Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Finally got the photos and road trip narrative together. Please place your seats and tray tables in the upright position.....

An annual tradition for me is the ten day guys'
motorcycle trip.

Doesn't matter where, in fact, one of the best things about the ride is the fact
there is NO itinerary. We choose a potential halfway point, some
destinations/roads/towns we'd like to see, and off we ride. Since last
year (Click) we were rained on virtually nonstop when we headed
north, we decided to head south. Get comfy, it's a long tale, with many
(click to embiggen) photos. 2300 miles, 3 states, ten days. Aug 6, 2008 to Aug 16, 2008.

Here we go.

Day 1...

I had just gotten home from a 12 hour night shift. I packed up the
bike just in
time for the boys to arrive. Bryant on his pristine blue 98 Yamaha R1,
and Tim on his brilliant yellow 05 Buell Firebolt. Me, my fast black
04 ZX10r, which conveniently had exactly 24,500 miles on the
odometer. As I'd changed up the gearing, I'd recalibrated the
speedometer with a little black box known as a speedohealer, allowing
the speedo to display an accurate speed despite gearing changes (the zx10
gets it's speed sensor signal from the countershaft sprocket, so
changing the sprocket sizes throws off your speedometer accuracy
significantly.) So, speeds and mileages are as accurate as possible.

We'd discussed the
run a few days before over a few beers and burgers, going over hand
signals, potential situations, and the route. We'd agreed to head down
I-5 south to get away from Seattle, as we have plenty of opportunity to
explore the common twisty roads and nearby attractions. This is a ROAD trip.
Also, the freeway would give us some time to sort ourselves and our
gear (especially the throttle locks...small clamps that hold the
throttle open so your wrist can get a little relief - kind of a
poor-man's cruise control) without
without the distractions of curves.

Ready to go in the driveway...

P.S., the photos you see here are from all three riders. Credit to all.

We roll south amidst the light midmorning traffic, until the small town
of Chehalis, where we turned toward the Pacific. The sweeping two lane
was a welcome respite from the freeway droning, we had the opportunity
to practise our synchronized passing several times. I usually carry a
camera inside my jacket hanging from a neck strap, I've become adept at
taking lefthanded pics on the fly. Unfortunately the camera chose this
first day to quit it's job, refusing to even power up. O.K., first
priority is a new camera when we stop.

Followed the 101 south through Southwest Washington, over the Astoria
bridge to
Oregon, where we continued to follow the coast down. Cold, foggy, mist
greeted us, the rain gear came out to act as a windbreak. Odd
temperatures... the coast itself was cold and foggy, light mist,
then, the road would twist inland for a few curves, the temp would
rise to the point where you wanted to shed a layer, only to return to
the chill of the exposed coastline a few miles further.

Oregon has a reputation for being an aggressively enforced traffic
state, and we saw many state troopers patrolling in oddly remote
spots... no awards for us, though... the radar detectors are worth
many times what we paid for them.

Stopped at a pretty lookoff - trying out my zoom...

I think it was just resting....

Classic Pacific ocean pic...

Stopped at a sketchy looking tiny mom and pop restaurant with a big
smoker/BBQ right outside the door, had some of the best grilled
oysters I've ever tasted. Tim said it best... " We're not going to
eat any fast food at all this trip, are we? " Part of the trip is
good food, while the occasional Denny's breakfast is unavoidable, we
tried to patronize independent restaurants as much as possible. Good
food. Also, you get to talk to the locals, finding information not in any tourist brochure.

At a picturesque lookoff...

we struck up a conversation with a fellow
rider, who told us the truly entertaining roads laid just off the 101,
small squiggles on the map that followed river valleys inland before
winding their way back to the 101.

We took his advice, as the RV and slow four wheeled gawker traffic was
getting too thick to make any headway. The little unused roadways were
excellent. Good pavement, nonexistent traffic, and the right mix of
sweepers and tight twisties to challenge. Flowing, predictable roads
with rhythm. Nice.

Bryant had refurbished his Chatterboxes (bike-to-bike intercoms) with
new battery packs, as they'd died on us during our last trip,
becoming more hindrance that help with their inconsistent
functioning. We tried the new and improved ones, they worked only
this one day before dropping out and again becoming more pain than
assistance. Didn't use them again the whole trip. I was ahead,
enjoying the corner to corner wheelies my bike effortlessly does at
lower speeds, when Bryant, in sweep, clicks in, saying, " Slow way
down, Tim almost went off...". I slow to a crawl, and we roll to the
next stop sign, where we went over the event. Evidently Tim came into
a corner a bit too fast, ending up in the dirt at the pavement's
edge, and somehow not falling, even getting it back on the road.
Bryant said he was SURE he was going to take a facial soil sample. We
spent the next few days working on lines, body positioning, braking,
and simply riding within your limits. Tim became a 400% better rider
by the end of the trip, rocking and rolling through the twisties
confidently, smoothly and well.

