Less than two weeks ago (Covid 19 – July) Bike Bro’s club founder Kevin Ho invited me to join the group on a motocamping expedition to Big Sur. Why sure I said, let me get my Honda Africa Twin motorcycle ready. From Los Angeles to Big Sur, California it is less than a 300 mile road trip each way but, on motorcycles it’s a whole lot faster and way more fun.
Our bike bro mantra- the heat of the battle is worth the victory; so we set off on a soon to be 100+ degrees day in July; road pounding out miles and miles and miles to trade in the heat of the day for expected coastal 59-64 degrees weather. Dare I need to remind you we planned on camping in nature?
For a while on this ride on the 101 or Pacific Highway, at around Paso Robles, California we experienced riding temperatures as high as 103 degrees. That unfortunately was topped by our return trip temperatures of 110 degrees as we passed through the West LA Valley.
Another small reminder for the adventure rider uneducated. We – Kevin, Chewy, Javier, Elvis, Benny, yours truly and even Dave on his scooter are wearing street riding protection clothing gear. Our blue jeans are even Kevlar weaved fiber knitted; just on the off chance that some soccer mom zigs and you miss zagging, sending your posterior sliding across that 150+ degree tarmac.
And if we were in the UK we’d be calling it rolled asphalt. And Speaking of international things about our mighty seven riders; not only in terms of their sexual beauty to the opposite sex, but, in terms of the type of melting pot community that we were if you stopped to take notice. A total of five languages spoken amongst the seven of us; two Israeli’s one that could kill you in seven ways or was it seven minutes I now forget. (inside joke).
And all of us consider our selves patriotic Americans even though all but one was born in the US of A. A coach, an educator, a businessman, a printer, broker, skilled laborer, businessman with millions in the bank, a mechanic, and even a proctologist. Seriously, an expert in posteriors and rectums, hemorrhoids, anal retention, constipation and flatulence. Just what this riding group needed after the food and drink we consumed on every occasion; then to top it all off, toss in Kevlar riding jeans sitting on non man made material basking from that 100+ degree sun with the likes of Elvis or Chewy’s Butt on it. You now get the picture?
As departure day got closer and closer all coordinations for the Big Sur ride came in the form of the WhatsApp app. About a 1,000 posts later mostly concerning food I saw various meet up locations, picked one close by and tested my GS at freeway speeds. What a ride. The power, the Cadillac like suspension, the lack of wind buffering noise, the ergonomics, the great looks, the way you sit behind the tank, not on it.
My Honda Africa Twin motorcycles oxygen sensor gave out days before this ride. As soon as I told Kevin the news he offers me a Plan B in the form of Jennifer at BMW Hertz motorcycle rentals. My ride was now back on but, with way more comfort, speed, control and accessories.
And now as I sit on day one of our ride, a short walk from the Pacific Ocean in a campground nestled with 100+ year old growth trees with a river flowing through it. Life is good having arrived on a brand new 2020 BMW 1250 GS with some great riding friends.
The coastal forests of Northern California are in many ways an extension of the temperate rainforests that hug the coasts of Washington and Oregon, except that, in California, redwoods and Douglas-fir trees dominate many lowland areas.
These ancient and spectacular conifers are among the biggest, the tallest, and the oldest of trees in the world; we camped in and amongst them.
And now as I continue to pen a paragraph or two about our adventure ride odyssey to reach Big Sur my belly is content and full of Korean Bbq and Mexican tacos cooked superbly by Kevin and Benny. Some of the guys are on our second dare I say, iced cold Corona beer. An ice filled glass of peanut butter whiskey waits nearby. LET ME ADD NOW. COVID SAFE SOCIAL DISTANCING IN THE WAY OF HELMETS, face masks, tents, and plenty of spices, Turkish coffee, flautulance to kill off most anything else.
In spite of the WhatsApp app seven riders were now west bound on the 60 freeway then on to the 71 freeway, then onto the 134 freeway before moving onto the 101 freeway. No lane splitting needed until a two to one lane complete stop as we neared the coastal highway on account of freeway garbage removal.
The temperature was 73 degrees when we started our ride in and around Riverside to Big Sur and then increased by two or so degrees as we changed freeways. All of us looked forward to coastal 1 freeway however, on account of the 104 degree temperatures that we experienced earlier as we hit Paso Robles every one just droned on and on until we missed our turnoff.
And like I said earlier this group is great at turning anything around in record time as in every ride has a silver lining. Ours came at Fort Hunter Liggett.
But first Elvis decides to test his BMW GS crash protection. True. Not just his name. It really is Elvis but, in the fall and his eloquent double roll and near run over by the front tire of my rental 2020 BMW GS 1250.
The bike and rider held up even better than I thought, leaving the bike virtually unscathed. To add insult to injury, Elvis was making a left turn onto a military reservation at a near stop when the bike fell right and he just rolled and rolled right before my very eyes onto my front tire.
The group entered the main entrance and then took Jolon road that took us up, up, up and over the mountain passing by the former Howard Hughes hunting lodge. Suddenly we saw a blanket of fog over the ocean, salt in the air and cooler and cooler weather as we came down the twisty roads.
