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Old 03-27-2012, 09:54 PM   #1
Maliwal OP
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Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Southern California, USA.
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First Bike, First Long Trip, First Ride Report! Whoo!

'Allo folks, Maliwal checkin in here. I'm a n00b and just (in my firm opinion) earned my right to my ADV stickers. Me and my buddy (who lurks around here too) Mike_a, recently took a trip starting in Fontana, CA, up to San Francisco, CA, and back again by a different route. Around 1,100 miles in total.

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Mike in all his helmeted grandeur.

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I just finished watching both the Long Way Round and the Long Way Down, so 1,100 miles seems like child's play in retrospect, but it sure seemed like the intrepid adventure to us at the time! We started planning this trip around a month before the departure date (3/17/12), and got it all figured out (mostly... sort of). The plan was to take the 15 up Cajon pass without touching the freeway and then through a confusing connection of highways and side streets to end up, somehow, in Oakland, CA at Mills College, which just happens to be an all-girls university. What a coincidence!

So, we planned to launch on Saturday 3/17/12 at around 9 A.M. That didn't happen. Come 2:30 P.M., we roll out of the driveway and set off just as it's beginning to rain. Should we have taken that as a sign? Nah. Off we went, fully loaded on my 1992 Yamaha XT225 Serow, loaded with about 70 lbs of gear and tools and Mike's 2009 DR200, somewhat more lightly loaded at I'd guess around 45 lbs.

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We navigated the roads to the pass and stopped for a map check about 1/4 of the way up, right at a fork in the road. Our options: 75-ish miles the wrong way up the eastern side of the pass and eventually back down, or some railroad tracks and accompanying (now very muddy) roads. The choice was obvious. We broke west and headed across the tracks and found, after some searching, that the only way through was to make a creek crossing. Now, as pitiful as it may seem, we were both slightly nervous about this. It was after 3:00 in the afternoon and we had a good long ride ahead of us, in the rain and snow, somewhat at night, on dinky bikes with lots of gear. Additionally, I've been riding for... approximately a week at this point, and my last (and only prior) off road experience ended up with a broken clutch lever and a hole in the back of my very expensive, very durable (supposedly) Fire-Jumper boots that just happened to lead to a similarly located new hole in the back of my left foot. So dirt and I were still getting to know each other.

This creek (I'd like to call it a river but it was less than a foot deep in most places and wasn't exactly white-water rapids) wound its way down the hill and where we had to cross, for lack of another crossing or means to clear the brush to make another crossing, required us to travel through the stream-bed for about 30 yards. Being the clever man I am, I went first! All went well, and aside from forgetting to take any pictures, I made it through with only about a half a dozen stalls. However, I didn't fall over! So cheers, in that regard! Mike, having about a year's experience now, plowed on behind me without much difficulty and we navigated up the hills on the other side, more or less uneventfully aside from one (from an outside perspective) probably extremely comical moment involving a steep hill, a n00b, a heavy bike, and failure. So, pressing on! The highlights of our extreme adventure up the pass were the creek, some of the nastiest sandy-muddy-clayish mud I've ever seen that tried to suck the tires off the wheels, and one very comical return to the road. Again, failing at ADVing and not taking a picture, we popped out of a 2ft wide drainage ditch, overgrown by 6-8ft tall bushes onto the side of the 2-lane highway 138. We got a few odd looks, to say the least. 'The hell? Where'd they come from?? '

Going over the top of the pass we passed through the first snow-fall of the day and were glad to book it down through Phelan on the back-side without it getting cold enough to get slick. Beyond that was smooth sailing for a couple of hours before dinner and continued route planning (since we both clearly forgot the initial plan) but hey, what the hell, right? What's an adventure if you don't get lost?

