Rain pelted our window overnight, followed by warnings of snow over mountain passes blaring from the Weather Channel in the morning. Yosemite was just not in the cards for Sunday. The goal of every motorcycle ride is to return home safely. There is no point in forsaking the ‘safety first’ motto, no matter how spectacular the payout. At best, we hoped to not to get too wet and to have a little fun in the process.
We got a late start at eight after a slow breakfast at Denny’s. Scrapping our plans for the day, we set out west along the same path we rode in on: Route 58. It was cold. Dark clouds loomed overhead and temps dropped briefly below 40, but no rain yet. We are Northern California riders though and have braved worse than this. The upside was that we were the only ones out on the road.
The day warmed up a bit, and the forecast looked good, so we headed for the coast. The plan was to ride the famed Route 1 all the way up through Big Sur, a familiar path we’d taken in the Fall. Albeit a scenic ride, but not the most challenging. I even made a lunch reservation. We were soon greeted by our second road closure of the weekend: a portion of Route 1 near Ragged Point had fallen into the ocean. D’oh! We were faced with a choice: Take the easy route and be home in time for dinner or take the high ground. The very high ground.
Nacimiento-Ferguson Road is truly a force to be reckoned with. Am I really about to do this? First it passes through Fort Ligget, a semi-active military base littered with military toys and beautiful valleys. Locals say it ain’t that bad. This alone was worth the price of admission, but signs on entrance warn against stopping. Too bad, this would make a great photo. After passing by a beautiful trout stream and the Ponderosa campground, the real ‘fun’ begins. What do you mean by putting fun in quotes? At one stretch, there is less than ten miles of road to descend from 2000 feet elevation to sea level. Wow, this is high up. On a one lane road with traffic going both ways. Please, not another RV. No guardrails in sight. OMG, I can see all the way down from here. The pavement is pretty good, for the most part. Is that some gravel on the road? The views are amazing. I’m about to brown my trousers. You come around what you think is the last turn, the end in sight. That’s not the last turn, this is taking forever and my back is tight and hurting. This is a once in a lifetime experience. I’m never, ever coming up here again. Moments like these, you thank God for the experience. Moments like these, you just pray to make it through in one piece. And then it’s over. Thank you, God!
Our lunch reservation was set for three and we rolled into Ventana with 10 minutes to spare. Bones ached and joints cracks as we dismounted. It was fun to walk into one of the finer establishments in Big Sur wearing our Aerostich suits. Ironic that Jamie was just here on Friday night for spa treatments and relaxation, and here we were just a day later. We promptly placed our orders as we were starving. I just kept saying to Ryan “I’m so happy right now.” Who wouldn’t be? A respite from the wind and road, warm weather, good food and a tranquil atmosphere. And Ryan picked up the check!
Wasn’t easy getting back on the bikes after that one, but we filled our tanks and pointed for San Francisco. We hit some major winds just north of Monterey—gusts to 30 encouraged us to venture inland, so we took the 101 making numerous stops along the way. After a long day of riding, more frequent stops are a good thing. Just 20 miles from home we took what would’ve been our last break, but agreed that we didn’t want it to end. We toyed with the idea of spending one more day out. I’m beginning to understand how Ewan and Charlie did it. We compromised and chose to go home, but stop at the top of Twin Peaks on the way to snap a closing shot as the sun went down on the day and our adventure.
Cruising into the city, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride as I noted the 3 day total at 1,100 miles. During the last few miles on the highway, I started singing the Rocky theme at a full voice in my helmet. GONNA FLY NOW!! We made the final few turns and got our last pic in right as the sun went below the horizon. Just a few moments later, I was back in my apartment, exhausted, trying to make sense of the last 56 hours…And wondering when I could do something like this again.