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Procrastination Works…

May 10, 2015

It’s been quite a while since I wrote my last “Look at the cool thing I did/bought/thought post”.  As the title of this post says, procrastination works.  If you remember that I just bought what amounts to the bike of my dreams, you (by you I mean the now four people who will admit to reading this blog) may be surprised that I waited this long to brag about it some more.  Fear not, here it is…

My last post pretty much focused on the fact that I rode out to California and traded in one of my bikes for a 2014 Yamaha FJR1300 and glossed over the actual trip.   To be fair, the first half of the trip took the same route as the first half of the trip I wrote about in my post Go West, (not so) Young Man…  so I won’t bore you with those details.  I have a whole new set of details to bore you with, instead!

A quick recap.  I wrote about the differences between the bike I really wanted and the bike my brother wanted.  That got me looking for good deals on the bike I wanted.  I found a good deal in California and my wife didn’t blink an eye when I said I wanted to go get it.

Now that you are up to speed…  I packed my V-Strom 1000 for the trip and headed west.  The weather was great, especially when you consider that it was the middle of March.  The trip was uneventful for 850 miles.  The problem is that my sister lives 875 miles away from me.  I stopped in Davis, California to get some gas and, with any luck, find a Wal-Mart or Target store that was still open after 11:00 pm so I could get some shorts – I forgot to pack a pair and didn’t think anybody wanted to see me in anything less.  I filled up without any problem and went in search of some shorts.  I found a Target, pulled into the parking lot and parked the V-Strom.  As I was pulling into the space I though I heard a strange sound coming from the bike.  I didn’t see any obvious problems as I got off the bike so I walked to the store and promptly forgot about the noise.  After buying a pair of shorts I got back to the bike, started it up, and backed out of the parking space.  As I backed out I hear an awful squealing noise coming from the bike.  It sounded like rubber squeaking under pressure.  Another quick check didn’t come up with anything.  I got back on the bike and started to ride out of the parking lot.  After 20 feet the noise started again.  It sounded like a real problem.  As I looked for a place under a light where I could take a better look, there were two thoughts going through my head:  “I am so close, don’t break now,” and “I’m glad I’m getting rid of this bike now.”  After dinking around with the bike for about half an hour I decided that the bike would probably make it the last 25 miles – that could have been my considerable (yeah, sure) motorcycle mechanic skills, or just wishful thinking – so I put the bike back together and finished the trip.  I made it to my sister’s house after about 14 miles on the road.

The next morning I woke up ready to go buy a motorcycle.  OK, you got me, I wake up every morning ready to bike a motorcycle.  That said, I was REALLY ready to buy a motorcycle.  Before I left my sister picked some oranges from the trees growing in her back yard and made some fresh squeezed orange juice.  There aren’t many ways to start a morning that are better than fresh squeezed orange juice.  Folgers has nothing on that liquid sunshine…

I have to admit, for a little while I felt kind of bad for my friends in Wyoming that were still waiting for what they consider “riding weather” while I was passing palm trees on a sunny, 70° day.  Only for a little while – I did have to ride almost 900 miles to get here.  At any rate, the ride up to Santa Rosa, California to buy the FJR was amazing.  I passed San Pablo Bay (the northern part of San Francisco Bay), through Napa Valley, and also through a town that never realized that the hippie movement ended about 40 years ago.

I made it to the dealer, Santa Rosa Powersports and introduced myself.  I was amazed at how friendly the staff was.  The sales man I was working with made a point to introduce me to just about the entire staff.  Maybe that is just a friendly store, maybe they don’t get very many boneheads that ride almost 1000 miles to buy a bike from them.  Either way I definitely felt like they appreciated my business.

At this point I feel that I need to mention that for all of the time I have spent pining for the FJR, I have never actually taken a test ride on one.  Somewhere between “Yep, I’m serious, let’s get started with this deal.” and “Sign here, please,” I took my first ride on an FJR.  I was not disappointed.  In fact, I was just a bit intimidated.  The FJR is a hell of a bike with much more power than any of my other motorcycles have had.

