The Breakfast Club: Paso Robles Ride
Saturday–Monday, 15–17 Apr 2023
Pics/video from Mike, Jag, Harry, and Rob
I set out from home in Alameda just before 7:00am on Saturday morning heading south toward Tres Pinos and Flapjacks for breakfast. It was an overcast and slightly cool morning as I cruised past the Oakland Airport on Doolittle Drive on my Honda CRF300 Rally. 30 minutes cruising down the 880 slow lane brought me to 101 where I looped onto its slow lane as well. As I trundled along, a group lead by Harry Bahlman caught up to me and followed just about at Morgan Hill. We took the exit for 25 bound for Hollister where we stopped for a break and some gas at the south-end Chevron station.
Turns out, the group contained Harry, Chris Weld, Todd Kennedy, Rich Penrose and Rob Hyman, with 4 on BMW 1200RTs and Todd on his K75. After a quick fight with the air machine to add pressure to their machines’ tires, Chris and Harry were ready to finish the last hop down to Tres Pinos and a hot breakfast.
We sat out on the newly gazebo-ified Flapjacks patio and enjoyed our breakfast despite the slightly-chilly and overcast weather, enjoying loads of coffee. Todd graciously picked up the tab for the group. Thanks Todd! Before too long we were back on the road southbound.
The scenery on 25 was amazing, with loads of yellow and purple flowers blooming all over the green rolling hills. There were even brand new lakes along the route that had collected all the rain over this past rainy winter. The road was mostly clear, with a few spots having some clear remnants of mudslides that were cleared from the road. We made our traditional rest stop at 25 and Coalinga Rd and even found the same geocache box as we did on last year’s trip still sitting next to the same tree next to the road.
When we reached the intersection of 25 and 198, we discovered that both Peachtree Rd south and 198 east were closed due to weather-related damage, so that left us with only 198 west to continue onward. 198 was entirely empty of traffic the entire way out to San Lucas. Once we arrived back at 101, the group re-convened to decide how to continue south.
I found a route that avoided taking the freeway on the twistiest roads I could spot on Google Maps and plotted a course into my phone down to Paso Robles. The route took us on a pretty sketchy bridge across the Salinas River and onto Lockwood San Lucas Road, then onto the Lockwood-Jolon Road, then onto the Interlake Road. Harry suggested we take a break just before the intersection of Interlake Road and Nacimento Lake Road at a beautiful overlook point. Some nice photo-ops and chit-chatting later and we were back on the road and made our way down and into Paso Robles. A bit of course guessing, second-guessing and then course-correcting later, I had those that were still following my confusion on track toward Melody Ranch Motel downtown.
Everyone but Harry and I were planning to stay the night at Melody Ranch, so we decided to grab a little lunch at J’s Burger in Paso Robles and to plot our course onto Morro Bay State Park. Many more weather-related road closures in the area forced our hand, leaving us with only the option of taking 41 over the hill and down to Morro Bay. With that settled, Harry and I finished started into our burgers as Chris, Rich and Todd joined us for lunch and we coordinated getting back together the next day.
Harry and I went our separate way, and had a nice ride down to the coast and into the state park. Harry tried to drum up trouble with the park ranger when we arrived, mentioning that there’d be another dozen motorcycles joining us at our campsites. (I don’t think the ranger heard him, thankfully, since I had to check-in right behind him and he seemed unfazed). The two of us setup camp at Harry’s site in the rear of the campground in the eucalyptus grove.
After getting setup, we posted up at the fire ring to chat for a while until our appetites recovered enough to head to DiStasio’s for some tasty-tasty Italian food for dinner. After dinner we grabbed some instant hot chocolate for Harry and a giant cocktail cooler for myself and had a nice campfire until nearly midnight.