We hit the small town of Newport, getting our first hotel room. Prior
trips had shown that taking turns getting the hotel room relatively
all worked out, and was infinitely easier than splitting every bill
three ways. Also, we took turns as to who got the cot/floor, as three
guys with lots of stinky gear in one room made the bed space

This motel, though, had a three bed room available. Yes! We peeled
out of the road gear/armour,

and made our way to the very reason for
making Newport our first stop... Rogue Brewery.

Found the ale house, ordered some food and a selection of beers
(Tim's a connosieur). The Russian Imperial Stout was a hit with me.
Told the tale of a coworker being (quite unjustly... I was there)
reprimanded by his higher ups as a "rogue", decided a hat would be a
good gift and picked one up. Recently gave it to him... carrying it
all those miles was worth it to see the grin. I told him he'd have to
wear it for his next performance review.

As of now, I'd been up something like 30-34 hours, and the few beers
we'd enjoyed finished me. One of the road trip rules, though, is you must
consume at least one adult beverage at the conclusion of every day.
Done. Goodnight....

DAY 2...

Woke in the am to the same overcast fog, cold. Went across the street
and picked up a new camera, a Fuji S1000. Larger body and lens that
I'm used to, a bit bulky, but it takes excellent pics, as you can
see, even when photoshopped down to web friendly sizes.

I'd long ago learned to slow way down when entering the little towns
that dot the small curving lines on a map, as often a major source of
income is speeding tickets garnered in close proximity to the speed
change sign. Sure enough, as we entered the town, there was a cop with a
car pulled over, and yet another cop had another poor driver at the
opposite end. Just past the town's end, a beautiful vista.. the clouds
parted, sunshine poured in, and the sea stacks near Humbug state park

gave an impressive show. We stopped, happy to peel off a layer or
two, and relaxed on the rocks, chatting with other riders who had also
stopped. Same story north and south... more fog/drizzle.

As we reclined on the rock wall, a woman came up to us, asking if we
knew how to break into a car. After giving her some crap about her coming up to bikers and just assuming we were hoodlums who'd know how to steal cars, I asked her why.

Sure enough, she'd locked her keys
inside. Bryant went to seek the help of one of the fine police
officers we'd seen earlier. We looked, but her Saturn had horizontal
locks, tough to pop. They both soon showed up, the cop bringing a bag
of break in tools. As he worked to get it open, everyone passing
seemed to have a "locked out" story, but the best was a woman who
told us she'd locked herself out of her running car with her baby
securely strapped inside. Yet another more experienced cop showed up,
and quickly had the door open, to the cheers of the 15 or so people

We'd been warned by the northbound riders we'd talked to at the
lookoff that the weather once again went to wet overcast, they were
right. Cold tires on wet pavement, undulating coastal road, we
gingerly enjoyed the tight turns, balancing traction with lean angle,
practicing smoothness. Stopped at "Devil's Churn", a narrow cut where
the waves funnel in. Must be spectacular on a stormy day, but today
it was merely moderately interesting....

Continued on. The road would occasionally straighten long enough to
have a short passing lane. Traffic was getting heavier, we made the
most of the bike's acceleration prowess to blast past long lines of
slow moving cars and motorhomes.
One such uphill stretch, we had just tucked back in the right lane,
cresting the hill, when I simultaneously saw the trooper/heard my
radar detector go full alert. Damn. Obviously busted, I gave a feeble
wave as we went by. Apparently the karma points garnered from saving
the locked out girl were in effect, the car remained still. I pulled
off the road at the next turnoff to relax and pull the vinyl out.

One of the peculiarities of Oregon state is you're not allowed to pump
your own gas. Don't know why. Tough to get used to, as Washington
rarely has any full service pumps at all anymore. Fortunately, the
jockeys know enough not to mess with a biker's fuel tank, and would
just run the card and hand us the nozzle.

Continued down the coast, finally entering California, where everyone
had to stop and chat with a ?border guard.? Learning of our redwood
inclination, he gave us a few directions, and away we went.
California! Just past the booths, the road turned to gravel. To keep
the dust down, they were wetting down the area with water trucks.
Wet, fine silt. Spraying everywhere. Ugh. At least the oncoming water
truck took pity on us and shut off his sprayers as we went past.

Hit a few loops through the redwoods....

Time was getting short, we rolled back toward the coast, entering
Crescent City.

Tim's battery was getting weak, having to run the
characteristic Buell fan, turn over those two big pistons, and cope
with the bright headlights. We stopped and got a replacement. You know we had to give him crap about that "Harley".
Fully Rhinolined 4X4....

fitting issues later, it was all better. We continued on to the town
of Eureka on the part's guys' suggestion, evidently more night life

Got into Eureka just as it was getting truly dark. Found a motel,
parked the bikes, and walked over to a nearby pool hall in search of
food and drink. Seems the gangsta wannabe club decided this was their
meeting point....lots of sideways hats, baggy shirts and saggy jeans.
But, there was pool and beer. We played a few as the pitchers
emptied, watching a few cute young girls on the dance floor.

A classic hiphop song came on, Bryant hit the dance floor solo to
showcase his mad skilz. As we were laughing at his version of "the
running man", a lady of enormous proportions pushed off from the wall
and began dancing with him. Ever the gentleman, Bryant bravely
finished the song, although later he confessed she'd bumped him with
sufficient force initially that he'd thought it was both of us
bumping into him.

