22 April 2013

Riding to Julian: aka--The Apple Pie Run!

Sunday morning dawned sunny, with a little city haze in the sky. I had a plan, and it started with getting my gear together and doing some motorbike maintenance which included checking my tire pressure. I always forget how much tire pressure I lose when I drive from Denver to San Diego whether its in the car, truck, or motorbike. It's easy to keep on top of with the bike when I'm actually riding it, but with it getting a ride in the back of the truck out here, I didn't even think of it.

All ready to go! Chain lubed, tire pressure correct, and I topped off the tank on the way to the freeway.


It is expected that 60,000 people will descend on Balboa Park to celebrate Earth Day. I'm there five days out of the week, so the thought of that is sending me to the hills. More specifically, to Julian, CA. For those of you not in the know, Julian is a quaint little old town with the typical array of stores full of tourist stuff and a few local vineyards. But it is also known for its apples, and more importantly, apple pie! Or berry pie! Or peach pie! Take my word for it, there is PIE!! The ride is nice once one is off the interstate, the scenery is lovely and ever-changing as one gains then loses almost 6000 feet of altitude--hey, almost felt like home--but the real reason I go is for pie.

I took the 8 east of the city until I could hook up with 67 and head northwest to Ramona. 67 is a mostly two lane highway that, although not really twisty, is considerably more interesting than an interstate. It runs through some beautiful country, and ends in the city of Ramona, where it turns into 78 to Julian.

Lots of motorbikes were out on the road today. San Diego seems to be full of sport bikes and Harley Davidsons. I am clearly in the minority, riding a dual sport or adventure touring bike--whatever you want to call it--and even more so as a woman who rides alone. I saw no women riding their own bikes today, and as far as bikes go I saw one KTM 990 in Julian and two other GSs on the road going home. People in general were friendly though, whatever they were riding, smiling and saying hi.

Still the filthiest bike in all of the San Diego area. And I also seem to be the only person who leaves her helmet on the bike and not locked.
The Julian Cafe and Bakery was packed, with small groups of people waiting for a table. I briefly considered asking a group of three people if I could join them when they were seated (if there's a square table for three, there would be an extra seat for the fourth person...) but they were paramedics with their ambulance parked outside, and I was afraid they would get called out and I'd be stuck with the bill! Ok, not really. I'm just too shy to do that. So I wandered the town and stopped in at the Julian Pie Company for pie and coffee, and a lot of people watching.
Getting back to my bike, I swapped out my medium weight gloves for the light ones, and removed the quilted liner from my jacket. I wore my Olympia Air Glide jacket and was so glad that was the choice I made that morning. I left town and headed south on 79, the Cuyamaca Highway, and after a few fun miles of twisties, I turned onto the Sunset Highway.
At the start of the Sunset Highway.
Right after making the turn, I had to pull over. I removed the waterproof lining in my jacket so it was nothing but mesh and armor, and I opened all the vents on my pants. (I left the lining out of my pants that morning, putting it in my top case, just in case I needed it...) Two weeks ago in Colorado, I rode with my heavy jacket and riding pants, all linings in, and heavy weight electric gloves. Here, I could have ridden in jeans and a tank top!
This area was ravaged by a wildfire years ago and what was left is a beautiful ghost forest. I love riding through this area with it's stark beauty of sun bleached trees standing tall over new growth.
This area was ravaged by a wildfire years ago and what was left is a beautiful ghost forest. I love riding through this area with it's stark beauty of sun bleached trees standing tall over new growth.
That picture above is where I rediscovered that I really do ride a bike that is too big for me. I pulled off the pavement onto this little dirt road, and immediately my tires started sinking in to the soft sandy dirt. No knobbies here, so I sat back and rolled on the throttle to get myself to what looked like hard packed dirt. Here I slowed down and nearly dumped the bike as I realized my bike was up on a ridge and my legs were two inches too short! Aargh! Short woman, heavy bike! I saved it though and got myself to a spot where I could comfortably, if not gracefully, dismount.
At the top of Kwaayamii Pt. Road.
At the top of Kwaayamii Pt. Road.

I cruised on a few miles further and turned left onto a road I was keeping my eye out for. Kwaayamii Pt. Road gives one an amazing view of the Anza-Borrego desert, and it is often windy enough that paragliders and hang gliders take off from there. I saw both that day, and while the views were spectacular from where I was standing, I can only imagine what those two men were seeing as they floated over the valley.

