Thursday, January 21, 2010

Portland and South

Portland was to be a day or so of much-needed rest, and gear exchange. An ex-girlfriend of mine lives there now, and I'd had my hot-weather riding gear shipped to her in advance of my arrival. The plan was to pack up my yellow Olympia suit and ship it back to Chicago, and continue on through the southwest in my heavily vented mesh riding gear.

The Olympia is a great suit, no doubt. Served me pretty well thought some truly stupid weather, and actually I'm still wearing it for daily riding now, in January, in Chicago. But it starts to get sticky much above 75 degrees, and 85 is pushing the levels of comfort even with the vents open. The day spent getting from Idaho into Portland had been through a lot of very hot, dry areas, and as long as I never stopped moving, it was pretty comfortable. But to stay comfortable, I had to have all the vents zipped open, as well as keeping the cuffs all the way open to get some additional airflow up my arms.

These open cuffs proved to be irresistible to a wasp.

My eye caught the motion blur just as it went into my suit, and then a burning sensation on my wrist. This was made worse by the knowledge that the thing was probably still alive somewhere in the suit, which lead to me comically whacking at my right arm with my left, while still trying to maintain control at highway speeds. I pulled over and dumped the crushed remains of it out, but I didn't have anything to treat the sting with. This was it a day later.

Ah well. Waiting for me in Portland was my mesh gear, so cliff bars, and some other assorted care packages from my father.

I didn't do a whole lot else while in Portland, updated my blog and hung out with the ex and her new girlfriend (She was pretty gay before me, it wasn't that I was such a bad boyfriend that I turned her gay. At least, that's what I tell myself). After a day off, it was time to get back on the road.


I used interstates only to get past the suburban sprawl of Portland. Once I was sufficiently out in the country, I got back to where I belong, on side roads.

When I left Portland, it was the better part of 90 degrees, and sunny. And it stayed that way until I got to within about five miles of the coast, at which point the temperature dropped to maybe 65-70 degrees. Normally this wouldn't have been a problem, perfect riding weather, but remember that I'd just swapped my insulated riding gear for my mesh stuff. A Teknic Supervent Pro jacket, and Olympia Airglide pants. Both of these flow so much air that you almost feel like you're riding naked, and 65 degrees is freezing cold at highway speeds. I eventually stopped to put on my rain gear to act as a wind breaker.

It may have been cold, but the ocean sure was pretty.

It was so strange that just a few miles had such a large temperature variation, at least a 30 degree drop in just a few miles without significant elevation changes. But once I had the rain gear on, I was pretty comfortable without all the air blowing through me. I headed down the coast on Highway 101.

Now, what I'm about to tell you is very important. One of the more important things I learned on my trip, so pay attention.

If you are heading down a fairly major or well traveled road, in my case Hwy 101, pay attention to the forks in the road. Because if you ever come to a fork a road labled "Old (whatever road you're currently on)" . . .

You take that road. You take that mother fucking road.

It wasn't just the twistiness that was fun. Although that was a good part of it. It was beautiful, just stupidly beautiful.

Info on it:

Someone with the same priorities as I had made some appropriate alterations to the sign. :)

I guess compared to other roads in the area, it probably isn't that steller. It's old and isn't maintained very much anymore, so the pavement was actually pretty rough. But there was hardly any traffic on it; thoese three cars I passed in the video were the only three I passed in the whole three hours I spent just going back and forth over that stretch. It was just me, and the sunlight filtering through the trees, and the bike, and the road. I couldn't have asked for anything better.

Although it looks like some people had a bit too much fun on it.

Given that it was in a national forest, I headed down one of the gravel side roads to find someplace to camp. Off that side-road, I spotted another side road.

I headed down it for about a mile, and it just kept getting denser and denser.

This far in I wasn't worried about being pestered by any vehicles, so I set up my tent just off the side of the track, and turned in for the night.


The next day I headed back to the coast, and kept going down the 101. I'm sure it would have been pretty, but the whole area was covered in solid fog and clouds, and was very busy, lots of traffic. It was cold, occasionally rainy, and even with my rain gear I was dearly missing my big yellow suit. Maybe I shouldn't have swapped the gear out.

I stopped at a candy store to have a shot at raising my spirits

Mmmm, chocolate . . .

hey, cool, a road named after me!

Honestly, nothing much of note went on this day. It was cold, foggy, and occasionally sprinkled rain all day, obscuring what I'm sure were some very pretty coastal views. I camped for the night in what looked to be a turnaround for highway maintenance vehicles, going to sleep to occasional rain and chill.


I was sick of the cold. The last two days had been spent largely shivering under my mesh gear, waiting for the endless fog to clear up so I could actually see some of this pretty Oregon cost I had been told about. But at this point, I was done. I wanted heat, I wanted dry. With my setup at the time, excessive heat was easier to deal with then excessive cold, so I decided to turn farther inland.

I think I left Hwy 101 somewhere around the town of Gold Beach, and headed due east into what looked like on my GPS to be a maze of twisted roads going into the Siskiyou National Forest.

I had no idea what I was in for . . .

Seemingly never-ending ribbons of gnarled, twisted asphalt spiraling off into all directions.

(I guess you don't really HAVE to watch that, there's no crashes or close calls or anything. It's just ten minutes of blissfully perfect motorcycling)

I kept going deeper and deeper into the forest, getting gloriously lost in a maze of forest service roads.

Woah, washout

Eventually the pavement ran out, so I had to lay off the Rossi imitations, but whatever.

Oh, Oregon, how I miss you.

This is what the whole day consisted of. Tearing around on roads like in that video, while starting at scenery like this.

It was balls-hot, nudging 95 degrees according to my thermometer. But I stayed moving enough that it didn't matter, and I was having way too much fun to care.

I was so wonderfully lost that day. I've got no idea the route I took or how I got there, but eventually the forest spit me out somewhere on the east side against I-5, in the "Town" of Wolf Creek. I grabbed a quick bite at a Taco truck before getting on I-5 to go south.

Riding along I-5 was even hotter then in the forests; at least 100 degrees. I stopped at a highway rest area to soak my tee-shirt in water, which cooled me down very nicely with how vented my jacket was. I was only on the super-slab for a few miles, getting off at Hwy 199 south into California . . . where that night I found the greatest campsite ever.

My previous post on it:

And in interest of continuing the liner order of things, this would be the next entry:

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