Getting Home From Laguna Seca: The Saga

Watching the Races at Laguna Seca is always fun. It’s a great tradition my friends and I have. This year we did it again and it went great. Well going to the races and hanging out with friends was was great. Getting home turned into a bit of a adventure.

First let me say that the Sena 20S helmet communicators are awesome. Things would have been so much worse if we did not have them.

Fox Hill. It’s the place all the cool kids camp.

The saga started about 40 miles from Laguna Seca Raceway on Highway 101. We were heading north, lane splitting through very slow moving traffic so going about 25-30 mph. I was leading and since I tend to go a bit faster than her when splitting I was probably 50-75 meters ahead of her when it happened. Her engine just cut out. I heard a panicked wife cursing and trying to get to the side of the road. I had just gotten on a narrow bridge as this happened which had no shoulder for me to pull off on. I had no idea what could be wrong with her bike and we lost connection as I rode out of range.

I called her as soon as I was safely off on to the shoulder. She answered and told me that she couldn’t get the bike started, but that the battery seemed ok since it was trying to turn over. She asked if she could be out of gas and I thought that maybe it was possible. Neither of our warning lights had come on however and normally her bike has a slightly better range than mine. I told her to shake the bike around and listen for gas and then call me back.

While she was doing this I decided to see how much gas I had left, opening my gas tank and peering in. This action prompted a gentleman with a trailer to pull over and ask if I was out of gas. Right at this time my wife calls to say that she can’t hear anything in her tank. The gentleman says he has a gallon or so that we can have. He just pulled a gas can out from his trailer and gave it to me, refusing my offers of money. In fact he told me to just keep the can.

So I hiked back to the poor wife and her bike and put at least a gallon or so of gas into her bike. The bike then started and we rejoiced thinking that our problems were over. Luckily I hitched a ride back to my bike in the back of a pick up driven by a friendly couple. I got my bike situated and we hit the road toward home. Things seemed fine and we thought everything would continue to be fine when we stopped to get gas on the south edge of Gilroy.

We had no idea the drama would continue from here.

No luck, after getting gas we couldn’t get her bike started again. Thinking that somehow the battery was low since we did all that side of the road crazy, we tried bump starting it. Bump starting a bike is easier now that I don’t have a plate and ten screws in my lower left leg, but it still is a giant pain in the ass. After four tries I got it going. So I rode it back to the gas station. My wife then had to run to the bathroom across the street since the gas station’s restroom was closed. While I was waiting for her to return the bike died… again.

Words fail me even now.

I called my friend who was driving from Laguna Seca and found out he was near by. I asked him to see if he could meet us since I was out of ideas of what was going on with her bike. After I got off the phone with him, on impulse I decided to try one more time to start the bike. Shockingly it started, so I canceled the meet up and sent the wife on her way home. I didn’t want to risk it dying again with what was thought to be maybe a battery issue. I got my gear on and followed her as fast as I could.

Traffic was still heavy with a lot of lane splitting. So I did catch up with her about 10 minutes later. I followed her for a while until and then the bike did it’s I’m done thing again. I helped her change lanes and get off the freeway. Luckily near an exit. I sent her off on my bike while I pushed hers off the freeway.

My friend arrived and we discussed options. My wife wasn’t ready to leave her bike on the side of the road off a random exit in Morgan Hill. So we unloaded all of our luggage including my extra warmer gloves and clear visor, and put it in the car. We then sent them on their way, and got going ourselves hoping to make it home… eventually. We know thought that the problem might be because the bike over heating and maybe a bad temperature gauge I replaced recently.

We got back on the road, this time wise to the eventual cutting out of power we stuck to the slow lane. Also since we thought it was an overheating problem we wanted to be going slower to keep the rev’s a bit lower. This seemed to be working well and as we got closer to San Jose we decided that we would stop at a Starbucks for Coffee Chai once we got there. We could take a break and wait for the bike to cool down and hopefully make it home.

We almost made it to Starbucks. The motorcycle died on the off ramp. We waited a bit, started it again and collapsed once we got our Chai. We were pretty worn out by this time. We did not hurry our break, thinking still that it was an overheating problem we discussed our options. We had only traveled 18 miles this last stint, and we had another 40 plus to get home. As we discussed our options I realized that Nichols Sportbike was only 18 miles or so away. We could go there, drop the bike off and then head home.

