Tuesday, August 26, 2008

2008 Aug 23 - Modesto Dealership Run

RAT RIDE 2008 August 23
Modesto Dealership Run

Again my ride started a day earlier because I’m too lazy to get up at 4 or 5 a.m. to shower, dress, pack and get from Carson to Pdub’s place in California by 9 a.m. After watering the plants and consoling the cats, Boog and I waved bye-bye to Carson as we rode out and over the hill around 5 p.m. on Friday afternoon.

After hitting the tail end of the 5 o’clock traffic jamb on the Reno freeway system, we were successfully through the “spaghetti bowl” and headed west toward Auburn on highway 80. A short distance later the nightmare began.

Have you ridden Hwy 80 lately? Don’t! It’s a mess. Have you ridden Hwy 80 with the hordes of motorcycles that migrate to this area for Street Vibrations in September? DON’T! During Street Vibrations the extreme number of motorcycles makes the highway a dangerous bustle. Add in the current state of the roadway and you ARE going to see a couple more wrecks this year. What’s wrong with the roadway? Everything!

Just west of Truckee you encounter the tire trails in the slow lane. They are created in the winter time by heavy slow moving trucks wearing tire chains. If you were to hold a level board across the roadway and then measure the depressions for the path of the left and right truck tires, I think you would easily have at least a 3” valley. When speeding cages are trying to run you over in the fast lane, you pull over to let them pass. Sometimes this means you pull into this roller coaster lane. Whee! down through the left tire path. Hold tight. Up onto the middle portion of the roadway. Steady. Hold it. The roadway is bumpier than an old dirt road and you don’t want to fall down into the right tire depression. This is not the best road. But wait! It gets better!

Due to the massive amount of road construction occurring, it seems as if none of the original highway is untouched. They have those tall concrete barriers to divert you this way or that and they have repainted temporary striping to give you something to aim for. But here’s the problem-65, 70, 80 miles per hour flying over the bumps into the setting sun that is blinding me, wiping out any visibility and making ME invisible to speeding vehicles as well. I tried to stay out of the way and keep myself around 60 for the most part with 65 mph through the clearer sections while avoiding the vehicles actively trying to run me over. You know those overhead lighted signs on the highway. Based on the way the traffic was behaving I had to seriously wonder if someone hadn’t posted a picture of me and Boog up there and offered a sizable reward to the driver that could flatten us.

The highway shifts under you and jumps 10 feet to the left-or right. The temporary striping is worn away. The old striping is covered in black but still visible and still beckoning me to follow it. The groove space between the old lanes confirms the path of the old covered striping. Go this way. Go this way. NO! Go that way! All of a sudden there is a car almost on top of you as it loses its lane and doesn’t know which set of clues to follow. The sun is in their eyes. Their concentration is on the road in front of them as they frantically try to find their lane. They don’t even know you’re there. A split second later, they have decided to just follow the concrete barrier to their left regardless of striping, covered striping, faded temporary striping or lack there-of. And you’re there white knuckling the grips, catching a breath of relief and quickly trying to decipher the striping to find a lane where you can get the hell out of the way. One minute you were in the slow lane. The next minute you found yourself in the fast lane. The lanes just changed below you here and there. Apparently no one saw the suggested speed limit of 45 mph. Not a single soul dared to go 45 mph for fear they would be run over by the car behind them traveling at 80 mph.

And I’m not done complaining yet!

There was one section of two-lane where they had laid asphalt on one-half of the slow lane-the right half. This left maybe a 4’ section available for motorcycle travel in that slow lane. If you went any further to your right, you would hit that big ledge. No point in turning your bike straight into the ledge to get on top because you would then hit the wall unless you could do it more slowly and that was not an option with that blind speeding traffic behind you. So, I’m stuck in this 4’ section at 65 mph. I look in my mirror to see what’s behind me before I take the fast lane to get away from this mess. Horror! It’s a line of very fast moving semi trucks. Fast lane is NOT an option at this moment. Pull out in front of a speeding semi or hold my itty bitty lane while they speed past me? Hummmmm?

“Eeeeeek!” That’s all I had time to say before they were on top of me trapping me between their big wheels on one side and the pavement ledge on the other. Cussing the highway department, squeezing the handlebars, fighting the wind from the trucks - it was not one of my most pleasant motorcycling moments. Where the hell was the sign for “Uneven Pavement?” I didn’t see it! All I could think about was the pity I would feel for any rookie that thought he might take his brand new bike out for a pleasant roll over I-80. I should have traveled over Hwy 50 to Placerville and then Hwy 49 to Auburn even though it adds 30 minutes.

That was my pre-ride ride to get in place for Saturday morning.

We met at Pdub’s place in Sacto at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. Jess was already there ahead of us. Todd and I dropped in behind Tom at a stop light just outside Pdub’s neighborhood and rolled in together. We hadn’t heard anything firm from anyone else that might be joining us so we didn’t wait around. With a route, shopping stops and lunch destination from The Don tucked into the map pocket, off we went. Having already exhausted the purchase possibilities of the greater Sacramento area, Pdub decided to move the search for his next motorcycle south to Modesto. That was our target for today.

Since the sale of his Bonneville America to some lucky area man whose previous bike had been stolen, Paul has been searching tirelessly for a replacement. In the meantime, we’ve seen him mounted atop a borrowed Kawasaki Ninja and for today’s ride, Don’s 1999 BMW 650 with knobby tires which didn’t slow him down a bit. That bumpy uneven surface of the River Road is perhaps best suited for knobbies? Quick wheelie to get you on top and a good set of knobbies to climb over might also be the answer to traffic jams. Something to think about anyway.

