This gorgeous machine tops my Christmas list, in my favorite color no less.
Category Archives: Motorcycle
Always A Plus
A 120-mile motorcycle excursion proved most enjoyable yesterday, especially considering the rarity of such an event for me these days. Suffice to say, in this first third of 2012 the miles have added up far more quickly on my bicycle than my motorcycle– 1250 versus 700 respectively– and not by accident.
No miles of any kind accumulate all that quickly within San Francisco itself, inviting the satisfaction of any beyond-the-city journey. Still, while the motorcycle has become my almost-daily city commuting tool, the bicycle continues to enable my longstanding pleasures of strength, endurance and distance. Gone is my time, so it appears, of an 11,000-mile motorcycling year. At the same time, still to return is a year of bicycling 6,000 miles. While anticipating this accomplishment, at least I’m reminded of the pleasures of a motor once in a while.
Motorcycling has its place no doubt, and fortunately I’ve not had to choose one over the other. However, as I’ve said more than once over my past 2.5 years of owning a motorcycle: I’m a bicyclist first, and I always will be. Of course my preference also burns more calories, which is always a plus!
Two on Two
On this day two years ago, to my great excitement, relative fear and mild disbelief, I became a motorcycle owner. Exactly one year later, as I wrote here in my debut blog post on November 1, 2010, those first 12 months had carried me 11,302 miles. On the purchase date of 11/1/09, my “new” motorcycle’s odometer read 6801. On 11/1/10, it read 18103. Today on this auspicious date of 11/1/11, coupled with my slightly different form of mild disbelief, the odometer reads 22681. It turns out these second 12 months have thrown me an underwhelming 4,578 miles of motorcycling distance, a mere 40 percent of the previous year’s amount.
The mildly disbelieving part here is that I don’t feel I’ve been on my motorcycle any less in the second year than the first. After all, I use it almost everyday as a general form of transportation– granted, on the 7×7 tip of a peninsula for the most part. Obviously, compared to my riding all over L.A. last year, my current typical daily coverage area has been drastically reduced in 2011. No longer am I riding 50 miles in one direction just to have lunch; now it’s all about city stop-and go, save the very occasional jaunt to San Jose, Sacramento, Napa or for a couple special events a bit beyond. Altogether, the mileage just has not accumulated. Brake wear– well that’s another story.
The year-old tires remain unscathed, the brake pads and chain have been replaced, a few more passengers have had their spin, and the only thing my now-proven-faithful SV really needs on his birthday is a bath! As a relatively low-key Halloween passes into history, and while this blog today is one year old, I take this moment to mark a safe, educational and thankful “two on two.”
Now for the start of year three with yours truly in the saddle…
A Welcome Reminder
A motorcycle ride out of San Francisco, north through Napa and Sonoma, and back through the East Bay is an ideal loop for a short-distance, picturesque change of scene on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I already knew this, and perhaps you did too. Still, it hit me as a welcome reminder yesterday, especially through the flat, open terrain of Sears Point Road (CA 37) along the northern shore of San Pablo Bay.
From there of course come the numerous beautiful rolling vineyards that sit so refreshingly close to the city. It’s often easy to lose sight of the topographical diversity surrounding San Francisco, especially when most or all of our time is spent within city limits. As such, like I said, the reminder is always a welcome one!
On The Map…
From Downieville to Mineral via Quincy, on through Red Bluff and Redding to Shingletown and seemingly forever beyond, my motorcycle carried me some 800 miles this past Labor Day weekend, in the company of three motorcycling friends. In addition to the undeniable fact this was one long and exhausting journey, pockets of California appeared before me that never before had, some I never knew existed!
Our location remained a mystery to me much of the time, meaning… I really had no idea where we were! Still, I always love an adventure, especially one in which the planning is done for me. Had I looked at our route map ahead of time, I might have been tempted to try to alter our ambitious mountain journey. Silly me to think the four of us were riding straight to Redding. Suffice to say, the element of surprise ultimately worked in my psychological favor. Tired? Yes. Sorry? No.
My favorite stretch of road had to be Highway 36, heading west from Mineral down into Red Bluff. It’s here I took notice of the highest number I’ve ever seen on my SV’s digital speedometer… and I suppose that’s all we’ll say about that. Lassen Volcanic National Park is stunning and well worth the visit, while there’s no doubt far more surrounding terrain remaining for me to explore. With a tinge of regret, after 400 miles of riding on Saturday I opted out of Sunday’s jaunt to Klamath Falls, Oregon, a city I memorably visited in 1998 and to which I’d be curious to return. Instead, Redding’s Hilton Garden Inn satisfactorily relaxed me throughout the hot late afternoon. This, before a festive and filling group dinner followed by the enjoyment of some “local color” on the eve of another 250 miles of throttle to get us home. Monday’s dinner stop in Napa topped off the long weekend quite nicely.
I’m reminded of the enjoyment of motorcycle use for more than just daily stop-and-go city commuting. Such a two-wheeled journey does not come often for me, nor will it. When it does, however, I’m generally pleased. And in this case, I’m happy to say Northeastern California is now on the map… mine, that is!
A 250-mile roundtrip motorcycle ride between San Francisco and Monterey happens to be a fantastic way to spend a sunny Memorial Day Sunday. This particular excursion proved all the more memorable, not just for my riding companionship, nor merely for our lunchtime company, but also for the fact my odometer hit 20,000 miles. (I’d say it rolled over, except for the fact we’re talking digital in this case.). In any event, my SV is now heading into the 20 thousands, one year after first hitting five digits. To this I simply say, finally.
After almost a year of intent, I finally made it. The small coastal town of Gualala, some 120 miles north of San Francisco, welcomed my motorcycle and me for a brief yet lovely stay this week. Actually, it’s my fabulous lifelong friend and her hoot of a husband who did the welcoming. The town itself, fortunately, seemed to be on board with my arrival.
Altogether, this 250-mile roundtrip motorcycle journey was scenic, relaxing and of course on some stretches of twisty Hwy 1, challenging! Coming just after an oil change, new brake pads and new brake fluid earlier this week, my sturdy and reliable SV could not have performed better, at least not at the still-somewhat gentle hands of its cautious handler.
With a business appointment already scheduled in Santa Rosa this week, I figured I was already halfway to the residence of my dear friend, so why not? My conclusion: A trip most worthwhile, especially thanks to ideal weather conditions. The route to Gualala is beautiful, the town warm and inviting, the views spectacular, and last but certainly not least, the food absolutely delicious!
If and when you find yourself rolling along the northern California coast, whether by two wheels or four, or more, make Gualala one of your stops. If you’re lucky enough to hit the town on taco night at Trink’s, you’ll be in for a true and unexpected culinary delight. Crab, shrimp, pork or beef, or one or several of each, these generous and flavorful gourmet tacos far surpass any that I can recall in the “big city.” Be sure to get there early or prepare to wait, because despite any visible life on the streets, the place was packed! And on a Wednesday no less!
Join me sometime soon, preferably on your own motorized set of two wheels. You too might just find yourself saying “Gua-la-la!”
A Thursday Century
Of course when it comes to motorcycling, there’s always a big difference between tooling around the city in stop-and-go traffic vs. enjoying some good speed out on the open road. As I’ve lately been all the former and none the latter, today’s small-group motorcycle excursion proved most enjoyable. Plus, given the ideal weather conditions, the scenery presented itself in top form as well.
Altogether, today’s route south on a practically car-free (fast) Hwy 280, west through the tree-lined mountains all the way to Pescadero State Beach, and north back to San Francisco on beautiful-yet-windy Hwy 1 covered right around 100 miles, for me door-to-door 103 to be exact. Suffice to say, this was by far the easiest “century” I’ve ever done, considering almost all my others have occurred with merely my leg power, sans motor. I need not mention yet again the obvious difference in calorie burning between pedal and motor, except to remind myself one more time of the paltry, though still hilly, 22 miles I bicycled yesterday.
From lunch in the forest at a relatively quiet Alice’s, to a stroll along the wave-front cliffs of Pescadero via some challenging canyon twists and turns , this turned out to be the perfect “Thursday century,” all the more in the absence of the typical weekend crowds and traffic. I can’t recall exactly the last time I saw my speedometer hit some of the numbers it did, though some of you might be relieved to know I remain a slower motorcyclist relatively speaking. Then, considering I’ve now throttled all of a mere 1,400 miles in the past six months, today’s 100 of them came as quite a welcome, however rare, delight.
