Vegas to SF and back then later to Virginia.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Dirtleg, Sep 17, 2017.

  1. Dirtleg

    Dirtleg Been here awhile

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    Wanted to say hello as I'm a fairly new guy here. Not sure why it took me so long to find this place but it is great so far.

    Figured I'd share some of an adventure I had that was basically 3 separate rides but all essentially the same trip. For the motorcycle that is. I was back and forth.

    It started with a phone call from my old friend Rob (how many of these stories start this way?) in October of 2015 that I hadn't talked to in a while. He was living in Vegas and I'm in the Lynchburg area of Virginia. I was working on-site at a customer's facility in Florida that day and don't normally answer personal calls in that situation but something told me to answer this one.

    The first words out of his mouth were "dude lets go for a ride". I immediately said okay let's do it.

    As great as this idea sounded, and knowing I'd already agreed to do it, I was at first befuddled by the logistics of the situation. Ride where? When? We discussed the potential route and decided I would ship my bike to Vegas. From there we'd ride to LA by way of the Angeles crest. Then up the coast to San Francisco. From there we left it a little bit open as depending on the weather we might go out towards the Sierras but avoid that if it wasn't warm enough as we would be going in November.

    So that night, while still in Florida I booked transportation for the bike. It would arrive Monday November 2nd and I would fly out on the 7th. I had about a week at home to get the bike ready for transport which included buying some kind of soft luggage, adding heated grips, getting a new rear tire, brake pads and general brake and clutch bleeding. Also picked up winter gloves and some thermal layers and a set of rain gear.

    On the 7th I arrived in Vegas. Bike was already in Rob's garage but he hadn't put the oil and gas back in it. I spent the afternoon getting it back into operating condition as he was working that day and that evening I went downtown with his wife and son to meet up with him.

    The next day he had to work again but I was busy getting my luggage sorted. Also picked up a few items to make trip easier. Most useful of them being a Ram-X mount. Later in the evening we rode into Vegas and hung out at Hogs (a downtown watering hole) for a little sending off gathering with a couple of his friends.

    The next morning we packed up the bikes and headed out.

    Here's my bike as we were leaving.
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    And Robs bike.
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    I forgot to mention these are not bikes you'd usually do this kind of ride on but that's part of why this trip was done in the first place.

    To be continued.....
    #1
  2. Dirtleg

    Dirtleg Been here awhile

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    Okay so we have left Vegas and are heading out 15 towards California. Just west of the city limits Rob pulls off the highway. When I ask him why he says
    he wants to stop at the Pioneer Saloon. It's about 7 miles up the road from the interstate so we ride up there to check it out.
    IMAG0591.jpg

    That turned out to be a very cool place and I'm glad we stopped there.

    Back on the road we're getting close to Baker California and suddenly Rob is slowing down. He signals he's out of gas. The joys of riding a bike with a 2 1/2 gallon tank. Baker is about 10 miles away at this point but you can see it off in the distance.
    While coasting on the shoulder, slowing more and more, we formulate a plan. I use my boot, on his exhaust pipe, to push him up to about 30-35 mph then we coast till we're back down to about 20 and repeat. We do this for the next 10 miles and eventually
    he coasts into a gas station right off the exit. He mentions while we're filling up that he had planned on getting gas in Baker but didn't realize our side trip to the Pioneer put him out of range. Too funny and 100% Rob. It makes for a good story anyway.

    We stay on 15 to Cajon Junction where we get on Hwy 2. It is extremely windy at this point. Not too much fun on the interstate. As we go up Hwy 2 towards Wrightwood the temperature is continuing to drop We ride through Wrightwood and continue up the
    mountain to Big Pines. When we come out from behind the mountain here onto the western face we are blasted with a strong, freezing wind and immediately are riding into the clouds being blown into the face of the mountain. This carries on for about
    8 miles or so before we have dropped below the height of the clouds and we were once again on a clear, dry road. Suddenly everything is better and we're excited to be on the Angeles Crest and heading down into LA our destination for the night.

