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Old 09-24-2013, 09:10 PM   #61
junkyardroad
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Quote:
The urge to journey, to quest, to find some sort of redemption or resolution or peace...must be universal. Historically, the bereaved have journeyed solo to the mountains, the desert, and the sea. They have walked, cycled, backpacked...and motorcycled.
It is not universal, but instilled in some of us that are somehow different. Irreducibly, we travel, choosing to ride, they don't. I enjoyed seeing many of the places you've described a few years ago, thinking then that my life couldn't get much worse. I was so wrong. It bought some time, though.

I hope you find resolution and peace and happiness
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:18 PM   #62
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Love your RR. I love riding solo, just riding at your own pace and reflecting. Have a safe trip.
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:44 PM   #63
Candiya OP
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Thank you very much, everyone. Just a couple quick notes as I take a break from writing the next installment...

This is my first thread on ADV, and I wanted to post it because I've been very inspired by others' ride reports. I thought that this report might be a way to give back to the community. I hope that it also inspires others to get out and do their own rides - or to face their fears in other ways.

Thank you to everyone who reached out with advice about the gear indicator problem. I'm glad that it never caused any of the difficulties you described! The bike is at the dealership now, and the indicator is being fixed under warranty.

Stay tuned!
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:58 PM   #64
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Thank you for deciding to post up your adventure. Yours is an adventure of the heart, and that is what is at the core of the best writings on this site - the ones I enjoy the most. Carry on!
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Old 09-25-2013, 01:33 AM   #65
ojo
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Love to read about your adventure! ... hello from switzerland
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Old 09-25-2013, 03:36 AM   #66
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Wow, awesome trip so far. This is one of the best reads I've had in a while, book, blog, magazine you name it. Your writing style is amazing. I look forward to the next installment. One day, when I grow up, I want to be just like you. Please be safe and I hope you find what you went looking for.
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Old 09-25-2013, 04:47 AM   #67
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Glad I clicked the title and checked out this ride report. Love the way you write. And your photos have improved as well! Its nice to see read reports from other Washingtonians, too! Can't wait for more updates. Maybe next spring we cam cruise the Olympic Coast or somewhere in WA. Im fairly new to riding and just did a 6 day -1,000 mile trek on SW-WA. Can't wait for next summer already hahah. Keep your head up girly you're doin great so far!
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This is an adventure, not a field trip!!
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Old 09-25-2013, 05:07 AM   #68
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HOLY COW I think you can do this
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Old 09-25-2013, 06:32 AM   #69
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Thank you for sharing this experience with us in such a graceful way. Processing loss and moving forward is such a personal thing. I am honored that you have chosen to share this with us.

While it refers to walking in the mountains, I think this quote from John Muir is appropriate:

"I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out until sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."

Just substitute "ride" for "walk" and you have a statement that many of us can relate to.
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Old 09-25-2013, 08:04 AM   #70
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Well done. At many levels.
"Audacious." "Anthropomorphizing." Love it!
Thanks for letting us in.
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Old 09-25-2013, 10:02 AM   #71
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Regardless of the mode of transportation... solo journeys can be very enlightening.
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Old 09-25-2013, 11:30 AM   #72
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I too am sorry for your loss. I've not lost a mate through death, but divorce is similar, so I can relate...3 times over :) Talking helps, get it all out! And keep riding and taking pictures, and reporting back to us. it's good for the soul!!!
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Old 09-25-2013, 12:00 PM   #73
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Thank you for posting, you're doing a great job.
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Old 09-25-2013, 12:47 PM   #74
Candiya OP
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Day Four: Grants Pass, OR to Fortuna, CA, 223 miles

Route: 199 south (Cave Junction), NF 48 south (Happy Camp), 96 south (Willow Creek), 299 west (Arcata), 101 south, Comfort Inn in Fortuna

Favorite roads of the day: NF 48 and the S-curves at the base of 96

The morning started with a serious call home to my mom to discuss routing options. I needed a second opinion. We sat on the phone, both looking at various websites, trying to figure out the severity of the wildfires and the impact on the roads. I had been looking forward to these roads for months – the highlight of my trip – but I also had a healthy respect for wildfires. Riding alone into a forest with an uncontrolled fire wouldn't be smart. Looking at the official websites, it appeared that the wildfires were at least 80% contained and not too close to my route. The Caltrans site showed no road closures due to fire, though they did say that delays were possible on hwy 96. I decided to give it a shot.

I set off on 199 and took a break in Cave Junction. I stopped at a gas station and pulled out my map. This is where I met Wayne, a retired truck driver. He was on his cell phone, sitting on the swing beside the espresso stand. “Give me the map,” he barked at me. Uh...okay. I handed over the map thinking that I could always buy another one if he didn't give it back. But we started to talk, and I could see that he wasn't being rude. He just had a brusque, straightforward manner of speaking. “It's good to see a lady on the road,” he said. His Harley was parked in the shade. We talked routes, and he offered to show me the way to NF 48. Cool!

