Mid-Week Rides: An El Cerrito Start
Pictures start here.
Wednesday, Mar 4 2015
I arrived at the fabulous El Cerrito Nations restaurant at about 08:30 hours and found Joe Steiner already there. Soon after that Chris Weld arrived, wearing his CalTrans-approved reflective vest. Then Alberto and Rich arrived and we were set for breakfast.
Joe highly recommended the Nation’s blueberry cheesecake as a breakfast entree, but Chris opted for a decent-looking omelet, hash browns, and toast. Portions and quality were given the Weld Stamp of Approval, and Chris said that Talk o’ Broadway could learn a few things from Nations, specifically about hash browns and portion sizes. Coffee was also pronounced acceptable, and the parking lot and central location were anointed as worthy of a future meeting place for a MWR.
Whew! That’s a load off my mind.
We rolled out onto the lovely residential streets of El Cerrito, up to the historic Motorcycle Hill at Moeser Lane to the Arlington Ave and into Kensington, CA. Kensington is the small, unincorporated, wealthy enclave where one of their patrol officers had an encounter with a business lady in Reno, NV a few years ago, and lost his gun, badge, handcuffs, wallet, and self-esteem in the process. He also lost his job as a Kensington police officer. Google it, it’s an amusing anecdote and cautionary tale.
We then cut through some Kensington residential streets to get to Grizzly Peak and Wildcat Canyon in order to cross Berkeley’s Tilden Park. Even though we hadn’t been on the road very long, we stopped at the park’s Inspiration Point to become inspired or offload some coffee, depending on your needs. I will mention that the Weather Gods had smiled upon us, and it was a fantastic day for a February motorcycle ride. Apologies to anyone that is reading this, if you’re based East of CA. Or, if you’re in the SF Bay Area and chose to pass on this ride.
Continuing down the well-paved Wildcat Canyon, we exited the park and arrived at San Pablo Dam road, where we picked up Bear Creek Rd. on past the Briones Reservoir to Alhambra Valley Road. Long story short, Alhambra Valley is a lovely road but doesn’t really go anywhere unless you’re going to Martinez, CA. We bypassed Martinez, and took Alhambra Ave. to get to Franklin Canyon, then McEwen Rd., and the historic town of Port Costa, CA. The bar in Port Costa wasn’t open at 11AM on weekdays, so we walked around and took some pictures, and then continued on Carquinez Scenic Rd. aka George Miller Trail to Pomona St. in Crockett, CA for lunch. I had previously searched online for a lunch place in Crockett, and the Valona Deli came up as a good choice. We all agreed; good quality food, fair price, nice people, easy in-and-out.
On to Highway 80 for a few ugly miles to Cordelia Junction, Suisun Valley Rd., and Wooden Valley Rd. I had proposed taking Suisun Valley to Highway 128 aka Sage Canyon and Lake Hennessy/Conn Dam, but in the interest of time and a faster return to the Bay Area, Chris suggested going Highway 121 aka Monticello Rd to 128 and then to Pleasants Valley Rd. instead. Most of us have seen Conn Dam anyway.
As always, Chris’s knowledge of NorCal roads was inspired. If you haven’t ridden Pleasants Valley, make a reason to do so. It doesn’t do much except get you off 128 to Highway 80 and Vacaville, but it’s a great road. And there are other really great motorcycle roads in that area to make a day of it.
WARNING: do not ride in this area on a weekend, as there are tourists and RV’s and trucks hauling boats to Lake Berryessa, and squiddly kids riding racer bikes trying to pass the RV’s. Go on a MWR, and it will be a lot more fun.
Another Mid Week Ride happens to El Cerrito… and what a day it was!
It all started after Randy Bush called for a MWR in his backyard.
“Rich, can you make it?”
“Hmm, probably not, as I have a meeting on Wednesday, Bummer!”
A couple of days go by and on Sunday at the new locale The Los Gatos Coffee House, it was way too much fun. Many came probably to test the new facility. The food was fabulous, a for sure food-comma in near term. The price was even better, well, relative to how much food you were getting. Fourteen showed up! It was a great gathering, which inspired Rich: “Alberto, I think I will be able to make it for the MWR – I will know later on”. Still, come Tuesday afternoon no assurances. But, I do not go in smoke, so…
Wednesday approaches fast. Will you obey duty or, soul?
