It was early 1994 when I learned that the World Grand Prix 500cc motorcycle road race at Laguna Seca may well be the last time that this storied event would be held on American soil. Word on the street was that if you wanted to see the big boys’ race, you had better figure out how to get to Laguna Seca raceway, near Monterey, California. My friend, Lee Wadley, had worked with me at our Kawasaki dealership in the early 80s in Hugo, Oklahoma and had relocated to Sacramento, California and he too wanted to see the event. My wife Tina encouraged me to take a week off from the restaurant business that we ran together in Atoka, Oklahoma and “go see Lee”. So calls were made, prayers uttered, meetings were held, plans started to come together. I was to ride out to Sacramento and stay with Lee and his brother John. Before I took off for Ca l I f o r n I aye, I rode to Tulsa to Atlas Cycle to get my Beemer tuned up. One of the techs, Chuck Moore, overheard that I was goin’ out west and he said that if I ever had a chance, I should ride the road to Stewarts Point. He described this idyllic motorcycle road, one made expressly for the use of riding a motorcycle. He also mentioned that the road may be a little difficult to find but gave me the general location of it.
Monday, September 5th, I took off from “S. Wilks Famous for Samburgers” in Atoka and made my way to Oklahoma City, then onto I 40 and rail. It’s a straight shot to the Golden State and I rode steadily, through the Texas panhandle and into New Mexico, spending the night in Santa Rosa. The ride was beautiful as was the weather. I had never been further west than Texas and I really enjoyed the ever-changing topography. Made California without a hitch but was running a little later than planned. In my mind, Sacramento was just a few miles north of Bakersfield so I was shocked when I saw the sign that said “Sacramento 280″ . It was already dark but decided to go for it. I pulled into the driveway at Lee’s house at about 4:30am. Lee was glad to see me and we stayed up until sunrise, catching up old times. Lee had planned some rides for us to go on, one of them being the Napa Valley.
I had heard of the Napa Valley and was anxious to see all of the mansions and manicured vineyards. I remembered to ask Lee about the Stewarts Point road and he said he had ridden quite a bit of California and had never heard of it. I told him that my Oklahoma friend had suggested it and that we were in the area that he said we would find it. We took off south down 101, looking intently for any road sign indicating Stewarts Point and just as we were about to give up, Lee spotted a sign, about the size of a street sign. Stewarts Point 55 miles. We pulled over and congratulated each other on our find, then took off, first on Canyon road, eventually turning into Stewarts Point/Skaggs Springs road. This road is simply unbelievable. Having had lived in Oklahoma for so many years, I just didn’t know that they could make asphalt this smooth. The curves are perfectly banked, there are no potholes, no gravel strewn corners, even the painted stripes are clean and sharp. Just this winding, undulating ribbon of fantastic, “Motorcycles only road”. There wasn’t even much traffic, or at least until we were closer to Stewarts Point. The road quickly went from a road made in heaven to something I was more used to. The road narrowed way down, covered with pine needles and we started meeting logging trucks. We slowed our pace and took in the scenery, then suddenly, I could smell the ocean. I crested the final hill on our decent to Highway 1 and I saw the Pacific Ocean, stretching as far as you could see, meeting the horizon and I felt my eyes well up. I really can’t explain it but I think that I was overwhelmed with what our Lord had made. Lee and I pulled into a parking lot at Stewarts Point General Merchandise store and got off of our motorcycles, listening to them softly ticking as they cooled off. We didn’t say anything for a few minutes, just soaking in the beauty and finally Lee said “Kewl”. That pretty well summed it up. We just stood there, on the left coast, looking at the ocean, smiling.
We did indeed make it to the 500cc Grand Prix at Laguna Seca and thoroughly enjoyed the race, but what really stands out in my mind was the “Ride to Stewarts Point” . I know that it made an impression on Lee as well. A few months after I had gone to see Lee, Tina informed me that I had received a package in the mail. In the box was a coffee cup with the Stewarts Point General Merchandise logo on it. The store was closed the day that Lee and I were there, and his note was thanking me for helping him find this road. I know that Lee still rides this road regularly. If you’re ever visiting California, put it on your list of must things to do. You won’t be sorry.