Wednesday, November 11, 2009

California 09 - winners and losers

Whew, good, bad or otherwise, I actually finished a ride report and within a month of the ride itself. You can't know how good that feels. It's not terribly good, but I can check it off as complete at least :D

After I got back to Dubbelju, the process of unpacking the bike, pulling my GPS and generally getting my big duffle full of my stuff served to distract me from the little feelings of melancholy that pop up at the end of the ride.
I had a nice time in San Francisco before I got on the plane home so it wasn't until I was parked at the gate, waiting for my flight that the whole, "wow, it's over" thing happened. Six days is far from an epic ride but it is long enough to fall into a groove and I love the ride, sleep, repeat tempo. I'd covered 2200 miles, the majority of them almost perfect in one way or another. Something like 480 miles on the longest day...very manageable and relaxing.

It had been an exceptional trip.

So, let's thank the stars of the show and give the few downers the credit they deserve.


Hey, let's be honest, I am not a fan of people most days. I am functionally social but that doesn't mean I like it :D If I spend more than 5 minutes talking to you, I really like you. If I spend days riding with you and I am still talking to're one in 100 million. I had the good fortune to ride a few days with two of those folks. No drama, no effort, no scary "WTF are you doing?" moments. Sweet. The fact that they put up with me without any obvious signs of distress was just icing on the cake.

Motorcycle rentals from real motorcyclists. I completely recommend these guys if you are renting in California. Nice selection of well maintained bikes, fair rates, cool location. Besides, the bay area is just about perfect to start a ride from .


The Bike - R1200R Elleventy-billion times improved over the R1150 it replaces. Smooth, good power, solid handling - much more nimble than my K bike, and a comfortable seat. Burned zero oil in 2200 hard miles...for a rental with over 30k miles, impressive. The bike would be the perfect only bike for someone. Probably not me. I rode my Daytona for the first time in a while this past Sunday; that would be the perfect only bike for me...thank god I don't have to have just one. A basic bike with hardbags and heated grips sure does make sense though...
Now, this Canbus bullshit, that needs to just stop. A fuse is a very good way to protect a circuit. I do not need the HAL9000 to decide whether or not I should freeze my ass off in the middle of nowhere. Consider this my virtual one finger salute.
The other fly in the cycle ointment was the ZTechink barndoor mounted to the triple tree. It did a fine job providing protection but it made the steering heavy at the point where I pulled over to make sure I did not have a low rear tire. Crosswinds did a nice job of grabbing the top of the thing making steering through windy corners exciting. The winds in Death Valley were a real joy.

The Gear - Gerbings, I love you. Please consider this a virtual hug for all the pleasant things you do for me on two wheels. I've tried other brands but Gerbings is my choice.

Olympia textile riding gear - I have moved almost exclusively to riding in leather. That said, there are advantages to touring in textile and the cost/quality/perfomance of Olympia brand seems to work well for me. Not that the jacket is waterproof or anything but when I find one that truly is, I may faint from shock.

Alpinestars SMX4 with goretex - I didn't need waterproof on this trip but knowing that they are sure makes packing them easy. Comfy on long days and very protective.

Schuberth Helmet - Awesomely quiet, claimed to be safer than all the rest, difficult for most to pronounce. Perfect.

Garmin Zumo - Oh the invective I have hurled at the smug British bitch contained within it's ruggedized and waterproof housing. The cradle still offers static which I must remedy with napkins used as shims but having an MP3 player integrated into the thing clamped to the handlebars is sweet. As for actual navigation, the bag is mixed. I now make plans on paper and use the Zumo as a scrolling roadmap. I did build a few routes and with auto-recalc turned off, it was far less annoying. Still, Mapsource is an annoying piece of shit and I haven't the patience to spend hours squinting to build a route. I used the dead reckoning method of navigation for years and the Zumo is a great partner for that.

I'd considered typing more about the location of this ride but geez, you have to be sick of me lavishing praise on California riding by now.

Can't wait to go back

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