Relocation Means Finding New Roads to Ride

Relocation

Have you ever relocated for work, for pleasure, for retirement? I’ve recently relocated from the beachside location of Santa Cruz County (80 miles south of San Francisco) to Silicon Valley.

Relocation involves all the familiar players involved in moving, including sore backs, aching arms, an array of cardboard boxes, and getting to know your new, or as in my case renewed, city’s roads and byways.

For motorcyclists, although we can can ride on any highway or city street, there might be some we’d rather avoid. I’ve been in Silicon Valley for only a few days but already encountered some local roads I’ll most likely avoid in the future.

But there are far more interesting roads to ride that offer vistas of the Bay Area from the Diablo Mountains, roads that run through and around regional parks in the East Bay, North Bay, Northern California, and of course, eastward toward Yosemite Valley.

Some Rides for the Future

Using MotorcycleRoads.com’s California tab, I’ve highlighted a few local rides to target first. The narrative is from the site contributors except where noted.

South Bay Rides

Mt. Hamilton L

Mt. Hamilton Loop – Scenery is fantastic! The route goes up a mountain then back down the other side, so you have an array of different landscapes you travel through: Meadows, forested areas, a bit of farmland, and the views as you ascend just keep getting better and better until you reach the top where you have a panoramic, 360 degree view of the surrounding area. Breath-taking! [Barry’s Note: Home to the James Lick Observatory, Mt. Hamilton rises 4,100 feet to offer spectacular views of the Southbay. The loop is a narrow two-lane road that offer riders the chance to hone skills on mountainous twisties and two landmarks in the Lick Observatory and The Junction Bar & Grill in Livermore. There are no fuel stations along the way, so riders are urged to fill up for the 100 mile ride.]

Uvas Resevoir

Uvas Reservoir – Beautiful rolling hills between San Jose and Morgan Hill. When the Uvas Reservoir is full it is a nice view to see. This is a pretty easy ride with no severe turns. [Barry’s Note: Though not describes a loop on the linked site, it could easily be made one. The highlighted ride is just 14 miles, but a simple loop that would involve Old Monterey Highway could extend the off-highway ride to about 50 miles.]

East Bay Rides

Mt-Diablo-EB

Mt. Diablo Summit Run – The Mount Diablo Summit is a beautiful view that takes you up ~3800 feet and offers an astonishing view of the San Francisco Bay Area and central valley. On a clear day you can see the Sierras to the east and the Golden Gate Bridge to the West. As you ride up will quickly pass through small hills to a quick climb up short technical turns through light trees and golden grass.

Castro Valley to Berkeley

Castro Valley to Berkeley –  Take Redwood Rd. exit on I-580 in Castro Valley and head north. Follow Redwood rd. for 10 miles until you reach Pinehurst Rd., take a right on Pinehurst rd and follow Pinehurst for another 7 miles, at which point Pinehurst turns into Skyline Blvd. Ride on Skyline for 2 miles until you reach Grizzly Peak Blvd., make a right onto Grizzly Peak. Ride on Grizzly Peak for about 5 miles until you reach Centennial Drive, where you can park. Route has lots of turns and twisties, as well as elevation changes. Road surface can be bad in some areas, but OK overall. Gravel/oil rarely seen, but always keep an eye out.

North Bay Rides

Napa-Lake-Berryessa

Napa to Lake Berryessa – This is the hills of the Napa Valley. Windy roads with plenty of places to pull off and suck in the view. Then you travel about 15 magnificent miles as the road that hugs the shore of wonderful Lake Berryessa. From Napa simply head east on route 121 until it T’s into Route 128. You then want to take a left on to Route 128 and take it north/northeast for about 4.5 miles until you see Berryessa Knoxville Rd on the right. Take a right onto Berryessa Knoxville Rd and now enjoy the ride along the lake for about 15 beautiful miles. That’s what I call the end point but actually you could continue on the road and it would take you all the way up to Clear Lake. If you decide to go all the way to Clear Lake, Berryessa turns into Co Rd 140 (Morgan Valley Rd.). Take a left on Hwy. 50, going North and this will drop you into Clear Lake.

Skagggs Spring Rd

Skaggs Spring Road – This starts on the Pacific Coast Hwy and goes over the Coastal Range for about 40 miles. It’s gorgeous hilly country with curvy roads – actually more fun than CA 36 (“Twisty Roads 140 miles” – Red Bluff to Eureka.) The first 4 miles or so are a glorified driveway going through forests with sharp turns, then the road opens up to 36 miles of mostly sweeping curves on very good roads. Some far off lake vistas. Stewart Point (south of Ft. Bragg, CA) to Geyserville, CA. This is 43 miles of curvy and twisty roads. Starting in Stewarts Point go inland on Skaggs Spring Rd. There is no street sign I could see. It looks like a driveway across from the only gas station in this 50 person town. Stay on this road for 37 miles, then turn right on Dry Creek Rd for 3 miles. Turn left on Canyon Rd which takes you under I -101 to Geyserville and if you want on to Calistoga on CA 128.

Epic Rides

Yosemite

Hwy 120 – Tioga Pass Rd. – Please click the link for a truly great description of the annual ride through Somite Valley.  [Barry’s Note: I gotta do this one. 🙂 ]

 

Retirement On The Road, Part 1

My Parent’s Retirement

Dad and Sammy
Dad and Sammy

My dad retired in 1994 after a 40+ year career in electronics and aerospace engineering. Even though he retired from his job with Lockheed Martin at 63, he continued to do his same job as a consultant for a few years.

After about two years of this, he retired altogether and he and my mom have been stay-at-home retirees ever since. They taken a few trips around the country to see friends and family, but largely they built a new routine that now centers around medical appointments and a few hobbies.

My Beautiful Mom
My Beautiful Mom

My mom was fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom while we were at home. She managed the house, cooked nearly every night for 50 years, and carted my brother, sister, and I all over Texas and Southern California until we each qualified for our driving licenses and obtained independent transportation.

As I look at their situation, which includes a pension, health care benefits, and savings, I’m struck by how different my own retirement will be.

My Version of Retirement

My own version of retirement could’t be more different. Since I don’t feel like I will ever retire in the classic sense of the word, I will continue to write, earn, consult, and travel until I die. To no longer be artistically productive is something I can’t imagine. At 57, I have no desire to stop working as I do now.

Because I’m an independent consultant and writer and no longer report to a single location each day, I work mainly from wherever I am. Right now it’s at home two blocks from the ocean near Santa Cruz, California but it could just as easily be on the road in Death Valley, Santa Fe, or Seattle, as long as solid Internet access is accessible and the supply of good coffee is present.

My desire to maintain personal and professional productivity isn’t related to my financial need, well not totally anyway. I mean, I do need to eat and I don’t have as much socked away as I’d have liked. But more that that, my need to be productive is in my DNA. Instead of clipping coupons and dining out at the country club, I’ll be a eating my simple, vegetarian meals beside a fire or inside my little RV while remaining a productive, contributing member in my field for as long as I’m able.

Mobility Will Be Key

My retirement won’t be spent in one place. Instead, I see myself obtaining a small RV, perhaps a Gulf Stream Vista Cruise Class B, like the model shown below, a motorcycle trailer, and of course, bring along my motorcycles.

2003-Gulf-Stream-Vista-Cruiser-Freightliner-Sprinter-Class-B-RV-Motorhome
Class B Sprinter Gulf Stream

Being of a solitary nature, a retirement that’s both mobile and contained in relatively close quarters suits me just fine. Leaning minimalist in my preferred soundings only makes this type of retirement environment the best option for me. I see the RV a means to an end: a place to relax and sleep as well as protection from bad weather. It also has towing capabilities to bring a long the really fun vehicles. 🙂

Being mobile in my golden years means that I’ll be able to visit my children on the East Coast and not have to stay in hotels, or take up their guest rooms, although I’m sure that’s exactly what they’re designed for. It also means that I’ll be able to maintain a certain amount of independence over my schedule and not be dependent on others.

It goes without saying that I’ll also have a bike or two around and KendonUSA makes the Single Ride-Up SRL Stand-Up™ Motorcycle Trailer that could easily be towed behind my Gulf Stream. They have a cool video of this trailer in operation here. Of course, If I have two bikes, I’ll need this one.

Easy load-in and maneuverability
Easy load-in and maneuverability

Motorcycling Is Essential

I can get by on two wheels for most of my life just fine. Having a motorcycle at my disposal makes daily trips to an office setting, grocery stores, even CostCo runs a breeze.

I can pack about $150 worth of groceries into my BMW R1150GS’s two system side cases and the top case. Even with my son living with me full-time, I rarely spent $300 for two weeks of food and staples.

There’s a certain romance (in the literary sense) to being out on the road with all your worldlies packed on your bike. It’s just you and your motorcycle against the world and all it can throw at you.

But I'm getting up there and I'm no fool, either. 

I can see driving to Yellowstone Park, for example, and booking a week’s stay at a KOA Campground, then taking a few day’s ride around southern Montana. Likewise, a similar style of existence could exist when visiting my daughter and her family in Ohio or my son and his in South Carolina.

I can also see having a KLR 650 or KTM 690 along for rail riding, not that I’m a big off-road kind of guy; in fact I haven’t ridden off road since my younger years. But still, a big BMW is great for highway touring, but a KLR or KTM would be great for buzzing around local cities in search of groceries, supplies, or finally learning to ride off road with Brent in Southern Utah. (His recent review of his chosen dual sport bike, the intrepid Kawasaki KLR 650, is here.)

Building a Phenomenal Life

Like many of my generation, I got married too young. I was immature and naive. I entered into a lot of long-term debt and repeated this series of unfortunate events after my first divorce when I embarked upon another. After the second marriage ended, I knew I had to teach my children another way to create a life that’s fulfilling regardless of their marital status.

The advice I gave to my children when they were entering adulthood was this:

"First, build a phenomenal life that works. Only then consider adding someone to it. If you take the time to create a fulfilling life first,  adding someone to it will only make it more wonderful."

I think this advice is still good and a lot of us high-mileage types that find ourselves on the edge of the treadmill wanting to step off. In fact, a therapist told me when I first became a single, custodial parent 12 years ago that I needed to prepare for the day when my youngest son would move out on his own.

Jay-in-the-moment
Jay, guitarist and bassist.

And……now that day is here. Jay now lives with his mother in Santa Cruz most of the time and I find myself with a lot more discretionary time. In the intervening years of our solo-journey through life, he’s become a musician and band mate to a good group of guys.

Little by little, day by day he's grown away from his dependency on me and more into his own life.
Buddy
Sir Buddy, Lord Protector of the Realm

About five years ago I started building a phenomenal life for myself. I reentered motorcycling, I got a dog, I started working on my own terms as a technical  proposal consultant to large construction and engineering firms. I started dating.

Three of those four have been successful. 🙄

This is no one’s fault by mine. I’m very settled into a single life and marriage or permanent relationships just don’t seem to work for me.  It’s enough of a challenge just putting up with myself.

Regardless of my preference for a solitary lifestyle, getting ready for my ‘retirement’ has been enjoyable and I can only imagine that riding into it will be even more so.

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