Weather is a changin’
Every rider once a year has that ride where he knows the weather has fully transitioned from warm weather to cool weather for the year. As motorcyclists, we are fully in the weather. Going places means experiencing all that that place has to offer as well as everything in between. The trees here begin changing colors even when it’s still fully warm outside. The Sierra Nevadas usually start getting colder in September, the evenings around here in late October, and the days here in November. As of November 16th, the warm riding season was over.
Anyone who lives in a climate of at least two seasons knows when the weather has changed. Even in coastal California, we have the “dry season” and the “wet season” but the shift between the two can be somewhat dramatic. In a place that has 9 months a year of warm, pleasant weather, rain here is a big deal. Rain here makes as much news as snow does in the south. Stormwatch 2013 makes headlines on local news and when you really listen all they really say is that it’s going to rain and that the roads will be slick. It’s stuff we as riders have known for years.
For me, I always note the transition away from warm weather riding by noting that I need a layer when starting a ride. My Aerostitch does a pretty good job of keeping me warm down to about 50F when it’s sunny but as days get shorter and grayer, I inevitably need that layer. The layer however means more than it’s cold outside. New seasons mean new challenges on the roadway. As trees start dropping leaves, there are new hazards out on the roads. Cooler weather means that deer come down from the mountains. Here in California, wet weather brings out the grease that has been accumulating on the roads for months as well as bad driving. Soon the holidays will be here which brings out the worst in people on the roads.
But for today, it was great to be on the road. I usually do a fall colors trip up to the Sierras, but this year the schedule and drive didn’t quite work out for me. Fall came crazy early this year in the Sierras. It was almost a month early. I wanted to get back in the saddle after Death Valley to keep in the groove of riding. The weekend was composed of two short rides. One was in the south bay and the other was up to the city on the freeway and back on the coastal roads.
Saturday: Highway 84 Love
Summer tried to make its last hurrah on Saturday. It was sunny in the valley and about 65F. I hopped on the bike and headed up highway 9 into the Santa Cruz mountains. I’ve been riding 9 for years, and it’s always a nice, technical start to the ride. I didn’t go very far today. I didn’t need to. I just wanted a few hours on the bike to say hello again. As I was coming down highway 84, the cold came quickly as the sun is down at 5 in the valley, which comes earlier in the mountains. I stopped to see the Aspen shed their colors before leaving the mountains. The ride back on the freeway was something I didn’t expect. The moon was large and low on the horizon in a band of purple as it was making its ascent across the sky. I couldn’t help but want to take a photo of it but I knew my iPhone would not do it justice. By the time I got home, the purple was gone and the moon lost 1/3rd of its size but hey, it was a valiant effort.
Sunday: San Francisco roundtrip
Homoto had it’s annual elections last weekend as well. The meeting starts at 10, so I almost always just jet up the freeway to get there. Early mornings reinforce the cool weather of the season, but the sun was fully out making it warmer than it appears. Elections are sort of a non event for me since the president is the only office that has a two year term. Afterwards I was itching to ride and go see Pacifica so we headed over to Colombo’s Deli out on the coast.
I do enjoy the northern peninsula, The weather there can be brutal, but when it’s nice, it’s really nice. The food was awesome at Colombo’s and it was an authentic Italian deli. Double bonus! The service however, was super slow. It must have taken us 60 minutes to get 7 sandwiches. The whole time we were ordering it was clear that the staff didn’t optimize for flow. Everyone had to do everyone’s job so no one could specialize and become efficient. I’m beginning to talk work, so let’s put that one on the shelf.
Andreas lead the ride south since a few of us wanted to head that direction. We went through just about every back road to get down the peninsula. I’d not been on Higgins Purisma in recent memory so that was a great new ride. I lost the group just south of Tunitas Creek on highway 1. That was ok as I loved the stretch of highway 1 that followed. This section of Highway 1 isn’t very technical nor does it have any real intrinsic motorcycle value to it. What it does have however, is a beautiful view of the coast that’s close to home. The high bluffs above the sea truly make for a great view with the ocean at your side and the road tickling ahead.
Once on Pescadero Road it was nice to see a strong splash of color. California is not like the east coast where they enjoy a colorful autumn. Color here is spotty at best. Pockets of color however are fun to enjoy. Pescadero Road was fun to enjoy the new app SmartRiding from Yamaha. Once I got up to Alice’s Restaurant there were a few bikes there. A few minutes later the GroupRides crew came in with about 30 bikes. It’s always good to see Mehran and the crew he runs. In a lot of ways I’ve got a number of things to learn from him in leading my own rides.
It was a nice ride down Skyline Boulevard t0 the South Bay. It was quite a bit wetter than I had expected up here given how dry it was at the coast. Traffic was non existent as it was late in the day on a Sunday. Half way down highway 9 I went through Redwood Gulch. It’s a goat trail of a road but a fun ride. Right near the bottom of the hill, there was a nice place to take a photograph of the fleeting fall
They say there is cold and cold on a motorcycle. When I got home, I was chilled to the bone. The ride was full of change: the weather, the color, the daylight, the temperature. Adding that extra layer isn’t all about staying warm. It’s about noting change that a new season of riding and in life is ahead.