FROM: John Mulvihill
To expand on Roozbeh's brevity (so unlike him) about the Lost Coast III experience:
The company and roads encountered on the Lost Coast ride were so outstanding that not even four days of often-torrential rain could dampen spirits.
Group rates at a good hotel indicated early on that as usual, Roozbeh had done his homework. So was a reserved section at a local brew pub. (So what if the food was so-so and the folk singer had a bad case of 1970-era James Taylor wannabe?)
Saturday's tour took us on California's most remote coastal highway. Mattole Road is more a paved path, actually, narrowing to a single lane in the most inconvenient places and far too tortuous (There, got that word out of the way!) for motorhomes and other road dreck. This road's transition over the mountains and to the seacoast is one of the most spectacular experiences you'll ever have on a motorcycle.
It was an R11GS road and the GSs quickly distanced themselves from the other oilheads with their low-end grunt and superior suspension travel. (Yes, I ride a GS and no, I won't talk about how a local R11RT rider effortlessly disappeared from me on a better road as we returned from the next day's ride.)
Post-prandial hours were spent in intense strategy sessions in the Presidential Meeting Room that Roozbeh conned the hotel into giving us for free. Much beer and junk food was consumed, and as I met new people, faces were put to the names (flames?) I encounter on this board. Saturday night's presidential summit deteriorated from cigar puffing to rambling monologues about various models in the BMW lineup. When the Rolex bullshit sessions began and the watches came off the wrists, I took my Timex to bed.
Sunday's ride took the few remaining stalwarts to equally remote places in the Trinity Alps area, east of Eureka. Like the day before, we passed through hamlets populated by California versions of the Appalatian hillbillies. These men and women were about our age and obviously not weekend hippies. They had the look of committed back-to-the-landers and while friendly, there were reserved. Like their forebears in the east, concerns about revenuers and the like were high in their consciousness.
I was delighted to be in communities completely free of chain restaurants and other tourist scourges. For me, riding to these remote villages was motorcycle touring at its finest. The roads were superbly winding and the scenery was magnificent, when we could see it.
My rain riding skills improved on this trip. I came up 101 from the Bay Area, and over the 1200-odd miles covered over the weekend, not 100 were on dry pavement. To make things worse, the tar sealant used in Humbolt County becomes treacherously slippery when wet. How slippery? At steady-state cruising, my R1100GS's rear wheel would actually spin when crossing tar patches. Several of us had scary slides even though we were taking precautions. (The two minor crashes were, apparently, due to "other factors".)
A cautionary note to R1100GS owners: When riding in the rain and crossing railway tracks (especially with rubber aprons) or cattle crossings, pull in your clutch rather than simply maintain steady-state throttle. If you don't remove all load on the rear wheel, the combination of huge torque and the hard rubber of that dual-purpose tire could cause an immediate get-off. I found out the autumn before last when I had a huge crash while crossing a set of tracks in the rain at 70 mph on my R1100GS.
Count me in for LC IV!
- - John Mulvihill
FROM: Maria Rocchio & Mike Curwen
Thank you Rooz for organizing a great weekend!
Though we had quite a bit of rain, the roads were rather empty, the scenery breathtaking (lots of enchanting "mist" in the mountains) and the company quite enjoyable. Though I did not get the chance to ride with you (HWMBO has trouble getting up early) exactly, you did fly by us on Hwy 3.
Unlike some other reports, we had no traction problems in the rain, not even on Buckhorn Pass (granted, we were just sort of poking along at the speed limit).
Unfortunately, some were not so lucky, such as the cage that went over the cliff on the west side of Buckhorn Pass (two ambulances, 3 fire trucks and lots of mountain climbing equipment (the vehicle was WAY down the cliff!).
Some highlights of the trip for me were the initial meeting and dinner where I had a chance to chat with a few of the names I see so often on the list. Duner Tor, John "Shibumi" Arnold, Bonnie Kellogg, Sam Lepore and of course Roozbeh. We also had a few laughs after we stopped on Hwy 3; seems we had a small entourage behind that stopped too. They thought we were some other people they were following. In this manner we met a guy named John, from Eureka, John "Shibumi" Arnold and one other fellow (can't remember his name but we got his picture!).
All in all it was a great, if somwhat soggy trip (BTW, we got the most rain from Ukiah to Garberville on Friday, for 2 hours in the late afternoon on Saturday and a little bit of rain from Weaverville to Shasta on Sunday). Hope to see everyone next year!
Maria Rocchio & Mike Curwen (in absentia until he gets back from Seattle!)
FROM: Victor Kimura
It hadn't rained in over two months in central California, so Karen and I wore only leathers and packed light--the right saddlebag assigned to her "stuff," the left to mine, and the topcase for shared and assorted items. Aside from a short ride down to Bakersfield for Karen's soccer tournament, riding to Eureka for Lost Coast III was to be our longest trip on a motorcycle together.
