So there were 17 bikes and 20 riders. Smelling of smoke, lack of shower, Lily fresh or still evacuated, it didn’t matter…the sun was full, skies were clear and the timing was right. Besides, the rag-tag group wasn’t there for a beauty contest, we were there to ride.

Heading North on 101, we made our way to Mark West road, where it was closed, due to the still burning, Kincade fire. With a quick re-grouping, Wade took one for the team and volunteered to reveal his short cuts and lead. And like kids in a corn maze playing follow the leader we navigated the neighborhoods and back roads through the new growth and rising homes from the ash of the Tubbs firestorm of 2017.

It wasn’t long before we were back on the game plan, where Sharon had us zipping along Calistoga road and Silverado Trail. Eventually we found ourselves sailing on silky smooth roads slicing through the middle of open fields and tree peppered hillsides. Feeling the chaotic energy of life blowing off while staring at the jaw dropping beauty of the fall colors, a statement from a Motorcycle Enthusiasts forum came to mind: “Riders in Northern California are really spoiled for choices”

We stopped for an outhouse visit at a tiny market in a community that seems blissfully frozen in time. The locals call it; Pope Valley.

Eventually, we made the trek to the Main Street Bar and Grill in Clear Lake where we partook the appetizers of good conversation and laughter while we feasted on patience, plenty of patience. The real foods were also fabulous.

Hwy 20 to 101 had little traffic, as we meandered around Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake entirely within California. Her 68 square miles of surface area was quiet after the tourists had gone home, allowing the diamond studded waters to take the stage.

Stopping for gas before merging back into the 101 corridor and what responsible people call “reality”, we decided some ice cream wouldn’t be such a bad idea. So, we were off to the McDonalds in Cloverdale where the duty-free feeling could last a little longer before we had to say goodbye and go home. After all, we’d had the front row seats to the real beauty contest in life all day long.

Total mileage for the day was about 215. Big thanks to the Road Captains, Sharon and Gretchen, you provided an excellent distraction that cannot be measured, thank you.

Submitted by Julee Sherman

Sharon McMillan & Gretchen Tomm – Road Captains

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