    Yep super excited for about 3/4 of a mile until we run into this.
    IMAG0596.jpg

    To say that took the wind out of our sails would be an understatement. I grew up in California and while I've done the crest hwy before it was always in a car. It was and still is on my list of rides to do. Rob had learned of it independantly of me from talking with
    his friends who have ridden it. We both wanted to scratch that one off the list. It wouldn't be today sadly.

    And on top of that now we had to ride back through the wind and clouds to the top of the mountain and then figure out a different route. So back to Wrightwood we went. As we were freezing at this point (there were patches of snow along the road,
    not fresh but not melting either) we stopped in a cafe we had spotted on our first ride through Wrightwood. While we sat, drank coffee and warmed up we decided to go back up to Big Pines and take the Big Pines Hwy (Road N4) down the back side of the mountain
    towards Palmdale.
    IMAG0598.jpg

    That turned out to be a great decision as the N4 was a lot of fun to ride. Certainly not the Crest but considering the circumstances it was a great detour. And we managed to get off the mountain before it got completely dark.

    Once we reached Palmdale we took 14 down to the 5 and then 405 to Inglewood where we were staying that night. As traffic was heavy on the 405 (when isn't it?) we got to do some lane splitting and I have to say they should allow that everywhere. Robs friend Jerry
    put us up that evening and was a great host. It was the first night of our couch surfing tour in California.

    More to come.
    #2
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  3. Dirtleg

    Dirtleg Been here awhile

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    Okay where was I?

    Day Two.

    So we decided to get breakfast at the beach the next morning. We rode down into Hermosa to a cafe right on the strand. The weather was unbelievably nice.
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    After breakfast we stopped at Jerry's work to say thanks and headed out to Santa Monica where we picked up Hwy 1. We fooled around a little in Malibu and then headed
    up to Mulholland and the Rock Store.
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    As it was a Tuesday there was really nothing going on there so we just stopped and took it all in. We set out again and rode The Snake, then continued to ride down to the coast stopping in a few places to take in the view.
    I'll post a picture but note the glare off the ocean is pretty bad.
    IMAG0605.jpg

    After we were back on Hwy 1 we just kept going North stopping for a late lunch in Santa Barbara. We found a restaurant on a pier and enjoyed the ocean air.
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    With our bellies full we set out to our destination for the evening. Santa Maria and Rob's friend Josh's place. Josh had mentioned that we might like to take Hwy 154 off the 101
    towards Los Olivos and then turn right onto Foxen Canyon Rd. That was a great suggestion as 154 had some beautiful views.

    Continued in the next post.
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  4. sealsam

    sealsam Sam...I am.

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    Good on you for making it to the Rock Store, great history to that place! We've got some nice riding in the Santa Monica Mtn's.

    Enjoying the post so far!:thumb
    #4
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  5. misterk

    misterk Been here awhile

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    great start....
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  6. Dirtleg

    Dirtleg Been here awhile

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    Continuing on with day 2
    So the views out hwy 154.....
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    Once we hit Los Olivos we were in desperate need of fuel. In fact I think it was me who was running on fumes as I believe I skipped filling up the last time Rob did.
    Something I didn't expect but found out was that even though Los Olivos seemed like they would have gas they didn't. So I asked Waze where a gas station was and it took us there. Think it was about 8-10 miles in the wrong direction but sometimes that's unimportant.

    After filling up, and well behind schedule, we headed back out and turned right onto Foxen Canyon Rd. This was a good example of a nice 2 lane that was in pretty decent shape but run down enough to keep you from going all out in the corners. I would love to have this as a local road to me. Kind of a desolate cowboy feeling landscape complete with a small meandering creek through the fields and twisted up, fallen dead trees sporadically dotting the landscape. Just beautiful. To say the least it was a great road to avoid the highway with and brought us out on Hwy 101 a few miles north of Santa Maria. Wishing I had stopped and taken pictures there but we were running a little late and I was just enjoying the ride.

    The section of 101 into Santa Maria is a curvy fast downhill (well we rode it fast, maybe a little too fast) where we were really able to open things up and make up some of our lost time from earlier in the day. As we rolled up to Josh's place we were exhausted. But to our dismay no one was home.:scratch

    So like any weary road traveler would do we rode into town and found a bar. Once we'd gotten settled there we were able to reach Josh on the phone and he came to meet us. We went back to his house and unloaded the bikes. After that we headed down to Los Alamos to the restaurant that Josh managed, Full of Life Flatbread.