I checked the oil and tire pressure, and secured the new RKA tankbag (thanks to Alice Raia) and radar detector bracket (from Scott Lee). Off we went toward San Francisco, although two hours later than my initial estimated time of departure. Surprisingly, the bracket, attached only by velcro, seemed to support the radar detector-- until 19th Avenue in San Francisco, that is. On that bouncy entrance to the Golden Gate Bridge, the velcro released its grip on the bracket and radar detector, which subsequently ended up being quickly stuffed into the RKA tankbag where it remained for the next five days.
We had a quick lunch at a small Japanese restaurant just short of Golden Gate Park, and then experienced the Bridge itself. Although it felt as if we were flying over the Pacific Ocean in eerie solitude, I suddenly realized that we were sharing this meditative experience with a few cages, pedestrians, and even runners/joggers. Off to the eastern side of the Golden Gate Bridge I could see Alcatraz, Treasure Island, and Angel Island.
Cruising past Sausalito, San Rafael, Novato, and Petaluma, I kept waving at other bikers, thinking some might also be on their way to Lost Coast III. We passed one couple with matching white helmets who were on an older BMW boxer, heading in the same northerly direction on Highway 101. They didn't wave back and we never saw them again. Strange and unfriendly behavior. The oil refineries across the San Pablo Bay must produce some kind of heavy, toxic gas that makes it physically impossible to extend one's left hand in an outward direction.
As we approached Santa Rosa, traffic came to a grinding stop. If that wasn't enough, it began to rain--lightly at first, and then increasing to what northern Californians might call "moderate" levels. I kept looking at the windshield wipers of south-moving traffic, hoping that this rainstorm was being generated by a maverick group of cumulus clouds that had somehow escaped from another storm in another state.
Although the R11RT fairing and windshield provided considerable protection from the elements, by Healdsburg it was getting difficult to see at all, so we pulled off and found Clos Du Bois winery's new location. A few samples of their Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and we were ready to brave the remaining four-hour, rain-challenged ride to Eureka.
The leathers kept most of the water away from our clothing; however, after several hours, moisture seeped through my arms and my body began to tremble from the coldness. Water also penetrated my Goretex gloves, so my hands began to go cold and numb. Fortunately, Karen was relatively dry, as she huddled behind me on the bike, so I didn't have to worry about her condition. A quick stop near Willits to slip on and plug in our Widder vests, along with turning on the heated grips, made the remaining hours quite comfortable, heat-wise. Now if that damn pain in my butt from the stock seat would go away, I'd be in hoggy heaven.
We finally arrived in Eureka around 8pm. Karen spotted Roozbeh Chubak and a few others in the "presidents' recreation room," and I met president Steve Woodward, who also has a R11RT, except it's the red version. By the time Steve saw me outside the motel lobby, I had disconnected my life support system (i.e., the Widder heated vest) and had begun trembling from the cold. Besides Rooz and Steve, I recall seeing/meeting Chris Wenzel, John Mulvihill, Darryl Richman, John Arnold (who arrived Saturday for dinner at the Lost Coast Brewery, I believe), Sam Lepore (selling IBMWR license plate frames), Bonnie Lee Kellogg and Tim, Duner Tor, and Jim Brown with his new, option- laden R11RT. I'm certain I missed many others--especially a group of local BMW riders from the Eureka area--and I apologize for that.
On Saturday, Roozbeh led a small group through the Lost Coast. Cutting off of Highway 101 onto 211, the group went over a narrow bridge, where we were buffeted by strong, gusty winds that seemed to blow you either toward the water or into oncoming traffic. Very quickly we passed through Ferndale, a quaint and recently earthquake- struck town. It's the kind of place where a few houses on main street had grassy, open backyards that seemed to extend for miles. A small store sold what appeared to be potted plants on the front sidewalk, except for a nondescript old sign that read "hardware." Inside the store, one room led to another, eventually multiplying into what must have been the equivalent of the square footage in a typical Orchard Supply Hardware.
Continuing down Mattole Road through Capetown, I suddenly realized that, as the third bike, I hadn't seen Roozbeh and the second bike for several miles. After a few kickstand scraping turns around some sharp twisties, I quickly came to the conclusion that I should pull over and let the rest of the group pass by. The fourth biker was Steve Woodward on his red R11RT, followed by four or five others. I let them pass and fell in behind Chris Wenzel at the back of the pack. Within a minute, we turned around a blind corner and noticed that all of the bikes had stopped, and that Steve Woodward had gone off the road over a slight embankment with his bike leaning precariously against a barbwire fence. Although Steve's ribs were banged up, he seemed to be OK overall. His R11RT was scraped up, and we surmised that the fence, which seemed to suspend the bike in some strange mystical way, had actually prevented further damage to the bike. After a lot of grunting, pulling, and pushing, we got Steve's bike back onto the road where he was able to ride back to Eureka, and then home to Washington. We never saw Steve again, and hope he made it back safely.
