Sunday, May 3, 2009

Avenue of the Giants Race and South Down Highway 1

On the morning of the race, everyone went through their pre-event rituals of bagels and Cliff Bars and smack talk and got in the car to head north. Ann and I had a slightly later start time and had to be back to the motel to check out before everyone else so we pulled our riding gear on over our shorts and running shoes and followed on the bike. Not much to say about the race other than that it was well organized and wound through some pretty impressive redwoods. It was nice to be moving at a slower (much) pace to enjoy a little of the scenery. After a leisurely first half, we both picked up the pace substantially and finished the 10k course (6.2 miles) in just under an hour. We waited around long enough to see the first couple friends finish the half marathon but had to cut out early to make it back, shower and pack before our noon checkout.

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

We rendezvou’d with the group in the little town of Miranda for some much-needed refueling at the Avenue CafĂ©. Good food and they were nice enough to seat us even though for some reason they’d officially closed for the day at 1:00. iPhones were busily checking for race results as we rehashed mins/mile paces and the highs and lows of the experience.

Getting back on the bike, just the two of us, was a nice feeling. It had been great riding with Dave and we certainly wouldn’t have attempted the route we did (or had the ensuing adventures) without him, but I suddenly really had the feeling of being off on our own. We’d packed our gear to be fully self-sufficient and didn’t really have a set plan other than needing to be back in SF by noon on Monday. We were in one of the most beautiful parts of California with great roads all around and starting to wish we had the rest of the week.

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

We headed south and cut to the coast at Leggett but not before taking advantage of the opportunity to drive through an ancient redwood (and photograph the experience thoroughly). The weather had finally broken and the struggling sun lit up the mist still hanging between the moisture loving trees. As we reached Highway 1, we were met with the requisite dense fog but it too gave way as we continued south.

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

Our selected destination was a campground we had seen on many car trips up the coast and each time had said, “That would be a great place to camp with the motorcycle.” Problem was, we weren’t really sure where it was other than somewhere on Highway 1 between San Francisco and Arcata. All either of us remembered was coming around a sharp hairpin as the road swung inland and looking back to see a flat campground with a beach in front nestled in the valley between the road and the ocean. Was it Point Arena? Gualala? Albion? Irish Beach? The names of all these picturesque Highway 1 towns had melded together in our minds. Unwilling to accept anything less than the picture in our heads, we rode south as the sun was falling, craning our necks around every bend for our oceanside paradise.

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

For the next 40 minutes, the road varied from tight turns and steep cliffs to 80 mile an hour rolling straightaways through ranch land. After countless false alarms, we rounded the bend at Anchor Bay and saw it. The first half of Anchor Bay Campground was tucked back in the coastal trees and felt dark and cold, but a little farther past the entrance, it opened up into a private beach with campsites right on the breakwater. We pulled into a spot front and center of the view and absorbed the curious gazes of the well-entrenched RV dwellers along either side of the road. A check with the office confirmed that our front row spot was available and we were happy to pay a premium ($45/night for the seawall site) to be home for the night in our targeted destination. We later found out from the couple next to us that these sites are often booked up to a year in advance for weekend nights. We’d just missed the weekend crowd.

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

Anxious to enjoy the sunset, we efficiently unpacked the camping gear for the first time on the trip, erected the tent, and tossed pads and sleeping bags in, muttering something about letting the bags fluff for a while before arranging them any further. Out came the 22 oz bottles of Lagunitas and North Coast Brew Co beer and sunset cocktail and appetizer hour was in full swing. We followed cheese and crackers with some lentil soup cooked up on the Whisperlite stove and a rotisserie chicken we’d been carrying in the cooler since Friday. No ceremony was observed as we tipped our silicone bowls to our mouths to slurp the contents and picked at the chicken with fingers. One of those hard-earned dinners in an amazing place that you remember as one of the best meals ever.

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

With the sun convincingly gone for the night and the condensation already forming on the tent fly, we staged some long exposure pictures with the Canon G10 to capture the drama of the location. We used a headlamp to “paint” the bike and to write things in the darkening sky. Hopefully, our mobile-homed neighbors noticed the camera on the tripod or for all they knew we were paying homage to our trusty steed with the warmth of light and doing rhythmic gymnastics moves for each other.

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

Back to Story Index

0 comments:

Post a Comment