    I will highly recommend this restaurant if you're ever in the Los Alamos area. Basically everything on the menu is sourced locally. Everything and it's delicious. I highly recommend the steak tartar. Almost 2 years ago and my mouth is watering typing this. We sat outside on the patio and started talking with the couple at the table next to us. They were down there to drink a bottle of wine that David, the guy we were talking to, had vinted himself. So they naturally wanted to share David's masterpiece and I'm glad they did. We talked about the trip and got the obligatory, "What are you crazy" looks from them but overall it was nice just passing the time with random but nice people.

    I'll make a little sentimental segue here for a moment. The thing I found most addicting while on this ride, besides the roads and riding, was just how easy it was to strike up conversations with completely random people. Little meaningless conversations about a bike they used to own, a road they like, or questions about where you're headed, where you've been, what possessed you to do what you're doing. And then my favorite roadside stranger, the one who can't help but disapprovingly grill you about your trip. Always expressing some measure of disdain but with a curiosity that screams loudly how they wish they could experience it themselves but just can't for whatever reason. Yes the random interactions with people really add to these trips.

    So with full bellies and warm smiles we mounted up and rode back the 25 miles to Josh's house in the now bitter chill of the late evening. Back at Josh's we had good conversation, more beverages and a good nights rest. 2 days on the road and 2 excellent hosts. Great trip so far.
    #6
  7. Dirtleg

    Dirtleg Been here awhile

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    Okay so a pattern is forming here. I'm not updating this post very often. I've been working like a dog and so sleep has been the priority. Hopefully I can keep a better regimen on the updates going forward.

    Day 3. We head out from Josh's place about 7am. Riding into San Luis Obispo and headed towards the coast where we'll get back on Hwy 1 for the obligatory ride up the coast through Big Sur.
    It's a bit cool this morning but nothing unbearable. I will say the heated grips I added to the RC have been the best investment ever. Once we hit the coast the morning really came into it's own. What a gorgeous day. The rock at Morro Bay.
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    Back on the road we head towards Hearst Castle. A little too early for a tour but I've been before although Rob hasn't. If you haven't seen it, are in the area, and have time to do so I would recommend it. Headed North again and the road is finally starting to transform into the mountainous coastal 2 line it's known to be. A little reflection here. The only other time I've done Hwy 1 on a motorcycle was as a passenger on my friend 88' Ninja 250 when I was 19 years old. We rode from Oakland to Tijuana for spring break that year. Yes I'm that guy. This was a much better experience to say the least.

    So now were headed to ragged point for coffee. A really nice stop off point with amazing views. Would be a great place to stay the night and watch the sunset, but that's not in the cards today.

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    Once we finished with coffee we were back on it. I know the past winter in California took out the road and a South/North trip is now impossible but what a ride. Views and ocean going on forever. No picture can capture all of the immensity here. A must see for everyone in my opinion. To the people whose houses dot these cliffs sporadically on the way up the coast I will say without the slightest bit of shame that yes, I am jealous. You are a very fortunate lot.
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    Continuing on we reach Monterrey. Now it's just barely noon and we aren't due to be in San Francisco till after 6 so we have some time to kill. Rob and I have a friend, Tim, in Santa Cruz who had moved there from Atlanta about 15 years prior so we decided to try and look him up. On we go to Santa Cruz. Well we've reached Santa Cruz but no Tim yet. We ride around a little and end up by the boardwalk where we stop to get our bearings. This day is just unbelievably beautiful. Perfect skies and temperatures. What a great day of riding so far.
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    While we were waiting we decided to see where to get some food and beverages. We headed to downtown Santa Cruz and stumbled into a fantastic dive whose name I cannot remember. Being on bikes we were immediately dragged into the barroom group conversation and these folks were really a lot of fun. About 40 minutes later we finally heard from Tim and arranged to drop by his work. Apparently Tim has done real well out here and had just opened up a Jamaican restaurant in the area called 'The Jerk'. Well now I know where we're having lunch. And what a fantastic lunch it was. Excellent food. We hung out with Tim for a little while and then headed out towards San Francisco.

