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Old 03-20-2011, 12:01 PM   #1
pgenera OP
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Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Portland, Maine
Oddometer: 21
SF -> Seattle in a day. In March.

There's this girl I'm a fan of in Seattle, you see, and I was tired of taking airplanes to go visit. I figured hey, 850 miles straight up I-5, how bad could it be? So I did that yesterday.

Apparently living in Northern California has caused me to forget that the rest of the country has seasons, and that the second week of March isn't exactly spring. I got to Redding by about 10am, and saw signs saying they were screening for chains up ahead. I was worried they wouldn't let me pass, and I pulled out to chat with the CHP chap at the checkpoint. He said there was black ice and snow on the road up ahead, and that he wouldn't be riding up there today, but he couldn't stop me.

So I kept going. Got to a gas station just south of Dunsmuir, where I was damn cold and it was just starting to hail. Met a nice trucker who had a R1200S; he'd heard that they were making everyone chain up at the next check point. The gas station attendant was awful nice and let me know that if I made it to Weed, I should be clear to the Oregon border. Although, they really needed to plow their parking lot:

At the last checkpoint the cop was a little more calm, but said I'd definitely hit snow and should probably consider holing up in Dunsmuir for a bit. But he didn't stop me either, so off I went. The roads were okay, for a while - just wet - but once I got above 3500' or so it started snowing hard, and there was some slush on the road with about 1.5' of snow on the shoulder. This wasn't my best plan ever.

Amazingly, I made it over the pass, past the highest point on I-5 (4300'), without dropping the bike or getting run over by a u-haul. Of course, i was only a few hundred miles in at this point, and it was still damn cold. I had the heated grips on high the whole way, in addition to the 'stitch electric bib, which was a lifesaver. The rest of the ride was intermittently rainy, but at least it was just liquid water falling from the sky.

I left the south bay around 6am and got into Seattle around 10pm. 54mph average, including stops. Not too bad, probably a total of 2.5 hours of stops.

Things that worked:
- All this expensive Aerostich gear kept me dry and warm-ish. I definitely wouldn't have made it without the electric bib. The rain boot covers were also clutch.
- Brand new Micatechs kept all my things dry, as well as my much older home-made Pelican top box.
- Rick Mayer saddle wasn't slippy in the wet, and I was able to rack up some serious saddle time with just a bit of discomfort - definitely way better than stock. My back sure hurts today though.
- Garmin 2730 & XM. Nice to have music all day, modulo the ear pain.
- Wearing a balaclava, bringing clif bars instead of real food, and having a thermos of coffee with me.
- The bike generally, and tires in particular - as well as the cat o-ring cruise control. I hit 64,000 miles around Eugene

That that didn't work:
- My brain. I didn't pack nearly warm enough - in fact, I thought it'd be hot!
- My right side rear blinker failed after mile 350 or so. This is probably due to a shoddy repair from the prior owner I discovered while putting on the stumpy singlas from Micatech. You know what's scary? hand-signalling at 60mph in the dark after riding for 15 hours.
- Using in-ear phones. My ears _hurt_ after four hours or so. Thinking about a Starcom1 instead.

pgenera screwed with this post 03-20-2011 at 03:26 PM
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:05 PM   #2
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Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Seattle
Oddometer: 9,774
that could have ended badly- that pass can be treacherous. Glad you made it.

The bags look great, and the seat looks comfy.

Welcome to Seattle
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Old 03-20-2011, 10:05 PM   #3
pain monster
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Ventura, California / Bucharest, Romania
Oddometer: 75
i just did a 340 mile ride with no turn signals, i think i only had to hand signal 2 or 3 times (this was all city riding too, most cops wont pick on you unless they have some sort of other problem with you)
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Old 03-21-2011, 07:47 AM   #4
Irish Red
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Joined: Apr 2008
Location: Renton, WA
Oddometer: 115
Glad you made it safe. It's a little longer, but next time you might consider cutting over along the coast just before you get to the pass, then cutting back over to I-5 SW of Portland.

Another alternative:
A friend of mine's son just did I-5 over the pass from San Diego. He decided to rent a U-Haul to take the bike over the pass, then turned in the U-Haul and rode the rest of the way, safe, warm and less stressed.

Perhaps not as "purist", but pretty smart for a twenty something kid. Of course, he didn't have your great picture in the snow.

That being said, I probably would have (and have in the past) ridden through the snow.
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Old 03-21-2011, 10:19 AM   #5
pgenera OP
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Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Portland, Maine
Oddometer: 21
I'll be making the reverse trip in a few weeks; I was thinking that 101 might be a bit easier...

The roads themselves were just slushy; that parking lot was really bad though.
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Old 03-21-2011, 10:45 AM   #6
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Joined: Mar 2008
Location: Doha, Qatar
Oddometer: 699
Originally Posted by pgenera View Post
I'll be making the reverse trip in a few weeks; I was thinking that 101 might be a bit easier...

The roads themselves were just slushy; that parking lot was really bad though.
A few weeks time!!!

I'm heading to Death Valley in two week's time. The snow better be melting... Actually, I'm going by 97.

Yes, hwy 101 is going to be slow.

Thanks for sharing the information about the road conditions.
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