It's morning again in Marina. The evening was short and the patience with poor old Rudi this morning has run short. Marina is a small town - not much to see or do and not much in the way of motorcycle repair shops. We will be out of here shortly but Rudi still refuses to fire up. We need to act now. Bump starting everyday is not sustainable and we want to enjoy the ride and the trip without any hiccups from the bikes. Andrew removes the battery from Rudi as this is the obvious culprit in this scenario and we locate a near-ishby Napa Auto Parts store - we bought our chain lube and cleaner from one store in Panguitch so we have a pretty good idea of what they stock, plus they are always recommended to us from fellow biking travellers. The nearest store is in Castroville which is 6.5 miles away from Marina.
Now we are not early birds, we like to take our time in the morning and with the days being long and light, we feel there is absolutely no reason to rush. It's getting close to check out time at the Motel, so I buy us another free hour of time to enable Sir Galahad to take my steed - Marta off to Napa in Castroville to fetch a new battery.
Galahad returns about 40 minutes later with a new battery which he bought actually just down the block, in Marina! Napa Auto Parts in Castroville did not have the required model of battery so on his way back, the knight in not much riding armour passes an Auto Zone store just down the road from the motel, wanders in, shows the battery, does a battery check and miracles do happen, they have the correct battery in stock. Success! With only minutes to go, we bail ourselves and our stuff out of the room, install the fresh battery, push Rudi's button, and with baited breath, boom! he fires up instantly. Nice! It's great, such a small but totally smile and relief making moment. We hastily get packed up and leave Marina via the T-Mobile shop to sort out another pesky task of getting the service back onto my phone. This is also easily rectified albeit by spending a few more dollars and then as we do know the way to San Jose, we decide that's where we'll go.
Now we were going to visit a connection I have in Salinas, but due to my phone being out of service for the past days we have decided to just go straight to San Jose due to connectivity being halted. Just outside the T-Mobile shop, I receive a message from my connection, then a call. She can come over to Marina to visit us which is fine, but then we figure that it's better to go to San Jose via Salinas, that way, my connection doesn't need to move, we'll go to her and see another town and move on from there.
We pass lots of farms and fields on the way to Salinas which is very pretty and industrious in an old-fashioned kind of way. We meet my connection, Gail for lunch, which is an unusual 'treat' for us and she tells us all about her husband Juan who works at the Salinas speedway track and is a total motor-head (petrol-head). Juan is very much involved in the motor sports industry and is busy with the Monterey Car Week events but it would be great if we could meet. We are invited to Gail's lovely home and have the grand tour and we're taken to the garage where Juan's Confederate motorcycle lives. I have never seen such a machine before and it looks like something from a sci-fi movie which is actually what they have been used for in the movie industry. There is also a red electric Curtiss there being safely stored. Amazing machines. Though it doesn't appear that we will get to meet Juan and get a demo. He's too busy with Car week to get away before we roll on.
Then Paul turns up. Paul is the PR man for Curtiss motorcycles and is clearly loving the products, the clients and the merchandise and the life that goes with it. Celebrity clients and Juan alike and the joy he has in delivering these bikes to his clients seeing the happiness they bring into people's lives. Crazy! Paul very kindly donates us a his 'n' hers Curtiss t-shirt each and we all have sunny hugs and back peddle our modest little Enfields off the driveway and head off to San Jose. What a lovely day! Totally unexpected, but aren't these the best ones?
After a few days now on the road and one night stops, we head to sunny San Jose to Andrew's nephew's home. It's time for a little rest now - a welcome couple of nights bedding down with transatlantic family. Home sweet home :-)
Waking up in Bakersfield and the temperature is still hot but cooler than the desert. Baking in Bakersfield. We're moving on to cooler climate and to the coast today. Just want to add here that we are a few days behind in sending these blog entries out due to the time the travelling takes up and the fact that when we arrive at a destination, we need decompression time for eating, showering, sleeping and arranging onward accommodation. We are in the peak of holiday season and finding places to stay in the places we want to visit within budget is a major task in itself.
The Himalayans are loaded, we're ready to roll and AJ fires up Rudi (Andrew has given the black Himalayan a name) and.........no start! We took it for granted the bike would start this morning for some reason, but Rudi has to be bump started again, fully loaded and from a vertical take-off. He does it again (hero!) and gains admiring approval from one of Bill's (our Airbnb host in Bakersfield) employees. By the way, our accommodation was opposite Bill's fully functioning plastics factory.
With Rudi running, we roll onwards towards our next destination in Morro Bay which is about 137miles. Getting out of Bakersfield is slightly tedious on Highway 58. We climb up through the Temblor Mountain range and do a spot of in-motion filming to amuse ourselves. Not really safe riding practice but there's practically no-one else on the road but us. There's a sweet little area of bends and sweeps before we arrive in Morro Bay and check in to our motel for the night.
We experience again a change in temperature. Much cooler along the Pacific Coast. Morro Bay is a pleasant surprise. It's a beautiful little bay - very nautical in nature and we're able to let the bikes rest for the evening while we use our feet to explore the bayside. It feels good to have everything within walking distance. We finally make a champagne (one glass each) toast to the fact we made it and have survived the journey so far still smiling.
In the morning it's the same old ritual. Brekkie, get geared and load up, start the bikes. Again, Rudi is not starting. He fires up and then blacks out. Andrew gets a push start from a kind fellow guest, idles the engine and then it cuts out again. Urrrrrr.........A stroke of fortune is that our Motel is at the top of a decently steep hill. Roll start instead of a bump start today. And on the relatively short 137 miles to Marina this keeps happening.
The route to Marina from Morro Bay follows Highway 1. Highway 1 had been previously closed (Bakersfield Bill informed us of the closure) due to a landslide. A bit of research informs us that it reopened a week ago, so we're good to go. Google Maps still haven't updated the reopening of the route yet. We have a short stop at William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach and a walk along the pier to breathe in a bit of Pacific Ocean Air. Rudi is still not starting up. Another roll start and back on the road up towards Big Sur. About 10 miles back into the journey, we hit a queue of traffic. There is nothing moving in front of us. As Rudi is clearly not starting without being rolled or bumped, waiting in traffic with a chugging engine is not an option. As we realise the traffic is not going anywhere and others vehicles that are turning around are telling us that it could be up to a 4 hour wait for the traffic to get moving again, we decide to take a chance and override the queue to the point at where the problem begins. The perks of having a two-wheeled vehicle :-)
As we climb, there are people freely walking up and down leisurely enjoying the sunny environment while waiting for the road to open up again. It's ironic, the road which just recently opened after a landslide has become, effectively, a closed road again.
As we continue upwards, we pass many 'exotic' cars such as Ferraris, Lamborghinis and more in their dozens, on their way to Monterey for car week. We had no idea it was car week before planning our route to Marina but discovered that hotels, motels and every other accommodation was practically fully booked.
We finally have to stop when we see the Highway Patrol car and officer. We encounter another jolly Highway cop who tells us a truck with a over-long trailer somehow didn't read the vehicle length limits on the Big Sur road and toppled over when it hit the first tight bend. The vehicle and drivers had apparently been there since 10:30am. We hit the black spot at about 2pm. Thankfully the rescue team had arrived and were in the final of stages of uprighting the vehicle again and the waiting time for the road block to clear is not so long. A few other motorcyclists join us. A Canadian couple on their Harley Davidson Road King and then two gentlemen, one from California and the other from the British Virgin Islands. It's turned into a bit of a biker hangout at this point.
The road block finally clears and we are able to enjoy the rest of the bendy, windy route between Big Sur and the Pacific Ocean (Rudi got a roll start again - good universal fortune this misbehaviour from Rudi has occurred while we are in mountainous zones). We make a small detour to enquire about some fabled hot spring resorts in the area and get caught up in traffic again. We're on a no-overtaking road and have joined the convoy of exotic cars on a road with road works all the way down to Marina. What should have been a short journey and a reasonably short day has turned into a day longer than anticipated. After dinner, Rudi has to be push started again to get him back to the motel in Marina.
Andrew "AJ" Jackson of Eurorider Training and Mell Rose.
AJ's Check List
*Motorcycles x 2
*All weather clothing/boots - windproof, rainproof as well as cool and warm layers.
*Panniers for carrying extra loads.
* Friction straps and bungees - multiple & spares.
* Chain oil and lube
* Acquired jump leads
* Puncture repair - fix a flat in a can
* Lots of monies
* A ball of string
* Rucksack for daytime carrying capacity
* Flexible attitude to life and journey