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Old 03-27-2007, 10:01 PM   #1
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Cool A ride to remember...a tale of three bikes

No fewer than three times did little kids and 20-somethings in minivans and sedans give me the universal "do a wheelie!" sign by taking both hands and raising and lowering them like they were praying to some god standing outside their car windows. I knew this was going to be a ride to remember...

This was part of the trip to watch round 1 of the AFM races this weekend in Buttonwillow with CityBikeMike and Karayzieho/Christie. We had come from the Bay Area to watch the races, but we'd also planned a ride of our own. The idea was to come up early Saturday morning and take a route that would lead us onto 58 to the coast, through the mountains and to some unknown destination where clam chowder waited for us. Sunday we'd watch our buddies rail for trophies, but Saturday was ours.

Our start wasn't promising, however. Mike and I took forever to load up the bikes into the truck the evening before and getting it out of bed after four hours of sleep didn't happen as readily as it should have. I'd been working on my bike trying to remedy a nagging clutch problem and hadn't had time to pack. ..."Ya gotta love old, Italian bikes," I told Mike. He understood all too well. One glance at his circa early 1990's motorcycle with the faded aqua and hot pink paint scheme and you *know* he gets it.

Christie was 45 minutes ahead of us in reaching the Buttonwillow track where we had planned on camping on Saturday night. Mike and I were more interested in caffeine and a chicken-fried steak at 10 a.m. than making our rendezvous on time. We finally reached the track and got gear and bikes ready to go. We quickly said our hello's to our racing friends and promised that we'd return in the evening. We headed out on what was to be a 300 mile long trek almost two hours late. Daylight was going to be an issue, and so was the heat. I downed a couple bottles of water shortly after donning my leathers and felt like it instantly ran out of the pores of my skin.
********
Mike had been teasing me about this route with promises of rolling hills, breathtaking vistas, and twisties galore for weeks before this ride. He and Christie had taken a similar trip several months before. I was nervous about my abilities on unknown territory with two people I knew to be quick riders. However, I had resigned myself to enjoying the trip and going my pace. I'd spent the evening wrenching on the Ducati I wasn't in the mood to work on the Italian wench again anytime soon. I figured crashing out here would be the quickest way to grant myself an eternity in the garage.

And speaking of garages, I was also anxious about my bike. I'd recently made some clutch changes myself, and my mechanical skills have historically not yielded fantastic results. Add to my fears that the longest part of the route would put us nearly 100 miles between gas stops. The overbore kit in the now-944 cc Ducati Monster guzzled fuel like a drunk on a three day bender under the control of my customarily overly-anxious right wrist. I had planned on having some fun in the curves but riding an extremely conservative pace in the straights to make sure I could last between fuelings.

After a freeway stint and one last stop in the backwater that served as civilization in these parts, we were off. Mike, me and Christie: in that order. I was hoping to ease into the ride, but no such luck. We immediately came upon a sign with the curvy road graphic with "next 1 mile" under it. Mike was doing a good pace, and I was concerned that the next 299 miles of our trip was to be like this--fun but exhausting.

The next set came a few miles later and it was 5 miles long. Mike was up to the challenge and looked good. I knew I was capable of keeping this pace, but didn't want to jump into it too aggressively. Still...I couldn't keep the grin off of my face nor my hand off the throttle. We made our mark on this pavement and came out onto a fairly straight section of road that made its way though an arid landscape. Scrub trees and weeds dotted the side of the road and not much else. I saw large hills on the horizon and a small set of rollers ahead of us.

"The rollers" or "Whoops" as Mike calls them were something made of legend to me at this point. Mike had been emailing stories from fellow riders from years before when he'd gone down this road. A Bostrom and people on 'Busas had found this set of small but steeply rising and falling hills addictive. Bikes had been destroyed here. Speed limits demolished. Wheelies had abounded. I felt small, weak and slow when I realized where we were headed....

Mike decided that the two ladies in his wake would just have to fend for themselves while he had his way with this particular piece of pavement. Off he went. I approached the first one cautiously as I saw Mike's helmet quickly rise and then disappear off the first one. "Oh God..." was all I could think...and I'm not religious. I tucked, gripped the tank with my legs and followed blindly like a disciple over the edge. Hey....this wasn't so bad...and it was actually kinda fun.

Mike had gained on me while I overcame my initial fears. He is a veteran rider/racer with years and thousands of miles on me. He was also on a bike that weighs 100 lbs. more than mine and has a smaller engine. He calls it "the couch" or "Couch-a-saki" and I wasn't feeling like letting a bike that resembled an easy chair best my Italian machine. My ego got the best of me and my fuel-saving strategy of taking it easy in the straights would be postponed for a while.