This sucked, one of the worst spots to be stuck.

This seemed like a much better plan, and thank goodness that we went with it. The bike ended up stalling twice more on the way to the shop. Each time at a lower temperature leaving us with no idea what was really causing the problem. We got to the shop just as the sun was setting, nearly five hours after we left Laguna Seca. This left us with a new problem, getting home safely with the dark smoke visor I had with me.

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So close… yet so far.

 

With no other good ideas we headed home, wife now safely on the back of my motorcycle. (On what mush be one of the worst passenger seats on a motorcycle! The poor thing.) Despite light rapidly fading from barely to nothing we made it home safely. Honestly it wasn’t that bad. I wouldn’t recommend it, but with both of us paying attention and riding roads I knew very well we got home with no more incidents.

We still don’t know exactly is wrong with the bike, my mechanic hasn’t had a chance to look at it yet and it’s not a high priority for us. The biggest take away from the whole adventure was how amazing the headsets were. I don’t know how much further down the road I would have been for the first instance if we weren’t in communication and it really made all the rest of the crazy we had to deal with much easier.

Also worth mentioning were how great people are. Stopping and checking to see if we needed help. I mean it wasn’t that many considering how many zoomed past, but it doesn’t take more than one to change turn a bad situation around.

 

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My Birthday Ride

Just some pictures from today’s ride. 

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Laguna Seca WSBK is This Weekend!

It really has become an annual tradition. My friend and I go to see the races and camp Saturday night on Fox Hill. It is glorious.

The highlight typically being the time we spend drinking wine sitting on the hillside watching the rotating Mazda symbol on top of the TV screen tower in the middle of the track. It looks like a creepy devil head in the dark all lit up.

This year will be the same but different, just like every other year it changes slightly. This year my friend will have to drive to the track since he’s still recovering from a surgery to repair his ACL.  My wife will also be joining us which will be nice, since I like having her around. This also means that I will have someone to ride with me.

This is great since I love getting her out on her motorcycle, and it also means we get to finally test out the intercom on the Senas we got.

I did need to do some extra thinking about the route to and from the races though. It’s been a while since I got her out on a motorcycle so even though it’s only 100 or so miles I wanted to make sure we took a break after an hour on the bikes. I found a coffee shop in South San Jose that will be a good place to take a 30 minute break.

I’m really looking forward to the weekend.  If you want to see what I’m up to you should check out the instgram for pictures. I will of course post everything up here early next week.

 

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FrankenMonster: Fender Update

It’s been a busy week, with the 4th of July Holiday and getting ready for a vacation and World Superbike this weekend I’ve been barely keeping ahead of things.

I did make (some) progress  on my fender for the FrankenMonster. I’ve finally got it primed. I’m going to look for a top coat and hopefully get it all done for this weekend’s ride to Monterey.

Much Better than the Yellow. Still undecided on Flat vs. gloss black…

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FrankenMonster: Front Fender

Life is doing it’s best to keep me busy lately. The weather has been pretty good so I’ve taken the opportunity to take the long way home at least once a week. In fact I’m hoping to be riding it home as soon as this posts!

The only other significant thing I’ve been doing with the FrankenMonster is working on replacing my front fender. It has been slowly (very slowly) wearing down on one side.

It took nealy 99,000 miles to wear through, but it did.

I noticed this last year and hunted down a used replacement for it. However, I never got around to painting it, or really making sure it would fit. I wasn’t feeling any serious pressure to do these things either though. It didn’t seem like it was every really going to break completely and I had a house to remodel.

Well the fateful day finally arrived and my fender is now broken. So I dug out the replacement and sat down to take off the old one. Only to realize that I did not have a small enough socket to get the bolt off.

I thought I would just pick one up at the store, but I’ve been under the weather this week and doing any extra running around wasn’t in the cards so I ordered a set of sockets. I knew I should have measured the bolt to make sure the set I ordered came with one small enough, but I was sure it wouldn’t be smaller than 10mm. Wrong. Now I have to go to the store, and it’s been a week with a busted fender. Luckily it’s not that bad, but I can’t believe it’s taken me over a week to get started on this.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Here’s a pic of the “new” fender waiting to be put on the bike.

