Friday, September 05, 2008

chilled beauty

chilled beauty
Originally uploaded by rod lewis
August 7, 2008
To Eureka, CA
304 miles (4902)
While I woke up and rushed off from Bartow Monday morning, successfully beating the 108F day. This morning I loitered in Novato, waiting for the 50F to warm a little. Overnight, it began raining at my destination, Eureka, and the high for today has been dropped to 60F. No doubt this will be a beautiful ride, but I’m wearing layers…

I arrived in Eureka at 8:00pm in a cloud of wet fog that even soaked the padding inside my helmet. I was actually warm and dry for half an hour when hwy 1 took me inland to Legget to join with 101. From the coast, to the hwy junction was 43 miles of twisting, turning, rolling, rising, falling Redwood Forest. I’ve now ruled that this road overtakes previous wonders for the best road yet. It is nearly as awesome as the Tail of the Dragon, but 4 times longer and not nearly as dangerous. No traffic.
At the end of hwy 1 is the “world famous” drive-through tree, known locally as “Chandelier Tree.” In fact, I’ve known of this tree all my life. I saw photos in textbooks in elementary school. So I paid my half-price motorcycle fee and parked my bike inside the tree for a photo op. Honestly, in my memory, the tree is MUCH larger, but it certainly was large. However, all the SUV drivers had to back in to avoid losing their side mirrors, and a few had only to park in front and pretend because there was not enough clearance.
Oh well. The tree is over 100 yards tall and 2,400 years old. That’s impressive. And it’s still pretty! More than I can say for myself after only 44 years.
But I digress…

After the tree, I remained warm for 30 miles until hwy 101 brought me back out to the coast. There I hunkered into the chill for the final 60 miles to Eureka. The campground had dry firewood, so I set up the tent, built a fire. Now I’m sitting, warm, in the misty fog beside the dancing flames on the chilly banks of the Pacific Ocean reliving the unbelievable ocean vistas I experienced today.
Don’t think that those 43 Redwood miles were all the biker dream miles. Truly, the whole 230 miles before hwy 101 were this way. It’s just that I was warm through the Redwoods.
So imagine 230 miles of 30 mph turns and switchbacks, ocean cliffs and vistas and thick-thick foggy mist filtering sunlight on the narrow beaches and enormous rock formations that lie in the water and on the sand. Every turn was a photo op, but I was dressed out and gloved and shivering, so I rationed my stops. Many of the vistas provided no view because the fog was so thick, but some were chanced upon as a break in the mist betrayed blue sky hidden above the green trees and the convergence of ocean and rock.
As I shivered my way along, I was in awe of the surfers who will not miss a great wave in ANY weather.
Despite the cold and damp, this was truly a spectacular day for scenery and fun riding.