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Old 12-20-2003, 07:00 PM   #1
FASTCONK
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Cool Ride Report Xmas 2002

On my trusty R6 with 56K miles, Shannon on the VFR and David on his Triumph Sprint we headed off for a three day ride. Ride Friday, 27th of December, to Temecula (near San Diego), spend Saturday riding in the Cleveland National Forest, The Borrego Forest, and some other I can't recall, returning Sunday from Anaheim area up the valley on I-5 crossing to San Luis Obispo and home via Hwy 1.

On the first day of the ride, actually within the first 20 miles, my electrics went weird, and the tach / display started flickering around. Hunting it down, a loose wire, in the harness gang plug feeding electrics to the lighting and gauges, appears to be the cause. Jiggling the harness caused the gauges, etc.. to flicker. The wire, after a bit of handling just broke free, so I electrical taped it and everything else seemed fine. So we continued, just that I had no tach, or speedo to rely upon, but riding with others would do just fine.

Well, that wasn't the only problem. About 210 miles later the engine shuts off, and low electrics. Now I am in the town of Taft, on Hwy 33 at or near Hwy 166. What to do now? Pulled the gang plug from the harness to running lights, headset, etc.., try to bump start the bike and it fired right up. Decided to stick with my partners, ride about 30 more miles to the base of the Grapevine then check the battery / electrics. Worse case I am heading south closer to my cousin Rory. Rory, who lives in the San Fernando Valley, has a nice pickup to help me out. So heading south is a good idea. Also, continuing with riding partners is better than being alone in nowhere land.

At the grapevine I test the battery, 12.7 volts (up from 11.5 in Taft), and showing that the charging system is putting out. Here we also ran into Mike Norman, an engine builder at G Force on El Camino Real in Santa Clara. Mike was driving to L.A. to pick up a bike at Computrack L.A.. Gave me lots of good advice and information, while offering to haul the bike if I ran into problems. Really exceptional to run into some one that far out, so knowledgeable, and willing to lend a helping hand. So, what the heck, continue on the ride just without any headlights or turn signals, tach, speedo, you know not the important stuff.

Making our way through L.A. traffic, ever aware of the approach of sunset we got to our first destination of Temecula. Motel (over priced), and a good dinner ended the first day of the ride having covered a moderate 440 miles, while David had about 475.

The ride Saturday morning took us up to Palomar Observatory (5500 ft el.) via Hwy 76. It is here that we come across two other riders, a guy on a ZX-9, and a fairly petite lady on a Movistar GSXR600. We cruised on by these riders fairly quickly through a twisty section, only to be passed back on the flat out speed area. We passed back in the twisty section and you get the point..

A bit down the road the ZX-9 comes flying passed me heading into a blind right, with the 600 in similar quick pursuit. Well, the 600 rider is over her head, not the bikes’, and fails to properly negotiate the corner. In fact taking the bike all the way across to the left side of the opposing lane. Nearly riding right off the road, and into the hillside. Being in the lead of our group I watched from a front row seat. Expecting to see motorcycle parts bouncing off the front-end of an unsuspecting on coming car. Well, this 600 rider just used up one of the 9 lives for some cat. With no cars coming she saved the bike, and continued on. I think a bit more cautious, and hopefully wiser…

The route up to Palomar is capped off with 7+ miles of 50 - 60 mph switchbacks. Great fun to ride because the turns, linking with similar radius, develop a fun riding rhythm. At 5000 ft we ran into snow on the ground, and ice on the road for northern only exposure areas. Had to slow up in those areas as friction is at it's least.

After riding to Palomar, we then rode off to Borrego Springs, down in the valley next to the Salton Sea, by taking 76 east then S2 to S22 on into Borrego Springs. S22 brings you off the mountains of the Cleveland National forest, and drops you in the Anza- Borrego Desert. S22 is a great road, though we traveled it down hill, but still nice sweeping turns, good surface, and awesome view.

At the end of this day’s ride I speculated riding the route of the day backwards would probably been a better route. Almost all of the good roads after Palomar were in down hill sections. Riding up those roads would have instilled more confidence. Remember that most of the roads we ride, we have never ridden. We like to keep a good sporting pace, and doing so downhill while loaded for three days of 1300+ miles of riding and such requires more cushion on downhill then uphill, right?

Heading south, about 90 miles from Borrego Springs to Highway 8 by way of Hwy 78 east from Borrego, and then Earthquake Valley. It was my understanding the Earthquake route would be fun, and entertaining. The surface, though in good condition was fairly marbly. Marbling reduces tire contact patch, and the bike feels loose. We also kept the pace well down, though 100+ riding would not have been a problem. With the pace down in this area, and the lack of real twisty sections, the route turned out not to be worth the 40+ mil riding, but better than riding on freeway.