In the morning, we were up by around 7:00 and had a nice coffee, oatmeal and fruit breakfast before we took a walk around the campground. By 10:00, we still hadn’t heard from the others in Paso Robles, so Harry and I started breaking down camp. By around 10:45 we were ready to go, and headed out to ride Prefumo Canyon Road. As we reached the road, the morning overcast was starting to burn off, and as we were about halfway up, we passed Todd, Rich and Chris going the other way on the road. At the top, the views were spectacular, with views of Morro Rock and the entire Osos Valley below. Harry and I kept on going down the backside of Prefumo Canyon Road and stopped for a break where we spotted two free-ranging cattle on our side of the fence line. Harry suggested I introduce myself to one of the cows and I did my best, but the cow was having none of it and trotted away up the road as I tried.
We then set off toward San Luis Obispo and grabbed a quick taco lunch downtown. After some tasty tacos, we set off north on 101 up Cuesta Pass and over to the Estrella Warbird Museum. We passed Rob Hyman going the other way on 46 as we got close to the museum around 1:00pm. Harry and I signed up to fly in the F/A-18 flight sim at the museum. Harry was able to stick the carrier landing on his first try, while I took my bird for a swim when I got a turn.
A fun tour around the museum seeing all sorts of military and racing machines was had and we stayed right up until close before heading over to the Melody Ranch motel.
At the hotel, we found that Bob Burns, Jag Patel and Russ Danielson had made the journey down to Paso Robles on Sunday. As we shared drinks, snacks and stories by the closed pool, we met with another motorcycle club who had ridden up to Paso Robles from San Diego over the course of two days, having enjoyed their favorite Basque food in Bakersfield on their way up. After much hooing-and-hawing over it, we decided to go to the nearby Cool Hand Luke Steakhouse and most enjoyed their prime rib special out on their patio. After dinner, folks returned full and happy to their motel rooms and turned in for the night.
In the morning, Russ Danielson was off on his way over an hour before dawn to volunteer at a track and field practice in San Jose. The rest of us met up at Joe’s for breakfast by 8:00. By 9:00 we were done and everyone was prepped and ready to head out.
We took the Nacimento Lake Road out of Paso Robles, and tried to take our first break at the lake’s recreation area and marina. Little did I know, that even to simply enjoy their parking lot and restroom facilities the recreation area wanted to charge $17 per vehicle to enter the area. With 9 of us, that would have amounted to $153… so a u-turning we did go!
Instead we took a break far enough away from a no-stopping sign as to possibly support a case for plausible deniability of not seeing the sign farther along the road where there was a nice view, for free (as long as we weren’t caught)!
After the break we continued on down into Lockwood and the views were spectacular with the whole valley rimmed with green, rolling hills bursting with purples, yellows, blues and oranges of the spring flowers on them. It was amazing. The next fun came as we got to the tighter, twistier parts of San Lucas-Lockwood Road. We then got on 198 and rode right to the crest of the road before it opened up onto the San Lorenzo valley and another amazing view.
Off the break, Harry, Rob, Jag, Todd and Bob raced off ahead to enjoy the curves of 25 without being held up by my laggard 27 horsepower leading the way. We all zipped up the entire way to Hollister without stopping until we all got to “the Chevron” (Chris, Rich and I to the one at San Felipe Road, and the rest of folks at the south-end Chevron). A few text exchanges back-and-forth and we wrangled up Rob, Chris, Rich and I for lunch in downtown Hollister at the 4th Street Eatery, not far from the old Cozy Cup.
Afterward, I accidentally followed Chris for a stretch while he was on his way to visit a friend in Aptos, but he warned me before I’d gone too far. Instead I headed back on 156 to 25, met up with Rob and Rich and we made our way back to a very-windy 101, into San Jose. Rich and Rob made their way onto 85 and up the peninsula, while I continued, jumping on 880 up the East Bay and into Alameda by about 3:30.
It was another great SMBC trip. Spectacular roads and scenery, camaraderie and of course enough communication snafus to make sure that when we rode together, we had opportunities to ride alone!