    More to come.
    #7
  8. Dirtleg

    Dirtleg Been here awhile

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    Okay since I'm sitting in the Salt Lake Airport and have plenty of time to kill I'll keep this flowing.
    Day 3 continued.......

    We're on our way to San Francisco but before we get out of Santa Cruz Robs bike has a Harley moment and just dies. We start looking for the problem and it appears to be a bad ground. Gratuitous break down photo.
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    Some minor re positioning, a couple zip ties, and we're back on the road. Headed up the coast towards Half Moon Bay. This area used to be in my regular running around area as a young adult living in Redwood City. Many a campfire on the beach weekend back in the day. But not enough time to stop here today. Our time spent working on the bike is putting us close to missing our window in SF. A good friend of mine, Bart, has kindly let us use his place in North Beach even though he's in Chicago on business right now. The catch is that he has left us a key with a friend of his who we have to meet with before 7 as she has a date later that evening. Even so we had to stop and get some pictures before leaving the coast.
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    This was right before the tunnel that takes you down towards Daly City. We managed to get into the city in time to get the key to Bart's place and get there finally. It's nearing 8pm and we've been out and about since 7am. Thankfully he has a garage to put the bikes in so we didn't need to completely unpack. Also in the garage are his 2 BMW RT's. We are both sore and a little road weary not to say lacking in judgement. For longer than we should have we contemplated stealing the BMW's and leaving our bikes in their place. Surely they have to be more comfortable than our bikes and we've got a ways to go yet. Bart won't mind too much will he? Better not to find out. Although it would have made for a couple of interesting road trips for him to get his bikes back. Assuming he didn't have us arrested we'd all be able to sit back over a drink and laugh about it by now don't you think? Alas it didn't happen. We were too tired to unpack and repack our junk.

    Apparently I don't have any pictures of that night in the city. Phone crashed my SD card about a year ago and I lost a ton of the photos from this trip.
    Didn't do much at all that night except order a pizza and sleep.

    Rolling on into day 4.

    Woke up early, located Bart's friend and returned his key. Then headed into town for coffee and some breakfast. Once we were nourished and awake we rode over to the Golden Gate bridge for some obligatory pictures of the bikes. Another stellar day. It must be mentioned that almost all of my bike trips are rain embellished affairs with very sporadic dry spurts. This trip has been unreal so far.
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    Once we get back in the saddle, very sore saddle at this point, it's time to start moving south again. We head out of town and get on Skyline Blvd. Back on some of the roads I've been dreaming about riding for the last almost 30 years since I left the area. Ridden by me only when I was young, inexperienced, and on a borrowed motorcycle. I knew a great day of riding was ahead of us.

    Tune in next time where you'll read Rob say "what in the hell"
    #8
  9. Dirtleg

    Dirtleg Been here awhile

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    Day 4 still.
    So we rejoin our zeros on Skyline Blvd. Beautiful once we get to tree shrouded 2 lane portion of it. Was great once I got around the Semi going like a bat out of hell who couldn't keep his tires off the shoulder throwing gravel and debris all over whomever was behind him. Yes I could have backed off but chose to pass him instead. Clear road and I was in heaven. Rob wasn't so fortunate. His open face helmet and no front shield meant he was eating all the debris from the truck. He couldn't get close enough to pass.

    As almost every rider knows we had to stop in at Alice's for refreshments. Once there and parked I waited for Rob to arrive. He showed up still behind the semi and pulled into the parking lot where the first words out of his mouth are not something I'm willing to put on the internet. He was beyond pissed, and as the truck driver had also pulled off to buy something it took a little convincing to keep Rob from having a confrontation with said gentleman.