The bike passed the test ride so I signed on the dotted line.  The bike was mine…

A little side note.  When I sold my Honda VTX and bought the V-Strom I almost felt bad for getting rid of the VTX.  I purchased the VTX as what amounts to a new blank slate and over the course of several years turned it into my bike.  As I handed over the keys to the V-Strom I didn’t have any of those feelings.  I don’t know if it was because I never really modified the bike to make it mine, or because the night before I was lying in a Target parking lot with tools all around me, wondering what that damn noise was…

Being the picture-taking guy that I am, I had ideas for two pictures running through my head almost from the time I knew that I was going to California to get the bike.  The first picture would be taken in one of the Redwood tree preserves, Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.

2014 FJR1300 in Armstrong Redwoods Natrual Reserve

2014 FJR1300 in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

The second picture would be taken along the coast, not at a beach (though I did get a couple of beach pictures, too) but along a rocky portion of the coast.  In the end picture was taken at Schoolhouse Beach, just north of Bodega Bay, California.  I suppose there was a beach somewhere down there, but this was still a rocky part of the coast.


2014 FJR1300 at Schoolhouse Beach, California

Avid readers of this blog may recognize this last picture as the featured image from the last post.  Good eye…  Actually, these two pictures were taken on two different days.  I didn’t have enough time to get to these two areas all in one day and still have time to spend time with my sister’s family.

While I was riding along the coast I had a hankerin’ (yep, I said hankerin’) for a bacon cheeseburger and some fries.  I had passed several places where it was likely I could get a burger, but they were about 10 miles behind me, and when I get a hankerin’…  Anyway, as I crossed the Russian River I noticed a small restaurant and decided that would be the place to get my burger.  Yeah…  Not so much.  The place served Indian (from India) food, and in hind sight, an Indian restaurant is not necessarily the best place to get a good cow burger.  Lesson learned.

On both of the trips back to my sister’s house I was reminded that it is pretty much impossible to get anywhere in a metro area of California after 2:30 in the afternoon.  Every road I had the “pleasure” of riding on when I was heading back for the night turned into a parking lot.  I don’t know how Californian’s do it, though I am starting to understand the need for mind-altering drugs…

That reminder led me to try something I have heard much about but never tried – lane splitting.  Lane splitting is a somewhat polarizing topic among those that know (or pretend to know).  My only knowledge, prior to this trip, was that it was legal in California and that, by many accounts, car drivers will do anything they can to prevent this legal activity from happening.  On my several trips to California I have seen both well-behaved lane splitters and idiot lane splitters.  On this trip I was actually getting quite warm while sitting in stopped traffic, so after the third or fourth motorcycle passed me I decided to give it a try.  I was not comfortable with the whole process at first, but as I realized that by moving at a reasonable speed (not fast by any means) and putting on my flashers I wasn’t bugging anybody – in fact, I was probably driving like an old man.  I was surprised to see that much of the traffic actually made room for me once they saw me coming up between the columns of cars.  Nobody tried to cut me off, nobody opened a door in my way.  I don’t think the killer car stories are all wrong, but I think they may have been a bit exaggerated.

The night before I left California I gave my niece and nephew each a ride on the bike.  They both seemed to enjoy their rides, and I was glad to have the chance to increase my stock as the “cool uncle.”  Top that, little bro…

I was able to redeem myself after my Indian bacon cheeseburger debacle of the day before when I stopped for fuel and an early lunch in Donner’s Pass.  I found Smokey’s Kitchen, went inside, and immediately loved the place.  The atmosphere was awesome and the food was better.  I you are passing through the area, I highly recommend it.

The day I returned to Wyoming was another great weather day, and looked like it would be all day, though it was going to be a bit chilly once the sun went down, when I would be in Utah and Wyoming.  As always, the Interstate between Reno, Nevada and Salt Lake City, Utah is pretty much the driving equivalent of going comatose, though with a faster bike it was a shorter coma.  The bike was fairly comfortable and had enough new gadgets to keep my mind from drifting off too far from the road.

In case anybody is wondering, the stretch of I-80 that crossed the Bonneville Salt Flats is still 40 miles of absolutely mind numbing straight.  You could use this stretch of road as a long ruler…

By the time I reached Salt Lake City, Utah it was dark out.  By the time I reached Park City, Utah it was dark and cold out, with temperatures hovering in the low to mid 30’s F.  Yep, I was glad to still have heated hand grips.  I made it to my house, parked the bike, shook off the cold, and started to bore my family with the story of the FJR.  Gather around, my family, for I have to tale to tell…

As always, here are some pretty pictures:

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