As he walked back to our table, she followed. As she talked to
Bryant, her slim blonde friend came up behind me, putting both arms
around me from behind. I looked back just in time to be treated to a
wide smile... only her teeth were either missing entirely or in
various stages of extensive decay. Time to go, guys. We had been
gearing up to leave to find food, this was the impetus. As we
announced our plans, Jabba asked if we would buy her a pitcher before
we left. Not a drink, a pitcher. For the rest of the trip, "Buy me a
pitcher" was the cause of instant grins and laughter.

As we stumbled down the street, we came across a glass storefront
with lights and music seeping from the left hand hallway. "It's a
CLUB!" exclaimed Bryant, immediately trotting through the door. Tim
and I were a bit more hesitant, instead reading the name of the club
(something about respect and diversity), and viewing the logo of a
flexed muscular male arm....

Bryant soon returned, crestfallen. Snickering, Tim asked, "So, were
there a lot of guys in there?". We continued down the street.

Found The Shanty, a small pub with cool bartenders and many
microbrews. Unfortunately it was only 30 minutes to last call. We
made the most of it.

Back at the hotel, we arrived to see a young blonde animated girl
standing next to our well locked bikes, a big bottle of Jack Daniels
in her hand. Obviously chemically enhanced, Tara announced she had
the room directly below ours, was sharing it with a firefighter who
looked 50 named Mike (but it was probably "John"). Tara was still in
her teens. Hmmm. Bryant wisely took stock of the situation and went
upstairs to bed.

Tara said she had met a girl at the gas station and invited her back,
who walked up but one of the cute young girls we'd been watching on
the dance floor so long ago. Danielle. Tara invited us into the room
to continue the conversation, as we were getting loud. There was
Mike, there were two visible pipes just casually laying out. Time to
go. We got Danielle outside, she called her friend to come get her.
The other girl from the dance floor showed up not long after, and
they both went back into the room!

Tim and I looked at each other, deciding to get the girls away from
this bad situation. They had looked young and cute, now they were
just young and dumb. Tim made an excuse to get Danielle outside yet again,
then provided an alibi so I could leave with the other girl. We
walked them to the other side of the hotel, and told them to get away
and go home. They did.

We returned to our room, basking in the karma, and slept well.

DAY 3...

Awoke to a subdued Tara sitting on the curb beside our bikes, Mike
nowhere to be seen. She didn't have much to say. Sad.

By now, we'd had enough of the cold overcast Pacific. Having already
ridden highway 36 on a previous trip, we turned east and began
climbing inward and upward on Highway 299, 36's northerly parallel.
Not ten minutes into the ride, we pulled out of the clouds to hot
sunshine. We stopped, peeled back several layers, and got to the
business of swooping through this excellent road.

Practicing for the cover of our Christian rock album.....

The pavement followed a river along a small valley, flowing and
rolling along. Dawdlers dispatched with a wrist flick, the bikes'
tires warming and beginning to stick,

able to achieve impressive
angles with utter confidence...this is California riding, especially
after gingerly picking lines and using conservative angles on the
damp coast. Small balls of rubber evident on the tread when we
stopped, the sticky compounds actually picking up errant gravel when
we stopped for a break. We stopped at an old bridge for a shade

Dr Evil, Don't know why....

Fish Ladder....
Small plume....

I was taking photos, just relaxing, when I heard a string of curses come from Tim's general direction. His helmet had fallen to the ground, shattering the ratcheting mechanism on one side. ( We've all done it.) Two options... either duct tape the visor on, sealing it shut, or run visorless with sunglasses. Airflow won.

Coming around a right had bend, we saw a huge plume of smoke. A fire
was burning through the valley.

Continuing on, we stopped at a small
clearing, watching two choppers fill with water from the stream, only
to lift off and repeat every ten minutes or so. We told a local fire
guy about the small plume we'd spotted earlier, but he said it was
too small to even think about diverting resources yet. Impressive

Problem with the fires/choppers... backups. Lines and lines of cars,
trucks, all clogging the road. Few passing areas, and no sense in
passing as there was nothing but miles and miles of traffic. So, we
sat back and enjoyed the scenery...

I like the light in this pic....

Out of nowhere, Tim signals a stop. "I want a picture." he says before turning around. I follow. He stops at a run down house, two Deliverance-type kids come running toward him. Then I see the road sign....

How you saw that at speed I'll never know.

Finally started to see thinning of traffic, by that time I was
chewing at the bit and started blasting. Pulling past the long strings
of cars, just in time to find some serious twisties. We rode along,
eventually coming up on two riders. The lead was on an ape-hangared
chopper, the other was a woman on a beach-barred cruiser. We fell in
behind, waiting for them to notice us and wave us on by. Nope. Even
though we saw them both check their mirrors and see us, there was
nothing. The woman was all over the road, clearly riding over her
limits, while the guy just continued to putt along, not making any
accomodation. After grinding our teeth for 3-4 miles, giving the
woman a wide berth, we finally found enough of a straight stretch to
blow by and continue. Sucks. The California four-wheeled traffic was
the most bike aware anywhere, pulling over, waving us past, etc., so
to have this fellow rider block the road for miles for no apparent
reason really bit.

