Saturday, March 1, 2008

Mendo for Me

Saturday I rode to the town of Mendocino. As I was headed north on Hwy 101, I saw some dark clouds at the north end of the Anderson Valley. Sure enough as I pulled off into Cloverdale, it started to rain. It rained from the freeway to Booneville, where I stopped for lunch and to dry out. I stopped just after lunch and I headed out.

Hwy 128, west of Booneville enters the redwood forest. There is little traffic, which makes you feel like you are really far from civilization. Mendocino is a few miles north of Hwy 128 on Hwy 1.

In Mendocino I stopped at Dick’s Bar for a beer. The place was crowded and the bartender who dropped a tray of glasses in the middle of the floor provided entertainment. Dick’s has a lot of dick inspired wiseacre sayings posted around the bar, such as, “there are few Richards, but a lot of Dick’s,” etc.

After leaving Dick’s, I headed south on Hwy 1. It was now clear and sunny, with the afternoon sun turning the water turquoise then hazel and the hours went by. This is truly one of the most beautiful parts of the California Coast; I prefer it to the area between Carmel and Morro Bay. I was especially impressed by the town of Elk. Each house and business looked like there was not one blade of grass out of place.

It was a glorious ride, every time I looked at the ocean I saw something that I wanted to stop and explore. I saw several roads heading inland that I would like to come back and see where they would go. It was very cold and I had my electric jacket turned up, but the cold added to the exhilaration. When I reached Jenner and turned inland it had just turned dark

This was a great ride. There is a lot to see and do around Mendocino, which explains the number of bed and breakfasts in the area. Hmmmm bed and breakfast, Marie, Me and HD, there’s an idea.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Still Cool After All These Years

This is my buddy Scott’s bike, cool huh? But Scotty is pissed off. Why is Scotty so PO’ed? Look a little closer, Scott’s bike looks just like a Harley Davidson Street Glide. Wrong! And that is why he’s pissed.

Scott’s bike does not look like a Street Glide, a Street Glide looks just like Scott’s bike. Therein is the tale. Scott’s bike is a 1996 Electra Glide Standard. A 1996 has an Evolution motor. The Street Glide was not “invented” by Harley Davidson till 2006 and has a Twin Cam motor.
Scott’s bike was at the vanguard of the “bagger” revolution. The bagger revolution was when the collective consciousness of the biker world changed. Before Scotty finished building his bike all Electra Glides were known as Geezer Glides. Old men rode them, and customizing them meant adding all the chrome and running lights that could be fitted. This type of bike was called a Dresser or more appropriately a Full Dresser.
With the Evolution motor Harley moved a giant step forward. Harley knew the motor had to be completely reliable and absolutely leak proof. They succeeded. Former chopper guys began to realize the utility of saddle bags and a windshield. But every hot rodder has to customize, it’s in their blood. So where would these guys find fulfillment. Not in the gaudy, over chromed, over lighted and overdone full dresser. These guys dechromed, lowered and simplified the lines of the Electra Glide to make what I call an art deco masterpiece.
Look closely at Scott’s bike, you will see that he got rid of the over stuffed seat, chopped down the windshield and put on a front fender without chrome. There are dozens of custom changes that Scotty did to his bike and that brings us back to why Scotty is not happy. Scotty’s bike was very cool and very unique, you rarely saw anything like it. I was so impressed that when I bought my Electra Glide Standard that was the direction I wanted to take my bike. But I wasn’t the only one, and Harley soon recognized this and now Scotty’s bike is just like a zillion others. Do you understand why he’s not too happy?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

You Meet the Nicest People on a Harley

The weather has turned warmer and Marie and I decided to take one of our favorite rides. We rode to Healdsburg where we took Alexander Valley to Calistoga. Near the Russian River Bridge, we stopped to take a picture of an old barn that has the big flood levels painted on the side. That’s when I met Roberta. She was just getting her mail and asked if I would like to come onto the property for a better shot. What a nice lady.
At Calistoga we went through town and hit The Silverado Trail. This is a beautiful road that winds on the east side of the Napa Valley. There are dozens of wineries along the road. The vines had not begun to leaf out yet, but the grass was green and all the fruit trees were in full bloom.
The weather was warm and we cruised slowly as there was little traffic. We cut through Napa and headed for Sonoma. We did a little shopping in Sonoma and had a snack at the Basque Café on the square.
When we headed home it was starting to cool off a little but we enjoyed the ride. The loop is about 120 miles long. There is plentyto do and see, especially in summer.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Picu' Freaks Della Natura

I like a little scooter. I could even see me buying a little Piaggio 50 or 150cc scooter. I can imagine Marie and I scooting around the wine country with a picnic basket and a bottle of wine. Just like Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Ray and Marie in Sonoma Holiday we would be laughing and riding……hey! Wait just a minute.

That’s no scooter, that’s a Suzuki Bergman 650. Hepburn and Peck must be spinning in their graves. Not cute, not mean, not fast, what the heck?
Then just when I think things could not be any freakier, I see the Piaggio MP3. It’s made by Piaggio, the makers of the cute little ones. But it has all the freak qualities of the Bergman and two front tires to boot. It's heavy and slow, but it does have two wheels up front.
Freaks della natura!

You Warmed My Heart

As you may guess, I have a lot of old motorcycle equipment. I have an old Widder electric vest. It works great, it kept me warm for many years, but as with much of my clothing, it has shrunk over time. I wore it last a couple of summers ago on a ride to Canada. I came back down Hwy 1, along the coast, and while it was about 105 degrees on the inland Hwy 5, it was bitter cold along the coast. I could not zip the vest so I just wore it unzipped. It kept me warm. My bike has heated grips so with the grips and the vest I was OK.
My wife wore the Widder vest when she rode with me until today, when we bought her a new Gerbing liner jacket. I bought the same liner right after the Canada trip. I just liked the material of the Gerbing jacket a little better. It seemed that the Widder was a little dated.
Dated though it may have been that Widder vest worked and it worked for many years. While at the motorcycle shop, I picked up a copy of City Bike and read that this will be the last year that Widder will be in business. The owners are retiring. I am sad, as I’m sure the Widder’s are, to see the company go. I remember when my Dad decided to close his business and retire. I felt a sense of loss, a sense that life is short and that even though retirement will be fun and allow my Dad to do many of the things he had been dreaming about and working toward, it is the beginning of the twilight of his life.