WCRM (2009)

WCRM VI – The Farewell Tour

This was the sixth consecutive West Coast Regional Meet for the STN crowd, and it is to be my last one for the foreseeable future. In just three months I’ll be moving to the east coast, too far away to make this trip next May. Dan had plans to meet with his friend Aaron for a weekend of carousing in Napa/Sonoma Valley wine country, so this trip I was on my own.

May 29-31, 2009
Total Miles: just under 800
Mountain View, CA to Eureka

On Friday I somehow managed to finagle my way out of work after only half a day had gone by. I was on the GS and heading north to San Francisco by a little after noon; thankful for the early start as it would ease the passage through the crowded city before it got too crowded, as well as keep me from having to ride the twistiest bits of Hwy 101 in the dark. Eureka, here I come!

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Hwy 101 north of the Golden Gate Bridge

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Heading north out of Willits on 101

The ride up 101 was quick and easy. City traffic wasn’t too bad and when I got near Petaluma I used the handy “lane splitting” maneuver allowed here in California. The GS is a big bike and with the PIAA lights blazing in the front, the traffic split before me like Moses and the Red Sea. This was fun! So much fun that another motorcyclist, sitting with the traffic, took the opportunity to ride in my wake and followed up the middle of the highway for a while. Eventually he pulled off and it was just me and the trees and the curvy road. Traffic was light but steady and I pulled in Fortuna (the meeting place for the STNers) with plenty of time to spend with my friends and the onion rings.

Plans had been laid the next morning to do a short little loop through the inner sanctum of motorcycling nirvana. We’d head east on Hwy 36 to FS 1, jog north through the woods to Hwy 299 and then dash west to Eureka, with the plenty of time to enjoy time with our friends and delicious BBQ! It was a perfect plan. But a plan that would not come to fruition.

The pace (for me) was fast but not uncomfortably so. Riding with 7other bikes didn’t leave me much time for photos, so you’ll just have to trust me that this is a beautiful section of road on a very beautiful day. There was some concern by myself because I had neglected to fuel up at the beginning of the ride. I ride a bike with an 8 gallon tank – why do I need to fill up? Well, I needed to fill up because I’d used half of that fuel on yesterday’s ride. So during a stop to smell the flowers and take in the sights, I took advantage of another GS’s full tank and siphoned about half a gallon of fuel into my tank. I could ride with one less worry on my mind now.

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Taking a break on Hwy 36

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Views from Hwy 36

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A view from FS 1

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FS 1

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FS 1

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Jim on FS 1

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More FS 1

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View along FS1

It turned out that my fuel problem wouldn’t be the thing to slow us down that day. Another rider, Bradley on his Kawasaki, developed a leaking valve stem. Unfortunately, the first four riders were merrily on their way to the junction with 299, so the rest of us (Bradley, Robert, Bobby and myself) hung back to see what we could do to help. I pulled out my air compressor and we pumped up his tire. A faint “hisssss” let us know that this wouldn’t help for long. But Bradley decided to ride it for as far as he could and then decide what to do from there.

He made it 6 miles.

The four of us scoured our parts and tool kits but to no avail. Robert suggested some rubber cement-type solution so Bradley applied it liberally around the again-flat tire as the three of us lounged in the quiet shade of the forest. Three motorcyclists roared up from the direction we were headed and they stopped to help,but we all knew that there was nothing to be done. They were on their way after a brief chat, and shortly after they left we had more company: a forest ranger pulled up to us and parked behind our bikes. He first asked us what our situation was and then if we had seen three motorcyclists come by. We answered him and then fell into a lengthy conversation about fire fighting, patrol areas and general enforcement banter (Bobby is a firefighter and they knew of some of the same people). The ranger eventually went on his way and we decided to put Bradley’s tire to the test. It failed.

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Bradley gets a leak

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Inspecting the flora while waiting for Bradley

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Still waiting for Bradley’s repair job

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Relaxing while the patch dries on the valve stem

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The local ranger stops to check on us

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The north end of FS 1

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I didn’t count the rings, but it looks old

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Views along FS 1

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Almost off the back road!

I had called our host Gil during this and alerted him to the fact that we may very well need a truck and/or trailer to get the Kawasaki out of the woods. At this point I called him back and asked him to meet us at the intersection of FS 1 and Hwy 299. It was an estimated 16 miles and we knew that we could at least get that far. We pumped the tire back up, mummified it with duct tape and took off once again. Meanwhile, two of the lead bikes had come back just as we were gearing up and they rode with us towards 299. There was a parade of four-way flashers as three GSs and a Concours slowly made their way through the forest. At some point, other bikes rode ahead, leaving just Bradley and I toodling along. I finally was able to stop many times for photos and then dash to catch up. Bradley stopped again to fill the tire and this time he tried an alternative – and much more effective – duct tape wrap, one that would last him all the way to the trailer that was waiting for him a few miles further down the road.

