Friday, March 17, 2017


A St. Patrick’s Day therapy session

In the forty days and forty nights since they worked on my debrided right knee, Northern California had experienced rainfall that would cause Noah pause.  Because I couldn’t heft the big Triumph, the fact that the weather was marginal for riding didn’t cause similar pause for me.

But then, the weather turned nice.  Highs reaching the 70s.  Skies purely blue or only dotted with fluffy, white clouds.  Sonoma County’s network of curving roads cresting verdant rises, dry and ice free.  The California poppies would be blooming.  And the doc said I should “spend time on a bike” to rebuild strength in my knee.

In the garage, then, I straddled the Triumph and pushed the starter button.  If the thing fired up – it had been six weeks since last I’d ridden it – I’d give some thought into taking a short spin to test out my repaired joint.  That “some thought” took about a second and a half.

Dang!  The ‘Bird looked good when I pushed it out to the street.

I headed south on Dutcher Creek Road toward the Dry Creek Valley, Lake Sonoma and beyond, stopping many times for photos, as, I figure, getting on and off the cruiser would be good therapy for my knee.

The paper reported that just last week, the growers in the Dry Creek area were enjoying bud break.  In the parlance of viticulture, the term “bud break” has nothing to do with half time during the Super Bowl.  No, it means that the growth cycle has been renewed and we sure as hell hope there won’t be a late season hard freeze.

Dry Creek is dammed at the west end of the valley.  Lake Sonoma provides irrigation and domestic water as well as miles of hiking trails and a little used 14-mile dead end called Rockpile Road, a route that crosses the reservoir on a massive bridge.

Rockpile Road threads the ridge that separates the two arms of Lake Sonoma, passing through the Army Corps of Engineers administered recreation area and into a viticulture area identified as – surprise – Rockpile.

The road is little used – it is gated about twenty minutes in – so traffic is generally limited to the ranchers and farmers who work out that way.  

The pavement is grand with sweeping curves and sections that arc over one summit, then the next, reminding me a bit of Montana’s Beartooth Pass, only more temperate, less traffic, and with better wine locally available.

But, with ample warning, it ends.


I pedal the Big Blue backwards on the pavement, arranging for myself enough space to hoist the thing around.  This is when I discover that one knee works and the other knee works not so well.

Using the guardrail to flex and relax said knee, I view the green hills – St. Patrick’s Day green hills – that lie beyond the pavement’s end.  Credited to Luther Burbank is the statement, "I firmly believe, from what I have seen, that this is the chosen spot of all this earth as far as Nature is concerned."  

Today’s ride out and back on Rockpile Road supports his contention.

It’s been an hour and a half on and off the Thunderbird and the bum knee feels not so bum.  I’m torn between making a longer day of it, risking fatigue, and just heading back to the barn.

What could I do to enhance this already glorious day?  Then, at US 101 and Lytton Springs Road, a solution presents itself.

Tacos al pastor and a beverage perched on the seat of the bike. Just like lunch on a real road trip.  What could be better?

A Modelo Especial sounded particularly good; if only I’d not been on the bike.

Catching the freeway north, I settle in for a ten-minute blast toward home. I’d been out of the saddle too long, but the big Triumph remains as comfortable and forgiving as I’d remembered it.  I was glad for today’s glorious weather and thankful that the Biblical rains we received happened while I was under in-house confinement orders. 


Note:  Upon returning home, I reviewed notes from the doc who worked over my knee and discovered that when he said “bike,” he meant:



Today’s Route:  Exit US 101 at South Cloverdale Blvd, head west.  At the first intersection (landmark Starbucks, Sinclair Gas, liquor store, abandoned antique store across S Cloverdale) turn left heading away from town.  Somewhere along in here, the road becomes Dutcher Creek. Pass the Fritz Winery two miles southwest (stop in if you have a moment) and continue for a total of about six to Dry Creek Road.  Right on Dry Creek to the end of the valley.  At the spillway, turn left – your only choice – on Stewart’s Point Skaggs Springs passing Lake Sonoma the Visitor Center (stop in if you have a moment).  Continue up the hill about three miles.  Stewart’s Point Skaggs Springs will exit left, but you’ll want to continue on what is now Rockpile Road, over the big bridge and west for another dozen miles or so.  Return?  Retrace.  Consider following Dry Creek Road six or seven miles east into Healdsburg where you can hang out at the town’s square like the area glitterati.

© 2017
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. Sounds like your Doctor needs to be slightly more specific. Glad you could get out for a ride and that your rains have stopped.

    Little by little the knee will get better no matter which bike you ride.

  2. Not sure if it was a beautiful day, so I went for a ride or it was a beautiful day because I went for a ride. In either event, long anticipated and much enjoyed...

    ...and then there were the tacos...

  3. We cross paths one of these days as we ride the same roads.

    2012 Thunderbird Red Marble Haze.

    1. Email me sometime if you'd like company on a ride. I live in Windsor.