The Redwood Run is one of those great motorcycle odysseys that makes getting there almost as much fun as the event itself. It's put on as a non-profit fund-raiser by the Kiwanis of the Redwoods during the second weekend in June; in the very small Northern California town of Piercy, which consists of only a post office on a one-lane road 200 miles North of San Francisco. The run has become a mecca for Harley riders from all over the West.
The first Redwood Run was an overnight camping cookout, conjured up by a couple of San Francisco Bay Area Harley Dealers to get out into the back country. That was in 1978 and they rode out of San Francisco with about seventy friends. They went north a couple of hundred miles on Highway 101 to a small camp called Myers Flats. By 1991, the run had grown to more than 5,000 riders; it was a three-day gig with music, grog, grub, and all the fixings.
Since then, the run has been held in a huge campground that has a natural amphitheater, a river with swimming holes, and scenery second to none. For the last 20 years, the main venue of the run has been the music; they have 10 bands throughout the course of Friday and Saturday nights. The music starts at 5 p.m. and runs 'til three in the morning. The headline acts have ranged from Charley Daniels to Steppenwolf and Little Feat. This year, the event had a stellar lineup topped off with George Thorogood and Creedence Clearwater. The weather was fine and the riding was great.
But that's not the whole story, because getting there has become a 100-mile-long party. It starts about 90 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, where the 101 Freeway ends at the town of Hopland. The party continues into Willits, Laytonville, and Liggett; it even passes the run site and overflows into Garberville, 10 miles to the north. A lot of riders don't actually go into the Redwood Run camp itself, but instead stay in the surrounding campgrounds or towns and have their own parties. The number of riders at these other parties figures to be equal to the 5,000 riders at the actual Redwood Run.
To accommodate the crowd this year, Garberville closed off its main drag to all but motorcycles on Friday and Saturday for a huge three-block party. Throughout the years all of the bars, restaurants, and motels along Highway 101 (through Mendocino and Humbolt counties) have counted this to be one of their biggest weeks -- 2002 did not disappoint.