Thursday, 28 July 2016

Big Guy rides the Left Coast - Day Four - Mendocino, CA to El Granada, CA

Day 4 - 300 km - 5 hours

After the plethora of photos from the last three days, I decided to give everyone a break as I .. um .. didn't take a single photo during day 4.

Not that it was not scenic - but I was a bit anxious to see my good friend, Michael, and his wife, Shirley. You see, Mike and I go way back - back to Tokyo - I've known Mike almost as long as I've known my wife because all three of us taught English at a school in Tokyo back in 1984! 

Hands up, who was alive in 1984?

We have visited Mike and Shirley before - a few years back - and took advantage of the time to check out San Fransisco. This time I was there solely to visit with them so I was in a bit of a hurry to see them. Instead of taking highway 1 down the coast, which would have been more scenic, I took highway 101 which promised to be more direct!

I left Mendocino after getting ready in the shared bathroom. Actually, I first waited for ten minutes outside the shared bathroom until I wandered around the floor and found a couple more bathrooms that were vacant. After I had packed up, I left the grand old Mendocino Hotel and hopped on my scooter.

It was a cold start - a really cold start. I had on my jacket, with liner, which was sufficient every other morning so far but this morning it was cold and stayed cold. I was forced to unpack my fleece sweater and put on my rain pants for part of the trip just get at a comfortable riding temperature. Thankfully, I had my heated grips (on full) and heated seat (on half) to help out. 

Having 'luxuries' like heated grips and heated seats are sort of like having air conditioning or heated seats in a car - once you have them, you figure that you won't be able to cope without them in future vehicles. 

Not the sign I saw, but same idea....
The first thing I had to deal with was to get from Highway 1 (on the coast) over to Highway 101 (a bit inland) which was a bit of a problem. My first attempt, thanks to CoPilot, was a very minor road that had a sign "Through Traffic Not Advised" posted at the turn off. I decided to take it for a while as it looked pretty good but after a couple of miles or so it became very rough. Upon further research, I believe the road is called Comptche Ukiah Road and is a popular cycling route. However, I had not filled up my tank and had no idea of the services available on this route. That, combined with thick fog, made me re-assess the road that CoPilot had suggested and I back tracked, returning to Highway 1. I would like to come back one day, with a full tank of gas, and try this rough road as it would probably be an interesting ride, especially if I wasn't in a hurry.

My next route suggested was Highway 128 which I took. Although there was still a fair bit of fog in places, it was, overall, a very nice road. It had lots of twisty curves that were a lot of fun. I had that euphoric feeling like I was skiing moguls (really well)  and thoroughly enjoyed the ride towards highway 101. There was, however, a guy in a pick up truck who was on my butt during the twists which detracted from their enjoyment. I did pull off when I was able so he could pass but I was a bit uncomfortable with how close he was riding me. 

Highway 101 was pretty straight forward - at least until I got to Santa Rosa. There, the traffic slowed right down to rush hour proportions. Stop and go, stop and go. I wondered if you could go up the breakdown lane in California (not legal) and wished I looked up the legality of it before hand. Then, as I slowly crept along, I saw a motorcyclist zip by between the cars - lane splitting, in other words. 

Ah, that was it, I recalled. You can lane split ( lane filter) in California - legally! 

Hippie Grandma, circa 1969?

While I mulled this over, an old VW Van - you know, the one that hippies used to drive - pulled up beside me, driven by a hippie grandma. She was friendly enough but asked me why I was sitting in traffic when I could be lane splitting. Whenever she said 'lane-splitting' she gestured with both hands in a very urgent manner. I explained to her that I was Canadian and we're not allowed to lane split (or buy automatic weapons) but she reminded me that we were in California (the only state to allow lane splitting legally - or at least, not to prohibit it). I shrugged and, while I considered it, the traffic started to pick up. 

I'm a little disappointed I didn't even try it but, on the other hand, I was to make sure that I am a mostly safe rider so I don't know if I will ever try lane-splitting. Maybe if there was a course....

Once I cleared the traffic it was smooth riding to San Fran. I had a bit of slight panic just before the Golden Gate bridge when I didn't know how I was going to pay the toll but just went on through, not worrying about it. We will see if I get an invoice to pay the toll or if they just don't bother with out-of-country plates. 

I ended up back on Highway 1 through San Francisco. I was desperately needing some lunch as all I had eaten up to that point was some left over Tillamook cheese. I stopped at one of my favourite American chains, Chipotle, and had a tasty burrito. Now I have discovered that there are 2 Chipotle restaurants in Vancouver so I will have to check them out!

On the way to El Granada, I discovered that part of the highway had been changed - the tricky part which suffered from landslides, erosion, and traffic accidents had been replaced with slick new tunnels. The old highway route has since been changed into a picturesque walking trail. 

I arrived in at Michael and Shirley's place in El Granada (after CoPilot sent me down no fewer than three dead ends in the town) and had beers and cheese while relaxing and watching a movie. 

The next day was a rest day which was extremely pleasant but had zero time on my BMW C600 scooter so I will continue the next entry with my next day on the scoot. 


Michael Phelan said...

Ah the memories!

SonjaM said...

Enjoy your trip down memory lane. After so many miles on the road you certainly deserve a break.

Dave Dixon said...

Glad you are both enjoying the blog!