Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Because I can: A ride down the California eat!

It was 4:30AM, as I opened the garage door, to be greeted by a dark and cold winter morning. It was the morning of the annual Ride to Eat (RTE) organized by a venerable Dutchman called Ninjaboy. I was going to ride some 390 odd miles (with detours) to Guadalupe, CA for their famous Rib-eye steaks today and socialize with fellow riders and then ride a little beyond into Santa Barbara.

Sunrise wasn't until 7:23AM. I was wearing a couple layers, with my winter windscreen on the FJR, but after riding an hour and half in the cold darkness at 77 mph and above, I was chilled right down to my bones. It was time to whip out the electrics for the first time since I have owned an FJR.
Temperatures were in the low 30s, I had ridden in the low 30s several times before without the need for electrics, I think no warmth from the sunlight and the new Firstgear Rainier jacket had something to do with this.

Looking to the east on Hwy 152, the sun was painting the sky amber, portending it's arrival over the horizon. There was no stopping to watch the sunrise, I wasn't stopping because I was heading west straight for the ocean. Couldn't see the fireball rising behind me from the east, but I could still see it's handiwork in the early morning light sky canvas.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Of Volcanoes, Lakes, Rain and a Custom Suspension.

I was planning a trip to the Southwest this October. Southern Utah, Northern Arizona and maybe even Southwestern Colorado. Best laid plans and stuff. A routine tire change drew my attention to what would throw the wrench of fate in those plans. A leaky fork. 
Now, I could have just had them disassembled to put new seals and fork oil in, but at 44K miles the front suspension was getting long in the tooth, made even more so evident by the upgraded rear shock. It was time to bite the bullet and make the pilgrimage to GP Suspension in the Pacific North Wet for a custom tuned suspension to my weight and riding style. :)

A leaky front fork didn't mean I still couldn't have some fun on my way North. I had originally planned to visit a couple of National Parks in the Southwest, as it happened there were also a couple of National Parks beckoning me on my journey North. Here I am presenting some selected shots, as usual I took many, but I am only sharing those few which tell the story I want to tell, the gloomy bad weather shots - well I won't bore you with those. Let's look on the bright side shall we? :)

Day 1: Beautiful Sisters.

I rode out Saturday morning and headed towards the scenic Feather River Canyon also known as Hwy 70. I hadn't ridden this road all year and whenever I do - it always makes me grin from ear to ear. Such tempting curves and such smooth silky pavement - the FJR just loves to ride this road..

One of several tunnels bored through the canyon.. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Motorcycle Cop Skills Competition.

Just a Slideshow of pictures from the event. Went there with a few friends and watched the cops play on the motorcycles for a couple hours. It was nice - some of these guys do have some good low speed skills! You could however, smell the burning clutches and there were a lot more dropped bikes than I captured. The Harleys just layed over - the BMW's scraped the asphalt pretty good! No problemo - just taxpayer money. :)

Slideshow: Motorcycle Cop Skills Competition.

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Rally, Big Sky, Montana.

This is the report which was supposed to be inserted in between the ride reports to and from Big Sky, Montana. It was a beautiful and breathtaking ride through Idaho and Montana to get to Big Sky. That report here - Enroute to Big Sky. 
I have finally gotten around to writing about my experiences in the rally itself, but as the saying goes - "You save the best for the last!".

I look back and muse that this rally almost didn't happen for me. Other than the fact that I got very sick just a couple days before we were to leave for the rally, for the longest time I was not really sure riding 1000+ miles in a day was something I was ready to do. Add to that riding 1000+ miles in a day while hunting and collecting bonuses - Ha! Yea that was happening all right!

I will readily admit that I am a touring and stop for pictures kind of rider, although I have done many 700+ miles days. Do you know the find the best sights, the best angle, the best light and take dozens of pictures per stop and stop often for pictures type? Yea - that's me! Having said that, doing a Saddlesore 1000 was something I had been wanting to do, riding in an endurance rally was also on the long list of things to do (call it a bucket list). I never thought I was going to do both in one day!

It all started unfolding on June 1st as I exchanged a few words with the Rally Master, Bob Torter on his birthday and he invited me to come on up to Montana and have some fun! I then started scouring the LD Forums for information on how to condition myself mentally and physically for endurance rallies, also talked to my mentor Brian R. for his advice and we figured we could ride together and pick one of the "Good" routes and modify it to suit what we wanted to do. Since the bonus listings were emailed a week in advance, we already had a route planned before we left home, the goal in mind being to finish a successful SS1K and get a ride certificate from and photo op with IBA President Mike Kneebone. :)

Arriving at Big Sky it was great to see the smiling faces of friends and to get handshakes and hugs from some great people I only get to see a couple times a year. It was also such a beautiful location. From what I heard from everyone it was the most upscale and gorgeous locations for an endurance rally ever and I believed it.

View of Lone Mountain from my room. Big Sky, MT.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Exploring Idaho and Montana Enroute to the Big Sky Rally.