At the end of Earthquake we were less than 10 miles (by the crow) from the Mexico border. Cruising east towards San Diego we cut-off in Pine Valley then turn onto the Sunrise Highway (scenic route you know) to head north over Mt. Laguna. This brought us again up over the Tierra Blanca Mountain range. Reaching elevations of 6800 ft. we found snow, and ice on the road in spots, and lot's of snow in the land / mountains adjoining the route. During the summer this route would be great, considering the number of motorcycles and general traffic found here, others must also see it the same.

Continuing on North, off the summit of Mt. Laguna, we found the road drying, and with nice sweeping turns. Here Shannon and I broke out to the front giving David a break from the lead position. I like to let David lead on Hwy sections as he has a Radar Detector. Being behind him is advantageous. How advantageous we will never really know as we came over a rise, Shannon in the lead, me right behind with David trailing to find a CHP parked off the road and hidden behind the shoulder, partially, running radar. I spied the CHP just about the same time Shannon did, both of us hitting the brakes really hard. Then an arm comes out of the car signaling to pull over.

Shannon pulled straight over, while for me, never really did get a direct signal to pull over, and so continued onward yet slowed. David, being the last of us pulled over a bit past Shannon. Up the road about ¼ mi. was the turn off to Julian, a planned refueling spot. At this intersection I pulled off, dismounted, and viewed the action. I noticed David was coming up the road leaving Shannon with our new road friend. When David got to me suggested, and he agreed, to continue on to Julian for fuel and let Shannon catch up.

In Julian Shannon caught up, explained he discussed the GPS and the ride with the CHP officer. Shannon flashed through the GPS summary, and it showed a “top speed” of 100 and something. Not so great an idea, but the CHP just talked about the bike, the gear, and also handed him a ticket for 76 in a 55. Well, from now on Shannon needs to be in the back, as he has burned up the get out of jail free driving school option.

From Julian we rode up to Santa Ysabel, on Hwy 78 east once again. At Julian we were only 12 miles from where we had turned south, off 78, on to Earthquake but we made it a 112 mile loop instead. Hey, we go for rides to explore new roads and not to find the shortest way.

Dilly-dallying around west on Hwy 78 east towards San Diego. We end up heading towards San Diego to ride Wildcat Canyon Road. David has heard good things about the road, so we might as well try it. Wildcat Canyon road seems to be a good road; we just hit it with a bit of traffic breaking up the pace. Of course picking up a White CHP Camaro just past half way didn’t help things. Shannon worried a bit that he was going to hassle him over standing up, I worried he would hassle me for no headlight (even though it was daytime). After being followed for a bit, I decided to turn off and head up a side road. Everyone followed, except the CHP, so a good time to pull over and set the plan for the balance of the day.

Our revised plan now is to head north on 68, cut to Hwy 15 and take Hwy 15 north to Lake Elsinore. From Lake Elsinore head west to the coast, on Hwy 74 – The Ortega Hwy. Upon reaching I-5 take it north as far as I can make it. The problem being the sun will set at 4:45 and I don’t have enough of a charging system to power the lights. So, my decision is, when we get to Lake Elsinore, pull off and plug the power leaking gang plug back in. This will give me lights for the ride over Ortega Hwy at which time I will run the bike north on I-5 until it dies.

Ortega Hwy is a great road. Climbing up and over the West side of the Cleveland National Forest, heading to the ocean. Lighting was getting dimmer, being 4:10 when we left Lake Elsinore, I was glad to have lights going over Ortega Hwy. Getting to I-5 we hit it north.

We make it about 30 miles north, into Fullerton, when I accidentally bump the bright lights on. I feel a quick loss of electrics, then a return. Signal Shannon that I am dead, I start looking for an exit, and lean out front to check the front headlights. Dim my friends, dim. Just as I decide to start to work from the number 1 lane to the shoulder, wham, the electrics go completely, pull in the clutch, coast across 4 lanes of traffic, and exit the freeway into Fullerton.

To my advantage, being around 5:30pm, there are inexpensive motels nearby. So we arrange reservations, unplug the gang plug, bump start the bike, and with Shannon, and David acting as escort ride, without lights, to the motel (about 2 miles). Nice room, good dinner at El Toritos ends the second day and another moderate riding day of ~406 miles.

Sunday comes with a good breakfast to start the day, and a plan to ride over the Grapevine, up to Hwy 58, then West on 58 to San Luis Obispo, up to Cambria and the final Hwy 1 coastal ride to San Jose.

Crossing the Grapevine was COLD. Being at or over 4000 FT, with low cloud cover, damp, windy, me with only my Aerostitch and polartech long johns. Later I found that the armpit zippers were open on the Aerostitch. Not the best way to keep warm air inside. Its impact was probably not bad, because it was really cold anyway. How cold? How about moisture condensing, on the inside of my Fog City equipped visor, and turning to ICE? So, wind chill, at 75mph, had to be below 30 easily into the mid 20’s. Had to ride with the Visor kicked up a bit to help reduce ICING.

