Ride report - August 2004

Northern CA and Oregon coast, central Oregon

Day 1 - Concord to Fort Bragg

I started out at 0930 Monday - perfect day for a ride. Headed up across the Benicia bridge, then west across the Black Point cutoff past Sears Point Raceway, through Novato and on to the coast at Point Reyes.

Highway 1 up the Marin and Sonoma coast is a real pleasure to ride on week days, especially in the morning. Very little traffic, and often the cars pull over as soon as they see my bike. Sunny and cool and I'm beginning to think I want a sweatshirt under my mesh leathers. Stop at the deli in Tomales (popular with motorcyclists and bicyclists) for an early lunch, then continue up Highway 1 back to the coast. I take Bay Hill Road just before Bodega Bay - nice shortcut over the hill that bypasses the traffic of Bodega Bay.

Another 20 miles or so and I'm at the Russian River, just below Jenner. Five miles past Jenner, up on the bluffs, I take Meyers Grade Road up the steep grade to the ridgeline above the coast, then along Seaview and Plantation roads to Hauser Bridge Road. Deep down in the gulley there's a bridge across the river, then a steep climb back up to the next ridgeline puts me on Tin Barn Road. This section, from Meyers Grade to Stewart's Point, is one of my favorite rides.

I've had to skip two other favorites this time - Fort Ross Road from Meyers Grade down to Cazadero, and the much longer and rougher King Ridge Road from Tin Barn down to Cazadero. But we'll get one or both of those on the camping ride in September.

Tin Barn Road ends at the Stewart's Point - Skaggs Spring road, locally known as Skaggs Spring Raceway. We'll get that one in September too. I took the short way to the coast, 4.5 miles to the left down to Stewart's Point. A very nice alternative is to go right at the end of Tin Barn for two or three miles, then cross the bridge to Annapolis Road. I never know which I want to take - Stewart's Point has some beautiful redwood forests, but Annapolis has a nice smooth sweeping road.

At Stewart's Point I got gas and had a talk with the store owner about the condition of Fish Rock Road (I've heard horror stories). "Yeah, it's dirt. I dunno how bad."

So fifteen miles up the road I take the sharp uphill turn to find out for myself. Good choice! The road is 28 miles long, about half of it well-graded gravel. I averaged about 35mph on the paved sections and 30 on the gravel. The story about powder above the bike's axle is obsolete. I met one car in the 28 miles and didn't overtake any.

At the end of Fish Rock I turned up highway 128 for a coffee stop in Booneville - my favorite stop, The Horn of Zeese, is closed for the day but there's a coffee shop next door.

Note the road on the map from Stronetta across to 128 paralleling Fish Rock - it's Mountain View Road, another missed opportunity. Very technical, fast in places, paved its entire length. We usually take it across to 128. Recommended.

BTW, The Horn of Zeese is a Boontling phrase - go look it up.

I'm tempted to go back to the coast on Mountain View, but highway 128 is a really nice road too as long as the traffic is light. It is light this afternoon, so on up 128 through the very deep redwood groves. If you like redwood forests, don't miss this one.

The ride from Boonville to the coast beneath the redwoods is cool and dark, very pleasant on a warm day. As I head up the coast towards Fort Bragg I sigh as another missed opportunity goes by: Orr Springs Road, from Mendocino to Ukiah (outlined in green). It passes through the hamlet of Comptche where there are, I'm told, two hotels (both long closed). This was the main road from Mendocino/Fort Bragg into the metropolis of Ukiah in the old days, and Comptche was a layover spot on the two day trip with the wagon. Gotta take it easy on the horses.

It was a two day trip one way - we do it in about 75 minutes on our crotch rockets.

I check in at the motel in Fort Bragg, put on my formal clothes (jeans, T shirt and sneakers) and head on to dinner at the North Coast Brewery. Good food, good brews.

I walk into the restaurant behind an elderly couple and follow them into the bar to find a table for dinner. Same food as the restaurant section but no wait. We're seated on either side of a couple in their late 20s - he has the North Coast Brewery's famous beer sampler. Nine smallish glasses set out on a placemat with the names of each beer beneath. (After five or six it's hard to remember.)

The old gent says "What the hell is that???" and the guy jumps a little. He explains, and the old timer says "Sounds like a damn good idea!"

These two couples talked through dinner and passed me a picture of the two of them. It was taken just before he shipped out from San Diego with the Navy in 1942. He lost track of her during the war and they connected up a couple of years ago when a friend found her on the internet. Sniff.

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