Today was one of my longer days of riding. I started the morning in Eureka, California and wound down the Pacific Coast Highway (with a slight detour onto the Avenue of Giants) 246 miles to Novato, California - a north Bay area town slightly further than my original planned stop in Petaluma.
I started the day with a good breakfast at a local diner (one of the few open by 6:30 AM) and started south. It wasn't long before I began seeing signs for Avenue of the Giants and I happily pulled onto this scenic alternate. Highway 254 winds through groves of massive redwoods. The ride was cool (the trees almost completely blocked out the sun), twisty at times, and completely awesome.
The road continued for some time, twisting through the massive trees, eventually giving me a view of the Eel River, which the highway was largely following.
Eventually, I rejoined Highway 101 and headed south. While classified as a freeway, the road was great fun with plenty of twists. When I reached Leggett, I decided to stick with the 101, rather than make my way back to the coast. I'd just had three days of very twisty roads and my mind needed a break from the absolute concentration. And so far, the 101 had been plenty fun, twisty, and just what I needed. The ascents and descents through the coastal mountains offered plenty of scenery, despite the haze from the fires burning several miles further inland. It continued like this for the remainder of the day, with smooth curves, climbs, and descents all the way to Santa Rosa, where I ran into all the folks returning from their weekend in Napa Valley. I was more like a jungle of cars from Petaluma to Novato, but I arrived and found my way to the hotel.
I explored Novato a bit - they have an interesting and walkable downtown, but the rotisserie joint I found for dinner was definitely a good choice. It wasn't until I was walking back to my room that I noticed a massive cloud to the north. Then I realized it wasn't a cloud - it was the firestorm from the Rocky Fire, burning over 50 miles north of my location.