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Old 03-08-2016, 03:01 PM   #1
i_am_the_koi
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Fear and Loathing in the Redwoods!

I warn you, once you start this rabbit hole you are going to ask, “Koi, whar photos? Why do you hate us? They're so blurry!” It is TL, you probably will DR by the end. But, when you ride for 500 miles through a monsoon, you don’t stop to pull out the camera much and instead, stay inside your head. When you do pull the camera out it's the cell phone. When it's just too wet, you keep the good camera protected. And so…….


The journey begins.


It was 5:15am when I woke up with a jolt. Nothing moved, the only sound was the groan from the cat as she shifted on her pillow. The sun hadn’t come up yet but the day had begun.


A week earlier I had decided to ride for my birthday to Eureka. Why? Because it was there. Because my mom was there. Because it was not here and I had my reasons for not wanting to be here. I watched as the rain forecast went from rain Wednesday through Monday, to only on Wednesday and back Saturday night. Predicted rain fall went from 1 inch on Saturday, to 3 inches, to monsoon status.


I was committed. This was my escape. I only knew the destination and that I had a 48 hour gap to make it happen. When I told my father, his response was “You’re not riding are you?” In fact, when I told anyone that was the response. I took it as a challenge each time and each time I felt more committed.


By 5:45 I was stalling for time, not for more time but to waste it. I had put on as much gear as I was comfortable without getting overheated because I knew it was too early to leave. I loaded the bike and checked my gear again. I knew I would get wet so I was ready for the battle, or so I thought. I checked tire pressures, oil levels and cleaned the wind screen. I checked my bungee straps and loaded the ice chest. I counted my supplies trying to think of what else would be needed, 8 pairs of socks, 4 briefs, 4 shirts, 2 sweaters, pants, sweats, thermals, gloves, neck wrap, newly purchased Bilt balaclava, 2 pair glove liners, tool kit, patch kit, pump, an extra visor and some towels.

I felt prepared.


I looked out at the horizon hoping for some sign of sunlight. The clouds were wispy but didn’t look like rain. I could see the sky in places and I hoped it was an omen that I was going to get lucky.
I glared at the line where the earth greets the sky willing it to start to change. I decided to do final prep and get all my stuff on the Concours and ready. I pulled my nice Tourmaster Sabre 3 jacket and started to zip in the liner.
IMG_20160305_061003



Now, I am sure that the Tour Master Company’s QC officer has a very specific set of standards when it comes to its Sabre 3 Jacket zippers, somewhere to the tolerance of 3 gnat ass’s probably. This jacket slipped through the cracks because as I am doing my final preparations, the zipper’s tolerance expanded to 5 gnat ass’s and it de-zippered (sp?), which when a rider is preparing for a battle vs. the elements, can be disheartening, maddening, and luckily, fixable.


Enter our hero, the needle nose pliers, who were purpose built for gnat ass adjustments on zippers. Problem solved.



6:15, the sky is changing. I can see blue skies, I can see gaps in clouds, and as much as I am against racial profiling, I was happy to see nothing but white clouds instead of those nasty black clouds filled with the tears of countless riders who would not be riding underneath them. The white clouds were my friends, the encouraged me to ride and so I geared up to do just that. I decided that the white clouds were a good sign that I wouldn’t hit rain immediately and decided to not put on my rain gear. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was my first rookie mistake of the trip.
I looked at the clock as I exited my driveway and noted it was 6:23, I rounded to 6:30 for figuring out my ETA in my head and started down the road. I stretched my legs to adjust my pants and started checking my surroundings. Bike temp was fine, gas was substantial, and headlight was dark…

Headlight was dark?

Brights? Also dark!


I got off the bike, looked, and sure enough, it was out. I attempted to reach in with gloves on and couldn’t so decided to return to the house for a proper repair to whatever broke. Having just replaced the headlight I figured I had done something wrong, I am good at that kind of thing when it comes to DIY.
IMG_20160305_062118



6:26, I felt like a soldier trying to save my buddy as I ripped off layers of gear to get a hand onto the wound of my Concours. I figure out the plug for the headlight got pinched and was pulled out when I turned the forks. How, I don’t know, but it was an easy fix that required no tools. This is when I noticed that those nice white clouds, had started to change into the evil black clouds I feared. I returned to my armor and prepared for the battle I could see coming. Rookie mistake #1 still applies as this was a second chance.