Happened again 30 miles later. Lone guy, cruising under the limit on
his Harley, blocking traffic, including other cars. Bikers, If you're
blocking the lane, pull over. Show some humanity and brotherhood.

Just outside of Redding, we found ourselves in 13 miles of
heaven...the road tightened, clinging to the steep curves as the
ravine dropped down. 20-30 mph hairpins, stacked right-left-right,
continually repeating. Heaven. We got to the bottom, I wanted to run
them again, but darkness was approaching and we needed to find a

Riding into Redding, my legs were aching with the day's efforts of
changing direction so much. Great road, great day. We found a hotel
with an attached steakhouse. Full belly, big beers. We went across
the street to a small alehouse, where we met Thomas and Holly, on
their way home from completing the Wonderland Trail hike, a roughly
100 mile circumnavigation around the base of Mount Ranier. Ended up
drinking Smithwicks, a favorite of a buddy at home. Looked out the
window to see Tim's American Buell positioned perfectly under the
American flag of the motel...

Great people, fellow riders, we told stories, laughed, closed down
the bar, said our goodbyes, crawled across the street to bed.

Day 4...

Tim was nowhere to be found when we awoke. He returned with a new
visor, and the news that Bryant'd unwittingly parked on a sprinkler
last night, his bike was getting a wash.

Mount Lassen was our attraction today, we were to end up in Tahoe.
Long day, lots to see. We got rolling.

Crept up the flanks of Lassen, cruising through sparse pine forests,
the weather a perfect sunny day. Spaced out a bit from the usual
formation to allow the throttle locks to do their thing, freeing up
the right wrist for some much needed rest. A sign for the Moaning
Cavern attraction got a smile. Finally reached the turnoff to the

Rolled to the window, and noticed a sign stating there was 8 miles of
dirt ahead, as they were about to repave. Eight miles of gravel on a
sportbike. Greasy. A quick conference, either do it or backtrack
eighty miles and miss the mountain altogether. We paid the admission.

The dirt wasn't really. Spaced out to stay out of each other's dust
and away from paint-chipping rocks, and up we went.

Well packed in
most places, it even turned into "pavel" for the last few miles, a
thin layer of tar/paving acting as a glue to hold the gravel stable.
Reached up near the summit, new pavement appeared and the big
switchbacks called. I took several trips, but had to take it easy as
the new asphalt was sweating a sheen of tacky, greasy tar on top, you
could feel the tire smear along if you pushed the turn at all.

Passed a french couple bicycling their way up, the guy was towing a
trailer at 9000 feet. Wow. And they think crotch rocket pilots are

Stopped at the little building at the summit to rehydrate and take
some pics of the brave souls climbing up to the actual peak.

Saw our
first "bag of water"....

Supposedly the reflections of sunlight bothers the bugs to the point
they go away.

Time to descend, the road must have been designed by an engineer who
rode bikes....Video to come.

Got to the bottom, the road actually runs over an active steam vent field....

Left the park, we still had many miles to go as Lake Tahoe was where
we wanted to lay our heads. The roads were long and empty, smooth
curves and mellow rollers drifting through the fields and forests.

detectors again came in very handy. Filled tanks and emptied bladders
in the small speck of a town named Chester. Again, the speed sign
announcing the decresed in-town speed was immediately followed by a
screetch from my detector. I decelerated even more rapidly, eyes
searching for a skulking police cruiser. Nothing.

Then, we passed one of those... " Your speed is ____" displays. These
use the same K band radar as many cops to determine your speed, the
detectors can't distinguish, so off goes the alarm. I hate those

The road got tighter, starting to follow a river valley. Quick
left-right transitions, long constant radius curves as the road crept
down to the valley floor. A rail line jousted with the road, but as
it needed to maintain railway grade, it often diverged and took
nearby ridges to ease the burden. At one point, the same train was
both above us on a trestle, and below us on a slightly separate
curve. Excellent scenery, and the few cars we approached simply
pulled over and waved us past.

It was getting cool and the sun was setting when we finally arrived
in North Tahoe. Got a motel, Bryant volunteered to take a laundry
load across the street. We showered, cleaned the bikes, and left in
search of food and... yep, beer.

Finally found a quiet bar hidden in the back of a touristy strip
mall. Tried "Longboard Ale" from Hawaii, good stuff. The bar soon
picked up, a Dj started Ipodding, we hung out and ended up signing a
bride-to be's naughty tiara, then eventually faded back to bed. Long
day, lots of miles.
Day 5....

Awoke to another sunny beautiful day. Grabbed a bite and some coffee,
and headed around the lake...

Emerald Bay...

Bryant doing his Tshirt pose. We'd met this rodeo cowboy at a bar near Yellowstone on our last trip, we nicknamed him "One Tooth" for obvious reasons. Hell of a nice guy. Bryant made up some tshirts for us and gave them out on the first day. Hell Yeah...Road Trip!!!!

My impressive zoom...

