July 6, 2002
In August, my friend Diana and I are leading a Women on Wheels ride up through Marin and Sonoma Counties, so I dragged Peter along with me on a test run yesterday. Against his wishes, we were up and ready to go bright and early. We had a great breakfast at Nini's Coffee Shop in San Mateo, gassed up, and were on 101 heading north at around 10am.
We took 101 across the Golden Gate (too foggy to really see anything) and continued on it until Novato, where the WOW ride will officially start. Our first fun road was Novato Blvd, which Diana and I stumbled upon by accident during our first practice run. It goes through some neat farmlands, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly by yelling "MOO!" at all the cows we saw.
From Novato Blvd, we turned onto Hicks Valley Road, where I stopped to take some pictures and to consult my route listing again (Diana had given me this enormous printout of the roads, mileage, etc. which was really useful but too detailed to consult at a glance in my tankbag's map pouch).
We continued west until we hit Highway 1, which we took north to Tomales. There, we passed a bar and grill which looked to be the local biker hangout -- lots of chrome and custom cruisers out front. We passed the social opportunity by, and instead headed north on Valley Ford Franklin School road (there's no missing that one on a street sign). Soon, it was time to pull over and stretch, take more pictures, and consult the route list again.
From there, it was a hop, skip, and jump up to Occidental, where we ate lunch at Howard Station Cafe. A great meal, but be forewarned -- it's cash only!
After lunch, we started on my favorite portion of the ride. Unfortunately, it began poorly as my Minivan Curse kicked in, and we followed a lost and confused cager all the way up Bohemian Highway until Highway 116, where, thankfully, we were able to pass. Hwy 116 runs east-west along the Russian River, which is a really gorgeous area. We took it west until it hits Highway 1 at the Pacific Ocean.
We turned south on Hwy 1, and stopped for yet more pictures at Bodega Bay, which is one of my favorite stop-for-pictures sites. Everyone who rides 1 north of San Francisco with me eventually has their picture taken along Bodega Bay. The Minivan Curse started up again when we pulled back out onto Highway 1, and I cursed and beat my hand against my helmet (much to Peter's amusement, as he was behind me, watching) all the way back down to Tomales.
The intersection of Hwy 1 and Tomales-Petaluma Road was the one and only turnoff that I missed all day, so we stopped to stretch and consult the map. Luckily we weren't too far off. I tried to do a U-turn, but both shoulders of the road were gravel slopes -- I gassed it too much leaving the shoulder where my bike was parked, and ended up going wide onto the other gravel shoulder. Unfortunately, I stopped over a pothole, and since I have a vertically challenged inseam....well, I got 100% stuck. Peter eventually stopped laughing at me long enough to come over and hold up the bike so I could un-mount. Since he's a big tall mutant, he easily climbed onto my bike and got it off of the gravel and back onto the road for me. Ah, the perils of being a short motorcyclist!
From Tomales-Petaluma, we made a turnoff onto Chileno Valley Road, which was absolutely stunning. No traffic, nicely paved road...it was a great route. Too soon, we ended up back on Hicks Valley Road, which we took back over to Point Reyes-Petaluma. This time, though, we went south on Point Reyes-Petaluma, down towards Lucas Valley Road.
The first few miles of Lucas Valley Road were amazing, but, naturally, my Curse began once more, this time in the form of a silver BMW. Aren't they supposed to be fast cars? Anyway, dingleberry stayed in front of me the WHOLE WAY back to 101, speeding up in the straights and then slamming on his brakes and riding them all the way through the gorgeous sweepers and twisties. When we got to a stop light at the end of the road, I yelled to Peter, "y'know, they make these things called turnouts; they're a wonderful new concept!". The Beemer driver assumedly heard me, as he immediately pulled onto the shoulder of the road when the light turned green. Sadly, it was way too late, since the south 101 ramp was just ahead.
The ride on 101 was mind-numbingly boring, but as we approached the Golden Gate again, we decided to go up into the tourist vista area on the Marin side. The weather had cleared up by this point, and neither of us had gone to that particular vista point before. It rewarded us with some remarkable views of the Bridge and San Francisco.
Overall, it was a really fun trip. It took about 12 hours from the time we left Peter's house until we returned. The only low point was when I totally freaked out and froze when faced with a turnoff which ended up being a righthand U-turn, downhill, with two blind corners on either side. After drooling mindlessly on myself for a few minutes, I decided to make a left turn there instead, and then do a "normal" U-turn up the road to get us back on track. I was pretty embarrassed, but I guess everyone has things they need to work on.