Here’s a prime illustration of how much, or little, I’ve ridden my motorcycle over the past few months since moving to San Francisco:
Last November 1, on the one-year anniversary of my moto ownership, my odometer read 18,103. Yesterday, on our Homoto ride down Hwy 1 and through Woodside, 133 days later, my odometer passed 19,103. Simply put, it’s taken me nearly four and a half months to ride 1000 miles! This equates to a whopping 7.52 miles per day.
It’s not that my big red two-wheeled machine goes neglected; I’m on it regularly. Except for a couple of weekend excursions and one round trip to Sacramento, however, the bulk of my moto use has been in and around San Francisco itself. While a motorcycle is an enjoyable and practical way to navigate the city, naturally the mileage does not accumulate. This is a far cry from last spring in Los Angeles, when I logged 3,000 miles in six weeks!
Nonetheless, yesterday’s approximately 100-mile journey was some good exercise, for my engine rather than my body, that is! It’s always enjoyable to get out on the scenic roads, at least until the rain starts coming down! Riding north on Hwy 280 in a downpour was the less-than-enjoyable part of the day. Fortunately, the hearty burger and fries at Sullivan’s gave me the energy to deal with it and get back to the city in one piece.
Now, with spring upon is, let’s see how long it takes to log the next 1000. Thanks the today’s ongoing rain and overall wetness, it looks like the next 7.52 will have to wait.
At The Speed of Cold
36 and 188. These are my mileage totals on two wheels this past weekend, for bicycle and motorcycle, respectively. When I’ve said it really doesn’t feel all that cold here in the Bay Area, I amend this now to say it might not seem so when walking or standing still. When moving at 30 mph on a bicycle, it’s another story. Up this to 80 mph on a motorcycle, and, well, let’s just say the story turns downright frigid.
The “Tiberon Loop” is a popular, somewhat challenging and not-too-far-away route for cyclists in need of a quick jaunt out of the city. I’m happy to have rediscovered it on Saturday, after having ridden it several years ago. For a total of 36 miles from The Presidio, it’s a decent workout of relatively short distance.
Mines Road, heading southwest from Livermore, spans far greater distance. This is certainly an excursion for which, despite seeing one cyclist, I recommend throttle over pedal. Yesterday was the first Homoto Motorcycle Club ride of 2011, and it was by far, for me, the coldest motorcycling I have done to date. With gloves inside of more gloves, my hands seemed to remain painfully frozen. And at highway speeds once we were out of the twisty canyons, moments came and went in which my entire body quivered.
Nevertheless, Sunday was clear and sunny, unlike the fogged-in grayness of Saturday. It was terrific to finally get out once again for a long, scenic, albeit freezing motorcycle ride after such little throttle activity in the past month. As I wrote after our December group ride to Dillon Beach, there’s such a wonderful variety of country roads to explore so close to San Francisco, providing the momentary feeling of being somewhere far away. This time, amid cliffs and rolling green hills, I saw images of England, Scotland and France. Perhaps the extremely narrow, winding, varyingly paved road we were on had something to do with it, in addition to the breathtaking scenery.
188 miles of motorcycling make for a satisfying day, no matter the temperature or terrain. Thankfully, and unusually, I rode my motorcycle every day of last week, though just within the city. Yesterday was “for real.” And seeing as I’ve now logged a mere 500 motorcycle miles since November 1, rides like this one are obviously few and far between. As such, they’re a welcome event when they happen.
By pedal and by throttle, winter temperatures drove the weekend. I definitely know a little more today about traveling “at the speed of cold.”
As wonderful as San Francisco always is, getting out of the city and into the countryside is always a welcome, and in these parts usually beautiful, event. Such was the case on this gray yet dry day, on a group motorcycle ride heading north.
A touch of Indiana, a glimpse of Wisconsin, a slice of upstate New York, and even a little piece of Maryland. All of these places flashed through my mind as we rode on two-lane roads through the wide-open regions of Marin and Sonoma Counties. For the diversity of topography throughout the relatively small area we covered, I did indeed experience moments of feeling as if I were in other parts of the country altogether!
Our ride destination today: Dillon Beach. This very tiny coastal town does not even have a gas station. (Trust me, I know this, as my tank was bone dry by the time we reached the nearest place to fill up.) Nonetheless, it was truly wonderful on this day to feel so far from, yet so close to, San Francisco. I highly recommend Dillon Beach as a day trip for anyone who wants some “time out” of the city for a few hours, while enjoying some gorgeous countryside.
Then of course, this was a day back on my motorcycle, at last! It’s hard to believe that from my bike’s one-year anniversary on November 1 until today, I rode a total of only about 150 miles. Then today alone, we put on roughly 135. I’m always happy to be back in my motorized saddle, especially when the roads are dry. Today was the ideal day for a relaxing and rewarding excursion.
A Mountain Escape
So close, yet seeming so far away. Surrounded by towering redwood trees, a lush green open meadow, and even a small pond of some sort, you might momentrily feel as I did today. That is, you might think you’re in Mammoth, or Yosemite, or perhaps some far-reaching section of Washington State. But no.
Today took our group less than 40 miles south of San Francisco, to the well-known outdoor biker-dominated eatery known as Alice’s, at Hwys 84 & 35 in the mountain town of Woodside, nestled in the tree-lined terrain between Hwy 280 and the Pacific Ocean.
Today was a Homoto Motorcycle Club ride. That’s who I mean when I refer to “our group.” About a dozen of us took off from the Castro, headed south on Hwy 1 through Half Moon Bay, then West on 84 to our lunching destination. We passed several people riding the kind of bike I myself was riding yesterday, as in the kind that burns calories! After throttling past all those hard-working bicyclists, our motorcycles arrived to Alice’s parking lot to join all the others. Fortunately there were tables for us, roomy picnic tables in fact, out on the back desk overlooking that green open meadow I mentioned.
Alice’s menu is plentiful and thorough. It took me a few minutes to decide between a breakfast item or one of the numerous listed burgers. I opted for the former, and fortunately the sizable portion managed to satisfy my demanding appetite. The passion iced tea is a fine choice to wash it all down, unless you go for a very attractive $5.95 bloody mary, which in this particular instance I did not. Nevertheless, Alice’s offers a full bar that clearly calls out to any thirsty passer-by on any day of the week! I’ll be sure to go back and sample the bar before too long, perhaps when I’m not traveling via motorcycle.
Booze or iced tea, breakfast or lunch, Alice’s is full of life and energy all its own. I highly recommend this quick mountain escape to anyone looking for a short change of scene.
One Year on Two Wheels
Another Halloween, complete with all the usual revelry, has come and gone. This is the first day of November, the one-year anniversary of my motorcycle ownership, and a seemingly appropriate day to get my new blog underway.
I’ve been in San Francisco now for one week. This is to say, more than one week has now passed since I moved out of my Encino residence, put most of my belongings in storage, and drove up I-5 to the City by the Bay. In the past week I’ve applied to numerous job openings, gone to the gym, ridden my bicycle and my motorcycle, taken a day trip to Monterey and back to see some family members, and contemplated various elements of tomorrow’s election. I had an interview rescheduled, I received a paycheck, I did a bit of cooking, I attended my first club bicycle ride in the area, and I took a look at a living space for rent, all while enjoying the company of a friend who’s welcomed me into his home for the time being. Suffice to say, this is my new life, or at least the latest chapter thereof. While the immediate future is uncertain, I’m excited to be here.
Exactly one year ago, on November 1, 2009, I purchased the mode of transportation I continue to love more and more everyday. I took ownership of a red 2006 Suzuki SV650S, which on this day one year ago read 6,801 miles on its odometer. Today the same odometer reads 18,103 miles. In the past twelve months, my motorcycle has carried me 11,302 miles, or almost 942 miles per month. As I recall, I’d had the bike for six months before hitting my 3,000-mile mark. My second six months obviously saw a lot more ride time than my first six months did, thanks to the fact that I simply got a lot more used to what I was doing. I’m happy to report, today, that motorcycling feels natural, and of course a lot of fun! It’s been a long and interesting path for me, along the road of motorcycle education. I certainly have a lot of this road yet to travel, but I’m pleased to be able to look back on the distance I’ve come thus far. On the first day of “motorcycle year two,” the machine between my legs does not frighten me to the extent it did one year ago. I’m confident, but, to make the important distinction, not overconfident. I’m looking forward to bettering and expanding my skills in year two, while continuing, each and every day, to enjoy the ride.
Halloween, here and gone, again. Always a day of craziness and merriment it is! I’m thrilled to have celebrated Halloween 2010 here in San Francisco, on my motorcycle no less! My two wheels may now rest. My job interview tomorrow is a short walk away.