A tale of a thousand miles…
My weekend began last Thursday afternoon around 3pm, when I logged off work, and finished packing for my flight down to Orange County. Prepare yourselves; this one is going to be a bit long and picture heavy (more pictures will be added when I get them from John’s camera as well)…
As many of you may remember, I recently purchased a new 2007 Honda ST1300a motorcycle just prior to making our move up to Oregon. Because I don’t trust shippers or moving companies, I opted to leave my new bike behind at John’s house, and make the trek down later to pick her up. Well, this weekend it was time to retrieve her!
Before I go too far into the trip, however, I do need to mention that a number of friends owe me a new motorcycle. As you can see from a few of the pictures below, my ST was heinously MOLESTED and violated in unspeakable (but visible) ways while in the care of what I believed to be my best friend. Mind you, I cannot fault John for what happened, as each and every one of the perpetrators had the free will and ability to choose NOT to partake. Those of you who didn’t, well we both know who you are and I respect you for not taking part 🙂 As for the rest of you, this should suffice as punishment:
Yep. Love my friends….
But I digress.
After an hour’s drive to PDX, I sat around the bar and grabbed a quick dinner before my flight out. The flight was unremarkable, just the way a good flight should be. I was even able to sleep for a bit, since I knew I wouldn’t be getting to bed till late that night and would need to be up early Friday morning to begin our ride north.
I’ll tell you, Friday morning (or any morning for that matter) came way too early! John woke me up around 6:45 am, and we put the finishing touches on the bikes in terms of packing and trying not to forget anything. Not much planning needed to be done route-wise, as it is pretty much a straight shot up the 5, so a cup of coffee down, and a powerbar in our bellies, we warmed up the bikes and said goodbye to Mary. I owe that girl something serious for letting me tear her hubby away from her; and damned if I don’t appreciate what it took for her to let him go with me!
We were motoring out of the driveway by 8:30am, gassed up with Petrol and Redbull by 8:45, and on the freeway at speed by 9am… Of course that wasn’t quite late enough to miss LA traffic. So we putted our way on the 5 North through the hell that is Los Angeles. Thankfully traffic broke somewhat quickly and we were able to ratchet up our speed to something a bit more respectable. And thank gods for that; I was getting hot and needed some airflow through my gear to cool me down!
Our first stop was in Bakersfield, Ca. for gas (only half a tank), restroom, and hydration. That was at 11:20am and only 150 miles into it. By the time we stopped in Patterson, Ca. for lunch and gas again, we were both beginning to feel the fatigue setting in. Not much mind you, but enough to let us know it was there. By this point we were only 329 miles into the trip… thoughts of doing the whole ride in one sitting were nowhere near my mind.
Riding out of Patterson, we encountered a brush fire NEXT to the highway, which put traffic to a crawl and I began to heat up again. By the time we made it into Sacramento I was completely fatigued and over-heating, so I pulled off the freeway and found a gas station where we could rest and re-hydrate. By this point in the ride, I was nearly done. I figured I had enough in me to get to Redding, and then would need to bed-down for the night and recuperate. I was just overly exhausted from the heat and road fatigue.
When we were suiting back up to make the push to Redding, I remembered I had been meaning to insert my ear plugs to cut down on the road noise and hopefully protect my hearing from the permanent damage that can be done by wind-noise at highway speeds. So I find em, plug em in, and we get motoring on to our next stopping point for gas: Redding, Ca.
There really isn’t much to talk about in terms of the scenery between Placentia and Redding, which is why I haven’t made mention of anything till now. And even now I am not going to talk about the scenery, but rather something I learned on this particular stretch of roadway:
From Patterson to Redding is 242 miles. From the point where we stopped in Sacramento to Redding was about 150 miles. In that short time riding with my earplugs, I realized that the road fatigue was all but gone. I was somewhat hesitant to contribute the lack of fatigue to just the earplugs since I had pounded a Redbull AND Gatorade in Sacramento only a few hours before (it was 7pm when we got to Redding). But still, this stop was the turning point for me. I was feeling rejuvenated and revived, and felt like we actually had a shot at making the whole ride without stopping to sleep. I talked with John about it and could see the realization in his eyes that it may well be possible too. Plus we had a simple safety net: if we got tired, we could easily just stop for the night and find a cheap motel for a few hours. Easy as pie.
