Mid-Week Rides: Mid Week Fog
Thrusday Jan 15 2015
Pictures start here
Six riders gathered at Mikes Cafe in Livermore. Several held cups’o coffee, a few even sipped theirs. The valley tulle fog rose-up to chill the bones of stalwart riders, save Alberto and Don who both had cords dripping from every appendage.
After breakfast it was serious ride time but the rate of movement was held in check by the limited visibility. The countryside was impressive for the 100 or so yards you could peer into it. The leader followed the announced plan right up to the edge of sprawling Tracy and due fog and concern for keeping the group together, missed his intended turn. Ergo, we got lost in the boondocks on roads I’ve never heard of, all flat, un banked and occupied by people who wouldn’t turn their lights ‘on’.
However, thanks to the marvel of GPS we found Hwy #33 and Patterson. Everyone was cold to one degree or another. The stupid leader, believing the day would be just like the previous was riding-out sans long johns or his chaps. We all had wet windshields. First beanery in Patterson had a big parking lot - hot coffee was the goal. Problem? They didn’t sell hot chocolate OR coffee! Go figure. The staff was kind enough to direct us to the gas station convenience store next door which could supply our needs. In spite of our turned-up grip heaters, borrowed gloves et al. were we to drink, or just hold?
Back on the road we wended our way through Patterson, a community of about 1200 souls on my first visit some 45+ years ago, now over 20,000, or so said the sign. We cleared the fog level only to have to chase errant steers off the pavement. The Sun was so welcomed. A pit stop at the Frank Raines County Park’s pit potty - all were ‘refreshed’. We rolled-up the hills for the Junction House. Where’o where was Bob Burns (wobble. Major Wobble)? Not at the Junction House, least between 11:30 and 1:00 PM.
Don, Marcus and Paul left the group at the Junction House to ride Mines Road back into Livermore, leaving your writer, John and Alberto to complete the route as planned. The Lick Observatory, built in the late 1880’s, was open. We strolled the photos, peered into the room with the original water hydraulic telescope, the gift shop and paused for a video on the construction of the big refractor scope, one of about seven on the mountain top. Following a discussion in which ‘Road Rider’, a motorcyclists shopping mecca was discussed, it was agreed we should shop. John Guy knew nothing about it! John and Alberto bought two for $5. tools and split the cost and purchase, Chris bought a new tank bag.
We left together, rolling-out for our respective abodes. Alberto promised smooth sailing up IS#280 given the time’o day and direction of travel. Sounded ‘great’ but the experience was a lot’o ‘slip the clutch’ and 20 MPH when lucky.
As wobble would say, great ride, no accidents, bandages, tickets or unplanned conversation with the ‘authorities’.
Motor biking by Braille
Up early. Weatherman indicates possibly foggy in the coast, foggy for sure inland. The suggestions was to meet at 8:30 am in Livermore for breakfast at Mike’s on First street.
When I arrived, which was at least a half hour early, Oh surprise! This guy is there already. After introductions I discovered this mild mannered man who had parked the biggest transatlantic of a bike outside. I said to myself, “Oh well, today will be slow”. Not exactly prophetic words.
Slowly but sure the rest of the group arrived. Markus Baur, John Guy, Paul (Alameda), Chris Weld, another Paul, Alberto Sevilla, and the mild mannered man, Don Theile.
God bless this food, let’s eat… Done. Let us hit the road!
South via Tesla Rd brought us to Tracy. Our leader, as if you did not know already, Chris Weld, took the “scenic route”, with profuse apologies… He admitted to us to have missed the turn and we ended in down town Tracy. Nah! No need for apologies, no one was the wiser to the missed turn until you spilled the beans.
Tracy, not bad. In my eyes, a quaint town, however little I saw of it. You see, for a change the weatherman was correct: Foggy, very foggy. Visibility as far as the windshield of my bike, no further. The rider in front was definitely ghost-like. Kind of fun and challenging.
“Oh well, Today will be slow”. My not-so-prophetic words, get a load of this: The mild mannered man, rode his bike like it was a wet-rag. He threw the transatlantic-bike left and right like a toy. He started third after Chris and Markus, but soon enough he had had enough of slow-poking-around and got right behind our fearless leader, keeping just a few feet apart from him, like saying: “Common big boy, get on with it!” And, on-with-it the big boy did get!
Chris, was inspired. I am certain he could not see the road in front of him because of the fog, but, his education was not all a waste, he went by Braille! He took the road at a pace that kept me …. Hmmm, shall we say, attentive? Several times we lost way, way… behind a couple of riders caught by traffic lights that you could barely see until you were practically under the light. No problem though, the leader was acutely aware at all times making stops as needed to regroup.
Must have been in the town of Paterson, where we were passed by a riding club. No less than 150 bikes and closer to 250. What a sight! The leader, whose bike had the handle bars in such a manner that his arms had to go straight up - I wondered, how does he apply the clutch? For sure he is not a 500 mile rider, not on that bike anyway. Still, it was impressive to see that many bikes. A parade!
After a hot chocolate, which we needed (remember foggy?), it was time to get going. Heading West toward Junction and Mines Road. The other side of Hwy 5 the fog started to subside. Cattle ranches, greenery, and us cruising in warmer weather. The mild-mannered-man kept throwing the transatlantic-bike with such ease, it was a wonder to behold. When I grow up I want to be like Don T.
We stopped at the Junction for somin’ to eat. I assure you they have great food in there, or we were ready to eat anything. Maybe the latter (just kidding, it was good food). Don T carried the day! As it seems, apparently he rides to this joint so often that they knew him by name. Sadly, they handed him the bill for all of us, which he graciously obliged. Don, you are okay! Thanks for the lunch.
At this spot the group split. Some heading home via Mines Rd and Livermore, others (Chris, John and Alberto) headed up Mt Hamilton.
Chris took a little time to devote his thoughts to his prior wife, whose ashes are spread in this area. I was very touched by the image of Chris in meditation by the side of the road. Whatever they may say about you, pay them no heed. I say: Chris, you are a good guy, and the rest of you can quote me on that.
And, up Mt Hamilton we went. Stopping at the observatory for a great view - by the way, anyone can visit the observatory during the Summer on Fridays and Saturdays, after 7:00 pm they will let you see through the 30 inch telescope (suggested you get tickets to get in. Website: UC Santa Cruz Lick Observatory).
We descended the other side of Mt Hamilton like a rocket, cutting at Quimby Rd. We took a detour over to the Road Rider store, on Monterrey Rd. A bit of shopping for the girls, great price!
I have great technique-baloney about descending like a rocket: Marco H. I am indebted for your lesson on turning a bike on the curves. It works! I have added a new dimension concerning the positioning of the body. From curve to curve there is a transition point, after which, you cannot shift your weight to the “other side of the bike” (to the inside) too early. It is very reassuring to be ready for the coming curve. But all of you probably know this already, Yea, yea, the newbie opens his big mouth again! Thank you guys!
Heading north Hwy 85, at Saratoga avenue I waved a highway-good-bye as they continued north to Hwy 280 and home.
My day ended with 167 miles.
Ride safely… See you all on Sunday.