Grumbler's note: It was during the 70s when Jack and I happened to own
a pair of identical 1973 Triumph 750 Bonnevilles. Mine was bought in
Salinas and his in Santa Cruz. One of our favorite day rides were to
We're sitting on a bench seat outside of the store, scoping out the bikes
that were parked haphazardly all over the lot at Millers Ranch Campground,
the Northeast "Gateway" to the Los Padres National Park.
You and I have been here many times before. Only once that I had ventured
into the Natl. Forest with Tom and Teresa and their friends in their VW Bus
while we we're in my '54 GMC PU a few years back.
Almost an hour passed since we've motored in Millers from Carmel Valley
with three other Harley riders. Brian, which he has a stripped down stock
wide glide Panhead could easily be the nominee for the "Rattiest Bike of
the Month" the Easy Rider Mag... The other two called themselves "Lemon"
and "Lime." HEH, HEH, one has his bike painted yellow and the other is
lime-green. Both have hardtails, custom molded frames, raked necks,
extended forks and "Panheads" sitting the cradles. Very righteous rides I
The "Three Musketeers" moved to Santa Cruz from the East coast* a couple
of years back and we "buddied" up with them since. *Baltimore, MD
I know, you're thinking, they're "Easy Rider" wannabes. These guys were
no slouch on the pavement. They got Balls!
They've always managed to keep up with us on the straights and loping
S-curves but couldn't pass. Although their exhaust pipes and pegs are
ground off to the brackets trying to keep up with us Bonnys. Only time
we could shake them loose is when we get into the "twisties" and the
Once we quenched our thirst we were eager to hit the road. The Bonnys
started on the first kick as usual, the others had to kick theirs a few more
times. One by one each started.
Brian's was blowing blue smoke at first but as it got warmer it would smoke
somewhat less. He had to add another quart of oil and pull the plugs out
to clean them at the campground. That's make it his second quart since we
left Santa Cruz. Time for an overhaul.
Next stop, Tassajara Hot Springs in Los Padres Nat'l Park about 5-6 miles
down the dirt road. Then follow the arroyo, work our way up to the mountain
pass, Camp Hunter-Liggett and then exit on Highway #1 somewhere between
San Simon and Lucas then head north on the Coast Highway.
As we're riding towards the ranger's guard house there was a huge sign
stating that, "Spark arrestors on vehicles are required pass this point."
Our Bonnys were still factory stock but the "Hogs" weren't... The Ranger
let us pass but stopped the others. After talking their way in they pulled
along aside of us and said that they can only go as far as the Hot Springs.
We fished tailed out there. The dirt road was graded and packed all the way
to the Springs. So, all of us were clipping along pretty good and viola,
we're there. The Park service didn't have space available in the parking
area for the trailhead to the Springs. There were vehicles double parked up
and down the side of the dirt road.
Since having two wheels we were able to maneuver around a few boulders
nearby the trail. Then parked the bikes and chained them together. That
way we could see them from the swimming area.
As the afternoon summer sun was moving across the sky the "Bonneville
Boys" were getting restless and wanted to ride. Since the "Three Musket-
eers" couldn't continue the "Arroyo Seco Ride" they decided to stay for the
rest of the afternoon and then back track home. Besides they were really
having a ball swimming with the girls. Hmmmm...
We agreed that we would "recon" at one of Carmel's eateries around sunset.
Sounds like we have a plan.
The graded dirt road was deteriorating as clocked on the miles. Soon the
forest service road had more "twists" to them and can't bank as much as one
normally could do on pavement. Now it's second and third gear powering in
and out the curves, spinning and bouncing the rear tires but keeping the
front wheel pointed at the intended direction as we maneuver around the
curves. Lots of fun thinking that we were dirt bike pros. I admit I had to
"muscled" my bike.
I don't know about you but I was seriously thinking about backing off and
slowing down cause I getting real tired fast. I couldn't tell how you felt
by looking back to you cause your face was covered with sweat and grime.
Laughing I pulled to the shoulder and stopped and we were abreast of each
other and you were laughing also, saying, "Look at your face in the side
mirror." Heck! I didn't recognized my ugly mug in the mirror. HA! HA!
"Smoke Break!" We exclaimed together. We walked down the embankment
and had a smoke, went into a dream. Hmmmm.Where did I hear that before?
As we finished we saw some big league dirt bikes buzzed by. Then a few
more fly by as we started our bikes. Ahh... " The race is on!" So we
chased after them.
Yeah, right! All we did is eat their dust. We never had the chance. By
the time the dust dissipated they are already turned off. We were
outclassed by far. My hat's off for them. I'm not saying I'm the top dirt
bike rider but I know enough. Our Bonnys doesn't fit into their element.
