) brakes or scraping the exhaust on the tarmac as I cornered, I had a surprising amount of fun. The chop did bloody well hauling me up some very steep sections and never once missed a beat.
I emerged from the woods onto the coast road again and stopped for one last photo before Fort Bragg:
Extra points for any ornithological types reading if you can tell me what that fecking enormous bird is likely to be. I got dive-bombed by one coming out of the trees and it scared the shit out of me.
I’m holed up in the Motel 6 tonight and I’ve just got outside of a veggie burrito the size of my fuel tank. Life is good.