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Old 03-12-2012, 02:20 PM   #1
Festina_lente OP
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Newbie ride from Seattle to San Jose

Well, I posted some inqueries about riding from Seattle to San Jose a few months ago. I took the trip and it was interesting from a newbie's perspective.

A little background. I learned how to ride a motorcycle at the local BRC back in December 2009. I started out with a Honda Rebel for about 5 months and then bought my current motorcycle, Suzuki M50. The M50 is much heavier but has more power. Plus I like the fact that maintenace is very easy with a shaft drive.

About 6 months ago I moved from Texas to Seattle, WA. I've never rode around steep curves and hills till I arrived in Seattle. It was some great learning curve.

After reading so many postings here I decided to go on a trip when my wife is out of town... :) I decided to visit my uncle in Sacramento and sister in San Jose. My route was to ride from Seattle to Astoria and then go down 101 to California and then to Sacramento. My plan was to leave at around noon, Wednesday 3/7, right after working half day and return on Tuesday, 3/13. Well, nothing went according to plans.

I was able to get out of work at around 11:00am on Wednesday 3/7 and went home to do some final packing and loading up the bike. I think I left a little after 12:00pm. My first destination was Astoria. The weather was cooperating and it was a nice ride.

Bridge from Longview to Oregon.




I made it to Astoria by about 3:30pm and went to the famous Astoria Column





I got a late lunch at the local KFC. Sorry, no pics...

My plan was to head down 101 to Newport. According to google map it was only 2 to 3 hours away and there's a nice campground. Well, google map was wrong. I rode down and down and since the speed varies so much along 101 I tried to find a place somewhere else to camp. It was getting dark and I couldn't see much. Had to use my highbeam for quite a ways and I was afraid of falling into the ditches.

I decided I couldn't make Newport and tried to find a local campground. I saw a few signs and went looking. I went around a few places but the campgrounds were all closed.

Eventually I made it to Newport at 8:30pm. I decided to just get the local cheap motel and tried to sleep. All the time I was afraid my bike would get stolen... :( I slept about 2 hours and then some weirdos were hanging around the motel woke me up. Fell back to sleep and slept for another 1.5 hours... This went on for a bit till I finally got up at 4:30am and packed up to leave. I left the motel at around 6:00am and had breakfast at the Mcdonalds. Next destination is Eureka, CA.

The morning ride was awesome. I saw the beautiful Oregon coastline, beaches and the Pacific Ocean. I stopped by the Sealion cave but they weren't open yet.



I continued down the coast and stopped only to get gas. I recalled that gas stations pump your gas for you in Oregon but it was really weird to actually experience it in person. Actually nobody really pumped gas for me. Guess they don't know how to pump gas into the motorcycle. The gas station attendants just swiped my card for me, push the buttons and handed my the gas nozzle.

I reached Crescent City, CA at around 1:00pm and ate lunch there. I did stop before that to take a picture of the huge Redwood trees.



I also stopped by some place to call the wife and let her know I'm still alive...





Wow, the Oregon coast line is really beautiful.

Anyway, I left Crescent City and reached Eureka at around 2:00pm and found the KOA right outside of Eureka. I paid for a night and settled down. I was tired so turned in early.

It's been over 10 years since I last camped. The KOA is right behind a lumber yard and the traffic noised really didn't help me sleep. I managed about 6 hours of interrupted sleep and got up by 5:00am, March 9th and packed. I think I left my bag of tent stakes there... Oh well, they are replaceable. I left the KOA at around 6:00am and headed further south. My destination today was to reach my uncle's place in Sacramento via 101, 20 and then I-5.

I stopped by here to stretch my legs. Some guy came up to me and talked about his life for a bit. No picture of him.



I actually reached Sacramento by about 1:00pm but it took me a while to find my uncle's place. Finally reached his house by about 2:00pm. He heard my motorcycle and came out.

Uncle fed me a late lunch and made me stay for dinner. I was planning to stay the night but I checked the weather for my return trip and found that it was going to rain in Oregon and Washington on Monday and Tuesday. I decided to cut my stay short and leave on Sunday. I bid a quick farewell to uncle and headed to San Jose at around 6:30pm.

