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.


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