Sunday, January 14, 2007

pine needles

Seattle - Fortuna - Seattle
May 20-23, 2004
Total Miles: 1,500
Seattle - Fortuna – Seattle
Rt 47 When 47 crosses over 26 and heads to Rt 6 west it flattens out considerably, but does not remain so for very long. The road winds up and down and around and keeps things interesting. There isn't much civilization around, nor traffic. It was a very pleasant - if not overcast - ride to the coast.
We hit the coast at Tillamook and headed south on 101 where Todd took the lead and showed us a nifty little "Scenic Bypass" - the Road of Doom for me. It turned into a tight one way, one lane road tucked between 101 and the coast.
I was down to 20mph when I hit the second right - a decreasing radius right. I leaned into it but I wasn't cornering fast enough. I leaned some more, noting the approaching pine needles (remember that this is a one lane road - there wasn't even a centerline to cross if I wanted to). I leaned some more, telling myself that I had to trust that the bike could do it. I leaned some more. I leaned some more and whoops! - there goes the bike out from under me. The VFR slid maybe 20' along the road and into the grass shoulder before catching on something and flipping completely over onto the left side. I slid a bit on the pavement before hitting the grass and tumbling a couple of times and coming to rest on my back.

I do wonder what would have happened if I kept the peg dragging and didn't pull it up to scrub off speed. Would I have made the corner because I didn't lose the distance from standing the bike up? Or would I have just leveraged the bike up onto the peg? I don't know the answer, but I don't think that I made a really bad decision. I knew that I couldn't try and ride it out off the road. I feel good that I pushed the bike and that it gave out before I did. If there is anything that anyone else can see that I could have/should have done, please share. We can all learn from this I'm sure.
As a side note, I didn't feel that I was really pushing myself too hard on this road, but I did notice on the initial left-hander mentioned that I wasn't completely comfortable. I should have backed off right then, but there wasn't a lot of time between that thought and the Corner of Doom.

We continue down I-5 to Grant’s Pass and then the follow 199 to 101 and down the coast to Fortuna. We made a brief stop in Grant’s Pass for a bite to eat and enjoyed the appearance of the sun. The weather continued to improve as we neared the coast, with some damp areas in the tighter sections of 199. Eventually we hit the coast and were just in time to see the sun set into the Pacific. Not that it was a grand sunset as we were still plagued by a few clouds that marred the view. As the sun set and twilight descended we kept going and pulled into Fortuna at 10:30 that night, after 14 ½ hours on the road.

May 20-23, 2005
Total Miles: 1,500
Seattle - Fortuna - Seattle
From Eureka we headed north to 299 where the road quickly climbed into the hills above the coast. The sun had peeked out at breakfast but now it was again being obscured by clouds. It sprinkled just enough to wet the pavement but soon we had climbed high enough that we were in the clouds themselves. The fog was thick and I had difficulty seeing the cars around me so I reduced my speed until we started to descend on the other side of the ridge and came back to blue skies and sunshine. We fueled up at Willow Creek and then headed north on 96, an excellent motorcycle road that hugs the sides of the mountains and twists more than a snake in a mongoose’s grasp. The sky was clear, trees were green, rivers were high and the pavement was perfect. Our GS’s took corner after corner in perfect unison, the bikes falling into the corners with a rhythm that was almost mesmerizing. We paused at a unique bridge over the Klamath River to take in the beauty that was around us and then mounted the bikes again to head for Happy Camp. Once there we continued on 96, heading east towards I-5 and continued our ride under the sunshine and blue sky.

Eureka to Yreka
Eureka for home. I could attempt to describe Route 96 from Willow Creek to Happy Camp and then on to Yreka, but no amount of words can fully convey the sense of freedom and pleasure I get from these 145 miles of corners, bends, twists and turns. The road surface is always good, the views are always spectacular, the temperature is always perfect and the traffic almost nonexistent. Each time I turn the bike in for a corner I know that there will be another one waiting for me. There are sections of the road where the painted lines weave back and forth, causing the GS to flick from one side to the other in rapid succession. I am by no means a fast rider, nor do I usually demand high performance from my bikes, but this road lets me ride at a quick yet comfortable pace. I am sometimes pushing myself in the tight turns etched into the rock wall of the canyon while other times I am letting the bike fall in gracefully through a well cambered, perfect radius corner, all the time the pavement is following the snake-like progress of the Klamath River. The road is tucked into the wide canyon of the river, sometimes running deep alongside the water’s edge, other times coming up for air and soaring above the rushing rapids. I could ride this road all day. But each day must end and I eventually came to the end of Nirvana. It is called Yreka.

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