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!

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.

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!

Treasure Island view of San Francisco + BMW R1200R.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.

Headed out to my favorite San Francisco motorbike event today – the Dirtbag Challenge. If you’re not familiar, basically it’s a loosely “organized” annual contest where folks build crazy-ridiculous bikes for less than $1000 (including the cost of the bike) in thirty days or less. Good clean American fun, in a “Wow, I can’t believe the cops still haven’t shown up” kind of way.

The entries are always very interesting, and the bonus is all the cool bikes people ride to the event. Pretty sure that I lost the last remaining bits of hearing I had during a particular smokey burnout session. Never mind the chunks of burned-up tires in my lungs.

Quote of the day that pretty much sums up the event : while waiting for the bikes to come in from the required ride – the bikes have to be rideable – we overheard two dudes talking. “Oh, maybe this is them coming in now… no, wait – those don’t sound sketchy enough.” Someone else pointed out that the headlights seemed too bright, to which I responded “That, and they have headlights.” Seriously, some of these bikes are amazing pieces of work and some of them are just plain dangerous.

Anyways… super fun as always. Check out the pics – maybe by next year I’ll learn how to use my camera. Or maybe I’ll build a bike instead.

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:

So I’m out for a walk with my special ladyfriend this evening, and as we’re heading up Vermont into Potrero Hill we come across this Honda XR650L hanging from a tree.

I have to admire this person’s resourcefulness – I don’t have a good place to work on my bike either, but I also don’t have a tree. I do have to wonder, though – what will the neighbors say!?!?

It’s well known that I’m a big fan of stripped-down, old school rock ‘n’ roll. So when I heard Wanda Jackson was coming to the Great American Music Hall here in SF, I bought tickets immediately.

The show was last night. Wow. Seriously – wow. What an incredible show. Wanda kicked ass. Her voice was on. Red Meat did a great job of backing her up, too.

The awesomeness of this show is certainly a commentary on the simmering cauldron of weaksauce that is modern “rock ‘n’ roll” but that could de-emphasize how much she rocked. Let me say it again – Wanda Jackson rocks. I’ve seen a LOT of shows, and two things stood out for me:

  1. Wanda is in her mid-seventies now, and I believed her rockin’. She was totally into it – the real deal.
  2. The audience loves Wanda. The constant screaming and cheering reminded me of the old tapes of crowds going nuts for rock stars when rock ‘n’ roll was still new.

It turns out I’m not immune to a bit of nostalgia, either. I almost teared up when she talked about how Elvis inspired and encouraged her (a young country-western singer at the time) to try this new kind of music that they didn’t even have a name for yet.

So here are some crappy iPhone pictures from the show. I wish they were better, and I hope they convey at least a little of the awesomeness of Wanda. Angelica and I had a hell of a time.

© 2013 Surj's House of Awesome

Surj's House of Awesome

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