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.
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.
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.