For those of you not in the Bay area, the Bay Bridge is one of wo/mans more successful attempts at mastery over nature.
9 long miles over nature.
Were it not for this bridge, my re route would be 88 miles around the Bay, to arrive at the same point.
Riding high above the Bay and above the East bound traffic is the West bound traffic. It’s a double decker bridge. Oh, did I mention there is a tunnel, too? There is no where to go should an unlucky bloke have an engine problem. Traffic is zipping by at fast speed and the heavy wind from the Bay is often there to greet you.
So basically, that first ride across it, for a scooterist, is no small feat of mastering our own mastery over nature . Last year I rode the Bay Bridge, and before doing so I searched scooter forums for tales of terror or triumph. I found both. Ok, fair enough. Many scooterists in the Bay Area approach it as no big deal.
Today’s crossing was worse than my first time. The weather conditions were great though; sunny, warm, no wind. See, now I know exactly what it’s like. Before, I was slaying the dragon with every rotation of the tires, today I was counting seconds and statistics. Like the first games in a World Series-it’s too early to predict the outcome based on just one victory.
Perhaps lunch right beforehand was a bad idea.
After six days off, it was quite a way to get back in the saddle. I threw a victory fist as I exited and thought to myself that the worst part of the day was done, early. Not so.
Pushing East past Oakland, I entered into beautiful canyons. The curves were fun and tight, tighter than Hwy1. The temperature went up 10 degrees and the smell of Eucalyptus trees filled my helmet. I had been warned about gravel on these roads by Laura, who knew firsthand about wiping out on them. After viewing the first pile I dropped my speed. I was cruising slowly, not worried, thinking I would make up time down the road.
Emerging from the canyons I was shuffled into heavy traffic moving around the burbs and then onto an industrial stretch. Here the roads became horrible. Oh, wait, they were just like the ones in San Francisco. Except that I needed to travel at least 55mph over them. The asphalt was uneven, there were potholes, big gaps outlined the train tracks and large cracks replaced smooth roadway-all pretty hazardous. I won’t travel this road again and I don’t recommend it for anyone on a 125cc scooter with my amount of gear.
The google route steered me onto the Freeway, apparently the only way to navigate through the farmlands, aside from Interstate 5. Freeway translated into 2 lanes on the same dangerous roads, with no shoulder. People were speeding at around 80. I was doing my best to keep a steady 55 while peering ahead for bumps, cracks and potholes. When I could safely pull over on the occasional dirt driveways, I did. Traffic was piled up behind me and people flicked me off and honked hysterically. I missed Shaun. Together, two scooterists command a tad bit of respect. Alone, we can be targets.
And then the bridge near Antioch-which was actually neat, but SO HIGH up that the wind gave me white knuckles. Phew, this had to be the worst of it. Then, two steel grate bridges-longer than any I yet traveled.
But it was hot. And that’s why I’m on this route, to avoid a damp, cold ride up the Coastline.
I was feeling very nervous, there were freeways still ahead for awhile. I was trying to check in with my intuition. My mind was anticipating all kinds of horrible crap and this has never happened. The brain is such a powerful weapon-and mine was running amuck. The lady who found my wallet, Constance, had given me a Gremlin Bell-for protection. The bell had fallen off the bike as soon as I crossed the Bay Bridge. My good friend Jess, of 20 years, texted me out of the blue, saying she was thinking about me. I shifted my thoughts into a positive direction.
Then I realized, stopping for my fourth liter of water- I’m just sick. My glands are so swollen I can barely swallow and I’m lightheaded. I realized the bike is probably handling so horribly because my suspension is off. After 17,000 miles, it’s probably time to have a look at that. The bike has been harder to control lately and my feet seem closer to the ground now-and I haven’t switched shoes or grown.
To end on a better note-San Francisco was a great visit. The owner at the Hotel Maribelle basically gave me my money back today by donating $200 to the “scooter tour.” I said my goodbyes at the San Francisco Scooter Center. I went by this morning after saying my goodbye to Shaun. I needed a group photo of the lovely SFSC crew. Wonderful, smart, entertaining people over there. If you ever stop by, ask Barry if you can have the tour of his museum upstairs. After seeing so many Lambrettas this past week, I’ve developed a bit of a need for one.
The roads stayed the same until about 25 miles before Chico, where I am hanging my hat tonight. The goal was 311 miles, but with all the treacherous going, I fell short by 100 miles. For now, it’s sleep and Vitamin C for me. And some more of Peter Beagle’s book.