IMG_20140727_073629

This is very close to heaven. Riding in the Sequoia National Park, on the General’s Highway (all tall trees here are named for Generals), at 7AM with No One on the Road and the smell of camp fires in the air. Thirty extraordinary minutes.

 

Every once in a while, a man has to be a man.  A biker has to be a biker.  No more meetings full of smiles.  No more doing the laundry.  No more taking the dog out for a walk.  All these and many more are all necessary parts of life; no argument here.  But what about one’s inner Bad Ass Biker Dude self?  When does he get to play?

Today, right now.

IMG_20140728_180956

Typical planning session. ” I’ll have a screwdriver.” followed by the two most relevant questions: Where am I now and where do I want to go next?

Well, at least the older and slower-moving version of my Bad Ass Biker Dude self is out amongst them on my steed.  I decided that a mini-trip around California was in order to make sure all things were still working.  My Biker Babe couldn’t make it as she’s in Mexico playing Innkeeper to the World. This was an opportunity to do exactly what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it.  Men, read that again and try to memorize it.

Most of our trips answer some question beyond the most basic of all, “What’s over there!”  This one is no different:

  • What will NVII be like to ride?  Can I get comfortable on him? This will be NVII’s first real trip of any length.  A: Simply stated – NV II is the best bike I’ve ever owned.  He makes riding easy.   Even though he’s pretty heavy, NV II feels stable as a rock in corners.   Having 125 HP means never having to say “Move over!”  as acceleration eliminates all arguments.
  • Can I still ride a bike?   Not as dumb of a question as it might seem.  In fact, it’s probably the question.  Can I get back to being a smooth riding dude?  Can I get over being sick-to-my-stomach on a bike?  Will I ever get my confidence back? Will the little voice in my head always whisper, “The front!  The front won’t stick and you’ll end of up in the bushes!”  A:  See above for much of the answer — NV makes riding fast, easy.  But, it’s also been days and days of nothing but riding twisting roads and I now feel as one with NV.  The tires are getting scuffed on the side walls and I’m wearing out the new-tire-nipples on the sides (Biker dudes will know what I mean).  Yet, I’m still rusty as things move a lot faster than I remember at 120mph.
  • What’s it going to be like traveling without my Biker Babe?  This is the first significant m/c trip I’ve taken without KR.  Will I cry like a baby from loneliness?   Or will I be the m/c equivalent of Bear Grylis, fending for myself no matter what is thrown my way?  A: Well, I haven’t cried out loud, but its much better sharing with the Little Woman on the intercom.   KR wouldn’t have liked the first three days — ride hard, ride fast, don’t stop until you drop.  After that, she would have loved experiencing travel vs. riding.

I also discovered some things that weren’t expected:

  • Riding with a helmet-mounted radio and mobile phone is pretty damn cool.  Up until now I’ve been a purest, only wanting to hear the sound of the engine and wind in my face (OK, that’ not counting the melodic beats of KR telling me to slow down).  Not anymore.  There’s nothing like listening to good tunes cruising down the Coast Highway.  Or taking a phone call and having the caller not know I was on my bike.
  • California still holds surprises.  I’ve lived in California for decades and have ridden most of its roads lots of times, yet there are still places that seem like another world.  Take the little towns of the Eastern Sierras, or the Way-Back-Time-Machine of Garberville with today’s hippies looking as grungy as I did when their age.  What other town would have an annual Reggae on the River festival?
  • I like camping (still)!   Just for giggles, I took our camping gear along just in case.  Good thing as  I used it in a deserted camp ground on the Lost Coast.  Was able to pitch the tent et. al. pretty easily and even figured out how to light a fire. All the while consuming alcohol and listening to music.  National Geographic eat your heart out.
  • I tried every electronic gadget on NVII and didn’t see the point.   I couldn’t tell the difference between the “Road” and “Dynamic” settings.  Changing spring rates didn’t seem to make much difference either.  Maybe that’s the point — they’re not there to be effective, just more toys to play with while riding.  Works for me.

My trip plan was pretty simple: Go north along the eastern edge of California, make a left turn at some point and go to the Coast, then turn left again and head south back down the Coast.  Basically an inverted “U”.  I went north staying in the Sierras and avoiding any Freeways,  past Tahoe and up to the fine city of Susanville (Susan must have been a hell of a chick as her namesake even has a Starbucks, which is my first measure of a City That I’d Want to Visit).  Then I hung a left and sprinted across the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway running 100+ in mph and degrees Fahrenheit.  Stayed in Eureka and then went down a combo of Hwy 1 and 101.  Pretty simple.  And pretty great.

Here’s what the trip looked like in pictures.

IMG_20140726_131306

Mad Max, the artist. Mel Gibson’s latest creations include a hood-full of battle ships — both the sea and space variety. Max has evolved into a trusting sort as he’s in the back room bar, not worried too much that someone will steal his gas or art… BTW, Mel is hanging out in the forest south of Three Rivers:)

IMG_20140727_072613

Get over it ladies!  No biker post would be complete without a Beauty Shot. NV II in the Sequoia National Park at 7:00AM. God, I could kiss him…

then

I spent a night in Tahoe.  I highly recommend this little motel.  Charming, well-run and right across the street from the action…

then

Speaking of which, there was a lot of partying going on in Tahoe this Sunday night.  I, of course, being a man of judgement, just walked on by without even having one itsey teeny weeny drink.  Pretty damn impressive or depressing…

then

This is the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, which stretches from Susanville on the East to Redding in the West, way up toward the top of the State.  It’s the northern most road in which you can go from side of the state to the other.   It’s one of the most beautiful areas I’ve been to  (well, more accurately, one of the most beautiful places that I’ve been through)

then

Great road as far as one can see.  I chickened out at 120, although NV II was still pulling strong.

then

Road Warrior.

then

For three days straight temperatures were 109, 107, 108.   Then I hit the Coast and the temp went down 50 degrees in 30 minutes.  This is a picture early in the morning as I climb the mountains that surround the Lost Coast.

then

In addition to the above, large parts of the Lost Coast were clear cut for timber to rebuild San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.

then

As close to an art shot as I’m going to get.

then

Coming down from the mountains to the Coast line.

this

It takes close to 1  1/2 hours to get from the 101 to the Lost Coast, partly because one has to wind  through the Kings Range park.

then

Almost five years ago, KR and I went to the Lost Coast for a Horizon’s Unlimited meeting.  We wandered around and found a remote camp ground on the beach.  I some how found it again this trip  (its not marked on the road) and decided to try m/c camping for the first time in ages.   Making like a Camping Machine, I set up camp in 15 minutes using a tent that KR and I first used in 1993.

then

After a quick run to the store to get provisions, I’m settling in for a night of getting close to nature.

then

Bear Grylis Rule No. 1 is to be  creative in solving problems.   So, out goes the computer and other electronics, and in goes the ice, beer, wine and.. voila, we have a moveable cooler.:)

then

This coast looks beautiful from afar, but up close, it looks real cold.  Even Bear wouldn’t be dumb enough to go in the water here.

then

This is the Travel and Leisure photo of Man Taking a Coastal Vacation article.

then

This is the its “F__king Cold and I need some fortification for the night ahead”  shot in Biker Dude magazine

then

Problem:  aside from the beer and sandwich that I bought, I have no other camping supplies with me.  I need a fire.  So, who say’s newspapers are dying?  I use a couple of days worth of the NYTimes, some lost-and-found wood, a borrowed lighter and…

then

I have the strongest fire at the camp site, which is not too difficult to achieve as my fellow campers are all in their RV’s/trailers and not dumb enough to be outside.

then

Tent up?  √  Fire started√  Beer and wine in use √  Night vision goggles ready √  What’s missing?

then

Tunes, of course.  Fellow campers are thinking this biker dude is crazy as he’s playing his music way too loud and dancing around…

then

On the way home,  this is the typical view.  Just miles and miles of I-want-to-soak-it-in scenery.  At 60 mph of course.   This shot is somewhere north of SF.

then

I have a weird relationship with the town of San Luis Obispo.  Seems I’ve ended up there on numerous m/c trips.  I know the hotels, the Starbucks, the  movie theaters and the places to eat (CA Pizza Kitchen above).

then

No m/c trip  on a BMW would be complete without a visit to a BMW M/C dealer for service.  NVII’s Cray Computer Sized Brain had some electrical seizures, so I thought I’d stop at a dealer on the way in to get an MRI.   Service department is booked to September.  Not really a confidence-giving signal to a new BMW owner.

 

2100 miles in seven days is kind of wimpy, I admit.  On the positive side, there were no crashes, breakdowns, robberies, or bear sightings.  And we’re ready for the next one.

4 replies
  1. Judi says:

    Thanks for the shoreline picture. I will be painting it for you…
    However, that means you have to come to FL to pick it up!

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *