Ramblings about rambling . . .

ride reports, mostly from the club newsletter


The road to Bliss may be slippery in spots. March riding in Idaho with Tom Brazier
I was there when it happened; ride to Parkfield, April '05 (From the May 2005 newsletter.)
President's Column—May you go on interesting rides... (From the Feb. 2005 newsletter. A pdf file; it requires Adobe Reader or Acrobat.)
"Meander to Woodside" (August '04 club ride to Eat Lunch)
"Betty's Ride" ( May '04 club ride to Cambria)
Lamb Chops and Rain Squalls   (April '04 club ride to Los Banos)
Being Lucky   (The 2003 Range of Light Gypsy tour. A pdf file; it requires Acrobat Reader or Acrobat.)

The club newsletter is now (as of April, 2006) online. You'll be able to find more ride reports there.

The Road to Bliss...

...Idaho, that is. By your Traveling Club Correspondent, Tom Brazier, March 24, 2008.

(A pdf version of this report can be found here.)

While some of the other MBBR club members were on Ron’s ride in the land of "Milk and Honey", cruising across the 70 degree Central Valley, the temperature read 27 degrees in Boise. It read 27 on The Weather Channel, the outdoor thermometer and the thermometer on the car. It wasn’t changing much and the idea of an early departure on The Road to Bliss was not looking good. It was time for Plan B, a delicious breakfast at the Sunrise Café and a reconsideration of an early departure. Homemade blueberry pancakes, biscuits the size of a hamburger and country gravy fueled our sense of adventure again.

I had come up on Friday to see my old friend, Bob Hoppie, pick up my trusty Kawasaki ZRX1220R at the shop and get in a couple days of Spring riding. There are many differences between Idaho and California and one is the price of service. A full service on the Kawi and all parts including a valve service is $300. Registration for two years is $44. Things like that!

At any rate we were talking about The Road to Bliss. Now you may know that most of the access to southeastern Idaho from Boise is along Interstate 84. At least in the winter when some of the wonderful side roads are snow covered or where black ice abounds. There are not many other roads to get to Bliss and we all hate the interstate. In fact the interstate is known as 84/20/21/26/30 and there may be more numbers attached to it along the way to Bliss. But the temperature was 27 and when corrected for the 75 mph wind created by the posted speed limit on the interstate, and the 20 mph head-wind, the wind chill was down to 2 degrees. Perfect for a Spring ride! Electrics worked well but darn I wish I had a windshield on that bike. Or even hand warmers. But us IronBrainers thought this was a fine day to Spring ride.

Road to Bliss

When we arrived at Shoshone, there were no signs directing us to the Falls. The nice lady at the Gas station explained that was because Shoshone Falls was 20 miles south of us, in Twin Falls. That didn’t make a lot of sense but the coffee was hot and we warmed up a bit there while we contemplated our pathetic navigational skills. We met a biker heading for Sun Valley, two-up, on a new Road King, He explained the road was clear and that there were 40 foot snow drifts to see on both sides of the road on the way up into town of Sun Valley. Great for a day ride. We declined to go north with him and headed south in search of Shoshone Falls on Highway 93, and warmth.

The day’s ride called for a trip to Shoshone Falls, which were reputed to be spectacular this time of year. I thought anything covered by ice would be spectacular and surely no liquid water could exist at this temperature. Bliss is located right where Highway 26 departs the interstate, and is about 15 miles east of Paradise, Paradise Valley that is. I suspect that it gets its name from the fact that you can get off the interstate there. It was interesting passing tractors with triples moving at 80 down the interstate. The road from Bliss to Shoshone was 20 miles or so of ideally slow moving two lane country road. There was plenty of time to look at the massive snowpack at Sun Valley off to our left. While everything around us was snow capped with lacy snow remainders, Sun Valley was a massive pack of ice and snow that seem to go up forever. It was spectacularly beautiful.