Day 1 ended poorly, if I do say so myself. The Antelope Valley is damn cold. I mean Damn Cold. We pressed on through a 45 mph cross-wind with gusts to 60 up the 14 to the rest of the 138, where we turned into the wind. Our poor little bikes barely managed to hold 40 MPH into a 45+ MPH headwind. Take 30 degree temperature, minus 85-100 MPH wind chill factor, add a dash of salt and vibrate vigorously for several hours, and you get two cases of mild hypothermia! Ta-Da, just like that. Despite the fact that we were both layered up like the Michelin Man, Mike in his Tourmaster jacket with Thinsulate liner and a couple under-layers, with Tourmaster riding pants on top of more layers, with Tourmaster Storm gloves to boot (I swear, he could have been the Tourmaster poster boy!), and me with more layers than an onion (or Shrek) topped with a very Cafe-Racer-esk faux-leather jacket and dirt-bike pants again over layer upon layer, we didn't anticipate hell freezing over at T+4 hours. We sought shelter in a small convenience store/deli/gas station/city library and (I think) /town hall. After thawing out for twenty minutes and listening to the locals tell us we were absolutely bonkers, we saddled back up and took off again. We made it as far as Gorman, before we crawled into a hotel and tried to thaw out. Took most of the night and a hot shower the next morning before either of us could feel our extremities. Lesson Learned: the hell with the Antelope Valley!

Day two was honestly a lot of fun; we took highway 58 through some beautiful country, passing from an oil-derrick-strewn wasteland of anti-Sierra Club-ness to rolling grasslands and picturesque hills and down eventually into the northern end of the Los Padres National Forest where we hit the 101 for the sprint section of the trip. But the twisties of 58 made everything else worth it, no doubt.

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Since we made about 150 miles less than planned for on day 1 (Yeah, we slept in and screwed around too much), day two turned in to an endurance ride. We made the last 400 or so miles in several long hops, and did so without any fuss save for my bike fussing rather a lot. About 150 miles from San Francisco (or ultimate goal being Oakland), I started to experience a loss of power and had to tuck in behind the little DR200 and draft Mike every few hundred feet to regain momentum. There's a separate thread dedicated to the failure that is my bike XD. Anyhow, we made it all the way to Oakland and took the MacArthur Blvd exit... right smack into one of the worst parts of town at eleven o'clock at night.

So, here we are: Two white guys (rednecks, honestly) on motorbikes in the shadiest part of a pretty shady city after dark. Unarmed, since California laws dislike self-defense... A lot. Needless to say, we were a bit anxious. The college was supposed to be right there, we should have been looking at it. No college in sight. About this time a ghetto-mobile (sorry, not sure what else to call a mid-80's Cadillac with 26" rims) pulls up next to us and we start getting eye-balled by the two guys in it, and they start chattin to each other. Now, maybe I'm just paranoid and some people would say I'm racist, but where I grew up, I was the only white kid. I know what it looks like right before a bunch of folks crawl out of the woodwork and kick the shit out of you for being white. So, needless to say, seeing that, the next few miles traffic laws went out the window We passed more working girls shouting out at us and hoodlums hanging around street corners flashing guns than I'd care to even try to count. Stop signs became something like Slow-down-enough-to-see-and-then-haul-ass-signs, and stop lights were similar, only they lit up and sometimes required less slowing down before gunning it. Speed limit: 35 mph, effective speed: [Censored].

Turns out there's two MacArthur Blvd exits, we took the wrong one. But, after waking the whole neighborhood (A little 20-year-old 225 makes one hell of a racket when you're rolling each gear to the max revs and high-rev race-shifting… with a hole in the exhaust) we ended up at our destination: Mills College. Hello Ladies Cool story, right?