Since our lofty goal was to head south, do a pass, get to the Little
Dragon (a semi-famous sport bike mecca road south of Yosemite), roll through Yosemite, and get back to South Tahoe, we
headed out.

Bryant had called ahead and booked a hotel in South Tahoe, hoping we
could leave our luggage and therefore ride unencumbered today. Weight
and center of gravity changes caused by packs are quite noticeable on
a sportbike, especially when riding challenging terrain.

We dropped the bags, filled the bikes, and got moving, only to come
to a complete stop in bumper to bumper traffic. The Californians were
returning to their coastal cities, and the only road out was jammed

Tim's air-cooled bike was complaining, spinning it's manic fan
constantly, we were starting to sweat. The time ticking away.

Hey, it's California. We can lanespilt!

Just then, two riders came by, splitting the traffic. We swooped in
behind, passing miles of jammed traffic until we finally turned off
toward the east. Empty road. We had easily saved hours of sitting. It
felt a little weird at first, but with the first guys creating the
path, it was surprisingly easy and drama-free.

The highway opened up, the surroundings dry high desert. Came to a
long stretch, I was leading. This was what I was waiting for. I
pulled over, and made the Vanna White gesture at the bike. The road
was empty, we'd been riding together for 5 days, there were no
strapped on handling hindrances. We traded rides.

Tim got to play on my wheelie-happy beast of a literbike, then on
Bryant's sweetly suspended R1. Bryant and I played with the Firebolt,
exploring it's sweet handling and compact size, but I kept tagging
the rev limit. Interesting just how different bikes can be.

Found a long straight stretch, held the throttle open for a while,
until I ran out of room. The telltale button on the speedohealer
afterward said 158 mph. Not bad for the thin air. I like my bike.

We turned down the road toward Ebbetts' Pass, planning on running
Yosemite South to North. The road climbed up and up, gravel gracing
the apices of many of the tighter turns, pulled into the road by cars
who took the turn too tight. Makes for increased concentration. The
few cars we met pulled over, one truck in particular deserves mention
as he pullled over for us 4-5 times. We'd pass, then pull over for
photos/views, he's repass, etc.

The centerline would disappear and reappear at random, we climbed up
and up, mindful of oncoming traffic. Many took more than their share
of road, several times were fairly close calls, if we'd been in a car
there'd have been a wreck. Makes me wonder what the accident stats
are like. Don't know how much your miss a painted line until you
don't have one.

I like the pretty colors....

The bike notices the lack of oxygen out here. Being fuel injected,
they compensate for mixture, but the lack of power was very
noticeable. Finally reached the summit, and Alpine lake was a good
place to stop and take a break. Walking around, our lungs let us know
again that we were 9000 feet up.

Began the descent, rolling down. I had my visor open, my wraparound
sunglasses deflecting the wind. All of a sudden...splat! My entire
right lens was coated, and the right side of my face was wet. A huge
bug had ended it's mucus-filled life on my face. I had to stop to clean up. Nasty.

Stopped at a burger joint at the next small blip of a town. The late
start, backtrack to the hotel, and traffic jam all stole time away to
the point where we discussed options.

Yosemite was out. Even if we returned the next day, I wasn't willing
to have to suffer through a full day of interstate droning just to
get back to Seattle on time. Oh well, it was always only a tentative
halfway point anyway. Maybe next year. As we discussed this a family
came into the restaurant. The kids were digging the bikes, asking
lots of questions. Mom and Dad were cool, we let the kids sit...

The littlest one even started and revved my ninja, grinning at the
noise. Future bikers, I tell you.

We continued on, taking to very next pass (Carson pass, SR88) back north to Tahoe.
This run was faster, the road smoother and better marked, we made
excellent time.

One of the things Bryant does to me fairly often is buzzing the
tower, ala Top Gun. When I'm leading, he waits until I've gone into
cruise mode, setting the throttle lock, watching the scenery, not
really paying attention to what's going on. Then, he creeps back,
fading so he has the time and room to downshift and gas it, blowing
by me in the other lane wide open and accelerating hard.

All you hear/feel is a violent, sudden blast of noise and air
pressure right beside you as he blasts by, already fading into the
distance. My adrenals pump a pint of epinepherine into my system in a
tenth of a second, immediate full alert. Funny. After my heart slows
and everything unpuckers, I catch up to find him slapping his thigh,
cracking up. Funny.

I've never gotten him back.

I've been waiting all this trip. Now that he too has a radar detector
we've been swapping lead.

Long straight. Check. No traffic. Check. Not paying attention. Check.

I drift back, widening the gap. Downshifting four times, I go full
stick, the front tire losing interest in the pavement entirely. Still
accelerating at 140+, I rip past him in the passing lane. I hold the
speed for a few seconds, then let off.


Tim, who was witness to the whole thing, says he just about jumped
off the bike, flapping his arms in alarm. Negative, Ghostrider. The
pattern is full.

Continued to run back toward the hotel, the setting sun turning
everything golden....
This guy kept pace with me most of the way....

Butts getting sore, we were changing position frequently, I even sat
on the passenger pad for a while....

The already cracked mirror on the Buell finally gave up....

