I’ve done a fair amount of travel writing over the years, some of it in such motorcycle magazines as American Iron and Easy Rider. This story was written for a motorcycle club blog after a beautiful 600-mile bike ride up the Pacific Coast Highway. Note the byline change — any writing I’ve done for motorcycle publications has been under my “Bill Frederick” bylines. Bikers who know me wouldn’t know who Arthur Frederick was.
By BILL FREDERICK
Back in the 1980s, Beth and I went out to Santa Barbara, Calif. to visit my mother and her husband. We borrowed their Dodge camper van and drove it up to San Francisco via the Pacific Coast Highway. It was a beautiful trip, and I’ve always wanted to do it again on a motorcycle. But I just don’t ever get out that way, and riding my bike from Florida to California seems less and less appealing as I get older.
But, this year, my uncle Bernard died. He lived in Fortuna, Calif., way up the coast in redwood country. I have a big crowd of first cousins on the West Coast, people I have only seen a few times in my life, and some of them decided to put together a memorial service so the family could celebrate Bernard’s life together. Things came together for me this time, and I was able to get away and spend a few days in California.
“So,” I thought to myself, “why not fly to San Francisco, rent a bike, and make the final leg of the trip by motorcycle?”
This meant a ride up Highway One, the part of the Pacific Coast Highway that starts just north of San Francisco and ends around 250 miles to the north in Fort Bragg. And just because Highway One comes to an end, that doesn’t mean the great riding and beautiful scenery stops. A quick jog to the west on Rte. 20 comes out at Rte. 101, the Redwood Highway. Another 120 miles to the north gets me to Fortuna, Uncle Bernard’s hometown.
I booked a room at the Holiday Inn Express in South San Francisco, just north of the San Francisco airport and just a few steps from Dudley Perkins Harley-Davidson. Once my plane landed and I got to the motel, I just walked over to Dudley Perkins and did up the paperwork for my rental Harley, which I was to pick up first thing the next day.
Great guys at Dudley Perkins, and they made it all very easy. My HOG membership provided me a $10 per day discount on the sizable $150 per day rental fee; they told me that as a returning customer, the next time I rent from Dudley Perkins means another $10 per day off the rental.
Next morning, I made my way back to Dudley Perkins to pick up my 2013 Road Glide, an exact doppleganger of my own Road Glide, right down to the black paint. I did a couple of tight laps around the Dudley Perkins parking lot to demonstrate that I could ride, and then I was off toward the Golden Gate Bridge.
The bike was familiar and comfortable, but I did quickly realize how the changes I had made to my own bike made it much more comfortable than this rental. My bike has two-inch pullback bars, which allows me to sit up straighter, and highway pegs so I can stretch out my legs.
Also, mechanic Bill Billings had talked me into a different brand of transmission oil that makes shifting silky-smooth, nothing like the clunky bangs that accompanied every shift on the rent-a-bike.