Where did this year go! It didn’t seem that long ago that I was writing the article “A Rider Greets Autumn.” Unlike other years, this year has not been one for motorcycling. My bike sat in the garage over the entire winter while I was in Sydney, Australia. I’ve been traveling a lot by plane and usually gone the weekends visiting whichever place I’m going. That means the motorcycle remains parked in the garage. I think the last actual “ride” was Memorial Day weekend.
One thing I think I really missed this year my motorcycle was a good fall colors run. Usually the Queer Invasion of Death Valley touches some fall color as well as a weekend before or after. This October I spent considerable time in Orlando as well as Argentina. I’m not complaining – both trips were great. I just missed being in the Sierras seeing the light dusting of snow as well as the brilliant fall colors.
Last weekend we had elections for Homoto, the motorcycle club I’m a part of. I’ve been president for three years and while it’s been great to serve the club so deeply, I’m ready to be a member again. You know, the ones that just show up and ride. The 2015 board has been elected and they seem to be good peeps. I’m glad they’re continuing the tradition of board retreat. I introduced it a few years ago to get the board on one page for the year. It proved valuable the first year of my presidency get everyone on the same page for the year.
I used to be a hard-core rider. I’ve softened in recent days. I’m not sure if it’s because I travel so much for work, I found some other interests, or just haven’t made the time. It’s the first year I’ve actually seen my motorcycle have maintenance issues due to lack of use rather than overuse. Sometimes I want to walk up to the bike and say, “it’s really not you – it’s me.”
I got a text yesterday afternoon from one of the guys in the club saying:
[quote]“Hey are you free tomorrow? We’re going to be riding tomorrow since we got rained out today”[/quote]
At first all the things that were going on ran through my mind – dinner with the family, catching up on work, organizing the house… I mean where’s the time? Then a part of me said “You know Dan? You need to go. It doesn’t matter how cold it is or where the ride is going. Go out – be with people and enjoy life.” And that’s what I did. I enjoyed life (and got the shit beat out of me on Knoxville Berryessa Road).
I have ridden extensively throughout California. I’ve been to the redwoods of the north coast all the way through to the deserts of the southeast. That being said, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, and Solano counties are way underrepresented in my riding portfolio. There are so many other great places to go that don’t require multiple tolls. But, I wasn’t ride lead, so wasn’t my call to say where we were going.
Interstate 80 heading out of San Francisco was surprisingly light. There was a definite chill in the morning air. We met up in Oakland as a number of the other riders were from the east bay. We slabbed it out of Oakland all the way to Cordelia where we met see Suisun Valley Road. The last time I rode out here was 4thof July weekend number of years ago and there was traffic everywhere and it was 100 degrees. Today couldn’t have been more different. I think we only passed one or two cars the whole stretch of road. The pavement was great, the turns were predictable, and the company was good. We made our way further north to California Highway 121 and then Highway 128. It was more goodness: uninhibited asphalt surfing.
Once we turned onto Knoxville Berryessa Road, I was in a world of hurt. Knoxville Berryessa Road is what we call “goaty” meaning the pavement sucks, it’s narrow, and its windy. Normally I love this type of road but it’s been a long time since I’ve really been in the saddle. So I worked – hard. You really have to be on your game for that type of road. There were several sections where the cross-section of the road was not level. It was bumpy and slid out towards the drop-off below. Several sections of the road were actually river crossings. Fortunately the water wasn’t going over the bridge. Plus my suspension was needing some love.
The biggest thing that surprised me today was how rich the fall color was all throughout Solano and Napa counties. There was bright yellow all around. The aspens were yellow. The leaves on the grapevines were yellow. I didn’t expect the grapevines to turn yellow. They did and they were brilliant. The great thing about Napa’s fall color is it’s about a month later than that of the Sierra. You can easily do both!
Lunch was in Middletown a small town at the south end of Lake county. Perry’s was a small deli next to Shangri-La, a Chinese restaurant that seemed way out of place. I was beginning to get cold so I wanted a hot lunch to sustain me throughout the afternoon. They had a meatball sub on the menu and it was truly outstanding. I couldn’t have been happier: the bread was toasted right, the meatballs are the right size, and it had just enough cheese but not so much that it was stringy.
It was getting a little late in the day so I broke off from the group to have a little bit of time for just my bike and I. I didn’t exactly know where I was so I just let Google Maps take me home. I couldn’t have been happier. Google wound me through some beautiful country between Middletown and Santa Rosa. We climbed over one mountain pass and on the way up you could feel the air get really cold. Motorcyclists are familiar with the saying: “there is cold, and then there’s cold on a motorcycle.” I felt the latter today. It was that damp cold that permeates your riding gear and hits you right in the core. Winter is definitely coming.
It was just nice to be out in a small group riding my bike. I wasn’t the president, board member, or other officer. I was just Dan and it felt great. I’m deeply thankful for the opportunity to serve my club, it’s just time for me to now be a regular member. If you’re an officer, manager, or supervisor of a club, organization, or company take the time to just be. It’s refreshing and restoring to reconnect with why you came to the organization in the first place.