Two Wheels Good, Four Wheels Bad: An Epic Journey to Eureka And Back
August 16, 2016 at 4:19 pm By Chef Eric
As a boy that grew up on the East Coast of Canada, I have always been drawn to the ocean. Since leaving home, I have traveled the globe comparing dozens of different coast lines. And now that I live in Northern California, I have fallen in love with Highway 1. Most people know it as the route from LA to San Francisco, via Santa Cruz. But for me that’s where the real journey begins.
It All Starts With Brunch
I just took a picture of my breakfast, yup, I’m that guy. It was all so perfect. Eggs benedict, with a smokey chipotle hollandaise, and spicy chorizo. Their french toast was crusted with corn flakes, creating a crispy exterior and soft interior. Then of course, millionaire’s bacon. The thick sliced, slow cooked, maple glazed heaven that costs $4 per slice. [Sweet Maple 2101 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94115]
Next stop was to pick up a cruiser bike from Dubbelju Motorcycle Rentals. Think back to the last time you rented a car, did they care at all about your trip? Where you were going or how you’d get there? Wolfgang does. This guy busted out an actual paper map, then took the time to highlight the best roads, the must-dos, and what to avoid. The shop is amazing, the staff knowledgeable. Next time though I will book more than 2 days in advance so I can get a bike that fits me. It’s so nice dealing with people that love what they do. These guys know bikes, and they know the area [Dubbelju Motorcycle Rentals 274 Shotwell St, San Francisco, CA 94110].
First Stop: Booneville
After 90 minutes of slowly lane-splitting through traffic we break from the 101 and head west along the 128 to Booneville. There we hit up Anderson Valley Brewing Co. I’ve always loved their beers, but this was a chance to get the stuff they don’t bottle. One of my favourites is their oatmeal stout. What I didn’t realize was that they age some of it in the barrels used to age Wild Turkey® Bourbon. In addition to being a brewery they also have a great beer garden where the locals all converge with their dogs. And a couple of guys set up a hotdog cart to provide a much needed snack. [Anderson Valley Brewing Co.17700 California 253, Boonville, CA 95415]
30 miles to the coast
After Booneville you really feel like you’ve left society behind, as well as the brutal summer heat. Highway 128 twists and turns for 30min before the temperature suddenly drops and we had to bundle up before turning north on Hwy 1.
The little town that stopped growing
Ten miles north along Hwy 1 we reached Mendocino. An adorable little town filled with historic Victorian-era architecture. The town was built on a small outcropping, that is now surrounded by parkland, so it stopped growing.
I’ll have the number 9, no wait, the number 8, where is number 8?
We spent the night in Fort Bragg and started our morning with another great breakfast at Egghead’s (326 N Main St, Fort Bragg, CA 95437). Simple food, done right, with amazing wait staff. What I loved was that their menu had a bunch of different omelets, that were each numbered. But some of the numbers were missing. As they added and removed things from the menu they still let their regulars order what they were used to. So someone can order a number 8, and he’ll get it just the way he remembers.
Fort Bragg also has a troubled past turned tourist attraction: they used to dump their trash off a cliff onto the beach below. Eventually they stopped and cleaned it up, but the broken glass remained. Over the several decades the glass has been worn down to form smooth rock-like pieces that give the beach the most amazing appearance.
And then we drove through a tree
After Fort Bragg Hwy 1 only has about 20 miles along the coast before heading inland. The next 22 miles were some of the most challenging I’ve ever ridden, as the road twist and turns, then twists, then turns. The temperature on the coast was probably 55F, but as we climbed inland it eventually reached over 85, which meant shedding a lot of layers. We eventually made it to Leggett with its Drive Thru Tree.
Ride Amongst the Giants (nothing to do with the baseball team)
From there we made our way through the Avenue of the Giants. This is a strange mix of highway and state park. The road cuts through some of the oldest forests in California.
Traffic and a scary reminder
After merging back onto the 101 we eventually hit traffic. Cars were completely stopped for miles, where we learned that a U-Haul had lost control, swerved across traffic, and smashed into a tree. In the process a motorcyclist lost control and crashed bad enough that he was airlifted to Redding.
Biker Breakfast and a tour through Eureka
Our foggy morning in Eureka was brightened by a visit to the Black Lightning Motorcycle Cafe. I want to use the word adorable, but that seems wrong. Half of the shop is motorcycle gear, and a few old bikes. The other half is a great little cafe serving up delicious breakfast sandwiches and mini German pancakes (Black Lightning Motorcycle Cafe 440 F St, Eureka, CA 95501).
The long slog home
Over the first two days, we had many opportunities to break up the trip, but on day three we had to make our way back home. What we didn’t realize was that long distance riding is really, really hard. Keep in mind that I’ve run marathons after riding 112 miles on a bicycle. But an hour on a motorcycle completely destroyed us. So the plan for our ride back was to stop every 30min for a break. This turned a 3 hour trip into 7, but it was worth it. There are so many great little towns and vistas that I would normally just blow past and completely ignore. Then after traveling 597 miles, round trip, we made it home, exhausted, and ready to do it all over again.