You know that feeling you get when that winding mountain road in front of you opens up……… no other cars are in front of you……….. You get that feeling in your gut, you turn down the radio, you press down on the left pedal to down shift, hit the throttle with right foot and pick up speed as you feel your back pressing into the seat…….. right before you hit the brakes, down shift again and hit those posted 20 mph corners doing about 50 before getting back on the throttle as you power out of the corner only to see the next corner ahead and start the process all over again………..yes, it is addictive!! Now all you want to do is chase twisties!!
Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way. First, you have to find the road. These great twisties are not always easy to find. Hopefully you can find a couple of nice roads close to home, however most of these great roads are going to take some time to research and find. You are probably going to have to do some travel to get to these roads and then…………… hope the roads are not covered in traffic. We live in Northern California with some of the best driving roads in the country………. we also have a lot of traffic. The Bay Area is close by with some great driving roads as well and even more traffic.
This category is going to be a little different from our Exotic Car Road Trips. Road Trips involve my wife, the beautiful Miss Linda. We still enjoy the twisties, just at a slightly slower pace. We take the time to enjoy the scenery and find those little dive bars and gems along the way. Of course, we have a nice destination to stay the night at the end of the day.
Chasing twisties is different. The day is focused on the road. We may have to drive a couple of hours to get to the road and then we hope and pray that we don’t find a bunch of traffic. We don’t have passengers, as that would just be wrong with the kind of driving we are planning on doing. We have our two-way radio’s to communicate about the road and traffic ahead. The road ahead is our destination and not much else matters.
There are not many things we do in life where we are 100% focused. We are all great multi taskers and we all develop stress because of it. When you are driving hard on a great winding road or on a track, you are 100% focused, you have no other thoughts going on………… you are not worried about your job, your mortgage, the kids……nothing, you are just totally focused on the road ahead. It is the most relaxing thing I ever do…………. you don’t realize it when you are driving, but when you are finished and discover how free your mind is………… it is just amazing!!
We will be hunting and searching for great roads and share our adventures here. How the road was discovered, how the plan was made and how the adventure turned out.
It had been almost two years since our epic road trip the “Next 140 Miles“. Mike, Jonathan, Alex and myself had not been able to get our schedules together for another road trip for almost two years now. Alex and I had a plan for a short drive a couple of months ago which fell through as the Alfa had a bad day.
Now, the beautiful Miss Linda and I have obviously had a couple of road trips since then which I have written about here. What I mean by an epic road trip is one that has no real destination, does not include passengers and is all about the road and the drive…………….. and we drive hard………. trust me when I say, if we had passengers, they would want out.
Chasing Twisties is what we love to do. I guess its almost like hunting………… we are always scouting for new two lane twisty mountain roads to truly enjoy the power and handling our cars are made for. Every once in a while we will end up on a bad road, but for the most part the roads we find are great!! The real problem is how much traffic are we going to run into. One of the things that made the “Next 140 Miles” so great was the lack of traffic on that day and the few we found, politely pulled over and got out of the way……………. today would be different.
Covid has made all of us adjust how we do things and where we go. Here in California, most everything is closed. You cannot go to a concert, a sporting event, a movie or play, any motor sports events like a race or car show…………and have you heard about all the fires………. about the only thing left to do in California is to go camping or go to the beach if you can avoid the fires……………… EEEEK! Where do you think all the good “twisties” are? Yes, by the beach or in the mountains where everybody is right now………. or not, depending on the fires. This would be one of those days of finding great “twisties”, though we would end up finding more traffic and some fires.
The plan came together pretty quick. Alex reached out to the group about mid August and we were on the road September 4th. The plan started when Alex had sent us a picture of his Alfa’s tire showing a flat spot, saying he needed a drive to “even out” the flat spot……….. my initial thought was the flat spot was caused from the car sitting to long……………. well, that was not exactly correct, though we will leave that story for another day. The bottom line, we started making a plan.
Mike and I live in the Central Valley and Alex and Jonathan live on the eastern side of the Bay Area, about an hour and half to two hours apart depending on the day and traffic. We needed to find a good road close enough for all of us to get to and get home by the early evening. This was going to be a one-day trip as some of us had commitments that evening.
Jonathan came up with the route, with Alex adding some revisions. Mike chimed in with a place for us to meet and it was set. This was nice for me as I left all the plans to the others and I literally just went along for the ride!!
We agreed to meet in Vallejo Ca and then head to Petaluma Ca where we would stop for gas before beginning our adventure. After Jonathan and Alex double-checked a couple things about the route and we were off.
Two years after our last trip we all showed up with the same cars……….. they are all great!! We are all car guys who love our cars, though we are always talking about the new cars coming up and the next car we might get……….though we are all pretty happy with what we have. I for one have said many times, there are a lot of cars I want in addition to mine…….. just not in place of mine.
