21 of 29 – Three wheels of utter terror

In this photo we have the seemingly innocuous Scootcar, rented in San Francisco a couple of years ago under the advisement of one FuzzyGalore.  Notice she’s not the sucker tasked with piloting that three-wheeled death trap.

Three wheels of utter terror

Three wheels of utter terror

 

Now, if you are considering driving in one around on relatively horizontal roadways, they are reasonably unsafe.  The vibrating wheel and loose front end make up for the complete lack of brakes and/or acceleration.  Bend or lean the road on any plane and it becomes exponentially more difficult to control.

 

Clearly unsatisfied with any garden-variety danger level, we decided a good vehicle test would be to take it down Lombard street (the curviest street in the galaxy, I think).

At the top of Lombard there were a good handful of people cheering us on – and let’s be honest, I’m pretty sure they were hoping for a fiery crash.  We navigated the road without incident, but at the bottom is a long decline where at one point I looked over at Fuzzy and remarked that my leg was going to fall off from pressing the drum brakes, the car was not stopping and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep us from riding through the intersection out of control.

 

 

 

This post is part of a series inspired by fuzzygalore.com – we are trying to post a moto picture every day for February!  Can you do 29 in 29?!

California to Montana Day 4: Heading Further North

I awoke the next morning, having already heard the spatter of rain on the motel roof, and on the asphalt outside, glad my bike was parked directly outside my door under the eaves, since I’d run the battery tender cable out through a window to recharge the battery just in case. I got dressed, prepared for rain, went outside to pack the bike, and noticed the 2 harleys had been put away in their precious little trailer. What wankers.
Left the motel, went to get gas at the corner, and headed north along US-34 towards Rocky Mountain National Park, under a light rain. Rode along the edge of a lake, until I reached the park entrance, where I was waved through, and noticed multiple speed limit warnings in a row, followed by one telling you speeding kills wildlife. I figured I’d comply since the ground looked like this, and I’d just cruise at the mellow 45mph limit to take in the sights.

At first, I didn’t really fathom what the big deal was about this National Park, as the woods were scenic enough, and the granite mountains off in the distance were nice, but didn’t have that “zing” to it that makes you stop and be in awe. Wonderful scenery to be sure, but not “wow”

I motored through the park, climbing back up to 10,000 feet, realizing my rain gloves, though waterproof, didn’t insulate at ALL, and I was getting sick of having my fingertips be numb from the cold temperatures.

The road slowly began to wind a bit more, and finally came around a hill where I could see a valley, with a small river flowing through it. The wow factor was finally presenting itself. I stopped to take a picture, thinking it all looked so “Sound of Music” below.

I continued to climb further up, until I came to a bend in the road that presented a huge ridge of mountains in the park. Yeah, that was the wow factor I was looking for. It was pretty cool :)

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The road began it’s tighter, curvier descent down the mountain, and the sun had already broken through the sky, presenting dry asphalt on the northeast side of the mountain, showing the valley below. You could already see the little town of Estes Park below.

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I rode down the rest of the way, and stopped at a sporting goods store to see if they had any insulating gloves that were water “resistant” at least, or some thermasilk liners. They only had basic winter gloves, the kind you only wear in the snow for 10 minutes before your hands are soaked, but like I said, I was tired of my fingers being cold.

I went across the street to have a quick breakfast, where this uptight old hag just stared me down from the table next to me while I sat quietly eating my food and punching in a new route into the Zumo. I had originally planned to make a complete loop around Rocky Mountain NP, but realizing I’d have to do the traffic filled switchbacks just off I-70, and go through a bunch of areas I didn’t want to go through again, I decided on a route heading out towards I-25 and the doubling back west to go into Wyoming. I finished my breakfast, and gave the woman at the other table a “WTF you lookin’ at” gesture, and she hid her face in her bowl of oatmeal.

I finally decided on heading out towards Fort Collins, and then doubling back across CO SR-14 (which was AWESOME – 90 miles of 2 lane road following a river) to Walden, which was my portal out of Colorado and up into Wyoming.

The section between Estes Park and Fort Collins was your typical suburbian commute, dull and boring, sadly with almost nothing to photograph. I crossed back West over SR-14, which follows a river for about 80 miles,although it had a good number of cars to get around, before you climb up to 9,000 feet, and then drop into a valley that leads into Walden.

As I dropped out of the mountain pass, the landscape began to flatten out, opening up into wide plains, which only meant one thing; pesky wind that began buffeting me lightly around in my lane.

At least the winds weren’t TOO strong and I was only being made to wander around in my half of the lane.

As I reached Walden, I wondered where Thoreau was, and if he could tell me what the big deal was about his pond.

I stopped for gas, checking the Zumo, and I could hear the tuba going “WAH WAH” as I was informed I had 304 miles to go, and it all looked like wide open, straight roads of Wyoming’s plains.

I looked up, and saw a pair of sportbikes across the street with saddlebags, and idled over to them, and said how nice it was to see something other than a Harley that was actually getting used for touring.

“Actually, we’re from Chicago… we trailered in, we’re about 50 miles down the road.” one guy told me. I had to shake my head. Chicago is far and all, but jeez. Doesn’t anyone ride their damn bike anywhere?

I wished them a good ride, recommended SR-14 to them, and told them there were spots where it was raining on the road, and to be careful.

I motored out of town heading north, and I wasn’t even 1/4 mile out of town when it began to rain. I pulled over to don my rain suit, and headed up towards Wyoming.
No sooner did I crest a hill about 2 miles later, when I was literally hit with a wall of wind. The clouds in front were thick and heavy, and the rain had been picking up, but that ridge must have been holding back all the wind from the clouds because it just slammed right into me. 70 felt like 120 with my helmet being pushed back, and I just stayed in a tuck as best I could, and dealt with the buffeting.
Of course the road would turn, and it would go from a headwind to a crosswind, and I’d be riding sideways just to track straight in the road. Priceless. I checked the Zumo, and it merrily gave me the finger, as it informed me there were 270 miles to go.

I finally reached the Wyoming border, cold, wet and shivering,  and pulled over for a picture so the wind was blowing AT my bike, so it would at least dig the stand into the ground, and not blow it over instead.

I motored on, heading up to Rawlings, and from there, Muddy Gap, Wyoming. By now I was about 100 miles into Wyoming, and I’d only gotten welcome with wind and rain. The section between Rawlings and Muddy Gap just cranked it up a notch, heavier winds, more rain, and I was crouched in a tuck trying to hide behind my windscreen, wearing 5 layers, with my Gerbings ON, and still shivering. I remembered Kenny saying there’s no such thing as waterproof, as I moved my arms and upper body around a little bit trying to feel for any water that had soaked through, though I seemed to be dry. I was reaching a low point, cold, shivering, neck sore from the wind, and trying to ride in a full tuck to get SOME cover from my windscreen. And nothing but straight roads, to boot.

Stopped for gas in Muddy Gap, where 2 riders, one on a GS, the other on a Harley informed me it was only raining a little bit on the way to Yellowstone, and I told them about the conditions to expect heading down to Rawlings.

Thankfully they were right, and the skies began to open up, and the wind subsided by about 80% giving me a welcome respite from being knocked around. I looked to my left and saw the system I had just ridden through, and was glad to be out of it. In front of me, the sun illuminated clouds ahead, but at least there WAS some sun, and I was heading towards it.

I love how you can see the speedo readout on the Zumo in this picture :)

I love how you can see the speedo readout on the Zumo in this picture :)

Seemingly hours later (maybe just 100 miles) I began to see the finish line, as the trip meter counted under 200 miles to go, and I was riding through patches of sunshine.

No sooner did I stop for gas, and headed on my way again, when the road slowly curved north, and I blinked a couple of times, thinking the road couldn’t be taking me where it looked like it was headed.

I groaned as I checked the Zumo and saw it was indeed taking me right to that system in front of me. I gritted my teeth and decided there was no other way through.

At the very least, I took time to be amazed at how quick, and how dark the clouds blanketed the land in front of me. Those clouds couldn’t be more than 5-600 feet above my head. I was amazed, there’s no weather like this in CA.

As I began to ride under the clouds, rain started to spatter on my helmet again, faster and faster, until I was getting a strong, heavy rain on me again. I began to see lightning off to my right, where the clouds were the thickest, and the frequency of the lightning increased until I was able to see the bolts of lightning themselves hitting the ground, first on one side, then on the other. I actually laughed at the stupidity of the situation.

Thankfully, the road and weather took pity on me, curving to the West, away from the storm. The lightning quickly subsided first, then the rain, until finally I was out from under the dark clouds, and even saw a faint rainbow trying to show itself from under the storm I had gotten out of.

The rest of the road continued along for the last 100 miles, with a rabbit presenting itself in the form of a big Mercury sedan going 90, allowing me to chase it at 85, and cover those last miles quicker, without the fear of a trooper lighting me up.

As I finally rolled the last 15 miles into Dubois, Wyoming (I’d been wondering how the F you pronounced it, was it Doo-Bwah, like in French? Dew-boys? Who settled this place that gave the town its name?)
I began to follow the Great Wind River, which had cut away some familiar formations, reminiscent of Utah.

Finally got into town, checked into a motel, had dinner, and ran across some Goldwing riders that told me it had been snowing further up the road to Yellowstone, and the road construction ahead had made the trip quite sketchy.

I took heed, went back to my motel, finally warmed up with a hot shower, and went to bed.

California to Montana: Day 3 – Five Digit Elevations

My apologies for the long delay in the write-ups… it’s been a great, busy holiday season, so without ado, here goes the next part of the trip

As morning broke on Colorado, I stepped outside of the motel to find a light drizzle coming down, put my rain gear on and headed off. Stopped to refuel, and headed East on I-70 for a short while to get off on US-6, which made a loop heading southwest, and down towards Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
I noticed the weather just got worse with more dense clouds, and colder and colder temperatures, finally checking the GPS to see what my altitude was, and I found I’d already crested 10,000 feet elevation, before 7AM. No wonder I was so cold.

The road led me back down in elevation, through several charming little towns going about their mid-week business, all quiet and charming. I followed several highways down along Colorado State Route 50, which turned into US-50, chasing a duelly truck for miles, figuring he was a local, and since he was going a TAD bit faster than me, he’d sweep up any possible cops up ahead, waiting in the drizzling morning. Eventually I branched off towards Gunnison National Park, where the hillsides sheltered somewhat from the low-lying clouds.

Turning off US-50 onto SR-92, my fuel light came back on, and I checked for the nearest gas station, which said 37 miles away, so I put it in, figuring I could make it no problem. Once routed, it was 46 miles away going through the windy road that went across the mountain. I dropped a gear or two, and putted through the damp windy road at 3500 RPM in order to milk more mileage out of the tank. I didn’t stop for pictures here as the mountain was blanketed with thick clouds, so my visibility was limited, though I was able to see a whole group of young deer grazing just off the side of the road – thankfully they didn’t move when I went by.
Finally making it to the next town, and gas, (I’d been sweating bullets for the past hour wondering if I’d be able to make it to the gas station) I ended up putting 4.42 gallons in my tank. The manual states the bike holds 4.3. Pretty sure I made it there on fumes, and not wanting to risk running out again, I decided to fill up the 1 gal can of gas I had strapped to the bike in case I came that close to running out again.

The road next took me along SR-133, which lazily followed a river, and where most of the locals were out for their weekend ride. This was the first time since I’d left home that I’d even seen sportbikes, and almost all of them were riding without helmets. Just can’t get over the fact people let all the road debris hit their face.

SR-133 branched at SR-82, towards Independence Pass. The road led me through Aspen, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. The town greets you with an airport filled with private jets, no less than three local cops parked on the road enforcing the town’s 25mph speed limit and “no cruising” law. Downtown Aspen was even worse; clogged with spotless Land Rovers and Mercedez G-Wagons, I figured they were the locals who had driven their “utility vehicles” out of the garage to go preen downtown. You couldn’t even smell the mountain air anymore over the cologne and perfume of the douches walking along the streets. It was like the pretentiousness of the west side of Los Angeles, all over again. I hated it.

Passing through the three blocks of downtown Aspen cemented my conclusion to never bother snowboarding in Colorado. Utah has plenty of places with epic snow to go to.

As I pulled out of town, the road wound through a few more houses, before finally going right into a little forest, before the tarmac ended altogether, and the road was packed gravel. I figured it had to be easier for the CO DOT to maintain a gravel road than deal with the thaw and freeze of winter at these elevations.

I kept getting right on the tail of the GS1200 who I found along this road, and he’d wave me by, since he was going a staggering 20mph, but since we were both stopping to take pictures, we ended up leapfrogging each over about a dozen times. I found it pretty amazing to be riding through a forest of these aspen trees. I’d only seen them in Ansel Adams photographs, but never in person. Just beautiful.

The road eventually climbed from about 9000′ around Aspen, to about 12,000′ as it headed towards Independence Pass. I stopped to take a picture of the valley I had just come through, with a small river snaking through it.

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Peaking at Independence Pass, I stopped to take a picture at the mandatory sign, and had an elderly couple ask me to take their picture with the sign. They were wearing thin polos and khaki shorts, both shivering uncontrollably. I think I saw them sprint like gazelles back to their RV as soon as I handed the camera back. I hopped back on the bike and began descending in elevation, down towards I-70 below.

The road finally branched off at US-24, then SR-9 heading up towards the interstate, as the road followed yet another river, through several coal mines, loading rail cars right along the highway, and finally these giant sentinels, welcoming and saying goodbye from the mountain pass.

Finally reaching I-70, I jumped on it for about 30-40 miles heading East, as my destination now was Idaho Springs, CO, and towards Mount Evans. I stopped for a picture at the Eisenhower Tunnel, which is supposed to be the highest elevation vehicle tunnel in the world.

It was a good 20 degrees warmer inside the tunnel than it was outside. I enjoyed the temporary warmth, and was happy to see the sun was breaking through the clouds onto the interstate on the other side of the tunnel.
It was here I hit a traffic jam, with all the lanes stopped. I was about to say “screw it” and just lane split like back in CA, but decided not to, and not 2 seconds later, I see a Sheriff’s car 2 vehicles in front of me. Come to think of it, what could he have really done to try and follow me? Oh well, better safe than sorry.

10 miles later, I exited to Idaho Springs, which looked like a charming little town, complete with brewery and little boutique shops. Too bad I didn’t have time to stop and look around. I headed up the road to Echo Lake, and jumped onto SR-5 towards the summit of Mount Evans. The whiteboard at the entrance to the road mentioned it was 36F at the top of the road. I put on my rain coat just for an extra layer to have on.

14 miles later, and several great views later, I crested to the top of the road, at 14,168 feet, passing alpine lakes and meadows along the way. It was indeed, quite cold and quite windy up at the top of Mt Evans. You could even see Denver, 60 miles away off in the distance. I laughed as I took pictures off the side of the road while moving up SR-5, since Kenny had joked in California how I was doing it “off the side of a cliff” when really it was just a lazy slope. This hillside was more applicable to his exaggerations.

The view from the highest road in North America

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Heading off once more, the bike hesitated to start for a moment, but a small blip of the throttle gave the mixture enough oomph to fire the engine up in the thinner air. I’d hate to think how poorly a carburated bike would perform at that altitude.

I descended SR-5 again, back through Idaho Springs, and a short jump West on I-70 again to US-40, which on the map, had an awesome section of switchbacks, which I wanted to take a picture of, but found they were actually too big to take a picture of from the top. I did find this aerial picture of the road to illustrate what it was like:

I had several cars attempt to “keep up” with me, since I was going maybe 5-10mph faster than everyone else (the uphill section was 2-lane, downhill was one lane) but I kept losing them since they couldn’t maneuver around traffic as easily as I could. There’s nothing at all redeeming about cars, is there?

Cresting at 11,000 feet, the road started to come back down, and led through a few towns, one which was having a War Veteran’s rally, and the main drag was choked full of Harleys and slow moving everything. Luckily I saw on the GPS there was a road behind the main drag where I could bypass everything, and it got me through that town quick and without issue. I suddenly wondered if there would be rooms available where I wanted to stay, but as the road listed it 20 miles away I figured I’d be OK since most rally types wouldn’t ride as far as 20 miles to go barhopping.

Finally reaching Granby, CO, I pulled into what looked like a decent motel, asked the clerk the rate, and got a room. As I was turning to leave the office I asked him “you guys have wifi, right?”
He chuckled. “Hell, we ‘aint even got telephones.”

So I unpacked my stuff, went to dinner where I shivered all through it, and when I came back, 2 harley guys were lounging outside their room.

“Bike’s kinda dirty, isn’t it?” they said gesturing to the RSV.
“Yeah, three 500 plus mile days of rain, off and on. I notice your bikes didn’t get dirty coming all the way from that trailer over there.” I said gesturing to the enclosed trailer 20 feet away with “Chopper This” and “Custom That” on the side.

They both looked into their beers for a witty reply, but found none.

Went inside, where I finally warmed up with a nice hot shower, checked over the next day’s route, and went to bed.

California to Montana Day 2: Discovering Utah

Hello again, hope you all enjoyed Day 1 of my Ride Report,  so I’ll continue on!

On the morning of day 2 of my trip, I woke up to a planned “short” day of 492 miles. The morning brought cool, crisp temperatures at 7200 feet, so I put on 2 layers under the Gerbings, and set off into the morning sunrise, which was already creating a light show on the hills around me.

Heading East on Utah SR-24, I headed towards the Dixie National Forest again, and was once again greeted by high canyon walls, this time in the form of Meeks Mesa

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I had to stop and gawk for a minute, before continuing East towards Hanksville, passing through terrain features that if you told me I was on the moon, I would have believed you.

I stopped for a quick fill up of gas, and branched off the road heading southeast on Utah SR-95, towards Glen Canyon and Lake Powell. As soon as the road approached Glen Canyon, I was once again amazed by the topography, and saw deep gorges right next to the side of the road, cut away by flowing water. It was all such amazing stuff to see.

Since making my turnoff at Hanksville, I had seen a couple of trucks pulling boats, which seemed odd to me, being in the middle of the desert, but everything became clear once I started seeing signs for Lake Powell, which finally revealed itself off in the distance.

It was AMAZING, to say the least. High cliff walls, topaz water, and that was way off in the distance. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and couldn’t  pass up the chance to divert off the road onto a vista point. The view that followed was absolutely mind-blowing.

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The whole vista just seemed to be made all the better by the low ceiling of clouds overhead. The sky being closed in made the massive scale of everything in front of me just a little bit more comprehensible. Just a little bit. And Glen Canyon had no shortage of stunning sights, and the road just flowed like poetry through the landscape.

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While stopping to take a few pictures, save for the ones on the move, I noticed I had passed the same big rig hauling a crane about a half dozen times. I wondered if I was more annoying or amusing to the guy.

The road slowly led out of the deep canyons through smaller rolling hills, surrounded by coniferous trees, in stark contrast to the landscape that was just nearby. Turning off on SR-261, the rolling hills eased, and a sign appeared that the pavement ended in half a mile, and there were narrow roads and tight turns ahead. I figured it was just more road construction, but I had no idea I had been riding on top of a massive butte for the past hour, and had abruptly come to the edge of it.

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The road continued visibly below, and the only way down was a section of tight switchbacks that dropped you to the valley below in a short section. Good thing I was prepared with Road 2′s on the RSV, because I remember reading something about them being dual-sport, or something.

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The road finally met up with the pavement again, and I was off, headed towards the southern tip of Utah, and Monument Valley. Stopping for gas in Mexican Hat (which is actually just a rock chimney on top of a small butte, surrounded by construction trucks, apparently) I rode past a toasted redneck doing his best Peter Fonda, with American flag bandana and ape hangers on his Harley. With the amount of insects on my shield, I imagined he was sporting a winning smile under his mullet.

A few miles further down the road, Monument Valley began to appear. Now, maybe it’s because I had just come through the magnitude of Glen Canyon, and I’d been seeing buttes of many, many scales all over souther Utah, but Monument Valley didn’t blow my mind the way Glen Canyon did. It seemed to me that Monument Valley just had the largest, most glaring examples of how wind and water erode the rock, but have left some of the highest standing islands of stone in the desert.

The road turnoff into Monument Valley finally appeared, next to a cheezy casino/kitsch shop, and I turned onto the Indian reservation, where the signs said it was $5 to enter. I slowed down to 30 to rummage through my tank bag and check to see if I even had any cash on me (because in this age of plastic and the debit card, who actually CARRIES cash?) and luckily I had a whopping $7 in my pocket.

Turns out, Monument Valley is really small-ish parking lot with a restaurant/gift shop that was under construction at the time, filled with many a worker shouting profanities in Spanish. It made me chuckle, as I stared out at the vista, and noticed a dog lying on the ground at the edge of the parking lot. I didn’t know if it was dead or injured, but it let me know when I got closer as it growled and scampered off, that it had been just in fact, taking a nap.
Just below the parking lot, at Monument Valley, there’s a dirt “road” that leads into the valley itself, where tourists can traverse foxhole sized craters and random rocks the size of basketballs jutting out of the dirt, in order to get a closer look at the vistas. I had already done some packed ground, so I figured I’d ride down to take a closer look.

I made it down as far as a small clearing where there were some card tables set up to sell foolish tourists garbage and jewelry that they don’t really need (I’m sure it’s finely crafted and all, but I’m a cynical bastard.) The path down there was filled with Volvos and rented RV’s going 5mph as all the occupants bounced around inside with the uneven road surface. I hit a downhill section of deep sand, and feathered the rear brake only, deciding that packed gravel was fine, but traversing sand on the Michelins was just shitty, and I wasn’t about to go much further.

Thankfully the view where I stopped was worth it.

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On my way back up towards tarmac, the downhill section of sand had an RV starting to go up, and I could tell the driver was hesitant to get up it, and I didn’t want to get myself buried having to stop behind him, so I went around the RV which was creeping forward at a glacial pace, made it 3/4 of the way up, tried to avoid a huge dome of sand, and went right into a hole as deep as that pile was tall. The front wheel made it through, but I felt the bike lose momentum and dropped my feet as soon as I felt the rear sink into the hole and stop. I feathered out the clutch and felt the rear spin, so I hopped off the bike, rocked it back and forth at a 45 degree angle to the incline of the road to get the bike out of the hole, and walked the last 50 feet next to the bike giving it a touch of gas and clutch to help me move it up through the sand. As I climbed back on, I looked behind me and saw the RV shooting a huge rooster tail of sand as the back corner of it sank even deeper into the road. Poor guy was probably going to be there awhile…

Back on US-163 I headed down a half mile to the Arizona border, and as I snapped the picture of the Welcome sign, I realized I was “close” to the four corners, and I may as well be a touristy dumbass and go there as well.

Stopping for gas and a disgusting lunch of fried chicken strips in Arizona, I punched the location of Four Corners into the GPS, and realized I was actually 70 miles from where it was, which was a little further than I had anticipated. I figured I may as well, and set off on US-160 heading East. It was boring, flat, and dull with little to look at. Why was I going to the Four Corners again?

Finally, about an hour later, I crossed into the tip of New Mexico, and headed up the road leading to Four Corners.

Finally arriving at Four Corners, it turned out to be another section of Reservation, wanting another $5 for an entry fee. It took me about half a second to decide that for another $5 in cash I didn’t have, I didn’t really give a shít about seeing a metal plaque on the ground marking a political boundary, with other people milling about holding hands in four different states.
I motored on into Colorado.

Now the sign says “colorful Colorado” but the southwest corner of Colorado greets you with these small, grey domes of rock that make it look more like a pit mine than a scenic state. I soon stopped for gas again, filled up my camelbak as the weather was in the low 90′s now, and continued up US/SR-491 back into Utah, into a little town called Monticello. Now the only thing that town and the mansion Jefferson built for himself share is that they both have f’d up streets, wet from rain, and torn up by bulldozers. (Thomas Jefferson had bulldozers, look it up.)

US-191 heading north out of Monticello was pretty scenic still, with buttes off in the distance, and some close to the road. There was even another natural arch right off the road, with a housing tract behind it (an extravagant $130K buys you a home here!

This rock formation on US-191 looked like a giant, fat, stone woman

I crossed back into Colorado, through a nice flowing road that lead into La Sal National Forest, and was a welcome change from the 200-something miles I’d just done of straight highway roads. A quick detour south led me to the nearest gas station the GPS was able to find, where again I topped over 4.2 gallons, well past the safe point of the “reserve” in the tank.

After refueling I headed north again where the road branched off north to Colorado SR-141, and was easily the best road of the day, certainly ranking amongst the best of the trip. The road leads you from slow rolling forests, right along a river, right into another massive canyon, where the river widens, and the road flows right alongside it. You soon find yourself surrounded by 100 foot vertical cliffs, riding amongst giant stone monoliths, ancient and silent. I truly felt humbled by the scale and beauty of the surroundings. It’s hard to show in pictures, but there were about 30 miles of riding alongside the river that had carved out these canyon walls. I’d go back and ride it again in a heartbeat.

SR-141 eventually wound down, as it neared Grand Junction, Colorado, where everybody drives 40mph, despite the posted limit is 50, and the cop that was taking a nap 5 seconds ago won’t hesitate to pull into the street and follow that “rice rocket” with the bags on it that just rolled by him (still below the speed limit)

After stopping at a motel in a quiet suburb of Grand Junction and asking Agnes (she was old and crabby, I assumed she had a name like that) how much the single was (85+ tax, and they’re ALL smoking rooms) I decided to head back west on I-70 towards the airport at Grand Junction where I knew there were motels and stuff available.

Settled on the Motel 6, which sported a cool 44.95 price on the sign, got checked in, somehow got bumped up to 50-something with bullshít fees, AND had to pay $3 for 24 hours of internet.Awesome. One star fleabags offer free internet and the cocks at Motel 6 still charge you for internet like it’s 2002 and wireless is something new and cutting edge? See if I ever stay at your crap locations again. In fact, I urge everyone to avoid staying there if at all possible.

I unpacked my stuff, checked the odometer and somehow ended up with 631 miles in 11 hours. The Four Corners had been more or less a needless detour that resulted in nothing more than the amusement of tagging the New Mexico welcome sign.
Had dinner at Cocos (finest quality meal I’d had thus far) went to Home Depot to get some WD-40 to lube my chain, and went to bed. Decided to ruin a towel from the motel cleaning my chain for charging me for wifi. Bastards.

California Trip

We arrived in San Francisco on Wednesday morning after having had the most fitful sleep the night before. You would think that being up half the night and a 7:00 am flight would be a recipe for sleep on the 6+ hour plane ride, but it was not to be. I don’t know if it was my own adrenalin, fear of flying, excitement for the adventure that lay ahead that kept me awake on that flight or what it was. But, I sat there for the better part of six hours wondering what was in store for me when we touched down and made our way out in to the California sun.

“How was your trip?” people ask. I don’t usually know how to answer that to properly do justice to the experience. I could say it was 40 different things and answer the question correctly, but not fully. Now as I type this, I think that the best I can say is that it was… life. It was amazing, it sucked, it was fun. It was easy, hard, hot and cold. It was too long and not long enough. I was happy to be away but missed home with every ounce of my being. It was indeed a slice full of life.

Wednesday June 11, 2008 New York to San Francisco, Ca

Let’s get the pre-requisite tourist landmarks out of the way Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf & Pier 39. They’re all here, they’re all touristy and I loved them all.

 The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco 

A cable car meandering its way past a bike rental shop 

Alcatraz off across the bay

We pulled up to our hotel in Japantown sometime around lunchtime on Wednesday. Although leaving New York so early was hard, I was definitely thankful to have the entire afternoon to do a quick tour of the city since we’d really only be spending 24 hours there. Hotel Tomo had a neat vibe with its great murals, fun décor and Godzilla movies playing in the lobby.

Hotel Tomo in Japantown, San Francisco

We unpacked some of our things and headed off on foot, huffing and puffing my chubbles up those famous hills for the first time to where? Why, Fisherman’s Wharf, of course. Where else would a tourist go right away? :D

 Under the big crab sign at Fisherman's Wharf

There actually was a method to my madness. A few days earlier I had found a place called “Scootcar,” that offered rentals of 50cc scooter based buggies in which you could tootle around the city. Since we’d be on 2 wheels for the following 9 days, it seemed like a brilliant idea. But, like most of my brilliant ideas… brilliant it wasn’t. To say that a 50cc baseball carrying two people, drum brakes and San Francisco’s hills aren’t exactly the perfect marriage would be a bit of an understatement. I played navigator while Kenny dislocated his hip pressing the brake pedal to the floor to try to keep us from careening into traffic as we made our way down some of those crazy hills. Of course one of our destinations in the death defying Scootcar was Lombard Street’s crooked-est section. I won’t lie. I feared for my life.

 Lombard St, as curvy a road as they come

 Stuffing ourselves into a scootcar

This beautiful piece by glass artist Dale Chihuly was perched in the courtyard of The Legion of Honor. 

Giant blown glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly at the Legion of Honor 

 

I found San Francisco to feel less like a “big” city and more like an outer-lying borough of a large city. It’s very sprawling but the buildings feel kind of low with beautiful neighborhood pockets that are a feast for the eyes. I would definitely like to go back again and spend some time exploring all that the city seems to have to offer outside of its outright tourist venues. I’d love to just walk the streets, look at the gorgeous Victorians and just feel the cities’ energy. It’s very beautiful.

Streetcar bus near Fisherman's Wharf

I try to see love everywhere. Ice cream drip heart~ 

 The streets are filled with ice cream drip love

Thursday June 12, 2008
San Francisco to San Luis Obispo

We were at the Dubbleju Motorcycle Rental place promptly at 9:00 to pick up our bikes for the next 9 days. The three of us outfitted with BMW R1150Rs. Before I got to know my girl more intimately, I must say that the thought of riding something that appeared to be so big, heavy and wide with its sidebags seemed a little, I don’t know… like I’d feel like a fish out of water? But, as the miles ticked on, my pack mule proved to be a pussycat. She was generally well behaved and did as she was told and wanted to go harder and faster when she got warmed up. What more can you ask for?

 Dubbelju Motorcycle Rentals in San Francisco, CA

We pretty much set this day up to be a nice leisurely roll down the coast. We’re from as far east as you can go in the US, now we’d be as far west. I had dreams of Big Sur dancing in my head like sugar plum fairies.

 The pacific surf breaking on some rocks

Kenny gets used to the BMW R1150R 

View along the California coastline along Rt 1 

Rt 1 bridge off in the distance 

Craggy Rt 1 coastline 

I'm attacked by a vicious beaver 

Mugging it up for the camera on Rt 1 

 

Friday June 13, 2008
San Luis Obispo to Bakersfield

We rolled out of San Luis Obispo and headed off towards route 58 to 33 where we met up with Novos in Ojai. Gentleman that he is, he took us to the Rockstore, which I guess is like someone wanting to visit the Empire State Building in NY. He tried to tell us he never goes there, but not 5 minutes after we arrived we hear… “Hey, Ed..” :lol He shuttled us around hill and dale, through the Crest, through tiny mountain roads that wriggled along the landscape like a rattlesnake and he did it all with a smile. We swung in to Bakersfield to see a muffler man Indian and ended up staying there for the night.

Olde Tyme Fremont movie theater 

Tumbleweeding along rt 58 

Who's got 2 thumbs and thinks the beemer is a tractor? 

Road to nowhere 

Big indian muffler man in Bakersfield 

Somewhere on Rt 33 

Novos' favorite hangout, the Rock Store 

Ducati Desmosidici RR 

You could smell the oil in the air as we rolled by the creepy oilfields near Taft.

Oil rigs in Taft 

Saturday June 14, 2008
Bakersfield to Northfork

I guess Kenny’s zipper didn’t have the tensile strength to hold back the sheer force of his manaconda and ended up blowing out, so before heading out for the day, we had to make a pitstop at Cyclegear to get him a new pair of pants. Then we were on our way to Bodfish, Lake Isabella then on Sequoia National Forest and Sequoia National Park.

 Kenny's manhood bursts out

Heading out along Caliente Bodfish Rd 

Kenny and Novos check out a gulch on Caliente Bodfish Rd 

Sequoia National Park  

Rockin out in Sequoia NP 

Novos splits the uprights 

 

 

Oh Hai!

Sunday June 15, 2008
Northfork to Lee Vining

After staying in what was less than stellar accommodations at the “No Tell Motel” for the night where there may have been more bug inside the room than outside, the four of us headed off towards Yosemite, where we spent our day.

The dump that is the South Fork Motel

The massive scale and beauty of everything in Yosemite really made me feel like a speck in the grand scheme of things. Amazing.

Entrance to Yosemite NP

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Me Love Trees

Really Really Big Tree

Dome in Yosemite NP 

 

The esport crew hanging out in Yosemite 

 

 

 

Climbing rocks in Yosemite 

Snowball attack! 

We exited the park on 108 which dropped us down through the Tioga Pass and put us in Lee Vining & Lake Mono. We shared a nice meal, hugged a grizzly bear, grabbed rooms and took a ride down to check out the Tufa on the lake. Shortly after, we wished sad farewell to Novos who bravely faced a 400 mile slab ride back home.

Big Drop

I can't bear to look

 Nicely's restaurant will do nicely 

Mono Lake Sign 

Tufa Towers in Mono Lake 

The walkway to Mono Lake 

Monday June 16, 2008
Lee Vining to Klamath Falls, Or

Bodie, California is a Ghost town. Literally.

Welcome to Bodie, population 0 

Bodie Wagon Wheel 

Maiden Lane and Virgin Alley

Trinkets from a time long gone

Fill 'er up with dust 

 

 

 

Old mother cupoboards 

After leaving Bodie, we hopped across the Sonora Pass which at nearly 10,000 ft elevation, was amazing riding.

As we climbed down out of the mountains, the heat began to settle in. It was hot, hot, hot. Things were just progressing at a pretty slow pace so after one of my cranky meltdowns which was accentuated by the heat, we had to make tracks towards Klamath Falls, Oregon on the slab if we wanted to squeeze Crater Lake in. It became apparent that if we didn’t, we’d never make it.

We make it to Oregon!

We took the I-5 to the town of Weed and on to Klamath Falls, Oregon where we stayed the night. By some weird planetary alignment Crudmop and I ended up getting a 2 room suite in a hotel which was really nice. Well…Except for the TV in the sitting room. Where do you even get a tv like that?

That's one old TV

Tuesday June 17, 2008
Klamath Falls, Or to Crescent City, Ca

Crater Lake has been on my life’s to-do list for the last few years now. In my previously mentioned heat-induced emotional breakdown, I was pretty much ready to skip Crater Lake rather than sit on the toe-roasting boxer twin for 200 miles of slab. Sometimes I could probably use a good shake to knock some sense in to me. As DrD, Crudmop and I sat on the wall that rimmed the lake, I was thankful that I was encouraged to keep moving. The way that the sunshine sparkled off of the sapphire blue water looked like it was a layer of static hovering over the water if you just stared at it like one of those magic eye posters.

Crater Lake NP

Cold, chilly BMW at Crater Lake

Stupid people, read this sign

Welcome to Crater Lake 

Cool old lighthouse 

Shippin' it up in Northern Cali 

Wednesday June 18, 2008
Crescent City to Mount Shasta City

We dip into Redwood National Forest

I got you, Babe

Tourist trap tree trimming

The people of the woods welcome you

A road of endless possibilities

Eat here and get no gas

Train Lodge

 

Thursday June 19, 2008
Mount Shasta City to Willits

Sundial Bridge by Santiago Calatrava

Lonely lighthouse 

Tune in, Tokyo

The Lost Coast

 

June 20/21, 2008
Willits to San Francisco

Bike repairs in 120 degree heat outside San Francisco

Invisible Bike Cat!