October 30, 2006
Route 101 through this stretch is like a freeway – wide shoulders, exit ramps, four lanes, truck traffic, etc. It means less scenery, but also gentle hills and efficient mileage.
The Adventure Cycling route is designed to bend on a large, out of the way loop to the west, but I missed the turn and decided to stay on 101, especially since I started so late this morning. Staying on the freeway also gives me the opportunity to stop in Fortuna, which has a library, but it turns out that it’s closed on Mondays.
South of Fortuna, I come upon a problem. They’re doing construction on the 101 bridge that goes over the Van Duzen river, so it’s divided to one-lane traffic in each direction, with narrow lanes. I park the bike and take a look down the road – there’s a shoulder, but it’s way too narrow. Trucks blow through the construction-zone speed limit. It would be a foolish risk to attempt this southbound lane.
Checking the map, it doesn’t look as though there’s an alternate route from here without going many miles out the way, which would easily eat up today’s remaining daylight with backtracking, resulting in zero forward progress.
I ride three miles back north to the first place I can stop and talk to someone, at an RV campground. My fears are confirmed, “Nope, that’s the only bridge over the Van Duzen, unless you go all the way out to ‘so and so’ or ‘so and so'”
We’re talking like twenty miles out of the way. Alright. By now I’ve formulated a new plan. If I cross over and ride the bridge against traffic, so I can see cars coming and put a foot on the ground so as to come to a complete stop when a vehicle passes – that ought to be safe enough.
I ride back to the bridge, opposing traffic. Along the way, a man rides a bicycle toward me, and I stop him. He’s a vagrant-tramp-bum-missing-teeth-type fellow, and seems surprised that a stranger is striking up a conversation with him.
‘Did you come over that bridge!?’ I ask.
‘Have you ever done it before?!’ Our voices are raised over truck traffic. This is starting to feel like something out of an action-adventure movie, like, ‘Can it be done?!’
‘Yeah! Few times! It’s tight!’
I elaborate on my plan of riding against traffic – periodically coming to a halt. ‘Yeah, do that, and you’ll be fine!’ he says, and rides away.
And after all, it isn’t much of a big deal like I’d built it up to be. I go just like I planned, only riding when there’s no oncoming traffic, and I feel safe. It’s fun, like in a video game (Frogger, anyone?) or miniature golf where you have to gauge the timing.
After that, it’s about five more miles to Rio Dell, where I halt for the night in the gathering dark. Life is good.
View Larger Map
Google Map Route may not be 100% accurate