Parts falling off a Harley? Really?

Back at the hotel, we again showered and went in search of food,
drink, and entertainment. After a fruitless long walk, we ended up at
the Hard Rock, where Eddie the waitress efficiently and impressively
catered to us. As we ate, the mens' olympic swimming relay was on,
where the US came from behind and won by the tiniest of margins.

The whole bar was on it's feet, cheering. Someone said, " Look, the
french guy's crying. " Tim's instant quip, " Well, he's FRENCH." had
everyone cracking up.

We went downstairs on Eddie's advice. Tahoe Wabo was a little bar
with a dance floor and not much else. Feeling the bloat from big
steaks and many beers, we started into the hard stuff. Rum and cokes
gave way to vodka bulls, the night flew by. Spotted some cougars, but
no shots were fired. Walked the two blocks home (I think). Goodnight.

Day 6...

We woke late. Hard liquor after a long day and multiple beers. Not
good. Everyone was moving slow, my stash of OTC painkillers was
utilized. Decided that since days 4 and 5 had been long runs, and we
had less time pressure to return to Seattle after cutting Yosemite
out, we were due for a short day. Susanville was the target. Only 170
miles away.

Loaded up, it was already hot. Ran through Reno, the heat baking,
ovenlike. An open visor only resulted in hot air blowing in, closed
was a sweatbox on your head. Not fun.
The kevlar lined jeans trapped the heat, I was soon a sweaty mess.

The bustling traffic subsided as we put on the miles, the road
becoming more and more deserted. Winding through pine forests, up and
over low ridges, we let the bikes roll. Followed the shore of a small
lake, long sweepers and long straights. Many long minutes over
100mph, but out here it felt right. Not too fast, actually
appropriate for conditions. Got into the groove, flowing, allowing
the road to set the speed, feeling the "set" of the bike as the
cornering forces loaded the tires. Why we ride.

( Not really, it was being towed.)

Approaching Susanville, it became long boring straight stretches,
with increasing traffic. Wound open the gas here for a but, hit 170.
As I decelerated, I looked down, and inside my closed visor was a
hornet. Just lying stunned on the cheek pad, 1/2 inch from my face.

I pulled off to the side of the road, as soon as I stopped I tilted my
head down and the thing fell out onto the pavement. Not 10 seconds
later it started moving, then flew off. I shudder to think what a
sting at 170 would be like. Careful out there.

Entered Susanville, found a room and hit the pool. I went for a beer
run, the boys struck up a conversation with a fellow biker at the
pool named Al, he was taking Suzanne on her first overnighter on the
bike. We swapped stories and drank at the pool until we decided food
was necessary. Leaving " Snow White" with her one dwarf and having
made tentative plans for later, we headed to the casino for dinner,
then checked out "The Pioneer" as it apparently was the only bar in
town with any life.

Played some pool, met some locals, all in all a casual, mellow night,
a good end to our proclaimed "easy day". 'Night.

Day 7....

Awoke to yet another clear blue sky. Got up, geared up, and continued the run north. More high speed cruising, bikes working flawlessly. Sage growing wild everywhere, the scent filling the air.

I wanted to go see the Black mountain, a huge extrusion of obsidian in Lava Beds national monument, but the fact it was 20 miles of gravel to get there, 20 miles back, and no fuel stops meant the man would not come to the mountain this day.

We continued on, coming to a dot where we thought there might be fuel. Nope. Told there was gas 10 miles up the road, we ventured into the Petroglyph Point section of Lava Beds....

Modern art....
During WW1, an artist painted a flag on the opposite side of the rock to show support for the war effort....
Pretty cool, and only about 1/2 mile of gravel to negotiate to get there.

Back on the road, we were greeted yet again by 5-6 Oregon state troopers at various points near the border. Oregon's police budget must be massive.

Just as we entered Oregon, I felt a big hit on my right shoulder....

A big bloody bug hit with enough force to punch partially through the mesh.
Since Crater Lake was to be our highlight of Day 9, we stopped in the town of Klamath Falls for the night.

Got the hotel, found some food at a local restaurant/brewery, and went to a local pub. Got royally schooled by a local pool player, but it was cool, he was friendly and only took us for a buck while showing off some cool tricks. He told us the place to be was a small bar across the bridge, so off we went.

The ugly little bar was busy inside. We played some pool, some darts, talked with some locals. Happy times.

A random guy and his immensely fat sidekick comes up to our table, and, while initially friendly, quickly became arrogant and rude. Obviously on something (later found out he'd been in jail just 4 days prior for robbery, mace use, and meth possession), he insinuated we were gay, being from Seattle and all, etc. etc. Being your stereotypical redneck hicktown butthead. Asking us if we wanted to buy any drugs, acting all tough. Yeah.

I refused to play the game and he finally left, I realized our helmets were on the table, and our bikes were right outside. Fearing he'd mess with the bikes, I followed him out the door.

I no sooner was pushing the door open when he sucker punched me right in the face. Instantly furious, I pushed through the door, only to be blocked by his fat friend as the scumbag ran to the back of his car. Opening the trunk, he pulled a pistol out and stuck it in his waistband, then ran at me, pulling up his shirt to show me the gun.