With that realization, we fuelled up and headed out to see Shasta in the waning daylight hours, and push on as far as we could…
Our next stop was in Yreka, where we were forced to pull over by all of the bug carcasses which had littered our visors since coming down out of Shasta into the flatlands. I had another powerbar at this point and swigged down yet more Redbull so I would be sure to be alert through the hills that comprise the California/Oregon border since we were into nighttime by this point.
Through Shasta and into Yreka the scenery is beautiful. After Yreka, it gets a bit monochromatic, and into the hills of the border things aren’t too interesting, but about 45-50 miles into Oregon, the trees suddenly start and it is immediately GREEN. Of course, at night you can’t tell, so that part of the ride was a bit disappointing. By this point, however, we weren’t in the ride for the scenery; we were in it for the MILES.
I am going to talk in an aside for a bit here:
There is a legendary group of riders who all belong to an organization called the Iron Butt Association. These are riders who have completed and documented various long distance rides of some serious magnitude. To illustrate, the SHORTEST qualifying ride for IBA membership is the “Saddle Sore 1000” which is 1000 miles ridden in under 24 hours. There are other rides like the Border to Border in under 24 which goes from Mexico to Canada (or vice versa) within a day’s time (and yes it CAN be done and done legally) or a Coast to Coast in 100 hours. These are some SERIOUS ride for some SERIOUS distance riders.
John and I had bantered about the possibility of doing an SS1k on this trip, but neither of us had been too serious about it, not knowing WHAT 1k miles on a motorcycle would be like. In Redding, however, it suddenly seemed like a possibility, so we decided to try and see if we could actually do it. After all, we had been saving our receipts form the gas stations already so we had documentation of our start time and location as well as the way-points in between, so why not try?
Alrighty, back to the trip….
Our next stop after Yreka turned out to be Canyonville, Oregon. Canyonville is 220 miles north of Redding, which meant it was time to fill up on petrol again. By this point it was 11:30pm and our bodies were beginning to really wear down from being in the same position for over 14 hours. This discomfort makes for some longer breaks when stopping for gas and drinks as stretching becomes not just nice, but necessary. We had been doing our own bit of “motorcycle calisthenics” while riding, but that can only take you so far.
The length of time we spent on a number of our stops really contributed to the length of time it took us to make the full ride. If we had limited our stops and made the most efficient use of time when we WERE stopped, I believe we would have been rolling into home by midnight. As it was, we were still 200 miles out and John needed dinner.
Since I had a powerbar back in Yreka, I wasn’t quite hungry enough at this point, so we just stopped by Burger King’s drive-thru somewhere north of Canyonville where John was able to get a chicken sandwich to hold him through. It really amazes me how little you can survive on when you are on the road.
In this final stretch, we really had to push ourselves. This last leg we had to stop 100 miles out off of some off ramp and just stretch out. The muscle pain was starting to set in and without heated grips, my hands were beginning to get too cold. It was a short break, but a much needed stop. After that, we were so close to home that watching the miles tick down made the muscle fatigue hurt a little more. I am convinced that the closer I got to home, the more I hurt simply because I knew the end was near.
We rolled into the gas station in Beaverton, Oregon at 3am on the dot and filled up one last time. This wasn’t necessary to get home, as I live only a stone’s throw from the station, but rather to get documentation of the end time and location of our ride in the event we wanted to try and get our Iron Butt certifications.
At 3:15am we were pulling into the garage at home and by 3:30am John and I were having a beer on my couch telling a weary eye-ed Jean about the trip. All in all, a very much desired ending to a very successful ride.
Placentia to Bakersfield 148mi
Bakersfield to Patterson 181mi
Patterson to Redding 242mi
Redding to Canyonville, OR 220mi
Canyonville to Beaverton 200mi
Total distance: 991mi
By Google Maps estimation of distances from our starting gas station to each gas station stop in between, to our ending gas station, we are shy by 9 miles to get our IBA certs for the SS1k. That, and we didn’t get any witness signature for our starting and ending odometer readings nor log our miles at each gas stop, so our documentation was lacking enough that even if we had the full miles, we couldn’t get the certifications.
