Wednesday, July 31, 2013

DAY 3: Colfax, CA to Portland, OR.

 Rose for the day at 530am and actually held to leaving early. Coffee, gas, and routine check sent me away. Nor-Cal mornings are clear and a great way to begin a long trek.
 Maybe a little too early, because I left my sunglasses behind and it was freezing. I'd have been out of luck if I didn't have the dorky windshield to save my eyes.
 After some more farm land, out of no where the Sacramento River hit me. First big bridge! The river was way bigger than it looks on an iPhone map. Took a rest at a gas stop up the road at a truck stop. Truck stops are a culture in themselves. Half auto parts store, half convenient store, and half people watching zoo. The hot dogs should be refused by even the most desperate. But I'm not desperate, I'm Dallas. Any amount of mayo, liquid cheese goop, and ketchup will kill any germs in there for sure. The bathrooms are the best though. Upon entering, you think the 4th of July is happing all over again, but then you realize truckers have a remarkable talent for explosively farting in symphonic succession. Mesmerized by what I could not unhear, I did my business and split quicker than my toilet flushed.
 Coffee with the Back From Hell MC in Redding. Bikers who used to do drugs but now drink too much coffee have the best things to say.

Chipped my helmet after a careless drop. Hey, it happens to the best of us. Some sparkly nail polish and new shades from the 99 cents store made me feel way better about my oafish clumsiness.

 Dude is hauling more logs than the plumbing at that truck stop.
 Wildfire in Medford ain't gonna stop me! Good use of the bandana for about 30 miles, although my eyes weren't enjoying it. Riding thru fire and water in two days if for sure an adventure.

Rest and gas in Eugene. Nearly slept in front of the Shell station.

600 miles and 14 hours later, I beat the sun to Portland! Woohoo!!!!
.....Or not? Rode into a construction zone area to ask some people on bicycles how to get to where I was going. Nothing dangerous, just passed the signs. Not only did they not help me, but the motorcycle cop who quickly scurried over on his Honda didn't give me comfort. He cited them, then began writing me up. What a way to end an all day odyssey. After asking me if I am supposed to be riding past barricades and if I do that in California, I had a smart assed "Are you supposed to ask rhetorical questions?" working its way out, until he responded to my eye roll with a warning. We chatted bikes for a sec, he told me not to do dumb crap, gave me directions, and told me the next time I see a cop to smile and wave. I was on my way after he asked me about my trip and told me to ride safe. I feel weird typing this, but thanks Portland PD! It's always good to have cool cop stories, especially being from Torrance. A nerve-racking way to end a long day.

DAY 2: Yosemite, CA to Colfax, CA

Falling asleep to a smear of Milky Way stars with large pines pointing upwards in their direction does wonders on the mind. The extra cot one of my new friends loaned me, however, did not do wonders on my back and it woke me up just before dawn. I took advantage of my misfortune and walked the sandy shore of the river in Yosemite Valley for a ways. I was torn between exploring the banks of the river and staring in awe at the gigantic rock faces reflecting new sun rays between El Capitan and Half Dome. No picture explains, you just gotta go if you've never been.

Originally I wanted to leave the valley pretty early, packed and ready to go at 6am. Once others in the group started to rise and make breakfast and chat, the prospect of oatmeal, coffee, sausage, eggs, and good conversation swiftly diverted those plans and reminded me to slow my mind. down. It's my vacation, damnit, why do I need to rush? A full stomach and a clean oil and tire inspection made me feel ready to leave at 10am, but not without hugs and farewells from just about 40 people. I may be by myself on this trip, but cool people kick ass and make me feel not lonely.
 The ride out of Yosemite was not nearly as cool as the ride in, but going downhill for 2 miles with an idling engine in neutral, some twists and curves, and a cool breeze was relaxing. 5 dollars a gallon for gas at the bottom was not.
 The San Joaquin Valley definitely isn't known for its lush topography. Located between two important parts of California, its empty, warm, and sweaty. For this reason, I call the 5 freeway "The Taint Trail." The scenery was about as stale as a gas station ham and cheese, and the heat quickly broke through my jacket to make it not so pleasant.
 I love garlic.

