Memorial Day 2009: Day One: San Francisco to Ft. Bragg CA

Friday, May 22
172 Miles

In answer to the unasked question: “No, I haven’t quit riding.” It’s just been a long time since I’ve taken the time to go on a real ride. Virtually every mile I put on a vehicle is on my bike, but they are mostly commuting miles. And, as my friend Steve Middleton is faithfully to remind me, “All work and no play makes Bill a dullard.”

So, having co-opted Jeff Meehan to make a NorCal run with me, I’m back on the road for Memorial Day!

Pat and Mark turned us all loose at 3PM today and I immediately took advantage of it. The bike was packed and ready to go, so my only real issue was Friday traffic before a 3-day weekend. And that is a considerable issue. Luckily for me California allows lane-splitting even if at 38 inches wide doing so requires an almost Zen focus. Hwy 101 was practically a parking lot of campers, SUVs, and boats until I reached Windsor and pulled over for gas. By then the total focus on riding had already began to melt away the stress of the last few weeks…

Jeff, being the owner of his own company had generously given himself the day off and was well ahead of me with the intent to meet up in Ft. Bragg at the Old Coast Hotel, one of his favorites.

The next X miles to Willits was largely an exercise in staying mostly under the speed limit as I had clearly gotten ahead of the weekend traffic. It was warm, sunny and with a clear road the temptation for speed was almost too much.

It is nice to be back out on the bike and on the road, but the last few weeks have been very busy and by the time I reached my turn off at Willits, I was feeling a little less than alert. Stopping for an otherwise unnecessary fill up, I took the opportunity to try and call Jeff and give him an ETA. Alas, no cell signal. Its amazing how used to being “connected” one can be come.

Turning onto Hwy 20 provided one of the most enjoyable rides I’ve had this year. Although only 33 miles long, it is perfectly paved and banked. I’d bet my life that you can take every curve on that road at twice the posted speed limit. But you of course have to make your own decisions on these things.

It begins about like you would expect:


And then for a good two-thirds of the way the redwoods become predominant. The sunlight was streaming through the overhead canopy providing an almost Tolkensque effect. I stopped several times to try to capture it, but this is as close as I got:



Well before dark I reached Ft. Bragg, met up with Jeff and headed for dinner. There really wasn’t any discussion about where to go to dinner. After all, North Coast Brewery was only a few blocks away.


Beers at the bar turned into dinner at the bar. We both had an excellent Salmon that was the day’s special and lost track of time as we really caught up for the first time in almost a year.

On the way back to Old Coast we fired up a stogie and wandered around Ft. Bragg ’till we passed bar with a live band that beckoned us.


Had the smokes been Cuban we might have withstood the call. But alas, they were not quite that scarce, so we stood outside until we had smoked enough to justify tossing them. Jeff then proceeded to soundly trounce* me in some 8 or so games of shuffleboard. I might have won one or two, but mostly what I remember was a lot of laughing at one another and one or two pucks on the floor. Actually I might have beaten him at all of them, but I have to take his word for it since I don’t really know how to play and he is an honest man.


This was our route today:


*and yes JT, I know that is a split infinitive and I have to say that I really don’t care.