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The Best Short Motorcycle Ride in Northern California

Arrival at the Golden Gate Bridge in September 2004 after riding 5200 miles from New York to California.

Arrival at the Golden Gate Bridge in September 2004 after riding 5200 miles from New York to California.

In 2004, I rode my BMW R100R from New York to California. The bike has lived at my friend’s garage in Sea Cliff ever since. Its the perfect bike to leave out west for infrequent riding.The air-cooled BMW boxer engine is a simple, timeless, and elegant design.Thankfully, it lacks  complicated modern electronics. My old 1993 R100R represents the very end of the production line for BMW’s original airhead design. Derivations of this engine configuration date back to Max Fritz’s horizontally opposed air-cooled twin 1923 R32 (BMW’s first motorcycle). My R100 has required virtually no maintenance over the last decade. While it has only travelled 14,000 miles, every three years or so I have San Francisco BMW pick it up and give it the once over: new tires, oil change, fork oil, and fresh final drive fluid. I last started the old R100 in June of 2014 when I was visiting clients in San Francisco. I leave the bike plugged into a trickle charger year round and I don’t even put activator or stabilizer in the gas tank. After sitting for an entire year (or at times much longer), my old R100 always starts like its hot.

Last Sunday morning I got up early and fired up Old Reliable. The R100R started effortlessly after sitting for over a year. I stopped at the Gulf station on 25th and California to put some air in the tires and gasoline in the tank. I then headed north over the Golden Gate Bridge and stopped in Sausalito for a blueberry muffin at the Lighthouse Cafe. I continued up the 101 and got off at Lucas Valley Road. I rode right past the legendary Skywalker Ranch. I then checked out the tiny but awesome town of Nicasio (population 94). I then rode through Dogtown on my way to Olema, At Stinson Beach I took the scenic Route 1 south along the coast and eventually got back on the 101. Finally, I headed south over the Golden Gate Bridge back to Sea Cliff. This simple loop takes less than two hours and is one of the best rides that northern California has to offer.

My old R100R at the Lighthouse Cafe in Sausalito.

My old R100R at the Lighthouse Cafe in Sausalito.

Lucas Valley Road

Lucas Valley Road

An abandoned farmhouse on Lucas Valley Road.

An abandoned farmhouse on Lucas Valley Road.

The early morning fog covered the mountain tops.

The early morning fog covered the mountain tops.

Topping off in Olena.

Topping off in Olena.

Olena

Olena

The view of Stinson Beach from the California 1.

The view of Stinson Beach from the California 1.

Heading south on Route 1.

Heading south on Route 1.

Spectacular views heading home to Sea Cliff.

Spectacular views heading home to Sea Cliff.

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