Hooning with new, old friends

My goal today, once again, was to get to Torino. I failed but for a very good reason. I was trying to take the road to Ceva (again) at Marco’s suggestion. However, I didn’t see the road sign for SS29 when I got off the Autostrada but I did see the sign for Sassello again. I gave it one last try to get directions (stupid GPS SUCKED) and said, “Bah! On to Sassello.” It would also take me to Torino so I felt like I was winning either way.

After a few kilometers of delicious and delightful curves I came across a stop light where traffic was down to a single lane. Waiting at the light were  two motorcycles at the head of the line. I scooted past the cars and joined them up front. The light changed. Off we went! The guys were riding at a nice pace and seemed familiar with the road so I followed them for the 20 kilometers to Sassello.  I was on their radar as the one in the rear caught sight of me in his mirrors. However, my respectful distance made it clear I was not trying to pass them. I lost them for a minute or two after they passed a few cars.

I pulled into Sassello and saw a group of riders at a cafe. It wasn’t the same guys I’d been following. I almost stopped to speak with the riders at the cafe but then I saw the two I’d been following stopped on the side of the road. I stopped. One of them greeted me, “Buon giorno”. I asked, “Do you mind if I follow you? I don’t know the road.” The guy said yes but they were about to stop for lunch. So I joined them. We stopped here at Trattoria Vittoria. They serve homestyle Italian food. (Photo from the Internet)

The two characters were Marco and Alessandro. Marco is a mechanical engineer from Genova who owns a business moving barges. Genova is a major port city. Alessandro is a professor of the Italian language. No pressure for a girl who is ISL (Italian as a second language). I told him as much as we walked into the trattoria and he laughed. Over lunch we spoke about what I was doing there, how I learned Italian, what I did for work, etc. They were quite curious what the hell a woman was doing alone, on a motorcycle, in Italy.

Once the “interview” was over they decided to take me to the president of their motorcycle club … he makes grappa for a living. We rode together for about an hour to the distillery. Marco and Alessandro were both on BMWs and I made a comment that we would be a line of Bimmers. They liked this. Alessandro rode up front and Marco swept. The pace was just right for me and we were on tiny roads I probably would never have seen on my own. I was stoked.

The trees were awash with fall colors. A strong wind was blowing and the leaves were swirling down onto the road. The views were incredible. In the distance were little hill top villages in all directions. I could see the walls and towers that had been there for centuries. It really puts things into perspective. My heart was full with happiness at the experience I was having. Wind in my face, crisp air, serendipitous meetings with people who added to my adventure. Life was good.

I was in the moment and finally, FINALLY… feeling the bike that I was on. We clicked. Che bella! I trusted in the bike and it felt like it was on rails. Maybe having a lead to set the pace had let me relax enough to enjoy riding a bit more. We stopped for gas before our destination and I told Alessandro how happy I was and that my heart was full of happiness. My Italian is far from perfect but he got it, seemed quite touched and told Marco what I had said. They were both pleased with my announcement. They had not planned to visit the distillery that day and had changed their plans on account of meeting me. This girl gives them two thumbs way up for doing so.

A few minutes after filling up we arrived at the historic distillery, which had been making grappa since 1870. The owner was a jovial man who was hands on and physical. He grabbed my arm and patted my cheek. I’m not normally a touchy feely person but it was darling. He took me to the still and I got to watch part of the process and see women hand bottling the grappa and hand applying labels. I went downstairs to the cellar and checked out his barrels of grappa that were aging. Then we went out back to look at the grapes used to make the grappa. It’s a really neat and efficient process. I’m very happy that I was able to get this behind the scenes tour. Back upstairs we sampled some of his product. YUM. (Photo courtesy of the Internets)

Marco told the owner of the distillery that I could ride along just fine with the men from their club. He talked up my riding and I blushed but I was pleased. Then we made another social call to a member of their club who makes caskets. Oh my! Slightly less jolly than grappa. Social call complete we headed back to Genova via Passo del Turchino, which I had ridden two years prior from the other direction. God, it was so much fun and the road just twisted and twisted and twisted again. The little F800GT flipped back and forth effortlessly, so happy to be leaned over. The descent was so smooth, so good.  YYYYEEEEESSSSS.

