Finally in Hollister, Sans 100,000 bikers, yes, there's Johnny's, and yes there are motorcyclists but the glory days of rally fever are missing this year. Reminds me of lines from another iconic motorcycle movie, Easy Rider (annotated):
Jack Nicholson: You know this used to be a helluva good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it.
Dennis Hopper: Man, everybody got chicken, that's what happened. Hey, we can't even get into a motel, you dig? They're scared, man.
Nicholson: They're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent.
Hopper: Hey, man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody who needs a haircut.
Nicholson: Oh, no. What you represent to them is freedom.
Hopper: What the hell is wrong with freedom? Isn't that what it's all about?
Nicholson: That's what's it's all about, but talking about it and being it, that's two different things. I mean, it's real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. Oh, yeah, they're gonna talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom but they see a free individual, it's gonna scare them.
As Hollister fades in the rear view mirrors the beautiful Old Mission in San Juan Bautista appears. This is where the final scenes of Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock were filmed in 1958. Fictional plots capitalize on instinctive human fears to sell movie tickets. The fear of heights; fear of sharks; fear of birds? Fear of...motorcyclists? The mission offers a Vertigo bus tour with highlight of movie locations.
SR 156 leads west to mythic destinations such as Monterey, Carmel by the Sea and Big Sur, truly some of the most idyllic places on earth. Cold beer in hand, overlooking Monterey Bay I reflect. We humans have always idolized and immortalized beauty and fame. It's how actors become presidents, action heroes become governors, and directors are the mayor of Carmel. James Dean and Marilyn Monroe still live in the American collective unconscious and hey... is that that's Elvis over there?
Is the Triumph Rocket III all that and a bag of chips? The lack of cruise control is a pain in the wrist-please, this is a touring motorcycle. Boasting a 5.9-gallon gas tank I could never hit the 200 mile mark because the gauge swings to E deceptively fast. Instilled with the fear of pushing an 800 pound paperweight I couldn't get beyond this insidious gauge. Filled with trepidation I fueled up an "empty" tank repeatedly yet sometimes almost a gallon remained. I lived by the cruisers credo "never pass gas". You'll have to find the razors edge on your own. Conversely, the hard bags are spacious with easy key-lock access an extremely functional tool kit inside. The quick release windscreen and passenger backrest instantly transform this muscular master of the Hi-way into a.... muscular master of the street. Esthetically, the Rocket III is impeccably British, The grandiose Grille of a Rolls Royce and luxurious ride of a Bentley crossbred with the brute force of a Bristol Fighter-T. The Rocket III commands respect without demanding it.
When passing Santa Barbara I always enjoy traversing its rickety wooden Pier, plus we bikers have our own designated parking. Cruising home on Pacific Coast Highway, the curvaceous ribbon of concrete that cradles the California coast inspires a cinemascopic retrospect. People, places, and events all have mythic potential. There is a saying that "History is written by the winners." As media giants "win" our hearts and minds, reality and fiction blur sometimes swelling to mythic proportions. As kitschy as Solvang may be, it's not a Disneyesque facade filled with props. It's real people, with a real history and ultimately, that's what motorcycle riding and motorcycle events are about. The small town of Hollister and Johnny's bar is really just a story about us, the riders, our personal histories that we all share together and our inherent freedom to do so.
385 Walt Sanders Memorial Drive