Road to Bliss

Highway 93 crosses the Snake River at a beautiful suspension bridge as you enter Twin Falls. The view from the lot at the side of the bridge is spectacular as you look down the Snake River Canyon to the west. A retired truck driver was showing us the area, including the jump ramp located just north of the bridge that Evel Knievel used to try to jump the Snake River Canyon, when a parachute floated by heading for the River below. That caught our attention! It seems like this is one of the few legal places to do base jumping off a bridge. We watched people who appeared reasonably sane jumping off the bridge and popping their chutes to land on the ledge beside the river below. They then climbed up the vertical wall of the canyon and calmly went to a little park area to repack the chutes and do it again. I thought about doing that. Then I figured if the shock from jumping off the bridge did not kill me, the climb up the canyons wall would certainly finish me off. Hunger set in about that point and a little fifties style diner in Twin Falls took care of that. Steak sandwiches with a mound of French fries and more hot coffee were the order of the day.

Road to Bliss

We then shivered our way to the falls, which are rather spectacular. Seems water does not freeze in Idaho. They are, at 212 feet, higher than Niagara. They were well attended that day including a group of what appeared to be young Mennonite folks. They looked straight out of the 18th Century and gave Bob and me in our leathers a wide birth. By now the temp was way up to about 40, with a freezing wind off the mountains to the north of us. God save the electrics and what about electric gloves? Or a nice neck warmer for that matter. Next time.

Road to Bliss

Then it was off to see Hollister . . . Hollister, Idaho that is. It is located about 25 miles south of Twin Falls and was not a bustling community. We went through it several times looking for a good photo op sign or for that matter even a town. In fact, the only sign we could find with the “Hollister” name on it was the one seen here. Bob asked why we went there. I explained that it is mandatory when you live in Hollister to visit any place called Hollister if it is within a day’s ride. He seemed skeptical. As we headed north out of Hollister, one of the mileages signs was interesting. It indicated that Sun Valley was 102 miles north of us. Yet, we could clearly see that massive mountain to the north over a hundred miles ahead. And we could see similar brilliant white peaks in any other direction we looked. Cool.

Road to Bliss

With a fond farewell to Hollister, we started north again into the wind which had now maliciously switched from the southeast to the north so we had a headwind both ways. Backtracking on Highway 93 we came to Highway 30, another perfect two lane country road that this time took us up the beautiful Hagerman Valley. The trip was along the south side of the Snake and crossed it half a dozen times. There were hot springs bubbling steam up into the frigid air, fishing camps and parks for camping and to swim in, probably for warmer weather. Or Polar Bears. Then it was 120 miles or so beating it back to Boise on the interstate where we got in just after 8:00. The sun was just going down and it had been a great day.

Road to Bliss

The next day we were thawed out pretty well, and temps were up to 33, so we decided to cycle Highway 55 up toward McCall and stopped at Horseshoe Bend. That takes you over a little summit at about 6,000 feet with snow on both sides of a dry road. We stopped for pictures at the Horseshoe Bend sign, when another “only in Idaho” moment occurred. An Idaho State Police cruiser stopped on the road by us and an officer asked if we would like pictures of both of us in front of the sign. He parked, came down and introduced himself as “Justin”, and chatted for a while. We posed; he took pictures, then gave us some road advice and wished us a great day. Can you see the CHP doing that? Coffee at the Standard Station got us moving again down the Emmet loop trail. It was a spectacular ride with snow capped mountains to the east and the Black Canyon road down to Emmett. It parallels a beautiful reservoir on the left and the mountains to the north and west.

Road to Bliss

In Emmett we came upon another relic, a full service drive-in restaurant, complete with carhops on roller skates. She couldn’t attach the trays to our bikes so we had a chance to sit and visit at the picnic tables. She explained that they were trying to get all the servers to go to roller skates to bring back the ambiance of the good old days. A foot long chili cheese dog and more scalding coffee got us moving toward Boise. (Note to self – no chili cheese dogs with onions on a freezing day when you need to keep the face mask on a full face helmet completely closed so your eyes don’t freeze over.)

Total mileage was about 525 and the ride was an awesome experience. The spectacular scenery overcame the cold and the friendship with Bob made the ride spirit warm and friendly. The last fun of the ride was coming home Sunday on Horizon Air to a wonderful Easter dinner with family. The flight attendants were in the spirit, as you can see. Microbrew anyone?

Can’t wait until next time. Cheers all!


Be There When It Happens! I was...

Saturday, April 16, 2005; Mike Clark tells about Dick Dodd's ride to Parkfield.

When you ride with Dick Dodd, some things are certain: you'll leave on time, you'll arrive on time, the pace will be pleasant, and the roads will be fresh and interesting. Dick's pre-ride description said, "Be there when it happens" and "We'll be going by way of Santa Fe." Santa Fe was a no-show, but I was there when it happened. I witnessed an event I never thought I'd experience in this lifetime. But before we get to that, here's how the trip went.

The digital clock on my bike said 9:02 when Dick pulled out, leading Ron Aikins and Sam Arquila on a merry chase down highway 68 while Chuck and Sue Hof were still settling into the saddle back at the gas station. We all eventually collected ourselves on River Road—having magically accumulated David Ow on his Triumph Tiger along the way—and we settled in for a scenic tour of Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties. Dick said a number of roads were closed but the ones that were open were a sufficiency and more.

Porch photo

The lunch bunch, Parkfield: David, Sue, Chuck, Dick, Ron

Dick led us at a sensible but satisfying pace down River Road, Paris Valley, Nacimiento Lake Road, peachy Peachy Canyon, some Templeton back roads, and up Cholame Valley Road to enter Parkfield from the south.

In Paso Robles at one of our rest stops we picked up another rider, John, aboard—I think—a Triumph. He said something about expecting us, and that some other riders might be joining us, too. He must have been dissatisfied with our pace or our route, however, for he kept appearing and reappearing in the group as we made our way from Templeton to Parkfield.

Porch photo

Chuck and Dick for lunch, Parkfield Cafe

We arrived at Parkfield at 1:02—a mere two minutes past our specified time. The group on the porch of the Parkfield Café seemed to be anticipating us and chastised us for being late by those two minutes. I never did get it straight, but somewhere on the Internet our ride had been picked up and rebroadcast to some SLO riders; they comprised the residents of the porch along with John. (There turned out to be other bikers eating on the porch as well: a group on sport bikes wandering around the snaky little roads of southern Monterey County. It was Tim Mayhew and one of his tours. Tim maintains an amazing motorcycle website: pashnit.com. He had a video camera mounted on his bike and they were reviewing some of the footage during lunch.)

Dining at the Parkfield Café is always a pleasure and we all had a fine meal, even Sam who—claiming he was on a diet—had smuggled in his own food in the capacious interior of the mega-scooter, his Honda Pacific Coast.

After lunch, Sam and Dick headed back to 101 while Ron, David, the Hofs, and I headed north by way of Indian Valley/Peach Tree Road, passing a large group of BMW riders along the way. I abandoned Ron and the Hofs at the south end of Highway 25 and dragged David with me as we headed north to home.

It was a fine way to spend a Saturday, with plenty of wildflowers and stunningly green countryside. Lots of wild-life, too: a nest-building red tail hawk in a power pole on Paris Valley Road, a coyote trying several times to cross between our bikes in suburban Paso Robles, a road-runner taking flight just north of Parkfield, and a family of wild pigs crossing Highway 25-two huge, black parents, and nine or so small, brown piglets. It was painful watching one of those really big hog parents try to bull its way through the barbwire fence at the side of the road. I could hear it jamming into the wire even though I had earplugs on. It took four tries before it made it through. Ouch.

And, on top of everything else, I was There When It Happened: somewhere in northern San Luis Obispo County, Dick Dodd did something no one has ever seen him do before nor is likely to see him do again. He missed a turn and headed down a dead-end road. If it hadn't been for that mistake, we wouldn't have been two minutes late getting to Parkfield.

Mike Clark

Meander to Woodside. . .

Saturday, August 21, former president Ron Aikins led the way to lunch

Ride leader Ron Aikins wrote this about the ride to Woodside:

It's August. That being the case, it presents a special problem in ride planning if you want to be kind to those who come along and not drag them through sweltering regions. This usually means a coastal route, but recent rides have also hugged the coast, one to the south to Cambria and one to the north to Rockaway Beach. The only thing to do: take one or the other, but use some roads "less traveled."

Since there are far fewer options for alternative routes off the PCH going south, I decided to go north and take some roads I hadn't seen myself in years, and hopefully neither had some others. As another change of pace, I also chose to start the ride from the Red Apple Café in Watsonville.

When I arrived at the restaurant a little before 8:00, Chuck & Sue Hof were just parking their LT out front. We had a very nice breakfast; Chuck and I both had the homemade (!) corned beef hash and eggs. Great way to start a ride! Chuck and Denny Adkins showed up at about a quarter 'til 9, and just before we were all leaving, Dick Dodd and Glenn Gray rolled in. The group left on the dot at the appointed time of 9 AM and headed north on Main Street. As we neared the BMW shop, Jay Whyte passed us going in the opposite direction and made a U-turn to join us as well.I had promised those wanting to meet us farther north that we would stop in Davenport by 10 AM, but I wanted to find a little variety even before reaching Santa Cruz. We went up Green Valley Road, then into Corralitos via Amesti and Varni Roads. Out of Corralitos we turned left at the meat market to follow Hames Road on a nice little jaunt to connect to Freedom Boulevard, and thence to Highway 1 into Santa Cruz.

There was no one waiting for us at the Cash Store in Davenport, our first rest stop, so it would be the eight of us for the rest of the ride.

The first diversion from the coast highway was the Swanton Road loop. I mentioned I had not been on some of these roads in years, and I had forgotten what a truly pleasant ride it is. About eight miles north of where Swanton Road reconnects with Highway 1, I turned onto Gazos Creek Road, which is rather narrow and twisty at first, but then relaxes and becomes Cloverdale Road, which terminates in Pescadero. Since there was an arts festival in Pescadero that weekend, but I hadn't planned to stop there, we took the North Street "bypass" to Stage Road on the other side of town. Stage Road led to our next rest stop at the San Gregorio General Store, always an entertaining place, with live music at lunch time and one of the most unique collections of merchandise to be found anywhere.

The short piece of Stage Road north of San Gregorio quickly reconnects with Highway 1, and about five miles north of that I turned onto Verde Road and rode north to Purisima Creek Road. Purisima Creek reverses direction in a sharp hook at the entrance to Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space, then becomes Higgins Canyon Road and connects to the south end of Main Street in Half Moon Bay. At the other end of Main Street, we turned east into Highway 92, then south on Skyline Boulevard to Alice's Restaurant and Highway 84. From there, it's only about five curvy miles down 84 into Woodside.

Buck's Restaurant in Woodside, if you haven't been there, is a hoot. They have all sorts of entertaining things hanging from the walls and ceiling to absorb your attention while waiting on your food from their eclectic menu, which is also generally very good.

After lunch we all went our various ways, having had what I hope was a pleasant jaunt for everyone, not to mention the very mild, sunny weather.

Betty's Ride. . .

Saturday, May 15, 2004, Steve and Betty head down the coast; the gang followed.

(This is Chuck Hof's ride report from the June 2004 newsletter)

Photo: Highway One


We gathered at Steve and Betty's very nicely remodeled home in Pacific Grove. Got a quick tour (I arrived late). Quickly getting underway with overcast skies, and hopes of sun Steve and Betty took the lead, with Tom Brazier, Chuck Hof, Chuck and Denny Adkins, Jim, and Carlos. Steve set a nice pace that allowed every one to ogle the sites.