6:30, now I didn’t have to round up. As I started my trip I wondered if the gods were trying to tell me something. Were they trying to warn me about what I was riding into? I could hear them in my head. “Holy shit, first the jacket and then the headlight and he still wants to ride? Doesn’t he know what we’ve got in store for him?”



6:50, the first sprinkles hit my visor. I expected this, but not so soon. Is that what the gods were telling me? I took it as another omen and pulled off.
Now my rain gear is two parts. I bought a set when I first started riding online. It was the cheapest thing I could find at the time and has only been worn a handful of times. The pants, ripped years ago and were replaced with BILT’s rain pants. The jacket, however, was still the cheap model the difference between the cheap model and something of a Tourmaster quality, is that the 3 gnat ass requirement is probably closer to 5 or 6. I didn’t learn this until after I had the jacket on however. After getting it all zipped up, velcroed shut, and ready to go, I realized I forgot to put my phone inside the jacket. I unzipped the rain coat, and that’s when the zipper gave away.
I cursed the gods, right there in the gas station I cursed their name. I pulled out our hero the needle nose again and even their skills were no match for the cheap zipper of fucked. I tore off the rain coat and didn’t even bother with the rain pants. I now have wasted 10 minutes fighting with a zipper when I could be riding. My Sabre was waterproof. My overpants were waterproof. What’s more rain gear in a little sprinkle! I challenged the gods like I had no legs on top of a sailboat. My Concours would protect me through anything they could drop and my armor would handle anything it missed.


How wrong I was.


Actually, for the first hour I was right. The light but steady sprinkle was nothing more than a constant mist. The massive fairing split the weather and kept me in a cocoon of dryness. My pants and jacket didn’t even need to be waterproof, the Concours had complete control of the elements. She ate up the roads like, well, like I eat up cake. My Kali helmet shed water without trying. The wind off the bike meant that I didn’t even have to turn my head for the water to disappear from my vision.

Evidently that was just level 1.


Level 2 struck just before Hopland. The drops falling from the sky changed. No longer were they the misting drops but now they started to express anger. The Concours provided some resistance but I could see my jacket and pants were both starting to get wet. I decided to try the rain gear again and found a dry spot at a gas station.


I fought with the rain jacket, I tried everything I could to get the zipper to grip but every time it was asked to do it’s job, it crumbled under the responsibility until finally, it snapped in two.

Fuck you QC inspector.

After I stomped in a few puddles, I decided to use the jacket without the zipper and just rely on the Velcro do hold it together. I carefully made sure that every inch of Velcro had a firm grasp of its partner, and smoothed it out repeatedly until I was satisfied.

I however, forgot to put the rain pants on first.

I looked up in disgust and noticed that the friendly white clouds were above me. The rain had stopped and ahead looked like more of the same. Were the gods giving me a break?

No. This was just the start of level 3.

As soon as I returned to the highway, it started raining those angry drops again. I carefully watched my rain jacket waiting for the Velcro to give way, causing the jacket to turn into a kite. It held on though and I took back some of my curses at the QC inspector.

Angry drops became suicide bombers. They exploded on my helmet with force and it sounded like I was wearing a tin room instead of carbon fiber. This is when I noticed my feet no longer felt cold they started to feel wet instead. I didn’t think the BILT waterproofing would hold up to these conditions and made a mental note it was time to exchange boots again.
The road surface also was having problems with its waterproofing. Wet conditions are one thing, visible streams crossing the road are another. This was an entirely different ride. The road wasn’t wet, it was a stream with a concrete riverbed. It was a thrilling experience and took most of my concentration to judge not only the water conditions, but the location of tar snakes, water flows, pot holes, painted surfaces, and debris from the hillsides. Tar snakes at 30-50 on a summer day are scary. Tar snakes at 65-80 in a monsoon, that’s a come to Jesus meeting.


I know that some of you out there in your warm offices, sitting on comfy couches at home with some sort of subservient furry animal resting close by, or just generally not soaking wet, are going to look at that last sentence and immediately start to formulate a response of, “65 – 80 in a rain storm? You gonna die!”


The Concours however would laugh at you. She would not allow speeds slower than what she felt were safe. When the twist got tight, she slowed down to what was needed. When the road opened up to the beautiful sweepers that Hwy 101 offers behind the green curtain, she soaked them up like the Bilt boots I was wearing soaked up water. Granted, her rider would consciously slow down when he noticed the speed or when the rain got extra angry, but when he got focused on the road, it would gradually return.


