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.

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.

 

 

 

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

The Incredible V-Strom 650 – A Review

Okay, maybe I’m a bit late to the party. The V-Strom 650 and 1000 variants already have a large cult following. Entire websites and forums are dedicated to this one single Suzuki model, which remained largely unchanged for 8 years from 2004 to 2011. Home-shop fabricators and big corporations across the world make a living by creating mods to fully farkle and bulletproof the already solid foundation of a bike.

But why? It’s such a weird looking bike, you might say. Yeah, I say that too. At first glance, it doesn’t appeal to me; it doesn’t spark anything special inside me. It’s kinda plain looking. You can tell it’s a budget bike instantly – form follows function. Many times, function follows cost, as is evident with the number of plain steel fasteners that rust rather quickly. Anyway, a bit about me. Who’s this shmuck and why does he think he’s entitled to write a motorcycle review?

I’ve been riding motorcycles for about 18 years now, primarily dirt, and the last 3 primarily on the street. It’s better that way I think, since street riding is technically easier than dirt riding, and much less physically demanding. During this time, I’ve ridden a fair amount of bikes- dirt bikes including 50’s to 450’s both 2-and 4-strokes; street bikes including motards, sprotbikes, cruisers, sport touring, and adventure bikes, all the way from 1 to 4 cylinders. In reality, it’s not THAT many bikes, but enough to have a decent reference list in my memory banks for assessing future bikes. Aside from riding, I’m a mechanical engineer by education, trade, and hobby. Me gusta mechanical things. Motorcycles are one of the most attainable, complex, customizable, rewarding devices normal people can get their hands on.

How did the V-Strom 650 happen? Well, until the V-Strom, my primary bike was a Ducati Hypermotard SP. My dream bike. The bike is incredible. So much peaky power! The suspension is communicative and sharp. The list goes on. And therein lies the rub. That is all good and fun if you’re going out for a blast on the twisties with your buds, hooning around like a crazy person, but on a day-to-day basis, it’s CIA interrogation technique #27, just after blasting you with Britney Spears 24 hours a day and Chinese water torture.

Despite loving hooligan times, I also love my physical well being. To be honest, the Hyper actually took away my love and desire to ride. For once, I wasn’t sold false advertising. The bike is actually hyper. Yet, most of the time I just want to go for a relaxing ride to unwind – to feel that visceral sensation of wind in my face, a magic carpet ride of suspension, and smooth clean power.

So I started the hunt. I wanted another bike to supplement the crazy Italian thing I spent way too much money on. Something that would be a decent commuter, tourer, and all-around utilitarian bike for around 3 grand used. I tossed around a few ideas. KLR650… meh, I’m over singles on the street, too much vibration. Versys 650… sorry, I just can’t, the word fugly is generous. By the suggestion of a good friend, I started looking at the V-Stroms. To the internet! It was evident rather quickly that the 650 was the drug of choice for most of these so-called stromtroopers. Yeah, the 1000 has more power, but the 650 is no slouch. Plus, it’s smoother, more efficient, cheaper to buy, cheaper to maintain, cheaper to insure, the list goes on. Despite being offered a decent 1000 for just $1500, I passed and found a perfect 650 on teh barfs. Yeah, it had been down before. It had 44,000 smiles. Overall, not bad. Considering it needed a little work right off the bat and had no farkles to speak of, we settled on a fair price of $3000 which seems to be just under average market value. The test ride was simple – I had very low expectations honestly. Does it run? Do the brakes work? Does it turn? Yes, yes, yes. I did a few WFO runs with my friend to check for burning oil and it all checked out just fine. The ride home was bliss. But I know better. Honeymoon periods are the devil.

First things first – new tires. Gotta get those Shitko tires off ASAP. I don’t want to high-side my new bike that quickly alright? I went with the Bridgestone T30. Seemed like a good fit for this bike, plus they were on sale. I cleaned, lubed, and adjusted the chain. Added a big ugly Givi top case because practical korea is best korea. Cleaned the bike up real nicely. Sorted out some of the previous owner’s wiring shenanigans, added LED auxiliary lights, and off we went.

