We had a Sport-Touring.net Bay Area dinner at City Pub in Redwood City on Friday night. It was really fun. I knew some of the people there, and some were new faces. Let’s see, in attendence were: Tom (Cal24Master), Ed (Lefty) and his girlfriend Hani (I’m sure I’m spelling that wrong), Chris (naked_sv), Mike (Sonic), Sean (elseanno), and myself.
I don’t think I’d enjoy doing an endurance rally, at least not at this stage of life — I get too funky when I’m sleep- or food-deprived. I wouldn’t trust myself not to fall asleep or make a mistake and crash somewhere. I love hearing peoples’ stories, though. I’m thinking about asking if either group needs volunteers to work a checkpoint or something.
After dinner, we sniffed around each others’ bikes for a while. Naturally, Tom’s FJR* was the star of the show, with all of his IBA bells and whistles.
* Hey, Bill! I got it right this time!
(the rest of the pictures are here)
Saturday morning, I got up bright and early and headed to The Rhino. I needed to bring up my rear stand, and thankfully, Peter and I managed to get it onto the SVS.
Rehearsal went pretty well. We’re going to have Libby’s bike, the Triumph R/S, completely stationery (hence the rear stand) since her shoulder is still hurt. The other three bikes in the show will be pushed short distances but never started up. I’m not very comfortable with the two heavy Magnas being pushed, even just across the backyard, but the director sort of overruled me. *shrug*
Mirla is using this adorable apple green Honda from somewhere around the dawn of time. It’s the cutest thing ever. We don’t think it runs at all (there’s no ignition key, at any rate), but it’s perfect for Tomato.
I’m going up tomorrow night to see the final rehearsal before dress rehearsal. I’m sure it’ll be great — the snippets of rehearsal and lighting cues I’ve seen so far have been hilarious.
I met up with Diana in San Jose, and we rode up to Albany to meet with some of the ladies from the Women in Sport Touring (WIST) mailing list. We had brunch at Sam’s Log Cabin, which was a fun little place.
From Albany, Tai and Jody led us up Grizzly Peak Road to The Wall, a famous East Bay biker hangout. With this view, it’s easy to see why.
We hung out up there for a little while, taking pictures of the view and chatting with other riders. There were a group of guys with old Honda Ascots; unfortunately, they left before I got a picture. Another guy asked me all about the SVS, and we blathered on together for a little while.
Three of our seven riders (Tai peeled off at the beginning to go home) had Moto Guzzis — I don’t think I’ve seen so many in one place outside of the bike show.
From the Berkeley hills, we headed towards Mt. Diablo. We pulled over at North Gate Road to reassemble — we all got stuck at various stop lights. While we were waiting there, a pickup truck pulled over to warn Jody that there were cops up on Mt Diablo and were issuing speeding tickets. This wasn’t really an issue from me — I doubt I’d be going very quickly at all, it being my first time on the roads — but the consensus was to go somewhere else instead.
Jody decided to take us up to Morgan Territory Road, and led us to Ed’s Mudville Grill in Clayton beforehand. It was one of those horribly sadistic places that has both fifteen million types of beer on tap and is also surrounded by good motorcycling roads. Sigh. Two great tastes that don’t go well together.
So, nothing to do but drink rootbeer floats and neon pink lemonade. Not a bad compromise, all in all.
The guys in the background of this picture were all there with their infant children. It was adorable. We were seven racous women in bike gear, obviously out having Girls’ Day Out; they were three sweet-looking dads holding babies and changing diapers and cooing over their babies.
Once we left Ed’s, Regina and Alice took off for home — Alice had a plane to catch back to LA — and Jody led us to Morgan Territory Road.
We took it from north to south, and I have to admit that I didn’t like the top (northern) half very much. It’s optimistically labelled as a one-lane road, but most of the time, it wasn’t even that. We didn’t encounter much traffic, but there are enough blind curves that you really have to pay attention to your lines so that you aren’t surprised if you come around a tight right-handed and find yourself staring at some Jeep’s grill.
