The Ride to the New Bike

The Ride Home 7/16/2007

<Short version>
CL and I bought a BMW 1150RT in Santa Cruz. We flew down, picked up the bike with the help of Brian, got some ZipFizz, tested out the trip saving AutoCom, and then rode 950 miles home over the next 36 hours. Slept in a very crappy motel 6, had some ok food at the Black Bear Dinner, stopped about every hour or so to stretch, hit a 30 mile 3 hour traffic jam around Olympia, to finally make it home 3 hours later then I had calculated. We both had a great time and are ready to go on another motorcycle ride. We had a great time because we could talk to each with the AutoCom, and listen to music via the Zune, without those 2 things it would not have been as great a trip as it was.
</short version>

For all of the pictures see this link

<Long version>
<Introduction, can be skipped>

I got a wild hair and decided that I wanted a motorcycle that CL could ride with me. I wanted this new bike so that we can go on trips on the bike. To do this I put my Yamaha R1 on craigslist, and about 5 days later it sold for asking price. I’d been doing research for a month or so dreaming and drooling over BMW bikes. From what I read on the interwebs they are by far the best bike for what I want. With money in hand I starting looking on the interwebs harder to find the BMW 1150RT motorcycle that I wanted to get. I found one that was reasonably close by and well priced in Santa Cruz, CA. We put 1000$ down on the bike via PayPal, and a week later we flew down to SJC (San Jose) to get the bike.

Prior to flying down to get the bike, we had to get a few bits of gear. We got CL a new helmet, and a mesh jacket that would let more wind in and keep her cooler in the 100 degree weather that we would be sure to hit on I5 in California. CL bought an HJC Lola helmet and a light blue FieldSheer mesh jacket. The bike that we bought already had an AutoCom in it so all we had to get for that was the cables, headphones, and microphones for our helmets; Much less expensive and simpler than buying one and installing it after buying the bike, that I had planned on doing when I started shopping. The last thing that we needed was a strap and case for the Zune so that it would sit in-between my shoulder blades so that CL could operate it while we were cruising down the road. We got the case at a best buy and the strap came off of our Pink duffle bag.

Mainer picked us up at 0430 Saturday morning and drove us down to the airport in time to catch our 0610 flight. Upon arriving at the Sea-tac airport check in terminal, we were confronted with a line at the Alaska counter, well not really a line as much as it was a mass of people crowding around the check in terminals, that was insanely large. I looked at it and said “if we have to wait in that we will miss our flight” Being a seasoned traveler and knowing my airport I turn around and walk towards that parking garages, to the hidden check-in terminals that are down the escalator, in a corner. No queue at all for those, we are checked in and were in the line for the security check before the mob above even had a chance to move.

The great people at Airport security confiscated our ZipFizz since they come in 4 ounce bottles, and you are only allowed to have 3.4 ounces in each container. You know if I can bring 40 small bottles, and an empty container why can’t I just bring one big one? WTF kid of crap is this? Then they would not let us drink any of them, we had to toss them away or go through the bloody line again. Such mindless follow the book mentality is so annoying. Oh well, we let them toss them in the rubbish and walked to the plane. We got strait on the plane and I fell asleep until the flight attendant came by to offer me a cookie, I promptly woke up for that to startle her and CL who thought I was still sleeping. Years of flight training has taught me to sleep through take off, wake for food, and then sleep through the landing.

CL tried to get some sleep on the plane but did not get much; I think that she got about an hour of sleep the night before, and maybe an hour on the plane. She was up late burning CD’s from ITunes to Rip them into the Zune software so that we could have all of our music on one device. No sleep, no ZipFizz, and no breakfast this trip was about to turn bad before we even made it to the bike. Luckily, we were able to get some food and ZipFizz later on.

The flight was not very exciting, 2.2 hours total. We went up, leveled off, and then descend. The only bit really worth mentioning is that the gentleman sitting across the aisle from us had a cat under his seat in a some sort of tote, and it had a few sessions of making cat noises. We got off the plane and debarked right onto the tarmac. It is a rare in a decent sized US airport that you get to do this, and I always find novelty in it. Once off the plane and out of the airport Brian picked us up and took us to the bike.

