Day 5 – Berkley to Pismo Beach

Berkley is lovely and my brother in law Phil’s house is really rather splendid. I wish I could have spent more time hanging out in the Bay Area, but I’m on a mission and so it was only a brief overnight stay. We had oatmeal and coffee, packed up our bikes and rolled out, down Phil’s quite monstrously steep driveway.If you want to see me do that, Phil got it on camera and it’ll definitely make the film I’m putting together.

Getting out of Berkley and heading south was always going to be a bit of an unlovely route. Whichever way we chose to go, Google was telling us that there were queues and delays, so we picked a route and went for it. You imagine the Bay Area as being not so big. Oakland to Cupertino looks like a little hop, skip and a jump on he map, but it’s a sod of a drive on the freeway and we spent nearly two hours like that, getting to Monterey where we had lunch. On the way, we passed a lot of signs explaining the various kinds of monoculture practiced in each area. By far the most significant appeared to be artichoke farming. Apparently, this is the world capital of the artichoke.

It seemed only appropriate then, that when we got to fisherman’s wharf, we ordered deep fried artichoke hearts and garlic fries for lunch:

After this heart-attack-in a-box, we had bubble tea and strolled along the seafront, spotting otters and sucking up great big tapioca goobers though an oversized straw.

Another brief blast down the 101 and we were ready for the main event of the day: Highway 1 through Big Sur. Words cannot describe how awesome it was, so here’s me describing it through the medium of interpretive dance:

Seriously, though – when motorcycle journalists write the inevitable listicles of “Roads to Ride Before You Die”, Big Sur is usually in the top ten – often the top five. The perfectly surfaced roads, swooping round cliff edges are quite breathtaking. There are places where the road you’re riding on is the only thing separating the incredibly steep, rocky mountainside from the perfect blue sea and it’s magical.

That we didn’t see more motorcyclists surprised me, but it was a weekday, so maybe they were all at work. I’d not have minded if there were more bikes, but I was pleased that there weren’t so many cars and RVs on the road because we could set our own pace and really enjoy the views.

Sadly, we had to turn off Highway 1 before we’d got to Ragged Point because there was a bridge down and it was impassable. Fortunately, we got to visit McWay Falls first and this was definitely a sight not to be missed.

It might look a bit insignificant, but this is actually a really amazing place. Imagine a perfect beach with it’s own waterfall that cannot be reached on foot from land. Phil sad he thought it might be cool to sail there, anchor just offshore and swim into the beach with your camping gear for the night. That would be the only way to reach it, but given that *almost* the whole beach is covered by the tide, I don’t know that it’s the most sensible plan…

Leaving highway one, we climbed up and up on omen of the silliest roads I’ve attempted to take the chop down thus far. Steep, narrow and very tightly winding, at one point, I was genuinely worried that we’d not make it up and out. Although Highway 101 was only 30 or forty miles away, it took what seemed like hours to get there because the going was a slow. Phil could have made it quicker, but on the chop there was no way I could corner any faster without leaving a significant amount of my exhaust on the tarmac.

There were one or two slightly hairy moments, but we made the 101 in a fairly sensible time and got to Pismo Beach before nightfall. The hotel was pretty gorgeous and with good appetites after all that riding, we went out and bought ourselves pizzas the size of motorcycle wheels.

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