This time of year the high temperature in the valley could have easily been in the nineties, but on this day it was only climbing to eighty-four. But the temperature in the valley was of little concern as I was heading back into the foothills, then up and over the much cooler Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Just a few miles east of Oroville I was following a third-generation Chevy K30 crew-cab with a monster lift and 40-inch tires. There was an International Harvester Farmall sticker in the back window and a big dog riding-shotgun. It looked like a clean mid-eighties example except for the noticeable angle at which it was traveling down the highway, the front of the truck a couple inches left of the rear.
There was a 20-foot flatbed utility trailer for-sale along the highway and I stopped for a quick look. It would make someone a nice car-hauler, $1,800.00 or-best-offer, but not today, I rode on. I caught up to the K30 quickly, both of us stopped for a flagger, my third road construction break of the day.
A few miles past Lake Oroville there was detour forcing me onto Bald Rock Road. Although a nice twisty road, Bald Rock is mostly rural-residential so extra caution and reduced speeds are appropriate. Back on Bucks Lake Road after the detour, I drove through the community of Brush Creek and was ready to roll.
If I count the Bald Rock Rd. detour, this was the fifth construction delay of the day, but as with all things, a little perspective is helpful. I’d rather sit for a few minutes on a rural highway in the middle of a forest than be rolling fast down a multi-lane freeway.
This nice flagger girl walked back to warn me about the dirt ahead and a little bump in the road that she said they had smoothed as best they could. I thanked her and said it would have to be a pretty big bump to cause me concern, and asked if I could move to the front, which she allowed.
There was no pilot car and when it was time to go she simply said to stay on the left. Proceeding forward there were lots of big construction equipment moving about and the proper path was not obvious. I’m not easily confused or disturbed by road construction, though it became apparent that I was on the left side of the left lane and on the wrong side of a several inch high berm. When I came upon the rear of a water truck in what I would have considered the left side of the road, I stopped at the driver’s window and tried to ask if I was proceeding correctly. This is not easy with a full-face helmet next to an idling ten-wheeler with construction equipment in the background. He nodded a friendly yes to my shouting and I proceeded, stopping briefly to turn the front tire at a sharp angle to get on the right side of the berm. It was nice not to be on a sport-bike with a small front tire and limited ground clearance. After 100-yards, I was back to pavement and road travelin’.
Now I was able to let the bird fly, about one hour of non-stop sport-touring. Up on top there were wildflowers, volcanic rocks and appealing distant views that would have been nice for a picture or two. But my afternoon progress had been slow and dinner was to be at to be at home with my family. Darn, I guess I’ll have to ride.
There was one last short, clean dirt section, no flagger or delay other than me pulling my camera out of my tank bag. I rode past Bucks Lake, then slowly through Meadow Valley and Quincy. After several miles on State Route 70 I turned right on Highway 89, then stopped for a small snack, water, and the last photos of the day.
Copyright © 2011 James Langan