 Did almost 300 miles to Colfax, about 45 miles north-east of Sacramento. A quick call to an old friend from Grass Valley earlier in the day linked me back up with Brent a few hours later. Grabbed a $3.50 dinner from a grocery mart and waited until he was off work only to get slaughtered at a game of pool in a little old saloon.

 This pot shop ad for sure made me feel better about losing at pool. Or worse, depending how you look at it.

 Thanks Brent for the pull out bed and pizza! Rose at 530am and charged the road.

Monday, July 29, 2013

DAY 1: Los Angeles, CA to Yosemite, CA


I set at my alarm at 5am, ready to tackle my adventure with tenacity. After flopping out of bed at 630am, already a half hour later than when my best pal David was going to show up to send me off, I shot him a call and woke him up. Sleep is nice in a comfortable familiar bed, not something I'm going to see for a bit. Took a lazy shower, put on clean Levi's, and strapped stuff down. Previous practice made this step go quick. Dave and I met up for a quick coffee by the freeway, but not before chatting with a guy who pulled up on a clean Yamaha cruiser. Well, not really chatting, he just wanted to talk about his bike and his 200 dollar half helmet with clip on face mask. "I love the shaft!," he exclaimed, pointing to his drive train. I'm sure you do pal. After holding back hundreds of mostly homophobic replies, I awkwardly signaled to Dave that we needed to go, and before that dude could mutter "I" one more freaking time, we split. 110 North!
 Really weird, once we jumped on the 405, it rained for about two miles. Thanks for the farewell, LA. Foreshadowing maybe? Naaah! I'm hitting California desert, baby! Dave and I exited the freeway in Mulholland Pass traffic for some last minute crap talking and bro hugging. Detoured from a bad turn, and back on the road I went. Respect the selfie.

 Flash flood warning in a Mojave July? Lay off the pipe bro.
Rang the rain off my rubies in Lone Pine over some griping and beer. Note to self: if you see rain next to the highway, it's probably raining on the highway too, so throw the rain gear on. Otherwise, everything from your knees down will look like you made peeing yourself a new sport, without the excitement that could entail. Powered on to Yosemite.
If you see a metal water bottle on the 395 past Bishop, tell her her heart is as cold as steel and I didn't want her anyway.
Yosemite is hands down one of the most beautiful rides ever. It really set the bar high for the next 29 days. 

 If you look closely, you can see two Half Domes; one is covered in leather.

Coincidently, during a gas stop after I left, I saw on the almighty Facebook that some friends were leaving to Yosemite for a river clean up project. A few excited texts later and I now had a clue where I might be camping. Spontaneity has a way of planning itself. Little did I know how lucky I was, until they blessed me with an extra cot and a continental breakfast. Shove it, Holiday Inn.
Before tequila, I swear.
 Woke up to this. Epic first day! How can the rest of my adventure be any better? Oh, you just tuck that belly back in your britches and tune in soon, I'll post how.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Last Minute Repairs, Last Pre-Trip Post

Owning a motorcycle is a pretty special thing sometimes. The sound of two long chrome chutes billowing out the sounds of thousands of explosions per minute, the sun beating off your face as it separates the air into wind rushing past your ears, and observing the world rush past your eyes faster than you can process are all perks of owing a two-wheeled boredom smashing chariot that hopefully one day you can legally kill hipsters on. Not a thing in the world that compares.

But damn, sometimes you're bike just doesn't think that way too.

In a matter of 12 hours, both my kick stand spring and license plate bracket decided that they wanted to not go on this trip, and protested promptly. I had to bungee my kickstand up to get home, while listening to the hum of a license plate bouncing off itself over and over for the rest of the day, only to over-estimate my reserve gas and get a nice 9pm leg workout in a not so affluent area of Harbor City. Not cool for the night before you're supposed to journey across a continent. WHY!

After pushing my bike to a gasoline oasis at the end of a streetlight mirage, I was back on the road and got home quickly. examining what broke on the bike, it was clear I had to stay an extra day. Some thought and a beer enlightened me: this probably happened because I don't want to admit I need a new back tire.

The motorcycle gods have spoken, and I appreciate it.

So 10 dollars at the HD dealer for a stupid freaking spring, 1 quick call to a welder-yielding homie, and 250 smackers paid to MC Tire Works in Lomita for a fresh Michelin, and I'm now set. Tonight I rode home smoothly without error.

The motorcycle gods have blessed me.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bike Prep 2

The past 2 weeks have been nothing but preparations for the trip. When I need one thing, I need 10 things to go with that. NEED, not want, big difference. A couple wrenches turn into half a bag of tools, ect Throwing trousers and a tent and a toothbrush into a bungied-down backpack seemed like all you need at first, but as time goes by, you get some sense and wisdom. Camping trips on the light are fine and dandy for a weekend trip, but 30 days is a long time when your roof most of the time is the bright beating sun and the raging Midwest rain. I can talk for hours on the philosophy of a simple life, simple bikes, the value of simplicity using Thoreau quotes, and why big obnoxious baggers are lame and dumb and made for mid life crisis software developers whose wives sleep with the pool boy. But cross country travel is not as simple as start and go. Like a viking warrior puts on chain mail and sharpens his sword before battle, preparation is crucial.
During this time of prepping, I have made some new friends, made better friends with just buddies, and had my friends step up and help me out big time. I've even made some enemies.
It's truly not what you know, it's who you know, and you all rock! With that said, here are some big things I had big time help with.

The first big step in preparations was a full service. Yeah, any motivated person with Google and a wrench can change oil and adjust a clutch, but its the person who has done that hundreds of times that can tell you what might be wearing out or what will break down when you're in a Iowa cornfield on a pee stop. Enter Aaron!

Aaron is a master of the wrench(not to mention the Torx bit). Conveniently located in Redondo Beach, this MMI grad with years of experience in an evil corporate orange and black shop is in the process of starting his own. Rear brake pads, clutch adjustment, front tire, and a battery were things I would have not done that he did. He went through everything and changed all the fluids for a decent price. He even cleaned the bugs and dust and blood and puke off when I picked it up! Shoot him an email if you need something checked out or your bike serviced!

Aaron The Mechanic(best full name ever)-

Sometimes you don't need just knowledge to fulfill a task. You flat out need the right freakin' tools. In the case of my sissy bar/skateboard rack, you need a welder and a torch. 
OK, so not an OSHA (or even DMV) approved method of transport, but it got the job done. I only clothes-lined 3 children. 

An old gift of wide glide fork parts paid off when I called up my welder buddy at his shop. After an hour and for the price of a few beers, my bar was bent and welded up and ready to go!

After I got my girl home and basked in the awesomeness of having the most badass Softail in the South Bay, I realized that my license plate bracket didn't feel the same. Thankfully I was on a roll with having welder friends and extra beer and anti-OSHA ideas, so back to the welder it was. Thanks Devin!
 Proud of my suburb welding job that I conveniently do not have a picture for nor will ever, I had to show it off to the motorcycle gods. In this case, it was Doug. 

When Del Amo Motorsports has a problem they cannot figure out, or Yoshi from Garage Company wants to go on a little ride, Doug's phone rings. Seriously. The man is a walking encyclopedia of motorcycle knowledge, as well as the owner of a couple of the cleanest vintage Honda's and a Norton this side of Silverlake. After he frowned upon my welding job and my whole life, he explained to me why I should get a KTM as he gave me tips of what to bring and not bring on my ride, as well as what to do and not do. He also graced me with an extra chunk of sheepskin-ish material. Thanks Doug!

And one of the biggest shout outs goes to Allen from Ladyhump! He's been spamming his blog viewers with my blog for the past couple weeks, and I can't thank him enough. Check his blog out!

 Time to put all this awesome stuff together! But not before a swap meet trip. The Alpine Village always has vendors that sell whatever they have. Sometimes you get lucky and find a rad deal on camping equipment or a rare motorcycle part, or sometimes you walk around directionless and wonder if people are cussing at you in Spanish. And this past weekend, I scored big time! Enough about my love life, I bought a neat item at the swap meet!
Can't beat luck and a 12 dollar seat that's better on your back than your original one. After putting the seat on along with my nasty front fender and even nastier windshield, swamp butt and the rain are not going to stop me from blasting across the wide open. Until I return home. Then the fender and windshield and seat are coming off faster than honeymoon underpants. 6 days!