We headed south to the beach and up to 68, onto Hwy One. As I later found out we were only one of two groups headed for a great lunch. Moving right along we stopped briefly at the Big Sur Inn, a quick check to see if there was need to take a break. The consensus was all OK, lets proceed, so off we went. The sun was breaking through, ah yes the wind was blowing early and at least 15-20 knots. I recall one corner that was most interesting. A gust caught me and pushed me around. Wow that was exciting, a good thing I had room to navigate.

We pulled off to take a head count and see if a stop was required by anyone. All OK, but looked like Jim had turned back. (More on what Jim was really doing later) Next stop was a very nice park about 30 miles north of our final destination. So we roll off into this park and low and behold another crew are waiting for us. So we went from 8, to 19. After a break to take in the sites, drain the morning's coffee, and stretch the legs. So there we all are stretching and in rolls Jim. "WHAT HAPPENED?" "Oh, I pulled off, and took a little nap"

Off we went with a nice run through San Simeon, yes the castle is still up there. We all had a nice meal in Cambria. We all took off to head home or into Cambria or parts unknown.

Thank you Steve, it was a good ride.

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Lamb chops and rain squalls. . .

. . . Saturday, April 17, 2004, Tom Brazier led the club to the edge of the Great Valley.
A visit to the Woolgrowers Restaurant, Los Banos

Ride Report by Mike Clark

"Never eat anything bigger than your head," B. Kliban

As we walked to the parking lot, the sky to the west looked almost poisonous in its blackness. Sally Wilson turned to me and said, "Think that will give us problems?"

"Nah," says I, "we'll be fine."

In my defense, I can only plead I was groggy from the Basque restaurant's three expertly-grilled lamb chops. And the french fries. And the salad. And the bread. And the beans. And the soup. And of course the spicy lamb stew was far too good to pass up, too. I did, however, add only a teaspoonful or so of the house wine to my glass of water-to cut that Central Valley alkalinity, of course. Also, I gave my ice cream to someone else. But it was a lot of food and I was feeling the effects. Ride-leader Tom Brazier saw my momentary state of mental torpor and—in his practiced avuncular fashion—said, "You'll write up the ride for the newsletter, won't you, Mike?"


I thought it was enough to show up and be seen in public with this bunch. Still, a promise is a promise.

So here, for those of you with the poor judgment to have missed Tom Brazier's mid-April ride to Los Banos, is what we saw, where we went, and what we did.

Photo: crutches

Dick Dodd recovering from an encounter with a (John) Deer(e)

Friday night, the night before the ride, local weather boffins had been soothingly upbeat about those clusters on the Doppler radar: "Nothing to worry about�don't cancel your plans...get out and do it..." they all said on the late-night news. Not bothering to pack my rain gear, I headed towards Salinas, accumulating Ron Dunton along the way. We made it to the Shell station in time to hear Tom deliver his pre-ride route-and-road condition report to a manageable crowd: the Wilsons, Jay Whyte, Chuck and Denny, Ron, myself, and Dick Dodd. Dick, still recovering from his accident (he took his riding lawnmower into a corner too hot and sustained damages), looked particularly stylish with his crutches strapped to the back of his bike.

Los Banos is an easy hour or so northeast of Salinas. So south we went, working our way counter-clockwise around the spreading limits of greater Salinas. We snaked out past Confederate Corners, through Spreckels, up Old Stage, along the edge of the Gabilans, through Natividad, and into Crazy Horse Canyon. We touched the freeway here and there but never for long. Tom looped us into Hollister by the back way and we got gas and another rider, Terry Crabtree, on a neon-and-chrome bright, newly-minted Harley.

Los Banos and the Woolgrowers still lay to the northwest so Tom headed us south again, following dirt bikers on their way to Hollister Hills. Leaving the bikers behind we took Highway 25 to Panoche Road toward Panoche Inn. Near Paicines, we slalomed through a gaggle of E Clampus Vitus (Latin for "drunk and in the way") on their way to put a plaque on a rock and drink beer. Further down the road, a bunch of Cabrillo College geology/archeology students on a field trip clambered over a road cut looking for fossils and synclines (bumper sticker: "Archeologists will date any old thing"). It was a good day for special-interest groups and ours was making the most of it.