The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly Rally was a 32 hour endurance rally organized by the famous IBR veterans Bob & Sylvie Torter (aka V-Twins) as a celebration and a thank you to the several years of motorcycling fun, friendships and camaraderie they have enjoyed with the great people in the LD rider community. No one could have said it better as the V-Twins did when they introduced the rally to friends..

Introduction to GBU Rally by the V-Twins.

I had always been hesitant to run LD rallies. Honestly, I have always doubted I had what it took to go a 1000+ miles in 24 hours (Saddle Sore 1000). I used to see what these riders did routinely and be in awe (I still am). One 1000+ mile day is just the bare minimum required to be considered one of their ranks. These guys have accomplished so much more than just the bare minimum, such as 1500+ miles in 36 hours (Bum Burner 1500 - BB1500), 1500+ miles in 24 hours (Bum Burner Gold - BBG). The toughest among them run or have run in what is called the Iron Butt Rally. An endurance armageddon of 11,000+ miles in 11 days.

Here, I relate the story of the journey to the GBU rally, and the journey home! The story of the rally itself, I will save for a separate blog post. The report is split up into two parts for the journey to Big Sky. The return home is an epilogue to the rally itself which is a separate blog post.

Part 1: The road to Stanley, Idaho.
July 20th, 2011.

I was riding with my mentor Brian R. We were going to take the scenic route to Big Sky, through some of Idaho's beautiful roads and sceneries. The plans was to get to Stanley Idaho, approx 520 miles away and the destination for the day by 4:30pm on Wednesday evening, (remember, we lose 1 hour going to Mountain Time from Pacific Time), just in time for the 15 minute Eucalyptus steam sauna and the 45 minute full body massages we had scheduled for ourselves at the Meadow Creek Inn and Spa in Stanley. We were going to rough it out enough while running the rally - so we decided to pamper ourselves a little on the way there!

This was to be the first day of running against the clock - the stops were minimal and all photography was on the move until we reached the destination. So please pardon the composition and the existence of some speed blur.

Wednesday morning brought us a sunrise start. We were supposed to be on the road as the sun rose, but here we were still in Brian's driveway as the sun first peeked out. We left 30 seconds after this shot was taken.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

A Slice of San Francisco and Vicinity

Part 1: Off to join the traveling circus

My friend Mark (nicknamed Wheatie, as he is from Wheaton, IL), was finally riding his motorcycle to California. His first ever visit to California on a motorcycle. After spending some time in South and Central California, Wheatie's motorcade had rolled into San Jose on Friday May 20th, a few of my Sacramento riding brethren had taken the day off to join the traveling circus which was meandering it's way to San Jose for Friday night. Despite the obvious temptation to run away and join the traveling circus myself, I remained bound to work on Friday instead. From what I am hearing I missed some good times and opportunities for embarrassing photo ops to be used as blackmail fodder on the forum for years to come. On the flip side I might have been spared some blackmail myself, at least I haven't received any anonymous notes in the mail yet.

My adventure began on Saturday morning May 21st at dawn, I was riding out to meet the traveling circus for Breakfast at the famed Alice's Restaurant. As I was leaving Sacramento on I-80, I could already tell it was going to be a very beautiful day. The sky with it's scattering of clouds diffusing the morning sunlight was giving me quite the show. It also made me think of the "Rapture", which was supposedly going to happen this beautiful day, anyone who was home cowering in fear that the world was going to end, deserved to miss out on a beautiful day!

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mt. Hamilton Ride Report.

My friend Tom had planned a great day of riding for us this Saturday. I realize the word epic is oft used these days, for adventures not quite deserving, believe me though when I say this one truly was an epic day of experiences, it had all the ingredients - Diversity of moto roads, from smooth fast snaking twisties, to goaty one lane trails, to steep switchbacks while dodging sink holes from hell, scenic backdrops, and most of all great company and excellent riders to show me how it is done.

We met in Elk Grove for a planned start at 9AM. I rode up at 8:40AM and was surprised to see Hans already there waiting for us. I did a double take and had to check the clock on the bike, just to make sure that it somehow wasn't 11AM.

Also there waiting was Brodie, I had not met him before, but had heard of him on the forums, Mr Titanium himself! Good to see him ripping it up on his FJR again, these two gentlemen had come up to Elk Grove from the East and South Bay to join us. :)

After Mike and Tom joined us, we were on our way, we jogged along I-5 till Lodi, and then headed for the Delta through the Vineyards in Lodi.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Death Valley and Beyond: Beautiful and Diverse California!

Chapter 1: Winter Wonderland.

I had been looking forward to the little get-away to Death Valley in March. Enjoy the early/intermittent Spring we had been enjoying till now, and what better way to live it to the max than getting on your trusted steed and heading out for the open road!

I caught a little break in the weather across the Sierra's and embarked on the journey Wednesday, a day earlier than my other FJR brethren who were riding on Thursday, but were planning on overnighting in Lone Pine. I was going to ride all the way to Death Valley and then a little further this day.

