Sincere apologies to the northern states

Sunny and warm in January. At least in California
Published January 17, 2009

If you don’t happen to live in the better half of the Left Coast then forgive my boasting, but the weather we’ve had this past week is unbelievably perfect. Unbelievable in that just weeks ago temperatures were verifiably freezing with reports of snow on familiar routes south of me. Unbelievable because the middle of January is not supposed to bring clear skies, high 60s Fahrenheit and dry, faultless tarmac. Today’s ride felt like cheating. I was getting away with something unbelievable, unfair, and intended to make the most of it.

I wasn’t alone, as bikers on all sorts came out to play. Nothing told of the true season, weather and traffic reminiscing summer life in staggering contrast to last month’s sad void. A common sense of bliss waxed palpable as every rider I crossed seemed thankful for the day. The weather affected even stoic Harley hooligans, who on multiple occasions initiated waves with my candy blue baby (on any other day, I’d typically need to wave first to elicit a response from these bandanna’d bad-asses).

I planned a run of The Loop and sooner-than-hoped found myself at the Skywood Trading Post across the street from Alice’s. The clock had barely ticked past one o’clock before I reached the halfway point of my intended ride. To extend my alone time with the bike, I grabbed a drink and browsed the parade of bikes parked in the vicinity. I love the diversity of bikes in the Bay Area, capable of ad-hoc displays like today’s STP and Alice’s parking lots that shame dealer showrooms.

A sharp-dressed Harley Nightster caught my eye, and a few bikes over, its new brother, the XR1200, was getting a once-over from another admirer. In the opposite lot, a pair of classic-reeking Triumphs found each other, one a pristine new Bonneville, the other a 50-year-old bona fide vintage, seeping character. The owner told me he purposely doesn’t wash it because the grime adds to the bike’s “mystique,” and I’m inclined to agree. I am not a very social creature, but it doesn’t take much more than a lusting glance at another bike to extort heart-felt gushing from its owner.

My beverage consumed, I found myself facing the unwanted ride home, like a child reluctantly heeding his mother’s call to come in after a day’s play. I don’t anticipate for some time another day of weather like today’s, and knew as much at that moment. So with little guilt, I ignored the make-believe parental plea and ran further south down 35 toward 9.

Motorcyclists aren’t the only folks wise to the magic of these mountain roads. The enticing turns lure out the best of the Bay Area’s usually depressing automotive collection. Lancer Evolutions and Miatas are a dime a dozen in this setting, and even super cars seem commonplace. Today’s ride brought me near a new Exige and a 599 Fiorano, and my decision to venture further south down 35 yielded a game of chase with a bright orange Tesla Roadster bearing manufacturer’s plates. A trio of modded Mustangs (marked with garish Koolstangs decals) shared a popular vista just off 9 as I pulled in for a photo-op. The owners may have confirmed some Top Gear-perpetuated stereotypes, but despite the tasteless stickers I couldn’t help but admire the intoxicating V8 burble as the ponies departed.

After burning a solid twenty minutes absorbing the scenery of the vista, I felt satisfied to turn home. I did manage to prolong the day with an impromptu lunch in a Montara cafe and a supply stop at the local moto shop (the bike just turned 6,000 miles and wants fresh oil). At half past five I was back in San Francisco, grateful to have spent a January day with my bike.