Mid-Week Rides: U-Haul
Pictures from Alberto start here.
Pictures from Chris start here.
Wednesday, March 18 2015
This one is going to be long-winded, so go get your reading glasses, a beer and something to munch.
And so, Chris Weld announced: “Reminder - Ride Tomorrow, green beer today!” “…Where we going? Beautiful downtown Knoxville, just north of Lake Berryessa, which is east of Pope Valley, itself, east of Calistoga.”
Never fails! The night before a mid week ride I do not get to sleep. Reviewing clothing, wake-up time, where to go. All this I juggle with head on pillow. Knowing that if I arrive late to the appointed departure, they will just depart without me. I hate being left behind! And behind I will stay; as I would have no idea which way to go to catch up. Do you really think sleeping is possible?
I got out of bed before 5:00 am, while I could have easily been out of bed at two, three or four in the morning. So lets take 5:00 am as the starting point.
I am to meet Chris Weld at the North Vista Point of the Golden Gate Bridge. The morning is one magnificent sight. The few tourists at the Golden Gate are silhouetted against the rising sun in the East. The morning is truly inspiring. Inspiration comes to a quick end. In military (police) fashion Mr. Weld arrives and in short order I find myself doing 80 miles an hour! Eighty?! What’s up with the speed?
Henney Penney in Petaluma is the destination. Waiting already are Randy Bush who is sporting a new BMW, something called “the brick” for the square look of the engine with the pistons inside an engine block. Pretty elegant look I may add. Also present is Brent Hansen. Now here is an easy name to remember “Handsome Hansen”. This guy has the most beat up motorcycle you have ever seen, well, surely having taken this puppy from California to Alaska twice. Some of us dream of such a journey some time in our lives… well, this guy just about runs a Moto-bus route to Alaska! Yes, 12,000 miles to get there. But that, mental deficiency, is his problem.
Henney Penney. At this restaurant they have a decent breakfast. Chris and I opted for a hamburger and two eggs plus hash browns. Not exactly dietary stuff, but rest assured, you will not need to eat again for the balance of the day. These things, a heart attack on the go, are simply huge. Kind of like in the old west, you ate once in the morning; mount your horse and giddy-up-all-day. If the parallel is not obvious contact your inner John Wayne, Roy Rogers or Gene Autrey, perhaps you have forgotten you youth! Sad, very sad.,
Enough baloney. Let us get to the day. And, boy have I got a story to tell!
It actually has a bit of pre-story attached to today’s MWR. Last Sunday, at SMBC, WWWobble pointed out that I might want to look into new tires. My grooves (is that what they are called?) are on the shallow side. And I did. This coming Thursday, Road Rider will install new tires while I wait. Pretty good. I was feeling quite the motorcycle-guy having accomplished my first real maintenance. For those who do not know me I am new to motorcycling, a scanty eight months, since July of last year. Changing tires is a major event. Yes, I am a wannabe-know-it-all, just like the rest of you!
Back to the story. Mr. Leader, chose a ho-hum-dee-dum road until it was time to mix the breakfast. Somewhere in Pope Valley, a favorite destination, you will find a road called Vandal-xx-something Rd (ask Chris for then real name). This has got be the most beat up road to be called pleasurable. This road is a conglomeration of patches, sliding-gravel, sharp-one-car lanes that climb interminably to a great view and a possible throw-up of breakfast. Your choice.
Some time after the Vandal-xx-something Rd. Randy Bush had had enough. Not really, or maybe, but he had to depart early. This departure happened so quietly that I though he might have fallen. Thank goodness nothing of the sort, he had to get together with Bush-ito (Bush Junior) and we all know, family before any motorcycle baloney.
Brent, Chris and Alberto. From here we go toward Clear Lake. Ahh, finally some respite. Dream On! Chris announces, “Well, guys, the map says that the road ahead is rough”. - Excuse me? What was that we just traversed getting here? Don’t know, but that is what the map warns me”. Okay, let us see what rough is all about.
Yep, it was rough, but very pretty with the lake keeping us company. We are going around the lake on Bereyessa-Knoxville Rd. If you open a map, you will see that the in North end of Clear Lake, aka Lower Lake, the road goes over part of the lake. Bridges. Along with bridges are sections of the road that may be exposed to wash outs. Chris with authority (which he has aplenty without saying anything at all) explained: “Having a drought in California, the likelihood of a wash-out road is fairly small; I have had many a ride when the road was indeed washed out, impassable, having to back-track”. Okay, fair warning.
