2/3 of the pixie power posse takes to the streets.
So, yesterday, Kim and I went out riding. She came over to my apartment, and together we rode the 3 miles or so to the Peter Pan restaurant (whoo!), where we met our friend Sam. As we were loitering near the cash register to pay after lunch, an older man sitting at the counter asked Sam, "is that your 450 out there?" Sam said no, and I piped up that it was mine. The man and I started chatting about bikes a little, and Kim joined us after she'd paid for lunch. It was really neat, the guy was probably in his late 40s, and was telling us about the small bike he had when he was a student 25 years ago. It turns out that he was really admiring my Nighthawk because he had just bought a Nighthawk 250, and would have liked something with a little more power, but wasn't willing to go all the way up to a 750. We lamented the lack of smaller displacement bikes in the US; in Europe and Japan, the 250/450/500 cc bikes are more popular than the larger displacement, because of the narrow, windy streets in the cities, but in the US, there's a much larger market for the 600cc and above. I suggested that he try cycletrader.com or one of the other internet classifieds, but there just aren't that many smaller displacement bikes out there to be had (as Kim found out when she was bike shopping). He didn't want a sportsbike because of his arthritis, and he said that even the lower-cc cruisers were too heavy for his tastes, so hopefully he can find a used 450 or 500 around somewhere. He was a really nice guy, and I sure enjoyed his appreciation for my bike. :)
After chatting with the guy, Sam left to go home, and Kim and I walked over to a neighboring liquor store to buy a bottle of Coke. We ended up trying on some hilarious sunglasses near the checkout counter (they had pink lenses for Kim to match her hair, and blue lenses for me). We didn't end up buying them, but the clerk complimented us, and when he noticed our helmets, commented that it was a beautiful day for a ride, and thought it was neat that we girls were out there riding. It was really neat; I was starting to feel like the cool chicks in all the bike books I read, the ones who start up conversations with strangers in gas stations and tourist places and liquor stores and restaurants. It was a really great feeling.
We got the bikes and went to a nearby gas station for Kim to fill up and for me to check my tire pressure. She got her gas without spilling it all over herself and the bike, so she's already a step up on me, while I went inside to ask the clerk for a tire pressure gauge. He told me there was an air machine outside that took quarters and had a gauge on it; I was just about to thank him and leave when he pulled out a small gold token, handed it to me, smiled, and said, "here you go, ma'am, happy new years." Just like in the books. :) I smiled, took it, and walked back over to Kim. We rode over to the air machine and spent no less than 5 minutes trying to figure out where, exactly, this alleged gauge was. There was a slot for the token/quarter, there was the nozzle that the air comes out of, there was the squeeze-thing to start the air flow...but no gauge. I put the token in, and the machine started up, and when I squeezed the thingie, air came out, but it was sort of useless without a gauge, so we just left it running and left.
We rode uneventfully back to my place. I came inside, pet the cats, and grabbed my WD-40 (so good!) and went back out to lube our chains. Kim's chain was dry as a bone and starting to rust, so we lubed it up liberally. It also has way too much slack in it, but when we started to try to fix that, we realized that the bolts were stuck, and before forcing them, we wanted to make sure we knew what we were doing. So we went over to Kim's, and she got her service manual, which gave the amount of slack needed, but no indication as to how to tighten up the chain. We had a pretty good idea how to do it, but since the bolts were being funky, and the little indicator was on "replace chain" anyway, Kim decided just to forget it and replace the whole thing instead.
We went on another short little ride over to our friends' house, where Kim was cat-sitting while they're on vacation. By this point, Kim was kicking all sorts of ass; she was shifting all over the place and hardly stalling the engine at all, and keeping up with traffic really well. She rode in front so that if a snotty cage driver felt we were going too slowly, I would get tailgated instead of her (which did happen once -- the driver ended up squealing ahead, into the oncoming traffic lane, in order to get ahead of us at a stop sign. Some people put way too much effort into getting 10 feet ahead of someone else). It was so neat to ride with Kim, though, and I'm so glad we went out! It was a really great way to spend the last day of the millenium. :)
peter and i take to the hills.
And, as luck would have it, the first day of the new millenium was just as terrific! Peter and I had planned to ride up to Half Moon Bay today, but after we'd woken up and eaten lunch, we decided to do a shorter ride instead. Little did we know that it would end up taking just as much time! :)
We hopped on 280N for about 14 miles until Page Mill Road. We had intended to turn onto Old Page Mill, but it turns out that that road is only accessible from the other direction, so we kept riding a half mile or so to Deer Creek Road. We followed Deer Creek for a mile or so, which was really neat -- it runs along a huge expanse of horse farm, so we got to see tons of horses grazing in the hills along the road, and in some cases, the owners riding them around. It was a pretty cool feeling, to be riding along on New Year's Day, on a bright sunny day, in the middle of a horse farm in the foothills, smelling horse and hay and trees. :)
Deer Creek ends at Arastradero Road, so we turned left and then took the next right into a driveway of a Jewish Community Center to get our bearings and plan out next move. We took a couple of pictures and chatted a little, and when we went to leave again, Peter's bike wouldn't start. We had both filled up our tanks before leaving, so he groaned, "it's the battery." We let it sit for a minute, but to no avail. Luckily, being the good little engineer that he is, Peter had a few feet of speaker wire in his tankbag (honestly, I'm not sure why, other than that I know that his right rear turn signal is held on by speaker wire. It must have been left over from tying on the turn signal). We took off my seat and side panel, started up the Nighthawk, and used my battery and the speaker wire to jumpstart his bike. It was pretty easy -- he just unwound the ends of the wire, attached the black wire on each side to the negative (ground) ends of the batteries, attached the red wires to the positive sides (by "attach," I mean that he stripped the wires a little -- he also of course happened to have a wire stripper in his tank bag -- and screwed the battery screws on such that the wires were touching the battery leads). My bike was already running, so we let it sit and trickle charge for a moment. While we were waiting, a car drove up, and a woman called out to us to ask for directions to some park. I went up and talked to her while Peter futzed with the battery -- I didn't know where the park was but I have a few maps in my tankbag (aha! I come in handy sometimes too), so we used those to figure out where she needed to be. She thanked us and headed out. I always love helping people when it's obvious that I'm a biker, since I feel like there's such a strong negative association that a lot of people have with motorcyclists. :( Anyways, I headed back to the bikes, twisted the throttle and held it at around 5000rpms, and Peter hit his starter and the bike started right up. He unattached the wire, we put the side panels back on our bikes, and we were off again.
We turned back onto Arastradero, in the same direction we'd come from. We passed Deer Creek Road again and kept going straight until we'd almost met up with 280 again (thus forming a nice little square). We turned onto a little street called Purissima which ran parallel to the freeway, and stayed on that for quite a while. Purissima ran through a small residential area in the foothills; there were some scattered houses and barns, and lots of trees overhanging the road and casting shadows everywhere. We passed a few walkers and bicyclists, but almost no cars. It was really nice. :)
Purissima dead-ends at another small road called Robleda. I had thought that we'd stayed on Robleda for a while, but the map I looked at afterwards claims otherwise. I guess Robleda changes names into another street called Elena. At this point, I'm really hazy as to which particular streets we were on. I distinctly remember checking street signs and therefore noticing both Purissima and Robleda, but by this point, we were in the foothills and there aren't many road markers. So I just have a rough estimate of the directions we were headed in. I'm pretty sure we ended up east on Elena for a while, because we passed a tiny cul-de-sac called Becky Lane, which the map claims is off of Elena, but we ended up headed west again eventually, so god only knows what went on there. Part of the fun of the foothills is just meandering and trying to figure out later where the bloody hell you were.
At some point we ended up on a long road headed westward, which started winding up into the hills. Looking at a map, the only street that seems to do this is Altamont, so that's what my guess is. At some point during our ascent, we pulled over to take a short break and admire the scenery. We parked the bikes at the base of someone's very long, very sloped, gravel driveway, and crossed the road to view the foothills. To our surprise, right next to us and down a little off the road, was a huge, bright orangeish-pink modern house with a huge swimming pool. This house was gigantic, and right there, nestled in the foothills. I don't even want to *think* about how much that place costs. We took some pictures, admired the hills that were turning green and blue with the evening, and walked back to the bikes. Remember how I said the driveway was sloped? When we'd parked, I told Peter that I didn't think I'd be able to get out -- the bike was almost 100% vertical and I couldn't get my right foot down because of the dropoff, and I wasn't about to do any fancy maneuvers on gravel. Peter told me he'd take care of it, and he ended up doing a U-turn, riding my bike halfway up the driveway to a flat spot, and then going back down to spot the road for me. I was so far up this driveway and there were so many trees and twisties, that there was no way that I could see around the corner to see if there were any cars coming when I merged back onto the road. But it was clear, and off we went again.
Soon, we hit the full-scale twisties. It was starting to get dark, but we were pretty sure that we were heading north, back towards the freeway. We counted on meeting up with 280 right about as it turned dark, which was fine with both of us; it was starting to get really cold up in the hills as the sun went down. After 5 miles of twisties, we made it to the summit, and the road we were on intersected with Skyline Blvd. Peter was ahead of me, and when I caught up, he was looking at the sign in confusion: it pointed left for Santa Cruz and right for San Francisco...which meant we had been headed south all along. Slowly, we turned around, and there was a sign pointed at the road we had just come from, which said "Palo Alto" (which is where we wanted to end up). Oops! For the second time today, we busted out the map, and figured out where we were. We realized we had somehow ended up going south on Page Mill Road; our two choices were to either go back the way we'd come all the way back to where we'd started at 280, or to turn left onto Highway 35 (another name for Skyline) and take it about 8 miles to Highway 9, which would then take us right home through another 7 or 8 miles of descending twisties (incidentally, Highway 9 up to Skyline, as you might recall, was our route the very first harrowing time that I rode in the twisties). Either way, we'd have to do twisties in the dark, which neither of us was looking forward to, so we decided to take Skyline to 9, so that at least we wouldn't be exactly retracing our footsteps.
The ride along Skyline was really pretty, actually -- like its name implies, it traverses the summit of this particular hill, so it curves gradually instead of the hairpin turns of the twisties. We kept up a good speed, but, damn, it was getting really cold up there. We pulled into the parking lot at the intersection of Skyline and 9 (the same one that all the bikers meet at on weekends) to rest a minute, and then started heading down 9. I was really amazed at how much better I did with the twisties than the last time; I caught myself braking through two 180-degree hairpin turns (naughty!), but the rest of the time, I noticed that I was remembering to brake before the turn, and then stay on the throttle through the curve. I was actually pretty happy with myself.
Round trip, we rode about 42 miles, most of which were in the foothills. It was about 65 degrees when we set out, and was in the mid 40s (that's at the bottom of the hill, not the summit) by the time we returned to Peter's. We were both pretty damn cold, but we both had a wonderful time, and I don't think we could have planned a nicer way to spend New Year's Day. :)
if you read this far, you deserve the visuals.
Here are the pictures Peter and I took today:
Whew, that was a long entry today. Hope y'all survived it. :)
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