The group pushed on, although at a much slower pace, with Chris Wenzel, Jim Brown, and I fighting for last place. Soon we arrived at Honeydew and met up with Roozbeh, who had been waiting patiently for at least 30-45 minutes. Although I can't be certain, I'd swear that Honeydew consisted of perhaps only one or two structures. The local store, which had a wooden front porch, sold food and drinks. On the front porch were several individuals who must have had roles in the movie Deliverance. The local toilet facility in the second structure would make the dirtiest outhouse look clean and modern. Surprisingly, a mixed-sex, slowpitch softball game--officiated by real umpires--was being played across the road by youngsters. This picture--youngsters playing softball, transfixed BMW bikers mostly dressed in Aerostich Roadcrafter or Darien suits, and Honeydew residents--would have made the front cover of Surrealism Magazine.
We rode back to Highway 101 and then south through Weott, Myers Flat, Miranda, Phillipsville, and finally to Garberville, where the group stopped for lunch at a small diner. An older couple (yes, even older than the BOOFs in the list) stared awkwardly at these bikers dressed in odd, multi-colored outfits, and then finally gained the courage to ask where we came from and what we were doing there. They're in awe at how far some of us have ridden, and manage to crack a half smile when Karen responds, "Why we came to have lunch in Garberville."
Most of the others take an extended ride into the hills, but Karen and I decide to take the short ride back to Ferndale for shopping and then to return to Eureka. It's the second trip to Ferndale that we meet Bonnie Kellogg and SO Tim on their GSs.
It rained on and off that Saturday, so our previously rain-soaked leathers gained a few more pounds. Fortunately, we were able to walk the eight blocks to the Lost Coast Brewery for dinner that night, so our leathers had a chance to dry out in the motel room, despite the area's high humidity.
More rain Saturday night and Sunday. Roozbeh may have taken some of the stronghearted (and fleet) on another motorcycle ride through the Trinity Alps, but Karen and I decided to explore Eureka and to spend some time at the Pow Wow in Arcata. We had lunch at the Michoacan restaurant and a clam chowder dinner at Weatherby's, both off Highway 101 in Eureka.
More shopping at an Indian store in Eureka on Monday, followed by breakfast at a bagelry. The trip home was uneventful, but we did want to stop at a few wineries on the way back, so we stayed overnight at Healdsburg. The next morning we sampled wines at Kendall Jackson, Field Stone, and Rodney Strong, and purchased a Cabernet at Field Stone and an excellent "old vines" Zin from Rodney Strong. With our saddlebags packed absolutely full and me starting to think about stuffing the two bottles in my leather jacket, I discovered the value of the expandable feature of an RKA tankbag. As we were heading south over the Golden Gate Bridge and approaching the toll booth, I reflected on some of the threads I had been reading about colleagues stopping their bikes, getting off, removing their gloves, fiddling with their wallets, paying, waiting for change, fiddling with their wallets again, putting on their gloves, getting on their bikes, starting the bike, and then riding off. While I didn't perform all of these ritualistic tasks, it did take me a full minute to pay the $3 toll, as I tried not looking behind me at the angry cage drivers unable to move around us into other lanes. While riding south on Highway 280, I got a "curry udon" attack and had to cut across on 380 near the San Francisco Airport so as to approach San Jose's Gombei Restaurant (in Japantown) via Highway 101.
An easy 1,000 plus miles over five days, followed by a thorough bike washing. Special thanks to Roozbeh Chubak for unofficially coordinating Lost Coast III and for lending Karen his waterproof jacket, and to Jim Brown who may have just convinced me to buy an Aerostich two-piece Roadcrafter.
FROM: Darryl Richman
What a trip! We three coworkers, Andy, Steve and I, just finished a week and half run from home base here in Seattle to the Bay Area, Songdog Ranch for the Twaddlefest, Death Valley, LA, and back via the Lost Coast III get together. Andy was riding his '95 Cobalt R11RSL, Steve had his '96 "Root Beer" R11RT, and I had my Teal '94 R11RS, which would reach 3 years old during the trip, and therefore would be coming out from under the old unlimited mileage warranty. To allay this bit of trepidation, I had Cascade BMW do an inspection of the bike the week before leaving.
We left Wednesday afternoon. Our plan had been to leave work a bit early, already packed and gassed up. We did get away at about 4pm, and rather than fight the rush hour traffic down I-5 (through Tacoma and Olympia), Andy led us on a series of backroads. Mother Nature gave us a tearful sendoff, including quite a downpour east and south of Olympia. By the time we reached Portland, it was dark, and Andy led us to a Motel 6 he had once stayed at. Miller's Homestead Restaurant, across the street, had pretty good chicken fried steak on special, and the waitress couldn't have drawled any any more if she still lived deep in the heart of Texas. Then... there was dessert! Steve and I goaded Andy into getting a piece of pie, and in doing so, we got him to reveal his lust for French Silk pie. I found the strawberry rhubarb pie, a la mode, much to my liking.
The next morning, Thursday, saw us again heading down I-5, then taking a nice two laner, OR-38, from the hamlet of Curtin to Reedsport on the coast. The wind was stiff as we reached the coast and I saw a big crow literally hanging in the wind, hovering over one spot. "Hovering" makes it sound effortless and graceful, which it was not; that bird was working hard to do it, constantly adjusting its wings and legs to feel the gusts and compensate for them.
