|05-23-2013, 08:50 PM||#1|
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
West Coast Loop - 10 Days on a Triumph Daytona 600
Ride Report: 10-Day West Coast Loop on a Triumph Daytona 600
I took a little time from the office to cruise south – the only viable direction from Seattle in March. Just a short, leisurely ride on an uncomfortable bike. I had no solid plans. I took some photos with my phone, but I didn’t put a lot of effort into the photography or the writing. Maybe next time. I tried harder last time, but I doubt that three people read that report. Here’s a photo of the bike to get things started.
Left Seattle on Friday at 4pm wearing a large backpack and riding gear, but carrying no built-in luggage. I was riding my stock Triumph Daytona 600. Over-the-top speeding from the first onramp, but then hit traffic and made only 40 miles in the first two hours. A tiny rain storm parked right on top of me, so I was wet all the way to Clancy’s place in Lebanon. (Clancy is a long-time friend) But it was worth it because he had just finished making dinner – delicious Cajun salmon, asparagus, and rice. An amazing surprise, and the best meal I’ve had in months. Slept in the upstairs bedroom.
On Saturday morning, I rode to Matt’s house in Harrisburg and hung out with him and the kids. (Matt’s another long-time friend.) Then I rode to Florence, hitting heavy rain on the way, and ate at DQ. Then I hit a Safeway in Reedsport for cash and some snacks. Outside, I talked to a nice homeless guy outside and his nice dog. This kind of thing happens a lot when I’m on long road trips carrying dirty gear. He had me watch the dog outside while he went in. Several people stopped to comment that the dog is pretty. He was looking for a job, very slowly traveling north. I enjoyed talking with him.
I got some gas south of there. The rain continued almost to California. I stopped at a beach park to warm up and only got more cold. So I stopped in Crescent City for a motel because I didn’t want to be shivering cold looking for a campsite in the mountains and unable to get a wet fire going while my camping gear got soaked. I really stopped for the hot shower, but the shower didn’t work. It alternated between scalding hot and cold. The go-karts across the street were tempting me. I walked to a Mexican restaurant next door where they recommended the fish tacos. They were expensive and terrible. To make matters worse, they made me sick and truly ruined my evening. My gear was drying all around the room, but the heater blew warm air up near the ceiling, so there was no way to directly dry the gear. I made plans to meet April in San Francisco and watched Weed Country, the TV show, which seemed appropriate given my location. And it started raining hard.
I woke up at six. It was dark, 39 degrees, and partly cloudy. I might be out of the rain for a while! My right shoulder was very sore from carrying the pack, so I made the pack straps longer hoping it would rest on the back seat better. The motorcycle survived a questionable parking spot (hiding partly behind a staircase) where I was sure it would be stolen or hit. I left before sunrise hoping it would get light soon and that I could make it to SF relatively early.
I saw a nice sunrise, but it got foggy as I went into the mountains. There was lots of fog inside the visor too, and it wouldn’t seem to clear up. The road was wet for the first eighty miles or so. I saw some elk in the redwoods. The road was nice and had little traffic, so I was able to speed while keeping an eye out for elk.
I stopped to enjoy an awesome view of the clouds at sunrise. I ate two hard-boiled eggs while waiting for the sun to peek up and light the clouds up with pink. At exactly the critical moment, the phone’s battery froze and the phone shut down. I took the cover off and warmed the battery up and waited for the phone to restart. Still got a decent photo, but the moment had passed.
My shoulder was still sore. I split lanes down 101, skipping highway 1. I split lanes on the Golden Gate Bridge too, outright hooliganism. I found the park to meet April and waited there looking like a creepy dirty homeless guy looking for a kid to kidnap. Then I had lunch with April at a nice café. It was sunny and nice back at the park hanging out with April’s cousin and friends and watching her young son play baseball.