    Once inside Alice's I was not expecting how warm and engaging the people working there were. I don't know why I just expected them be all jaded. Well I was wrong and shame on me. They didn't even look at me sideways when I asked them if they knew a 3 foot cop with a 6 foot gun.
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    After talking with the guys inside a while we went and rode down to the coast. Hwy 84 has long been one of my favorite roads. From Woodside out past La Honda and I was finally out here again able to ride it. Damn I am a lucky SOB. Just to think a few weeks ago this wasn't even planned. We made a stop a Pescadero beach and spent a little time watching the waves crash on the rocks.
    IMAG0643.jpg
    After some time getting re-acquainted with the pacific we rode back up 84 to Alice's and stopped in again for a few minutes. We were just milling around and deciding what to do next when this guy rolls up.
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    We ended up talking with this guy for a while. No it's not a real GT40. It's a very authentic, according to him, copy made in Australia. I'm sure some of you guys know more about this than I do but regardless it was an interesting car and owner. The fact that the interior was full of dog hair says the guy uses it appropriately IMO. We got back on Skyline heading south and rode to Bear Creek rd that takes us the back way into Santa Cruz. We had contacted Tim again and arranged to have him tattoo us while there. Yes he's also a tattoo artist.
    Tattoo.jpg
    Sorry for the blurry picture. Only one I have left unless I take another one.

    We ate dinner at 'The Jerk' again and then headed over to Tim's where we crashed for the night. On the way there Rob had another Harley moment and coasted off to the side of the road. Then Rob said 'what in the hell'. We were close to Tim's now and just fooled with the wiring until it came back alive and we could get to his place. Once there we spent a little time in the dark with lights working on it and Rob thought he had gotten it fixed so we called it a night.

    And so concludes day 4.
    #9
  10. keithg

    keithg Been here awhile

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    SO CAL NUTHOUSE
    NICE RIDE!
    #10
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  11. Dirtleg

    Dirtleg Been here awhile

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    Okay well it's again been a while but I'm back at home and will continue this report.
    Day 5.
    Rob and I leave Tims early and start heading back towards Monterrey. Our plan was to get back close to Southern California that day and hit the Rock Store and Angeles Crest Hwy the following day. So as we're headed south Robs bike again starts having issues. I'm a ways ahead of him at the time and didn't realize he was broke down until I was too far ahead to see him. I pulled off at the next exit and waited but he never showed up so I backtracked an exit and then rolled up to him on the side of the highway He's a little frustrated by this point and decides just to have it towed to the nearest Harley shop to let them fix it. Here's Rob on the phone calling a tow truck.
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    So we wait what seems like forever for the truck to arrive and then he tows the bike down to ther Harley dealer in Salinas. The guys there are taking their sweet time on the bike so I go in search of some authentic Mexican food. California never disappoints in this area. Found a great place a few blocks away and had a fantastic meal of Carne Asada tacos. See living in Virginia even the most authentic places out here cannot get this right so it's a special treat for me when I do get them.

    So a couple hours after arriving at the dealer they had his bike ready to go. Yes it was the ground wire. No they didn't replace it. What in the hell?? 2 hours and you didn't even replace the ground wire??? Well it's not my bike so I keep my mouth shut but was certainly aggravated at their attitude. Reason for not replacing it? They didn't have the exact part number in stock. But they assured him they fixed the problem by re-routing the existing cable. I'm calling BS and was a little upset we wasted so much of our day on this. But again I'm having a great trip with a good friend and we're in it together so at least he's up and running again. Having lost so much of the day we decide to ride back to Josh's in Santa Maria as we probably won't get much past there before dark anyway.

    And about 15 miles south of Salinas......
    IMAG0677.jpg

    Yep. Ground wire again. This was Robs response to my laughing at the situation. Rather than let him waste any more time today with the Harley guys I rode to the nearest auto parts store, bought a generic ground wire, rode back and we put it on his bike. Problem solved for the rest of the trip.

