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Ride California, Part 1: Mendocino Coast and Fort Bragg

Ride California: Beyond Route 1

Much (and much and more) has been written about the glories of California’s Coastal Route between Monterey and Morro Bay, and deservedly so.  The roughly 130 mile stretch is truly one of the best, and some might argue THE best, scenic ride routes in the world. 

Overall excellent road quality enhances the experience of gliding through the turns and climbs, all opposite a jaw-droppingly gorgeous coastline.  The occasional dip inland has you wending your way through rolling slopes, rock outcroppings, flower laden valleys, and waterfalls tucked within the context of the grand coastal mountains. 

This is bucket list stuff, and if you haven’t ever done it, by all means, start there. 

However, if you’re ready for further adventures, California has plenty more amazing riding to offer.  The state is crisscrossed with thousands of miles of roads leading to, and through, some indisputably incredible landscapes in very diverse topographical and climatic settings from snow capped mountains to forests to vast deserts, all of which offer incredible opportunity for motorcycle adventures. 

Here is the first installment in our series of excellent, lesser-known Golden State rides…

Part 1: Mendocino Coast and Fort Bragg

No, not the Army base, the other one: Fort Bragg, CA.  Three hours north of San Francisco, Fort Bragg is nestled along the Mendocino Coast, and while technically still on the same highway, this stretch of coastal road is less travelled as a riding destination than its southerly counterpart, while still packed full of charms no less impressive.

Heading out of San Francisco, the highway reveals incredible vistas at every turn.  Fort Bragg itself, though certainly off the beaten path, attracts riders from around the world, drawn by the winding cliff roads, awe-inspiring ocean views, and forest rides through giant redwoods - all along mostly great pavement.   

The town itself offers great local food, seafood, and wine, a large botanical garden, and an interesting and beautiful claim to fame - its glass beach. 

Starting around 1906 and up through around 1967, local communities dumped their trash unceremoniously off the cliffs, as many seaside communities did in that era. 

The ocean gave all those pre-1967 smashed tail lights, liquor bottles, jars, broken windows and who-knows-what back - in the form of glittering, smooth-polished sea glass, pushed back on shore by currents to create Glass Beach, its sand covered in a rainbow of colors, gleaming in the sun.

In addition, though it’s an almost picture perfect seaside getaway town to explore and wander, there’s a strong local motorcycle community and attendant bike shops.  It’s also adjacent to literally hundreds of miles of off-road trails, so if you’re interested in a little motocross action to break up your road riding, there’s plenty to go around. 

In fact, Fort Bragg has been the starting line for the Green Lane Ride, a motocross race run on old logging roads through the redwoods.

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