We lingered over our delicious Mexican grub and naturally conversation turned to what the hell was going on with Jeremy's bike. Jeremy said that his headlight was out, but I distinctly remembered seeing it on when we'd crossed the bridge. I'd been thinking about this between thoughts about my own seat issues, and figured it might be a bad connection somewhere that was popping the fuse. That would make sense- a short was eating all the current. At some point after the bridge, but before Walter's the fuse popped, and it started just fine.
We decided to investigate.
Four bikes parked behind the taqueria. Everyone's mucking about with their personal steed, and you can clearly see my blue header.
We checked Jeremy's headlight- yep, it was dead. Tried to start it- no problem. Well, let's check the fuse just in case. Best case scenario, we'll have a headlight again, and if it doesn't work, we can just put the busted fuse back in. He borrowed my Leatherman and started dissecting. The fuse didn't look burned out, but the there was some charring on the legs of it. We put a new one in, and lights and bike started right up. Problem solved.
Yanking the fuse.
Shortly thereafter Wayli rolled up, we caught him up and he demanded to see the fuse. He scraped the charred bits off the legs, and suggested we try the busted fuse. What the hell, make the madman happy.
And it worked. No lie, we were baffled by this. Maybe it was just a loose fuse holder, I don't know. Then Wayli told us his latest troubles- it seems that when he got his new shoes on, the mechanic poked into the oil and mentioned he was a quart low. His bike NEVER leaked or burnt oil, and now he was a quart low? He filled the bike before he left this morning, just in case. Crap. Lunchtime, and we already had two problem bikes.
And then there were five.
Whatever, time to get on the road. We saddled up and rode three blocks to Trader Joe's because nobody had bothered to bring veggies. Everyone just heard "fire" and thought "meat," but what concerned me more was the beer. A six pack doesn't go far for thirsty riders, so a couple of bottles of wine were on the docket too. Blue Fin- cheap, goes down smooth, and makes for a beastly hangover. Perfect.
Oh, and then Walgreens next door to see if they had bamboo skewers for roasting things on. Santa Cruz is a student town, so naturally this Walgreens had the usual half-aisle to aisle full of a given thing, and then three entire aisles devoted to booze, and another three to snack food. Damn stoner kids. We found some skewers and beat a hasty retreat for the PCH before they came for our marshmallows.
Roaring south out of Santa Cruz was nice, but nothing too special. A four-lane freeway, then a nice big two-lane highway along the beach front, inland a bit, back to 6 lanes and through a nasty bit of headwind toward...
Wait, what? Surging? Lagging? Stalling? What the hell was my bike doing? It only had 125 miles on the odometer- it should have at least another 25 miles to go! Whatever, I reached down and flipped to reserve- engine caught- we're good. I roared past the 250's and spanked my tank like it was a deserving cheerleader, and led the gang off the first offramp I saw for gas.
Gojuice, go. Back on the freeway. Then it gave way to the true PCH.
The Pacific Coast Highway is underrated as a motorcycling road. I mean, sure, up on the San Francisco Peninsula it's world famous, and further south the Strips through major beach towns like Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and the like are known around the world, but that bit south of Monterey is just ingenious. Narrow, twisty, wicked in every sense of the word, with massive rock walls to the left and pure air to the right with the saves smashing on the rocks far below.
We had to stop.
I mean, seriously, look at that! The road snakes the cliff face, then coils in between the little hillock and the mountain on the right.
That mountain is probably a thousand feet tall, and drops straight into the Pacific Ocean, interrupted only by a thin ribbon of dirt and tar that some human decided should connect San Francisco and Los Angeles. To the left are California condors, the largest flying birds in the world and recently bounced back from the very brink of extinction, and to the right sea otters, six foot long aquatic skunk-weasels that were almost hunted to extinction for their luxurious furs. We saw no condors, and skunk-weasels only at a massive distance, but they're all rare as hell so they deserve their privacy.
What the hell, here it is again.
That's more condor habitat to the left. They like those big rocky bits with sea breezes. When you've got a 12 foot wingspan and survive off dead ground squirrels and the odd seal, a bit of lift is a welcome thing.
We were in awe. We'd made it. Living the dream. Motorcycles down the coast, between rocks and water, condors to the left and otters to the right, us smack in the middle.
Just to fuck with nature, Wayli decided to check his bike. Not good. It was visibly leaking oil. He started tinkering, and Walter took the chance to blame someone else for any delays and borrowed my Allen wrenches to muck about with his handle bars.
Neither of them got very far, so mechanics were abandoned in favor of watching the might Pacific Ocean gradually grinding California to a powder.
That's Elizabeth in the white, Jeremy with the dark hair and Wayli in the fancy pants. No condors or otters in this picture, but a hell of a bit of coastline.
And by "coastline" I mean "cliff." It was probably 200 feet to the roiling cauldrons down below. Naturally, somebody found a path down to the beach. Naturally, we all ran off down it without a backward glance.
Except it didn't go to the beach at all, just to another bit of cliff 200 feet down the road. Deep inside, I suspect none of us were really looking forward to climbing down that cliff, and even less to the climb back. We were satisfied to stand on top of it and take pictures.
We declared the stand of trees just barely visible off to the left of the picture above to be a deserving and suitably private location for some extra water (a precious commodity out here) and left a bit of ourselves to help the trees grow. Jeremy is reasonably civilized and refrained. Elizabeth did the prudent thing and geared up and declared we were being left before things got completely out of hand. So we left.