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Published: April 15th 2008
The Trinity River (Pashnit.com photo)
There were three days left for riding and some choices to make when I chose my route home from Fortuna. Having been thwarted by the weather on the southbound leg, I still wanted to ride my favorite central Oregon roads on the way home from the coast. It would require a traverse, west to east, across the north end of California.
Last April I had ridden such a traverse, and my experience on that trip left me wanting more of this area's roads. The route options from Fortuna to Alturas are many if time is not an issue. In order to fit such a ride into one day, it really leaves only Highways 36 and 299 as viable options. Last year I experienced Hwy 36, a well known epic ride from Fortuna to Red Bluff, and wanted to see something new.
Regarding Hwy 299, Pashnit.com raved about the western half of the traverse, the section between Fortuna and Redding. They said nothing about the eastern half from Redding to Alturas, but it was a section new to me and looked good on the map.
So after packing up out of the cabin, it was a quick topping of
Okay kids, why are we here? (Pashnit.com photo)
the fuel tank and a short run north to Arcata, where Hwy 299 begins its eastward run. While Hwy 299 is considered a favorite riding road by some, plenty of riders recognize the heavy volume of truck traffic on the main cross state arterial can diminish the joy of this fabulous road. Much of the ride runs right through the middle of Six Rivers, Trinity, and Shasta National Forests. An endless series of curves range in speed and radius, but the majority are high speed sweepers, well paved and engineered in large. It is a road with good sight lines and no surprises. The ride is fun, fast, and relaxed- to a point.
While the truck traffic was light this day, the California Highway Patrol had a large presence in the first hour of riding. There is probably a strategic purpose to a heavy hand in making an impression on drivers heading across the State. If you think there will continue to be a LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) around every bend, you'll tend to keep the pace down. After Officer Friendly in his sneaker patrol car passed me three times only to lay in wait just up the road,
Guardrail Rest Stop
Surprise Valley Vista
I was beginning to wonder if he had a thang for guys in leather pants. I finally took a long break at a view point and chatted with an English tourist, Matt, who was headed up the coast to Seattle. That must have broken up the dance for my favorite LEO and he never did show again.
One of the remarkable experiences of California riding occurred most frequently this day. It seems on two-lane roads, many California drivers will recognize your faster pace and politely pull over to let you pass. And not just the occasional driver, but maybe more than half of the vehicles along this particular road. There were even two semi-tractor trailers that nearly stopped in turn-outs to let me by! There appeared to be a respect for differing paces and no ego to prevent others from driving as they wish.
The 140 mile run to Redding was a delight with not a single close call with an LEO Performance Award.
Into the unpreviewed eastern half of Hwy 299, it was soon apparent this road was of similar curvy delight. Even less traffic, beautiful Sierra scenery, and endless smooth curves drew me on toward
Through the haze...
When I finally stopped for a photo-op, the hazy view over Surprise Valley held great angles on Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen. As it turned out, this would be the last of vast greenness to be seen for some time, as spring would not be as advanced in upcoming sections.
As the afternoon wore on and the temperatures dropped, the road descended little from the crest pass to Alturas. When the snows on Warner Mountain came into view just outside Alturas, my plans for camping came into doubt. A brief word with a National Forest Ranger revealed both the continued winter closure of the snowbound local campgrounds as well as the forecast overnight low of 24F in Alturas. I headed for the same cheap motel I stayed at last year.
That night I dined at the classic Wagon Wheel Diner on the worst meatloaf of my life (go figure) as well as the best bread pudding I've ever tasted.
The Hwy 299 Trans-California run: Best day of the trip! I'd ride this road again any day. Distance ridden from Fortuna to Alturas: 316 miles.
Tot: 2.481s; Tpl: 0.072s; cc: 10; qc: 50; dbt: 0.0509s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb