San Jose to San Luis Obispo
Well, the original ride was supposed to be Bay to L.A. but everything that could go wrong did. So the trip was renamed San Jo to SLO (as in San Luis Obispo) since we didn’t make it to L.A. The trip started off around 5AM on April 25th, 2014, and had guys meeting up from San Jose, Mountain View, Milpitas, Hayward, etc…
The trip actually started on the 24th with everyone doing last minute preparations on their scooters. The Sons of Malarkey are some professional procrastinators. A few of the last minute preps included:
- Oil changes and new filters
- Electrical upgrades which included adding USB ports for charging phones, etc… (mainly for GPS)
- A Yamamoto under-bike exhaust for a Honda Grom
- New turn signals
- New wheels and frame extensions.
- New variatiors for some of the Honda Ruckuses
If you check the weather for April 25th, 2014, you will notice it was the only rainy day for months in either direction. Not only was it rainy, it was abnormally cold as well. As usual we were
under prepared and only had the finest rain gear money could buy. Even if that rain gear was for farming or fishing.
Not 5 miles into the ride and a couple of the Honda Ruckuses were acting up. Apparently, modding your intake filter so it sits right inline with the rear tire isn’t a good idea. Water was slung onto the filter and by default into the carburetor. We limped along like this at 15-20 mph until we got the entire group together. Three hours flew by. At this point, not going to lie, there were discussions of calling the trip off. Being all about malarkey we decided to push on.
I wish we had a picture of it… but we had Starbucks coffee cups attached over the filter to keep water from getting into the carburetor. This would work for about 20 miles and then the cup would get soggy and we would have to stop for a new one. One thing to keep in mind is that the rain never stopped.
Our first stop for food was at some crappy restaurant in Coalinga but we were happy to shed layers of wet clothing and be somewhere warm, even if just for 30 minutes. Notice the sad faces below.
At this point we were far from home… and far from our destination of LA. We went through Gilroy, Hollister, Coalinga, and many other tiny cities along the way. We ran out of gas in Coalinga. If it weren’t for the fellow (Jeremiah Watt) pictured below I am pretty sure we would have been eaten by wolves. Jeremiah happened to be riding by on his bicycle and after having a good, and well deserved, laugh at us he proposed a plan that went something like this. Forgive my paraphrasing –
“Go down the road about 3 miles, turn right at the handmade ranch sign, go 2 miles down my driveway. A lady with a shotgun will come out to greet you, that is my wife. Tell her that Jeremiah sent you and that you need some gas.”
So we did the straight-leg riding thing and pushed the dead bikes on down the road. Things went pretty much like Jeremiah said they would, minus the shotgun. Thank goodness. We met his wife and son who also happened to be incredibly nice and helpful. Again, something to keep in mind for this entire story it was raining… hard. They gave us a brief reprieve from the rain and topped off the bikes with gasoline. We tried to pay them for the fuel. They wouldn’t take a dollar. Great people that we wouldn’t have met if we didn’t break down.
As we headed off with full gas tanks we quickly encountered our first, but not last, hail storm. Riding with your visor open because it is fogged-up while getting pelted in the face with hail is painful. Painful until your face goes numb.
In an effort to stay off of the main roads we ended up on some little
dirt muddy roads in the middle of nowhere. This was all fine until we made it to the worst downhill road of them all that happened to be made of clay. This clay road we dubbed “clay mountain” was in Parkfield, AKA BFE.
Wet clay is about as good at sapping your last bit of energy as quicksand. All of the bikes, but one, were stuck on this hill. The clay was so thick and sticky that each step added 1-2 inches to your shoe. In just a few steps you were almost a foot taller. Clay filled the front fender of the Honda Grom essentially making the bike inoperable. Some of the Honda Ruckuses had clay jammed all the way through the filter and into the carbs. Some had broken exhaust mounts. Almost all were disabled in one form or another.
It was dark. It was cold. And we were in the middle of nowhere. All cellphones had no service. Considering the official population of Parkfield is 18 and there was nothing around… we quietly wondered if we were going to be sleeping on that hill for the night.
After what was probably about an hour that felt like four, we all made it to the bottom of clay mountain. Some of us were literally dragging our bikes. Clearly a miracle, a truck with 4 of the only 12 people in Parkfield happened to be driving out to their ranch and were kind enough to stop. I think they were just confused, and half interested, to see why their population doubled. I know I said Parkfield had a population of 18 but these cowboys informed us that 6 people had recently moved out. Oh country life.
To make a long story short we got the last two rooms, from the bartender, at the V6 Ranch Parkfield Lodge (pictured below). While the lodge was quaint to look at in the morning… at 10PM it looked positively haunted. That didn’t matter much as once we fell asleep not much could have woken us. We were exhausted. Oh yeah, still raining. Goodnight.
Upon waking up, we surveyed the damage. Most of the scooters had some sort of issue and some needed serious work. At this point we thought the trip might be over. Luckily the locals were amazingly friendly and helpful. They let us borrow their cellphone to call home (none of ours had signal). They brought us over sandwiches made from a pig they just slaughtered. They even brought us tools so we could tear the bikes down and fix what was wrong. When we needed carb cleaner they had someone in the next town over (about an hour away) bring us some. They wouldn’t take our money either.
While working on the bikes we were all a bit giddy. We weren’t sure why… and then it hit us. The sun was out and it wasn’t raining! Oh how that changed our moods. We had the bikes in sorta-running shape by around 1PM, ate lunch, and pointed south. Yep… we pushed on. Only our destination was now San Luis Obispo instead of Los Angeles.
The ride from PF to SLO seemed positively easy after the prior day’s adventures. We only had a few close calls which included a jogging trail and a freeway. Neither of which we should have been on.
When we arrived in SLO every hotel was booked due to a marathon that was taking place the following day. We couldn’t seem to catch a break. Luckily we found another friendly-type at the hotel who was nice enough to rent us two conference rooms at the normal room rate. Yes, staying in adjoining conference rooms (see picture below) on roll-away beds was a bit odd but it was better than being homeless.
That night we treated ourselves to some good food and a couple of local watering holes. Lil Russ even taught one of the locals some new dance moves.
Apparently the food and drinks didn’t agree with Dom, lol.
If you are ever in downtown SLO, swing by and checkout the nasty gum wall –
Bubblegum Alley is a tourist attraction in downtown San Luis Obispo, California, known for its accumulation of used bubble gum on the walls of an alley. It is a 15-foot (4.6 m) high and 70-foot (21 m) long alley lined with chewed gum left by passers-by. It covers a stretch of 20 meters in the 700 block of Higuera Street in downtown San Luis Obispo
The next morning we woke up and spent the next 6 hours (really!) trying to find the only three rental vehicles that would fit scooters for the long ride home. We ended up with two minivans and a pickup truck. We were tired but learned quite a bit on this trip.