Then I left my gear in April’s car and rode around SF. I bought some waterproof spray at REI and ended up at a Starbucks in Daly City planning the next couple of days. Then I headed over to April’s place. I stopped to check the directions on my GPS, and a guy got out of the car I parked behind. His name is George, and he’s a huge fan of Triumphs (an my model in particular) and other British motorcycles. I enjoyed his stories about the Triumph, BSA, and other bikes he’d owned. Sounded like he’d fallen on hard times. He tried to coax me out for St. Patty’s Day.
At April’s, we ordered awesome pizza and pasta delivery, and I played with her son.
Later, we watched YouTube videos on her TV and relaxed on the couch. It was really cozy. Then some friends of hers from Napa arrived to sleep off their buzz from St. Patty’s partying in the city, which totally changed the vibe. The guy is the doppelganger of a friend of mine in Hawai’i, and he also has Hawai’i ties. I slept on the couch and had crazy scary dreams that I was a hamster on a sinking ship.
Monday morning. I hung out for a bit and then left when April left. An amazing woman – I’m going to miss her. Then I rode to a donut place in Santa Cruz and had milk and an apple fritter. I lost a part of my earphone. Then I rode down the coast. I passed lots of slow cars but got some good hooligan times in.
Next 74 miles?
The Triumph is perfect for the PCH (for me). Way better than the big BMW I rode last time, especially in the corners. It was rock solid in the dicey bits, sticky in the corners, hauled ass down the straits, and passed huge lines of cars without hesitation, even in the corners. Comparatively, riding the BMW down the PCH was (to me) like trying to do surgery with a dull steak knife.
I stopped and hiked down to the rocks by the ocean to relax for a long time. I looked for otters but didn’t see any.
On the way back, I found a wounded bunny on the trail. I hoped he would make it but doubted he would. Given the speeding and passing, I was surprised there wasn’t a roadblock looking for me when I came out of the coast stretch. I cruised/lane split to Santa Barbara where it smelled like flowers and rented a nice hotel room.
Was I at the wrong place?
I took a nap and then got my second meal of the day – Carl’s Jr. Meh. Then I sat around watching TV and planning the next day. My arms were sore, but the shoulder was better. Making the arm straps tighter seemed to help. My legs and butt were still sore.
I woke up early with plans to meet Frances (a traveling friend) for breakfast in Venice. It was a fun ride through Malibu. Splitting lanes there in weekday rush-hour traffic was like playing a video game, but it was also easy and friendly – almost wholesome with the nice folks moving over when things got tight. That would be a fun commute, assuming I could survive.
At Venice Beach, the shops were all still closed, so I met Frankie at the Santa Monica Pier. We walked to the end of the pier and chatted and then walked across to downtown and ate at a little place. She bought – I need to send her a gift. We took some photos at the motorcycle.
She said the reach is too long for her – it’s a shame because they look so good together!
An old lady told us a touching story about her first year at the pier in the 1950s. Then I took off.
Stopping briefly in San Diego, I rode down to the Mexican border and looked around a bit. Then I had lunch at a great Mexican place Yolanda recommended for me. “Dos mas, por favor.” Seriously… almost worth the ride just for the tacos.
Then I rode up I15 and camped in the desert. Someone had dumped a bunch of sticks out there, so fire was easy. Win!
The birds were chirping. It was a great time of year to hang out in the desert. I charged the phone from the motorcycle and waterproofed the gloves. I was starting to doubt the rest of my route because a bunch of snow was falling in the Cascades. I put on my down booties and fleece pants. I hadn’t been eating much, and I resolved to change that. Late at night, the coyotes made lots of noise close by.
I wasn’t quite sure what day it was anymore. I got back on the freeway and stopped to eat at Denny’s, where I met a giant guy named Adam. He had lots of travel advice, mostly useless. He made a comment about my new back tire still having chicken strips. Then I slabbed it to Vegas, stopping at the Bellagio to see the fountains run. I loved them as usual.
Then I rode to Pahrump and got a Blue Moon for a dollar at a cute but depressing bar. I was having an emotional slump. I had finally maxed the bike out and was disappointed at the speed. Maybe it was because of my giant pack and the stiff wind. Then it was off to Death Valley, a bit out of my way.
