The Prohibition Tour: Running & Gunning Highway 1

The Little Things

We knew it was going to rain when we woke up in Big Sur. A huge storm system had blanketed the coast and we were going to get very, very wet. Some were better equipped than others, but necessity is the mother of invention. We found novel uses for latex gloves, bandanas and trash bags, and perhaps the crown jewel, a pile of $3 rain suits stamped “irregular”. They didn’t inspire much confidence, but were quickly snapped up when the first drops began to fall.

Just down the road was one of the most iconic spots on the entire West Coast – the Bixby Bridge. It was opened in 1932 and was a critical component of Highway One, providing direct access to the remote area of Big Sur. You’ve seen it a million times in print and film, but nothing beats seeing it up close and in person. Pillars 280 feet tall rise seemingly out of nowhere to support a thin slab of concrete suspended between two cliffs. It’s breathtaking.

We passed through Carmel and even though it was pouring now, pulled off for the 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach. I later learned it’s closed to motorcycles so I’m not sure what favors were used, but after a few phone calls and impassioned pleas, we were let through the gates. The drive twists through residential areas filled with estates lifted from the pages of The Great Gatsby. The drive hugs sandy beaches and a world famous golf course which at $450 a round, is more expensive than my first motorcycle.

It ends by a grandiose clubhouse that overlooks the picturesque 18th hole. It’s also the site of the annual Concours d’Elegance, an invitation only car show that attracts the most rare, exquisite cars in the world. We decided to warm up inside, but I had a hard time imagining twenty soaking bikers in the formal setting. To their great credit, we were warmly greeted and spent an hour drying out in front of a massive fireplace. Warmed and sufficiently caffeinated, we decided upon a holeshot to Napa.

I had swapped the XR1200X for a Blackline that morning. It’s a minimalist bike that made a big splash when it debuted last year. It’s long and low, with forward controls and narrow handlebars that give it an aggressive riding position unlike any other Harley-Davidson. It’s also a speed demon which would prove handy.

The group was making good time and as I trailed towards the back, I saw someone pull off the road in my side view mirror. I doubled back only to discover that my wallet had fallen out of a half-closed pocket. A member of our group identified the brown blur skidding across the highway and stopped to retrieve it. Amazingly, we had the wallet, but neither of us knew the route ahead and we needed to catch up.

We rode fast, bobbing and weaving like Muhammad Ali around slower traffic, and made incredible time, but after forty-five minutes we began to lose hope. The saving grace turned out to be the $3 “irregular” rainsuits. The wind slowly shredded them and bits of plastic were left in their wake. Green and purple confetti led us right to them and united, we flew across the Bay Bridge and into Napa.

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