 
Post-initial impressions were still too good to be true. The engine is so smooth! It has a super flat, super dull power curve. So consistent that it’s hard not to love. 3000RPM doesn’t feel much different than 8000, and it revs all the way to 10,500. Not bad! I had the lowest of low expectations for the suspension, and yet, despite being soft as hell, it’s actually quite good and predictable. The bike is surprisingly nimble, and soaks up even the goatiest of roads. It’s a real hoot to just blast down the nastiest goat road you can find and let it soak it all up. Here’s what I love – despite not having razor sharp throttle response and handling, you can still haul ass and it’s super easy. Your inputs can be lazy. The bike just flexes, wallows, and squirms while eventually doing what you command it to do. Wide open throttle, sure, why not. You won’t break the tires loose with your whopping 62hp. Too hard on the brakes while revmatch downshifting? Big deal, the brakes are very progressive. No stoppie action here. In fact it’s hard to mess up your line once in a turn, because the bikes inherent stability, inertia, and compliance overcomes any sloppy steering inputs and abrupt body positioning. Seriously, you can be a complete hack and still ride at quite the pace. The riding position is great, too. The peg-to-seat distance is a bit short for my 34″ inseam, so a taller seat will help there. The bars angle inwards a bit too much. It feels like riding a big funky scooter sometimes, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Overall, the ergonomics are fantastic. I love how you feel like you’re inside the bike, not on top of it.

Well darn… I’ve been riding for over 150 miles now, and the fuel still shows half a tank? That’s funny, most other bikes would be running on fumes by now. I should fill up anyway just to see what kind of mileage we’re getting here. It took 3 gallons. Yep. Despite all the hard riding and go-or-blow new bike riding technique, she still managed to deliver over 50mpg. What. The. Awesome? That means this bike has a usable range north of 250 miles!

Okay okay, downsides? Well, yeah, you aren’t going to win any races on this thing (against a competent rider). It scrapes peg far too early to rail that hard in the twisties, but that’s okay. The T30’s give up around that point too. It’s a bit top-heavy, so changing direction quickly on a super tight road can be a good workout. It’s sorta weird looking. Who cares, still way prettier than a GS.

Speaking of the GS… boy, those are sure nice bikes. Amazing electronic suspension. Powerful motor with gobs of torque. Great electronic aid features. The KTM 1290 Super Adventure is a feat of engineering too. Which brings me to an interesting point. Do you even adventure bro? There is something to be said for having a cheap, common, easy to repair bike. Parts are more universal and more available on fleabay. I think it actually makes adventuring and riding more fun, because you spend less time worrying about putting a rock chip in your $1,200 side fairing, and more time enjoying the ride, while romping the hell out of your bike without a care in the world. If you have the cash, sure, go for the top of the line bike, but for mere mortals like me, the old adage surely applies: it’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow, and it’s more fun to adventure on a shit bike than a have your bike shit on an adventure. Note: this does not apply to riders who carry a GS911 diagnostic computer with them on their rides. Moving on…

The V-Strom 650 is the best all around bike I’ve ever ridden. After putting over 2,000 miles on it in less than three weeks, I can still honestly say it’s the best thing since carbide tooling. Capable of being ridden hard in the twisties – schooling sprotbikes left and right with topcase waving bye bye as the wee snakes through the esses. And capable of doing 500 miles of twisties in a single day without killing a normal human. I can’t imagine how many slab miles that would be equivalent to. Any slab is too much slab. Yes, sporty hooligan bikes still have their place, which is why I’m going to keep one for the 15% hooligan riding I still want to do. But I have to admit that I am slightly saddened that on any given day, I will likely choose the trusty v-strom to get myself somewhere, giggling comfortably the entire way. Don’t underestimate the fun that can be had from a budget adventure touring bike.

 

Updates to come.

 

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!

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.