Ride to Santa Cruz

Today was Motorcycle day. First I hung out with Lars at the BMW dealer in Mountain View (October-Feste bratwurst and drinks), then I headed my dear Monster towards Santa Cruz, along the twistiest roads I could find; beginning with Stevens Canyon Road, which forks into 9. Never did this one before and although narrow at times, not too interesting. Highway 9 was beautiful as always, and there were not too many cages around. Decided to go on a detour along 236, towards Big Basin State Park. The first part of 236 (coming from Skyline) is narrow, bumpy and very twisty: great fun! Briefly checked out the park (contains some big ass redwoods) and the museum at the park headquarters. Back on the road: 236 remains a lot of fun for a while, then forks into 9 again – alas, this is the boring part of 9 (through the towns of Big Boulder, Ben Lomond etc). In Felton I got tired of the slow traffic and decided to improvise: took Felton-Empire road, which turned out to be a delightful, smooth, medium-paced climb towards the coastal mountains’ ridge; it led to Empire Grade, passing along the backside of Wilder Ranch Park (of mountain bike fame), past UC Santa Cruz onto Highway 1.

Lunch in my favorite Greek restaurant in Santa Cruz, then it was time to hit the Pacific Coast Highway: sweet and scenic as we know it, but also cold, because of a stubborn cloud masking the sun. Cruised past the beaches and the kite surfers and after 30+ miles I arrived at the junction with my beloved Pescadero Road. Did a quick gas stop in the quaint small town of Pescadero, and then the road was all mine: a marvelous sequence of numerous tight turns and fast, short straights through the coastal redwood forest. It was all bliss and it felt divine, until I overcooked one turn (blind – and tightening); I was leaned into it carrying too much speed and didn’t dare to brake or lean more, so of course I ended up for a brief episode in the wrong lane; no car, fortunately, but this was bad bad, I was shaken and all pissed about it – over-confidence is your worst enemy – the resulting under-confident period didn’t last too long however, and soon I was enjoying the most twisty and bumpy section: the part after Pescadero Road turns into Alpine Road; it was bliss again and sooner than I wanted I found myself on the junction with Skyline Boulevard. Heading back home I did engage in some squid behaviour for which I now feel quite remorseful – sport-bike style passing at high rpm of a bunch of slow cars and Harley’s – but then they went so slow. Conclusion: had an awesome ride but I have to be careful; when too comfortable I tend to want to go a bit too fast – why o why is speed so exhilarating? – therefore, I should keep confronting the sickest, bumpiest and tightest twisties I can find: a good reality check and one learns from it, plus: rides stay interesting at reasonable speed.

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