Kwaayamii Pt. Road is the literal jumping off point for hang gliders and para gliders. The views must be amazing up there!


This is Bi-Polar ("My diagnosis and my handle!) He's hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
Super windy up at the top, with stellar views.

South of that point is the northern boundary for the Cleveland National Forest. It looks like there are good possibilities for getting out on dirt roads, but there were a lot of closed gates. I also intend to look into how I get an Adventure Pass (I like adventures!) as one is required in order to play in that area. I stopped in to each parking lot that looked as though it belonged to the forest service, but everything was closed except the fire station.

So I cruised on home, swinging by the ranger station in Alpine (CLOSED! Nuts!) and taking smaller roads until I was dumped, unceremoniously, onto the 8 again. It wasn't a long day--only 152 miles--but it was a good start to my real riding season. I have to say, I'm a little jealous that people here can ride like this ALL YEAR LONG. I figure I do okay in Denver; it's rare that I go two weeks without riding, even during the winter. But truly, I could live on my motorcycle.

Things Lulu needs for her bike: new handguards and mirrors (I was supposed to do that over the winter, thank you very much bear and buck!), knobbies--thinking maybe the Heidenau Scouts, but I'm open to suggestions from Cali riders, a plastic tube for the Stebel horn, cotter pins for my pegs (apparently they broke off at some point and I'm currently using baling wire to keep them on),and a new visor for my helmet.


18 April 2013

Landed: San Diego!

Two days of driving west landed me in San Diego. Man, once I got here I was so happy to be here! Although I drove through a bunch of snow the first day, the second day was the tougher of the two. Once I got outside of Vegas, the wind blew wildly. Driving through the high dessert area of eastern southern California, the wind was blowing entire sand dunes across the highway. Sand coated the road, and I was concerned for those few motorbike riders I saw out on the road. I had to slow it down once I turned south and was hit by the wind from the west. With the bike in the back of the truck, it made me high-profile, and I felt the truck rocking back and forth as gusts hit me. It was a little unnerving, but Thumper the Ice Queen, The Cos', and I made it into San Diego safe and sound; I was exhausted, the shocks on The Cos' are now squeaking from hauling me, my shit and the bike, and Thumper is officially the filthiest bike in San Diego.
But I don't care--I'm here!!!
This group of 8 women riders on Harley Davidsons passed me in southern Caifornia. I was excited to see such a large group of all women riders. Welcome back to So Cal, Lulu!
My company has given me a town home in Point Loma, surrounded by the Navy's former NTC buildings and marinas as far as the eye can see. I am walking distance to restaurants and stores, including Trader Joe's, and I pass an In N Out on my way home each night. My commute involves about a fifteen minute ride on two freeways. Although freeways are not usually my favorite roads, the 163 is twisty and lush with wild tree and plant growth. It's usually clear, so it's a pleasure to ride.
Thumper sweetly tucked into the garage with The Cos'. And 4 bicycles.
Going from the garage to my bedroom is like hitting the gym and using the Stairmaster!


My town house came with three beach cruisers and one mountain bike. Who wants to visit??

The first week and a half here, the sun refused to come out. It was damp and cold, and I'm pretty sure there was a stretch of about five days when I was never warm. Not once. But, yesterday morning dawned bright and sunny, in that clear blue sky kind of way that San Diego has. Not a cloud to be seen and the sun was warm. I ate lunch sitting on the wall of the dog park, absorbing the sun and getting my vitamin D. It was still sunny and gorgeous when work was done, so I hopped on my bike and road up the coast. Finally!

I CANNOT keep the hair under control! At the state beach parking lot in Cardiff By The Sea.
Gorgeous sunset that night. First time having a motorbike at the beach in 16 years. Ahhhh...this is what it's all about!

Despite the numerous stop signs and lights, it was a great ride. I passed a number of motorbikes going the opposite direction, and when I pulled up at a stop light, there was a woman on a bike in the next lane over. I looked over, smiled and waved, and the bitch stuck her nose up in the air. There she was, on her shiny Harley, and there I was on my filthy dual-sport. I'm not gonna lie, my feelings were a little hurt. I get so excited when I find other female riders, I just assume other women do too. Apparently not. But, that didn't stop my great ride, and my nice evening on my bike. It felt so good to be out, riding the coast, smelling the sea air.

One note: I discovered I REALLY need a new visor on my helmet!


