I’m late. I need to be at Peet’s at 8 am and I’m not going to make it. Oh well, if the Presidents have left when I arrive, I’ll just beat it down to and meet them there. As I’m filling the tank in I can see the bikes still waiting near the coffee shop. I’m glad they waited but feel guilty that I’ve delayed the start. The Presidents are gracious about it and we stand around chatting for a while, no one overly hurried.
Who called this start so early anyhow? Well that would be our esteemed leader-for-the-day, Randy of the Russo Paso. He slips on his helmet and we follow suit, firing up the bikes for the day’s delights.
And lead he does, up through the foggy Oakland Hills. East of the hills the sun has risen and its soft late-summer rays warm the day and lift human spirits. But on the bay side a cool fog blankets the land. Fingers of moist fog envelop our group as we climb the twisty streets following Russo Paso to the summit. Then across the spine of the hills and down to Redwood road. Redwood road coils around the natural contours of the land crossing and recrossing the ridgeline. Thus we are alternately bathed in warm sunshine then cool fog and back again. Seven riders in line lean into the curves of Redwood road forming a Triumphant train. From the rear the view of my friends leaning their bikes left then right then left again is a poetic sight. It’s a celebration of our mutual fascination with motorcycling. A fascination that has lead us to ride together every month for what? Eight years?
Soon we enter and my thoughts turn to Baldwyn who broke his arm in a fall from a ladder and so will not be along today. Heal fast my friend; our rides are incomplete without you. And where is Phil? We hope all is well at Casa Hawkins.
We are now solidly in the sunshine and won’t see fog again today. has been featured in many of our rides and is a curvacious delight. Today there is dirt and debris on the road in places and a slip or two of the front tire slows me down a little. Soon we are on Calaveras road and meet with two more of our group. Now we are nine for the narrow blacktop snake that curves its way alongside the beautiful Calaveras Reservoir. There is more water than usual in Calaveras for September, a testament to the heavy Sierra snowpack we witnessed during the June Sunrise to Sundown ride across the state.
The warm summer sun casts soft shadows across the road and lights the green foliage with a glow of life. A deer stands in indecision above the road thus saving both this rider and itself from an unpleasant meeting. A redtail hawk glides above the scene its wingtips adjusting for the unseen aircurrents. A sudden dive to the ground and a puff of dust means breakfast for Mr. Hawk.
We wind our way to the summit overlooking the whole of , a swell of city filling the landscape nearly to the horizon. Just 40 years ago this was all orchards and farmland. We truly did, as Dion Warwick sang, “pave paradise and put up a parking lot”. Do you know the way to ? Russo Paso does and he leads us there for our first gas stop of the day. We remark how mild the temperature is today. In past years this ride has been a scorcher, but today is perfect. Andrew, late of NYC, has joined us today bringing his red Bonne out of its hibernation. He is in the process of moving back to the City (San Franciscans refer to their city as ‘the City’ as if there is no other. I imagine New Yorkers do the same). It’s good to ride with Andrew again.
After our break we saddle up and head south, leaving the city (lower case c) and its snarl of traffic and again finding moto nirvana in the undulating roads leading across the valley and ascending Mt Madonna.
As we begin the climb I spot Malcolm on his Street 3 R coming the other way. He has joined us from , his first ride since a mishap in July on the way to our July ride. The mother of all tank-slappers resulting from a huge pothole put him down and under the knife to repair damaged fingers. Both he and his Bonne faired well considering going down at, ahem, highway speeds. A testament for ATGATT. It’s good to see him.
Onward we go to lunch and natter at Coralitis and the all-important purchase of sausages for the cookout later. The roads to ’s are curvy, narrow and at times rough and ready. But there is little traffic and the scenery is spectacular. Randy leads with brio and we follow with gusto. The impromptu moto show at ’s is fun as always and our group of Bonneville’s draws attention and admiration as it usually does. Riders of all stripes mosey over and reminisce over the Triumph they used to ride. Likewise we wander around admiring the other bikes and striking up conversations with the assembled riders.
A ride across the San Mateo bridge and up the urban sprawl takes us to the Island home of Russo Paso and his lovely wife Alexandra and (when did he get so tall?) son Julian. There we enjoy the garden and cook our sausages on the grill. Conversations range from cooking to architecture and to bikes and Presidents both present and mia. The smoke from the charcoal fire and ahh, other sources mixes with scents of the garden and the murmur of conversation among friends. It’s a perfect ending to a wonderful day’s ride. We’ve done this ride several times now; it’s become the September ride for the NorCal Presidents. I never tire of it, it’s one of the best rides we do. The roads are entertaining and the scenery beautiful. The best part is, as always, the camaraderie of the Mild Bunch. Thanks Randy.
Friday, September 9, 2011
by Ted (Britwheels)