We did not get lost or have any troubles getting to the bike, it was brilliant having Brian there to help. He took all of the hassle and what not out of this part of the trip. As an added bonus he took pictures of us getting the bike while I was busy listening to Jeremy and being all excited to have a new bike. The bike was stored in a very well cared for garage with an overly shinny, exceptionally clean floor, alongside an older Honda bike, a recombinator (or whatever they are called) bicycle, and a 500CC or larger scooter. Very impressive display of the love, respect, and attention to detail that Jeremy must put into his possessions.

After taking possession of the bike Jeremy was nice enough to take us all down the street to take us out to lunch / breakfast on his dime. It was great to get to know him better and have some well flavored and needed food. Brian had the Waffle special that looked to be a very nice thick cooked waffle, and some thick, meaty, good smelling, looked to die for bacon that made me want to reach across the table and pluck it from his hands and mouth to put in my own as I watched him eat it. There was envy in my eyes as I watched every bite that he took. There was almost a war over this bacon but I was able to contain myself and fight the battle in my mind. CL had a Crepe stuffed with crab cakes and covered in hollandaise sauce, Benedict style, it looked very good, and she claimed that it was amazing. Jeremy had a most excellent looking omelet, I could not be bothered with it while looking Brian’s bacon. I had a chicken salad sandwich, with apple, onions, and walnuts in the salad, it was far better than the ones that I am used too, but it still did not help me get over the bacon.

Brian asked Jeremy for directions to the nearest Costco, Jeremy provided those on a napkin that Brian then committed to memory and executed flawlessly as he lead us to the nearest Costco, that had ZipFizz in stock! We now have food and drink, the day is saved. We will all be happy and alert as we start the first 500-mile leg of our ride.

</Introduction, can be skipped>
<Ride story>
We left breakfast, and Capitola proceeding east on CA1 (Cabrillo Highway) to the Costco in Santa Cruz where we got some ZipFizz, petrol, and then finished outfitting our stuff to the bike (GPS, Radio, Gear storage and what not). We gave Brian a big hug said good bye, thanked him for the directions that he provided on how to get to I5, then we were off. We got on Highway 17 and headed north. Highway 17 travels right through the Santa Cruz mountain range, personally, I call it a hill, but it was good for about 1900 feet of elevation.

The mountain road was great, very curvy wide open, plenty of space to stretch out and have a great time on a bike. However, we had 480 pounds of bodies (the two of us), and 100 pounds of gear on a 615 pound bike that I was very new to riding. The curves were almost totally wasted I think. I felt like I was digging deeper into these curves then I normally would on my R1 with the limited comfort level that I had on the bike, but I was not able to fully enjoy them. I was thinking to myself in the turns “is this bike going to corner better then my R1.” Time on this ride would eventually prove to me that this bike does seem to corner much better than the R1.

We got off 17 onto 880 and took that to 80 to 505 to I5. We stayed on I5 for the next 800 or so miles. Our first little stop was off the 880 into the front yard of a very large fuel depot, I wanted to get some gas, and CL wanted to mess with the AutoCom. The exit that I chose had no gas station nearby, and no shade. The security guard for the fuel depot was kind enough to let us monkey around with the bike for a bit near the gate. It was great to stretch, for me, some of these long ridding muscles have not been used in years, for CL they have never been used.

The AutoCom has a feature where it dims the music while you are talking so that you can hear each other better, a very nice feature if you can get it set right. For us it meant that the volume went up and down all the time. This did not make us happy, both being nerds we figured that we could fix it. The AutoCom only has one knob on it, labeled VOX. It did not really seem to do anything while we were playing with it, so we decided to turn it all the way one direction and ride to see if that made a difference. It made the music quite all the time. At the next stop I was thinking that I understand VOX so I turn it all the way the other way to see if I had it right.

The VOX setting changes how much noise the microphone needs to hear before it will dim the music and pick up your voice. We had it all the way down last time so it was on all the time. This time I turned it ¼ turn and it seemed to work perfectly. At this point, we now have great music, great conversation and we are on I5. From here, the trip is all about having fun, looking around, and enjoying the ride. I think that AutoCom for the most part was the key to making the trip fun and comfortable. We would never attempt a trip like this without such a tool.

On I5 with a working AutoCom we quickly passed through Redding, Shasta, and Weed on the way to our first nights stop of Medford Oregon. At the hottest point the first day, it got up to 45 (108). Even with the wind hitting us at 95 miles an hour, that is still a very hot day. We stopped every hour or so and stretch and drank some water. We each concluded that we only peed twice each this day; The rest of the water that we drank came out in the form of sweat that quickly wicked away with all of the wind traveling through our fancy mesh jackets.

I tried to jump into a river but CL would not let me, she claimed that I would end up getting her wet when I got back on the bike. She might have had a point there, but it would have been fun, and we are supposed to put up with things like this in the name of fun. CL did take a cute picture of me as I was trying to act as if I was jumping into the river. Most of the time when taking pictures it’s me with the camera getting shots of other people, or occasionally getting a shot of myself with my arm visible in my sunglasses. CL is good to me, and she tries to get as many pictures of me as she can when we go on a trip.
We stopped in the last, or the first depending on the direction that you are traveling, rest stop in California for a break, and noticed that the Zune was about to start running low on power. I had a nagging notion in that back of my head that I forgot the cable to charge it with, so I looked in the bike luggage for it. I was right I had forgotten the cable. I wanted till we got back on the bike to mention this to CL, no sense in mentioning it now. As we were getting closer to this rest stop the air was getting thicker and thicker with smoke. It looked like there must be some wild fire nearby. CL commented how the sun looked through the smoke. I commented that it reminded me of the weekend I got trapped in San Diego during their huge wild fires from a few years ago.

After we got home, I learned that the smoke was from one of over 200 wild fires that were started in Oregon and Washington due to a massive lighting storm. The smoke was really starting to get thick at the rest stop so we wrapped up the stop and got back on the bike to try to get into some cleaner air. When we got back on the road I told CL that we needed to find a best buy or something where we could get a charger for the Zune. We had two semi large towns coming up that might have what we needed. The first town did not have anything near the freeway, and with my fear of getting off the I5 in Oregon we did not stop there to look past the freeway. The second town was Medford, we did not see much, but it was starting to get late, so we decided to look for one and camp here for the night.

We did not see a best buy but we did see a Fred Meyer. We lucked out they had just what we needed, and Frank, the man behind the counter, had a few great suggestions for dinner. He told us to go back over the freeway and eat at the big bear dinner. Locals are always good for the inside food news, so we took his advice and we had dinner and breakfast at the big bear. The Big bear appeared to share a parking lot with a holiday inn so we figured that we could park in one spot for food and sleep. As it turned out that hotel was full for some local festival, and music show. We ended up at the motel 6, the third hotel that we tried to get into.

Before the hotel, we need to cover dinner. I had the Chicken Fried Steak (CFS) a 1/3 pound patty of hamburger breaded, and fried, then covered in flower and sausage gravy. For sides I had mashed potatoes that were so creamy they must have gone through a blender, and onion rings. I started my meal with a salad covered with a hint of blue cheese dressing. Thinking back on it, and looking at my belt, I should have stopped at the salad. My dinner was very good, I finished about a third of it, and I was made to be happy. CL had a pecan crusted trout and some potato salad and squash. Her starter salad had Italian dressing on it, that she did no love, and ended up supplementing with some of my blue cheese. Her dinner was ok, nothing great, nothing bad, it was good enough that we came back in the morning. After dinner it was pretty much time to take a quick shower and then go to bed.

I wanted to get us into a better hotel, but they were all full. The motel 6 was 70$ a night, and I bet that they made a descent profit at that rate. Our sheets had some odd green stains on them that looked like they were used for paint drop cloths. The room did not come with any shampoos, it did not even have an alarm clock, and it was marked as none smoking but smelled as if it had been smoked in. It even had an ashtray in it that was marked with a big no smoking symbol. The room was as cheap as could be, and felt that way, nonetheless we were tired to make the most of it and quickly went to sleep. In the morning, we did our bathroom routines, tried to scrub off the crappy room funk, and then got out of there.

We walked over to the big bear diner for breakfast where CL had some mushroom and avocado Benedict, again it was ok, nothing to write about. The breakfast came with a side of fruit and some hash browns that neither of us really touched. I almost went for the CFS again but instead I settled for something a bit liter and I got something that was so normal that I don’t even remember what it was. CL did order a glass of fresh Orange juice that was amazing, and I did drink about 4 glasses of water. What I had for my meal will be lost for ever.