So for the next day we hung around, got completely wasted, engaged in gobs of explicit activities with the college girls, and went on our merry ways... Well, not exactly. It was more like we farted around and slept on the dorm-room floor belonging to Mike's sister, venturing out to watch movies and play a few games with the ladies. By and large, an extremely tame experience for two strapping young lads on motorcycles in an all-girls college where the only topics on conversation was graphic in nature, and borderline embarrassing to me, which is honestly saying something since I considered moonlighting as a male stripper . But anyway, back to the interesting stuff. Come Friday (3/23/12), we departed. The closest either of us got to any of the women involved was the last five minutes, when Mike gave one of the young ladies a ride around the campus. Ah, alas. Oh well, maybe next time! 10:15, we pull out of guest parking and my bike makes it approximately 100 yards to the end of the road. And there she dies. I haven't mentioned it yet, but she won't start without ether, but otherwise runs just fine (save for the lack of top-end power, as mentioned before). After fiddling with everything for five minutes, and looking like a complete idiot (it was spring break, nobody around to see anyway!), it decided to start. I don't think I actually did anything, it just wanted me to leave on the wrong foot, clearly.

After that, we set off and things got worse. Weather was gorgeous, bike was unhappy. I somehow misplaced two of the three screws holding the outermost cover on my airbox, so it was sucking in extra air and making a hell of a racket. I tried to ride with my left hand holding it closed, since I could reach. Keeping it shut DID work, sort of. I'd take my hand off to shift and the bike would bog down instantly, then pep back up when I slapped it closed again, but a stop at our friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart got Mike an ATV seat pad, and me some more ether and some gorilla tape.

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Worked like magic, if magic doesn't do a damn thing. It held the airbox closed just fine, but about fifty miles later the problem (after lunch) got all of a sudden worse. I couldn't get it above 35 MPH to save my life, and couldn't figure out why. Still don't really know. Long story short, several carb dismantlings, three hours, and ten miles later, Mike came up with the idea to pull the choke while riding. Since I’m clearly an idiot, and Mike’s a bit slow, we didn’t think of this earlier. Ta-Da, I could roll down the road at speed with no problems. Stopping was fun though It involved me sounding like the chainsaw from hell while trying to keep the clutch in the friction zone to keep the RPMs down, and sort of succeeding.


First Carb Job: Side of the road somewhere!

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Second Go!

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And a couple of hours and attempts later... Good to go!
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Or so we thought.

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So, with my Serow back to the land of the living, we blasted through the miles and ended up on the famous Highway 1 just before dusk. Images courtesy of Mike, as follow.

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The rest of the photos are available if anyone wants to see them, we took about fifty all told. Shoot me a PM if you're curious (or a stalker, I'm cool with that too I guess).

The whole highlight of the trip for us was riding the 1 at night. When all the bikes had stopped for the night and paid for their hotels and the cars had pulled off the road to catch a few Z’s and soak up the sounds of the ocean, Mike and I bored a hole through the night, mostly alone, and cruised through some of the best twisties out there with nothing but our headlights lighting the way. (Well, Mike’s headlight. Mine was illuminating the back of his head) At any rate, the result was amazing.

We stopped for dinner at midnight in San Lois Obispo and fell into an Applebee’s DJ & Karaoke night. We were both too cold and hungry to object to the noise, and the drunken college girls WERE amusing. After taking the time to warm up, and after giving the waitress goosebumps since she said she could feel the cold wafting off us and cooling the whole corner down, we make the decision to push on through the night and get back home. Talk about a hell of a long day. We start off later than hoped, run into several hours of carb issues, and then decide to make it a 24 hr day, encompassing nearly 18 hours of actual riding. Sheesh.

The rest of the ride home was uneventful, save for having to stop every thirty minutes or so to get off the bikes and thaw out. It astounded us just how cold it was, yet again!

We stopped for a real break twice, once at a gas station… somewhere. And again at another gas station… somewhere. We don’t really remember much of this leg of the journey, but there appears to be an image of me lying on the ground in front of what we think is a burger joint, and I’m fairly certain I was asleep since I barely remember this.

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After this, we hit traffic. The rest of the Greater Los Angeles area decided to wake up and clog the hell out of the freeways, so at the point of exhaustion we had to navigate both unfamiliar freeways and traffic. Fun stuff, yeah? Totally. To our mutual surprise, I found out (largely accidentally) that my poor little Serow can do nearly 80 MPH when drafting a tractor-trailer O_O. Lol I say to myself “Damn, I feel like I’m really clippin’ along here. Holy crap why is the needle over there!? Oh hell, where’s Mike?” It took him a few minutes of me laughing myself silly thinking about him doubled over behind me with the throttle pinned blasting along at 55 MPH and whipping his bike like the true race-horse it was meant to be.