Wayne



Now, don't worry, I wouldn't ride blindly off with another rider. My GPS was on, and the GPS lady's cool British voice narrated each turn before he took it. It was fun to ride with someone else, even though it was only for about 10 minutes. We must have made a funny looking pair – him with his ape hanger handlebars, tank top, and skull cap helmet and me in my leathers on my oddball bike. We reached the “four corners” stop sign, and he pointed left for 48 to Happy Camp. “Thank you!” I yelled to him through my helmet with a big grin.

I loved 48. I'm not a fast rider so I wasn't blazing along. But I was happy as a clam tooling along at my own mellow pace. It was deserted – I think only one car passed the whole way to Happy Camp. Nice clean pavement, beautiful forest, twisty. Soon after starting off, I realized that I was having difficulty trail braking. Before I left for the trip, I had asked a friend to help adjust the brake lever down, and now it was just too hard to reach. Well, there's no time like the present to learn how to do it myself!

I pulled over and dug out the torx wrench. I had seen it adjusted twice but never done it myself. It made me laugh that the first time I adjusted it would be alone on the side of a deserted, remote road in the forest. As flippant as I seem now, I was methodical at the time, well aware that if I messed up, I'd be stuck. Brakes are kind of a necessity. The adjustment went fine, and I was back on the road quickly.

Roadside lever adjustments on NF 48





Soon enough, I saw the “Welcome: Heart of Klamath” sign and knew I had arrived in Happy Camp. I breathed a sigh of relief, and a feeling of elation suffused me. Wow. I actually made it to California. Who would have thought? Certainly not me. All winter long, I had been talking about doing a road trip to California in September, but I never actually believed it. Regardless of the proof surrounding me, I was still in disbelief. Of course, photos were a necessity, both here and at the giant bigfoot statue.

Happy Camp: I made it to California



Hey look, I found Bigfoot on my bike



I found a gas station and waited for the attendant before pumping. It was only as I pulled away that I remembered I was in California and could now pump my own gas. Duh. I was ready for some food and a chance to cool down. The attendant recommended the pizza place, and I found it in the next block. I ordered a chicken fajita sandwich (yummy) and plopped down in a booth directly before the AC.





I was enjoying my lunch when a text came through from my best friend. It was a photo of her with her newborn daughter, born just that morning. My heart squeezed tightly, and I set my food aside. You know how some babies just look like baby-shaped lumps? That wasn't the case here. This baby girl was beautiful. Her eyes were closed, and her fist was in her mouth. I loved her already. My heart felt bruised.



I looked up to see my bike through the window, and it seemed so strange how the choices you make in life can bring you to unexpected crossroads. We started out in the same high school. Here I was alone on a motorcycle in a small town, while she just gave birth to her third child. I looked at that photo and knew that I was unlikely to have children. That was one of the losses with Mike. I'm okay with it in the abstract, but looking at the photo...well, it did make me wonder.



After sending a note of congratulations, it was time to keep moving. I was nicely chilled from the AC, but as I geared up, I noticed that I had left my earplugs in the tankbag in the heat. Inserting them felt like pouring molten wax in my ears, heating my brain. Yuck! Note to self, take earplugs inside during breaks.

Next up, hwy 96! I'd been looking forward to his road, as it came highly recommended by Mike's friends. They had all enjoyed it during their road trip a few years ago. As might be expected with the “highway” moniker, this road is bigger than NF 48. Well maintained, faster, certainly not busy but with semi-regular cars passing the other direction.

About 10 minutes out of town, I came around a corner to find a motorcycle in the ditch. I quickly scanned the situation. Two riders were struggling to right the bike; one rider was walking on the other side of the road. Everyone still had their helmets on so this must have just happened. I didn't see anyone lying down so hopefully everyone was okay.

As I pulled to the side of the road, I wondered if this was the right thing to do. I know that you're not supposed to crowd accident sites. Still, I was carrying a first aid kit and some tools so maybe I could help. As I turned off my bike, another rider who had been traveling in the other direction did a U-turn and parked behind me. Another couple riders traveling separately parked on the other side.

The rider who had gone down was walking around the accident site swearing in his helmet. I figured that was a good sign, though adrenaline can mask a lot. Eventually, everyone took their helmets off, and we assessed the situation. It turned out that the rider was fine, though his bike was seriously damaged, and it had left a pool of oil in the road. Once it was clear that everyone was okay, I snapped some pictures.









We all introduced ourselves and learned a bit about each other. The guy who had pulled up behind me was on his way back to Portland. He asked about my route. “So, did you just take I5?” “Oh no,” I responded. He ran down the list of highways. “101? 97?” I kept shaking my head. As I explained my route, his eyes got bigger and bigger. “Wow, you're really doing it!” His response made me feel good. Hey, maybe I'm really doing it. Little did he know that I'd be way more intimidated to ride that far on I5 than backroads.