By Willits I was ready for a break. I wanted to check my boots. I wanted to put the rain pants on. I wanted to pee. I wanted coffee. I wanted a respite from the rain.



8:35 I stop at the Safeway gas for 2.05 a gallon gas. I feel soaked and want to change out whatever wet gear I need to. I pull in and park at the driest pump I can find. I remove my gear noting the wetness level of each piece. Helmet dry but the cheek pads are starting to feel damn. Balaclava is doing its job amazingly, much better than expected. Jacket feels 10 lbs. heavier but the outside is keeping the water from getting into the liner, and the liner is keeping anything else from getting through. My sweater however, because it has a hood, is soaking up water and sapping inside my jacket causing my shirt to get wet. This would be a problem and Noob mistake #2. Overpants are damp but doing their job and keeping my jeans dry. Boots however, were made to look at water, not actually have contact with it. I finally remove my ear plugs and take a look around.


The green curtain separates CA from a very strange place up North. There are so many types of people and most of them are hippies of one form or another. A lot of working types, a lot of hippie types, and a lot of “others” who are usually the manifestation of whatever stereotype you want but combined with hippie.


As the saying goes, how do you know which way the wind is blowing? You look at the hippie hair.


Sitting next to me are two Harley riders on their pickup tail gate. I say Harley riders because they looked as if they had just got off their bikes. Jeans, leather boots, Harley shirt from some poker run, leather vest with pins, bandanas, and of course, hippie hair and beards. They are both looking at me like I am an alien from a different world. As I finally get out of the last of the gear one of them speaks up. “Are you crazy son? I can’t believe you can ride THAT bike in this weather.”


Every once in a while I get lucky with my comebacks. Usually I’m not that funny or I say the same things over to people until I learn a new phrase. This was one of my lucky moments and as I walked by them to get a coffee I replied to them, “Well, it’s not a Harley so it is doing just fine in this weather.”

Mic DROP!


Guy #2 busted up. Belly laughing, holding his knees, slapping his buddy on the shoulder. As I exited the gas station, his buddy had a puckered look on his face as he held back a laugh and attempted a scowl. His buddy gave me a thumb up and I cracked a smile to show I was joking. You never can tell when you’re behind the green curtain just who you’re talking to and I didn’t want to get caught up with somebody that wasn’t quite right. I drank my coffee and watched it rain.
IMG_20160305_084537


9:12, the rain seemed to lighten up and I decided it was time to get on the road. The Harley hippies were still sitting on their tailgate. Evidently the Safeway gas station was a good hangout for motorcyclist. I swapped socks and was surprised that my foot feeling wet wasn’t so much wet as damp. The sock layers I was wearing were doing a good job and so fresh socks seemed like enough. With all my layers back on and one last nod to the Harley hippies, I got on the road. The light rain I saw at the gas station didn’t last long, like, not even to the other side of town long. By the end of Willits Level 4 had begun and it was pouring again. It felt like a movie set where multiple fire houses are being sprayed to simulate a hurricane. The wet cheek pads of the helmet now were causing moisture to fog up my visor. To make it worse, a bro-truck towing 3 ATV side by sides was doing 20 up a hill so I didn’t have the speed to help keep the rain from getting to me. I could feel the drops bouncing off my shoulders, my helmet, and my legs. The drops were now mini water balloons blasting away at me as I plotted along behind the bro-truck. The giant redwood trees provided small breaks as you got underneath them but it didn’t matter. The air had turned to breathable water and I was out for a swim.



10:37, by the time I got to the Avenue of the Giants I was soaked. My new socks were sponges. My gloves were now so wet, I could clench my fist and watch the water drain from them. My hooded sweater was a portal for water to explore my back. I was wiping my visor every few minutes to just see clearly. I could feel the water creeping up my pants and thermals to my calves.