    Once underway we rode to Josh's house where he and his wife cooked us a fantastic dinner and were again just as hospitable as could be. Thanks for taking good care of us.
    #11
  12. Dirtleg

    Dirtleg Been here awhile

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    Okay day 6. We were further north than we wanted to be and knew we weren't going to be able to do both the Rock Store and Angeles Crest today so we settled on Mulholland again as the roads up there were intriguing from our last brief visit. Starting in Santa Maria however we really didn't want to ride down Hwy101 to get back south. We ended up taking Hwy 166 over to Hwy 33 then south towards Ojai.
    It was actually pretty cold heading out that morning but we rode through the mountains until we were out in a basin of sorts. Stopped in Cuyama to fill up. Desolate and really beautiful out there. We hung out and got warmed up with some coffee.
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    We talked to the guy working the gas station and he was from Syria. Really nice guy who had moved here to work for family not realizing they were going to make him work in Cuyama. He was really hoping to get out of there and find a job in another part of the state. Preferably a city where he could have a social life but he said they didn't pay him enough that he could save up to move. Poor guy. We wished him luck in escaping his prison and headed back out on the road. It had warmed up significantly and as we made our way to Hwy 33 everything was just falling perfectly into place for the days ride.

    Hwy 33 proved to be an enjoyable road especially once we started getting into the mountains. This was so much better than going down the 101. Not too much traffic either at the time we were going through. In Ojai we stopped at the Deer Lodge and had lunch. That was a neat place and the food was great. As we were finishing up the people and bikes started arriving.
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    Back on the road we went down through Oxnard and then back onto Hwy 1. When we got near Mulholland we headed up towards the Rock Store. As it was a Saturday and the weather was perfect we were expecting it to be crowded up there. And it was. We stopped at the Snake and watched the bikes and cars rolling through. We ran into Rnickeymouse and chatted for a bit. There were a lot of guys who were way too serious about showing off for the camera. Saw a few of them go through back to back multiple times. I guess if that's your thing. I'd prefer to see some different sections of road especially since there was so much good road around there.

    It was while stopped here that I noticed I was a dumbass. I had been checking my chain regularly the first few days and it was fine but I got complacent and hadn't paid attention to it since probably Thursday. Well in that time time it had stretched. A lot. Like end of life unservicable stretch.
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    So at that point it was determined I would need to make a stop to see Jerry before the day was over. Yes we were crashing at Jerry's again but I'll get to that later.

    Next up the Rock Store.
    #12
  13. Dirtleg

    Dirtleg Been here awhile

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    On to the Rock Store.
    Day 6 continued.
    For those of you who haven't ridden this area I will say the roads up here are really great. Certainly a place you'd want to get to know before opening it up too much as some of the corners can be deceptive on entry. That said most of it was just a riot. Beautifully banked, not too many guardrails (cheese graters) and decent road surfaces without a whole lot of gravel on them.

    Here is a photo I took of the Snake trying to capture some of it's awesomeness. I'm sure there are better photos of it but this one is mine. IMAG0690.jpg
    Just to the left of this image is the corner everyone crashes on. I figured that's been seen a million times but the lead up to it is just a fantastic stretch of road. Maybe I'm beginning to understand why there are some riders who just practice this section over and over. It's brilliant. Of course now nursing a scary looking chain I didn't feel safe running it hard but tried to carry speed through the corners where I could. Still had a great time riding up there.
    Down at the Rock Store there are certainly a few bikes there. It's later in the afternoon than we had expected to be here but still a nice crowd.
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    We stopped and had a beverage or 2, sat around for a bit and talked with random people. Really enjoyed the atmosphere here and would have like to have stayed longer but my chain issue was precipitating an exit so I could get it resolved that day. So now it was my turn to be the guy who was having a mechanical issue. Oh well lesson learned.

    We headed back down to Jerry's work, a Honda/Triumph dealer where he had a chain waiting. And as luck would have it one of the mechanics said he'd install it even though the hour was late. Well that was more than I was expecting by far so I just let him do it. Talk about getting lucky.

    Before I wheeled the bike around to the back I noticed I had lost something. The cap to my clutch fluid reservoir. How and where that happened I can only guess. Fortunately the rubber bladder had stayed in place and there was no appreciable fluid loss. So using electrical tape and zip ties I made a makeshift cap to keep both the remaining fluid and bladder in place. Since I had switched to an aftermarket clutch lever there was really no chance of them having a cap that would fit in the shop. And they didn't.

    Desperate times.
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    The RC on the operating table.
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    Once the chain was installed we headed back down to Jerry's house where he again was an excellent host. I really must say we were treated great by everyone we stayed with on this trip. Really made a great trip even better.
    Next report coming soon.
    #13