Reached San Jose at around 9:00pm but took about 30 minutes to find my sister's place. I finally got to meet a nephew that I have not seen. He's 4 years old. I also saw my niece again. It was good to see the whole family. We chatted for about an hour before everyone went to bed.

On Saturday, March 10, I woke up at 4:30am. This seems like a trend. I get only about 5 hours of sleep a night. I checked on Oregon and Washington weather again and found that the weather is not looking good for Sunday. The weather situation forced me to leave on Saturday to get back home ASAP. Thus no more pictures since I was in a hurry to get home.

Left San Jose at around 8:30am and headed up to get on I-5 for the trip home. Reached Portland by about 9:00pm and was too tired to make it to Seattle so I opted for an expensive hotel to stay for the night.

Note, riding around Mt. Shasta and the Siskiyou pass was really frightening even though the weather was mostly clear. I saw snow on road sides and the elevation changes was terrible for a beginner like me.

On Sunday, March 11, I rode through the cold rain and finally got home at around 11:30am.

So, in about 96 hours I covered probably 1900 miles or more...

I felt the trip down 101 on the Oregon coast was the best, except riding in the dark. 101 in California was good. The twisties were ok but first time I had a huge 18 wheeler coming towards me as I was turning left really scared me. I never saw it coming. Didn't like riding the twisties after that. On top of that the road was wet and I wasn't sure about the traction of my tires so there was a constant fear of slipping on the road. I had Pirelli MT66's but still very scary.

Got some questions for you riding veterans...

1. My hands were so sore after the first day. How do you guys manage to use the throttle for so long? My sore wrist was so bad that I could bare use my thumb and index finger to rip open bags and stuff.

2. I lost focus. The day I went from San Jose to Portland, I was getting numb or something and really lost focus of the road. I had to stop and get off the bike every time I gas up to keep my mind focused on the road. I finally gave it after about 12 hours not because I was sleepy but because I just couldn't focus on riding anymore.


I am glad I did the trip. Learned a few things. Perhaps I should have done a shorter trip or perhaps took the trip in the summer when the weather is much better. Actually the last few days of the trip was quite miserable, since I was short on time and rode more than I have ever done before.

Best gears on the ride.
1. River Road High and Dry Rain Jacket I got from an inmate here. It got cold and the rain jacket really kept me warm.
2. Heated gloves. Got my Gerbings from an inmate here. They worked great. Couldn't have made the trip without them.
3. Rain pants and boots. Tourmaster pants and Sidi boots. Kept me warm and dry.
4. Smartwool socks, balaclava. Both kept me in good shape.
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Old 03-12-2012, 03:01 PM   #2
zadok
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Well done F_l; that was quite a ride for a first timer. That Astoria Column looks like a great work of art.
A throttle lock should help with the sore right wrist, so you can take it off the grip every now and then to get some circulation through it.
You must remain focussed. Shorter legs between stops, and listening to music along the way may help. A veteran of many an Iron But ride once told me to mentally break down the trip into short rides. You stop for gas and then say to yourself, I'm now on a ride to ...... (next Town, fuel stop).

Cheers.
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Old 03-12-2012, 04:00 PM   #3
Gunga Galunga
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^^^That. Not sure if both wrists were sore but sometimes when anxiety level goes up (twisties for you) hanging on too tight can make you sore as hell. Increased anxiety will also wear you out mentally possibly leading to not focusing. Like previous poster said, stop more often, getting there is the trip. Taking pictures makes you stop, for example. Music also helps as he said. Since you don't have a lot of options as far as moving around on the bike to get different riding positions I would recommend stopping often, picking out things you want to see to make you stop, etc. It's easy to get in the "gotta get there" mode. In any case, congratulations on your great first of many trips!
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Old 03-12-2012, 05:38 PM   #4
Nickywind
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Cheers from a fellow noob!