Christie and I caught Mike and together we three made quick work of the hills that made your bike want to launch and then suddenly fall from beneath you. It was like a roller coaster under your control....and we all wanted to go faster. "Fuck" and "Yeah" were the only two coherent words that entered my mind. They were strung together by squeals of joy and punctuated by several exclamation points. The smile on my face would remain for a good 20 minutes after that. My bike seemed to be enjoying the challenge, and my speedometer had been pushed to the near limit of anything I'd done before on any ride.

The road gave way to a more gently curving and ribbon-like pattern on the map and we came to our first stop where I was immensely relieved to see a fully functioning gas station. I filled up at 99 miles on the tripometer thinking that my Ducati would be parched after a run like that. Ah....but the big red bike had apparently decided to get back on the wagon. She only took 2.5 gallons instead of the 4+ I was expecting. I knew we were to take the same route back, and I looked at my bike and knew I could afford to be a little more aggressive next time.

We followed the hills to the coast where fog and cold greeted us to a lush landscape of green grass and freshly leafed out oaks. The temperatures and perforated leathers were enough to dissuade Mike and Christie from adding mileage onto our trip. I was digging out the jacket liner that had had me sweating profusely only a couple hours before. We stopped for lunch, a warm up and some more gas for good measure. Christie adjusted her tire pressures which had spooked her on the first part of our ride. Mike complained of suspension issues which he had partially attended to. I was thankful that my bike hadn't blown up from the previous night's clutch experimentation and figured everything else was gravy.

I mentioned to Mike at this point that the pace was good, but that I would be comfortable with more. I figured he and Christie would like being able to run something a little closer to the speeds that I thought they liked. He dismissed my request and said that if I'd like to lead that I was welcome to. I figured he was probably right to take it more mellow, and so I let it go. We continued on along the coast and looped our way back onto 58. Christie and I traded places in the line of three riders. Her tire issues had been remedied, and she was ready to play with the leader.

At the rear now, I noted someways down the road after a nice jaunt through local wine country that a white car had joined us. I saw it closing rapidly and it rode my tailpipe longer than I wanted. I waved it by and the car apparently decided that it wanted a closer look at Christie's ass. She's got a nice one, but c'mon...It was so close to her that it could have looked at the stitching on her leathers. This was *not* good. Ricky Bobby was in a white four-door and he was now in the midst of our group. Christie didn't notice him for a little bit, and when he saw his sketchy opportunity to pass her, he did. It was an aggressive pass and uncalled for. Mike apparently had noticed the car for some time and quickly let it by.

I was thinking that this must be the ultimate degradation for a motorcyclist, next to being passed by a bicyclist. We had just been overtaken by a car, and not a great car at that. I mean, I'm OK letting a Ferrari swoop past me, but letting a plain old sedan smoke me was just awful. It wasn't a terribly technical part of the road, but still...the SHAME! And then Mike did what I was hoping fore: he gave chase. I waited for Christie to jump on the gas, and since she is a wise woman, she did not. I, on the other hand, devoid of such brilliance, let my throttle do the talking and jumped onto Mike's rear wheel after passing Christie. I looked at my speedo once and figured that should probably be the last time I do it. That way, when the cop pulled me over and asked the typical question, "Do you know how fast you were going?" I could honestly play dumb. The wind ripping at my helmet told me enough, but I had a white car to school and class was in session! --no time to worry about tickets now. Note to self: apologize to Christie later on for riding like an ass.

Mike saw that our prey was in reach and could have been overtaken, but the road was straightening out and the not-too-distant memory of two tickets on this same stretch of highway a few years ago made him give up he told me later. Not worth it. Not today. "Damn," I thought." I knew that more fun awaited us further down 58, so I didn't push it. We backed off and Christie's silver GSXR was once again in my rearview mirror.

The rollers came back into sight. I knew what I was in for this time and I wasn't fearing it like before. I knew my bike had more than enough gas for me to go a little nuts over this stretch of asphalt. And go nuts I did. Mike didn't seem to be restraining himself either. We both picked up the pace and began sailing over the ripples. Giggity, giggity. I felt like a kid in a candy store and my laughing was audible in my helmet over the sound of the wind in my ears.

We checked off the rollers on our to-do list and headed back down in the most technical section of road. Mike had gotten his sea legs at this point and was feeling like taking the curves a little quicker after my ribbing him about the pace earlier in the trip. I, in turn, decided to do my best impression of a Ducati-brand rectal thermometer. I could hear Christie's inline 4 spinning up and screaming behind me from time to time. The guys that would be on the podium in the AFM races the next day didn't have much on our performance in my mind. ha ha!

