I’m a big motorcycle nut – perhaps you’ve noticed. I commute on my trusty R1200R, so I ride every day, rain or shine and I do a lot of lane splitting in heavy traffic.
Lane splitting has always been legal in California, but recently the CHP announced their official lane splitting guidelines. Because a lot of motorists don’t know that lane splitting is legal, a lot of folks thought it’d be good to get some additional PR mojo around the guidelines. So I created LaneSplittingIsLegal.com.
The idea is that the URL is simple and thus gets the message across on its own. Its also pretty memorable so folks who want more info can easily go the site and learn more. There are really two audiences for the site – drivers and riders. I plan to refine the navigation and info architecture to lend itself to more sensible paths for these two audiences, but the first version of the site launched last Monday night. It’s already getting linked to from various motorcycle forums, and I’m going to do a run of stickers to hand out at moto events an shops. There are a few stickers up on the LaneSplittingIsLegal CafePress store now, and I’ll be adding shirts and whatnot too.
The folks on BARF seem pretty jazzed about it – hopefully that’s a good sign that riders will be into sharing the URL. I created a Facebook page as well, for people who prefer to keep up with stuff on Facebook rather than through old school methods like websites and RSS.
Anyway, it’s a cool little project for me. If you’re a rider – or care about making California roads a happier, safer place for all – share the site. It’s LaneSplittingIsLegal.com. Thanks!
I’ve been letting this li’l blog languish for some time – too busy doing, not much time for documenting. Anyway, excuses aside…
I’d been wanting to head up to ride the legendary Highway 36 and a few months back my pops happened to mention that he’d heard of a mythical road up in Northern California that was “over 100 miles, curves all the way to the coast.” Highway 36. Surprisingly, he said he wanted to ride it with me – surprising because he rides a big cruiser and likes to well, just cruise. So I hatched a plan to get my brother Justin to ride down from Oregon and meet us at one end of 36 so the three of us could ride it together over Labor Day weekend.
Long story short – Justin was on his way to meet us in Eureka when his bike died in Crescent City. My dad and I rode up there to see if we could help him out. The bike refused to return to life, so the next morning my dad and I rode back down to Fortuna headed up over 36 while Justin waited for his tolerant and understanding wife Ruth to come get him.
36 is a truly great road – 140 miles of up and down twisties between Fortuna and Red Bluff. There are tons of awesome roads in CA but the cool thing about 36 is that you’re basically out in the middle of nowhere for 140 miles – you don’t really see too many folks. And the terrain changes a lot. Make sure you fill your tank and bring water – it was cold when we started out in Fortuna but got up to 100 degrees for the last third of the ride as we closed in on Red Bluff.
All in, we did about about 940 miles in just under 38 hours – check out the tracking for the two days riding below. Not exactly Iron Butt mileage, but not too shabby. Next up – can I do this run in one day? Up the coast from SF to Skaggs and then Fortuna, across 36 to Red Bluff and back down 5 to home?
There’s an annual ride up Mount Tamalpais on Easter morning. The idea is to get to the top before sunrise to catch the view as the sun comes up. It’s a pretty big deal – I’m not sure exactly how many bikes there was, but it was a LOT.
I actually managed to drag myself out of bed at 4 AM to make it to the meetup point by 5:20 AM. I’m glad I did. It was cold, but lots of fun. I’m not much of a group rider, but the few I’ve gone on – like the Halloween Friday night ride in SF – have been great.
I took a lot of photos. Miraculously, a few came out ok.
And I’m not talking about soup.
All that aside, as is often the case, there’s some fun coming out of this. I saw lots of awesome anti-SOPA stuff today, and here are a couple.
First, a super video from LaughPong, riffing on Don McLean’s The Day the Music Died. Check out The Day the LOLcats Died:
The Oatmeal, who is pretty much the King of Awesome, whipped up an amazing animated GIF, and asked that we all pirate the shit out of it. So I did exactly that, and I’m totally not gonna credit The Oatmeal at all. Piracy ARRRGG!
Now that we’ve had a laugh and learned a bit, go make some noise about this.
I love California for many reasons but speaking as a motorcyclist/biker/hooligan/whatever y’all call me, California is damn hard to beat. Here’s why:
It was supposed to rain this afternoon, but I wanted to ride the Mount Hamilton>Del Puerto Canyon>Mines loop I rode last Sunday. I also just installed some Barkbuster S1 handguards and wanted to see how they worked at keeping my hands warm.
Turns out it was a really good thing I had installed those handguards – my bike’s thermometer was reading 34 degrees on the front side of Hamilton and my sandwich-grabbers were chilly. I know that’s not cold for you “Yeah, I ride my GSA in the snow, so what?” kind of guys – but that’s pretty cold for us California folks. The good news is between my heated grips and the handguards, I did ok. I did spend a few minutes warming up with a skinny mocha (gotta fit into my leathers!) in Patterson before heading back over Del Puerto Canyon to Mines road.
Unfortunately, I’m not super-happy about the pair of Held Warm ‘n’ Dry gloves I picked up a couple months ago. I had high hopes – the Warm ‘n’ Dries have great reviews and supposedly work well with heated grips. Plus, I love my Held Steve IIs, just as I loved the pair of Steves I wore out before this pair. But W&Ds don’t transmit heat from the grips very well, and they’re so stiff that I feel very disconnected from the controls. Not good. So, I’m on the hunt for a new pair of winter gloves. Maybe the SF D-store has something for me.
