What a great day for a lap around Silicon Valley! My brother-in-law “Bocci” was on his usual ride: a 2010 Triumph “Bonnie.” And, I as usual, was on “MyConnie” – a 2001 blue Kawasaki Concours. We started out from our usual jumping off place in San Mateo. Then, after crossing San Francisco Bay on the historic San Mateo-Hayward bridge, we shortcut through a series of industrial parks which were virtually empty on a Sunday. Within only a few minutes, we made our way down to Niles Canyon Road, a great curvy jaunt for a crisp, clear morning.
Our objective was to ride down Calaveras Road which runs alongside the large Calaveras reservoir. There were many signs saying that the road ahead was closed due to work on the dam, but the road was actually open all the way, making us assume that the signs were for weekday work.
Calaveras Road is slow, curvy, and not well-designed as a road with many one-lane sections and blind corners that invite an accident. In fact, right before our ride, I was reading on the Pashnit Site about a rider that collided with a minivan at one of those blind corners. The vivid descriptions of his broken femur and the $4,000 air ambulance bill certainly stuck in my head while I rode around those blind corners.
The lake is idyllic within its May greenery all around. And the road was at least well-paved, if ill-designed. At the end of the lake, the park land switchbacks gave way to ranch land and rolling hills. We decided to take a side-loop around Felter Road which connects to Sierra Road. There are some beautiful houses there, some that overlook Calaveras Lake and some that overlook Silicon Valley and the south bay salt ponds.
Since the day was young, we continued through Silicon Valley and over to Stevens Creek Road, heading up to Hwy 9 and then to Hwy 35, thinking that lunch at Alice’s Restaurant would top off our great ride. We were not disappointed. Highways 9 and 35 are a beautiful romp through the redwoods and allowed us to get up to speed with wide sweepers and a 50 mph speed limit.
For anyone reading this who hasn’t been to Alice’s, you really need to get there someday. It is just an unassuming little restaurant, but it happens to be mecca for weekend warriors of the motorcycle kind. It is located at the confluence of a number of highways, each of which have a beautiful day ride stretching out from Alice’s to great destinations like Santa Cruz, Pescadero, Woodside, Half Moon Bay, and Skyline Drive — making it the perfect jumping off place or rallying point.
After a leisurely lunch ( leisurely because the management of Alice’s seems to value food quality more than additional wait staff – not a bad tradeoff, mind you ) we headed off up Hwy 35 back to San Mateo. All-in-all, not a bad Sunday morning ride at 124 miles and a little under four hours.
I wasn’t going to write about this, but have reconsidered because of the safety message contained within. Bocci bought a new fluorescent yellow jacket to satisfy his delusions of being able to add safety to his motorcycling pastime. He commented every time we stopped, saying, “Can you see me?” After leaving Alice’s Restaurant, we got back up to the speed limit of 50 mph and were headed down a straight stretch of Hwy 35, noticing a group of bicyclists that had stopped off of the right side of the road. Apparently, one of the bicyclists must have been very tired, because he just got on his bike and crossed Hwy 35 without really looking. I was about 50 yards behind Bocci and I saw the bicyclist start to cross directly in front of him. In what seemed like slow motion, I saw the two of them headed for the same point in space and time and I cringed, waiting for the nasty collision. But ’twas not to be. The bicycle crossed through Bocci’s path, and they missed by about four feet. I’m sure Bocci’s heart was racing, but it was all over in the blink of an eye. Just goes to show you, that all that fluorescent yellow in the world won’t necessarily make a difference to an exhausted bicyclist.