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Old 01-20-2007, 06:43 PM   #3
Gustavo OP
Motociclista Errante
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Joined: Jun 2004
Location: Sometimes in Hillsburrito
Oddometer: 2,292
Portland to Phoenix

Backtrack one day. Itís Saturday morning and Iím headed out to Phoenix for a work trip that I am about to combine with a trip to Mexico to see my MotoAventuras buddies. I have been watching the forecast every day for the last two weeks. Will the Siskiyou Pass be passable by motorcycle or will I have to ride down the coast? Two weeks ago, it would have been the coast, and maybe not even that. It has been dry for a couple of days, it started raining today, but itís warm enough not to snow in southern Oregon today. Straight down I-5 I go.

Ready to leave Portland:

It wasn't that bad, surprisingly. It rained a bit, but nothing heavy and there was light traffic on Saturday morning.

Still a bit wet on I-5 south of Salem:

As I get to Roseburg, the skies clear up, and the ride through the pass seems like it's going to be a piece of cake.

Going up Siskiyou Pass:

There was almost no snow at the Siskiyou summit. Very surprising, but I wasnít complaining, that section of I-5 is much more fun than any highway has the right to be.

Where is the snow?

Compare to last year :

Then I start to descend into CA and the skies look thick and black. I was hoping this would be the case only until I got past Mt. Shasta.

Looking into CA :

No such luck. There was a short break around Redding and then the skies opened up... As I was approaching Sacramento, the rain was coming sideways, it was gusty and the spray from other cars and trucks around me made it difficult to see the road.

Just when I was thinking it couldnít get any worse, I see the tach going nuts. At first I thought the engine had a problem, but it was quickly apparent that it was just the tach, not the engine. I guessed something got wet and it's shorting out. What I didn't think was that soon thereafter, all my instruments will short out too... So, I'm now around Stockton, my instrument panel is dead, it's pouring rain and I canít see a place to pull over to look at this. Well, I know I can make it to Tracy on the gas I have, the bike is running fine, no reason to stop and get any wetter than I already am . Push on to Tracy.

Motel 6 doesnít have covered parking or private garages (boy, am I disappointed ). Should I try to identify the source of the short in the rain? No, I donít itís a good idea. Knowing how fast you are going is way overrated . Knowing when to stop for gas, OTOH, could be useful. Did I mention that the instrument panel is dead, i.e. I canít see the odometers or the fuel gauge? This could be a problem.

Well, it could have been, but knowing how far the V-Strom can go on a tank of gas, I just highlight on my map stops at ~150 mile intervals (to be on the safe side, strong winds and fast CA traffic will decrease the range). Sunday morning dawns with just as much rain and wind as Saturday. The local forecasts donít give me too much hope either . The only place where itís not raining in their forecast is south of LA...

Both in Oregon and NorCal, where the weather was not SW-like, and I know it's not scientific or statistically significant, the only other bikes I saw on the road were Harleys. Say what you will about Harley riders, but not all of them are RUB posers.

There's something wrong here...

Did I mention Californians drive fast? I pick rabbits to pace and help me keep out of trouble (I really donít need an HPDA), but by the sound of the engine, they are not going the speed limit. I have to let a couple go, as I am not willing to risk that HPDA. It must have been entertaining, because before I knew it, I was climbing into LA. And the forecast was right. I could see the blue skies on the other side of Tejon Pass. I was so excited to see clear skies I stopped at the pass to enjoy the sun while I had a snack.

Finally, some blue skies...

I did the usual loop around LA through Pasadena, and as seems to be the case every time I am in LA, I got buzzed by a CHP moto cop. I saw him coming in the HOV lane to my left, next time I look in the mirror, he is behind me, and closing fast. He must have been going 90 (65 MPH zone, mind you ) when he went by. Traffic was heavy for a weekend, but not anything like you see there on a weekday, so I quickly made my way out of LA and east towards Indio.

Wind turbines near Palm Springs:

And there I was, looking at this beautiful, wide open, golden brown desert, thinking to myself it was worth it. After those long miles of putting up with cold and rain and suddenly here I was singing in my helmet - like the deserts miss the rain Ė even though I wasnít missing it at all...

and I miss you, like the deserts miss the rain...


Gustavo screwed with this post 01-20-2007 at 06:54 PM
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