Today was my day to ride a loop into the interior and back to Eureka.

The day started in the usual way. It was 40 degrees and sunny outside. Despite the near race riot that almost occurred outside my room at 2:30 AM, I managed to fall right back asleep after things calmed down. After getting up, I walked over to the Dutch Bros coffee stand next door and got a mocha, then got dressed. Breakfast was at a restaurant a few blocks away called Stantons. Nasty place. The service was disinterested and the food was barely adequate. Fortunately it didn’t make me sick, so I guess it was okay.

Because I was looping back to Eureka, I was able to ride without sidecases and greatly reduced weight. All I took was my cameras, warm weather gloves and pants, and enough room to stow my cold-weather gear if I had to cool off.

The route I took was 101 south, then highway 36 east, a rough highway 3 north to Weaverville, then highway 299 back to 101 in Arcata. The total loop would be about 230 miles. The previous year I headed east on 299 into Redding instead of looping back, so the second half of this trip would be on unfamiliar roads.

The sun was shining and traffic was very light. The few cars I came upon would often pull over and let me pass. They would usually give a friendly wave as I zoomed past, too. 36 follows the Van Duzen river for the first several miles. Once I hit the small town of Carlotta, the road climbs. At this point I was really hitting my rhythm and was taking curves with greater relaxation and control. Part way up the hill I noticed two BMW dual-sports in my mirror. I kicked it up a notch and really got sideways, leaving them far behind within only a mile or two. Hairpin downhill

Between Bridgeville and Dinsmore the road gets very narrow and the turns get very tight, most requiring a maximum of 20 mph to navigate them safely. I pulled off onto a wide patch on the outside of one of many hairpin turns and snapped dual photos. Hairpin uphill

The foliage dries out, turning into small pines and scrub oak. I got stuck behind a slow driver but was nearing the small town of Hayfork and my intended lunch destination, so I just sat back and cruised along. Hayfork, a small town, was bustling with activity. It seemed everyone was walking around involved in some activity. I rode through three times looking for Tommy Knows Pizza before I found it. It was a hole-in-the-wall and scary looking so I decided to ride to Weaverville for lunch and gas instead.

Weaverville is a great little town. It reminded me somewhat of Sedona, Arizona without the red rocks. I ate at an old fashioned drive-in, a nutritious lunch of a bacon cheeseburger, fries, and a Pepsi. The temperature gauge on the side of the building said it was 72 degrees. After a decent rest, I gassed up ($3.95 a gallon) and headed back toward home, this time on highway 299.

299 follows the Trinity River and has some very rugged scenery. I was focused on the road, however. The turns are sweeping and fast and other than a few rough spots, the road was in great shape. I was mindful of cops, heeding the warning I received from a local rider the year before, and only saw one or two heading the other way. My speed never ventured more than 10 mph above the posted limit, except when passing, so I was fairly safe from getting ticketed.

By this point in the day my riding was really in a groove. The bike became an extension of myself. I was no longer aware of the mechanics of how to ride and was now experiencing the full potential of what a great motorcycle can achieve. In my mind I referred to it as “getting sideways” as that’s the position I was in more often than not. I really gave the sides of my tires a workout. It has taken me 11,000 miles to reach this point, but at last I think I’ve finally gotten it down. The rest is fine tuning that ability, honing it.

It was the most fun I’ve had in years. The best way I can describe that ride is like a downhill skiing slalom that lasts 6 hours straight. It’s intense and very exciting.

When I got back to Eureka I was tired but very, very happy. I took a nap, then showered and walked back down to Lost Coast Brewery for some beer and salad.