We rode to Hwy 58, then made the West crossing to San Luis Obispo. The first climb over the mountains from the valley found damp roads, on corners, and didn’t inspire sporty riding, plus I was getting more condensation on the inside of the visor distorting my vision. We made it across and up to Paso Robles where we stopped again to map out a strategy.

Being now 150 miles the short way (Hwy 101), 190+ the coastal route and the time being 1:30pm daylight / distance issues once again had to be addressed. I have ridden this route many times and knew that a good pace should enable arrival in San Jose by 4:30, if no delays. This included two stops for fuel and averaging 60 on Hwy 1 from Cambria to Carmel a distance of near 100 miles.

Traffic across highway 46 was dispatched promptly letting David lead to the coast. A quick “refuel only” in Cambria and we were headed up the coast. Traffic was an issue, but not very heavy, and as we passed Ragged Point Shannon broke out into the lead.

We continued to make quick work of traffic as we rode through some of the best scenic areas in California. Along the coast the weather was chilly, but clear and dry. It was fun working through the traffic in the tighter sections of Hwy 1. David appeared to consistently drop back. We would hold up a bit, let him close in, then off again. Well, as we passed Lucia, I was in the lead, as having made some slightly aggressive passes. Expecting Shannon, and David to work their way through, I continued on up Hwy 1.

Looking back I noticed no Shannon, nor David, and being about 4 miles out of Lucia by this point. Pulled over, waited a bit, and nothing. Decisions, decisions… OK, Shannon is back there, and most probably with David. Maybe, David had to clean visor, or change clothes? I have no clock to refer to and lighting is an issue.

I decide to forge onward, because if I wait time could be an issue preventing me from making it to San Jose before sunset. My last full electric section from the night before lasted about 1 hour, the prior lasted 2 hours, so my thinking is that I might have 20 min of full lighting. Not enough to hang with Shannon, and David. I head up the coast, and make Carmel at 3:30. This is good with 75 miles to San Jose and 75 minutes of light I should be able to make home by sunset. I make my house at 4:50, with sunset at 4:55.

Shannon stopped because David got a flat tire. The two of them, with their tire repair kits, were able to plug the hole and get David home. Shannon got to his house at 6:00pm with David making Pleasanton at 06:30. If I had stopped, and waited I wouldn’t have made San Jose without riding in darkness and without lights or having to park the bike on the side of the road and come back in the morning. So Sunday finished as a bit more aggressive riding with a total of ~455 miles with ~225 on two lane roads of which 100 was on the coast hwy from Cambria to Carmel. David, of course, from Pleasanton added another 35 miles.

All in all, though some unexpected incidents occurred, the ride was in good weather the whole way, only very light rain / misting conditions were run into three times, nothing to write home about. Clear sun lit skies most of the 1300~ miles for Shannon and myself while David should have came in around 1370 miles when home..
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Old 12-20-2003, 07:27 PM   #2
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..Your damn lucky. I can imagine the nerves with an electrical glitch...and in true Conk style you saw it through

Cool read as always Steve..nice of you to share one with

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Old 12-20-2003, 07:34 PM   #3
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Budman - as I always say I am the go to guy.. take things to the limit to find out where it is, but try hard to stay on the edge and not fall over...
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Old 12-21-2003, 11:48 AM   #4
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Not falling over is one of my main goals too..

Riding thorugh all of that...that your bag

I am such a whimp.

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Old 12-21-2003, 05:28 PM   #5
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That's a great report! May we get some pics to go along with it next time?
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Old 01-14-2004, 11:16 AM   #6
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Great Story. I'm sorry about your problems, I'm a Wimp- I would have turned back or tried to find a shop.
I have a stupid question though; don't you guys EVER get tired? And, how can you drive at 60 mph for so long. I get bored, so I have to wick it up to 100 every once in a while.
p.s.- next time take some pics!!!!
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Old 01-14-2004, 04:34 PM   #7
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If we were riding on freeways 60 mph average would kill interest. We are riding, generally, 60 on one lane mountain roads, roads we never have ridden before and therefore interest remains strong.

Speed is relative to the road ridden. On a track 100 might be slow while on say Mt. Hamilton 60 is smoking..
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Old 01-15-2004, 12:13 PM   #8
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Fastconk-
I agree with you. I misunderstood you about 60mph. I go very slow on curvy roads that I do not know (and the ones I do).
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Old 01-15-2004, 03:57 PM   #9
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Great write up!!! I hope someday to make a multiday road trip on my motorcycle.
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