Apparently the hostel computer kicked me off just before this was actually published. So here it is, a day late.
I was hoping to make it from Santa Clarita to Redding CA on Sunday but US highway miles are harder than I would have imagined. While the twisty roads of Mexico make it hard to make good miles just because of the speeds, the freeways here make it hard physically. It’s much easier to be constantly moving your body to go around tight corners then it is to sit in the same position for hours on end. Sure, you can wiggle about a bit but that’s still limited. It’s actually funny riding these miles and thinking back to how I saw them when I came down. If I had any idea what a truly twisty highway was I’d have kept my mouth shut! Heck, there’s enough room for a semi and a motorcycle in any lane of most of the highways here. Not that I’d want to do that, but really, after riding on roads just wide enough for two semis to pass and often huge drop offs or a cliff on the sides these seem like the biggest lanes ever!
So I left Santa Clarita later than I’d hoped as I needed to ice my shoulder before I hit the road again. Going for a long day with something hurting even before you get onto the bike is just no good. Leaving late I made it to somewhere shy of Redding, pushing for a while well after dark (damn you daylight savings time!). I was thinking of a decent hotel room but managed to stay in a cheap motel. Not sure if there were fleas or if I was just imagining things and itching from earlier bites but sleep was still hard to come by. Frankly I think it’s just that riding late causes you to want to drink coffee… and then that keeps you from getting a good night’s sleep. Silly but true.
Leaving my possibly flea-bitten motel room early the next day I needed to make it to Portland that evening, about 540 miles to the north. I was glad I hadn’t kept pushing in the dark as I saw three dead deer in the few miles to Redding. Another good reminder why I don’t ride in the dark much, certainly not when exhausted at the end of a long day of riding. It was a beautiful ride but colder than I’d expected and I wound up stopping in several places to warm up. The first was a true diner with a view of Mt Shasta larger than life right out the window. The second place was another tiny diner in some of the most beautiful farmland ever… a truly picturesc (sp?) farm valley. Riding on my day was highlighted with a setting sun on one side of me across an expanse of green farmland and the rising full moon to the other. I’d put on the one piece rain suit my friend Omar had leant to me and stayed relatively warm, only really getting cold as I rode into Portland and the excitement of being where I needed to be made me largely ignore it.
Bob was acting OK all day. He’s still occasionally losing power and surging. I suspect it’s the oil in the air filter housing. Apparently BMW didn’t want excess engine oil (or oil that winds up being in excess when extremely hot, you know, like in Mexico?) just spilling out so it bleeds into the air filter housing. I’ve been told it’s not a huge problem but I expect it’s making the airflow to the motor less than stellar, especially at highway speeds. Since he’s still running, most of the time without issue, this will hopefully wait until I get home for a fix.
Today is only the second day off the bike in the time that I’ve been gone. Seems I almost always finish up my trips in Portland, probably because of the time of the year I take them. Staying at the youth hostel here and spoiling myself with some much needed time off, a massage and a trip to Powell’s seems like a good last days of a large motorcycle journey, or at least it does to me. Tomorrow I head home and with a few more days off before I return to work, another adventure. This time in Washington and in a car. With heat. Who turned off the heat up here?
While I plan on doing a debrief for myself and anyone that’s actually reading this after I get home there are a few reflections I’m having now. It was fairly problematic to me that I wasn’t doing much if any dirt riding in Baja. I mean really, isn’t that what it’s supposed to be all about? I was questioning myself and wondering if I was being a wimp, or at least overly cautious. That is until I read my friend Colin’s post. See the thing is, I looked at that road and seriously considered going down it. It seemed like a very short road, and from the road looked fairly flat and relatively good, winding up in quick time at a small beach town. But then that’s how ALL roads in Baja look from the main road… or at least a lot of them. They just get uglier down the way, out of sight. And of course with how narrow they are and me alone on a very heavy bike, by the time you realize you shouldn’t be there it might be too late to turn back. Hearing better riders talk about the conditions of these roads made me pretty happy at the choices I had made. For me riding dirt would have only been sane with someone else, with a unloaded bike and/or by only going down roads I know aren’t overly technical, something that might well have changed in the last month what with hurricane season. (sidenote, here’s a link to Frenchy’s blog too… just in case you want even more motorcycle reading!)
Having to pay for internet means my pictures won’t be uploaded until after I get home, especially with this computer screaming that I have 3 minutes. So more tomorrow hopefully, including all the pictures that haven’t been uploaded yet.