By this time, my buddies were outside with me. They deserve praise, as they instantly went into action, trying to placate the guy. Finally, we all just jumped on our bikes and got the hell out of there.

We zigzagged through a few streets, making sure the lunatic wasn't following. Then we saw a cop car in a parking lot. Pulling right up, Tim told the story to the cop about the guy pulling a gun, gave the car's description, and we were soon witness to several police cars closing in at high speed from various tangents.

We remained in the lot while the police got the guy, Tim went and positively I.D.'d him. Apparently he was found in a nearby gas station, and apprehended at gunpoint. Hope he got a taste of how it feels.

The cop came back. While taking our statements, he mentioned he'd seen our bikes out front earlier, he was planning on ticketing us when we left the bar. Another car showed up, an officer got out and showed me the gun they'd recovered. it was an Airsoft gun. A little air powered toy that shoots plastic pellets. Looked real enough, especially in a darkened parking lot stuffed in a meth head's pants. Like Tim said, we weren't hanging around to find out the details.

I asked the cop if they could bring the guy out to the parking lot then leave for ten minutes so I could have a talk with him. The cop replied that if they did that, the guy would have ceased being a problem long before we had a run in with him.

How unbelievably stupid. What if I had a real gun when he'd pulled his fake one? This guy didn't know me, I was just a biker from out of town. He'd be dead, I'd be in jail. Idiot.

We returned to the hotel room, but were too jacked to sleep much. We woke early, left early. Thanks, Klamath Falls.

Day 8....

Just outside Klamath Falls, we ran across a wide field bordered by a lake. Millions of midges formed fine green clouds floating over the grasses, absolutely coating the bikes and our helmets with a green mist. The joys of being exposed to the elements....

Climbed the switchbacks to the immense, beautiful Crater lake.....

Coming down off the far side, we kept passing these cars whose windshields were virtually obscured with insect hits. At the 4000 foot mark, we found out. Bryant, riding sweep, saw us both duck down below the windshields simultaneously, then he was suddenly peppered with swarms of butterflies. We were running through a massive migration.

They looked like monarch butterflies, but were only 2 inches or so tall. Clouds formed and swirled, every hit was an audible "tick" inside your helmet, much like someone was flicking your visor with their fingernail.

Leaving 2 inch red and yellow smears, all you could do was tuck in, slow down, and ride it out, which finally happened 5 miles down the road.

The aftermath....

Well, we stopped in the small town of Glide to get some fuel and clean the bikes a bit. All the photos you've see so far might have been wiped out of existence, as I left my camera here on a gas station bench and drove away.

Realizing it not 100 feet up the road, I immediately thought, " Funny, guys... which one of you has my camera." But then I decided I couldn't make that assumption. I spun around, only to find the bench empty. Crap.

I went through all my luggage, but it was nowhere to be found. My new camera, with an 8 gig card inside containing the whole trip, gone.

I walked inside, asked to talk to the manager. He wasn't there, back in 1/2 hour, they said. I asked if anyone had seen a camera lying around. Nope.

By this time, the boys had noticed my absence and turned around. While Tim rode up and down the nearby streets to see if anyone was walking along with a shiny new toy, Bryant noticed there was a videocamera pointed near the bench. While it didn't cover the bench itself, anyone coming in without a camera and leaving with one would be visible.

I returned to the counter. " Could you have the manager come outside to talk to me when he arrives, please? I'll need to see that camera footage so when I call the police they'll have the information they'll need. Thanks."

Not 5 minutes later one of the employees walks up and says, " We have your camera. It's with the manager for safekeeping." Hmmmm.

Anyway, I finally got it back, which is why you're enjoying these pictures.

Happy to have the camera back pics....

An accidental shot, but it shows my patented crossover technique to rest the right wrist for a bit. You have to be careful not to hit the kill switch, and steering is reversed ( Don't believe in countersteering? Try this.), but it works fairly well....

Hot. I punched a small hole in a water bottle, the guys took turns coming up behind me as I squeezed the bottle. The atomized droplets became a cooling mist that gave us a break from the heat temporarily. I'm thinking next trip mounting a windshield sprayer and reservoir might be a good plan.

I'd noticed Tim's headlight was out. Easy replacement at an auto parts store, but the "riding a Harley" ribbing returned...

Made it to Reedsport on the coast after banking through a nice two lane for a few hours. Cool again. Grabbed a hotel, again with a 3 bed room. Another long day.

The hotel up the street had a bit of remodeling going on...

Bryant crashed hard on the chair, didn't even move when we went for food. Still, we all had our requisite beer as he'd done a beer run to the next-door gas station. No bars tonight.

Day 9....

Awoke to sunshine, got coffee at a shop Tim had been to before, the chrome roasting drum visible in a glass walled room out back.

Walked outside to find an old Ducati...

Continued up the coast, a gray fog bank appeared on the Pacific. It's coming in. We got on our cold weather gear...

