Mid-Week Rides: Nacimiento-Ferguson Road
Chris Weld says:
Three intrepid riders appeared on time at Bobbie’s in Cupertino for an 0730 hrs. breakfast and were joined by John Kearney. Bill Chris, Dick Zunkel and Chris Weld were going to tackle the Naciemiento-Ferguson Road from Ft. Hunter Liggett. It was seemingly too much for some to tackle in a day, ergo only the three riders.
We looked at the map before departing Bobbie’s and had all sorts of suggestions for scenic roads to take from other patrons and John, but given the distances and prior experience we opted for the straight and fast way. We were out on Hwy #85 SB at 0832 hrs. (I checked.) We paused for Gas in Gonzales but didn’t dawdle and were at the Fort Hunter Liggett entrance gate at 1029 hrs. They needed to see our drivers licenses, vehicle registrations and insurance papers. One member didn’t have his current insurance card with him but gained entry with a warning citation after Security confirmed he (Bill), was insured. There went the better part of 20 minutes.
Dick had never been over the Nacimiento-Ferguson Road which starts/terminates on the Fort so this was all new to him. He was unaware that that the main post buildings was built as William Randolf Hearst’s ‘hunting lodge,’ or that there was a Mission on Post grounds. We briefly visited the Mission, Mission San Antonio De Padua where we strolled the grounds, visited the Mission’s nave but didn’t visit the museum.
We departed the Mission and made one false attempt at locating the Nacieniento-Ferguson Road so we made a brief ‘wendy’ and were on-track. It was here, amid motor pools and helicopters (all static…post seemingly deserted), when the largest Coyote I’ve ever seen crossed our path. It was bigger than most German Shepherds. Fort Hunter-Liggett was a tank (armored) training ground and since the bridge was out (reconstruction) we had to take the tank’s ford across the dry creek.
The Fort sits on the eastern slope of the Santa Lucia Mountains in the Los Padres National Forest, an area extensively burned by forest fires earlier this year. We saw a lot of evidence of this while still in the military compound. The road here is beautifully paved but posted with very low speed limits which they strictly enforce (I’d been stopped before). We putt-putted to the western boundary of the reservation where security woke-up to advise us as to the road ahead. From the western ‘guard-shack’ to the western end of the road it’s only fourteen miles…but it’s the longest 14 miles one can travel and still keep the feet on the pegs. It’s one 5-15 mph turn after another. These mountains are very steep, if you go off the road on the downhill side it’ll be a long time before you stop!
The weather was warm and reasonably clear with a fog bank a couple miles offshore. As you can see we paused for a lot’o pictures but eventually reached California Highway#1 about 2 PM and were quickly delayed with Bill’s motor. It was suddenly running on but one cylinder. Spark was suspect as Dick reported smelling gas while riding behind Bill. The gas tank was pulled, connections checked and it seemingly performed. We remounted the tank and checked the one float bowl. We were ‘off’ again at a cost of about 20 minutes, but not 20 minutes later pulled over as the situation had deteriorated. Spark plugs pulled, one badly fouled and replaced. Other float checked. Bill nursed it back onto the highway and suddenly he was ‘off’n running.’ We’ve since concluded Bill had some detritus in his carburetor jet(s) that had eventually passed. There went yet another 20 minutes.
We beat a path up Highway #1, through Carmel and Monterey. We wanted a fast food lunch, but not McDonalds. It was in Seaside that I found a little independent burger joint called Phat’s Burgers. Half-pound burger, fries and all you can drink soda for $8.50-$9.50 with a huge condiment table with choices of different onions, lettuces, pickles, chilies, etc. It was a ‘hit,’ but pure luck too! It was about 3:20 PM on our arrival at Phat’s. We discussed route options and it was agreed we’d all ride up to Santa Cruz and take Hwy. #17 over the mountains with Bill and Chris jumping onto Hwy. #85. Chris was going to escort Bill home given his earlier problems. We waved our good-byes to Dick and arrived at Bill’s home at 5:33 p.m.
Total miles? Dunno. Gonzales gas to Santa Cruz gas was 185, and Santa Cruz gas to Pacifica, 85. Pacifica to Gonzales, about 130. It was over a 300 mile day.