Alturas small car and early bike tour. Water crossing.
The road to the Flournoy Ranch was flooded from this year’s heavy rain and snow, so the cars and bikes got wet on the way to lunch. The ranch is at the end of Jess Valley road; a beautiful, isolated spot up in the hills. With thoughts of homemade pies and fresh tri tip BBQ at the ranch, we rode up the valley from Likely, winding along the Pit River. Views of whitewater rapids were picturesque, while the river has normally been peaceful and slow in other years. Rodney had told us to expect floods, so we weren’t surprised to come around the corner and see this:
The bike riders thought it would be prudent to let a few of the cars go through first, so we waited and watched as this circa 1910 International Harvester highwheeler went through. He had plenty of ground clearance, and a few kiddos in the truck bed for ballast. The wood wheels and solid rubber tires had no trouble finding traction in low gear (there are only two gears in an IH).
It wasn’t a terrible crossing, maybe about a foot deep at the worst spot, but the roadbed was deep gravel. That made it interesting, as the bike tires dug into the gravel and didn’t want to go straight. With one hand on the gas tank clutch lever, or one foot on the left footboard clutch pedal, each rider had to find their own way to get through. There were no failures, but plenty of riders had to dab a foot or two, which would have cost them points if it were a Trials competition. The only rider to make it through ‘clean’ was Scott Allen on the 1914 Excelsior.
Chris Carter leads this group of three bikes. He’s ridden all the way across the USA on dirt roads, and didn’t have much trouble with this section.
Victor with the ‘14 HD had a spot of bother as his clutch got wet and lost most of its grip.
As our boots dried out at 40mph on the open road, we were off to the bustling metropolis of Likely, CA then into Alturas for dinner and more pies. There were plenty of antelope, hawks and cranes along the backroads, but I didn’t get any good wildlife photos from the saddle.