A few more miles down, the forest service road suddenly had 30 degrees
uphill grades with hair pin curves winding on the side of the mountain. We
definitely had to use first gear. We would have either spun out or stalled
our bikes going around the uphill curves if we had used higher gears.
We crisscrossed up the side of this mountain for better than an hour. No
place to pull over except in the middle of the road and we dared not to,
cause the dirt bikes were passing us like banshees too darn close for my
Finally, we made it to the mountain pass and somewhat went into a level
terrain. It was great to cruise in third and fourth gear again.
We spotted a BLM (pack in-pack out) campground about 20-30 minutes
later and pulled in there to check it out. There was a message/introduction
board at the entrance and we looked at the local map of the area. Seems
that we only traveled 20 miles since we left the Hot Springs and we have
another 40-45 miles till we see the Coast Highway. The sun is already
settling atop of the trees in the West.
I don't believe taking time pieces on our runs. I left them at work.
The Sun, Moon and the Stars rules. Light and day are the only indications
of time for me on these runs.
So, we finished our smoke and blasted out of the park. Still sweating and
grimy since there no water to wash up. We're cruising through the easy
going curves enjoying the scenery, waiting for the "high" of riding to
We had entered and crossed several creeks or brooks, once a small rock
dam that had water flowing across the span. The water didn't rise above
our rims. If we went fast enough the spray from the wheels cools us off.
That's where we finally clean our faces. I would taste the dirt in my mouth
all the way here and it got to me when my teeth got to gritty.
Lots of wild life out here. Spotted some boars running down the hills about
200-300 yards off the dirt road, few deer here and there, birds, rabbits
everywhere and once a California Condor feasting on some carrion in the
middle of the field along side the road. You betcha we killed our motors
and stopped to see that sight. At first we didn't know it was a California
Condor till it spread it's wings and hobbled and ran to take flight. It
took the condor forever to get off the ground. To this day I never saw
another California Condor except in "PBS Special," etc.
We entered the Fort Hunter-Liggett Govt. property and suddenly we were
on smooth black top. Now we are loping in fifth gear and making fantastic
time. The War Boys were on leave for the weekends, so us tax payers can
use the road but during the week days the non military personal must have a
pass. At the time they had warning signs that undetonated bombs are in the
practice firing range so it's wise to stay on the pavement/shoulder.
As we were cruising down the road a Mazda sport car which had the so
called "Revolutionary Rotary Engine" pulled out from one of the turnouts not
too far ahead of us and we soon were on his ass doing 45-50 mph. We had
planned to pass him on the left, speeding up to 60+ mph.
The "dang-tootin" Mazda started to play games with us and we had to move
back behind him. Checking ahead of him to see if we had plenty of road left.
"Yes," I yelled into the wind. "Bye-bye, you sucker!"
At 65 mph from fourth we both downshifted into third and proceeded to pass
him again doing 80 or so but the Mazda just kept making the gap wider ahead
of us. We Upshifted to back to fourth and we're doing 100 mph.
The Mazda was still slowly pulling away from us!
We bent over hugging our tanks, heads above the headlights. On a given day
when the conditions are right and plenty of road I can see top end of 117 mph
on my Bonny. Forget about fifth, the combination of the under powered 750cc
engine and the tall gear doesn't cut it.
We bowed out. The Mazda just "Hummed" away.
Heck! That's twice that we've been humbled today...
After about an hour we made a hard right at the Fort and continued
northwest to #1. We ran out of black top as we left the boundaries of the
Fort Hunter-Liggett grounds. We're back on a graded dirt road was beside
the river that led into a canyon. If they called it a creek then it's awful
big creek. Some areas we can see "white waters."
The salt air from the ocean was getting more intense as we ride through the
canyon. There was very little sun light deep in the bowls of the canyon. As
we break through the bowls, leaving the creek/river and slowly climbing
upward to the hills the trees had thinned out and were replaced with
shoulder height shrubs.
Then suddenly as we crested the last hill before the decent to the coast
line the red Sun with rays of deep colors splashing all over the sky was
setting right on top of the fog bank that was off the shore a mile or two.
We were able to look down into this whole spectacular color show as the
sun was disappearing behind the fog.
If you ever been in plane above the clouds then you would have understood
what we're seeing but add the sun lit green valley panning to the shore
then the aqua ocean bordering the fog bank. Awesome sight!
Wished we had a camera, huh?
By the time we headed for Carmel on #1 the fog already rolled in and it
was getting dark and that slowed us down considerably. More than two
and a half hours later we pulled in the designated eatery in Carmel.
The "Three Musketeers" were gone and who to blame them. It was
Tired, hungry and humbled we slowly ate our meal in silence. To each in
one thoughts. Mine was. "Where to, for our next run?"
I was addicted to ride.