07 April 2013

From 2 wheels to 4 this weekend

Saturday morning, I took my last ride in Colorado for a while. Josh, Ian and I left the house a little after 8:00 am and headed south. We rode down Santa Fe (it has a highway number, but I never remember what it is!) until we hit Sedalia. We turned right and headed west and south, eventually into the Pike National Forest. I've done this ride a couple of times, and its a great twisty little road, which eventually ends in a fork made up of two dirt roads. I don't think I've written about it before because the last time I rode this was the day I hit the deer, and that seemed to be a little more at the forefront of my mind--go figure!

The V-Strom is so big it makes Nalla look like a normal-sized dog!
At the fork, we went left. Both roads are really easy dirt roads; the road to the right is about three miles with a steep grade about halfway through, and the road to the left is ten miles with a bunch of switchbacks. Ian was leading, and a couple of miles in he pulled up and pointed right, shouting at me that the trail over there was the "Noodle" the single track that they took the 1150GS and the 650 V-Strom on and bashed up their bikes. They asked if I wanted to do it. I declined.
At the end of the dirt road, we turned left on 67 and rode a few more miles to Decker's Corners. Without stopping, we turned right at 126 and started heading north again. We rode up through the area where Ian and I spent a couple weeks last summer, and turned into the Jefferson County Open Space where Baehrden Lodge is located.
We stopped to use the facilities and gaze up at the lodge and our beautiful log railing we built. There were loads of cyclists getting there at the same time as us, getting out their bikes and getting ready for rides on a beautiful sunny spring day.
Ian and Josh. This was my last ride with Ian as a single man--he's getting married in June!


The building in the foreground is a maintenance building for the open space. The one in the background with the peaked roof is Baehrden Lodge, an historic log home we worked on with Historicorps.

From the open space, we turned and headed about a mile back the way we came and turned left on a road that took us past The Bucksnort tavern, and back up to highway 285. I was glad that was the choice. The last time I rode from the Jeffco Open Space, I attempted wildlife population control with my motorbike. When we got back to the Conifer area, we got off the highway and headed out to Evergreen. It was obviously a weekend, and traffic got heavier the closer we got to Evergreen. I had been leading once we left the open space, and was quite dismayed to find that as we turned into Evergreen and rode through heading towards Morrison, I was behind two big flat bed trucks FILLED with porta-potties.

Aargh!!! Following trucks of crap down the road was not what I wanted to be doing!! We got to Idledale and I told the boys I would be turning onto Grapevine Road if the trucks didn't get out of our way. They didn't, so I did, and we rode the twisty little single lane road which was part of the first ride I ever rode with the guys, back when I rode The Red Devil. The sun was out and once we got past the heavy residential section, we clipped along at a good pace, standing around the gravelly curves and having a great time. The road spit us out onto I-70, and we cruised home.

The three of us then loaded the bike into the back of the truck. Not the place I like to have my bike, but I am headed to The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego for three months of work. I couldn't bear to be parted from my motorbike for that period of time, so she's going with me. I hadn't originally planned to go back to San Diego, but I needed to work, so I said yes. As the time has grown near and I've had to get ready to leave, I find myself pretty unhappy to be going. I didn't really want to leave Colorado, my friends, home, and family. And now I am really sad to be leaving my new love, Miss Nalla.

But, on the plus side I get to spend time with my family while I'm in California, and I've already been given maps of places to ride near San Diego. My next few blog entries should be all about the great times I'm having riding in the national forests east and north of the area. I'm going in search of dirt, and have all my camping gear to spend weekends far from the city. Know of any areas I shouldn't miss? Leave me a comment and I'll head out there.

Do you think anyone would mind if I taught Nalla how to drive the truck and I rode back here?

This morning, I got the truck loaded with clothes, motorbike and camping gear, work tools and books, and an unbelievable number of shoes. I gassed up before getting on the freeway, and headed out of town. Passing motorbikes going in the opposite direction on this trip, I know what they are thinking. "Sad and pathetic! Who puts a motorcycle in the back of a truck?? Just ride the damn thing!" No, really, that's what they're thinking. I mean, that's what I have always thought when I've seen it.

After nine hours of driving, I'm sitting here in a hotel room in Cedar City, UT. Apparently all Mexican restaurants are closed on Sunday nights, the one place I figure I can always find a beer here! So, after a crappy dinner with no beer, I'm watching an Ashton Kutcher/Kathryn Heigel movie with one redeeming feature--Tom Selleck!