The Sign Said “Curves – Next 140 Miles”

For this leg of our trip we followed the advice of fellow riders that we’ve met along the way. It’s been suggested to us more than once to take Highway 70 north to Lassen Volcanic National Park and then Highway 36 west to the coast.  I’m not always so good at following other people’s advice, but this time we did just that.  I’m so glad that we did since both the ride to Lassen and the volcano itself were quite stunning.  Lassen Volcano last erupted in 1915 and spread ash and debris for hundreds of miles.  As you drive along up to the top, you’ll pass the ash that is still visible along the road.  At times you can even reach out and touch boiling sulfur pots and vents spewing hot steam, but that would be a bad idea.  Although it smells awful, it sure is beautiful.

After Lassen it was onto Highway 36 for a ride west to the coast.  We didn’t quite know why so many people had suggested that we take this road, but we soon found out.  When we turned onto Highway 36 right outside of Red Bluff, CA, the first thing that greeted us was a sign that read: Curves – Next 140 Miles.

I was literally squirming in my seat and giggling. In my rear view mirror, Riley was pumping his fist in the air. In front of me Robbie was so excited that his front wheel was level with his head. Boy was this going to be fun. The first 40 miles or so were full of rolling hills and plenty of curves, but they were gentle curves scattered amongst farms and rural homes. It was gorgeous California country that we were in and the mildly technical nature of the road still allowed for plenty of opportunity to drink in the countryside.

Somewhere around the 40 mile mark or so, it suddenly seemed that the road transformed into a motorcyclist’s dream road. We were in green covered mountains, on perfectly twisted tarmac, with very little sign of human life. Best of all, there was almost NO traffic. Suddenly, we all hunkered into “curve” mode and it was game on.

I don’t really remember the scenery through most of that stretch. I don’t even know how much time had passed by. All I know was that for about 50 miles, all three of us were in the zone. I was chasing Robbie and Riley was chasing me. Fun isn’t quite the right word to describe it. Exhilarating for sure.  Insanity maybe? It’s hard to say.  

When we stopped midway through to rest and eat we were still excited. There was a lot of “Remember that corner that……” and “Dude, I scraped my peg so hard…” and “There was one section that….”. Because I had scraped my left cylinder in a corner, even I was awarded a “Way to go Mom!”

Once the adrenaline dissipated and lunch was done. We realized that we still had 60 miles to go on this road of dreams. Boy was this going to be a fun day. After reminding my boys to be careful, don’t drive over their limit, and watch for animals, we suited up. My last thought before taking off was, “Hey, maybe I can scrape the right cylinder too?” 

On our way north to Highway 36, we rode through Lassen Volcanic National Park. Once we hit the snow line, my boys decided that they were once again 8-year olds and typical brotherly shenanigans occurred. When they tired of that, they threw snowballs at me. I had my helmet on anyway so for once it didn't matter.

On our way north to Highway 36, we rode through Lassen Volcanic National Park. Once we hit the snow line, my boys decided that they were once again 8-year olds and typical brotherly shenanigans occurred. When they tired of that, they threw snowballs at me. I had my helmet on anyway so for once it didn’t matter.

Lassen is incredible by the way...even without the snowballs and shenanigans.

Lassen is incredible by the way…even without the snowballs and shenanigans.

Steam is constantly billowing out through vents in the mountainside.

Steam is constantly billowing out through vents in the mountainside.

The views are incredible.

The views are incredible.

A simple roadside lunch is hard to beat and is often more satisfying that a restaurant meal.

A simple roadside lunch is hard to beat and is often more satisfying that a restaurant meal.

My fully-loaded old RT was put to the test on this road, and she didn't let her newer big brother GS drop her too much. For an old girl she can still hang!

My fully-loaded, older RT was put to the test on this road, and she didn’t let her newer big brother GS drop her too much. For an old girl she can still hang!

I was so in the moment on Highway 36 that I didn't even think much about taking pictures until we reached the end and the terrain started to level out. At that point it was closer to the coast and it was foggy and cooler. The farm shrouded in fog caught my attention and reminded me that I have a camera.

I was so in the moment on Highway 36 that I didn’t even think much about taking pictures until we reached the end and the terrain started to level out. At that point it was closer to the coast and it was foggy and cooler. The farm shrouded in fog caught my attention and reminded me that I have a camera with me.

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