The coast was beautiful on a pleasant sunny morning, and we didn't get too out of control on the way down. It was well into the afternoon when we lunched in Crescent City, and, after a spirited ride down the Avenue of the Giants -- where the road dodges the huge redwoods south of Eureka, we found a camping spot under the canopy in the park. Through a small hole in the canopy we could make out comet Hale-Bopp, which seemed extra special. After registering our spot, setting up, and acquiring firewood, Andy and Steve took off to get supplies while I got the campfire going.
Now, I used to resort to such things as draining a bit of gas from the tank to effectively start a campfire (back when I had a bike with carburetors), but I now can start a campfire reliably with but a single match. That single match *is* a bit special, however; I buy them at the supermarket, and they're 6"x1"x0.5" or so, wood chips impregnated with wax. Needless to say, I had a nice fire going when they returned empty handed, save for a sixer of Sierra Nevada. So, I broke out three Casillas Cigars ("The Best Cigars in Sacramento" is their proud boast ;-) and all was right with the world. The Boy Scouts' motto is Be Prepared.
We had a good ride ahead of us on that Friday morning. Andy had to be in San Francisco to deliver an hour long talk to a conference at 4:30, and Steve had to visit a coworker in San Rafael. On top of that, I had noticed that the pressure in my rear tire -- with but 3k miles on it -- had dropped dramatically over night.
We broke camp and proceeded to Garberville for breakfast and a full tank. The place to eat in Garberville is the Woodrose Cafe! I had the special, oatmeal pancakes, and they were wonderful. At first I didn't order an orange juice, but then Andy pointed out our waiter was juicing fresh oranges for Steve's glass, so Andy and I ordered too. While we got ready, I called up Cal BMW to make sure they'd have a tire for me when I got down there.
Since it was still early, Andy led us out onto the Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1). PCH can be a great ride or it can be a real drag if you get stuck behind motorhomes and semi trucks. Fortunately, we encountered mostly the former along long stretches. Even so, it took a long time to get down the coast, even at the eventual breakneck (!) pace we took up. At every stop, the question came up, should we cut over to 101? My answer, accompanied by as smug a look as I could manage, was I don't care, *I'm* on vacation!
In the end, time ran out and we cut over to Petaluma and US-101 just a few dozen miles short of the end. Steve peeled off and Andy and I paid the toll to cross the Golden Gate bridge into Baghdad by the Bay at about 3:15. The traffic was miserable, as I left Andy to fend for himself while I went down to Mountain View, another hour south, for a new tire.
Pat, one of the service managers at Cal, seemed clairvoyant. I wandered in and stood at the service counter, waiting for him to finish up some paperwork. He looked at me and said "Let me guess; you've got a slow leak." I suppose he knows the regulars. Even so, it took 20 minutes to find the smallest of holes near the center of the tread, in the meatiest part of the tire. No trace of what actually did the deed. So, while they put a new one on, I got to oggle the Triumphs, browse the accessories, and chat a bit with Kari, of course.
Though we had agreed to meet up again at Cal, I knew that it would be well after Cal's 6pm closing time, so as 6 came and went, I got comfortable reading the March MOAN I had brought along. Kari couldn't stand to see me standing, so he brought me a patio chair, asking just that I leave it around the corner so it didn't wander off. About 7pm Steve showed up, and twenty minutes later came Andy.
Kari had left me with several suggestions for camping up in the hills that sounded pretty enticing, but as Andy could expense a room and a meal, well... we shared a room at the Los Gatos Lodge, and after cruising the main street (I haven't done that since high school!), we settled in at the Charthouse for victuals. I had a rack of lamb that was quite good, and Steve, the filet mignon. However, these were but the merest trifles compared to the absolutely ENORMOUS portion of prime rib Andy got. Following what seemed like hours, Andy had managed to tease most of it to shreds, eating some of it along the way. (He claims to have finished it off, but we know.)
The next morning -- Saturday it was -- it was back over to Cal, because Andy and Steve needed to shop. Also, I had promised them something special at Dittmers Wurst Haus, just a few short blocks away. Once Steve had bought a Throttlemeister for his R11RT and we had gotten provisions at Dittmers, we were on our way. I had promised them that they'd love CA-25 south of Hollister, as it wends its way from vale to dell along the San Benito River. So, we zoomed and strafed the corners until Steve flagged me down for a comfort stop. "Did I lie?" No, I did not! The grins were wide and toothy.
We continued along on Indian Valley Road, a narrow track of pavement that is often rough and broken as it eventually leads to the small town of San Miguel on 101 and a gas stop. Then, fifty miles down, past SLO town and Pismo Beach to Santa Maria and CA-166 east, away from the blue Pacific and towards our evening goal, the Songdog Ranch and Joe Ehrlich's Twaddlefest non-rally.
("Why choose Twaddlefest?" asks the flyer. "NO wristbands, awards ceremonies, field events, rally pins, C&W Bands, fun runs, poker runs, etc. Just pure, unadulterated Twaddle with your pals.")
CA-166 is just the kind of road that lets the Oilheads really stretch their legs. Lots of long, long sweepers around the hills that separate the Cuyama Valley from the ocean. We were moving along right smartly, waving at the occasional bike, when a pair of riders on Harleys gave us a very stern slow down wave. Not a minute later did we crest a rise and find a CHP Mustang coming toward us. Thanks guys!
We sailed down Ballinger Canyon to the little dirt road that leads up onto the mesa where the campground is. There were lots of bikes and bikers. A quick tour turned up Susan Reed and Fulton Martin, so we set up camp nearby. David Brick and his main squeeze wandered by, and a couple other Presidents who's names I've sadly forgotten in the Henry Weinhards induced fog. Famous writers Clement Salvadori and Bill Stermer were also in attendance, adding to the volume of Twaddle that Mr. Ehrlich so clearly relishes.
Eventually afternoon faded in a lovely sunset and then to evening, and the Revelys (proprietors of Songdog and also Rev Pack cordura nylon gear) rang the heavy triangle for their usual dinner feast of tri tips, chicken, salad, bread, and more. After the roar of eating died down a bit, the conversation came back and we had a beautiful night around the campfire. Fulton had brought a little telescope, so we got to see the moon and the comet through the clear, clear air.
Morning dawned, and there was Joe, one of the earliest of the birds, wandering around ensuring that everyone had enjoyed themselves. I got a cup of espresso from Clement, and all was right with the world. Eventually the Revelys set up the coffee and got their french toast machine into high gear. I told Andy and Steve that we should take this little road I know of, Cerro Noroeste, because they'll really like it and there's no traffic on it. The only problem is that it goes a bit out of the way, since today's goal is Death Valley via CA-178 and Walker Pass. Nevertheless, they're all for it since, I am reminded, We're On Vacation.
Cerro Noroeste was a blast -- until we got to the couple miles that were still heavily sanded from the winter, and the tiptoeing through it was all the more painful for the contrast with the previous run. Eventually we gassed up in Frazier Park and took I-5 north, down the Grapevine, the only interesting bit of I-5 from San Diego to beyond Redding. After stopping for refreshment in Bakersfield, we headed east into the Kern River gorge. Again, the turns are tight and frequent, with huge boulders alongside, and sometimes overhanging, the road on the right, and the dangerous Kern river below on the left. At the end of the tight stuff along CA-178, we turned onto the old road to Bodfish, where there is no traffic and if anything, the road is tighter and twistier still!
Then, once around Lake Isabella for good measure (Thanks for the tip Clement); on up and over Walker Pass with the violets in bloom, wafting their perfume; down past the China Lake Naval Weapons Center; through Trona with its evil sulphurous smells; into the Panamint Valley where it doesn't seem to matter how fast one travels, the scenery and perspective never seem to change; winding up 4,000 feet over Townes Pass into Death Valley and back down, down, down below sea level to Furnace Creek.
Laurie and Don Watson from West Valley Cycle (my dealer in LA) had arranged a weekend getaway and we found their bikes among the cabins, but the riders were not to be seen. We checked all the likely locations - -- the bar, the coffee shop, and the restaurant, all to no avail. As we were about to give up and merely break into a random cabin, Laurie showed up. One of their customers had driven up in a big motorhome, loaded with firewood and beer. Once we got checked into a cabin, I followed her to find out where the campfire is while Andy and Steve got a load of laundry done. Then we wandered over for some comraderie, and wandered back for dinner.
Don, the wrench, was scheduled for surgery on Tuesday. He's had cataracts for a few years, and last year he had the lens in his left eye replaced; now he's getting the right eye done. They all got up on Monday morning and were gone by the time we finished breakfast. We did a little touristing, going around Artist Drive (thanks for pointing that out, Rooz!), then up to Dante's View and out to Zabriske Point. Once back at Furnace Creek, we gassed up and headed back over Townes Pass and through Trona.
We took a couple side roads that got us onto CA-14 20 miles shy of Mojave, another gas stop. Andy was pining for a Dairy Queen; he has introduced me to the concept of searching for the Ideal Blizzard (a whipped soft serve ice cream with various goodies like Oreos or M&Ms added in). Alas, no DQ in Mojave, so we pressed onward after filling up. Andy was an eagle looking for prey, searching for the red DQ sign in the sky. Suddenly, he pulled us off the freeway in Palmdale, but neither Steve nor I could see those all important letters. Instead, we were led to a Bakers Square and... the promise of a piece of French Silk pie.
After a filling lunch (urp!), I led them onto the freeway and right back off, at the Pearblossom Hwy exit. I promised a great ride ahead. We then got on Angeles Forest Road, and for 50 undulating miles we swoop up and down, back and forth, until we reached Sunland. Did I lie? We're now in THE VALLEY, my boyhood home -- did my boyhood end upon moving to the NorthWet at age 33? When in LA, get on the freeway, and so we did, going to a Days Inn that Laurie had recommended in Winnetka. After getting situated, I went off to spend the evening visitng with my parents, leaving Andy and Steve to fend for themselves in the spa.
Tax Day Tuesday, and the last day under warranty for my bike. The plan was to ride over famous Angeles Crest Hwy. At the far end, I'll go on to Riverside and visit my in-laws while Andy and Steve follow CA-138 along the San Andreas Fault, back to Frazier Park that we passed through leaving Songdog, where they will find another GREAT RIDE by taking the Lockwood Valley Road, leading onto CA-33 into Ojai, CA-150 into Santa Paula, and CA-23 through Grimes Canyon into Moorpark.
We rode out to La Caqada where Angeles Crest begins, and were just begining to warm up when we saw a sign that indicates the Crest is closed near Wrightwood. Should we go up and find out? Why not? After all -- We're On Vacation. So we headed up, having a great time, stopping to take the spur road out to Mt. Wilson and all of the transmitter towers powering TV and Radio to the LA Basin. Definitely a first and second gear road! On the way down there's a stream of fire trucks coming up and I'm almost clipped by a ladder truck that, even though its tires are entirely on its side of the road, nonetheless is occupying half my lane.
We continued flying along the Crest until the road turns out to actually be closed, just short of Big Pines and nice little road that would take us down to the desert. Steve, who was leading, got off his bike and was bouncing around like a little kid. "Oh Rats! I guess we'll just have to go back the way we came!" You could see it written all over his face that he was relishing this roadblock.
We tok Upper Big Tujunga Canyon down to Angeles Forrest Hwy, where we had come in the day before, and then I went east while Andy and Steve head west. It took me almost another two hours to get to Riverside, and I came back by the freeways, the fastest, shortest route. When I got in, it turns out that Steve has ground all the remaining tread off his front tire. In fact, it seems that I've given Andy and Steve too many good roads; they're worn out from working the bars so hard!
We checked out on Wednesday morning and stopped in at West Valley to shop. Laurie and her folks were manning the shop, since Don was sacked out, recovering from surgery. Laurie couldn't put a tire on Steve's bike, but called over to RPM in Ventura to make sure they've got the tire he needs. Laurie asked me if I knew where RPM is and I replied that "I've been there once long ago, it's off the 101 at Seaward, up the hill to the light, left and couple blocks down." "Right," she says.
So, in the meantime, I took Steve and Andy down Topanga Canyon, up Fernwood Pacific Rd., a very tight road, to Tuna Canyon to Saddle Peak for a view over LA to the south and THE VALLEY to the north. Then down Stunt Rd. to famous Mulholland Hwy, but only for a short bit, because we went to the beach for breakfast at the Malibu Inn. After a good breakfast that was served with perhaps a bit too much of the LA laid back attitude, we retraced steps up Malibu Canyon, past Pepperdine University, and head out to The Rock Store. When we got there, it being the middle of the week, there's nobody there. After surveying the location, we were just getting ready to leave when a fellow on a Gold Wing drops in. We chat a bit, and then take the very tight three and half miles that sees a lot of squid ink on the weekends.
We continued out on Mulholland, over Encinal Canyon, to Westlake Blvd., another first gear kind of road, to Portrero Rd. into the horse country in Hidden Valley. This dropped us out onto CA-1 at Port Hueneme (Why-Knee-Me is the local pronunciation) and Oxnard, where we got stuck in a traffic jam.
Eventually it opened up and we cruised through old Oxnard, met 101 on the other side, and worked our way through the traffic to the Seaward exit in Ciudad Buenaventura. "Up the hill, to the light, left turn, hey, it's just like I remember it!" Except... there's no BMW shop. We turn around, maybe it was a right at the light... Nope. So, I'm lost, I admit it.
We stopped at a Wendys to investigate the address in the MOA Anonymous. RPM is on La Palma, where the heck is that? This is Thompson! Steve went inside and came back with some detailed directions, which, surprisingly, turn out to be quite accurate. Later we learn that the shop moved years ago. I guess Laurie hasn't been up this way recently, either.
The RPM guys are fun and enthusiastic. The owner -- Gary? -- was up at Twaddlefest with his oddly painted /7. His girlfriend calls it ammoflage, because it's painted with flourescent cherry and orange on a white background, in a camo pattern. I had dubbed it the parfait bike when I first saw it. I had to bite my tongue when she talks, it's "Oh my god!" this and that, just like Moon Unit Zappa. I have a cousin who sounds the same, but she doesn't think it's polite for me to laugh while she's talking...
So, with Steve retired, we simply had to go out and scuff it up a bit. There's a road I've been eyeing on the map that runs on the ridge line overlooking Santa Barbara that I wanted to investigate, East Camino Cielo. Gary said we just have to make a turn off CA-192 after the reservoir. It's easy to find, and soon we're on a very tight, beaten up road with no centerline that is climbing up to the sky. The views were fabulous, but it was nearly impossible to see them because I had to keep focused on not ruining a wheel on any of the uncountable number of potholes. At the far end, where it meets the San Marcos Pass Rd., Steve and I had to wait a bit for Andy. Turns out that he's got a bit of acrophobia, and with all of the "Big Air" so close by, he was taking it pretty easy.
We crossed and went down the road a mile to the Cold Springs Tavern anticipating a pleasant break. However, the road is heavily shaded in many spots, and each of us got the experience of coming into the sunlight in a corner with a river of sand across it. Big pucker factor! After a sylvan interlude, we had to turn around and go back to the main road as this one was closed beyond Cold Springs. CalTrans was working on the bridge over Cold Springs Creek, so we had to wait a bit before it was our turn to use the single open lane.
We rode out to Los Olivos, with the intention of having our way with Foxen Canyon Rd., but Andy and I were nearly out of gas and the station in Los Olivos was already closed. So we had to backtrack into Buelton for gas. The concensus was that we would just have to come back for that ride another time, and we headed up 101 with the intention of camping at Avila Beach or finding a motel, as the fancy strikes us. We couldn't find the campground even though we rode way past where it was supposed to be (so said the AAA Campbook), and we agreed to get a room from Tom Bodet near San Luis Obispo. On the way back to 101, I spied the campground, whose sign is not visible from the freeway direction, but it was too late, it was already dark and we had made up our minds.
At the Motel 6, Andy had the presence of mind to ask where the best Mexican food is. The Clerk immediately responded with the dubious sounding Tacos de Mexico right off 101 at the junction with CA-1, in the heart, if there be one, of SLO town. It worked, and the food was good! They even have Horchata, which doesn't seem to be available in the Northwest.
Thursday morning dawned and we headed for the coast. Andy wanted to see Hearst Castle. But on the way there, a sign said that CA-1 was closed just beyond San Simeon. This was inconvenient, as we were hoping to bed down in Fairfield that night so we could meet Roozbeh & Co. in the morning for the ride up to the Lost Coast. We decided to have breakfast in Cayucos to ponder the situation.
What the heck, (in unison) We're On Vacation. So, we rode out to the Castle (going all the way to the road closed signs on CA-1, just to be sure!), but the tours are lengthy, so we looked at the exhibits and then took off. We cut east on CA-46 to Paso Robles and then took county road G-14 out to Jolon, meeting up with 101 again in King City. Much better than 101, and it avoided the well known CHP speed traps around King City.
At this point, the most convenient thing to do was to take another county road out to CA-25, so we could take it again the other way. Shucks! After another brisk ride, we got on 101 again, into San Jose, then I-680 around the east bay. Andy knew of a road he had found, and it was quite convenient; the freeway ground to a complete stop just beyond the exit ramp. We headed east on a series of roads that eventually put us onto Caleveras Rd., overlooking the Caleveras Reservoir. This is a fabulously tight road, first gear all the way, with no centerline. It deposited us back on I-680, beyond the clutches of the rush hour traffic, at Sunol.
Which was good. We headed out to Dublin, where a friend of mine owns a great multitap pub. Judy welcomed us and proudly gave us the tour of her cold room. It's cleverly set up to allow lagers to be served cold and ales cool, just the way their brewers intended. She has also got some nice cigars and we indulged, sitting outside in the warm evening air. Eventually we went next door to Hana, a Teppan Bar, and our hunger was fully extinguished. Finally, we jetted on up to Fairfield, and got a room.
Friday, already. We got the packmules loaded up and went for gas. Already there were bikes all over, anticipating the ride north. Chris Wenzel showed up on his new acquistion, a blue K75RT. Bonnie Kellog and her SO, Tim were there. Steve <mumble>, like our Steve, was on a root beer R11RT. And others. Then Roozbeh showed up.
Roozbeh is a great ride leader. You quickly learn that when he gets ready, you better be ready, too, or you'll be left behind. No fooling around, time to go. He picked out a great route and we took back roads all the way up to Corning. The group took care of itself, too. The go-fasters went faster and the rose sniffers enjoyed a more leisurely rate.
Even so, there was a bit of excitement for all: the cow that had somehow managed to be on the road side of the barbed wire fence, for example. Going down a long straight, I managed to kick up a rock and suddenly my motor stopped completely. Nothing worked until I rebooted the system (key off, key on), and then there were no more hiccoughs the rest of the ride. We went by a field with some huge, magnificent draught horses, and the horses gave chase to us along the fencing.
By the time we alighted for lunch in Red Bluff, the weather had turned, and we were getting dribbled upon. After lunch, it was really raining. Barney <mumble>, on a naked /7, wasn't really dressed for serious weather, and Rooz stopped the group in Platina to give him some rain gear, and also to get a hot cup of coffee. But when Barney and Chris Wenzel came by, they just kept on going. Chris said they were just focusing on the road and didn't see us off in the parking lot. So, we eventually suited up and rode CA-36 over the ridge into the Mad River gorge, then up and over again, now following the Van Duzen River out to the coast.
It rained the whole way, making the tar snakes on the road slippery, and bringing rocks and mud out as well, so the speeds were much slower. At one point I had a close call when the truck coming the other way decided it could lane share the single lane width of a rutted and muddy stretch that CalTrans had marked off with stop signs, that I was already in the process of crossing.
When we got the Thunderbird Motel in Eureka, J.F. Brown was already there with his pristine new Black Bird R11RT. Duner Tor from Montana, John "Shibumi" Arnold from Newport, OR, and Greg Thomas of Portland were there, too. Eventually others arrived, like Victor Kimura and his wife. Bonnie and Tim were the first into the hot tub. Eventually we wandered over to the Lost Coast Brewpub for libations and dinner.
The next morning dawned gray but dry. We gathered at 8am to ride over to the Samoa Cookhouse, the original loggers' cookhouse from the last century. They serve an all you can eat feast for each meal, including their own bread. By 9 we were ready to roll on down to the dolled up town of Ferndale, gateway to Mattole Rd. and the Lost Coast.
With Rooz in the lead and John Mulvihill right behind him, we took off. This road is very beaten up, but on their GS's, Rooz and John were flying. I was third, but after a few miles I dared not keep up for fear of my three spoke wheels, and perhaps more. Steve was behind me by this time, and I waved him ahead. Only a few turns later I came up on a left hander and saw Steve climbing up to the side of the road. I stopped and got my flashers going before getting off to see the root beer RT down the side of the sodden embankment, cradled in wire fencing. Steve appeared ok and damage to the bike seemed surprisingly light. After we got about five guys on it, the bike came up to the road under its own power.
Steve elected to return to the motel, while the rest of us continued on. I encountered Rooz and John after a bit; they knew they were fast, but they couldn't believe that we were all *that* slow, and had turned around to come find us. No more incidents; we enjoyed the ride to the one horse town of Honeydew, where I watched a bit of a little league softball game in progress. Then we followed the road on out to where it meets US-101 and the Avenue of the Giants.
Andy elected to take the Avenue, the rest of us got on 101 for Garberville and our appointment for lunch. The hamburger joint we met at last year is defunct this year, and we ended up in a coffee shop. During the meal, Andy and Rooz and I got to talking about a road to the east we had seen on the map. No one else seemed game for it, but we were temporarily frustrated when we couldn't find the promised road out of Garberville. I followed Rooz onto 101 north, expecting that perhaps the next ramp might lead to it. Andy had missed the onramp initially and was at the back, but zoomed ahead just before we exited to Redway. Rooz stopped under the bridge to look at the map again, though Andy kept on going. Rooz and I then stopped at a gas station to fill up and ask directions. It turned out that the road we wanted was just outside of Garberville. All this screwing around was worth it, however.
Once onto Alderpoint Road, it meandered up and over every little bump of a hill. After twenty miles or so, we caught up to Andy, who had known the right way all along. In all, there were about 70 sinuous miles, almost all of it travelled in isolation, enjoying the misty valleys and fog shrouded hill tops. The road eventually dropped us onto CA-36 at Bridgeville, so we got to do the last thirty miles of Friday's ride over again.
When we got back we learned that Steve had left already, deciding to take his bike home over two days rather than one big push as we had anticipated doing on Sunday.
This time I was first into the hot tub, and by the time I reached the Presidential conference suite, the party was already going. By 8pm we walked the whole mess back down to the brewpub. Upon ascending the staircase to the mezzanine where our party was, there seemed to be some mistake as half the tables were occupied by people not yet encountered on LCIII. It turned out that they were locals who had seen the plans on the list and dropped in. No harm, no foul, and we all had a good time on the Group W bench. Dan Arnold showed up soon after and FXRSJoan phoned in. A merry time was had by all. We then stumbled back to the Presidential suite for some more revelry.
Sunday morning, we again headed over to the Samoa Cookhouse, but Andy and I had to bid everyone adieu after breakfast. We had to push on to Seattle, 650 miles hence. With a full tank of gas, we travelled north on 101 to Crescent City and 199 to Grants Pass. We took a DQ break in Cottage Grove and a gas stop before Portland. Then we got stuck in a traffic jam approaching the Columbia River bridge where an accident had to be cleared before we could continue. Promptly upon crossing into Washington, it began to drizzle, which only turned into a full fledged rain when we stopped at a rest stop above Vancouver, WA. I was home by 8pm.
We three did 4,300 miles in 11 days, with no tickets and only one oopsie to show for it. Steve is fine, and the damage is cosmetic. For you geek types, you might appreciate that the next morning, Monday, when I went out to get on the bike and ride to work, the odometer read 65,535. And the battery was completely flat. So I ended up riding the /2 into work, though that almost didn't go right either. The petcock had dried up a bit from disuse, and when I first turned it on, it started leaking (gushing) gas around the pindle and down the left hose, eventually creating a puddle on the ground. However, it sealed within half an hour, which is the amount of time it took me to get the battery out of the R11 and hook it up to the charger. Sadly, a new battery was required.
Now here it is a week later, and this trip seems to be receding quickly into the past, shoved rudely asside by the workaday realities of making a living. But it was a great trip and I can hardly wait to do it again.
- --Darryl Richman
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