You would think that coming across a group of guys on a road trip having had an accident would hit me like a gut punch. It did make me think but not like a gut punch. Oddly, what I mainly felt was a combination of relief that everyone was okay and mild irritation that the rider wouldn't stop complaining. Didn't he know how lucky he was? His friends could have been standing there frantically trying to save him. They could have been standing there having lost him. They were all so lucky. This was just a typical, semi-mundane accident and not a tragedy. They didn't seem to realize the bullet that they had dodged. For them, this was a disappointment on their roadtrip. For me, it was a tragedy averted. I didn't blame them for not seeing things the same way as me. This is just one of the ways I'm different than others since Mike's accident.

We stood around on the side of the road until it looked like everything was under control. As I was getting ready to set off again, one of the other riders in the group said to me, "I just have 2 words for you... BE. CAREFUL."

"I am," I replied. "My boyfriend died last year in a motorcycle accident while on a road trip with his friends...so I definitely understand." He looked shocked and somber. "I'm sorry," he said. "It's okay,” I replied. “It's hard, but you have to keep moving ahead," I said, gesturing at the road.

The road ahead



Of course, all this standing around had made me hot again. It was in the upper 80s – low 90s, and my leathers were not perforated. It felt good to be moving. I was relieved to find that I was still happy to be on the road. Coming across the accident hadn't given me second thoughts about my trip.

What a fun road 96 is. I was enjoying myself when I came up to road construction with a flagger. I turned off my bike and talked to the flagger for about 10 minutes while we waited for the pilot car. The riders at the accident had given me a heads-up about this. Apparently, there was a crane holding a fire hose over the road, and you rode underneath it. Well, when I got there, it was a little different. Two firefighters lifted up the hose while I crossed beneath it. Awesome! I could get used to this. If two burly firefighters wanted to travel along and lift all the obstacles out of my way, I wouldn't complain.

The heat affected me much worse today. It was probably a combination of being dehydrated and not being able to eat enough the past few days, but I just wasn't making the progress that I wanted. I stopped several times to cool down, but by the time I reached Willow Creek at the junction of 96 and 299, I knew I'd have to change my route. Originally, I had wanted to take 299 east from here, 3 south, and 36 west to Fortuna. But it was 3:30, and the past few days had shown me that 1) everything took me longer than I expected and 2) finishing the day riding into the sun wasn't fun. I scrapped my ambitious route and begrudgingly turned towards the coast. The revised route was 299 west to 101 south.

Taking a break in Willow Creek



Hwy 299 came highly recommended, and I had been looking forward to it, but I found it a bit nerve wracking. This highway is bigger than 96, well maintained and full of lovely sweepers. The problem was the traffic. I didn't relish passing big rigs in corners with other big rigs and RV's in the oncoming lane, especially as it was not a divided highway. When I came around a corner and saw a giant, dark wall of fog ahead, all I wanted to do was turn around and run back to the sunny hills. The temps dropped and dropped, from low 90's to low 60's, and I pulled off at the empty truck scales to add some layers.

Gray skies ahead



Now in the heavy, low cloud bank, I merged onto 101. It was okay, except that the speed limit was 65, and there were multiple long stretches of heavily grooved pavement. Going 70, the front end would become more and more unstable on the grooves so I learned to gradually let my speed come down as I crossed them.

I had picked Fortuna as a destination so I could skip Eureka, but this revised route led me down the length of Eureka in rush hour traffic. It was gray skies, gray roads, gray sea, tons of traffic, lots of cops, multiple stop lights, a center turn lane with left-turners, and bunches of little side streets that squirted cars out into the main thoroughfare. Creeping along with traffic near the waterfront, I was overwhelmed by the smell of trash and decomposing fish. “Oh my God, what is that SMELL?!” I said aloud in my helmet before holding my breath. The wilderness of the morning seemed long ago and far away.

I rode with my shoulders scrunched up and a dour look on my face. But I had to laugh when the image popped into my head of a cat that had just gotten a bath. You know that slightly offended look they have? That's about what I looked like riding through Eureka.

I pulled up to the Comfort Inn in Fortuna glad to call it a day. As I was checking in, the man behind me in line interrupted. “Excuse me, but were you at Crater Lake yesterday?” “No,” I blurted out. “Oh wait, yes!” Crater Lake was just yesterday? Standing in this cold, seaside town, it felt like ages ago. It turns out that this couple had sat next to me during lunch at Crater Lake. They were one of the tables of British accents. It sure is a small world.



After checking in, I asked the attendant if there was anything walking distance for dinner. When he mentioned the Eel River Brewery across the parking lot, my outlook immediately took a turn for the better. Score! I changed and walked to the brewery.







Sitting in their patio, I noticed that the couple at the next table was wearing black leather jackets and heavy leather boots. Taking a chance, I asked if they were motorcycle riders. It turns out that they were, and we had a nice conversation over dinner, sharing stories from the road. It's interesting. Though I'm traveling alone, I feel part of a far-flung family of motorcyclists. Everywhere I go, whether I know them or not, I can be assured of a friendly reception from other motorcyclists on the road. It's comforting.

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Old 09-25-2013, 05:13 PM   #75
arraflipper
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What a great ride you have been sharing with us, thanks so much. You sure this is your first time of posting an adventure. If it is, you sure have been doing a great job for the first time. I had hoped to get out there this year, looks like it will be next year now, maybe our paths will cross one day.
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