Oh what a difference a day makes. Sayonara to Road 99W, never doing that again. Too many corporate agribusiness addresses on that street, making for too many semi trucks driving on it.
Today’s theme: stay on the road less travelled. Not that I planned it to be that way, but I got lucky and found some beautiful roads to ride. I was up and out the door by 5:30am, once again fearing that wind would come as the day progressed. At least this day there was light in the eastern sky when I got going. I did ride my last bit of straight 99-ish road out of Orland to Corning, but it was quiet. Saw some deep poverty along the way – fields with motor homes set up like mobile home camps, but I am sure there was no electricity or running water.
Corning – Corning has an Indian gaming casino, a serious truck stop center, and the most developed town I have seen since Woodland. On the north side of town I found quite old olive tree orchards, this has been an olive oil producing region for quite some time. I crossed to the west side of I-5 and found lovely
quiet country roads to ride on. My pace slowed considerably as I was enjoying the surroundings. More old, old orchards, then open lush grassland filled with birdsong. Snow capped mountains to the West – the Trinity Alps. This was becoming seriously beautiful countryside. Then cattle started appearing as I approached Red Bluff.
Red Bluff - I was passing a middle school just as class was starting. Cars backed up at the intersection with a crossing guard shepherding the students. Down into the town, looking for a breakfast place and found one on Main Street. I had covered 30 miles before breakfast, about half what I had planned for the day. I was still waiting to see if the wind was coming. I told my friend Aaron that I would be arriving in Redding around 11 am. Turned out to be a small miscalculation.
Aaron – Aaron is a friend from college who has been living in Redding for maybe 15 years. I called him last week to let him know I was coming through town. He told me he had a spare room, and that just that very morning he had a Frank Zappa song stuck in his head, which made him think, “I wonder what Bob is doing these days?’ On the same day we reached out to each other, myself with a phone call, Aaron with his query to the cosmos. Yes, I was the biggest Zappa fan on my dorm floor.
Highway 36 – Out of Red Bluff I was not paying close attention to my navigation screen and missed a turn. I was riding down hwy 36, which was wide, well paved, had little traffic and was transitioning into oak woodland. So many different environments I was moving through in such a short time! As I was cruising along enjoying myself, a mileage sign appeared – Fortuna 145 mi. That town is on the coast by Eureka. No mention of Redding. Stop. Check map. Far enough off course that doubling back would achieve nothing. I found Bowman road farther down that I could take back to Cottonwood and the I-5 corridor. The oops added at least 15 miles to my ride, but it was well worth it. Beautiful oak woodland, views of snow capped peaks in the distance, dropping down into horse ranch country, and finally back to Cottonwood. A brief hydration stop in Cottonwood and I rode the last hour into Redding. Hwy 273 was pretty yucky, two one-way divided hwy with 60 mph speed limit, at least had a wide shoulder to ride on and not terribly busy. Still, the yuckiest stretch of the day. Aaron lives on Hillcrest Road, and of course it is at the top of a 14% grade road, short but wicked. Not something to climb at mile 84, but I made it.
We had a late lunch of Hawaiian BBQ and beers at the Fall River Brewing taproom, located in the Safeway parking mall area. ‘Redding ambiance’ as Aaron put it. Lots of catching up to do with my friend Aaron, I’m glad I looked him up. Look up the lyrics to Dinah Moe Humm.