We leave our SoCal compatriots now, here at the James Dean memorial, with waves and hugs and well-wishes. Hopefully I’ll see most of them in May at the West Coast Regional Meet…hint hint hint. 😉
So now there are two.
Jim (TheExplorer) led us out of Cholame on the creatively-named Cholame Road, which leads directly northwest to Parkfield. I can’t remember the last time I had so much silly fun. Cholame Road starts out as a bumpy, potholey farm road with no traffic in either direction as far as the eye can see. We rode slowly, around 40mph, just enjoying the day.
I decided to try taking some pictures by holding the camera — something I’ve never done before because the RAM mount always worked on the SVS — which cracked me up considerably. There was something very very stupid (and thus very very freeing) about rooting around in the tankbag for the camera at 40mph while on this back farm road and holding the camera all over shooting photo after photo without being able to see the viewfinder at all.
We rolled into Parkfield just about at lunchtime — perfect timing for a stop at the Parkfield CafÃ©.
Parkfield is the home of The Parkfield Experiment, a scientific attempt to predict earthquakes. In April 1985, the earthquake prediction was announced to the public that there was a 90% chance of a 5.5-6.0 quake between 1985 and 1993 — the much-heralded quake in Parkfield finally arrived on September 28 2004. In geologic time, the prediction wasn’t too far off!
Incidentally, as well as being a great history/tourist nerd stop, the Parkfield Cafe has really great cheeseburgers. It’s also the southern terminus of Parkfield Grade Road, a 20-mile dirt road that just begs to be ridden on the XT. I’m really hoping to bring Peter here sometime this summer with our dualsports and stay overnight at the Parkfield Inn.
After lunch, Jim and I headed southwest almost back to Paso Robles, to the tiny town of San Miguel for gas. We rode along Vineyard Canyon Road, which was every bit as pretty as it sounds — more neon green rolling hills, lazy sweeping turns, and nonexistant traffic. Jim’s normally a bit of a speed demon (I can hear a couple STNers snorting at that from here) but he was in a mellow mood, so the two of us maintained a consistent pace together through the foothills.
I did a little more one-handed photography, though I almost gave myself a heart attack at one point when a looming curve forced me to downshift while still holding the camera in my left hand. When I realized my brain was actually having trouble deciding whether to save myself or the camera in case of emergency, I decided it was time to put the camera back in the tankbag. 😉
From San Miguel, we hopped on Indian Valley Road, which becomes Peach Tree Road. I’d been on these roads before, when Peter and I rode to Paso Robles in May 05 (waahhh, the weather was way better in those photos 😉 ).
Jim and I took a “butt break” along the side of Indian Valley for a while. It was almost impossibly quiet, the only noises the occasional shuffling of a nearby cow or the screeching tires of the psychotic mail lady. I swear we saw her get air through a turn as she screamed past us, clearly not even entertaining the idea of potential oncoming traffic.
Peach Tree Road abuts Highway 25, which takes us out of the Santa Lucia coastal range and into the Gabilans. I’ve ridden through parts of the Gablians on the XT, so they have a special place in my heart…Jim made sure to point out when we passed the intersection of La Gloria Road, which was, of course, utterly impassable because of all the range cattle lying in the middle of the road. Ah, La Gloria and your disconcerting cows!
All too soon, we were back in civilization along Hwy 25, and we stopped for a commemorative caffeinated drink at a Starbucks in Gilroy (remember that Jim had been up since 4:30 that morning and had put on at least 400 miles already…). We chatted for a while, then sadly suited up and went our separate ways.
I got home around 6:15pm, with 680 more happy miles on the Z. 🙂
Saturday’s route (254 miles):
Start at San Simeon
Hwy 1 South
Hwy 46 East
Continue on 46 East through Paso Robles
Left on Cholame Road just past Cholame
Veer right onto Parkfield-Coalinga Road to enter downtown Parkfield
When leaving Parkfield, exit via Parkfield-Coalinga Road
Veer right onto Vineyard Canyon
At San Miguel, turn right onto Indian Valley Road
Left onto Peach Tree Road
Hwy 25 North
Hwy 85 North into Cupertino
The entire route: