Ride Report #34: Summer Trip to the Lost Coast

The plan for every trip starts with a song in mind. I always feel there is some connection between music and motorcycle riding. This time it was “Los Tiempos Van Cambiando” the Spanish version of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin’. The song was featured in the motorcycle gang show The Sons of Anarchy.

Day-1 Friday July 25th

We met at about 9:30AM at Niles Cafe, and were on our way after a few quick pictures.

It was also Bobby’s birthday. Our first stop for the day was Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa. We got there a little after 11AM taking the freeway all along. It was getting hot and the freeway ride was mildly uncomfortable. Russian River was a busy place and I ordered the world-famous Pliny the Elder. Bobby and Shobhit ordered the 20-glass sampler. While I was very happy with my drink, they were a little disappointed with the mix of brews they received. I tasted a few, and some of them were extreme – coffee flavored, pumpkin flavored, lambic-style sour beer and so on. I very much prefer having one great beer over a bunch of experimental brews.

Our next stop was Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Boonville. We took Hwy 128 from 101 and Boonville is about 20 miles from the 101 split. Hyw 128 is a nice road with wide sweepers and excellent pavement. The only downside was the heavy traffic. We had a few nice beers there and continued on hwy 128 to the coast. It was about 100F at this point and I could feel the heat bearing down on me.

As Hwy 128 approaches the coast it gets goes through these scenic coast redwood groves. We stopped a couple of times for some pictures. As we merged with Hwy 1, the temperatures dropped and it was pleasant again.

We continued riding Hwy 1 till the town of Fort Bragg. There we had our last and final beer stop of the day – North Coast Brewing Company. The beer was good and so was the fresh fish, but it was pricey. At this point we were exhausted. The Beer, the heat and the riding was probably not a good combination and had gotten us dehydrated.

The stretch of Hwy 1 North between Fort Bragg and 101 is excellent. Traffic was sparse and the road condition was excellent. There were some tight twistes, wide sweepers, dense tree cover at times and awesome views. I highly recommend riding that piece of Hwy 1. We merged with 101N and soon exited towards Redway, Briceland and Shelter Cove.

The final stretch towards Shelter Cove is fun — some very tight turns and a steep decent towards the ocean. The views are amazing as you enter the town.

We made it to our hotel – The Inn of the Lost Coast – just in time for sunset. After a quick dip in the hot tub, we called it a night. The hotel was average, but the views were awesome. We were all exhausted with the day long ride.

Day-2 Saturday July 26th

We began Day-2 with a short ride to the lighthouse at Shelter Cove. I remember visiting this structure about 10 years ago. That whole area is so beautiful!

After filling up at the local gas station (there is one in Shelter Cove), we took the Ettersburg Road towards Honeydew. Ettersburg Road is also goaty, tight and poorly paved. Right before entering Honeydew the road turns to gravel for about half a mile. The gravel section was fairly easy for us to handle and we made it to Honeydew for a short break. Honeydew (a town of about 3 houses at an intersection) has this beautiful wooden bridge. We stopped on the bridge and took some pictures.

As we continued along the famed Mattole Rd, we passed through the town on Petrolia and soon entered the Mattole Valley.  The road makes a dramatic entrance to the coast where the rider is rewarded with a million dollar view of the Lost Coast. We continued for a short distance along the coastal Mattole Road and stopped for a long picture break.

We then headed on towards Ferndale and Fortuna. Mattole Road climbs up very rapidly away from the coast, and again offers some excellent views. The road condition however leaves much to be desired. There are potholes galore and in many sections the road turns to complete gravel. We stopped for lunch at the Eel River Brewing Co where I had the excellent organic IPA.

Next we started riding Hwy 36. I had heard a lot of good things about Hwy 36 and they were all true. The turns are banked, modestly wide and easy to take at a good pace. The road surface was also very smooth. We enjoyed riding Hwy 36 tremendously, except for the heat (about 100F) and the occasional traffic. Somewhere along Hwy 36 I started getting worried about my chain being too loose. I could hear a repeatable sound, or maybe I was just imagining things. Shobhit rode along side me for a little while and observed my chain. He said it looked OK and I made it through the rest of the trip without worry.

Our next stop was Mad River, CA a very small town of 4-5 houses and a post office. We didn’t have the burgers at the small shack there, but I had heard they were good. There was actually a small meat processing plant right there behind the post office.

We took off from Mad River, turned onto Hwy 3 and refueled at Hayfork which is in Trinity County. Hwy 3 is probably as good as Hwy 36, with a lot less traffic. Hwy 3 merged onto Hwy 299 and we continued towards Redding and eventually Shingletown. Hwy 299 is not as good a motorcycling road as Hwy 36. It is wide and less curvy, more like a highway that caters to truck traffic.

We got into our campsite KOA Mt. Lassen at about 7PM. The cabin I had reserved was very nice and perfectly comfortable for the three of us.

We went into the town of Shingletown (population 2000) for dinner. While we were having pizza and beer a lady in a Lexus car backed into a Chevy truck parked right next to our bikes. Our bikes were thankfully not touched, but that incident came pretty close to ending our trip. That women was clearly drunk (or stoned), as were many others we met on this trip.

Day-3 Sunday July 27th

We were pretty tired at the end of Day 2 and decided to slab in back to the Bay Area instead of going into Lassen NP.  We took a short cut side road (Dersch Road) to get us to I-5 and it turned out be such a nice road. The rest of the riding back was boring — super slabbing it at 80-90mph with a couple of gas and rest stops. Thankfully we didn’t hit much traffic on our way back and were home by 3PM.

All of us had carried action cameras on this trip. We had over 6 hours of video and thousands of pictures. I compiled a short video of some of the clips I took:

Here is a video that Shobhit compiled

All in all, and excellent adventure. Different from 2013 and unique by itself.

5 thoughts on “Ride Report #34: Summer Trip to the Lost Coast”

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