Back before when we got on Highway 25, Dick Dodd figured that burritos beat lamb chops and he turned toward King City on Old Airline Highway. I trust he found his way home ok. About ten miles west of Panoche, a rider passed us from the other direction, made a driveway u-turn, and fell in behind, filling the gap left by Dick's departure. It was David Ow on his new Triumph Tiger.

Photo: Panoche Inn Sign

Larry knew we were coming.

Larry Lopez had a sign out in front welcoming bikers; in back he had meat on the barbeque and Red Davis in a trailer. Red showed everyone how the rear end of his trailer keeps falling off and Larry kept wafting b-b-q smoke at us. I was ready to cancel the reservation at the Woolgrowers and take Larry up on the Tri-Tip but peer pressure sucked me back on the road as the gang headed out past Mercy Hot Springs. Tom's route kept the slab exposure to a minimum, only 6 miles on the Interstate thankyouverymuch, and brought us to the Woolgrowers parking lot by a confusing, but deftly executed, back way.

Photo: Red\'s trailer

Red explains why a big hole in the back of a trailer is a Good Thing.

In the dim light of the Woolgrowers' dining area I was able to make out Ken and Janet who had arrived in Salinas about two minutes too late to catch the tour and had made their own path to the restaurant, expecting to overtake us along the way.

The Woolgrowers' menu bears repeating (in fact, it repeated for a good portion of the way home.) We were given a choice: two of the following four items, lamb chops, beef, pork chops, or chicken. From those two, everyone then got to pick one. I was impressed that we came to a decision without fuss and narrowed it down to lamb and pork. As a diner, that's the only choice you have to make; everything else is literally up for grabs. The only thing sub-par on the table was the water, and a splash of wine took care of that. The food just kept coming in waves. Those three large chops may have been the best I've ever had. A fine choice, Tom.

After assuring Sally Wilson that there was nothing to worry about, weatherwise, we gassed up in Los Banos and headed west, this time a direct route home through the increasing rain drops. I never saw the Wilsons again. I'm pretty sure, I saw the Adkinses as we worked our rainy way through heavy city traffic. (Heavy traffic in Los Banos! Things are changing.) If it was the Adkinses, they soon disappeared from sight. By the time we got on the open road, all I could see were Tom, Terry Crabtree, Ron, and David.

The rain let up for a while and then started again with a vengeance. A particularly nasty looking cell bore down on us from the north and eventually caught us. Terry, in front of me on his new Harley, overtook a truck that was putting out a lot of spray. At that moment, the sun broke through the clouds. The resulting image was worthy of a television commercial: gallant rider on shining bike surrounded by a dazzling nimbus of rain and mist; it was spectacular. Me, I was wondering if my butt was wet and wishing I remembered to pack my rain gear.

As we neared Hollister I decided I knew a better way and split off along Highway 152, dragging Ron with me. I think I saw Chuck and Denny fall in behind back in the mist but wasn't sure. A few miles down the road, another ill-planned turn took me—with Ron still behind me, doggedly believing I knew what I was doing—down some back roads until Dunneville, where we fell in behind David Ow. The rain got worse as we headed south on 101; David was putting out a wake that would have done a jet ski proud. Too bad I didn't have my rain suit.

David turned off at Watsonville and, as Ron and I headed home, I told Ron on the radio that I was feeling damp, and apropos of nothing, that we had managed to touch six counties: Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Benito, Fresno, Merced, and Santa Clara. Not bad for a day's ride with time for lunch and an afternoon nap.

With the off-and-on heavy rain most of the way home, I was surprised to find Scotts Valley looking dry, and I unpacked in sunshine. When I pulled my camera out of my side case I noticed that it was sitting on—wait for it, wait for it—my rain suit. I had put it there the previous week just in case I got caught in the rain. Oh well, I'll remember next time.

Thanks for the ride, Tom.

Mike Clark
May 2004

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