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Article And Photos By: J. Ken Conte
Originally Published In The August 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
The mornings can be brisk in southern California in May, but on the opening morning for Why We Ride to the Quail, we could not have asked for better weather. As I left the hotel, I could comfortably ride in a vest and flannel with no problem. Then again, I was riding the new Indian Roadmaster and could have as much or as little wind as I desired. Paul Yaffe and I arrived at Lucky Fools Pub in Moorpark right on time and were greeted by at least 50 bikes lining the road to the lead off spot. Why We Ride to the Quail is in its 4th year and was founded by Bryan Carroll, who also co-produced the inspirational Article And Photos By: J. Ken Conte motorcycle documentary Why We Ride. Bryan and his co-producer, James Walker, wanted to keep the enthusiasm for the movie going and create a ride that engages riders and raise money for charity. The recipient of the fundraising from the ride is the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. If you aren’t familiar with them you should go check out their site; it is worth seeing the exceptional work they do for children.
We left Lucky Fools and headed through some great riding for the day. The first few hours saw us going through lemon groves of Fillmore, winding around agricultural land and putting through Ojai. We stopped at the historic Cold Spring Tavern that was established in 1886 for a BBQ tri-tip lunch. Lunch stops are typically longer, and we got to know our fellow riders a bit. There were people from all over the US, Mexico and even India that rode this year on everything from brand new Indian’s to 70’s two-stroke Honda’s to a fully custom Yaffe Knucklehead Bagger. The one common denominator was that everyone loved to ride. Some had adventure bikes, others sport bikes but there was always a sense of togetherness, a shared love of the road and being in the wind. After lunch, we wound through the vineyards of Los Olives and Santa Maria stopping at Riverbench Vineyard, which claims to be one of the oldest vineyards in Santa Barbara County. The day continued at a great pace, and we ended the night at Pismo Beach with a private catered dinner on the patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean. To say the first day was a perfect bit of riding would be an understatement.
The next morning found us with some low fog that quickly burned off as we headed to our first stop the Cayucos Pier. We headed inland from there and made our way to the Mission San Antonio de Padua that was built in 1773, where we had another gourmet catered meal with authentic Mexican fare. There had been a lot of talk of the next section of road, and with some newer riders, I had my doubts that it would be that spectacular. Boy was I wrong. We headed out of the Mission and went towards Nacimiento-Fergusson Rd. That was easily one of the most memorable roads I have ever ridden. It is right up there with Escalante Staircase of Utah and the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado. We hit it on a Friday, and there was an exceptional amount of traffic because it was really the only way to get to Big Sur because the PCH was still closed after mudslides. Nacimiento- Fergusson Rd offered endless curves, breathtaking views, not a guardrail to be seen and the Indian Roadmaster handled all the curves, even off camber with ease and comfort. I was mostly alone, trying to get imagery, so I didn’t have to go the pace but definitely got a feel for one of the best roads in California, next time it will be on a not so busy day, maybe even in the early morning. After the intense ride, we all spilled out onto the PCH and stopped so we could regroup and get an idea of where we were headed next.
The rest of the ride up the PCH and then inland towards Carmel was full of winding curves, camaraderie and reflection on what is truly important. We made it to the Monterey Tides Hotel well before sunset and washed up to get ready for our banquet. That evening was full of laughs with a table full of enthusiast from the Yaffe and Klock camps as well as some heartwarming stories. We were lucky to have a panel of women talk about their experiences with motorcycling, including famed motorsports adventurist Wendy Newton, founder of Helmets n’ Heels; Samantha Moore; and Cindi Martin, a woman who always had the bug to ride motorcycles but didn’t get her license and first bike until she was 60 years old; after which, her husband promptly followed. The evening ended early knowing that the next day was the culmination of several days of riding and truly the event that we all came for, the Quail Motorcycle Gathering. The next morning, I was joined by my friend Ryan Boyd of Arch Motorcycle. We got to see some incredible bikes that day including the new Arch 143, a collection of Arlen Ness bikes (who was honored at the show) and featured classes including Café Racers and Electric Motorcycles. The food, as always was exceptional, the motorcycles were varied and show the vast sea of what people like, including many vintageinspired builds and restorations. If you get a chance to go on the 5th annual Why We Ride to the Quail you should jump at the opportunity, registration will start soon. They raise money every year for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and have produced a short documentary called “Why we Ride to the Quail, A Documentary” that can be viewed on GoFundme.com if you like it donate a few bucks. www.whyweride.com