I opened the clubhouse around 5:30, and Brian showed up shortly thereafter. Folks started to filter in, and after my patented rider meeting speech ("Don't crash, dammit."), we had nine members, and three guests. The guests were friends of mine, and they already knew the route. After all, what kind of crazy person gets up for a ride at 6:15 if they don't even know where they are going?
We got out almost exactly on time, and made haste toward the Bay Bridge. We danced with the deer gods in the dark on Grizzly Peak, and paused at The Wall to see the twinkling lights of two cities and three bridges. It was warm up there, but we dove back down into the cool of Berkeley and headed to breakfast at Rudy's Can't Fail. Turns out, Rudy can fail. One of the two waitresses on duty at 7 AM was late, and judging by the looks of her when she rolled in, she was well hung over. Un-toasted toast and fried poached eggs were eaten, and we headed back out into the great unknown. Five miles of Route 24 was the last we would see of highways for almost the entire rest of the day. We had warmed up on Grizzly Peak, and the first proper long twisty road we came to was Redwood Road, past Lake Chabot. A great stretch of pavement and great views.
Since nobody knew where we were headed, I made a point pausing the group from time to time to make sure nobody felt lost or abandoned. The first such stop was in Castro Valley. Back together, we dodged 580, and took Palomares Road instead. Another lovely piece of road, this one follows the Pleasanton Ridge.
A left on Niles Canyon Road took us to Calaveras Ave and along the Calaveras Reservoir. A left on Felter Rd took us down the hills to the edge of San Jose through some truly gorgeous landscape. Cows grazing in fields of green and a long view across the city.
A gas stop, and the most technical section of the ride started. Straight up Mt. Hamilton Road to the observatory. Brian said there are 365 turns on that road, and I'll believe it. Once at the top, we took some pictures and watched other bikes make their way up the road, roaring through brief straights, and struggling through switchbacks.
Slightly rested, we aimed for Mines Road. At this point, one of our guests headed home, but Papa picked up another one, a nail in his back tire. Brian followed as he limped into Livermore and found a shop to get a new tube while the rest of us stopped for lunch.
After repairs and repast, we took a lovely scenic tour of downtown Livermore. History duly absorbed, we picked up 84 and pointed toward Freemont, our next cultural destination. Apparently, the Maori tribe (now inexplicably spelled Mowry) settled down out there and opened a scrapyard. We waived hello and continued on.
Across the Dumbarton Bridge, we checked out real estate prices in Redwood City. Deciding that perhaps our best investment was a beer, I aimed us for St James Gate Irish Pub. We got there, and though they were sad Colin had gone home, they sold us drinks anyway. Six perfect score winners, one librarian, and this year's most tenacious guest.
Beers raised and emptied, we headed back home. My duties officially discharged, I was once again free to put in headphones and not concern myself with the welfare of the group. Just another rider, I settled in riding behind my brothers.
Some ten hours of sleep later, I found Papa following me on my way to work. I explained to him that the ride was, in fact, over last night. I think he might have been keeping vigil all night, watching my bike so he could be sure to follow the captain's route.
Eight months, sixteen rides, two minor get-offs, six perfect scores. 105 years to the day after the San Francisco Motorcycle Club elected its first slate of officers, our riding season goes on its annual four-month hiatus.