Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Biker Break-In Period: The Next 80 Miles

 Another 80 miles on the speedometer and under my belt.

Never mind the 100 degree temps, there's no water in our local river, so we won't be canoeing-- that means another trip on the bikes. Besides, we need the riding experience.

We made our way out of town along a similar route as last time, stopping by the Chevron, toppinp up gas tanks and downing a soda before meandering our way out of city limits. This time we opted to avoid any left-hand turn signals that don't know we're there.

This map shows our approximate route there. Google maps is not the friendliest to us when trying to map out our routes, so it's only approximate. And you can't really see the details of which roads are which so if it's really important to you, you'll have to look things up for yourself...
The route there: home to Sister's Mountain House via Hwy 245

We left town via Lover's Lane to Houston Ave, back around Cutler Park, over the river, and east on El Rio Road, around the corner, over the tracks, along Venice Hill and a quick meet up at the Charter Oak again. This may well become our standard for getting out of Dodge, so don't expect me to outline it in every ride report.

I agreed with the BF about heading up Millwood/Rte 245 through Elderwood, but made sure he understood we would be making a photo stop at the random rose garden first:

They help with polination for all the orange orchards, but these roses seem so random in the middle of  nowhere.

It made for a great photo of the bikes. And look! I even managed to strap a small collapsable cooler on the back of the Wombat! Cool water on a hot day made big difference.

We wound our way up Hwy 245 (I'm pretty sure it's a "highway," mostly it's just a two lane, windy road through the country,) past what used to be a really nice little country store in Elderwood... oh how we both miss that store.

There was a fire about a million years ago-- 10?15?-- and although the building got repaired, the store never re-openned. If I had the money....

We did stop to observe a moment of reflective silence for the little piece our our youth now gone, and agreed there was just something better about a good, cold Mug Rootbeer from that store. But we didn't get off the bikes and I haven't quite perfected the camera-at-the-ready method of enroute photography yet... maybe I'll add a photo of the store later.

Dr. Feelgood (DR650) in the shade.
I've always loved driving through the tiny, rural "town" of Elderwood. I don't know who owns and maintains this little resting spot at the big bend in the road, but it was nice to have a chance to sit and rest, have a cool drink of water and discuss our where-do-we-go-from-here plans.

While we rested at the picnic table, we waved at several other riders coming and going on the road. It was a hot day, but this is a popular road for motorcycles; all those twisties! And, of course, Sister's Mountain House at the top of the hwy for a refreshing beverage.

The BF watching the traffic with the Wombat.
We decided that, hot or not, we were having a good ride. So we would go ahead and continue up to Mountain House and have lunch.

So I futz'd with my gear and we got back on the road: I swear, I am going to be great at being one of those Starbucks type riders. Standing around, adjusting belts and straps and zippers and velcro. I love my Olympia Airglide gear, but the precision timing required for helmet, sunglasses, then gloves, then velcro on the sleeves of the jacket... it takes me 15 minutes to get put back together. Matt has a modular helmet and zippered jacket sleeves-- he just puts down his face shield, on with the gloves and he's done.

So he waited patiently for  me until I was back in my gear and in gear, and then I headed out onto the road.

We got really lucky with about no traffic on the roads at all. I am oh so not having fun "carving up the twisties" just yet, and this road gets twisty! First lean in one direction, then lean the other way. I ended up in 2nd gear on the TW-- and let me tell you! 2nd gear on a Yamaha TW200 is dangerously close to "any-slower-and-you'll-fall-over" slow! I felt bad for the BF; I knew he was behind me on the Suzuki DR650, trying not to run over me and not having much fun. But he was super patient and didn't gripe.

the Tipsy Wombat: Yamaha TW200
We get a lot of people telling us how proud/amazed/impressed they are that I'm willing to get back on a bike at all after the stupid drop/trip/fall/broken wrist incident. And the BF hears from a LOT of other guys about how jealous they are that his lady is willing to ride with him-- and on her own bike-- so I think he's extra willing to go slow with my little Tipsy Wombat (that's what we call the T-dub) and let me find my own pace on the roads.

The twisties made me nervous. I guess I haven't earned my genuine biker-chick status yet, but I stayed in my lane and on the road, even if pretty slow. Well... I'm talking "slow" for a motorcycle. LOL! If I'd been maintaining those low 20's speeds in the car, I'd have been on quite a wild ride.

I have no idea what the other bikers took those twisties at, when I noticed the Harley's that passed us while we were sipping water at the picnic table had stopped at a turnout, I pulled over to let them pass. I don't need to get in their way and ruin their ride.

By the time we arrived at Mountain House for lunch, I was feeling pretty proud of myself for making it through the twisties without having a panic attack. I know I'll eventually get far more comfortable with the leaning-into-the-corners thing, but for now I'm still getting used to just maintaining the speed of traffic. Which is hard enough on a bike that's lucky to get to 55 mph!

We enjoyed some Pepsi and sandwiches and decided we needed to get back on our way. We chose our route homeward, the BF waited patiently while I futz'd with my straps and velcro, and then helped me get the bike pointed down the hill... the Wombat is almost a perfect fit for me, if the suspension would just compress another 1/2- 1 inch when I sit on it, I'd have better leverage for pushing it around when the ground underneath my feet is less than level.

Then we were off, headed down Dry Creek Road. Which apparently doubles as hwy 216.

The route home: Sister's Mountain House to home via Dry Creek Road

I did better on the twisty Dry Creek Road headed down hill around the curves, even though we encountered more oncoming traffic on this road.

When we got home, the BF told me he was really impressed with me as I was getting pretty low in some of the corners. Not dragging my pegs low, but pretty low. Which kinda freaked me out to hear. I didn't feel like I was leaning into the curves, I felt like I was downshifting to damn near "stop" and inching around corners! Good thing I didin't drag my pegs on any of them, I'd have probably freaked out and just fallen right over!

But seriously, it's good to know I'm doing it right, if slow. You're supposed to lean into those curves. I can't wait till it stops being blood-curdling terrifying and starts being grin-tastic fun.

At the bottom of Dry Creek, we pulled over by the river, had another cool water and realized that our soft sided cooler is oh so less than actually waterproof.

I was pretty heartbroken when the cooler fell off the rear of the Wombat and all that icy cold water made a shortlived mud puddle by the rear wheel. I was hoping to dump it over my head before we headed home.

And if we're going to be making a habit of getting off the bikes for even a few moments, I'll be looking for some sort of soft, towel-like seat cover: the seat warms up fast in the sun!

I tried to get a coupld of shots of the bikes that would show the river and the Sierra Nevada in the background, but our valley air is too thick to show the mountains and the high, over grown river bank didn't really do much for showing the water.

Oh well. Still not a bad shot of the bikes.

I have to admit, at this point we still had about 25 miles till home. I was tired. It was hot. The Wombat isn't the smoothest ride and I am starting to understand why everyone gets a custom seat.

My throttle wrist was starting to feel like my broken wrist does all the time now and my shoulder was sore. Basically: I wasn't having fun any more. I just wanted to go home.

We turned into our neighborhood with 79.5 miles on my trip odo. I just couldn't let it go at that, I led the BF on a couple of lazy loops through the 'hood until I was satisfied that we had done a full 80 miles.

For our next ride, we're thinking of an overnighter to Springville. But our summer weekends are filling up fast, so it might be awhile before we can get to it.

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