Glad to hear your trip was a success! Although I've been riding for a few years now, I still consider myself a noob and find myself fighting a sore throttle hand sporadically also. Two things helped me: chilling the f*$k out , and installing a set of handlebar risers that re-positioned and relaxed my shoulder/elbow/wrist position. But the first thing is much easier. I make a conscious effort to relax my right hand - I'm amazed how often I catch myself in a death grip.
Zoning out - we stop every 100 miles. Even if it's not for gas or for a purpose, we always stop and stretch the legs, look around, do whatever... It's nice sometimes to stop and realize you're on an adventure too. Best of luck to you - do what you can now to solve these problems and enjoy the ride!
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Old 03-12-2012, 06:07 PM   #5
Festina_lente OP
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Thanks for all the replies.

You guys are right. I was really tense riding the twisties and constantly had to work the throttle and gears as I go up and down. It didn't help when it was only one lane each way and have a huge 18 wheeler come around the bend.

I will definitely look into getting a throttle lock. Raising the handlebars is also a good option. I also felt some soreness in my shoulders and neck.
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:41 AM   #6
b4thenite
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good job.

Congrat on your succesful ride. Keep riding!

P.S. twisties are fun, trust me.
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Old 03-13-2012, 03:22 AM   #7
Amagalous
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For focus

Another thing that helps is a sour hard candy. Popping a Lemon Head in your mouth can wake you up for quite a few miles. Relaxing the throttle hand is essential, and it will come along as you get more relaxed on your machine. Same with shoulders and neck. That white knuckle grip effects more than just your hands. The main thing to remember is just relax and enjoy the ride. Make lots and lots of little 1-4 hour trips when ever possible. There is nothing that will relax you and make you more comfortable than saddle time. Once you get that bug in your soul, you wont check the weather stations any more because what they tell you will be for information only. You will ride anyway regardless of what they say!
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Old 03-13-2012, 11:55 AM   #8
Willius
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Festina_lente View Post
Thanks for all the replies.

You guys are right. I was really tense riding the twisties and constantly had to work the throttle and gears as I go up and down. It didn't help when it was only one lane each way and have a huge 18 wheeler come around the bend.

I will definitely look into getting a throttle lock. Raising the handlebars is also a good option. I also felt some soreness in my shoulders and neck.
Think about your lane position while going through corners. Don't hug the inside line on left handed corners instead, enter the curve on the outside until you can see through the corner and then make your apex. That way you'll see those big vehicles before they're on top of you and and have room to avoid them should they be in your lane.

A great resource for newish riders are the Proficient Motorcycling books by David Hough. The books cover a lot of stuff that will help to make you a more proficient operator.

Welcome to ADVRider and to Seattle. Cheers!
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Old 03-13-2012, 02:55 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Willius View Post
Think about your lane position while going through corners. Don't hug the inside line on left handed corners instead, enter the curve on the outside until you can see through the corner and then make your apex. That way you'll see those big vehicles before they're on top of you and and have room to avoid them should they be in your lane.

A great resource for newish riders are the Proficient Motorcycling books by David Hough. The books cover a lot of stuff that will help to make you a more proficient operator.

Welcome to ADVRider and to Seattle. Cheers!
I'm a new-ish rider as well. Just finished the "Proficient Motorcycling" book - lots and lots of good advice. I can strongly recommend that.
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Old 03-13-2012, 05:37 PM   #10
dfhepner
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I think the biggest problem with you keeping focus was lack of sleep. You said several times that you did not sleep well or very long. I find that if I don't get enough sleep the night before that it is hard to keep focus even though I may not feel tired.

For the sore hand issue you can try relaxing the grip and switching the grip of the throttle from thumb pointing finger to little finger and heal of palm. Wiggling the figures. I have been using the for many years with out using the throttle locks.

Nice trip. Hope to hear more from you.
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Old 03-13-2012, 07:00 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by srensen View Post
I'm a new-ish rider as well. Just finished the "Proficient Motorcycling" book - lots and lots of good advice. I can strongly recommend that.
I read that book a week before my BRC. I will have to read it again. I am sure there are plenty of information from that book I failed to comprehend years ago. Now with a couple years of riding experience I would definitely appreciate that book today.

Thanks for the suggestion.
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