Motorcycles to California

(Some photos are from Roger)

September 28th 2009 we all left for a 6 day motorcycle trip to California. As would be the case often throughout the week we left in 3 groups. Roger and Dave Delie thought 6:30 was too late to leave so they left at 4am. Peter and Ron thought that 4 hours on I8 would be too much so they put their BMWs on a trailer and drove to Yuma. They are new at BMWs and have  not learned that only BMWs that will not run belong on trailers. Craig, David Swain and Steve met at the Dairy Queen at Picacho Peak at 6:30.

Peter and Ron joined us first on the freeway and then later in Yuma. We now had 5 as we rode to Banning through Julian and Idyllwild. We had some good winding roads in the mountains and arrived before dark in Banning.

Day 2 started with a 100 mile ride in morning LA traffic to the beach at Santa Monica. Roger and Dave took off alone again to see Earl.  None of the 5 of us remaining was looking forward to this ride. We all agreed that we would not lane split. After a few miles on I10 the traffic stopped dead. Ron could not stand it. He drove to the front of our line and took off between the stopped cars. We all followed. For an hour we switched lanes and squeezed between cars. It was a blast. We had a great time. We were relieved to arrive on the beach with everyone there.  We checked out the Santa Monica Pier and made friends with some of the many homeless people in the park and then headed for the Malibu mountains, Mulholland Drive and the Rock Store. Mulholland was a disappointment. Too many people living up there now.

We then took some fun back roads to Santa Paula and a Mexican lunch and then on to Ojai and up highway 33. This is one of the best motorcycle roads anywhere. We followed CA58 to Atascadero and our second Super 8.  Dave and Roger were already there and Curtis surprised us by showing up on his new R6.

Day three we went over the hill and to the ocean at Cambria and then up the famous Highway 1 to Carmel. What a great ride. We were blessed with fantastic weather and no fog. We stopped at Nepenthe to look out from the deck over the water and take a group photo. For the first part of this day we had all eight of us. We then headed on to Carmel and Monterey. Curtis was kind enough to show the CHP how fast his bike would go. We had a wonderful lunch overlooking the ocean in Pacific Grove.

It was on to Santa Cruz where we lost David for a little while and I started to think this whole thing was not such a good idea. We managed to find David quickly but everyone was feeling the pull of the motel. We split up into 2 groups again but after a great ride up highway 9 and Skyline Drive to Alice's Restaurant we all managed to get to Sonora for the night. The traffic was unbelievable around Tracy and we did more lane splitting. We were all thankful we live in Tucson.  We got in after dark and everyone was starting to believe I designed this trip to torture them. 

The original plan was to ride over the mountains to US395 and then back to Yosemite. 400+ miles. We all agreed, except Curtis, that that was too far for one day. Curtis went anyway but after sitting blocked with an accident on Tioga Pass he headed straight to the motel in Linden near Visalia. Steve got impatient and left early never to be seen again that day. The remaining 6 of us went on a great adventure through the mountains following Peter's GPS. The best rides happen when we are lost. What a great ride. Over an hour at about 30 MPH but through some amazing terrain.

We spent some time in Yosemite and then drove south to Oakhurst for lunch. That was my best ride of the week. Then it was up through the foothills. Roger had taken off to find a latte so we were now down to 5 riders. Next it was up to the high country and into Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks and the big trees. The roads are kind of tight but it was good riding. Ron and Dave took off for fear of dark while David, Peter and I looked over the General Sherman tree. We all managed to get to the Linden Super 8 even though Peter's GPS did not know exactly where it was.

Day 5 and it was back up into the mountains. Peter's GPS did a great job until I took off up some little road in the wrong direction with all 7 following. They should know better. Way up in the hills and prior to the road turning to dirt we stopped. Everyone told me their GPSs were yelling at them "go back....  turn around". We got to do 12 miles of tight twisties back down to Pleasantville and the correct road.  Then we went up again into the hills on a great tight road. All went well until I hit some sand on the road, lost the rear end and the bike and I ended up off the side of the road. With many hands helping we managed to get my bike and me back on the road and with Dave's duct tape we got my mirror back on and were again on our way. I came out of it without a scratch, at least on me. Curtis took off to find his truck in Bakersfield.

This day did not start well, proceed well or end well. While Roger and I got gas the others headed out, missed a turn and we ended up in 4 groups. No one was lost but we couldn't find each other. Then Peter discovered a hopelessly worn front tire and headed for a motorcycle dealer in Tehachapi for a new tire. Steve was left behind to find his own way and Dave and I took the original planned route. Ron and David managed to find this great road I had planned. Roger headed off again, we suspect for a latte. Ron and Peter spent some time at the motorcycle shop and canceling their room reservations  were never to be seen again. The 5 of us remaining had a great dinner in Yucca Valley.

By now everyone was anxious to get home. Ron and Peter were somewhere heading for their trailer in Yuma. Roger and Dave wanted to get home as fast as possible and were looking for a freeway that went that way. David, Steve and I had a leisurely ride through Joshua Tree National Park watching Steve climb on the rocks and then took off on US62 at a good pace for Parker and home. We watched an Indian parade in Parker as they had the whole town blocked off.

Everyone told me that this would not work. I suspect you can say it didn't. But there were times where we were all together and knew where everyone was. We rode some great roads and we all came home in one piece. I went 2400 miles. We all went a different distance. We have a lot of stories to tell and material for good lies. I would call it a great time and a success.

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