But John and I know we did 1K miles in 18.5 hours. And really, that’s all that matters to us. The certifications would have just been neat to have… and if we really want them, we COULD do another 1k now that we know we can handle it.
Saturday, I slept in until about noon, then the three of us headed out for “breakfast” at the local MacMenamin’s… Breakfast turned out to be a burger with a fried egg on it. PERFECTION! Well, maybe not quite… even after the fried egg burger, I was still aching from something a little more, so I asked the waitress if they had any hot-dog type items, to which she replied that all they had was a corn-dog… “AH! YES!… wait”, I ask… “can you wrap that in bacon?”… the waitress indicates she isn’t sure, but that she’d ask. A few minutes later, and what comes to the table but a bacon-wrapped corn dog. AH! Heaven… and of course John couldn’t resist so he got one for himself. After our marathon ride, we needed all the nutrition and protein we could get!
After lunch, we headed out to Beaverton Honda and actually found Jean some decent riding gear. We had just gone there since I had wanted to see the place and John mentioned seeing it on the way in the night/morning earlier. It really was serendipity, as the first jacket Jean tried on fit her perfectly and was just as inexpensive as I had found it on one of the websites I frequent for inexpensive gear.
From there, we headed downtown to walk around and see what we could see. We ended up by the Portland waterfront and checked out the floats from the day’s Rose parade. After a bit of a walk, we found a table at the Hungry Lion pub and had some amazing scotch eggs with our whisky…
As we were sitting there, we decided to go check out Voodoo doughnuts, which I had plotted out in my GPS already. I am not going to go into all the details, but suffice to say the GPS was way off. It took us to NE Portland, when in reality we had been sitting in a pub a mere 1 block away from the shop. I was less than pleased. We DID make it to Voodoo, and picked up an assortment of wonderfully delicious goodies including their famed Bacon Maple bar, as seen on the Travel Channel.
By the time we made it home though, we were too beat to eat doughnuts, so we saved them for Sunday morning…
Up at 8am, we brewed up some coffee, gorged on doughnuts, and got ready for John and I to ride a bit more. Sunday was originally going to be a relaxing around town day, but since we got in a day earlier than expected, John and I opted to take another ride out to the Oregon coast.
So we suited up for a short ride: a total of 262 miles round trip. We hopped on highway 30 to Astoria where we had a wonderful lunch in the Gunderson’s Cannery Café on the 6th street pier over the Columbia river.
On our way to Astoria, we had encountered a few bits of rain ranging from mild to downpour, but only lasting for a bout a mile each. While some people may think that would ruin a ride, I am here to tell you the opposite. Sitting on my bike at speed, in the rain, with my best friend in my mirrors, I couldn’t have asked for a better ride. Because of the way the ST is faired, very little of the water actually got me, plus I had my liner in making me all the more water proof and warm.
After lunch, we headed over the bridge from Astoria into Washington state. This was mainly just so we could ride the mile long bridge, but I also realized that it would give us a 3 state bragging right for the weekend’s rides. All the better in my book. From there we turned and headed down the Oregon coast to Tillamook where we gassed up and headed back home on Highway 6.
If Highway 30 had been perfect, then highway 6 was sheer heaven. Tight roads with high mountain walls on either side hidden by trees as far as the eye could see. Once we got around some of the slower vehicles and could get up to a more spirited pace, I can guarantee you the smiles on our faces were permanently etched in.
When we finally hit the 26 freeway, it was about 6pm and still blazing bright out (higher latitudes will do that) I felt like it was still too early to end our ride. I figure any ride that ends before midnight now will feel too early though… so we headed home for dinner. A relaxing 2 chianti bottle pizza dinner at Pizzicato and quite a few stories later, we were all happy and content. A fine way to bring an end to a (hopefully not) once in a lifetime weekend for John and I.
This morning again came way too early, as I needed to get to work, and John had to begin his trek back home so he could be at work by Wednesday. A few small tears were shed again, but somehow it wasn’t as bad this time. I think we all understood and felt like Oregon really isn’t that far, and our moving up here isn’t an end to anything… especially when it is just a quick ride away 🙂
Over the course of the day Mary has been giving me updates on his location, and from all accounts he is making fabulous time. At last update he may even make it home by 11pm tonight if he decides to go for it…
What a weekend!