Right. The road was rough. Actually it was a tire-eating road. The road surface was very abrasive resembling sand paper and add, to boot, a massive kidney-testing collection of patches.
Suddenly, my “rabbit-ear mirrors”, recently installed, started spinning and about to fall. Ouch! I made a quick stop letting Brent and Chris continue thinking they will see me falling behind, stop and return to see what’s up with me. When they returned Chris was partly wet, stating, “there is a section of road under water, so ride it slowly or you will get wet”. Duly noted. Brent and Chris applied themselves to correcting my revolving mirror.
The mirrors have a “reverse thread”, and to complicate matters, it is secured with a double set of nuts. One nut with correct-direction treads and the other nut, reverse treads. …Huh? Are you following all this? (You are good!) Because, Brent who makes a living from motorcycle restoration and such, well, he had to think it over, before he managed a solution to the multi-tread-contraption. Ten minutes later, with happy rabbit-ear-mirrors I was on my way.
We got to the washed out road. Sure enough there was water over the road. We stopped to appreciate the environment. Clear water, crystalline enough to take a couple of pictures of a salamander a foot and a half below the water coming up to the surface to take a gulp of air. Fascinating event. While walking on the wash-out road which had a small amount of water, Yaips! Slippery sucker! I almost landed on my butt. The water has been over the concrete long enough to have some algae grow on the concrete. Not easy to keep my balance, very slippery. Gingerly I got out.
Back on our bikes, we continued. A quarter mile later there is another wash out, Chris leading in front, I came in second followed by Brent who has figured, better to keep Alberto in the middle.
Mid way over the washout road, Chris’ motorcycle starts slipping, going sideways… Bang, Boom, and … yes, crash! You got it. Chris is down. The motorcycle looks like a wounded cow with the hooves up in the air. The cow looks helpless, very helpless. A little further, Chris is face down on the ground, past the washout, not moving. Holly Mother of… My buddy! I cross the washout looking to park my steed (not a cow, mind you). Heading over to Chris, to my relief, I can see him getting up. Taking stock of himself (like a computer booting up – a systems check) mutters: “Oh Fecal matter, fecal matter… fecal matter!” For those who know Chris, you know what he means. For those that do not, let me translate: Oh Shit, shit… shit!
Seeing Chris up, I immediately apply myself. Got my camera and started recording the event… “Alberto, can you stop that! And give us a hand?” – “That is not an order, just a request”, he qualified, feeling a little guilty at being short tempered. Without a peep, I put the camera down and, like a happy camper, do whatever I am told to do.
Hmmm… was I being insensitive? Well, yes and no. I am mighty happy he is already up and about without a scratch, issuing orders, is my thinking. For me the drama is over, for him it is just beginning. There is a damaged motorcycle to be dealt with. It is just one of those things, attentive while the disaster is happening, cool-headed in moments of disaster. Afterward, an insensitive idiot!
Brent, Chris and myself got the cow upright. Oops, sorry. We got his Manly-Motorcycle into a more respectable position. Let me tell you, a BMW 1200RT is not to be put aright by a single person. For all of you who ride a 1200RT or similar, careful, very careful and may God keep you from letting your Motorcycle assume the “wounded cow position”. Not pretty. Not easy to rectify alone.
Closer inspection revealed an oil leak. Well maybe just a few drops from being hooves-up. Cranking the engine, Oh my gracious goodness! Oil is spurting like when we guys get rid of coffee… copiously! It’s not a drip. it’s a gusher. This Bike is not going anywhere.
We review circumstances and options:
Alberto: “Chris you can take my bike and go home. Get your truck and ramps. I’ll wait here”. – “No Alberto. That is over five hours. Before we get going again”. Objected Chris.
Chris: “Alberto, Let me use your phone to call Pat”. – “No Chris, I would not want to worry her with such a call”. - “No, Alberto, I want her to start driving my truck this way”. - “Ah, okay. Smart thinkin’ – Lincoln”.
“Or”, I think it was Brent who suggested: “Let us go to the next town and rent a U-Haul or Ryder truck and take it from there”.