So in summary… I endured near-freezing temps in unsatisfactory gloves, I lost count of the cows in the road, and the rear was end stepping out more than a cheatin’ wife in a country song on the sketchy roads… but I had a hell of a time. And I made it home before it started raining.
And here’s the trip on Spotwalla, as tracked by my Spot Satellite Messenger.
Google Maps route over here, if you’re looking to do this loop yourself.
I headed last Sunday out for a quick loop over Mount Hamilton, across Del Puerto Canyon Road to Patterson, then back over to Mines and back to San Francisco. Check out my route and for extra points, the Yelp reviews for Del Puerto Canyon Road – “Why is there an option to review a friggen road?” Good question, but it turns out there are reviews for Mines Road (“Yes it is a HELL OF A RIDE!”), Mount Hamilton (“Amazing views. A drive not for the faint of heart.”), and of course – The Junction (“Awesome, motorcycle haunt in the middle of no where. 10 stars for the food.”).
It was a beautiful day for a ride – temps stayed between the high forties and low sixties, and the roads were reasonably clean and dry for the most part. Surprisingly, I only saw a few other riders – including a slow-moving noob on a little dual-purpose bike. High five for your gumption, noobie!
It was nice and clear, so I stopped off on Treasure Island to snap some photos of the city. Here’s hoping the weather holds so I can get in another ride this weekend. If not, I can also tinker with my bike – have some new bits from Touratech and TwistedThrottle to bolt up.
Angelica and I went out to The Mission last night for the Dia de los Muertos celebration. We didn’t make it last year, but compared to 2009 it seemed like the procession was smaller, but there were still about a bajillion people out in various states of costume and makeup – some of it very impressive and well-done.
Day of the Dead isn’t just about goth kids having an excuse to wear makeup (like they need one) or the Burning Man crowd building stuff for the procession – although there’s usually plenty of both. It’s a very significant cultural/spiritual event with real meaning for the organizers and participants. (I know, way to go Captain Understatement!) The altars in the park were amazing as always and aside from the Steve Jobs and Dio altars, they all appeared to be very personal and emotional affairs. One woman had built an altar for her husband (I think) and was there telling folks about how awesome he was in an almost joyful way – very touching and cool.
I’m not very good at taking photos at night, but here are a few that turned out. Maybe my resolution for 2012 should be learn to take photos for realsies.
I decided to try taking videos with my point ‘n’ shoot camera*, and they actually turned out kinda cool so I posted them on the You Tubes. Here’s one of huge glowing jellyfish dancing down the street.
And one of some super cool dancing and drumming. The jellyfish show up in this one too – they’re hard to miss.
*In case you’re wondering, my camera is a Panasonic Lumix - the discontinued DMC-FS15. I’ve been super happy with it – it was cheap, takes good photos in my spite of my total lack of technique (almost all the photos here were taken with it, including the page backgrounds) and the battery lasts forever.
After I rode Sonora Pass as part of my 4 day California ride a couple weeks ago, I got to thinking it’d be great to head up to Ebbetts Pass before the snow hits and closes things down for the winter. So I put together a loop from San Francisco to Ebbetts Pass to Monitor Pass to Sonora Pass and back to San Francisco and said to my friend Gregg, “Hey man, what do you think about heading up to Ebbetts and Sonora Pass this Saturday?” He responded with an enthusiastic “Hell yes!” so the ride was go.
As the week progressed, the weather predictions ranged from really good to “uh oh…” with rain and snow up in the mountains. The passes gets up to almost ten thousand feet in several places, so the weather can be pretty intense and there has already been significant snow. But according to CalTrans, the roads were still open and as the week progressed the weather looked more and more amazing: sunny and not raining or snowing. At the end of the week, I heard from a couple guys who’d been up to Ebbetts during the week and road conditions were good. So Saturday morning, we headed out around 7:30 AM and rode across the valley. We stopped to gas up in Murphys and then the real riding began.
Highway 4 up to Ebbetts was amazing. New, clean pavement and not much traffic. We stopped to take photos here and there, but it was hard to not stop about every ten feet – it’s just so damn beautiful everywhere up there. As the day progressed my threshold of “Wow, I should take a picture of that” got a lot higher – we had almost five hundred miles to cover.
We grabbed lunch somewhere along 395 as we cut over from Monitor to Sonora Pass, and struggled a bit to avoid a food coma-induced slowdown as we headed out for Sonora. Since I just rode this Sonora (the other direction) a couple weeks ago, it felt amazing and familiar. For Gregg, who’d never ridden any of these roads, it felt amazing but also a little sketchy. These are not easy roads – lots of blind turns and up-down, off-camber madness. Awesome fun once you find your rhythm.
We stopped off in Jamestown on the other side of Sonora Pass. We gassed up the bikes (and gassed up ourselves with espresso and ice cream cones) for the 140 mile freeway death march back to SF. Total saddle time for the day: about 12 hours, minus photo stops and lunch.
The R1200R continues to prove its mettle – it’s just an amazingly composed, rideable bike. Twelve hour days in the saddle? No problem! I’ve had it about 6 weeks now and I’ve turned over 3,000 miles on it already.
So here are some photos – mostly mine, but there are a few of Gregg’s shots in here too.
And here’s the trip on Spotwalla, as tracked by my Spot Satellite Messenger.
Google Maps route over here, if you’re looking for an awesome day-long ride.