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AntiHero 07-13-2012 08:50 PM

Coast to Coast (and back?) with an Italian Supermodel
Ducati Newport Beach is where it begins:

I had originally ordered my bike from Newport Beach Ducati when the 1199 was first announced. In between that time and the time the bike came in my girlfriend (who I'd moved from the SF Bay to LA with) kicked me out for sleeping with her sister. Well, not really--at least I would have deserved it if I had. She doesn't have a sister and instead just woke up one day and said she didn't want to be in a relationship. Hearts break, life goes on. So I left LA on my dependable, reliable and awesome 675. Shortly after making it back to the Bay Area my 1199 came in, so I flew back to LA and picked the bike up and started the REAL journey.

AntiHero 07-13-2012 08:54 PM

Just about everyone who's ever ridden a motorcycle has dreamed of taking off in one direction and not look back. But anyone who's done it knows it takes a lot more than balls. Mortgage, spouse, job, finances, and the hairy hands of fate typically conspire against most recklessly brilliant decisions. We tell ourselves, "one day," and often that day never comes (or the day comes but you're just some old geezer planning out routes based on the proximity of hospitals).

It took a couple of months (and one unexpected event) to finally provide the right set of circumstances for my adventure, but I'm finally two states into it and finally have some time to devote to this chronicle.

I briefly considered the advantages and disadvantages of particular makes and models of bikes, but when it comes down to it, comfort and convenience are overrated; masochistic machines cultivate will and test mental fortitude, so something built for mileage was totally out of the question. In the end it came down to only one choice: the 1199 Panigale S.

My plan:
Start from LA (where I lived), head north, then east.

Don't plan anything that doesn't need to be planned
Stay somewhere until I get bored or restless, then move on
Don't become attached to anything I can't walk away from in 5 minutes
Don't end up in a hospital or morgue

My job allows me to work anywhere so long as I have WiFi and a working cell phone. So I'll be traveling either at night or on the weekends and working the normal 8-5 during the week. Muhuhaahaa.

RandyG 07-13-2012 08:57 PM

Yeah I like it!! Subscribed :D

AntiHero 07-13-2012 08:59 PM

This was my first setup upon leaving LA (everything I think I'll need stuffed into a backpack):

flyinturbo 07-13-2012 09:05 PM

Holy crap! This is going to be GOOD!

AntiHero 07-14-2012 08:08 AM

The bike needed to be broken in. Though I think there's some truth to the 'hard' break in method, this is a new model Ducati after all and has a little black box that records all of your fun. The last thing I wanted was to have a mfg defect get blamed on me because I took it to 9000 rpm twice in the first 1000km. So I decided driving up Hwy 1 would be an excellent opportunity to keep the revs varied and enjoy a nice scenic, twisty road.

Unfortunately after Malibu Highway 1 SUCKS! After making it through several awful towns were travel was stoplight to stoplight (Hwy 1 is only glorious in small sections) I decided to cut over to101 up and vary the revs by exiting the freeway every few exits and then getting back on + I did the whole 'yo-yo' maneuver in which I'd speed up/slow down/speed up/slow down. I'm sure I looked like an ass, but it had to be done.

Two or three times I did redline the bike, however--but only because I'd hit a false neutral between 5th and 6th. I was using the quickshifter with constant throttle. The power would cut, then the transmission would float between the two gears and HOLY SHIT this bike revs faster than any other bike I've had even under 1/4 throttle.

AntiHero 07-14-2012 08:09 AM

101 was awesome. The scenery is beautiful, it's got some nice sweeping turns, traffic is light and the air is a lot cooler than 80, which was good because man this bike gets HOT! It seems to come in waves. There are times when it's just warm, but there are other times when it's positively painful.

The whole 1 debacle and the 101 on/off, speed up/slow down thing made a 6 hour drive into a much, much longer drive. I was enjoying myself, but the new riding position, combined with the heavy backpack, heat and duration wore on me.

