Getting to my 20th high school reunion (Dos Pueblos HS in Goleta CA) was just the excuse I needed to pack the bike for an extended trip down the West Coast. The trip from my home on Bainbridge Island WA to mom's house in San Luis Obispo CA is a bit over 1200 miles if you follow the coastal route of US 101 and HWY 1. I've ridden down to SLO before but always took I-5 through Oregon and cut over to the coast at Grant's Pass on 199. Over the years I have developed an aversion the Interstate Highway system so following 101 seemed like good idea despite warnings from those who had BTDT....
Along with Interstates, over-crowded State Parks with their screaming children and humming RVs have found themselves on my "do not patronize unless you have to" list. So for the first time ever I would set out without my camping gear, this would be a motel-only excursion. A bit of time spent with some mapping software and Expedia got my schedule ironed out. I work a 24 hour shift and would be leaving after work so a relatively short day one to Tillamook OR was in order then on to Eureka and Half Moon Bay CA before arriving in SLO. My return trip would mirror the outward bound leg.
Day one started with a meeting in the rain with a contractor who thought he'd be able to pour the foundation for my 1100 sq foot addition to my garage by the time I got back (as of today I have a trailer with some forms on it in the driveway, no sign of anything else). Rain showers, fog and what we call "sunbreaks" would follow me for the next two days. Hwy 101 through Washington is nice, the part I took runs down the Hood Canal before cutting over towards the coast where you go past alternating oyster farms and land belonging to logging companies. Nice sweeping turns and fairly low population density make for a nice ride. Coastal Oregon on the other hand was not worth the effort. Low speed limits, high population and straight roads coupled with the local's inability to maintain the posted speed limit (about 5 under on my speedo seeemed average) make this stretch of road insufferable, next time it's back to I-5) Badly dinging a front rim on a rock while traversing a construction zone didn't exactly help my impression of this section either.
Once into sunny California things began to pick up. Remembering an article in the MON I cut through Ferndale and explored a bit of the Lost Coast. This would be the begining of the best day of riding in my 20+ years on bikes. Not to be taken lightly the road is full of bumps, tight twisty sections and steep switchbacks running up and down hills and along the coast through open range areas, small farms and giant redwood trees before spitting you back onto 101. Over the river and through the woods and you arrive at the top of Hwy 1 in Legget. Wow. Recently paved this is a fantastic stretch of road through valleys thick with trees and along ridges offering up sweeping views if you dare take your eyes off the road. It eventually spits out onto the coast where the road settles into a rythm of sweeping curves along the water and tighter sections up into the valleys. There are signs everywhere telling slow traffic to pull over with turn-outs liberally supplied for them to comply. I found most people pulled over fairly quickly and the road lightly traveled over all. I had a choice to make in Jenner, cut over to 101 and a fast ride through San Francisco or continue on 1. I took 1, it runs through towns like Bodega Bay and Stinson Beach that you read about in high school lit classes and offers up some incredible riding too. Make sure you have good tires and brakes before tackling this road, you'll use 'em hard. (BT020's and EBC organic compound pads work well for me on my '91 K100RS) This was well over 300 miles of fun riding.
Half Moon Bay is a cute little town about 30 miles south of SF. The main highway by-passes "downtown" which is full of funky art galleries, antique shops and restaurants. By mutual agreement about half the stores are closed on tuesdays... Route 1 opens up a bit from here south, more sweeping vistas and fewer "twisty bits" but still fun. San Luis is a neat little community, not too hot, not too cool it is the kind of place you visit and want to stay. It's going through some serious expansion right now, lots of housing going up, considering the cost of the existing homes I'm not surprised.
The return trip was much the same, drier and I took fewer side trips off 101 due to being tired and a bit saddle sore. 2500 miles, eight days of riding over an 11 day trip, oil consumption minimal (just above the dot to just below) time for a new front tire and probably a new rim. Overall not a bad way to wind down the summer riding season.