I did not get as early start as I wanted. The wine and and staying up past my bedtime the night before made it tough to get out of bed, but at 7am I was getting my gear together and trying to wake up. It took me a while but I did manage to get out the door and on the road in about 45 minutes. In hindsight I should have drank less, gotten to bed earlier, left earlier and had breakfast, maybe next time I’ll remember this.
The sun was up as I worked my way through the still light traffic in San Francisco. I began to hope that my late start wouldn’t ruin my day as I made my way onto the Golden Gate and into Marin County.
It turns out that I was early enough at least for this leg of the trip. I was worried that the Panoramic Highway through Mt. Tamalpais state park would be clogged with people, but at 8:15am it was clear and I was able to ride at my own pace with out worrying about being in someone’s way or anyone getting in mine. It’s a glorious road. Plenty of twists and turns to keep you moving and on your toes, quite literally in my case, shifting my weight from one side of my motorcycle to the other with turn after turn after fantastic turn. I did find time to reflect that it is somewhat ironic that I hated these types of road as a child since I would inevitably end up car sick. Now I love them, I just needed to find the right vehicle for me, one with half the wheels.
Soon I was at Highway One and I headed north. I’ll admit that I was slightly tempted to head south and home back to bed, but one of the reasons I was out this early was to test myself a bit, too see if I could do a 150+ mile day with out killing myself, or be too sore to do anything the following day. So instead I was going north, heading to Fort Ross. It had been a few years since I’ve ridden up here, more than 3 or so but I was surprised at how much I remembered about the road.
From Stinson Beach to Bodega Bay it’s a mixed bag of road. Some sections are amazing others are towns or just boring straight sections through farmland. Over all it’s just a nice ride, except for a really fetid section by a dairy farm which needs to take a tip from Straus Family Farm and get a methane pit going. I could not smell any bad from Straus, but 10 miles down the road I about died. There are some down sides to being so in the world as you are on a motorcycle. Smelling everything is one of them. The cold is the other. I was a bit chilly for a bit of this part too. My hands had gotten cold and it took a while for that to finally fade, lucky for me neither of these were enough to ruin the ride.
Once past Bodega Bay the ride got a bit more epic, the next 10 plus miles are awesome. There are amazing views of the coast line, and some wonderful twisty road, some of which is even newly paved. I was in heaven for a while, then I got to Fort Ross, my destination and while I know there is lots of amazing road left on Highway One, it was a bit after 10am and time to turn around and think about heading home. The bonus of turning around there, was that I got to do all that amazing road again.
I stopped in Jenner, at a Cafe that I’ve stopped at before, and got myself some breakfast. I also called the Lovely Wife checking in and letting her know I was doing fine. (Ever since the horrendous crash she’s understandably nervous when I do a long ride.) This break was nice, but I do wish that I had eaten earlier so that this break could have been shorter and earlier, since the traffic was pretty bad by the time I got past Bodega Bay. All this traffic and my hurry to get home lead to my one unfortunate event on what otherwise was a perfect day. Some where just north of Bolinas Lagoon, I looked in my mirrors to see flashing lights. A zealous Park Ranger claims he saw me pass someone on the double yellow and also thought I was speeding, and decided to give me a citation for the former but not the latter. I think he decided to cite me for only one because of my polite and respectful manner. Although back up did arrive in the form of another Park Ranger, but this could have been procedure, or maybe I looked threatening, either way it did put a damper on my day, but by this time I was nearly home. I did take Highway One all the way back to 101, since I was pretty confidant that the Panoramic Highway would be clogged with traffic by this time, and I’m sure I was right. Sadly Highway One was also slow moving and so I limped my way back to 101 and the Golden Gate bridge. The bridge was a quite sight, as I came out of the tunnels and could see it with the City behind it. San Francisco traffic was understandably much worse than it was hours earlier, but I used my size and acceleration to good advantage and soon I was home, safe and sound.
Over all a terrific ride, it was a great ride, and luckily for my plans I was not that sore the next day. The only really bad thing is that now it’s cold and wet and I won’t be doing it again anytime soon.