No early morning starts this time, didn't leave till about 9:30AM to give the sun a chance to start shining on the mountain passes. The roads were in surprisingly good shape, considering that a storm had just rolled through on Monday night, say what you may about them but CalTrans did a very good job.

I wasn't however taking any chances, kept the pace slow and steady even though there were only a handful of shoddy spots past Twin Bridges: sand on the road, melt from the stacks of snow piled high along the roadsides - the usual winter road hazards facing two wheelers across the mountain highways.

No pictures till I got to the Hwy 89 and Hwy 88 junction, then pulled over for a few shots. Hard to find good angles to shoot with the glare from the snow trying to white out any detail, I much prefer the colors of Spring, to the paleness of Winter. :)

Found this peaceful creek flowing by the roadside with a thin sheet of ice and a sprinkling of fresh snow on top.

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Quick run to the Ocean with friends.

Went for a quick run to the ocean today before the rain moved in this late afternoon, got back a couple hours ago, so I am a bit tired, but felt like firing off a quick ride report with a few pictures, didn't take as many this time because I was on a tight schedule before the skies opened up. I also apologize that my brain is a little mushy for clever prose right now.

A leisurely start at about 9AM, this time I finally got to take a decent picture of the Tower Bridge and Downtown Sacramento..

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hit or Miss - A weekend in Fernley.

1. Hit or Miss?

    The initial plan was to ride to Middlegate Shoe Tree stump a day before the memorial (and avoid the crowds - I hate crowds), eat some Western Bacon Cheeseburgers and hang out in Fernley for the night. I contacted Brian R. and he suggested something else, which "blew" the initial plans away!

Verdict? Hit or Miss? To be declared later..

2. Hit or Miss?

    Hycle contacted me Thursday evening about riding with me on Saturday morning to Carson City. Late Friday night I get a PM from him on the forum - he has to work and can't make it. I was looking forward to seeing Hycle Mycle and was disappointed he wouldn't be joining me, but I understand - new job, gotta keep the new boss man happy!
    I had also text invited Feeger, but he wasn't feeling well and had told me to check my messages in the morning before I left - no message from him meaning he was sleeping in. I checked before I geared up. No messages - this was going to be a solo ride.

Verdict? Hit or Miss? I would say Miss, because I missed out on their company.

I had created a route on foot hill roads to Pollock Pines. Essentially, Latrobe to Hwy 16, to Shenandoah Road, to Mt Aukum Road, to Sly Park Road and then catch Hwy 50 from there.
I started off about the time I was going to meet Hycle, it was a beautiful sunny morning and on an open stretch of the road, riding towards the Amador county vineyards, I spotted something colorful far in the distance..

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Exploring a Slice of the East Bay.

What a great start to the year this has been. I have ridden 3 out of the past 4 weekends, including this one. Occidental and Bodega Bay with my friend Mike, then Woodbridge with my friends Mike, Hans and Tom, followed the same day by some lower elevation foothills run with Mike and Tom and now this.. 

This weekend, I wanted to do something different. I posted on the FJRForum Friday evening hoping someone already had a ride plan, something I probably won't come up with myself - I was wanting something new, to go someplace I haven't been before - but where my FJR's nearing the end of life rear tire will still take me safely..

Ask and you shall receive. Today's ride was just what I needed - A heady mix of great sweeping twisties, switchbacks, decreasing radius turns, gravel-ly goat trails, riding amongst the clouds and great company to chat with on stops and lunch.

The day began with receiving a text from Jerry (aka 2010 Cal24 Winner) a little after 7am asking me to ride over to his house that morning. I had a quick breakfast and I was out the door by 8am.

I wanted to take the back roads way to the East Bay (or as much as possible). So after a bit of slabbing on Hwy 50 - I was exiting on Jefferson Blvd (Hwy 84).

It was a soggy foggy ride..

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Occidental and Bodega Bay.

oc·ci·den·tal or Oc·ci·den·tal
 (Posted ImagekPosted ImagesPosted Image-dPosted ImagenPosted Imagetl)
adj.Of or relating to the countries of the Occident or their peoples or cultures; western.
n.A native or inhabitant of an Occidental country; a westerner.

I have always been amused whenever I heard the name of this California town. So when Mike suggested riding to Occidental for lunch - I jumped at the chance. We have also been fortunate enough to have a little break from the soggy weather in Northern California this week. The cherry on top was supposed to be Saturday (01/15) with sunny skies and temperatures in the 60's. With that in mind, it seemed like a perfect opportunity for a ride to the always breathtaking California coast line this Winter, with an Occidental lunch break.

I met with Mike in West Sacramento @ 9AM for a Clutches out at 9:25AM. The forecast for the Sacramento Valley was clear sunny skies with a high of 64.
Hmm, well, maybe not at 9:25AM. I was hoping this wasn't a harbinger for the rest of the ride this day. The fog was dense, but not as dense as the fog which kept building up inside my SHOEI Multitec helmet. My helmet was fogging up in this weather even with the vents open - cracking the shield open and wiping off the condensation periodically seemed to be the only recourse.

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