On the bright side (har-har) the sun came up and gave us both just enough energy to make it back to Fontana, our launch point. Then Mike, being… I’d say insane, decides to ride the last hour to his place and conk out. We proceeded to each perform a detailed eyelid-check for about 30 out of the next 48 hours.

Long story short for those too bored to read my long-winded rambling: The hell with the Antelope Valley, and damn do we need bigger bikes for this kind of stuff!

P.S. - As an afterthought, and thrown in on Mike's suggestion, the trip was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that I had strep throat for the duration of the journey (I'm still on a second round of antibiotics since the first one didn’t kick it). The best part: work didn’t believe me when I told them I was sick, since they’d denied my vacation for that week and I didn’t show up, despite the fact that they sent me home early the last day I worked before the trip for being sick. I work with school kids, and when the doc heard that he gave me an off-work order. Dr.’s note turned in and all, and they’re still treating me like I spit in their faces or something. Dr. said no exposure to kids, not ‘Don’t go do something stupid like get hypothermia and over-exert your self like mad.” Maybe he thought that was a given… Nah, can’t be What are they going to do? Fire me? Reduce my hours as punishment? Well, probably the latter. But I say let them, either one just happens to be very, very illegal and I can't afford to pay my bills as it is.

Happy Trails mates! This was the first trip of many, I promise.
(As everyone groans in dismay... "Will he ever shut up?")

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Old 03-27-2012, 11:16 PM   #2
Roadracer_Al
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Donks. The POS cars with $4k of rims and tires, and $2k of paint... they're called Donks.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=donk

You were 6 blocks from my house. Hear any gunfire while you were here? Isn't Yo! Oaktown just the happiest place in the world?

Oh, and that's one HELL of a ride on such a tiny little bike!
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Old 03-28-2012, 04:34 AM   #3
jorrie
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LOVE IT GREAT RR DO IT AGAIN
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Old 03-29-2012, 06:44 PM   #4
Maliwal OP
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Donks, huh? Noted. We've got 'em down here but they're often referred to with expletives

After my first real experience with the road on a motorcycle, I've got to say: I really am craving a bigger one. Back in school this week and I'm oogling some of the bikes I see in motorcycle parking. Even the sport bikes, which I've never really cared for too much. Oh to be able to do 0-60 in less than 60 seconds! How nice that would be!

On that note, I've set myself a goal. New job => Money => Motorcycle. I think this could be a viscous cycle before I know it I'll be working 60 hour weeks just to pay for that 990 Adventure...
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Old 03-29-2012, 08:42 PM   #5
Los5445
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That ride was Man's work!

Wow, funny RR. What are "Donks" called with a Lady of Guadalupe statue or a Malverde sticker?
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Old 03-30-2012, 10:20 AM   #6
D-Stylz
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Keep it up!

Nice RR. Every one of us started our adventuring at some point and this will just be a building block for you two. It's a big world we live in, so have fun discovering it on two wheels

BTW, I have that same ATV seat pad on my KLR and it's the best $20 farkle ever!
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Old 03-30-2012, 10:56 PM   #7
Roadracer_Al
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Los5445 View Post
What are "Donks" called with a Lady of Guadalupe statue or a Malverde sticker?
La Donk?

El Donko?
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Old 03-31-2012, 05:15 PM   #8
Maliwal OP
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Lolz. I vote El Donko.
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Old 03-31-2012, 09:18 PM   #9
spotlight
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Comical as hell! nice report who cares what you do it on.....I just rolled out in style with a loaded down XT-250 wasn't breaking no sound barrier but enjoyed the hell out of the trip! I didn't know you could actually post pictures to the site and do a ride report like that....must be a noob joke..
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