That’s really YELLOW! I’m not going to try and match the red… just going to go black. Flat Black?

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A Story in Pictures: Ride to Work/Solstice 2016

Monday was one of the best Mondays I’ve had while still going to work. All it took was some crazy and motivation. I wrote about it a couple of days ago, but I did not share everything. Mostly I left out some of the lesser details, and a lot of pictures. Here’s all of the pictures I took through out the day.

The Moon was still pretty high in the sky as I got ready to leave. It was just after 5AM when I got on the road.

The moon again, making its final descent. The sea of fog coming in off the Pacific Ocean was pretty amazing. I’m just glad I didn’t have to ride in it any longer than I did.

I wish this panorama was bigger. just hard to capture it all.

My first chance to get a picture of the sunrise. Just peaking out over the very distant East Bay hills.

This is supposedly a scenic outlook, not much to see here. I took a picture anyway.

This is my favorite from the day. The sun reflecting off the fog/smog was beautiful. Nice motorcycle as well.

If you look really hard you can kind of see the moon in this.

The Stanford Overlook. That’s a very expensive school down there. Normally not worth stopping to take a picture. I do like how this one turned out though.

Pretty disappointing turn out for Ride to Work Day. These guys are here everyday.

Obligatory selfie with the new helmet on.

This is my normal ride home. Not so bad really.

The Bike back in the garage.

Home at last. A mirror to the first image.

 

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Ride to Work Day: Making it a bit crazy

Years ago a friend made the comment about me and my riding, something along the lines of “What’s with you? Always with the crazy.”

In my experience though, crazy is what makes the good stories, the epic rides and the memories. So when I got up at 4:45AM Monday morning that was the thought that kept me from going back to sleep. Keeping to the normal doesn’t make a great day, doing something fun and sometimes crazy does. Crazy like getting up early so on the Summer Solstice and the 2016 Ride to Work Day you can take the “Long Way To Work”, and watch the sunrise from the Skyline Highway 35.

It was so very worth it.

Right away it was special since there was a full moon on Monday as well as it being the Solstice. It was amazing riding south on 280, I had the sky slowly getting brighter with color on my left and on my right I had the full moon shining down on me as it set in the west. It wouldn’t be the first time on this ride that I wished I brought my GoPro so I could have had some pictures of this to share with you.

The adventure really started as I got on to 92 heading west toward the top of skyline and the coast. My plan was to stop at the vista point at the junction of 92 and 35. This was ruined by a nice blanket of fog that had settled in over the crest and the visibility was down to 500 or so feet. I began to get anxious since the sun was cresting the hills in the east by now (or that was my guess since I couldn’t see it anymore) and I wanted to make sure I got some good pictures. I debated turning back, but instead I pressed on hoping that I would get a chance soon. My perseverance paid off and luckily the fog disappeared after just a mile or so along 35. While I still couldn’t see the sun, I could see the moon setting over an ocean of fog. It was breath takingly beautiful and the pictures don’t do it justice.


I continued on keeping an eye out for a place I could stop and get a picture of the rising sun. The sunrise was lovely as I kept getting glimpses of it through the trees and just above the low growth along the highway but there was nowhere to stop safely for a picture. I rode for a little while before I got lucky with someone’s driveway, and I got a few shots of the rising sun. I wish I could have stayed, but it wasn’t the best spot for a prolonged stay and I did have to eventually get to work.


I did stop a couple of more times for pictures though, at my usual scenic spots further down Highway 35. I just wanted to get photos to immortalize the adventure and the beauty of it all.



The only down side to the ride was the constant worry I had of coming across deer. I know they like to move about in the early morning and dusk, but no idea of when this actually was and in the half light I could have trouble seeing them. Luckily the only living mammal I saw on four legs was a coyote.

The half light did more than hide deer though, it created some magical moments as I rode through the redwoods. The light shining between the magnificent trees was amazing at times and again had me really wishing I had thought to grab my GoPro. Maybe next year.

Thank goodness I am always with the crazy.

 

 

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