Mid-Week Rides: Last ride of the year
Wednesday, December 31 2014
Pictures start here
Four souls gathered at a blustery parking lot at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge at the appointed hour (8 AM). From the greater San Jose area, Alberto Sevilla, Richard Penrose and Russ Danileson awaited the arrival of Chris Weld (who WAS on time), and shortly thereafter, still before 8 AM, Simon Hanson rolled up. I didn’t know of any other ‘committed’ riders but we waited. At 8:05 we rolled-out for breakfast at the Henny Penny in Petaluma. Some gassed-up next-door first. Don Theile was to meet us here but called just after dismount to say he wouldn’t be appearing – tending a wife just released from surgery. Sad. However, to our great surprise Jon Beining of Petaluma rolled-up. He was ‘game to go’.
We ‘disrobed’ some outside in the parking lot, more in the restaurant. It was ‘chilly’, temps in the high 40’s with strong winds predicted. In fairness, we did encounter strong windy conditions crossing the Golden Gate but otherwise? Nada.
New guy, friend of Hanson’s showed-up about mid-breakfast, ‘Wes’. A new rider on a new-to-him 1200 Kawasaki, Wes rode with us for a while before heading for home.
Departing the restaurant Beining asked me where we were going. I said just up Stony Point for ‘Redwood’. My bad! It was ‘Railroad’, not Redwood. Oh well! We rode Redwood end to end, Stony Point to its terminus at Petaluma Hill and turned N. for Roberts Road, one of your writer’s favorites. Roberts becomes Presley and ends at Mountain Road, we turned R. We wended our way to beautiful downtown Glen Ellen and Hwy# 12 NB for a mile’er to Trinity Road and the Oakville Grade into the Napa Valley. We pushed up Hwy#29 to Rutherford and crossed the valley for the Silverado Trail NB. We skirted Calistoga and at the base of Mt. St. Helena took a right on Lawley Rd. Lawley connects Hwy # 29 with Hwy #29, it’s a narrow, poorly paved path that while scenic, challenges the rider and his motorcycle’s suspension characteristics with a tough, off-camber turn back onto Hwy #29. We dropped into Middletown and gassed-up, emptied bladders, kicked tires and told a few lies.
One mile from gas brought us to Butts Canyon where we turned south towards home. This was all new to our San Jose contingent so on entering Pope Valley we paused briefly to take-in the ‘Hubcap Farm’ and continued to beautiful downtown Pope Valley and the old blacksmith’s shop for the requisite photo. Then it was onto Chiles Valley for Lower Chiles Valley Road and Hwy #128 past Conn Dam/Lake Hennessey and back to the Silverado Trail and into downtown Napa, now in search of lunch. Russ Danielson peeled-off for IS #80 and home, leaving the rest of us to find ‘beans’ (railroad talk for ‘meal’), on our own. I didn’t have a clue, but I was looking, we’d agreed we wanted ‘sit-down’. I spied ‘Grace’s Table’ on the corner of 2nd St, a short block off 1st Street, the ‘main street’ of downtown Napa. Food was good, small portions and pricy. We all drank water.
We headed out for Hwy #121 and the junction for Sonoma where Brother Beining turned N for Petaluma. We picked-up Hwy #37 at the Sonoma Raceway and US# 101 in Novato for the GG Bridge and routes home. Sevilla and Penrose followed me home to review my finds’ on Craigslist. For Chris it was about a 220 mile beautiful day.
MWR - closing the year
December 31st. Could there be a better way to close a year? Someone suggested for MWR going to Middletown. Middletown? Little bit of Google places Middletown 134 miles from San Jose. Hmmm, round trip no less than 270 miles… Is this prudent on New Year’s Eve? Probably not with all those possible revelers drinking and partying. Not advisable. In addition, the weather man while assuring no rain he clearly advised caution: Severe 50 mile a hour wind advisory. Again not advisable.
After careful evaluation … SURE! Why not!
Arrangements were made to meet at the N. Vista point of the GG by 8:00 am. To which Chris in his inimitable way indicated, “Gentlemen, be advised, I’ll wait. Looking forward to seeing you all. - Chris” Providing his cel number for last minute communication. A man of few words and very precise.
Deciding to go was not a mistake, but certainly caused me enough stress that the night before I could not sleep at all. I was up at 3:00 am after seeing the clock change hours 11, 12, 1, 2, 3. Enough!!
Fortune has it that I am not unique. Rich Penrose, Russ Danielson, Chris Weld, Simon and two more from North Bay (unfortunately the names escape me at this moment). One of them just purchased a Kawasaki, a brute of a bike, and the other is a PG & E electricity wizard. Chris can give you their names.
I wonder, did they sleep at all?
At the Golden Gate Vista Point we were joined by one of Chris’ friends: Simon. A scholarly looking fellow with three golden rings upon his left ear (reminded me of Marco Hyman who I was certain would join this last year’s ride - he was no where to be found, except by him). Simon is the Head Chair for the Biology department at some institution… SF State? SF Mental Ward? - matters not where, a place full of young people. According to Simon, at times, very stressful.
Off we went to join three more riders for Breakfast at Pete’s Henny Penny in Petaluma. Restaurant Note: if at this place you order an omelette, bring a saddle - you will be able to ride that puppy back home… It is an enormous presentation of food.
1/2 hour later, we departed under the able guidance of Chris. How on earth does he know where to go?! Amazing roads. One-lane roads winding in forested hills. You’d think that that would be enough eh? Not at all! His choice of roads also offered a genuine test to your kidneys. After tromping awhile on this road, well, clearing the coffee from your system is no challenge. In true form. Stop. dismount bike. Get rid of coffee. I am not certain how that tree felt after seven motorcycle riders providing a contribution. The tree?! Who cares! I felt great!! Thank you for the stop Chris.
The ride continued to Middletown. Uneventful. AH! Almost forgot, a stop at The Henry Haus Blacksmith and Wagonmaker ( correct not wagon maker) Shop (1897-1950) - now, this is a real historic shop worth a visit someday (it was closed when we stopped, but a look through the gaps on the siding showed genuine tools and equipment, you could just imagine them in operation!)
Middletown came and went. Headed for Napa, a hungry bunch. Kobe beef sandwich, Kobe beef hamburger, kitsch, a bowl of soup and a salad set us back by a mini fortune. Tasty. I am certain the restaurant owner, at this minute, is in Hawaii complements of our visit and monetary contribution.
Quick exit via the Hubcap Farm (strange, eerie fence) has us heading south to San Francisco. It is now 3:30 pm. It seems we are heading for a “celebratory” drink at Chris’ house - I snap A picture of Rich silhouetted from a Sunset. I am certain that Chris must have a rough time having to see such Godly event happen every day… Ah, very rough. We understand Chris, no need to explain.
After a cold beer, sufficient enough celebration, Happy New Year greetings to Chris and Pat.
Soon enough, Rich and myself head for the highway. It is getting dark and cold. Before getting home, we still have another 40 minutes to go…