Stopping at a stoplight three abreast in one of the small towns, Bryant (rightmost) yells, " What's That?" and points off to our left. I look, seeing nothing, then immediately accelerate as the light turned green. I look back, Tim's fumbling at the light, still not moving. I look at Bryant with a questioning eye. He's slapping his thigh, pantomiming turning off the ignition. In a flash I knew what had happened, Tim had gotten killswitched.

Every motorcycle has a big button on the right handlebar that's basically an on/off switch. the bike won't run or start until it's on, if the bike's running, it'll immediately shut it off. I'd read about it being used at track schools as a teasing way of getting ahead... reach over and turn off your buddy's bike as you come alongside, but a less dangerous prank was to distract someone and then hit their switch just as they're not expecting it. Like at a red light. Instant dead bike and bewildered rider. Funny stuff, but you know it's coming back at you.

Continued winding our way back toward Portland, finding the twistiest sections possible.

Found the 229. Long smooth straights interspersed with tight turns. Some road work meant we bunched up behing a new MP3 scooter, it was the 500cc model with three wheeels that tilt as you ride. The guy was dressed in proper gear, and was smooth, but he soon did the "pull to the right and wave us on by" thing as there's really no contest on smooth hot dry pavement with sportbikes.

We waved, then got to business. I led, the tight turns relegating me to only first gear (good for 100 mph). The torque and excellent grip allowing corner exits with the front hovering a foot in the air, carrying it unitl I needed to set it down to position and brake for the next hairpin. Fun stuff.

We slowed and waited.... No Tim. We turned around, and there he was, dusting off. He'd target fixated on a small rock in the lane and slid into a soft berm of thick pine needle droppings. No harm done, except for a clutch lever that was now modular and a turnsignal left for the road gods.

Still able to run, we got rolling again.

Heading toward Portland. I noticed these road markings...

Great idea - spaced out lanes and a rumble strip. Nice.

Made it into Portland, where a local dealer hooked us up with parts and the 411 on what to do in Portland. We met this Buell riding chick, she concurred with the dealer. This is her ride...

Nice plate. Also, the sticker on the tank says, " Keep your balls off my bike ."

Made Portland, found a hotel, found a great club with excellent scenery, cold beer, and good cheap food within stumbling distance, enjoyed the rest of the night. Goodnight.

Day 10...

As you can see, it's been a long ten days. We decided to simply cruise back along I-5, slabbing it north to Seattle and home. Our butts were sore, we'd been through a lot, time to recharge.

Wow. I-5 drivers are mindless, ignorant, rude, and zoned-out zombies. After thousands of miles of two lane with courteous bike friendly drivers, I can't count the number of times drivers simply changed lanes into my lane, cut us off, or purposefully got in our way just to give us the finger. Don't even get me started on the morons camping in the left lane, forcing twenty car lineups behind them to try get around when possible. What a messed up set of traffic priorities we have. Get the hell out of the fast lane, people!!!!. If there's a car right behind you, move over. Unbelievable. Hey cops... ticket these campers. Road rage and traffic flow will improve immensely.

We'd just finished our final fill up (nice to be able to pump your own fuel again), and were cruising down the highway when I felt my wallet shift. Like most riders, I have a specific place and ritual at stops so everything is in it's place and secure.

Pull up to the pump. Shift into neutral. Left foot holds the bike, right foot presses the rear brake pedal to stay secure. Open the visor. Turn off the bike, remove the key. Pull off the magnetic tankbag, place it on the handlebar/windshield so the gas cap is accessible. Use the key to open the cap, leaving it in the lock. Pull off your gloves, placing them on the tankbag. Reach into the right pocket, remove the wallet and card, swipe, then return the card to wallet to pocket... zip. Grab the nozzle, fill. Lock the tank, removing the key. Key and gloves in left hand, replace the tankbag. Key into ignition, gloves on, start bike. Rezero tripmeter. ( Most bike don't have a fuel gauge, either a petcock with a reserve or a simple "low fuel" light... most bikers watch their tripmeter to guesstimate when a fillup is needed.) Drive away.

Nice weather means my wallet is in my right-hand zippered mesh pocket, as the left side of my jacket is where I push my neck-strapped camera. This final stop, I'd neglected to zip the zipper.

I looked down just in time to see my poor wallet slide out and tumble down the highway. I immediately slowed and parked on the left shoulder, not 300 feet away. I told Tim, who was sweep and saw something come off, the story. He went off to find Bryant while I spun my bike around on the kickstand and rolled slowly back in the dirt.

Perfect timing. I no more got 50 feet that I saw a cop coming at me, lights flashing. I stopped. He came out of the car, yelling that I was going to get killed, what the hell was I doing, etc. I explained I'd dropped my wallet not 100 feet back. He still was upset, wanting to know exactly where it had come off, when a twenty caught my eye not ten feet away from his cruiser.

This seemed to placate him, he became actually helpful and rolled his cruiser backwards up the highway so I could search. Unbelievably, I found the wallet itself, my license and registration, my debit card, and 65 of the 120 or so I had. I thanked the cop, everything else was replaceable/nonessential.

Got back rolling, eating up the miles. Got home, 26806 miles on the odometer. Damn good trip.

Where to next year?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let go again in November!
- TY

7:09 PM  

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