Holy big turbines

The downside to riding a motorcycle in the Bay Area in the summertime is that the coast is cold and misty and the East Bay is the surface temperature of the sun.  In fact, I think the place with the absolute best riding temperature in late July is my driveway.  Sigh.  I definitely prefer roasting alive to foggy and misty, though, so I headed east again this morning.

There was some sort of huge backup on the Dumbarton because of a closed lane.   I’m assuming it’s due to the major seismic retrofitting going on, though the westbound lanes are supposed to reopen by 5am on weekdays.  I’m glad I wasn’t stuck in that traffic.


Niles Canyon was gorgeous as always.  I love this road.  Once in Sunol, I returned to the Sunol Railroad Cafe, where the proprietor Mark remembered me from last week.  🙂

After a yummy breakfast, I hopped back on Hwy 84 and headed east.

Unfortunately, most of my view of Livermore looked like this. Hello, Livermore Sanitation truck!

La la la, following the truck.

After about five miles of that amazing view, I finally got in front of the truck.

I felt like we had really bonded, the Livermore Sanitation truck and I.  Fare thee well, oh collection vehicle for recyclables, organic materials, and garbage in residential, multi-family, and commercial communities.

So, the other night, Peter and I were chatting about this ride and I mentioned wanting to go to Patterson Pass again.  I love me some Patterson Pass, as evidenced here, here, here, and here.  We got to talking about the NextEra Energy turbine project that’s replacing the existing turbines with BIG MEGA ULTRA TURBINES (news article here).  I was skeptical.  I love the sweeping view of turbines from Patterson Pass Road and wasn’t convinced that the new turbines (which are bigger and more efficient and thus there will be fewer of them) will satisfy my desire for sci-fi East Bay scenery.

The first section of the wind farm to have the new BIG MEGA ULTRA TURBINES is along Vasco Road, so I decided to forego Patterson Pass Road today and check out these so-called improved turbines.  Pshaw, I figured, a turbine is a turbine.  I shall be disappointed.


When I came over a crest on Vasco and saw the first one, I literally said “BAAAAH!!” out loud in my helmet.  They are HUGE.  There are not enough capital letters to fully illustrate how BIG MEGA ULTRA these turbines are.

This is not a perspective optical illusion.  This is really how much larger the new turbines are than the old ones:

From the above-linked article: “The new turbines tower 326 feet above the landscape. Each of the three rotor blades is 150 feet long; nearly the width of a football field. And in high winds, the blades can spin at a speed of up to 180 miles per hour.”

I should not have worried about the landscape becoming less sci-fi even after 438 of the old turbines are replaced by merely 34 of the new ones.  These new turbines are striking and, frankly, a bit creepy.  Just how I like my turbines.

After BIG MEGA ULTRA TURBINES, I needed a break — time for Tachella Family Farms in Brentwood!

Nom nom nom:

I sat at their little picnic table in the shade and enjoyed a plum and a peach.  I bought a couple of pluots and another plum for the road, too, as well as a bottle of water.

The stop also gave me the opportunity to open up the vents in the Teiz suit.  It was now over 100F and I was looking forward to seeing how the various vents worked.  I opened every vent in the suit (chest, back, arm, underarm, thighs) and headed back out into the East Bay sunshine.

Just down the road from the fruit stand, I stopped to photograph the John Marsh House. The house has been under renovation since approximately the dawn of time.  Apparently the latest runaround was a fight over what the park should be named which…damn, just open the park already.  The committee finally settled on Marsh Creek State Park and claim it will be opened “in phases” over the next few years (news article here).  At this point, I record these thoughts in posterity for Kira’s great-grandchildren in the hopes that perhaps the stupid park will be opened by the time they get their jetpack and flying car licenses and can hovercraft on over to see it.

Right after the John Marsh House is a great view of Mt Diablo, which I like to photograph every time I’m on the road.  Mt Diablo, I should mention, is a state park that is actually open to the public.  Of course, it’s many millennia older than the John Marsh House, so I guess it’s reasonable to give the House time to catch up.

Oh hi, it’s been a while since we had a self-portrait:

Speaking of Mt Diablo, my next destination was Morgan Territory Road, which meanders north-south along Mt Diablo State Park’s eastern edge.  Lately I haven’t really been so into goat trails — a topic for a different blog post — and the irony did not escape me while riding along Morgan Territory that I nevertheless intentionally routed myself onto the goatiest trail I know in the Bay Area.

Still, it was a gorgeous ride.  Despite the shade it was hovering in the upper 90s but, well, at least there was shade.

I stopped for a water-and-stretching break here for a while.  I hung out for about 10 minutes and saw zero other traffic.  You can’t beat silent woods.

The best part about the open sweepers at the south end of Morgan Territory is that, despite being out in the sun, I could ride at a speed that actually allowed air flow through the suit.

I’m sure I stuck to the safe and legal speed limit.

From the southern end of Morgan Territory, I took relatively boring surface streets through San Ramon and down into Hayward.  The San Mateo bridge was exciting due to high winds plus a 250cc motorcycle plus all the vents in my suit open.  I felt like a giant puffed up parachute piloting a sewing machine.

Whitecaps on the bay mean a wild ride:

And that was pretty much that.  Behold, my longest ride in three years!  Yay!  My back did very well; in fact, I remember thinking at one point that my butt hurt much more than my back did.  Maybe I should start contemplating a ride up to Rick Mayer. 🙂


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