Wednesday, November 4, 2009

California 09 - Day four

Before I get on with day four, one side note. There is only one restaurant open in San Luis Obispo on a Monday night. It's the Mexican place right across the street from the Holiday Inn. Don't bother walking all the way downtown, getting a wicked charlie horse on the trip down, only to hobble your way back to the Mexican joint 75 meters from your hotel. Just sayin'

I woke up early on Tuesday, feeling pretty great. Relaxed and ready for the day. Frankly, I am not sure I could have told you it was Tuesday, but I was in a good mood and ready for the day's ride. After a quick 5 on the treadmill in the exercise room ( still nursing that charlie horse ) I loaded the bike and filled the tank. Sitting in the parking lot, looking at the map, I had a choice to make. Short ride or long? I had some nice suggestions for a route that started in Atascadero but taking that directly would have me into L.A. pretty early. The night before, I'd gotten the word that high winds were predicted for the next few days. I HATE riding in high winds. I also hate to waste an opportunity to ride a full day. I decided not to over think it, I'd ride the route for a bit and if the winds didn't show, I'd find a detour. If they did, I'd just keep riding south.

After a quick trip north, I headed east on 41. For fear readers of this ride report will tire of hearing how great the roads were, here's a pic of a windmill from the fine folks at the Aermotor Company of Chicago, Illinois.

Ok, so the road really was awesome. 41 to Webster Rd. to 58 all great stuff varying from tight twisties to broad sweepers to high speed straights through the desert to technical mountain passes into California oil country.

Oil country does not have much to recommend it from the standard tourist perspective but I am fascinated by the industry and how it shaped our society. Last year, we swept through Taft, CA stopping just long enough for gasoline. This year, I wanted to stop and tour the West Kern Oil Museum. Of course, this year, it's not open on a Tuesday. I'd looked at the website the night before so I knew my Chuck Brown fate before I arrived but I still stopped to peek through the fence.

One of these days, I will see the inside of that damn museum.

Once I'd grabbed a few shots through the fence, it was time to head out of Taft and onto the rest of my 'fun' route to 5. The winds had begun before I got into town so it seemed prudent to keep moving. 33 to 166 to Cerro Noroeste Rd. As I climbed out of the valley on Cerro Noroeste, the temps began to fall and the wind began to blow in earnest. At first, this was yet another fantastic bit of California riding but as the temps dropped, I decided it was time to break out the heated gear. In preparation for this trip, I'd built a little power harness that plugged into the factory BMW outlet. This harness would power my GPS and Gerbings with minimal effort or installation. I'd tested it thoroughly on my own bike so I knew it was good when I left. What I did not count on was the Canbus control on the outlet of new BMW's. The minute I turned on the Gerbings, the outlet powered right off. Nice. Clearly the computer was a goddamn pessimist. I'd done the math, I was not drawing that much current.
Undeterred, I zipped my jacket up and got back to riding.
For about a minute. I rounded a blind right hand corner and rode right into a minefield. Ok, a corner painted with softball sized rocks. After inhaling half the seat with my ass, I managed to scrub speed and navigate through the asteroid field ahead. Unfortunately, the scene would repeat itself over and over for the next few miles. Suddenly, the ride was seeming less like fun and more like work. Temps dropping, winds increasing and the road proving unpredictable, my speeds drifted down to tractor category. Eventually, the road conditions improved but the winds and temps persisted. Ah well, it ain't all sunshine and palm trees.

Chilly...though, I've seen much worse. A working Gerbings would have been nice....a computer controlled power outlet is an unneeded use of technology, like those stupid, wildly unreliable motion detecting paper towel dispensers.

I rode the rest of the road down to 5, knowing that if I just relaxed, it would be a nice ride. The strip of asphalt worked its way through pines and ponds, beautiful route really. Too bad I was starting to let the weather steal my joy ;)
Stopping for a cup of coffee and a sandwich at the Flying J, I decided it was time to motor south to L.A. I hate the slab but it had to be done. As if to say "get on with it," the wind blew half of my sandwich to the ground. Well, ok then.

Riding south and into lower elevations, the temps moderated thought the winds remained. I made good time getting into the city. Too good, it was mid-afternoon and my friend Ed worked till 7. We'd planned to meet for dinner after he got off so I had some time to kill. I decided to play tourist. As many times as I'd been to L.A. I had never been to the Santa Monica pier. Well, why not.

It took me about 30 seconds to take this picture, it took the cop on the pier about 45 seconds to tell me to move the hell along. Yeesh.
After escaping the wrath of the boys in blue, I found a place to park and shed a few layers. A sent Ed a quick text to let him know I was in town. During our short exchange, he suggested I might want to visit the Getty Museum since I was nearby. Score! I'd wanted to go and hadn't put two and two together.
Naturally, it was getting to be that time in the afternoon when traffic packs all the major routes. Lane splitting to the rescue. Turns out, I LOVE filtering...oh how I wish we could split at home.
In no time, I was sitting on the tram, enjoying the ride up the hill from the parking garage where motorcycles park free. How cool is that?
Arriving at the top of the hill, I was greeted by a marvelous bit of architecture.

One of the fine folks on staff, noticing my riding gear, mentioned the coat check just inside the door. Spare yourself the trouble of carrying that helmet around, get comfortable and enjoy yourself....thanks, don't mind if I do.
In another case of anti-planning working to my benefit, the Getty was featuring the work of Irving Penn, a photographer whose work I'd long been interested in. I spent a couple hours taking it all in.

The day was shaping up to be an interesting one. Rocks and wilderness to 13th century paintings and mid 2oth century photography. Kinda cool..

I finished my visit just in time to go play in prime rush hour traffic. I know it sounds crazy but I enjoyed the ride. Turns out there is a lot of unused asphalt out there and motorcyclists get to use it in California.
I arrived at the restaurant just a few minutes early. In what seemed like no time at all, Ed pulled up on his Uber Ruckus. We dined on fish tacos and talked all manner of nonsense. After dinner, I got the honor of tooling to Ed's place on the Ruck. I have not laughed out loud in my helmet like that in some time. The Ruckus starts life with a 50cc heart. Ed's is now sporting 250 along with a list of suspension and appearance mods that make it truly one of a kind. It's the kind of goofy fun that I find completely appealing. It's far too fast for it's own good and encourages silly behavior. I did my best not to get carried away....

We parked the two wheeled machines for the night and caught up with another friend who's working in L.A. right now. A few drinks and conversation was a great way to end yet another good day on the road.

1 comment:

drdaytona said...

Wow....that is a rather unflattering picture of yours truly..