I managed to max the bike out again, this time at a better speed. Still a bit disappointing, but a good compromise given how agile the bike is. Then I maxed it out again and again. The road was wide open, flat, straight, and had few cars. This was definitely the most miles I had ever covered in three hours (except in airplanes).
The real reason I put myself on the wrong side of the mountains. I’d already crossed off this long-time bucket list item, but… why not?
Got and gave some of the motorcycle signs for “police ahead” (tapping your helmet). I slowed down to pass cars in going either direction. I made very good time all afternoon on the California and Nevada sides of the border and enjoyed Death Valley. I’ve learned to slow down when near or inside tiny towns. I was cruising down a hill into one town with no hands, tightening the straps on my backpack, when I cop lit up, popped out, and nabbed a rental car going the other way.
At one point, it was raining big tumbleweeds. I’ve never seen that. They were blowing up and over a hill and falling down the road cut into the middle of the highway and then running away. That’ll wake you up. I also saw an overturned and smashed tanker truck. On Day 5, I saw a giant white message on a mountainside saying “fisting” and pointing down the road. I didn’t see anything out there (I stopped to take a picture but couldn’t find a good spot) and wasn’t sure what that was all about.
I made it to a hotel (simple but overpriced) and chatted with my friend Sherry on the phone. I ate chowder from the can (nuked in a coffee cup) and vending machine food. I locked myself out of my room for a while, wearing shorts and bare feet. I planned to head further north at the risk of snow. I was tired and seeing double. The view from the hotel:
I had breakfast at a BK in town and chatted with a cruiser guy in a pickup truck who had waited for me in the parking lot. I rode through tiny towns and saw lots of cops but still sped a bit.
I ended up in Reno. Meh. I had a nice hotel room in the middle of town for cheap. Those are my clothes drying in the window.
Such a sad clown – quintessentially Reno (to me).
There were plenty of restaurants, casinos, etc., all indoors. I napped plenty, watched the pass reports, and contemplated my route. I went out for more Mexican food and then went to a bar in the building and had a huge three-dollar beer. Later, I went out to buy some snack mix for dinner.
I left at 10am. I was wearing lots of jackets but was still cold to Susanville where I had a big, boring breakfast at a diner. I cruised up and over the mountains from there. There was plenty of nice scenery, snow, and curves. It was nice to be back in the forest. I hit a funky groove in one corner and came very close to low-siding.
I came down into Redding, gassed up, and sped up to Weed for a hot shower at a Motel 6 by 3:30. By now, the miles were coming easier because my body was getting used to riding and because I’d found a way to get a better earplug fit. I went out for some pizza and beer.
I felt guilty about flogging the bike over so many miles and really riding hard. But I walked out of the pizza place and the bike smiled at me! I think it sadistically liked the ride as much as me! “Yeah! More bugs!”
I woke up, watched TV until 11, and then headed north. I was a bit grumpy, mostly because of the slow weekend Oregon drivers. I hit CNS, Clancy’s workplace, before they closed and hung out with the guys. Then I rode to Clancy’s house. He bicycled the 16 or so miles home because his car had broken down. So I had a nap before he got home. Then we got some Mexican food and drinks and went to bed relatively early after chatting about art-like projects.
I chatted with Clancy and then rode home, making several stops for gas. There were more close calls with cops. I got home and warmed up.
The rear tire, new before this trip, had a nice groove worn down the middle from the I5 stretch. I got a flat the next day. In total, I had ridden 3300 miles. I concluded that the bike makes miles come fast but not easy. I bought a heated vest soon after and am contemplating buying a small rack for my pack. Next trip: Yellowknife?
|05-24-2013, 08:17 AM||#2|
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Southeast Lower Carolina
Good, I am ready for the Yellowknife tour. This was a great read with just the right pics; friends, a little food, and some road shots. Thanks for taking the time to share.
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