Damn this bike is tall! Good thing Iím 6í3Ē. Itís a little scary riding into unfamiliar territory on a strange, full loaded bike, and in the dark too! Iím traveling on the cheap (a-hem, with the exception of the exotic European motorcycle
) so I canít let myself down and get a motel room, even for this one night. How could I live with myself if I rent a room on Day One?!? Nope, stick it out, I can find something...
I ride and ride to the north and east of Sacramento, trying to get to some areas that look like they have primitive camp sites on my paper AAA map. I end up in some mountain twisties which would normally be fun (and kinda the whole point, at least on my sport touring bike), but I find myself questioning my wisdom. I have a pretty high tolerance for staying awake and alert, but I know that Iím tired and my reaction time must be increasing. This just isnít safe. There MUST be camping in here somewhere, but there arenít clear signs at night I donít know where exactly to look. The road junctions are getting more and more remote and are no longer represented on my large-scale California map so I decide to make a big loop and get back to the Interstate. Well lessee, a fifty mile loop of twisties in the dark on a 990 Adventure... I guess there are worse ways to spend an evening!
11:00 passes and then midnight as I roll along trying to find some place suitable for a tent. I pull in a couple RV parks and inquire, but theyíre reserved for some RV clubs or something and Iím turned away. Seriously?!? I felt a little bad about rolling in during the middle of the night with my twin FMF exhausts grumbling away until they rejected me. I maintained a slightly higher RPM on the way out. Slightly...
FINALLY I swerve off onto an exit ramp west of Lake Tahoe about 1:30 a.m. and see some parked construction vehicles and a little dirt road leading off into the hills. Heeeeeeere we go! I try to muster another measure of concentration from the reserves for my first ďoff-roadĒ experience with this beautiful machine. Awesome! The terrain is nothing serious by ADVrider standards, but Iím amazed with the way the 990 soaks up bumps, rocks, and ruts... I tool around a while trying to find a place thatís far enough from the highway that I can sleep but not so far up this road that I might crash in my strung-out state. I found nice, grassy, reasonably flat spot. I pitched without the rain fly only an arms distance from my sweet new ride so I could go to sleep with one eye on the stars and the other on MY motorcycle.
The morning after:
Morning came too early, and of course I couldnít sleep with all the light coming in, so I might as well hit the road. Itíd be shame not to ride around Lake Tahoe, right?
I love this little camera (Pentax Optio W-30), but I sometimes wish for a greater zoom. I do like the waterproof camera!
In case you're wondering, the viola is on my back while I take these pics. Part of my reasoning for the viola pack is that it will be on/with me most of the time so I won't be tempted to leave it strapped to the bike. The instrument is tough for sure (that's why I bought it after all), but it could still be damaged or stolen very easily which would be a pain in the ass. Somehow I can still manage to worry about the "worry-free" instrument. Ce la vie. It's been ingrained in me from childhood to caudal and protect string instruments, and those habits die hard...
This is great! Itís a cool morning in the mountains, Iíve got a great view, and everywhere people are giving me thumbs up from their cars or stopping to admire my crazy/amazing motorcycle with all the gear strapped to it.
I peel away from Lake Tahoe and head north-east into the mountains. Riding on knobbies is a new thing for me, and as an aggressive corner-er Iím not sure how to treat these strange rubber protrusions through the turns. Eventually I pull over for a break in an empty parking lot on a mountain pass and what do I spy? Painted lines of a MSF motorcycle course! Funny, this would be a GREAT location to learn to ride, nice cool weather (in the summer) and a great view. I play around on the course for a bit and am quickly frustrated by my lack of low-speed cornering ability. Grrrrrr. I know Iíd be rocking this course on my BMW, but I donít trust these knobbies OR this bike yet (since I havenít owned it twenty-four hours yet), and itís fully loaded. Iíll get better.
At this point Iím on vacation, but my ďdestinationĒ is Logan, Utah to visit all my buddies. I served as Principal Viola for the Utah Festival Opera Company (UFOC) for a number of years and many of my closest friendships were made there in the orchestra pit during those hilariously fun summers. The pay is terrible and the hours are long, but itís so much fun that many of the players return year after year, mostly for the camaraderie. Iíve since gotten other professional opportunities during the summers (such as Cactus Pear Music Festival and others) that allow me to have time off for motorcycle trips, but I canít stay away from Logan! Itís a ďmust goĒ place for me. Besides, now I can go up and party, hike, ride, sleep, lounge, whatever with all my friends without working! Nice... Iíd love to explore California/Nevada/wherever more, but I must get up to northern Utah before the festival ends.
So across Nevada I go!