...And finally the fun was over. Five miles of the last set of curves came quickly. We rolled into a 35 mph zone in town, fueled up and chatted about the ground we had just covered over the past several hours. Laughter and a post coital-like afterglow from our encounter with the street took over. We rolled back into our camp at the AFM races with bragging rights and a lot more bug guts on our gear than we had started out with. I was exhausted but exhilarated. Nothing that cold beer and a warm shower wouldn't fix. Unfortunately the beer was warm and the shower was cold.

In my tent I slept soundly as I always do after a good ride. My dreams were punctuated with highlights from our excursion during the day and the next morning plans were in the making for the next two-wheeled outing. I hear 175 needs to be taught some manners and the Ducati and I plan on handing out spankings.
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Old 03-27-2007, 11:01 PM   #2
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I don't know why, but I kept expecting someone to crash. I'm glad nobody did, though. That was a good read :-)
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Old 03-27-2007, 11:12 PM   #3
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Re: A ride to remember...a tale of three bikes

Quote:
Originally posted by DucatiHoney
And speaking of garages......The overbore kit in the now-944 cc Ducati Monster guzzled fuel like a drunk on a three day bender under the control of my customarily overly-anxious right wrist.
great story....

ah, garages, how i wish for thee.

yup...fuel guzzling... i swear, everytime i up the performance on mine, i loose about 5mpg's



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Old 03-28-2007, 12:50 AM   #4
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I don't know why, but I kept expecting someone to crash....
Me too... (hoping for the car )

Glad you all had fun; thanks for an awesome write-up!

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Old 03-28-2007, 03:06 AM   #5
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driving range........
from stock ratio on monster 900's.
every tooth you add to the rear sproket takes off about 10 miles from your highway driving range fuel capacity
every tooth you take off the front sprocket takes off about 25 miles from your highway driving range fuel capacity
i found all this out after having to push it 2 miles up a hill to get to a station after i ran out of petro when i changed my front.
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Old 03-28-2007, 04:26 AM   #6
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Great story
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Old 03-28-2007, 05:07 AM   #7
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Good story Feanor..I mean Heather
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Old 03-28-2007, 07:13 AM   #8
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Sweet.

I didn't have much faith in a ride story that started with "We loaded the bikes in the truck", but it sounded like fun.
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Old 03-28-2007, 07:33 AM   #9
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While fueling up in Atascadero, Christie hams it up for the camera while Heather gives me her patented "Come on man, why do you have to take pictures..."

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Old 03-28-2007, 07:34 AM   #10
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How much does our beloved DH hate pictures? Full faced helmet. Mirror-finish iridium shield faceshield. And she still puts her hand up to block the camera!

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Old 03-28-2007, 08:20 AM   #11
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Good story Feanor..I mean Heather
I know, I know... I couldn't stop writing. I had to edit quite a bit actually. I don't know why I couldn't have been this verbose in highschool and college. I had trouble spewing out 500 words then. And now.... geez.
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Old 03-28-2007, 09:45 AM   #12
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So where did you find Chicken Fried Steaks in SF ?
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Old 03-28-2007, 10:11 AM   #13
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great ride story....you got Mojo
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Old 03-28-2007, 11:06 AM   #14
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So where did you find Chicken Fried Steaks in SF ?
Not in SF...at a couple of greasy spoon places on the road. One such stop was Mike's Diner or something like that about 30 minutes outside of Buttonwillow. The other place serving the deep fried goodness was in Buttonwillow at a truck stop. They also sold showers there. I was too lazy to pay $9 for one. Christie splurged. Needless to say, she sat on one side of the table, and Mike and I, both in backwards-turned baseball caps and stinky, sat on the other.
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Old 03-28-2007, 11:21 AM   #15
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Heather, great write up! I had so much fun riding with you and hanging out this weekend and would absolutely love to do it again. And Mikey, it is always a pleasure following your lead on the road and sharing in your passion for road trips and two-wheeled fun.

And darlings, I'm all for the spirit of competition and not letting unmarked white Dodge Intrepids pass us out in the middle of freaking nowhere, but come on! That guy was doing what, 120, 130? I had a very funny feeling about it all. He might have had a gun in his lap and felt like killing some bikers, or crashed and created a nice little land mine for us right around a blind corner, or flat out run us off the road for passing him back, who knows.

Uh, yeah, I have quite an overactive imagination! Having a protective, nervous mother warning me with a million what-if type nightmarish possibilities for the past 32 years hasn't helped either. And yes, she knows I ride.

Can't wait to do another road trip with you both. Thanks for the memories!
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