The Lost Coast

15 August, 258 Miles

15 August, 258 Miles

Rick Mayer lives in a delightfully-named place called Happy Valley. Unfortunately there had been a bit of a wild-fire in Happy Valley the night before so it probably wasn’t so happy this morning. Luckily though it wasn’t anywhere near Rick’s place which was well off the beaten track. When we arrived we could hear a motorcycle being tortured in a local field. Rick’s neighbour is a stunt rider and was practising.

We spent a couple of hours at Rick’s while he sorted out the seats for us. Kevin always has problems with his coccyx when on the bike since an accident in the 80’s and Rick had been highly recommended by several people in the long-distance riding community. His suggestion for solving the problem was to cut out a portion of the seat’s hard plastic then replace it with foam and put ‘wings’ on the seat to make it slightly wider to increase support. He did something similar with mine but without the cut-out.

He has a great waiting room with all sorts of bike memorabilia and a few guitars if you want to have a strum. He told us about one of his customers, Neil Peart from Rush. Neil and other band members sat where we were sitting and played the guitars while the seat was being made.

Postscript: Over the several hundred miles we’ve ridden since it seems to have done the trick. Kevin is riding without coccyx pain for the first time in years and I am much more comfortable. Thanks Rick!

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We left around 11.30.  We hadn’t had breakfast so we asked Rick if there were any local places we could eat in. He suggested the Ono Store which he said didn’t look like much but made the best burgers. Worked for us.

The ‘shack’ we ate in was an amazing place. It really felt like small-town America. The waitress was delightful and there were already a couple of bikers in there having a beer.  When I walked in they said “We’ve been waiting for you!”.

There were all sorts of odd things on the walls, ranging from snake skins to Indian manikins and signatures written with thick felt-tip pen, lots of signatures. Rick was right, the burgers were the best we’ve had and on freshly made rolls instead of the pap that is usually on offer with burgers.

We don’t know how tiny out-of-the-way establishments like this survive but we’re glad they do.

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We carried on, heading west across country. The day was hotting up and we took it easy. The landscape was more natural than we had previously seen with all the cultivation. This was what I expected California to look like.

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Don (who we met in Sacramento during the IBR) had suggested US36 from Rick’s and Tom L. told us we’d really enjoy the Lost Coast which he’d given us some directions for but our plans had changed since we’d had these recommendations. Our next destination was Sacramento and the suggested routes added about 300 miles to our journey. Still, it sounded like somewhere we didn’t want to miss so US36 and on to the Lost Coast we went.

Rick had described US36 as ‘technical’. He wasn’t wrong. It was narrow and twisty as it clung to the side of the hills; perfect. We went round more hairpins today than we had in all the previous weeks we’ve been here. The edges were soft and there were no barriers. The surface wasn’t great but nothing the GSA couldn’t cope with. We saw very little traffic and nothing going our way. The views were fantastic with huge vistas of rolling hills and valleys. We really enjoyed it, thanks for the recommendation Don.

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At the end of 36 we headed up the 101towards Ferndale which turned out to be a charming Victorian town. We left Ferndale on Mattole Road which was in very poor condition and once again were grateful we’d brought the GSA instead of one our other bikes. For such and out-of-the-way road there appeared to be a lot of traffic but it was all heading in the other direction, there were only a few bicycles heading our way. We rode up the hills among beautiful scenery until we were eventually looking down at a steep twisty incline to the coast which was shrouded in mist.

The farms here were set back from the road and all seemed to have ‘Keep Out – Private Property – No Trespassing’ signs. We were puzzled by the smell of pot but were later told we were in the middle of California’s pot growing area. California has a state medical marijuana law called Proposition 215 which allows people with certain conditions to be granted the right to grow and use marijuana in small quantities for medical reasons. Some people’s idea of ‘small quantities’ doesn’t coincide with the government’s view but despite concerted efforts to wipe out the large crops there is apparently a lot still being grown.

The road was very reminiscent of some of the roads we’ve ridden in Scotland. Extremely narrow by US standards, just enough room for two cars to pass, but we were lucky as we had the road to ourselves. It meandered along the coast, often with the beach right alongside but with a bit of a drop to keep you from going onto it. It’s easy to see why the area is called the Lost Coast, it’s missed out on the usual ‘view point’ stops and there are no car parks or recreational facilities. It’s lovely. We crawled along the coast admiring its ruggedness and revelling in the solitude.

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We thought that was a rock until it moved and the silhouette became recognisable

Yet again we were in a tsunami zone, although it looked like there was more danger from human activities than the water. Looking around it is hard to see where people could escape to if there was a tsunami. The hills weren’t that high and the road ran along the coast for miles. I think under the circumstances the only thing to do would be to make full use of the local crop!

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It seemed strange to have cows grazing on the sea-shore.

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I had to look twice as these aren’t horses, they’re zebras!










As we rode away from the coast we came upon a sudden turn onto a wooden bridge. Sharp stop as it’s only big enough for one vehicle and there was a beaten up open-topped Jeep hurtling towards us. The two young lads in it waved and shouted something at us. I’m still not sure what they were trying to say, or even if it was friendly. The bridge was rather rickety and had two lines of wood over it for car wheels. As we continued the steep, twisty, road narrowed further and its condition worsened, the tarmac disappearing altogether in places and we found ourselves riding on gravel without warning.

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Our last scenic excitement was driving through a State Park with some wonderful Giant Redwoods. The narrow sliver of tarmac, only wide enough for a single vehicle, meanders through the forest with huge trees brushing against it; you really wouldn’t want to make a mistake here.

Tom, you were absolutely right in thinking we’d enjoy this, we had a ball. If I may paraphrase something I read elsewhere, we hope the Lost Coast remains lost until we have an opportunity to ride it at least one more time.

Coming back to the main road we found we were on the ‘Avenue of the Giants’, another road with Redwoods alongside it. We rode this in both directions but I have to say the side road was better.

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We stopped for the night in Garberville where we went for a meal in a tiny restaurant-come-takeaway. It was a good job they did takeaway as there was a violinist playing (and I use the term very loosely). We persevered though and ate in. It was the first time we’d ever heard ‘Be-Bop-a-Lula’ being murdered on a violin and sincerely hope it’s the last!

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    • Tim HULL on August 29, 2013 at 12:50
    • Reply

    Kevin & Lyn I love these write ups, Looks like you are having a wonderful time. What an adventure.

    1. Hi Tim Yes, wonderful time indeed! Catch you soon. Lyn

    • Colin on August 29, 2013 at 15:31
    • Reply

    I guessed Kevin would need a wider seat, but not you Lyn!

    1. Thanks Colin! Having it a bit wider so that my legs are more supported does actually make a difference. The GSA seat is nothing like the ZZR one which, if it’s anything like the GTR, would be more comfortable from the start, unlike the plank that BMW seem to think is suitable for long distance touring. Catch you soon Lyn (Lyn forgot to add, ‘And Kevin says you’re a cheeky *******!’, Kevin)

    • Tom Loftus on September 3, 2013 at 20:59
    • Reply

    We enjoyed meeting you two for dinner in Coos Bay.

    I’m glad Rick was able to help you with your seat and that you enjoyed the scenery of the lost coast. I try to get there at least every other year, I’m afraid the condition of the road keeps degrading, a lot of the gravel spots you encountered were there four years ago. The scenery is still enough of a reason to ride through there despite the condition of the road.

    1. We agree on all counts Tom. We’d definitely like to go back to the LC and have a bit more of an explore. Our appointment at Clearwater meant we didn’t have time to stop and walk round as much as we’d have liked. Kevin

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