Back in Genova proper the professor was headed to his house. Before heading our respective directions we bade each other farewell. Alessandro complimented me on my riding and Marco agreed it had been enjoyable riding with me. Marco and I were both bound for parts east of Genova so we hopped on the Autostrada together. Traffic was busy at 5:30 PM on a Friday.

All the sudden Marco hooned. He hooned SO HARD. I was deeply impressed. I followed him gleefully, hooning along. He was fast and fun to follow through the stop and go traffic. Did I mention he’s 75?!? You have not lived until you have hooned with old guys (gawd, I love old guys on bikes) and seems like such hooning is damn well expected in Italy. Playing together in traffic was a blast. When my exit came I honked at him and blew kisses. He motioned a hug with his free arm. Off we went, new friends. This day will live forever in my moto memory banks and it is certainly one of the best days I have ever had on a motorcycle. Considering how much fun I regularly have that is a big statement but it is true. Motorcycles are amazing for the people they can bring and keep in your life. I was so grateful for the day I had with them.

That’s Nice!

Happy sunshiney day. The weather agreed that I should go riding. I set out to find the road for Ceva at Marco’s suggestion. My GPS didn’t feel like cooperating. It consistently wanted to route me to the Autostrada instead of letting me opt for back roads. BAD GARMIN.

I putzed along the coast from Genova. Stopping for gas in the City a nice station attendant helped me tape my visor shut so it wouldn’t flap. I adjusted to riding in Italian traffic. Oh, the things that we can do there. It’s just the way things are. I love it.

 

Here’s a photo of their port I took two years ago. My camera in my phone broke (BOO!!) so this is all I have. I went through the ‘burbs and working sections of town. Very cool.

Since GPS was being stoopid I decided to stay on Italian route 1 from Genova heading west. I knew my highway number and figured I could look out for it. Italian road signs and I have a pretty good relationship but this was not our day. I missed my turn. I stopped in Albisola Superiore and considered riding up to Sassello , which was a road I had ridden  two years prior. I wanted something new though.

 

Here’s Albisola, also from two years ago. Note pretty wee strom that matches the one I now own. <3

 

Eh, fuggit. Off to France I go because it’s sure pretty along the ocean and it smells lightly like flowers. The towns were cute so I tolerated slow speeds and gazed around. ‘Sides, I had it in my mind to go to France because I could. Around 3 I arrived at the border and the guard didn’t blink as I rode through into Nice. I rolled down a few streets, walked a bit while admiring buildings and drank an espresso.

 

Caffeinated, I hopped on the Auto Strada to get back to Genova fast. The A10  was nicely curved in many spots.  That section of A10 is a series of tunnels cut through hills and viaducts straddling valleys below. There’s a lot of great terrace gardens and greenhouses in the hills. The views were actually good as well and I was able to recap my ride from above as route 1 was visible from many of the long raised sections of roadway. Here’s an image from the Innerwebs.

 

 

Marco, my host, asked if I liked the bike when I arrived home. I said  that it was just okay. I hadn’t clicked with the feel of the bike the whole day although it had been competent on the curves of the A10 but not in a way that moved me. I was still having a good time, though, and there was more to come. I was riding in Italy again and loving it.

 

 

 

 

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.

Sometimes you just need a new bike

So you go out and buy the same kind you have.

 

The girls

The big red wee was giving me some trouble. A bunch of problems arose at once. I suppose it is to be expected in a high mileage bike. I didn’t want to put that much money into the bike all at once, though. New bike time had arrived. I simply cannot be without a bike for too long.

 

I’d had my eye on a really pretty wee in Southern Oregon that was delightfully well set up. Pretty as she was, she’d been on Craigslist for about a month. I went to the ad, wrote out the guys number and decided to email him later. After work I went to show the ad to a friend. The link was dead. AACK! I raced to my office and called him. It was still for sale but he was tired of flakes. I made arrangements to see it two days later.

Early on a  Saturday the kiddo and I awoke and set off to Oregon to see the bike. It was even prettier in person than expected and had obviously been well cared for by her owner. So after a quick, fun and mellow test ride I bought her.

 

Pretty new wee!

 

The new wee matches the Inhaler’s wee… except mine is prettier and has a bit more power despite being the same year.  It came with nice farkles… and two I didn’t care for much: a center stand that scraped on my first real ride and a lowering link. I removed the center stand after that very first ride in Oregon and hoped that would end the scraping problem. Nope! Even with the center stand removed I scraped belly pan numerous times going through Leggett. *sigh* This meant I had to slow down. The way the bike was riding meant I skipped the Lost Coast on the way home. The lowering link needed to go ASAP.

 

Avenue of the Giants. I love this spot.

 

Our maiden Cheeseburger at Jenny’s in Ft. Bragg

Regular links were ordered as soon as I arrived back home and were on the bike a few days later thanks to Sister Cousin and the Inhaler. The removal of the lowering links made the bike feel much better.

I took her to church the following day. The boys met me there. I was starting to gel with the bike and had had a great ride. Sister Cousin had skool work and other things to do so he bailed after a brief ice cream break . The Inhaler and me headed back down 1. We had a great ride on our matching bikes. I noticed as well that we have road magic. That is, a normally crowded road will be empty for miles and cars just pull over for you like it’s their duty. It’s happened more than once with the Inhaler.

The Inhaler pointing at our matching bikes. Everything is grey here. Stealth mode activated!

 

Overall, to add to the Inhaler’s review of the DL650: The stock suspension is not bad but will be replaced with the Elka from the old bike along with the upgraded GSXR calipers. There’s an adapter kit available from SV Racing Parts that lets you put four caliper GSXR or SV1000 brakes from certain years onto your DL650 or DL1000. Having ridden with stock and upgraded brakes it is money extremely well spent to do this upgrade. (Opinion is my own and given freely). The mere fact that I bought another should tell you all you need to know. While the wee is not the best at any one thing, it is the best at all the things I want to do.

So there you have it. There are now two lovely grey 2007 DL650’s in Ghetto Touring. We implored Sister Cousin to get one, too, but he marches to the beat of his own drum and we like him that way.

 

Gratuitous wee shot

fresh meat

SisterCousin broke his friend taking her on the route up north. So when he mentioned for the umpteenth time that he had this friend who liked to ride and who he thought should come on one of our trips I said no. I wanted to interview him before we took him out hooning far from home. So Sis took him for a real long ride Saturday. I was in charge of Sunday’s ride.

 

I wanted him to get in two back to back long days because the purpose of the interview was to make sure he had the mental and physical stamina for a day with the GT crew. Plus, I had to see if fresh meat and I could ride well together.  Motorcycling is dangerous and that danger just increases if your buddy is fading. I don’t want that. So Sunday the boys met with me and we went to Church. Fresh meat showed up looking like a regular on a shiny strom and an aerostich. I hung back and found my flow while they rode with the other boys. After breakfast, though, it was on. We ripped up one. i was in good hoonin’ form and fresh meat was riding well. i was happy. when we pulled over so i could get an espresso in tomales he seemed real happy with the roads and our ride. i told him i hadn’t even taken him to the good stuff yet.

 

i took them out to one of the goatiest roads i could think of. kinda like  the county had laid a thousand patches and never actually repaved the road. it’s glorious. i twisted the throttle and had it pinned in fifth as i bounced up the road. i was even airborne at times which is no small feat for a fluffy lass like me. fresh meat was right there with me. every time i looked, there he was. like when i went to slow down for pedestrians on the side of the road only to lock up my rear, squeal and scared the shit out of them. i laughed through the next few corners. i am dumb. he was there for that and probably wondering wtf is wrong with this woman.

 

meat finally gotta to see cheeseburgers kryptonite (real tight downhills) as well as see that i have no problem waving someone past if i don’t wanna go faster. so i let the boys tumble down to the next intersection like insane acrobats.  then off we went on the next road, finally hooning our way into mendocino and stopping for lunch. Fresh meat was happy. we talked about roads we could take further north and i gave him a name of a nice road.

 

after lunch we rolled back out. i was letting him roll out in front in spots where i knew he’d be faster. both he and sistercousin are faster than me in some spots, especially that tight twisty stuff. i hate them both so, so much. . while he was out in front we came across the road i had mentioned and he motioned asking if he should turn. he gets points for ‘membering and listening but i had better, funner, more northern routs planned. so off we went. we stopped on the side of the road after some high speed stupidity and he told me he was sore. i felt a tiny, tiny bit bad for him for like 0.5 nanoseconds. then we were off. i took him on one of my very favorite roads at high speed. i may or may not have been on my best behavior and there he was. i didn’t have to worry about him. i was liking this. that’s what i like about SC, too. it’s like riding alone but better.

at our next break sistercousin said he was going to slab home. i could see that fresh meat was tempted to follow Sister, who is his friend. he told me he was tired. I was like, but I wanna go ride another three and a half hours of twisties. Then i gave him the evil eye, a granola bar and a red bull. he made the wise choice to follow me. i dragged him over to one of my favorite goaty roads only to find it had been paved since i’d last been there. then i got hit in the face by a bee right by my eye. when i pulled over to wipe the smushed mystery bug off i jammed the stinger into the spot under my eye and was like OW MY FACE BURNS.

 

(this is why sistercousin went home. we burn through tires at an alarming rate here at GT)

 

dead, dead tire

 

he musta thought I am a mess but he was pretty happy when we stopped at the top of a hill. the wind was blowing softly. the sun made the whole world appear to be spun from gold and all we could hear were birds and the wind. it was peaceful and a little magical. i was happy to be sharing the ride with him. we chatted, smelled a few flowers and headed back out together. with just the two of us it was as fun and easy as it is to ride with SisterCousin.  I decided fresh meat was alright so he got the invite to come on a real ride with us. after that he’ll be allowed to call himself a ghetto tourer. (although his bike is a little too clean….)

 

The next day I sent him a message on FB and he told me he’d spent his whole Monday feeling mentally clocked out after our ride. That was about right… I approved greatly of this statement and his honesty. It goes back to why I wanted to interview someone before bringing them to the ghetto touring family. I look forward to riding with him again… and I’m just waiting until his name comes to me so that I can introduce him properly once he’s a full blown ghetto tourer. i have no doubts he’ll succeed.

 

(did i mention he rides real smooth?) we like that!

Mistress Cheeseburger’s Revenge

So I was telling SisterCousin that I was getting out of town and camping last weekend. next thing i know he invited himself on my  ride and was like, “where’s we goin?”.  I was gonna rehash mah usual far north route but he wanted to get my guru, BanjoBoy,  in on the action which meant we was going east and had to coordinate with the guru’s morning plans for us. plus, mah boss says i ride too goddamn much and I couldn’t get a three day weekend. so we had friday night until sunday.

 

so, i grabbed a map, gave guru our itinerary and set about planning. i found some nice squiggly looking roads that got us to our end point in faaaar north california from the oroville area. i sent it to the banjoboy and asked if we could camp on his lawn. he said yes so friday night we set out for three hours of slab and night riding. slab sucks. when we got to the guru’s he had already passed out so we staked out on his lawn and went to bed. he snapped a picture of us on SisterCousin’s Tyvek tarp from his home security cam and sent it to us. i am the big lump.

 

SisterCousin: UncleDaddy says I can’t sleep inside. Tis ok, I like sleeping with the bugs. 

 

Ghetto tourerzThe next morning we got up and set out. (But not before the buckle fell off mah boot. Talk about ghetto touring. I found the damn thing and screwed it in by poaching the screw from the other side. ) The guru Daddy had a route planned for us that included some dirt and riding over a recently chipsealed road. This is my favorite, Sistercousin approves mucho too!

So off we went. I don’t really know where we were but we started near paradise and ended up on the left shore of lake almanor. It was good times…

 

Until I passed the guru and sistercousin on the dirty section. I got reprimanded at lunch and the guru swore.

SisterCousin: Damn Cheeseburger was goin real fast, it was so durty the shit bike was skurred for it’s life. It did real swell going uphill on the rocky sections, just pinned it to winned it! 

 

Some pictures of Guru, Mistress Cheeseburger doin durty things:

 

 

 

SisterCousin: I stopped so dat dust could settle a tid bit and took this sexorz shot of mah motorcycle in da wild, where it belongs.

 

After lunch and good byes daddy headed back home and we set out to get up to the state of Jefferson. I found a nice looking twisty road on the paper and decided we’d take it heading north. We were not disappointed. It was goaty and twisty, it brought us to a little mountain lake so we stopped for a swim and a safety break. It was getting warm, time to take 10 off the bike. good, happy fun times.

 

 

Back on the bikes we rode a few more miles past that lake and it turned into dirt. Surprise! we were real happy, it was purty and sistercousin loves big bouldery roads like the one we were on. Then we stopped at another real purty lake!

 

SisterCousin: I sure do ruv them rocky durty roads. The shit bike likes them do, it think’s it is a little bmx bike, wheelies off everything in sight. 

 

After we got done with that super duper extra fun road we were HUNGRY. So we stopped in McCloud and had a cheeseburger. Damn, it was good.

Then I stopped in a little store and bought myself a state of Jefferson sticker. I was born there, gotta represent. Plus it’s my happy place, dammit! After cheeseburgers we stopped in to Weed (no, we weren’t smoking dope) and took a picture of our bikes by their real nice WEED sign. And then off… to more new roads we’d never ridden before. SisterCousin killed a squirrel with his bike.

 

 

We could smell and see smoke as we got closer to our camping spot. On our way we stopped at the gas station to get some water and found out the rodeo was in town. Yee HAW! We arrived right at at sunset at my happy place and I threw my arms up as if to hug the mountains. I was so glad to be there again. For me, getting out there on the roads to these magic spots is as close as I come to a religious experience. It’s magical.

The magic continued as we arrived at our spot right at dark and found a space was open. We set up then I hopped in the creek. The frogs were croaking and the crickets chirping. The moon was shining. We drank some bourbon, ate snacks out of my saddlebags and chilled out after a great day of riding. I was, in every way, so content.

 

 

The next morning we woke up, ate some granola bars and sweatymeat and got off to a slightly later start than I had wanted. So we had to split! I hooned at high speed to the gas station about 90 minutes away from our camp site on these roads:

SisiterCousin: These are some of my favorite roads on the entire trip. 30-50mph on the cliff edge. 
HNNNNNNNG *spooge*


We gassed up and headed along our magic ridge road to get some cheeseburgers. Once we reached the ridge SisterCousin put me on his shitbike. IT TRIED TO KEEL ME!!!! Every time I hit the brakes the thing would slide around like I was on ice. Maybe handing over his bike to me as we approached a steep, twisty and gravelly section of road wasn’t smart. After a short time I pulled over and told him to take his bike back. I DON’T WANNA DIE. I think he felt real bad for trying to kill me cuz he gave me a pair of riding gloves from his topcase. Mine were toast. I had a big hole in the finger of my glove. So I forgave him.

SisterCousin: On second thought, it probably wasn’t the smartest idear to switch bikes there. But what ever, shitbike tries to kill every and anyone that puts their cheeks on it. 

I was real sad to leave our ridge top road with its magical vistas but those cheeseburgers were real, real good after all the riding we’d done. Plus, I was finally gonna show SC another of my happy places. So off we went. SisterCousin has really learned the roads up there. It makes a cheeseburger proud. Off we went, goating down a new road. Happy times… then through the trees and to the ocean. I would follow him, he would follow me… and then I got to show him the first road where I ever felt truly fast. I pinned it to winned it. We got back to the freeway and we were done. We’d had slidy times, happy times, dirty times and sticky tire times. We’d done a bunch of new roads and some of the old favorites. I wish those times would never end but I always look forward to the next time I go back home.

WARPED 2015, where I meat SisterCousin… for the very first time

I mentioned before, I met SisterCousin at the ADVRider.com WARPED Rally (BEAT THE NOBS) near Kernville. It sure is pretty round those parts. Here’s a little road I saw on the map when I was choosing my route, it looked so nice and squiggly. When I got on it I was not disappointed in the least. You can see the road hugging the hills as it climbs up. Down by the creek it was verdant and green. The smell was divine. After a lot of straight line slab to cross the central valley this was a sight for sore eyes. As usual, in the time before SisterCousin, I was riding solo and I was fine with that.

 

yvr

 

The ride only got better, twistier, and colder as I climbed in elevation up past 7,000 feet before descending down to Kernville. As I climbed up the vegetation and colors reminded me vaguely of Baja until that gave way to pine forests. The picture below of of the bit that reminds me of Baja.

pretty ascent

When I arrived I saw I had had a hitchhiker. I felt like some kind of bad killer.

killer

 

 

Our rally is held at a campground. The name WARPED is an acronym for Western Adventure Riding Party and Endurance Drinking. Emphasis on the drinking with lots of folks and not much riding. I decided to get out there and scoot around a little. I went up a nearby road for about twenty miles then turned onto a road that looked like it could be interesting. It was and it sure was pretty. Twisty, too, and the pavement was in real nice condition but gravelly.

shermanpass2

I went up until I saw some blocks of ice on the road and decided that was a sign from DOG that I better split. I rode all the way into town to get some beer before parking the piglet for the night.

tecate

(In case I have not mentioned it yet, ROKSTRAPS are pretty much the best invention, ever, in the history of mankind. That Tecate did not budge.)

I was about to meet SisterCousin, who was hangin’ with mah buddy Thumper. I was like, who in the pork snappin’ hell is this whippersnapper dressed like a highlighter pen, riding a ratty looking SV to an adventure rally? I’m still trying to figure this one out. Something with that boy ain’t right.

sistercousin1hilite

The highlighter….

Here I am across the campfire

safe cheeseburger

I had invited Thumper to ride home with me and she was happy about this. I usually ride solo. I consider myself kinda slow, like going at my pace and doing things my way. Basically, I am a pain in the ass and real, real selfish about my riding time. She invited SisterCousin to ride along with us, I said yeah and off we went.

I had asked the local shop, the Cycle Smiths ( good people, the lady there is a long distance endurance rider, yeeeehaw!) where I should ride before I left. So we set off in that direction. I wasn’t sure where exactly I was going and it was a bit odd being in front of other riders, especially one I did not know. This is still something I was grappling with in mah head at the time. On the descent I let SisterCousin move ahead and he took a photo of me. I thought it was cool, I love pictures of me and the bike in motion.

dat road

We rode together for another few hours before I ditched Thumper and SisterCousin. I wasn’t finding my flow and I wanted to ride alone as I was accustomed to doing. Honestly, I didn’t think much about the ride back cuz I felt like I had been riding like crap. But maybe SisterCousin sensed a kindred spirit or something cuz he did ask if we could ride again, see here.

 

Our initial ride, before we was family

Our initial ride… Before SisterCousin became family

SisterCousin sent me a message:

scmcfb

Amazingly, the boy showed up at crack o’dawn thirty, before I even did. We went to church, had breakfast, smelled a few flowers and then we rode. I dragged that poor broken boy around some of the goatiest roads I could think of, this way, that way, up, down, bump, twist, GO! He just followed me, happy as could be. With sweet roads like this, can you blame him?

weesonoma

When I’d pull over for a quick break he’d have this loopy look on his face. I couldn’t tell if he was on dope or dogfood. Turns out, he was just a little too excited about the roads. He’d never been on them before and here I had just combined a few years worth of my own  exploring into one sweet, sweet ride. I think he developed some loving feelings for western Sonoma county on that ride, which pleased me. It is one of my happy places. (I have a lot of those)

curve

As we were heading down a descent (I get slow going downhill)  I realized he was riding right on my ass and I wasn’t the least bit concerned and he seemed, well, happy back there. I stopped to smell the flowers and take in the view. I asked if he was having fun (yes!). I was starting to think that any fella who can follow me blissfully and not need to stop or fuss was a good egg. I have had people complain about riding with me before, it makes them tired. Whatever.

jp

We rode all day and then split. I headed home and so did SisterCousin. When I got home I saw he had sent me a message from our meeting point that morning:

scchat2

So I did, a few weeks later. My new year’s resolution for 2015 was one overnight motorcycle trip per month and I had plans in my head for a ride over Memorial day….
Mistress Cheeseburger