Narratives about motorcycling on Northern California's back roads; Reflections on the history and geography of the North State; Memoirs and early recollections of youthful visits to towns and forests and mountaintops.
Also middle-of-the-road takes on current issues in politics and education. Middle of the road? Isn't that dangerous?
Friday, February 12, 2016
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD
It had been a week since the big
Triumph took up residence in my garage.It was to be an unseasonably warm February day – unseasonable weather is
common this time of year – and I had a few errands to conduct.
The first errand:My daughter had owned a bike for about six weeks a few years
back.Just enough to give her
“street cred” when recommending a road.“Have you gone out Sweetwater Springs yet?” she asked.That was good enough for me.
Sweetwater Springs is an historic district off Westside Road
a few miles west of Healdsburg.The pavement is about two-and-a-half paces wide and is maintained – in
Spring grasses sprout bright green mantling the rolling
hills.I’ve left behind the
verdant vineyards of the Russian River Valley and entered cattle country.A committee of two greets me, first
posing, then approaching nearer.Whistling at them through my full-face Shoei avails nothing so I waste
little time in motoring off.
Atop the next grade rests a barn cooperatively built decades
ago, I image.I snap the picture
you may have regarded at the top of this post.
A mile or so further, a sign warns that the road is going to get
narrow and steep.A ten
mile-per-hour pace is suggested.From the pastureland I’ve wound down into the course of a small stream which
provides the perfect environment for a stand of redwoods.
Another two miles on, I find myself departing the now and
entering the past.I discover why
they call this the “Historic” Sweetwater Springs area.
The second errand:I am compelled to see how the beautiful
new mount tackles the scenic, sweeping curves of California’s State Route
1.Quite favorably, I
The torquey 1700cc engine almost convinces me that the only
gear I really need from the tranny on this road is third.And the seat!The motorcycling press unabashedly uses superlatives to
describe its comfort.I don’t much
care for superlatives, but after several hours on this saddle this day, I
believe their enthusiasm is more than justified.
A small cluster of modest abodes rests east of the highway
on a bluff north of Bodega Bay.A
sign indicates one of these is on the market.And I’d love to have the ocean lull me to sleep through an
open window of my very own.Did I
say the place is modest?
The view down the street is spectacular.Ocean beaches and publicly maintained
trails atop bluffs are literally moments away.I’d easily find a way give $199K for this fixer!
I stopped and nabbed a flyer.I did suggest about two hundred grand didn’t I?Good, because $699K seems a bit steep.I’d have to give up a number of really bad habits to make ends meet at
such a price.Like wine, whiskey,
eating and purchasing a new motorcycle now and then.
The third errand:North of Jenner is a switchback turn with a wide gravel
apron I call Portrait Point.No
one else does, but I do.This is
because every motorcycle I own (and some I don’t own) have their portraits
taken here with, as a backdrop, a sinuous Highway One carving its path above
the Pacific’s rocky shoals.
Archive: The aforementioned daughter's Duc.
The fourth errand:A loop through the early springtime
palette of the Russian River Valley will always make my to-do list.The historic Hop Kiln winery (recently
purchased by a bigger outfit) maintains a rustic tasting room in what may once
have been a facility built to support a different industry.The grounds are beautiful and warrant a
The low late-winter sun affords an interesting dance
between light and shadow, accentuated by the mustard vintners grow between the
lines of grapes – the mustard to be mulched under supplying nutrition and
moisture retention to the vines as their fruit develops.
My list of errands complete, I
return home with little to show for my efforts but a grin that may take some
time to fade.All-in-all, a good