Mike and Jonathan both have a Porsche Cayman S. Mike has a 2015 model while Jonathan has a 2014 model. They both have a naturally aspirated 6 cylinder engine that make that amazing Porsche sound!! Both have about 325 HP and 273 ft lb of torque. These cars are amazing as they seem to just float through the twisty’s so smooth and clean………. it amazing to watch. I had the opportunity to drive a 2019 Cayman GTS and experience the handling of these cars. The way the car pivots around you as you go around a corner is magical.
Alex had his 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. I am completely fascinated with this car. Its looks, handling and power are amazing. It has a 2.9L twin turbo 6 cylinder engine made by Ferrari, making 505 hp and 443 ft lb torque. I spent a fair amount of time following the Alfa today………. the presence this car has is so cool, the stance is just awesome. To realize that you are following a 4 door sedan does not seem possible. I keep thinking I need to get one………….
Of course, I was in the Z06. I still love this car!! With its supercharged V-8 engine making 650 HP and 650 ft lb of torque, it is part supercar and part muscle car!! It is also the only car here with a manual transmission, which makes the drive a little more challenging, but mostly just more engaging and fun for me!!!
It was Friday September 4th………. the beginning of Labor Day weekend and we were headed toward the coast and the mountains. I was expecting traffic, but hoping for the best. After stopping for gas in Petaluma, we headed southwest to reach Sir Francis Drake Blvd to begin our drive. It is the main thoroughfare through the communities of Inverness, Point Reyes Station, Olema, Lagunitas-Forest Knolls, San Geronimo, Woodacre, Fairfax (where we stop for lunch), San Anselmo, Ross, Kentfield, Greenbrae, and Lakespur. The road overlaps State Route 1 between Point Reyes Station and Olema.
We would take Sir Francis Drake Blvd, cutting over to San Rafael where we would catch Hwy 101 for just a bit before turning off to take the famous Hwy 1 North through Point Reyes Ca and Stinson Beach as we make our way up to Tomales Petaluma Rd were we would head east back to Petaluma. This would be about a 90-mile loop.
We all have two-way radio’s for these trips, so we can stay in contact. We are able to let each know how the road is ahead, if it’s safe to pass…………or hassle Alex about the Alfa’s bad day. As we start out leaving Petaluma, Mike comes on the radio and says I don’t think that’s fog above the trees………… no….. it was smoke coming from the top of the forest covered mountain in front of us……… and then we could smell the smoke. As we drive past a big open field, we notice about 50 tents…… it was the firefighters base camp. I had a brief moment of concern, being this close to a fire. If you recall from our previous trip, the “Next 140 Miles”, that was the beginning of the Paradise fires in Northern California which were some of the worst ever. Not sure if this is bad timing or just life in California.
Sir Francis Drake Blvd was a great two lane road for driving. It is a beautiful drive through a mountainous Redwood forest on either side. The road did have some rough patches and as I had mentioned earlier, a lot of little towns along the way which you have to be mindful of…………other than that it was great. We had some great elevation changes, some nice tight corners and some big sweepers too. We even had a couple of sweet banked corners that we all hit really hard!!
As we transitioned to Hwy 1, it started out with some great tight corners and elevation changes before straightening out as we headed along the coast with the Pacific Ocean in view and later by the Bolinas Lagoon as we veered inland.
The road was great, the company was great, the weather was great, the scenery was great………….. the traffic……… well there was a lot of it. This was Labor day weekend and we were in the bay area. This would be one of those days were we ended up behind a lot of slow traffic and no one would pull over………… apparently people don’t understand what a “turn out” is.
This would be one of those days when we would get about a 2 to 3 mile stretch of open road before hitting traffic and slowing down or get behind a bicycle. I understand about the bike riders as I ride myself almost every day……….. though I would never ride on these roads. You have no shoulder, tons of blind corners and no where to go if you have traffic in both directions………… just crazy. I heard on the radio more than a few times to watch out for the bikes ahead.
Still, a great day!! While we were waiting for the road to open up, there was some casual chatter on the radios and then dead silence when the road would open as we had a couple of miles of hard driving before hitting traffic again.
As I mentioned earlier, this trip did not have a destination other than chasing twisties. The only real destination we had was where to eat lunch.
We stopped in a little town called Fairfax. I had never been there before or even heard of it before. Fairfax is a town of about 7500 people and covers an area of 2.2 square miles. It was originally occupied by the Miwok Indians.
We had lunch at a little place called the Amelia Cafe. It has an organic farm to table menu including fresh salads, sandwiches, quiches…and their delicious French pastries and viennoiseries. In California, you are not allowed to eat inside, so most places have had to make due with some outside seating. Many towns and city’s have gone to blocking off streets to allow the restaurants to set up outside seating as we had to do here. The service and food was great!!
Chasing Twisties is a great way to spend the day or a couple of days!! How’s that go……… a bad day of Chasing Twisties is better than a good day at work. Today we found some great roads, awesome scenery and great friends to spend the day. Even though this day was a little short on the actual hard aggressive driving we were looking for, it was still an awesome day. Hangen out with the guys, talking cars, in search of a great roads……………… Perfect!!