Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

Clutch/Shift/Break/Turn and do it all over again 1000 times

It was foggy and cool in Ft. Bragg this morning when I pulled out of the Quality Inn a 9am.  I figured since I only had 175 miles to go I could sleep in a bit – after all this would be a short day.  Boy was I wrong.  I think I now have a bad case of carpel tunnel syndrome from having to clutch and brake all day.  I landed in my hotel room in Dublin, CA, an east-bay suburb at 5pm, some eight hours after I left Ft. Bragg – but only 236 miles.  That means my average MPH was 39.5.  Most of that was in the final 30 miles which I was able to do at 70mph.  I’d gather my average speed was more like 25 mph.  I truly have never had to work at riding as hard as I did today, and good lord willing, never will have to do it again.  It was like living in an all day advanced biker-skill class!

The Mendocino County coast is nothing short of spectacular, and CA-1 south was nice and quiet for much of it.  However the first 100 or so miles there is literally no town or place to stop for gas, a restroom break, a snack, or even a picture.  I only managed to find one pull out to take a picture at in fact. 
The rest of the time the road was clinging to a cliff or bluff, or was twisting and turning like some sort of wayward spaghetti noodle in a plate of pasta.  The map truly gives one no indication of what this road is like – it looks relatively straight on the map, but I would bet there’s less than a couple of miles that aren’t a curve of some sort, not to mention clinging to the side of a cliff (I swear this is where all those tacky movie shots with cars flying off into the air and crashing on the beach were shot.)  It demanded constant clutching, shifting and breaking while leaning into curves.  Truth be told the first 50 miles were kinda fun – but after that I was praying for a town or someplace to stop – but there wasn’t one.  Finally I was able to pull off after 4 hours at Bodega Bay.  By this time the fog had burned off and it was gorgeous and warm.

There, once again, the magic of being on a bike opened the doors to conversation, and I had several people tell me not to give up on CA-1 and take it all the way to the end (rather than take off at Bodega and cut over to the US-101 freeway).  I decided to stick it out.  Leaving Bodega Bay it wasn’t bad until Point Reyas, and then the traffic hit, and then the mountain hit, and the combination of a road barely wide enough for two lanes, Mother’s Day traffic on a road with absolutely NO straight stretches with a 10% grade and people on peddled bikes made for one slow clutch/brake crawl that had my wrists screaming.  I could hardly wait for the road to end, and mercifully it did – at a Highway 101 onramp with no place to stop to pee which I desperately needed to do by this time, let alone get off the bike and stretch.

Right after getting on the 101 was one last exit before the Golden Gate Bridge.  I thought surely there would be a view spot and restroom – but no.  A view spot there was, and I was able to pose for a quick picture – but NO restroom.  So, back on the bike I go – after tucking $6 in my pocket for the toll.  I tried to take a picture while riding – but I’m not as good at that as Tony is.After the bridge the freeway ends and US-101 becomes a surface street through San Francisco.  At least it is signed, although crawling through city traffic was not all that fun.  It is San Francisco however,  and guys in leather on bikes do get the occasional “woof” or whistle – which if I wasn’t so tired, had to pee, or late for meeting my friend Dave and his family for dinner, I might have enjoyed more.

After inching across and over the city - up Lombard St. and VanNess,  I finally made it to the I-80 ramp -- and  came to a dead stop.  I’ve never seen such a clogged freeway at 4pm on a Sunday.  By now it was near 80 degrees and the air-cooled Harley crawling at 5mph was not a happy bike, nor I a happy rider, fully clad in black leather.   In California, riders are allowed to split lanes – that is ride between lanes of stopped or slow traffic, and a number of bikers were doing that.  Not this one.  I wasn’t about to risk myself like that.  Once across the Bay Bridge however the traffic opened up and so I opened up the throttle and zoomed up the freeway at 70mph to the East Bay suburb of Dublin where I checked into the hotel and called my oldest friend Dave who lives a few miles away, and who’s family was anxiously awaiting me to get there for dinner.

After showering and changing I headed off to Dave’s house, where his youngest boy Ben was waiting outside when I roared up on the bike.  He gave me a high-five and wanted to go for a ride right then and there.  Fortunately Dave’s wife Elayne met me at the door and rescued this starving biker who hadn’t had anything but a Snickers bar since breakfast that morning.  After some great chicken soup and home-made cookies, I had a troop of  four anxious kids to take for rides around their quiet subdivision.  I'm sure the neighbors got a wee bit tired of us looping the 'hood, but we all had fun. Ben by far had the most fun, saying "motorcycles are awsome!  go faster! and refusing to hang on, and he vowed to get a motorcycle as soon as he’s old enough.  I’m afraid we’ve got another biker in training on the way. 
We rode around until bed time and then I bade them good night and headed back to the hotel. The way my wrists are feeling I’ll be glad to stay here a couple of days and rest – and take the kids out again tomorrow.

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