Going out during the coronavirus pandemic still feels a bit weird to me. I’d been putting off vacation as I wondered what I would do with a day of vacation sitting at home. In many ways, at least working kept a sense of groundedness throughout the day. Knowing I’d lose the holiday come June 1st, I caved and said, “why not?”
There’s no doubt I had fun on Memorial Day weekend! I’d forgotten how much I loved the redwood trees and the ocean over on the Peninsula. I had a floating holiday I had to use by the end of May, so I figured I’d make a day of riding amongst the redwoods.
When I went into the garage my helmet (which I honestly used a few days before was covered in spider webs. Someone got really busy in those five days. It seems like the spider was also doing it’s job of sheltering in place!
I still felt like I needed “a reason” to go out. After weeks of justification for leaving the property like getting groceries, exercise, or other essential services, going out “on vacation” felt foreign to me. I needed a new sharps container to hold used diabetes sharps. I usually get them in San Francisco when I’m at work, so I figured that would be the destination for the trip. I’m getting a new sharps container.
I really couldn’t have asked for a better day out on the motorcycle. Highs were going to be in the mid-70s all across the Bay Area. The inland areas would have a touch more sun, and the coastal areas had a bit more fog. I left the house right about 10 AM and headed into the city.
As expected, there was little to no traffic into San Francisco. Even the Bay Bridge toll plaza didn’t have any sort of backup, which rarely happens. Once being on the bridge, however, I could feel the amount of time that had passed. I’d not seen the skyline of San Francisco since mid-March. Even then, we parted on weird terms. As the coronavirus pandemic was kicking in, I could visibly see fewer people in the city. I could feel the uneasiness all of us thought with the impending unknown. Moving across the bridge brought back a lot of that unsettling feeling juxtaposed with a sense of comfort that I’m getting back to some sense of regular routine.
As I walked into Walgreens, there was a giant display of hand sanitizer. What a welcome relief! A product in such high demand was copiously available at this moment. They even had toilet paper! As I made my way back to the pharmacy, I got stopped by one of the store employees who offered to take my sharps container in exchange for a new sharps container, avoiding waiting in a very long line. I went ahead and bought the hand sanitizer, and the same employee noted they had a bigger size on sale and offered the upgrade. She was just lovely. I thanked her profusely for help on both items, and we both smiled and waved as we parted ways.
Right across the street from Walgreens was an Asian market with a kick-ass produce display. I didn’t know what the food options were going to be down the road, so I got some strawberries and Asian pears to take with me! Medical supplies and groceries – I’m going to call those essential services!
It’s hard to talk about motorcycling on the Peninsula without a mention of Alice’s and Skywood Trading Post (STP). Both of those businesses are at the corner of Highway 35 and 84 and are flooded with motorcycles just about every weekend. These days, motorcycle traffic is way down. I’d had a gift card for Alice’s in my top case for a year or two that I never got around to using pre-Covid. When I got down to the restaurant, I just turned in the gift card to be used by the staff or for somebody in the community.
Looking online as I’m writing this blog post, Alice’s is using gift cards to support staff in those in the community. I bought a gift card for this purpose, and for those riders who are reading, I would encourage you to do the same at store.alicesrestaurant.com.
I wanted to support STP as well. In the back, they have a deli that’s pretty amazing. The lasagna was calling my name hard-core along with some kale salad and diet ginger beer from Bundaberg. While I had this great lunch, the tactical problem was there was nowhere to eat. The cashier at STP let me know that I couldn’t technically hang out on the property. Restrooms were also closed due to the health order, but she let me know there may be a bathroom at the state park a couple miles down the road. STP had cool t-shirts on sale so I grabbed one of those as well. I quickly chowed down on the lasagna and tossed the kale salad in the top case in search of an accessible bathroom. Several months ago, the news had a story early on in the pandemic about truckers not having access to restroom facilities out on the road. This challenge now became directly in focus.
Fortunately, a loo was available at the park just down the road, but it was a long 7 miles. Riding with some camp family on Memorial Day kept Boulder Creek on my mind. We’d ridden the north side of Highway 9, and it left me wanting more from the south side as well. As Highway 35 yielded to Highway 9, my smile definitely became wider. This piece of pavement is just beautifully fantastic! Construction crews are still rolling out fresh asphalt between Highway 35 and Boulder Creek. I can tell you, however, even as it is today, that section of the road is just excellent!
Riding Highway 9 allowed me to get even more comfortable with the new motorcycle. The GS ate up the pristine pavement and was a joy to flick back and forth through the turns – especially climbing the mountain. As I got back to the traffic controlled one-way construction site, a Honda Civic pushed another rider and me to the side as we received the signal to go. While annoyed at first, that Civic knew how to fly! You could see the suspension load and unload throughout the corners on Highway 9, and I know I had fun following all the way back up to Skyline Boulevard!
After the Civic went on its way, I enjoyed owning my own space again. I wanted to get a beautiful photograph of the GS in the redwoods. Tunitas Creek Road is a tiny asphalt strip from Skyline Boulevard down to the ocean. I headed down that way to see if I could find a nice pullout for the photograph. For a good chunk of it, I let the bike coast. It was a really tranquil moment just to be amongst the trees.
As the day was getting on, it was time to set my sights for home. The first Friday morning of every month, BARF – Bay Area Riders Forum, hosts an event called Bay Bridge Breakfast Barfing. The intent is riders can show up on Treasure Island on their way to work. I’ve always loved the view of that island and have missed the last few Breakfast Barfs due to the shelter in place. Since I was going to cross over Treasure Island once more on the way home, I wanted to stop and catch the view. What didn’t I expect? Getting through San Francisco was an exercise in traffic management. It was the first time since the pandemic started that I had to face traffic. Things are slowly starting to return to normal.
At our gathering spot on Treasure Island, the construction of condos is starting to obstruct the view. I’m hoping that some sort of view and overlook remains, but it seems like this particular spot may be going by the wayside in the name of progress.
By the time I got home, I had enjoyed a full day of motorcycling. The distance is still awkward. The lack of services requires some creative planning. The joy of motorcycling, however, is definitely still there. Be smart while enjoying your bike and support those places which support you out on the road.