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 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:

  1. Lane splitting. If you don’t know what this means, get a motorcycle and come to California – you’re basically immune to traffic. Commuting by moto is the only way to go! A couple of years ago, when I started working at ReputationDefender (now Reputation.com) I was commuting from Sacramento to Redwood City each day. It was about 2 hours each way by bike – by car it was often over 3 hours each way. Moving to San Francisco solved that particularly problem, but I would have burned out real fast sitting in the car for that long. Commuting by bike is fun!
  2. The “riding season” never ends. Yeah, it got down to 34 degrees when I rode Mount Hamilton a couple of weeks ago, but take a look at these photos and you’ll understand what I mean. It’s December (almost Christmas!) and it’s sunny, and there are tons of bikes in the city.
Motorbikes parked in San Francisco in December
Motorbikes parked in San Francisco in December
So what are you waiting for? Get on your bad motorscooter and ride!

Cow on the road on Del Puerto Canyon Road.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.

Bridge over not-so-troubled waters at Redinger Lake.A little over a month ago, I broke down and bought a new bike – a BMW R1200R Classic – yeah, that one. The Gentleman’s Hooligan Bike. I’ve had it just over five weeks, and it’s already got almost 2,500 miles on it. I put about 1,000 miles of that on it in the last 4 days.

My route was something like this:

Day 1: South out of San Francisco to San Jose, over to Mount Hamilton and across the valley through Patterson to the covered bridge in Knight’s Landing, through Chinese Camp and across Don Pedro Reservoir, through Tuolumne City and into the mountains headed towards Strawberry via Deadwood. Yes, there’s a Deadwood in California too, or at least there’s the word “Deadwood” on a map. Turns out there’s nothing there – as I found out after miles of dirt fire trails. Video to come. After about ten more miles of gnarly fire roads, I headed up through Strawberry and over Sonora Pass in time to see some beautiful sunset scenery, down 395 and into Lee Vining/Mono Lake. I made camp (got a hotel room) in Lee Vining and crashed out for the night.

Day 2: I grabbed breakfast at Nicely’s (who weren’t especially nice to me) and headed out for an early walk around Mono Lake. No, not all the way around. I then saddled up and headed up and over Tioga Pass, and down through Yosemite where they were doing a maintenance burn – lots of smoke. Video of that to come, too. From there, I rode down 41 out of Yosemite to Fish camp and Sugar Pine and then along Bass Lake. I then headed down Italian Bar Road, which turned out to be a crazy goat trail descending to Redinger Lake and then rode back up the other side. I had routed another hundred plus miles of this goat trail stuff but when the roads started turning to dirt trails again I gave up and made my way back out to some pavement and rode down out of the hills towards Visalia where I crashed for the night.

Day 3: I was exhausted from all the hairball goaty stuff, so I slept in and then relaxed a bit and sipped coffee. Once I got rolling, I headed across the valley, up through Atascadero and into Los Osos where I met the nice folks from Elemental Herbs (and scored some awesome lip balm!) and enjoyed the best damn roasted veggie sammich I’ve ever had at the BeLoved Cafe. From Los Osos, I headed up through Morro Bay and on up Highway 1, hoping to make Monterey before the rain hit. No such luck – I had to suit up in my raingear a couple hours from Monterey and ended up riding up the last leg of Highway 1 through Big Sur after dark, in the rain. Not so much fun.

Day 4: While reviewing my maps in the breakfast room at my hotel, I discovered that Wunderlich’s US office is in Watsonville – gotta stop there. In the parking lot of the hotel, I met some of the folks from MCi Tours – they were just wrapping up three weeks on the road. And here I thought I was pretty bad ass with my four days of riding. Eventually I got enough coffee in me and the roads had started drying out, so I headed for Watsonville to check out the Wunderlich shop. After that I stopped in La Selva Beach for a surprise visit with my Grandma. After hanging with Grams for a bit, I headed through Santa Cruz and up the last leg of Highway 1, home to San Francisco. Thankfully, I only ran into a light rain here and there and made it home nice and dry.

More to come, but a few things to note:

  1. The R1200R is the greatest bike that has ever existed. Solid, predictable handling and plenty of guts – it handled everything I threw at it with impeccable composure, including 15 miles or so of off-roading. Fabulous bike!
  2. I ran a GoPro Hero video camera on my handlebars and captured about 60 gigs of video. I’ll post the tasty bits once I’ve dredged through it all – including my visit to legendary Deadwood.
  3. I need to plan more of these long rides. I want to ride the Cal 24 in 2013, and I need to do lots of “training” for that. ;)
  4. The R1200R is the greatest motorcycle that has ever existed.

Headed out yesterday morning on my VFR800 to scrub in my new tires and get my new front suspension dialed in. Rode north out of SF and ended up riding the hills around Dillon Beach / Tomales Bay, then came back down Highway 1 to Stinson Beach and headed back to the Golden Gate via Panoramic Highway. There were a lot of folks out for the holiday weekend, but in spite of the high number of SUV drivers unable to stay on their side of the double yellow in the twisties, I managed to survive and even had a great time.

After arriving back home, I managed to convince Angelica we should ride down the coast somewhere for dinner. So we headed down Highway 1 through Pacifica to a little seafood joint called Ketch Joanne just north of Half Moon Bay. We chowed down on cioppino and calamari steaks before riding back to San Francisco. Most of the Sunday drivers had disappeared by this time, and the ride back was much more fun.

Total ride time about six hours – a good day. I’m thinking of riding the Cal24 in the next year or two, so I’m trying to get in more long days. Honestly, given the insanely long moto-commutes I’ve done in the past, 6 hours doesn’t feel like all that much.

I’m happy to report that my new Bridgestone BT023s are awesome. Smooth, super easy to lean into turns and very predictable in the twisties. Even better – I’ve heard of guys getting 12,000 miles or more out of them – awesome! And the RaceTech setup Dave over at O’Hanlon set me up with is great – it’s like a new bike!

Here are a few pics from the day’s riding:

© 2013 Surj's House of Awesome

Surj's House of Awesome

Surj Gish – eCommerce & Online Marketing Expert / Gearhead / Musician