The Anti GT: Ms. Cheeseburger goes to Italy

Work sent me to Italy. You know, to work. So I did. I busted my butt for five days. When that was done: MOTO. I contacted the good folks at Central Italy Moto Tours again and rented a bike (I definitely recommend them). I asked for the F700GS. No can haz. So they rented me their F800GT.

I picked up the F800GT in Milan. This time I dealt with a different man from the rental agency than last time, a nice chap named Claudio. (He was also easy on the eyes – giggity). I opted not to take the side bags that came with the bike. Too wide. Must lane split. I said yes to extra insurance and yes to GPS. Also, YES to unlimited kilometers.

I left the garage and hit Milan rush hour traffic. It was not as daunting as I had expected and I was nowhere near as sketched out as I had been when I rented a bike last time. About 90 seconds after departure the rondelle holding the left side of my visor popped off. WEEE. I hit the autostrada towards Genova to stay at my Italian teacher’s house because I was running late and didn’t have time to go back to the moto rental office. Besides, the medium did not fit mah noggin.

Half an hour in it got dark and cold. Real cold. I pulled over at one of these cool Italian rest stops, which have gas and snacks without leaving the road. On and off. EASY.

Quick bite consumed, I was back on the road and discovered the heated grips on the rented Bimmer could cook an egg. Praise dog.

Off I went. Straight, straight. Straight. Oh, what is this? Splashy drops? REALLY? Seems to be my theme for Italy. Pick up bike, take autostrada. Dark times, rain.… Wait, it’s just a few drops for a bit. Hey, what’s that? OOOOH, the road is CURVY. Wish I felt more comfy on the bike but dip in and go. I love that Euro drivers typically don’t hog the left lane. Next thing I knew I was in Genova.

In Genova I came to the intersection where I was to wait and call my teacher. Except I had no phone. Surely I could find his house.

NOPE. I went up a kajillion stairs looking for him. I disturbed a poor Nonna. Back on the street, about to give up I saw a lady walking up the hill. Out came my poor Italian, “Mi sono perdita. Stop circando per la casa dello mio insegnante.” She was going the same way and led me there. Up a kajillion more stairs and I was home.

The next morning I woke up to grey skies but look at this view!

Then the rain started. Call me a weiner if you will but crashing on a rental bike in a foreign country was low on my list of priorities. So, I napped. ALL. DAMN. DAY. I’ll crash my own bike anytime but I am too poor to crash a fancy BMW. I am fancy enough that I took a quick video of the rain coming down. It meant business.

Well rested after my grueling trade show days, I planned a ride for the next day with Marco’s help. I will cover that in my next post.

xoxo from Milano,

Signora CB

transcendental transportation

motos are number one in life. one of the few places i can shut down my brain’s chatter and leave work/life stress behind. focus or die. the other place is on the yoga mat. i’ve noticed that the old dudes still swinging  leg over their bikes in their 60’s, 70’s, heck, even 80’s, all have being fit in common. i am quite fluffy. this is not good. i wanna terrorize the general public er… continue riding when i am older so, yoga. i found a beginner class so i could get bendy.

i liked yoga as soon as i realized it had the same mind clearing power as riding. when i would get deep into my happy yoga place i noticed that my thoughts would drift to wherever i had been riding over the weekend. how cool is that? it was like being able to journey  all over and get back to that sense of gratitude, presence and joy i get when i’m way out there. the guys don’t really know but my silly heart is literally bursting with joy at times as i putt along behind them.

i truly realized i was grooving with yoga when i was on the bike and i’d find myself thinking of something my yoga teacher had said. one line i’d really liked was about replacing fear with curiosity. i spent that  next weekend focusing more on the feel of the road and trusting myself. i was curious what a ride with less self doubt would feel like.  it made me faster than normal according to sister cousin. bonus!

another benefit was more endurance and less pain. i did stretches from yoga at every stop on the cal24 (which i should write about eventually) and it made 24 straight hours on a bike much more tolerable. it means my lower back doesn’t hurt. good stuff.

riding is important. i love it. and because it makes the riding better, i have really come to love yoga. anything that augments my riding life is time well spent. doubly so when it has so many other benefits.

 

 

 

when a girl needs to get away

i’ve been all over norcal with the boys this summer but it’s been a while since i went on a solo trip. a friend invited me to visit his friends place in trinity county. i said yes. trinity is heaven on earth for a rider. two epic roads led me to my destination: highway 36 and highway squee… er, three. i’d ridden both only once before, under cover of darkness, while on the cal24. i remember it being really stressful. because, you know. dark, unfamiliar. deer. oh yeah, and forest fire. weeee!

 

the days are shorter now that it’s october. as much as the cal24 had been fun i didn’t care for a ride in the dark repeat. this trip was a quick overnighter, 400 miles each way if i rode the good route.   i needed to arrive before all the deer decided it was dinner time.  we know i don’t do slab more than needed. so without consulting a map i decided to shoot to cloverdale, take 128 towards fort bragg, hit my usual jog to comptche then north into fort bragg  and on to leggett. going through the twisties close to leggett i didn’t encounter a single car in front of me for 30+ miles. it was so, so sweet and i was making good time.

 

it was a little windy by fort bragg

in garberville i fueled up and rode up alderpoint to 36 at bridgeville. i could feel the limits of my suspension on that road which is quite goaty and has poor surface conditions to boot. so i took it easy. in retrospect this was good because there were some surprise gravel spots where road maintenance was taking place.

 

my other wee broke down in this spot earlier this year. ever since then i stop and take a photo of my bike each time i pass. 

i stopped in mad river and encountered a dozen ++ dirty french hippies at the burger joint. horrified, i decided to buy meat sticks and gtfo out of town rather than wait around for a burger. plus, it was 4 pm and i was told it would take about 2.5 hours to get to weaverville (it did not). setting off seemed like the smart thing to do.

 

now, normally every time i leave mad river i take a left onto a mountain road right after town. this time i continued straight. highway 36 had been fun from bridgeville to mad river but this section was some special rhythmic magic. just like hnnnng, so good and so fun and so empty. it just flowed.

however, i don’t know if 36 is better than three, which also had this beautiful rhythm to it that had me swooping and turning so happily. i was tired at this point and ready for dinner but i got a second wind flip flopping the bike from side to side. by the time i got to weaverville i was so satisfied and a little dazed. this happens. i found my friend’s friends house and was warmly greeted by the welcoming committee of dogs. i’d covered 400 miles of twisties in 9.5 hours including my breaks. i’d arrived before dark and was stoked.

 

that night, much good food was eaten, laughs were shared, good times were had. then a bed was made for me and i proceeded to pass out. that ride had made me tired. i wasn’t the only sleepy one, though. one of the dogs decided he was sleeping with me. i got puppy cuddles all night.

 

in the morning i got off to a late start after being thoroughly caffeinated by my hosts. i got to ride back down three to 36. i feel as though i covered my feelings above but i will repeat that three is a heart swooping super fun road.

 

the bike on highway three at hayfork summit. 

i stopped in mad river for breakfast (cheeseburger). a miracle occurred: i was in, fed and putting my helmet on within half an hour despite the ladies behind the counter being quite busy. fed and happy i rolled back out and decided to skip alderpoint. my suspension + these tires had just felt dodgy and i wanted to explore 36 some more. i now understand what all the fuss is about. it was worth some slab from fortuna to garberville (sweepers!).

i came back pretty much the way i had come. i arrived in cloverdale before sunset. score one for cheeseburger! i’d had a great ride, thunk a lot of thoughts and decompressed over the ride. coming back down 128 i realized my chest felt relaxed and i felt happy for the first time in a while. it had been too long since my last weekend trip. i need that calm that comes with riding and i had found it all by myself. there was a special zen on this ride. i was totally in my own head and i liked it. i had missed the boys but sometimes a girl just needs to get away and sometimes a girl just needs to ride alone.