I wanted nothing more than to take some great pictures in the redwoods. It is my happy place. The gods seemed to know this though and threw everything they had at me. It poured. It got windy. It was the Forest Gump of redwood rain storms, you had small drops, big drops, and drops that came in sideways like, and you even had drops that seemed to come up from the ground itself. You would fight the wind through a turn only to have the gust suddenly blow from the other direction and blow you over 4-6 feet. Puddles and ditches over flowed onto the road. There was surprisingly little debris on the roads as much as it was raining and blowing. I cruised up the Avenue looking for a dry spot. Phillipsville, Miranda, Myer’s Flat. Everything was wetter than wet. I found a promising spot that was completely covered in redwoods and isolated. I took my chance and pulled off for one last gear exchange. From the waist down I couldn’t do anything with without getting wetter, but I could put on a fresh shirt, sweater, and glove liners.
IMG_20160305_103720



Glove liners… glove liners… where did I put those glove liners? All of my obvious spots were empty and I probably got just as wet looking for them, as I was when I pulled over to begin with. I gave up and wrung out my gloves and liners I had been wearing and was amazed at how much water came out from them. I geared back up and made my run for my destination, giving up on the Avenue or pictures and just made a run for my destination where I knew a warm shower, warm clothes, and a cold beer were waiting.
That last hour was probably the second most miserable I’ve been on a bike. The wet gloves I could deal with. The wet feet were starting to be an issue. My visor had given up all hope of providing a fog free view and so I was left to wiping it with wet gloves, or looking at tiny gaps in the fog by tilting my head to see. I cursed every hippie in every car I passed for not being as wet as I was. By Eureka the wind had died down, but the rain was as torrential as ever. With city traffic now to deal with I had to resist the urge to fly through town as I was so close to my destination. I “drafted” a slow moving VW (fucking hippies) so that I could mind the speed limit and got through the snore-adore on the North side of Eureka.



12:17 When I arrived at my destination it felt like victory. I had sunny skies, but rain falling so I got my gear unloaded and walked up to the porch. Knocked on the door...

No answer.

Knock Knock, ring the doorbell, and call… no answer.

Dark skies are back and the rain is falling harder. The wind has also returned.


[Archer]Do you want hypothermia? Because this is how you get hypothermia![/archer]


I decide to just start stripping on the porch and despite it being a small town, and all the neighbors watching, got out of my wet gear and put on dry clothes.


1:05, door finally is answered and I can enter. Evidently nap time ran long despite my ETA of 12ish as we previously discussed. No worries. Birthday weekend and the night can commence. I did 3 loads of dryer laundry to get my gear dry and did some research on how to dry boots out. I chose the “stuff full of paper and pray” method.

I will now leave you with a few pictures of food and beer and other things from that night before writing up day 2, the return!
IMG_20160305_122759

IMG_20160305_140345

IMG_20160305_145628

IMG_20160305_154153
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Old 03-08-2016, 03:11 PM   #2
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Whar photos? Why do you hate us?
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Old 03-08-2016, 03:24 PM   #3
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They look blurry....
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Old 03-08-2016, 04:51 PM   #4
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Old 03-08-2016, 05:06 PM   #5
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Great pictures

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Old 03-08-2016, 09:03 PM   #6
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Cool story Brah. Although...
Pics or it didn't happen!
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Old 03-08-2016, 09:25 PM   #7
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I've not had good luck hosting photos on google.
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Old 03-08-2016, 09:45 PM   #8
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Cool story bro. Some day I may ride in those conditions. Or maybe not.
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Old 09-13-2016, 01:11 PM   #9
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Old 11-14-2016, 12:50 AM   #10
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Old 02-10-2017, 01:44 PM   #11
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Koi, great writing. I can usually do without photos since in my mind's eye, my mental pictures are always perfect and never fuzzy. I - as many of us have - experienced similar riding conditions, but from my warm, dry, comfortable chair I find myself smiling. Maybe I'm glad it wasn't you rather than me or maybe it was the comradarie of knowing there are others that curse the gods and sally forth.
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Old 01-01-2018, 03:31 PM   #12
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The great and powerful Budman of Oz asked me to update the photos in this thread and I realized I never did a follow up on day 2....

So I'm going to add in the photos and let them do the talking...

12813954_1196864507004630_2740837322325521836_n

12801480_1196824350341979_868837325705871933_n

12814681_1196792510345163_7079878802580777597_n


12791052_1196873573670390_5656310196571165051_n
12794521_1196965496994531_8933368516446737554_n
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Old 01-01-2018, 04:51 PM   #13
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only reading the title...
nice!
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Hodaka Ace 90. I've been riding these things too long. What can I say? How about that Combat Wombat?

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Old 01-01-2018, 06:44 PM   #14
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Also, I still need to buy new rain gear....
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Old 01-28-2018, 09:51 PM   #15
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Missed this the first time around. Fun trip!
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