8.09.2005

Lots of Miles

So I finally got out for a good long motorcycle ride last weekend (the one before the one two days ago). I've been itching for a good ride for a long time but it turned out that the other day was the right time.

I started out by heading up Highway 1 to get into Santa Cruz and bopped off onto Highway 9 which leads from town up into the hills, to Felton, Ben Lomond, Brookdale and finally Boulder Creek before giving way to uninhabited asphalt above and all the way to Skyline Boulevard or Highway 35.

Skyline runs up to and through La Honda where Alice's Restaurant is, though I didn't stop yesterday. I just rolled on through behind the two slowpoke Harleys that were probably just as happy when I did finally get a moment to rip open the throttle and whip past them, followed fairly closely by a guy on his Yamaha R1.

The views are astonishing. On a clear day, you can see the Monterey Bay on one side and Palo Alto on the other. And its fast. Sometimes stupid grin inducingly fast. The fast you don't actually write because your mother reads this blog and would worry fast. And fun, long winding, sweeping turns with nicely radiussed arcs. Slow climbing hairpins where you just hope no one's coming down with too much heat on to cross the apex and blow you off the corner.

Part of me is envious of the guy's who ride in the packs. Either the buzzing sportbikes or, to a much lesser degree, the cruisers. Packs are fun. But I don't really do well following other people and either go too slow or too fast for people to follow me so I ride alone. Its more fun that way anyway, I don't feel pressured to burn to hot or that I am burning people who are trying to stay with me.

It was one of the first times I've had to really get out and flog my V-Strom since I've gotten it. Its a very different bike from the SV even though they share the same engine. The V-Strom sits so much more upright than the SV and the short windshield works well to direct the majority of the buffeting up and over my face.

It is a different experience than a drop down and dirty sportbike. Not really much slower but way nicer, especially for those bikers like me who get tired of being half hunched over all the time. I'm happy to let the young'uns have their crotch rockets. I get a better view and my back doesn't wear out so quickly.

Skyline runs the ridge between the coast and inland and is one of the most fantastic riding roads in the whole world, or certainly among the roads I've been able to travel upon. Its the right combination of vistas, tight turns and passing zones. I'm sure the folks in the cars that get up there on the weekend are less than thrilled with the near constant passes taking place by the much, much faster biker set (unless you're on the aforementioned Harleys and cruiser kings).

There are some breathtaking spots to pull off and enjoy the view along Skyline but I rolled by them all. Nonstop riding because I knew it was going to be a long day no matter what.

And I was right. I got to the end of Skyline and had the option to turn right and head down into the valley where I could jump on 17 and buzz over the hill back to Santa Cruz or I could hang a left and head down into Half Moon Bay for a run down the coast on PCH 1. Was there really any question? I hung a left and dropped down, down, down into very heavy stop and go traffic as many other folks wanted to get out to the coast as well. After hooking up with another biker similarly mired, we rode the shoulder down for a bit until things opened up and he headed back into the hills for more twisty fun and I pointed my ride down 1.

Highway 1 is another amazing road with great vistas, sweeping and nicely radiussed curves punctuated by state beaches, slow trucks, big hills, cold shadowy forested sections and foggy chilly exposed road areas where nothing keeps the ocean's afternoon fog from sending a chill deep into your bones.

It was much too much fun and, by the time I got home, my legs were burnt, my hands were cramped and I had a grin that took several hours to wipe off. It was such a great time and my V-Strom took it all in stride as I knew it would. Great fun made all the greater by my bike. Next time I'll be able to follow my route with my GPS unit and, with the new SD500, I'll be able to stop and catch some tiny bit of the lush splendour all around.
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