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Loading Bradley’s bike in the trailer

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The “last-ditch effort” to keep air in the tire

So much for a quiet afternoon at the BBQ! Fortunately I was with good friends that afternoon and still had a great time. But now it was time for the 2nd dinner meeting at the Eel River Brewery in Fortuna. The group was much smaller this year but that just meant that I had more time to talk to more people. But then Gil and Becky (our official Host and Hostess of the event) gathered up the group to make an announcement. It was my last WCRM, as I would be moving to the east coast in a matter of months. My dear friends had all worked together to sign a certificate for me, each imparting their own words of wisdom. Accompanying this was a gift certificate (which I think I’ll put towards a new seat on the GS). The fact that they think so much of me that they are sending me off with such love brought tears to my eyes. Everyone should be as fortunate as I am.

As a surprise unrelated to anything I just said, when I pulled up to the Brewery that night I saw three motorcycles that I recognized: the three guys from FS 1! I found them inside and invited them to join out group that was gathered in the courtyard. They agreed to swing by later, which they did, and appeared to have a good time chatting it up with the group.

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STN people at the Eel River Brewery

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More STNers!

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Gil and Becky

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Jolene and Rusty (rgbeard)

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Jim (the Explorer)

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Chris (req) and Jen (red ember)

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Robert & Trina (Mr & Mrs. BMW-K) and me

The night of debauchery was over. A late night back at Gil and Becky’s (where I stay every year, shunning the impersonal motels near the Brewery) was followed by a somewhat early morning. I didn’t want to get home too late but more importantly, I wanted to explore the southern portion of the Lost Coast Highway.

Bobby had agreed to ride with me and we took off southbound on 101 towards the Rockefeller Redwood Grove. We chose this “shortcut” to the Lost Coast so as to provide more time on the unknown sections. Bobby rides a fast ride so he took off while I plodded behind. We would meet up again in Honeydew.

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The overnight crew at the B&B

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Rockefeller Grove

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Making the GS look small

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Art shot

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View heading toward the Lost Coast

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River along 211

In Honeydew I was surprised again: there were the Oregon Boys! I knew that they had planned on riding the Lost Coast today, but the odds of seeing them were slim to none. I had no idea when they were leaving, how fast they would travel nor what route they would take. To find them standing under the trees by the general store was pretty neat.

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The Oregon Boys

Bobby and I went south on a road unknown to me. He kept up a fast pace (by my standards) and again, I didn’t stop for photos. The road was unlined but not terribly narrow and for the most part, was in pretty good shape. There were 3-4 switchbacks that were unpaved, tight, washboards and covered in loose dirt. My heavy GS with an almost bald tire didn’t appreciate this and I was loathe to continue if the road would be like this for long. Fortunately it was a short section and then we were back on good pavement.

At the first turn off for Kings Canyon Rd (also listed as “Horse Mountain Rd) we stopped to decide our direction. The dirt switchbacks had killed any desire I had for dirt after this and not knowing what the turnoff held, I asked if we could skip it. Bobby, good sport that he is, agreed. Before we could start up again the Oregon Boys pulled up, waved, consulted their maps and then kept going down the main road. Bobby and I took off after them.

At the next junction we found the Oregon Boys pulled off and taking a break. I wanted to check the air pressure in my tire (I was either low on air or just having a bad day. It turned out to be a bad day), so we pulled over and chatted with them some more. It would be the last time we saw them for this trip.

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New bridge along 101 north of Leggett

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Second new bridge along 101 north of Leggett

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Hwy 1 north of Ft Bragg

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The GS in the salt air

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Near the 1 & 128 junction along the coast

Again, a fast ride = no pictures. Bobby and I took a route out to 101, headed south to Leggettt and then hopped onto Hwy 1 to the coast and Ft Bragg. Again, I lost Bobby as he railed his way through the twisties but he was kind enough to wait for me at the coast. We stopped in Ft Bragg for lunch, where the gods smiled upon me and left a $20 bill in the parking lot to pay for our lunch. After a good meal at Perko’s (something I didn’t expect to be able to say) we kept on down the coast to Hwy 128, right through wine country.

At one point Bobby turned off to head home and I kept on going. It was a quick ride down 101, through the city and home. Dan was waiting for me with the news that we were meeting friends for dinner in an hour. I was very tired but managed to not fall asleep during dinner, but I did make up for it that night in the comfort of my bed.

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Heading inland

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Vintage cars in wine country

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Vineyards along Hwy 128

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Winery along Hwy 128

Tell me what you think! I want to know!