That in and of itself isn’t enough to turn me off of a road, but in addition, it had the single worst pavement condition of any road I’ve ever been on. I’ve been in gravel turnouts in Nevada that were paved better than this section. Maybe I’m a big weenie (always possible), but I was wishing for a dirtbike and knobby tires halfway through. We’re not talking tar snakes and gravel; we’re talking huge chunks of pavement missing. 3″ deep potholes, sometimes filled with dirt, sometimes not. 6″ tall frost heaves. Rocks (not gravel or pebbles) in the middle of the road. Dirt everywhere. If riding in the rain and fog is our weather-based Alaska Practice, this was definitely my road-condition Alaska Practice.
If the road had been either impossibly narrow or impossibly shitty, I wouldn’t really have minded, but the combination was a bit annoying.
About halfway down, we stopped in the Morgan Territory Regional Park’s (gravel) parking lot to regroup. After that, it was completely different road. I don’t know if it crossed a county line or what, but suddenly it was two-lane, paved, and absolutely gorgeous. It swept through farmlands, twisting and curving gently enough to let us build up speed, but sharply enough to keep my interest and be a bit of a challenge. Fun!
I’d do that second half again in a heartbeat, but it may take Johnny Depp sitting half-naked astride a free Hayabusa up at the top of the hill for me to redo that top half.
After a little bit of cutting across farmlands, we got to Vasco Road. Diana and I turned south, and the other three turned north. We intended to get to Hwy 84 quickly, but somehow managed to get lost, despite my GPS and her innate sense of direction. We did eventually find it, and took Niles Canyon Road back towards Hwy 880. It was nice, as always, other than the old couple in the Camry ahead of us. Rarrrr! I hate it when people drive slowly on Niles Canyon. Such a waste of a nice road.
We carried on a fine tradition of getting completely ass-lost in Fremont. I have never once gotten off of Niles Canyon Road and successfully made it through Fremont without ending up doing 15 U-turns in shady neighborhoods while guys in low-riding pickup trucks slowly cruise past. It’s all just part of the Fremont Experience.
Eventually, we found 880 and headed to our respective homes.
This morning, I went out to the bike to head to work, and found that I couldn’t push it out of the garage. My first thought was that it was in gear, but it wasn’t. Just to show you how my brain works pre-coffee, my second thought was that, after a tiff Peter and I had had last night, he’d come out into the garage and glued my tires to the floor. It was making this really strange velcro sort of “sticky” noise when I tried to push it. I bent down and touched the tire, trying to figure out what was going on.
At some point, the “awake” part of my brain finally kicked in and I realized that I couldn’t push the bike because the rear tire was completely, 100%, utterly, flat.
I tried unsuccessfully to push the bike forwards onto the centerstand block. I finally got the rear tire on the block by letting it roll backwards down the driveway onto the block, but I still couldn’t get it on the stand. So, out came the air compressor. I inflated the poor dear enough to push the bike back up into the garage and onto the centerstand block, where I could then get it up onto its stand.
Once I had the wheel elevated, it was easy to spin the tire and find the problem — a huge ass chunk of the tire that was completely missing. No nail, no glass, no slash. It looks like someone bit part of the tire off.
There are two other spots on the tire that are similarly munged, but this was the only one leaking air. I blame the top section of Morgan Territory Road, though I suppose it could have happened anywhere. Poo!
Tonight, I’m going to practice using my tire repair kit. Even though I’m obviously going to replace this tire, I’ve never had a flat before, and I want to be familiar with plugging when we go to Alaska. I figure that either the plug will hold and I’ll ride the bike to Hare Racing tomorrow morning, or it’ll suck, and I’ll pull the wheel.
I’m beginning to think that there’s a curse going on here or something. Starting January 1, I haven’t had more than a week where something hasn’t been wrong with the damn bike. First it was the clutch cable, then the voltage regulator, and now the tire. My coworkers, bless them, have a pool going to see which system fails next. Any guesses?