Remember your youth, when at fourteen you had much to live with nary a care.
Now as a senior, you have another fourteen with much yet to live! With plenty to care.
Ah, my friend, the problem of life: Conflicting Choices, too many of them.
At either choice: Duty or soul, clue me in.
Rich: I am traveling with the soulful! What time do they depart? 7 am?
Alberto: Congratulations on playing hookie tomorrow, ahh, the beauty of being 14 years old at heart.
7:00 o’clock sharp, Rich and I head on up to El Cerrito via 280. Well! At this time of day, the animals were out. Holly smokes! On a motorcycle you really become aware of the idiocy car drivers commit. It is really impossible to maintain a reasonable distance to the car in front of you without some one filling the safety space we would like to have. No matter. That will not deter me.
Hwy 280 was bad… nah, not really. Bad was what 30 minutes later when closer to San Francisco. Go ahead, give your self a treat and drive the streets of San Francisco at 8:15 am – Good luck!
We made it to the new Hwy 80 Bridge. Crossing the bridge was for me a new experience. I liked it. The bridge is stunningly beautiful!
In time we made it to the Nations Coffee House in El Cerrito. Finishing breakfast was Rich Weld, Randy Bush, and Tavarishch Joe (I’ll learn his last name soon enough). The place is nothing special. Colombian Coffee that would peel paint and guarantee to keep you alert for hours. Yea!
Soon enough, with Mr. Weld in need of a pipe smoke, which is a hint to the rest of us: “I am done eating, a couple of puffs and lets head on out.” And do you imagine anyone arguing with a man who for a living gave speeding tickets? NOPE! Shut up, and get going is the general attitude toward Mr. Weld’s … shall we call it “insinuation”?
Randy, picked a winner of a day. I do not know how cold or warm it was. Randy led the way up a hill through small streets on the way to Tilden Park. Soccer-mom-neighborhoods, suburbia at its best, set the easy-going pace that Randy would keep throughout the day. Soon enough, what a view! What colors! The air was fresh, the sky clear, and the spirit ready for whatever would come.
After the mandatory “pit-stop” to get rid of some Colombian-paint thinner we wended to Inspiration Point providing a view of the Delta. Not far from our next destination, in a no-where place we stopped for a second view of the Delta. Here a happy Mexican East Bay Parks, Billy” took time off from his duties. So excitedly he tells us of the EB Parks. This man sure has pride in his work and the entire process of living. If only I could be one tenth of what this man is… I will know to have lived, as God meant it.
Port Costa. Whooweee! If you have not visited this small relic of the 1880’s, well, you should! This is what America was. And I do not mean America is less today, not at all! But the town (still active today) seemed to transport us into a time when life simply had a different pace. Not easier, just more human. Because let us face it, life in the mid 1800s was not a piece of cake. Your life was a mere blink from death. And death came with some serenity, as a part of what living was. But I digress (forgive me all).
A short jaunt from Port Costa is the community of Crockett. This was our lunch destination… “any one hungry?” We went into a non-descript Deli place. A well bosom-endowed lady, quite cheery, took care of us. Rambunctious, and a talkative lot we were. A short lived raucous, for as soon as the food arrived… silence! Not a peep would be heard from all. Mr. Weld, who in three dinosaurian-bites made a generous sandwich disappear, Wow!
Thirty minutes later, Randy led us to Hwy 128 and al the beauty this Hwy provides. It was a stunning day! Randy, alert for everyone’s needs, kept a beautiful pace that allowed for true enjoyment of the scenery. A smooth 50 MPH pace. Rounding the road was easy and smooth. I can do this all day, everyday!
Some where on Hwy 128, Rich and I split from the group, as he had to make it back to Cupertino. You see he had an appointment.
– Aww, man, I thought it had been cancelled?!
– “Well, yes and no. The business appointment was cancelled, this is another appointment for me to get a massage”.
– “You have got to be kidding me! This led to some ribbing from the group – “Massage eh?” “tells us more!”
I will not go into the rest of what was said. There may be ladies reading this account. But, Randy did find some debris by the road that would tell a bit of the story of what was said. I am reluctant to say anything any further. There is a chance that a photograph taken of the debris may tell a better story… will it be posted? I do not know, nor do I want to know.
Rich and I went home by 2:30 in the afternoon. The rush hour was just getting started. Rich made it to his “appointment”.
My day ended with 267 miles.