Monday June 1st, 3:47 PM – Fortuna, CA

It rained during the night but the skies had cleared by the time I got up at 6:30 AM. I drank the protein shake and ate the pear I had purchased at the grocery store the night before, packed the bike, and headed out. I was on the road by 7:30, an hour ahead of normal.

My route took me south on state route 3, and just past Yreka the road gained elevation. I passed through a few small towns like Fort Jones, Etna, and Callahan. I rolled through a high valley filled with cow pastures and the scent of the previous night’s rainfall.

Valley fog
Valley fog

Low clouds hovered above the valley floor, too timid to rise but reluctant to float away. Then I began to climb.

I had never heard of the Scott Mountains before today but I became very enamored with what I saw. They are rugged and appear unspoiled. In very little time I had reached 5,200 feet elevation and noticed the Pacific Crest Trail crossed the pass. The fun had only begun, however.

The descent down the south slope was steep, narrow, and rugged. The road surface was in great shape and the lane lines were bright and clean, but the turns were very tight and the steep drop-offs threatened to distract me from this very technical ride.

Scott Mountains
Scott Mountains

The red snow markers spaced closely along the roadside and the short, tight turns reminded me of a slalom ski course. Anyone who downhill skis could appreciate the experience.

The creek rushing down the gulley to my right was the headwaters of the Trinity River. After several challenging miles down the mountain, the turns eased up into 35-40 mph postings instead of the earnest 15-25 mph turns behind me. I often double the posted turn speed but during this stretch when they said a turn was 25 mph they meant it.

By the time I got to Weaverville I was ready for fuel, both in my bike and my stomach. When riding through the small town I located the Weaverville Hotel, another night’s stay on my return route north back toward home. After breakfast at the Golden Nugget cafe, I continued south a few short miles to the junction with hwy 299 and 3 and was immediately halted by road construction. I had to wait nearly 15 minutes before I could proceed.

Two trucks were in front of me. One pulled off onto a side road and I soon passed the other, and for good reason. The stretch of hwy 3 between Weaverville and Hayfork has an incredible run of 25-30 mph turns that are well-banked and fast. My bike was never in the vertical for more than a few seconds before leaning back into another near-peg scraping turn. Because of my space toward the front of the construction waiting line, I knew I wouldn’t have any slow cars to contend with.

The road climbed and dropped several times, twisting and turning the whole way. By the time I reached Hayfork, I was feeling alive in a way that’s difficult to describe. My riding skills are gradually improving and I’m noticing greater feel for the bike and how it handles. I was amazed I never scraped my pegs.

After Hayfork I left hwy 3 and got onto hwy 36 westbound. The turns got faster, with a nice mix of big sweepers and plenty of tighter turns to keep the excitement going. I had to pass a few people, several of whom pulled over to let me by, before I noticed a sign saying it was the law that slow motorists have to pull over. In Oregon you don’t have to pull over unless you have 6 or more cars backed up behind you!

I stopped for a break in Dinsmore before continuing on to Fortuna. I fueled up the bike then located the Super 8. Strangely enough, my GPS doesn’t think the city of Fortuna exists, despite its population of nearly 11,000 people. Susie at the front desk was very friendly and helpful, offering a rag to wipe down my bike as well as a tip that the brewpub next door grants a 10% discount if I show them my room key.