Fort Hunter Liggett. … The eastern end of Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, is the only paved road from the Big Sur coast to U.S. Highway 101, it passes through Fort Hunter Liggett for about 8 miles. The road is open to civilian traffic as training permits, which is most of the year.
Bike Bro’s goal, written mission statement style would look like this: a) Boldly ride to where many wealthy people live and play golf; b) Round trip back safe and covid free. c) lots of minimal hooliganisms;d) Good food good friends and great moto riding.
If accepted to the group know in advance that you are required to not only be bike savvy but, smartphone savvy as well. If you don’t yet know what a Cardo Packtalk or a WhattsApp, Venmo, and even a spreadsheet app is then don’t bother.
“The average Joe thinks that just riding a motorcycle on a public highway is only slightly less dangerous than searching for land mines with a butter knife. A motorcycle with the front wheel even an inch off the ground looks totally out of control to them” ………………….. Greg Walsh, Super Streetbike
So. what is so special about Big Sur you might ask? Big Sur has been called the “longest and most scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline in the contiguous United States,” a “national treasure with one of the most beautiful coastlines anywhere in the world, an isolated stretch of road, and just 135 feet above sea level.
One of California’s most enchanting drives is through Big Sur, a rugged stretch of coastline between Monterey, Carmel and San Simeon, over a hundred miles of pure scenic bliss. … Then, it’s straight onto 17 Mile Drive, a scenic road through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove.And just behind the prestigious gates of Pebble Beach is the famous 17-Mile Drive; a visually stunning stretch of roadway which hugs the pacific coastline from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach featuring awe-inspiring sights. Only motorcycles can’t do this drive. Nope. Nada. Zilch. The jet skis of the ocean or snow boards of the mountains can agree with you. We are shunned and grouped as one here. Our loud pipes they say. Have you ever stood next to Dave’s scooter or a brand new GS 1250. It may sound more like a sweat shop sewing Kevlar infused jeans shop than a mechanical beast nearby.
Day 1 morning – Woke up to a cellphone going off to music. Wake up alarm. Upside down on the ground. Kevin – minus one.
Day 2 evening- our next door camp neighbors are from OC and have stayed at this campground for a week. Their routine varies very little each day. Family with two kids wake up around 0900-1000. Breakfast then top off the air in their floats and then float downriver.
Then lunch followed by naps then dinner followed by a movie on a full screen propped up against their family pickup.
Day 2 Breakfast – Since I was the first to wake I made Hot chocolate, followed by Benny’s Turkish coffee, followed by Kevin’s tortilla and eggs taco followed by Chewy’s bacon and eggs followed by …. you get the picture
Day 2 and a wake up. The day started out pretty relaxing and then progressed from there. Benny kept making what he called Turkish coffee. We headed to Mcway point to see the waterfall. Then met up with Jim Carey and brother Ho who is a real life proctologist riding an 800 Triumph. Not the real Jim Carey if you are still wondering.
Lunch turned out to be at 4 p.m. in Carmel today as predicted on account of all the miscommunications. Guess Brother Ky missed the final coordinations on WhatsApp.
Day 3. Heading home. It was a toss up between Chewy and Kevin as to who was up first as I caught em in the bathroom. One on the sink and the other in the shower as I headed to the first available stall.
CLOSING. What’s it all for you might ask? I’ve heard it before described as motorcycle masturbation if you will. People do trips like this all the time.
Our trip wasn’t special to anyone but our group. No we didn’t do anything as special as say landing on the moon. It just felt that way and with possibly the same heat as say a solar eclipse.
“Someone in the world had something bad happen to them – I don’t need to hear about it now.
Do you ride?” You look down at your helmet, laughing inside a bit, assuming it must be a rhetorical question given how obvious your outfit
“As much as I can!” You might reply, probably grinning ear to ear- I always am when I talk about riding, anyways- and hoping that she’s going to tell you about how she learned to ride on her beloved Honda two-stroke when she was a teenager, followed by a two-finger wave.
And then you hear. My brother’s girlfriend’s cousin’s son rides, and he got hit by a semi and lost both of his legs. That’s so dangerous. I would never! Be careful out there!”
Stop me if you’ve heard this one already. You can slap me if you hear it in some variation almost every single time a non-rider (Or in some cases, even a past rider) sees you on a bike. It’s the same with travel.
Now substitute the above for COVID 19. And no just in case you are a millennial or don’t yet know. There was not a covid 1-18 before this. People this is serious shit out there. Continue to make well informed decisions out there and make the most of your allotted time here on earth. I know we will. As another Kevingps always continues to say is; every ride we say no to, is one less ride you will go on.
“Sure there’s a catch,” Doc Daneeka replied. “Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of riding isn’t really crazy.”
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind.
Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions.
Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. If he flew them, he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to, he was sane and had to.
Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.
“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.
And so in closing on this Monday, July 13th day 2020 whereby more people than ever are grasping for something to read from the safety and comfort of their couches I aka Trawlercat, Biker Bro, and Penner of these mere mortal words do respectfully and responsibility do submit this ride report.
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