Cats and Friends. Oct 11 – Nov 20, 2014.

In the months to follow, I’d become so familiar with I-280, US-101, and I-580 that I mostly stopped tracking it. Actually I’m pretty sure I crossed the US without doing as much freeway riding as I have in the Bay Area. Oh well.

I did manage a few trips beyond the sprawl to meet ADVers, or see a familiar face…

Such affection.

The first order of business was cat-sitting while Lisa and Erik were out of town. Lyapa kept me company in their sun-filled Oakland apartment, which reminded me of my art school days – something about the high ceilings, open loft space, Lisa’s watercolors taped up along the wall, and the quirks of an old building. Like their keepers, it oozed personality and coziness.

History and drinking, wandering Jack London Square.
Christmas lights already?!

Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon shared the waterfront with a phalanx of touristy, party-going establishments, the type accustomed to volume. Maybe it’s me, but I feel like when a Ben & Jerry’s moves in it’s the beginning of the end. The saloon, however, is creepily real. The 1906 earthquake unsettled the foundation and they gave up trying to shore it up, opting instead to just shave off half the table and chair legs and lean into it (ha!). The bar slopes at a crazy angle, and much of the interior is original. It’s a bit of an unnerving reminder from the past, of dry counties and sailors not returning. I feel like there’s a Decemberist song in there somewhere.

Cornetti filled with jam at Adesso.

Life settled into a string of cozy restaurants and climbing. Dmitry and I became regular partners at the rock gym, and I had a go at some aerial acrobatics (I’ve always wanted to try!). Days bled together, filled with the ebb and flow of work, socializing, sleep, and eat. I felt a bit like I was recreating my pattern in Providence. The riding weather was far, far better though.

Wally’s Cafe with cousin, casual Greek food diner to rave about in Oakland.
I met up with Pete, from Vespa SF, for a food truck evening and a clear night view from Treasure Island.
Joel, whom I met in Leggett, invited me to watch curling Friday night at the Oakland Ice Center.
Tasting time at the Benziger Family Winery tour.
Can I take my bike through here?
Cabernet grapes…I think. I suppose I fail the somm test.
H.I.T in Milpitas with Kevin, Peter, and his friend. Ahh, I haven’t had hot pot since Hong Kong. 
I also haven’t had dental work since Hong Kong. Bit of composite will patch up that poopy fall in Yosemite.
It was too dark for photos at the nighttime tour of the Winchester Mystery House, so gift store it is.
Favorite below-the-radar homestyle tapas place: Tapa Ole, Saratoga, CA.
Is it too late to run away and join the circus?
If I lived in San Francisco, I would be at the Circus Center all the time.
I do like me some like mussels.
Paxton Gate – San Francisco’s answer to Evolution?!
Anthropomorphized taxidermy. So cute, so creepy. I’ve found that in drawings, parents respond better to the cute ones though.
Just like my heart.
Reminds me of some urban art in Seattle.
My favorite bit of art in Clarion Alley.
Close second.
Lisa wields pizza scissors like a pro.

Oh yeah, I had a birthday. I turned 30. I think it’s supposed to be a big deal or something. Anyway, I did some trapeze at the SF Circus Center, ate some mussels, and wandered around the city with my cousin. On the day of, I scooted to Oakland to have lunch with Lisa at A16, and work at some different cafes.

Then I stole this scooter for Halloween.
Oh you Thruxton at the International Motorcycle Show.
Peter and I oggle some Bell Bullitt helmets.
Pre-riding day dinner with Rod (rodr on ADV) and Lucy in Fairfield, CA. They’re a riot!
Got some miles around Napa planned.
Doin’ my best to keep up with the big bikes under Rod and Joel.
How about we just stay here for the day? Notice the thoughtfully placed wine glass notch, in a chair made from old barrel staves.
Picking up lunch…
…for a scenic picnic at Zichichi Family Vineyard.
I don’t mind this lunch table view at all.

It was great meeting Rod (rodr on ADV) and Lucy, and going for a ride with Joel! Super grateful they let me crash overnight too. They were unsure how many miles I typically fill a day with, and figured a roundtrip from San Jose wasn’t a big deal for someone who crossed the country… Actually, my daily mileage is pretty weak (~200 miles is typical), and the scoot tires me out quickly at freeway speeds. If given the choice, I don’t do much nighttime riding either. It’s amazing I got this far, really…

That being said, it was fantastic riding with both of them! Rod even got some video of the ride. I credit him with the phrasing of ‘goaty roads’ to describe those narrow, winding, questionably paved roads common in wine country. Quiet, beautiful, and a lot of fun. Much thanks for putting that ride together, Rod!

