Replicating last week's "eve" early departure (east coast lunchtime), today I headed north along the coast before cutting across coastal mountains into wine country for a 250ish mile loop.
The morning started with a leisurely ride along Highway 1 up to Point Reyes where I noticed a voicemail prompting me to run an errand over to Petaluma, where I also picked up new batteries for my dead camera.
Old establishment heading north from Petaluma...I'll have to try it some time
It was still relatively early, so I had a cinnamon roll from the bakery in Duncan's Mills in mind, setting my direction.
Beautiful, flowing Bodega Highway
I passed by the more direct, but rougher, Bohemian Highway through Occidental heading straight for the coast instead. As I made my way back to the coastline the temps climbed from the mid-40s into the mid-50s, which was very welcome.
Sonoma Coast State Park and Highway 1 - looking north, then south (with bright sun darkening the pic)
Eastbound on 116 following the Russian River in search my cinnamon bun
Getting to the bakery at noon meant I was too late for most morning pastries, so I warmed myself with a chai tea before backtracking to Highway 1 and setting my sights on Fort Ross, and the awesome climb to it.
Highway 1 somewhere in the Fort Ross vicinity - the roadway is tucked into the hillside high above the beach for several miles, presenting great views
I was getting hungry having not succeeded in my pastry quest, and thinking about a burger when all of a sudden...
While most of my Highway 1 pictures are of open road hugging cliffs, many miles are also shrouded by woods
Arrived at my lunch and gas stop to learn that there was no gas...I'd have to wait until Wednesday for a delivery
The proprietor conformed no gas for a solid 50 miles on my planned route east - Stewart's Point Skaggs Springs Rd. - and there wasn't any for miles the way I'd come, so continuing north seemed the only option, with gas only about 12 miles away in Gualala.
Call ahead if counting on this spot as a critical fuel stop
In the 1/2 hour or less it took me to eat a forgettable sandwich in Gualala (who cares - I had a full tank of gas at least!), I was disappointed to see the mostly sunny skies being taken over by clouds.
Gualala River just before it meets the Pacific near Gualala
After backtracking a few miles south, I hung a left on Annapolis Rd to reconnect with my originally planned route east. This leads up into the hills with a notable climb, and the beginning of a wooded and empty couple of hours.
Annapolis Rd. meeting Stewart's Point Skaggs Springs Rd.
Looking west and downstream at the Gualala River (or one of its offshoots) 15 miles or so from the previous picture of it from Highway 1
The way I'm going
The road was a little rough, but there was no traffic - maybe 1/2 dozen cars on the whole route, all going the other way - making for a pleasant ride motoring through the forest, enjoying the views and scent of pine.
Road and view shots, littered with a Guzzi
As I gained elevation I found I had to take it really slow because there was fine, red gravel dumped in many of the corners, and the road is mostly corners. There was no traction on this stuff, leading to a lot of creeping around bends mostly upright in first gear.
Nothing like gravel curved hairpins
On the plus side, the temps that had dropped back into the mid-40s weren't wearing on me because there were few opportunities to sustain higher speeds. That all changed towards the eastern end of the road. The pavement quality drastically increased, the turns were perfect, the gravel was gone. This is a popular sportbike road on nice weekends, so I've avoided it on nice days. Today I had it all to myself, and those last 15 miles or so were awesome.
Photo break where the good road begins, and looking at the event better part in the distance
The forests give way to steep, grassy hills
In Healdsburg I took a break and weighed return options, choosing to take the Old Redwood Highway and other 2-lane byways. However I underestimated traffic in wine country on New Year's Eve, foolishly, and with dark creeping in gave in to 101 near Santa Rosa for the home stretch. Traffic wasn't nearly as bad as I expected and there were no CHP - guess they're waiting for later - so it was easy if not a bit chilly cruising down the highway and back into the city.
Now that riding is done it's beer time. Happy New Year's, STN