Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! For us out here on the left coast, the ridin’ season kinda stretches out a bit longer than it does for you folks livin’ to the right of Bizarroworld on the map. Yeah, the temperature drops into the 20s at night now an’ then, but it usually warms up to the 50s during the day. I’m writing this at the end of January, and the temperature is supposed to be in the 70s all week. Great for riding, but not so hot a ticket for skiers… Personally, I agree with the Alaska natives who spend most of their lives studying the stars. (Not to be confused with Kardashian fans.) They say that the earth’s axis has moved, causing weather patterns to move with it, and causing it to rain more in deserts, and get drier in jungles. I’m no expert meteorologist, but I think it may have something to do with all the people fleeing California causing that darn weight transfer thing… Anyway, when life gives ya lemons, grab a bottle of Patron an’ make the best of it instead of holdin’ out for limes.
Back about 1990, the North Fresno H.O.G. chapter started what they called the “Numb Your Buns Run.” Starting at Harley-Davidson of Fresno, we’d ride to a destination on the coast just to get away from the cold an’ fog here in the valley. It’s been a tradition, an’ I was along on the first three before life got in the way. I came back to H.O.G. after Reggie and I got married, because she’s a little social animal, an’ loves to ride with our friends like I do. They’re great folks, and make even miserable riding conditions fun. Jumpin’ forward to 2017, the name has been changed to “Freeze Your Buns,” but the tradition is still going strong, and Reggie and I signed up this year. The destination was Santa Maria, and when we left Fresno, the temperature was in the 50s. Instead of takin’ the freeway, which is the riding equivalent of Russian roulette, Tom Blandin, our road captain, opted for the back roads, which make the ride a lot easier on the eyes and the blood pressure. This time of year, the rolling hills are green, the critters are out in force, and the air is clean. My sense of direction, or total lack thereof, is legendary, so I’m really glad to have guys like Tom, Dennis, “Gunny” Lingo, membership guru Jimmy Dean Holmes, and Keith and Ursula Bertram, who know where we are even when there’s no GPS signal on their phones.
Reggie knows what misery the cold brings to my hands, so she bought me electric gloves for Christmas, and they kept my front paws snug, which made the ride all that much more enjoyable.
We rode through Taft, which is a metropolis of 10,000 oil wells, one caretaker, and three barking dogs, nestled snugly in the middle of nowhere. We stopped for lunch at a place called the Penny Bar in McKittrick, where the walls, tables, and every other surface are covered with pennies. The food was good, and the temperature started to rise the closer to the coast we got. By the time we rolled into Santa Maria, it was in the mid-70s. We relaxed in the afternoon, pizza was ordered, an’ adult beverages were consumed.
Sunday, we rode to Solvang, a bit farther down the coast, and we were riding in T-shirts and Levis. Solvang is a little Danish village that’s kind of “tourist trappy,” but fun, and the food there is fantastic! Reggie went shopping with the girls, and I was glad there was a chase vehicle, or I would have had the three-foot-wide tin angel wings she bought strapped to my back. Unfortunately, Reggie steered me away from the many bakeries that flourish in Solvang, because she know that’s my big weakness. Anyone who reads my column knows about my love affair with pink doughnut boxes…
Most of the group wanted to make it back in time to watch the playoff game on the big screen at the bowling alley a couple of blocks from the motel. Kim Cameron, our treasurer, is a rabid Vikings fan, and was causing quite a ruckus in the bar every time they scored. Somehow, we managed to keep her from dancing on the tables, but even over the clatter of the bowling balls and pins, the entire place knew when the Vikings scored! I think we put the place “in the black” that day! Some of the group chose to head home on Sunday morning, but we were staying until Monday, and the motel was only a short stagge… uh… walk away.
Heading back on Monday, we took the fastest route, which was Highway 101 into Paso Robles. We put on coats there, because in a few miles it started getting cold again, and by the time we reached our gas stop in Kettleman City, it was colder’n a penguin’s pinfeathers on the shady side of an iceberg. We made it home without incident, an’ the weather appears to have followed us home, so hey, let’s go for a ride!