Somewhere on 101, with shadows getting long:

AntiHero 07-14-2012 08:10 AM

I made it to Moffett Field a little after sunset. The light was fading and I looked over to Hangar 1, which I'd seen my entire life, only to see stripped skeleton of the former megalithic structure. I got a couple of crappy pictures from the Caltrain station, but here's a better shot of its emaciated state by smashz up close:

AntiHero 07-14-2012 08:11 AM

I have a good friend who invited me to stay with him for a week up just North of SF in Mill Valley. I have to admit the 10 or so hours on the Ducati was the toughest non-self-powered-two wheel ride I'd ever done. Once I made it into SF, though, I felt at home again, driving by SFSU and a few places I rented on 19th while going to school. I understood for the first moment in my life why people stay in particular cities their whole life. Every corner I turned and every bus stop, gas station and even a particular telephone pole (where I had once thrown up fish sticks and tater tots) dislodged a memory. It was as if every instant my life expanded and it felt good.

Made it to the bridge and was finally only about 10 min. from a plush, comfy air mattress set up in an unused bedroom.

(This pic stolen, too...wasn't about to try and take a left handed pic while driving on the bridge, but it captures the scene and my mental state perfectly.)

AntiHero 07-14-2012 08:16 AM

My stay in SF lasted a lot longer than I anticipated. I'd known the guy I was staying with for, shit, 10 years I think? We'd worked together and were both fairly stressed out employees at the same company. We both had warfare-like personalities (which made us allies) and were always focused on ensuring the success of the software products we sold. He'd gotten married years back and had spent the past 9 years dealing with a stay-at-home woman who specialized in being unhappy, cranky and dissatisfied with everything. And the more he appeased her the more evil she became. Sound familiar to anyone? I characterized it as "Subjective Omnipotence," which is a term typically applied to children who are still in the phase of their development where they think the universe should provide for their needs. Instead of being grateful to the person who provides for them they just end up mad at said individual for everything that isn't perfect.

Anyhow, I was getting close to the 1000km mark and spent the final miles out on a great section of Hwy 1 out to Stinson Beach.

AntiHero 07-14-2012 08:23 AM

And it was around this time of the trip that a curious thing started to happen:

Chicks just LOVE this bike, frequently stopping and staring unapologetically. Over the years on other bikes I've had women blow kisses, one fat drunk girl flopped her jugs out a passenger side window (a memorable, but not pretty sight) and girls here and there who wouldn't otherwise notice glance casually--basically anyone on a bike knows what I'm talking about. Probably the funniest female reaction I ever got happened when I was walking by a black dude in SF who had that modern black panther/Kwanzaa look to him. His ~6 year old daughter looks up at me in my Vanson jacket with helmet in hand and says, "Hiiiiii Mr. Policeman" in this little-girl-flirty-crush voice. If looks could kill, the glare her father (who clearly hated both white guys AND cops) gave me would have put me six feet under.

Anyhow, back to the Ducati and its effect on the opposite sex. You have to do a lot to get close enough to whisper sweet nothings into a woman's ear. But the Ducati takes care of this from a half mile away. The aural noises the V-twin makes apparently stimulate a woman in ways no other vehicle I've ever owned does. So by the time you arrive they're waiting with anticipation. Performance figures of BMWs S1000RR (which seems to be crushing the Panigale in all the magazine comparos) might be the stuff of adolescent male dreams--and if that's your thing (16 year old boys), look no further than the BMW dealer. But the Ducati undeniably makes panties wet. Anyone who owns one can attest to this I'm sure, but this is my first one, so it comes as a bit of a surprise. I don't see it on any of the schematics and it's not listed in any of the spec sheets, but somewhere under all that gorgeous bodywork lies a proverbial babe magnet.

AntiHero 07-14-2012 08:26 AM

So after riding around Hwy 1 in Marin I'd finally ticked over the miles I needed and headed over to Hattar Motorsports in San Rafael for the first service. Wow--what an amazing space:

If there is such a thing as mechanophilia, this place would be heaven.

The good news--when my bike was done they told me not to baby it anymore or the valves would NOT seat properly. "Beat the hell out of it, it's ready" is what they said. I gladly obliged. What I didn't realize is how impossible it is in/around cities to actually beat the hell out of it. It's loud as hell (they started a Termi-piped 1199 for me and though deeper, was no louder than mine), and FUCK this thing makes insane power. Getting on the freeway I took it up to around 10k rpm and almost looped it, the power spikes around 8k and then all the fury of hell is released shortly thereafter. It's ferocious and sublime. I was blown away.