A New Experience.
“We will leave the bike here, and ride double-up into town” - Proposed Chris. Huh? I have never driven a motorcycle with a passenger. Somewhat apprehensive at the idea – “Chris, why don’t you drive?” - “No, Alberto, you might as well get over that. Sooner or later you will have to do it. Might as well start right now”. Makes sense, I gathered my wits and braced myself to mentally accept the fact that I will be riding with-a-passenger on my motorcycle. Deep sigh, not of relief, like I said, just bracing myself.
Off we go. Chris is the passenger. Keep in mind I am five foot eight inches tall and Chris, I am going to guess, ten feet tall. Mutt and Jeff must have been quite a sight. Thirty miles on a winding road we arrive to the town of Lower Lake, California. Right off the bat, we set to do what we do best: Eat! The local cuisine was somewhat limited and Foster Freeze won the patronage. The lady at the counter, a Korean woman, took our orders, practically with her deciding what we would eat. Her English was limited and our appetite was unlimited… simple, order taking was not a problem. We did not speak a word of Korean and she did not speak “Ingrish”. But we ate.
While at Foster Freeze, we located the local chapter of U-Haul just a few blocks away.
Chris made the arrangements to rent a truck with a ramp. Jeff, the proprietor was very understanding and gave Chris an extra 60 miles for free. Rent here – drop there, in this case we were aiming for the town of Sebastopol. Brent had the presence of mind to, without asking, purchase four packages of ropes. He knew what we were in for. And, off we went to rescue the bike.
Brent, who was on his bike alone had gone ahead as we in a truck had to travel slowly. When we got there, after discussing how to load up the bike, Brent looking at my motorcycle says: “Alberto, your tread is gone, your bike is showing metal on the tires” – What!? Only a few hours ago it had enough tread to a travel anywhere, albeit with a mind to change the tires. Brent closes his statement with: “we might as well load up this bike, cause it will not make it all the way to San Jose”. The cow and the steed are down! Shoot them both!
I proposed instead of going to Sebastopol, why not just load both bikes onto the truck, I take Chris to his house and continue to my house. Tomorrow take both bikes to San Jose BMW - Done. Somehow my remark got lost and wiser minds (?) prevailed, generating the following final plan:
Load both bikes. Take them to Sebastopol into Brent’s shop where he will take Chris’ front tire and mount it on my bike so that Chris and I will ride two-up on my bike to Chris’ house in Pacifica. Tomorrow, Brent will return the rental truck (we have it for 24 hours). Tomorrow, Chris returns to Sebastopol with his truck and recover his bike. He will have a new tire mounted on my front wheel and take everything down south. Only thing left will be for me to retrieve and mount my front tire on my bike.
Well, we did not shoot either of wounded beasts, instead we executed the wiser-mind’s plan. Cumbersome, I thought driving everything to San Jose would have been easier. But that is only one opinion confronting a massive tragedy – Chris’ puppy, no longer an upside-down cow, damaged.
About BMW tire swapping: Changing the front tire from one BMW to another
BMW. These wheels have a tire pressure sensor, which works on wi-fi.
Changing the wheel you also change the wi-fi communication (frequency or password) to the central Motorcycle-computer to which it belongs. A warning light will light up in the status panel. In close inspection the warning will be: That there is “no pressure for the front tire”, of course, the sensor is not there any more, its on the other wheel!
Brent, the good sport he is, took to swapping the front tires of the two bikes. Sue, Brent’s wife, is the most gracious person you can ever meet. She took Brent’s lunacy of bringing two dead bikes, at dinnertime, to work on them. I get the feeling Brent’s lunacy has not been the first one, nor will it be the last one. Methinks Sue is quite happy with her hero doing his heroic thing.
Chris and I left Brent’s house at 9:00 pm. Riding two-up, from Sebastopol to Pacifica is 65 miles away. This took little more than an hour and a half. By 10:30 pm I dropped Chris at his home and I headed for mine, arriving at home at 11:00 pm
I have no idea how many miles for the day, and they seem quite unimportant in the face of events.
This account is: “Exactly… more or less”.
PS. I may have Clear Lake and Lake Bereyessa swapped, mixed or both. If you do not care, neither do I. Come to think of it, this may be the only correct fact I have in this MWR report.