Another lovely lunch with Lisa! Home cooking this time, aw yeah.
It’s refreshing to find someone else who is okay quietly working in the warmth of a sunny apartment. I speak of Lyapa, obviously.
I’ve got a long route planned back to San Jose.
Looking out at the counties from the summit of Mount Diablo.
Windy up here.
Trying to feel tall, standing at the highest point of Mount Diablo’s rockface.
You can see roving fog in the distance.
I met a cyclist who rides this every day (alas, I’ve forgotten his name!). This is his favorite vista.
Golden hills to the summit of Mount Diablo.
Lookin’ goaty.
California does experience fall. Woa.
Morgan Territory Regional Preserve.

It was lovely to ride solo again, and reminded of crossing the country instead of just doing a day ride. With Rod’s suggestions, I managed to pick a 5 hour and 127 mile route between Oakland and San Jose, all on a single tank of gas. On the road though, time loses meaning and I just take the miles and match them with endurance. I don’t pause long enough to ask why it works for me.

Nap, recharge, refuel, and aerials class time after riding all day!
Oh, my baby is getting on in her miles. I remember your first test ride like it was yesterday (sniffle).
Hello, Santa Cruz!
Seaside walk with Jim and Quin Lin. Alas, was too busy chatting or riding to get many photos.

I received an invite from Jim (hdawg on ADV) to meet his family in Santa Cruz, and happily took the scenic route down there. We chatted about worldwide travel and a suitable starter bike for their older daughter, who already has her endorsement (what a family!). I’m super thankful they shared a bit of their world with me. Santa Cruz is like a little paradise, people walking around in bare feet and short shorts in November…Pah!

Caroline Rarajski and I share the same literary agent and penchant for funny faces over beer.
Parking lot repair for rear rack. Hose clamp everything.
Obligatory Skyline Blvd vista.
Guess who I found?!

Yes, I found Ruckus Mike! He was headed south after his scoot to the Arctic Circle, so we met up at the classic biker spot, Alice’s Restaurant. This time we sat down for food, but it was hard to find a moment to chew between all the excited chatting and stories to tell. I hadn’t seen him since our brief encounter in Shady Valley, TN, but it turns out we started around the same time, and amazingly have roughly the same mileage. Routes and rides are different, but we shared reassuringly similar experiences on the rhythm of the road, small displacement style (though really, my bike is a hog compared to his). The way that some travelers go, I have this feeling our paths may intersect again in the future, and we’ll both have more stories to tell.

Well, these burger names are cute. I can attest to the quality of the BMW burger. The Vespa arrangement is disappointing though. At least lace it with espresso or something.
The bike and rider that went to Alaska.
It was tough to leave…also because spectators would gather around Mike’s well-stickered scoot and start conversations!
Ahh…still riding comfortably into November. The only hint of seasonal change is the increasingly early sunset.
Clouds spill over the mountains. Oh, California.

In the coming months, I would find myself taking Skyline Blvd from San Francisco to San Jose countless times. The pattern: haul ass to the city on the freeway for the weekend, and then a quiet, leisurely Monday morning ride back through woods and mountains. Part of the reason I kept making the SF-SJ commute was…

I said to do a Bill Murray “Suntory” impression.

Pete (of the food trucks and Treasure Island jaunt) very smoothly asked me out again. It just so happened I was thinking of going to the city that weekend already, for the Dirtbag Challenge. We agreed to make a weekend of it, and my stay in the Bay Area was starting to take an unexpected turn.

Vespa SF donated a bike for this benefit. I put on the only nice-ish sweater I have.
What’s with the little faces around San Francisco?
Borrowed Pete’s Bonnie for the day, to ride to the Dirtbag Challenge. He took my Vespa to swap in case I didn’t like the Bonnie. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.
Helloooo, bikes.
Follow the clouds of vaporized rubber to the source.
Less than comfortable, but more than badass.
Nice bottle eyes.
Trophies for various categories!
Rear tires are short lived around here.
Case in point.
Details.

I would disappear for a couple weeks on a family trip, but I had plenty to think about. Work was slow, and it was clear now that I would be waiting out winter in California before the return east for that last corner (Lubec, ME). Family would soon descend upon the Bay for the holidays, which brings its own mix of required fun (I love my family, but as with many things, when critical mass is reached things can get hairy).

The soonest I would realistically set off again would be January. It was an uncomfortable place between not quite long enough to settle in, but long enough to require a somewhat settled routine…and become involved in the lives of locals.

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