AntiHero 07-14-2012 08:28 AM

So as part of the goal of my stay in SF, I wanted to visit all my old SF haunts. I headed up to Twin Peaks and because it's really one of the only parts of the city with some decent turns, I opened it up a little bit. I wasn't doing anything stupid, but nor was I ever under the legal limit.

So I got up to the top and then 5 or so minutes later a patrol car rolls by. The two officers eyed me. Then stopped. Then one gets out, goes over to my bike and tries to steal it!

Ok, more lies. The officer walks over to me with an intimidating look. Of course I respond with a defensive, "ah man, don't fuck with me" glare (it's kind of my natural expression) and he says, "Is that your bike?" "Yeah," I retort. "How do you like it?" Thinking maybe this was some clever Detective Porfiry maneuver that would be followed with, "that's too bad, because we're impounding it" I wasn't sure how to respond, but answered affirmatively (if not a little deflatedly)....but then caught a momentarily cheerful and genuinely curious expression come across his face and realized, shit--this guy is a rider, too! We got to talking--he owns an 1100 Monster and this just happened to be the first 1199 he'd seen, so he stopped to check it out.

I gave him the key and let him start it up (pic above) and we continued to have a good 10 min. conversation about bikes, riding, hooliganism, etc. The hilarious thing was there were all these tourists up there (most of whom probably didn't speak English) who were watching the interaction unfold. When I handed over my key and he walked over, started, and started revving my bike I think they were all very, very confused. After he and I started chatting I think they figured it out, but up 'till that point they were all stifled.

I wished I had got his contact info so we could have gone on a ride or two while I was in SF.

Lesson learned: Police Officers by nature always have to look like hard asses, and when you respond like you're a hard ass yourself that you're not doing yourself any favor. They probably won't ever be the first ones to smile or be friendly, but that's just their job. Being friendly to people who might not look it at first is my first lesson of this trip. (And this is coming from someone who usually looks like a dick.)

AntiHero 07-14-2012 08:30 AM

At this point in the trip I had to say goodbye to the Triumph and put the 675 up for sale. It had high miles (32k), but cosmetically and mechanically it was in exceptional condition and had about $4k of aftermarket parts on it. I've sold a couple bikes before and it's not high on my list of things I like to do in my free time. Last time I sold a bike I got everything from, "I'll trade you an 82 Celica with a faulty water pump., to "company check" scams to "why do I need to give you a deposit for a test ride?" Urr, if you drop it or steal it, maybe? "Well I'll give you my license...I don't have $4k." "Well, fucktard if you don't have $4k why are you wasting my time?" The guy who finally bought it showed up with his drug dealing possie and paid me with cash that smelled like weed so bad I had to deodorize it with Lysol several times while letting it air out on the wood floor of my flat.

So I priced the Daytona to sell: "$3900 firm or, if you want to negotiate, the price is $4500, but I'll work with you." From the amount of multiple, immediate "I will buy it right now" responses I got clearly I had underpriced the bike. I'm a Sales Director, so, ummm, yeah, shows you that I've been selling software for too long in a buyers market.

In any case, got a solid buyer and really started regretting it almost immediately. But as it is I my FJ Cruiser and my gutted full-race S2000 were in storage and I simply didn't want to deal with a third vehicle I wasn't going to be driving. So off to a good home it went.

AntiHero 07-14-2012 08:31 AM

I played around in the city for a few weeks, seeing old friends and visiting both old and new sites. My ex happened to be working on a case downtown so I got to spend some time in three areas I'd always avoided (tourist traps) while living in SF: Union Square, Chinatown and North Beach. Had some great meals (Beef cheeks and Sweetbreads at Txoko was the highlight, but the tri tip sandwich at Mocca was stellar, too) and imho there's no better bike to shock and amaze tourists with (wheelies and catching air both up and down the steep inclines at least gives the poor bastards something to go home and talk about other than cable car rides, Ghiradelli chocolate and eating sweet and sour pork in Chinatown).

Coit Tower (always seemed like this structure would be more appropriate in the Castro):

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