Mid-Week Rides: North Coast Ride
Pictures and text from Dick
Morning Pacific fog retreated early, leaving a bright September day for the midweek ride. Our Gaelic waitress served up assorted omelets, breads and coffee… lots of coffee to the four bikers assembled at the at San Francisco’s Seal Rock Inn. Other patrons could not help but stare in envy at this gaggle of retirees; Bill, Chris, Eric, and Dick as they bantered topics of the day against a background of the sprawling blue Pacific below. The ride commenced with a weave through the morning traffic of San Francisco’s back streets. The brigade separated and rejoined as busy students, delivery trucks and indifferent traffic lights thwarted attempts to stay together. Free of the city’s tangle, the riders forded the Golden Gate on its lofty steel highway.
Dazed commuters crawled southward to boring jobs on Highway 101 as we rode at the limit and beyond to Healdsburg for a gas stop. Fueled and hydrated, the cadre made its way westward on heavily forested Sweetwater Springs Road, followed by the torturous Armstrong Woods Road to Austin Creek State Park. Chris negotiated and paid a discounted entry fee for all. The twisting ride to the top was breathtaking, though Dick’s GL pegged the temp gauge needle in red, further evidence of Honda’s flawed and unresolved cooling system aerodynamic design error, a fact that the stoic manufacturer still denies. After a brief rest and group photo, we crept down the asphalt ribbon back to the visitors’ center. A parade ensued as our trusted guide Chris, apparently disoriented by the tall redwoods, caused a series of “Wendy’s” attempting to find the exit. On the road, we stopped at a barn site, where artist Dick had earlier painted the scene from a Chris photo. Back on the path, the group made its way to Guerneville, which offered a choice of eating establishments. We chose Mexican, which turned out to be an excellent choice, though we were badgered by Sonoma County wildlife, a flock of flies. Following lunch, Dick negotiated the acquisition a K75 triple by cell phone to be picked up Thursday. We visited a rare site, a genuine motorcycle repair shop, where vintage Triumphs, BSA’s and a Burt Munro style classic Indian rested lazily on the cluttered showroom floor. The wafting odor of vintage motorcycles was serene, and easier on the senses than the jingo-smoke that is so often carried by the Russian River breeze.
The cadre made its way to the sea on Highway 116 and joined the Pacific Coast Highway just above the Sonoma Coast Beach. Ever the maverick, Captain Chris passed the traditional wayside, “The Tides” and stopped at Lucas Wharf for conversation and rest. On the road again, our leader left Highway One and blindly led us on the Valley Ford Franklin School Road through fresh gravel and construction zones to Tomales. With time pressing, and Dick’s continued marital bliss dependent on arriving in San Jose in time to attend a performance with Nurse Peg and non-biking friends, we left the bucolic Highway One and crossed parched hills joining Highway 101 from Lucas Valley Road. From there it was a mad dash to the Golden Gate Bridge. Anticipating a rapid toll free crossing, we pulled up behind a woman in a Lexus SUV stopped in the toll lane. She apparently had to open a Mosler safe concealed somewhere in the bowels of her yuppie cage before presenting the toll taker with a hundred dollar bill. Because tollbooths are too often crime scenes, the toll taker had to unlock a vault to make change. We could have walked across the bridge in the time it took to complete the transaction. The column worked its way through 19th Avenue commute traffic and finally reached I-280, where riders peeled off to their homes. Dick and the GL made it to San Jose in time for dinner and theater, a great relief. However the K75 bike he negotiated by phone from Guerneville was sold while he was still on 280. Ah, perhaps it was best.