Start – Fort Bragg, CA 8:10am
End – Menlo Park, CA 2:25pm
The penultimate day, also the easiest and shortest day of the trip. After the road last night everything else will pale. It’s too bad about that too, because Hwy 1 is a long, pretty road. (Ed. Note: Ok, now my awe-meter is just about burned out.)
When we left the fog was thick, blanketing the coast, but not so much as to make riding difficult. Just enough for atmosphere. The 1 is called the Shoreline Highway up here and it’s easy to see why. It literally follows the coast. On one side, cliff doooooown to the ocean (Ed. Note: Just FYI, when I typed that I made a little whistling noise like Wile E. Coyote makes when he falls. Now you do it.) and on the other, trees or hills. It’s a twisted road and fun to ride, with nice sweepers mixed in with hairpins and climbers. Little cage trouble for most of the day. Everyone got out of the way. Too bad the girls are still stuck in the truck. Glad Stitches is headed straight for the doctor though.
So it’s still just the three boys, Too Good blazing trail and Papa Rocket flying tail-gunner so he can fall back and then roll on his throttle to catch up. (Ed. Note: Because playing with a big engine is fun! Weeee!) I was mentally geared up for a rough, twisted day. I’d seen a mileage sign for a town with the greatest name ever, Gualala (Ed. Note: Say it out loud, you know you want to.), and it triggered a flood of memories. My first long ride ever, over four years ago and less than a year since I had started riding, had found me up in Gualala. (Ed. Note: No, I didn’t mean to end up there. I’d gotten lost on the way, but in the good way. Part of the purpose of the ride was to get a little lost and come home. It was a great ride.) To my novice skill set the 1 was a terrible, challenging, mean amalgamation of 15mph turns and steep climbs. It wore me out. I was preparing myself to face it again as Gualala approached.
Talk about anti-climactic. It was kind of twisted, but nothing awful. Not at all the road which had taken up legendary status in my memories. Disappointing really. (Ed. Note: I was keyed up for this really intense road for miles, and I just kept waiting for it. It was like going to a Will Ferrell movie. You have heard it’s going to be funny so you sit and wait for it, ready to laugh…but you never get to laugh. Just chuckle once at one of the other actors every twenty minutes or so.) It was neat to see Gualala again. Cute little town. After an aborted lunch stop where we tried to hook up with Stitches and Lillypad, we parted ways with the U-Haul once again and lit out for Menlo Park, the birthplace of Too Good. (Ed. Note: I assume. I guess he might have been born somewhere else and they moved to Menlo Park…eh, whatever.)
I think it’s partially that we’ve spent an overwhelming amount of time riding on back roads and in small towns away from too many cars, but riding into the Bay Area was a terrible shock. These people cannot drive. They are aggressive and self-centered, blind to anyone on the road with them. Papa Rocket was nearly killed twice by the same Mercedes, its driver blithely chatting away on her phone. Love the new law! Works great! (Ed. Note: Twice! Same car. He changed lanes, she changed lanes, rinse, repeat, but farther up his pipes. Bitch.) It even infected Too Good, who learned to drive in the area. We politely gave him some tips when we stopped. (Ed. Note: “Stop driving like a fucking asshole. You’re forgetting that we are behind you, trying to ride in a group. Oh, stop crying like a little girl, this doesn’t hurt that bad. Suck it up. Seriously, stop blubbering, the pipes aren’t that hot. Smells good, though, doesn’t it?”)
For me the highlight of today’s ride was going over the Golden Gate Bridge. I’d never done it before and the fog off the bay was so thick I couldn’t see the tops of the support struts nor the end of the bridge. Very San Francisco, very how I expected it to be. (Ed. Note: That’s why no one can drive! They are all Giants fans and it’s all they can do not to drive their cars into the nearest solid object and end it all. Now it all makes sense.)
Short ride through town and, not much later, we arrive at Too Good’s parent’s house, where my friends from college were waiting. It was so great to see the and rehash the last eleven days and try to catch up with everything. I’m glad they got to meet Stitches too. Too Good’s parents were too good to us.
Tomorrow is the last day. Long ride down the Kalifornia coast. Sad, don’t want it to end. I’d ride ‘til my money ran out, (Ed. Note: Check.) then I’d work just enough to be able to ride some more. (Ed. Note: Someone get Peter Fonda on the phone!) This has been incredible.
215 miles today
3724 miles total