Being in San Diego with the bike has been, for the most part, petty great. Once the weather got nicer, the commute is quick and easy, and the scenery is really gorgeous for riding in regularly. There have been a downside or two. One I hadn't really thought about came to light when I had an opening night to attend. It is a little awkward trying to dress for a nice event and for a chilly ride home after. I pretty quickly eliminated either of the two silk, summer dresses I had brought along (though this was partly because the weather just hadn't gotten warm enough to be comfortable in either of them, even if I wasn't on the bike), and settled on a shirt-dress with leggings underneath. Motorcycle boots and socks were left in luggage on the bike, and ridiculously girly high heels were donned.
After the show, changing back into the boots to go home while patrons were all leaving the parking lot had me feeling on display, like a monkey in a zoo. That was, of course, the night I met the person who rode the Honda Shadow Spirit that parked next to me three or four days a week.
Bending over, stuffing one socked foot in a boot and zipping it shut, I heard, "Hey, nice bike!"
I popped my head up over the seat, tottering on one four-inch spike-heeled suede shoe and one highly distressed motorcycle boot to say thanks to the voice which seemed to come out of nowhere.
"Ah, you ride the Shadow!"
I said this while yanking off my other shoe, wobbling on my right foot while trying to (ungracefully) pull on my other sock and boot, dress hem getting pulled into the boot as I'm not paying attention properly, and nearly falling face first to the asphalt. Thankfully, my shoulder hitting the seat of my bike stopped my downward progression, and I'm sure I only looked slightly stupid.
As we both got on our bikes and he motioned for me to go first, I backed my bike from the spot and really hoped I wouldn't drop the bike. Not that I should think that would happen, but if I were to ever do so, that would be the moment, no? That would just cap the evening.
In the end, neither my awkward self, nor my bike hit the ground that evening--success!
|Ready to head up to Brea for the weekend.|
The middle of June was my last trip north to visit family before I left San Diego. It was a really nice visit, getting a chance to be with my parents, my brother and his family, and some of my aunties. It was a warm weekend as I rode up the I-15 route to my brother's house on Sunday morning (hey, no rain!), but it was downright HOT as I rode back south the next afternoon. As I was coming into Lake Elsinore on the return trip, the temperature shot up to about 106 degrees. That was enough for me--time to cut over to the coast.
|A quick stop around six miles up 74, heading into the mountains--lake in the background.|
|Lake Elsinore from Highway 74. It is a fun winding highway that leads you out of the city and over the mountain.|
I had already scoped out more interesting routes than the interstates for getting back to San Diego, and I knew that highway 74, from Lake Elsinore over to I-5 in Mission Viejo, was a winding mountain pass. That seemed infinitely more interesting and cooler, so I headed west.
|As the road took me into the mountain wilderness, there was a sign saying a left turn would take people to an OHV area, and also to this--a memorial for California Wildland Firefighters.|
About 12 miles into that road, I blew past a spot that I just had to turn around and visit. It's called Hell's Kitchen, and was clearly a biker bar. Well, I'm a biker, so I pulled in. I sought out some shade for the bike, as it was still in the nineties there, and wandered in, trying to act completely nonchalant in my swooshie motorcycle pants amongst all the leathers.
|Hell's Kitchen, sans Gordon Ramsey. But hey, this pic has a nice shot of the RMAR Silverton sticker on my top case! And my Saving Americas Mustangs sticker....|
The food was great, the condiments "laid out" in a flaming casket inside. I ate outside and had a really nice conversation with a 73 year old man who bought his first motorcycle three years before--a Triumph Bonneville. He had put close to 10,000 miles on a year, and I could tell he rode with a smile.
|When the waitress brought my lunch, she asked if I had been there before. When I said no, she let me know that inside was all the condiments, laid out in the casket. Well...of course they are!|
After eating, I took my dishes back inside to pay my bill and ask about a ladies' room. The girl motioned to the key and told me it was around back, I reached to grab the key, and found it was attached to a sprocket the size of a steering wheel. Not awkward at all trying to use it to unlock the door....
On my hike back around the building to return the key, I was stopped by a group of five people sitting, and drinking around a trike parked close to the patio. They were a really fun group of people, and I enjoyed swapping stories with them. I soon realized they were hanging out around the trike, because the man who rides it had no legs below mid-thigh. I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty inspiring to see, and the waitress regularly popped out to see if he or anyone else needed anything. The group told me I needed to head to Cook's Corner, the most famous biker bar in Southern California--though the lone woman in the group mentioned I should do it early in the day, before everyone was drunk. When I asked how I would be received on a crowded weekend--girl, BMW, etc.--the man on the trike very emphatically stated, "You ride a motorcycle! That's all that matters!"
I smiled pretty big at him, then said I needed to return the key I was still clutching--my arms were starting to get tired. As I walked back past them to my bike, I waved and said goodbye. They called me Colorado, and told me to have a safe ride. I rode off, smiling, thinking what a great stop it had been.
|There were only about ten bikes there on a Monday at 2, but my guess is it's packed on a weekend, with every inch of that parking lot taken up by bikes.|
The rest of the ride was really enjoyable as I got to ride as I liked, without slow traffic in front of me, leaning into the curves, the temps cooling as I went.
At the end of the highway, I needed to get on I-5, so joined in with all the construction traffic and slowly moved towards the signal which would allow me to turn left and get on the on-ramp. The lanes were narrow on the bridge and traffic was bumper-to-bumper, two lanes in each direction. Traffic was too close to allow me to filter through to the front of the line, so I sat back and relaxed while waiting for the lights to change.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the red Chevy truck next to me inching forward, until the driver was close enough to me to initiate a conversation.
"Hey! How's it going?"
I turned off the music in my helmet, turned and said, "Pretty good, thanks."
Noting one of the stickers on my top case, he said, "Saving America's mustangs. Cool."
I smiled, a little surprised. Then he said:
"You wanna save me...? I'm a wild thing!"
I stopped smiling, looked forward and tried to use "The Force" to make that damn light change.
|After getting onto the 5 and heading south a few miles, I pulled off at a view area. It was so much cooler here that I had to put my liner in my jacket and my heavier gloves on. I also took a deep breath of the clean ocean air.|
This is my last weekend in town, and as I write this, all devices are charging--iPad, phone, GoPro, Sena SMH-10. As of this morning, my chain is tensioned and lubed, and I also have new spongy grips! They showed up one day at work last week, a surprise gift sent from Josh. My old ones were in such bad shape, the left side had a hole where my thumb would press on it while pulling in the clutch. They are now fresh and new, spongy as ever!
As of Friday, I have some concerns about the bike...as usual. Tomorrow's ride to my brother's house will tell me if I need to get my bike to a shop before the trip, or if I just got a bad tank of gas on my last fill up. If it needs to get to a shop, I'll find one somewhere up the coast where I wouldn't mind exploring for a couple of days, make an appointment, and ride up, stopping at my parents' house for a couple of days.
The big plan is to ride north on Highway 1, and then cut over to Crater Lake, before bombing it for home. I haven't been north of the Bay Area on 1 in such a long time, and never very much further north than that on the route at all. I don't want to take a long time to get back to Denver, but I want to find a little adventure on the way--I'll keep ya posted!