A 1797 mile weekend and other related stories…

This weekend was a long one. Only 3 days, but I am exhausted none-the-less. I had been invited down to help Aaron celebrate the demise of his bachelor-hood before reclaiming his married status. Rather than flying down, I opted to ride my motorcycle…

My weekend started Thursday after work. My driving lights I ordered for my motorcycle had been delivered earlier in the day, so I rushed to get them installed before heading out on the road. Since I intended to leave around 3am Friday morning, this really didn’t give me much time at all.

So, along with packing and making sure I had everything I would need for my ride, I mounted and wired up the new lights. The switch I had ordered did not, however, show up, so I had to make due with the crappy switch included with the lights. This actually worked out well since I didn’t have time to do more than a temporary install anyways.

Luckily I was able to get the lights installed fairly quickly and get to bed at a decent hour. Here are two pics of the installed lights…



Yummy, illuminated goodness there. The intent for rushing to get them installed before my ride will be highlighted later in this posting…

After getting to bed at 9pm, and finally getting to sleep around 10pm, the alarm at 2.30 am came really early! I had a quick shower to wake me up, grabbed a bit of breakfast, and was on the road by 3.15am.

Here’s the route I had to look forward to for the day ahead of me:

Google Maps indicates the route is 875 mi – about 13 hours 42 mins. Remember that number 🙂

The first bit of the ride was in the dark, so it went by quickly and uneventfully. When I got to Ashland, Oregon, things started to lighten up a bit and I could see the landscape which was gorgeous under a light cloud cover during the sunrise.

One of the most outstanding sights during this trip was watching the sunrise as I rode through Yreka and into Shasta with the sun just coming over the mountain peak causing an awesome glow through the mist and across the golden grassy plains just before the hills. This alone made the ride worthwhile.

The rest of the way through California was fairly dull, though things became more interesting again as I rode through Monterrey and Salinas along the coast down into Paso Robles and finally into Santa Maria.

After a few gas station stops and countless Redbulls/5 Hour Energy drinks, I got in to Santa Maria at exactly 4pm Friday afternoon. A total of 12 hours 45 minutes since I left earlier that morning. That time does include all the stops to stretch and refuel. Not too shabby.

When I got into town, I gave Aaron a call and found them finishing off their wine tasting for the day at Curtis. Since I had gone directly to the house, we decided that they’d make their way to the house and we’d figure out dinner from there. This gave me the perfect opportunity for a nice nap on the porch while I waited. Ah! Just what the doctor ordered!

Turns out that dinner was on the grill Friday night, then it was off to the bars for some good drinking and even some pool sharking. And that was about all I could handle for the evening. Luckily everyone else seemed to be on the same page, which made it easy for us to call it quits and head to bed.

Saturday was THE day. This is what we had come together for. The morning found us sleeping in a bit. We made breakfast, and then sluggishly tried to figure out the game plan for the day.

We decided to head out to a store called “Big Boys Toys” to check out their paintball and airsoft guns with the potential of buying a few to have some fun with. On our way out, we found a gun range which had been discussed earlier, though no one knew what it was called or where exactly it was; well it just so happed to be on our way!

So we took a bit of a detour….
We walked into the gunshop/range and inquired about lane prices and firearms rentals; both were met with positive answers. The guys took a quick safety test, and off we went with an HK .40 and a Mossberg 12 gauge to play with on the range. Between the 6 of us, we were all able to get in a fair amount of shooting, especially since we ended up renting about 4 different pistols and 2 different long guns over the course of the 3 hours we were there.

I gotta say, it was my first time shooting a shotgun, let alone on an indoor range, and DAMN it was fun! We were all giggling like little girls at that first trigger pull. That really set the tone for the rest of the day.

After the range, it was time for pizza and beer, which was the perfect meal after obliterating pieces of paper with a plethora of small arms fire. A few pitchers and slices down, we decided to finish our earlier excursion and go check out Big Boys Toys again.

The shop had a large selection of the Airsoft replica guns (spring and/or gas powered bb guns), though sadly it was a bit anti-climactic after shooting the real things only an hour before. The store IS pretty cool though. They have a ton of Radio Controlled -everything-, as well as a great selection of paintball equipment as well.

Once we were done window shopping (I didn’t find what I was looking for), we made our way back to the house to chill and drink some more. And that is where we stayed and what we did for the rest of the night. We drank, we ate, we drank, we sat in the Jacuzzi, we drank, we played poker, we went to sleep.

All in all, it doesn’t sound like the most exciting of bachelor party weekends, but I can assure you all, dear readers, that this was probably the best bachelor party I have been to. Totally and completely worth the ride down. Plus it was just great to hang with the guys.

Sadly, I had to head out -early- Sunday morning to make it back home at a decent enough hour for me to get a good nights sleep before work today, so I said my goodbyes and went to bed around 11.30pm/midnight…

And my alarm woke me at 3.30am. I got up, got my stuff together, geared up, and was on the road at 4.15am riding back home. The morning was a nice chilly one again, which was good as I was fairly tired and the chill helped keep me alert. After getting back on the road after my first gas fill-up of the morning, I realized I was just exhausted. Luckily I was only 20 miles south of Dublin, Ca. where Fergus lives, so I routed my GPS to his apartment and gave him a call when I was outside.

Thank god for good friends! I was able to take advantage and weasel my way in to a 30 minute nap on Fergus’ futon. A god-send to be sure. We chatted for a bit, I napped, we chatted some more and then I was back on the road having only spent an hour and a half at 0 mph (when your on the road with a time limit, you tend to see any stopping as a bad thing since any stop adds time to the ride and pushes back your arrival time). But the stop was well worth it, as I was able to visit a great friend I hadn’t planned on seeing this trip and re-charge my brain at the same time.

The rest of the return trip was again uneventful, which is really what you want it to be for fear of actually having an “event” on the road. I made good time going home as well, up until about 20 miles away from the end of the line, and I encounter traffic at 20mph, and rain… so close, and yet so far.

An hour later, at 7.30pm I find myself back on my couch and completely brain dead. Glad to have done the ride, and very glad to have the ride done!

So, a few items I learned on my travels:
1. I need to hard-wire power to my iPod. Having the battery drain after the first 4 hours of a 13 hour ride sucks. Road noise is nice, but not that much of it, especially on the vast curve-less expanses of the 5 freeway.

2. Leave EARLY on long trips, but not too early. Make sure you have enough sleep -before- leaving.

3. The new driving lights worked 2 fold: I was able to better see the roads at night, but more importantly NO ONE tried to merge into me at all! (the past few long rides I have done always result in at least 4 different vehicles merging into my lane because they “didn’t see” me. This never happened on this ride. I am convinced it was my lights. People actually moved out of my way! It was very nice 🙂

4. My muscles just aren’t used to long rides. My body is -sore-!

5. While technically I -can- and -have- ridden longer, I think 10 hours at a time is about all I can reasonably do for a 3 day weekend. 13 hours to Santa Maria was really pushing the limits for the weekend. I wish I had been able to stay later into Sunday, but I am glad I left when I did since I got back later than expected.

6. The country gets really small when it is all just a “motorcycle’s ride” away. One hundred miles is nothing when you’re on a thousand mile ride! And Sixty miles is just around the corner!

So there it is, my weekend in a snapshot. Unfortunately I forgot the camera so there are no pictures from the bachelor party (and no I did not do that intentionally, though we are all protected just the same since none of you know what I may be leaving out 🙂 ).

All in all, a GREAT weekend. Now I just wish I could ignore work and sleep on the couch, but no such luck. Back to the grind it is…

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