After breakfast, we walked back over to the hotel, got our luggage, and high tailed it out of there. As we were leaving CL wanted to take the plastic key card back to the check in place. I said that we did not need to. Some women who must have been listening to us; came by and said that she would take the key back for us. As she walks off CL says to “ohh you got busted” whatever, they went to those keys so you don’t have to check out any more. After that little event we got back on the bike and headed north on I5

Nothing very exciting happened for a while on the ride, we pretty much drove 20 mph over the lame slow Oregon speed limits, and got off the road every hour or so to stretch. Around 0100 or so we stopped to get some food at subway and had the obligatory bad Oregon exit experience. The exit had the Subway picture on the blue sign indicating that there was a subway nearby. We got off the I5 to end up on another freeway going east with no more signs telling us what to do. After about a mile on the new road it started to get more rural and we were getting closer to a correction center. I assumed that we needed to turn around and take the first exit off this new freeway to find the food. We did that and eventually ended up at the subway.

We had some lunch, called my kid and gave him the update, then got back on the road. It took us about 10 minutes to get out of the subway. We had to wait to get out of the parking lot, wait at a few lights, and then cut off a truck to make the exit. Finally were back on I5 and driving through Portland. I wanted to stop at Waddles at the Oregon Washington Border because they have such an amazing blue cheese dressing, but it turns out that it is not there anymore. Where the big duck used to be on the sign is now a Hooters Bird. The restaurant has changed hands, and names. No more walk in waddle out. As we flew though Portland CL strapped the camera to her hand and took some shots of our heads and of the city.

Back in Washington we stopped to pump our own gas for the last time before getting home, called Trenton again and told him that we would be home in about an hour or so, bought some green frog gummy candies, and then headed north to hit the wall of traffic. At mile marker 99 in Olympia we hit the 30 mile long back, that would take us the next 3 hours to get through. Before hitting this traffic jam, I had asked CL if she wanted to just run the hour and half hour, or if she was thinking that we would need to stop on the way. Her response was that we will play it by ear.

For the next 3 hours we traveled at less than 5 miles an hour, except for two 2 mile stretchs where we went 80 miles an hour for some reason. I am of the opinion that traffic like this is caused by bad following distance, and that it can be corrected with good following distance. I like to leave about a half-mile gap between me. and the car in front of me. The gap is there so I can buffer and absorb the stopping sessions as they happen in the traffic. This can cause issues for some drivers. Like the red Hyundai that decided to pass me at high speeds on the shoulder, only to end up behind me again. Or the blue minivan that passed me, and then tried to merge into my front tire with no regard at all for the fact that his car was much larger than mine.

That one annoyed me a bit and I played with him for a while. I passed him the next chance that I got and then proceed to put the large gap in front of me again. He countered by putting no gap between him and me for as long as he could until he got bored. When traffic started to move finally, he instantly tried to pass me. Still being annoyed and being on a much more agile vehicle I pulled out in front of him and proceeded to pass as many cars as I could and then get back into the fast lane with him right behind me. We did this dance a few times, until he lost interest. That was the only joy in the traffic. Finally, around the south sound BMW dealer ship the traffic broke and we were able to travel 70 plus the rest of the way home.

We had spent almost 4 hours straight on the bike by the time that we got home. CL had kneeled on the luggage, put her legs up on mine, stood up and done whatever else she could have done to stretch. I just drove. When we got home, we got off the bike and both felt a bit dizzy. As soon as I was off my shoulders were on fire in pain. Ridding that long was a big mistake, and a lesson learned we will not do that again. It is now 2 days later and my shoulders still hurt a bit. That night I iced them a few times, took some Motrin, and massaged them. I then added in some Creatine to help the muscles rebuild. I have kept this up for the past 2 days and I think that I will keep it going for another 2 more days. Just to make sure that I am all-good to go for the next ride.

</Ride story>
<Post mortem>
CL had a great time on the ride, and is already working to plan our next one. She is planning a 700-mile round trip ride into the Canadian Okanogan to visit her grandparents after we get back from Europe next month. What made the trip enjoyable for the both of us was the AutoCom unit and the bike. The AutoCom allowed us to talk to each other, and listen to music. The music was provided by the Zunes MP3 catalog, and a few radio stations. The bike has a great seating position, nice seats, good leg angles and was just all around comfortable. Next time we will bring more music, and plan to stop more to have some fun. This should be the start of many more motorcycle rides.
</Long version>

Related Posts with Thumbnails

About Kevinm