Today’s ride started with five riders on five bikes.
Paul "Pdub" – BMW 650 Classic
Jess – Triumph Sprint
Tom – Yamaha FJR
Todd – Harley Softail Custom
Las – Suzuki S50 Boulevard 800 (aka Boogar)

After the spirited game of chase down the River Road while dodging an occasional piece of fruit or dead animal, a short section of I-5 and then slower rural roads we began the approach to the Modesto area.

Highlights: A flock of peacock/peafowl and babies on the River Road. Have never seen them there before. Going too fast. Their color just blurred together. Still pretty.

2nd highlight: Following Pdub down the highway with all his lights blinking. Felt like we were part of a presidential motorcade or parade.

Don has a set of red LED’s mounted on each side of his license plate frame. They’re supposed to blink when you apply the brakes to attract more attention. They’re called “Hyper Lights” and boy let me tell you…….they were. Little buggers didn’t wait for any application of the brakes. Looked as if simple air flow or the breathing of the rider was all it took to set those guys off. I couldn’t tell when Paul was using his blinker because I couldn’t see it through all the other commotion. Jess became mesmerized. We thought we might have to slap him around or throw cold water in his face to bring him back. Seems there was a little clip that had been broken. Paul had been instructed on how to remedy the problem but the fix wasn’t holding for him. Duct tape was discussed. I should have grabbed a roll of that when packing up at the storage arsenal!

3rd highlight: Huge cornfields that we must revisit for pictures. Have always wanted to run through a corn field while pretending there’s a monster chasing me-like in the movies. Farmer would see the tops of the corn moving and probably come out to shoot us for trespassing so we’ve got to be fast. Keep the bikes ready. We’re in. We’re out. Quick like a fire drill. Unless they have big spiders in there that spin webs from plant to plant. I’m not going to run through giant spider webs. Ick!!!!!! You guys go without me. Run fast. There are no monsters but the farmer looks pretty peeved and he’s armed. Oh oh, let’s pretend we’re ants moving through the tall blades of grass on the front lawn.

4th highlight: A REALLY BIG dog on the side of the road. Dead. Lying on his side with all four legs sticking straight out. Looked more like a big dog statue. Might have been a bull mastiff or something. No kidding it was bigger than a St. Bernard or small cow. If it was a real dead dog, why would they leave it out there so long? Is that how you dispose of your dead dogs in Modesto? Just drag them out to the road on dead dog day (not to be confused with garbage day or recycling day) and the garbage people pick them up? I decided we should stop and poke it with a stick on the way home if we went back that way. I just wanted to get a closer look. Paul decided we wouldn’t go that way.

Our first Modesto stop was at the Harley Davidson dealer. Todd got to browse Harleys which is one of his favorite things. Tom was looking to meet a retro Springer in person. Paul was attracted to a sexy black Street Bob. I was attracted to the pink donut box I spied on the counter.

Jess in front of Modesto Harley dealer.
Pdub atop a sexy little black Street Bob.

Meanwhile, out in the parking lot, Jess laughed at the slowly warming day, whipped out this fabulous cooling mister he keeps stashed in his tank bag and enjoyed his own private tropical mist. Excellent accessory item you clever Rat. I vote that we mount a couple of those on his bike, put him out in front with misters blazing in lane position 2. Then we follow in lane position 1 and 3 and enjoy the cooling mist. Put Paul with the blinking lights in the rear to divert traffic around our private little tropical storm as we move down the road.

It was starting to heat up a bit at this point. The guys laughed at me for wearing my heated vest but it was perfect for the cold morning ride from Auburn to Sacto. Turn on the heated vest, put the open weave jacket over the top and you’re ready to go. We stopped just south of Stockton for gas and I turned the vest off but continued to wear it for the wind break. By the time we hit Modesto, I was ready to tuck it away in the saddlebag. I love that heated vest. No more bulky layers to climb in and out of or store somewhere on the bike.

When I go through the gear at storage before a ride to select the pieces I’ll need to take, it makes me feel like such a total biker. Heated vest for the morning and cooling vest for the afternoon. I feel like Brad Pitt selecting the weapons he’ll need for the day in the movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Or like James Bond visiting his arsenal before an assignment. Revvy!

The second stop on our Modesto dealership tour was at the Honda Kawasaki dealership where Paul sat on the Concourse which was disqualified due to an unacceptable level of passenger comfort. Try as they may, the salesmen couldn’t sell him even with their claim that the Concourse had recently been rated higher than the Goldwing for touring comfort or something like that. Move over Goldwing! Tom sat on the Concourse as well and rates its riding position far more comfortable than the one on his Yamaha FJR.

Pdub and Tom rating and subsequently disqualifying the Concourse.
The third stop, just a little further down the same road, was the Ducati dealership. This was the stop Jess had been waiting for. He’s got a little crush going for the Ducati. Paul was crushing on one of the bikes as well. With some repeated prompting from Todd, Paul asked about a test ride. After signing the waiver and getting some instruction on a ride route, Paul mounted up and took off with Todd in tow. We waited for a bit in the hot parking lot and finally decided we could wait just as patiently with a nice cold ice tea at the planned lunch stop. Tom agreed to wait for Paul and Todd’s return while Jess and I took off to find Doc’s Q’in Pit Stop and reserve a table.

Todd chasing Pdub on a Ducati test ride.

We found Doc’s and then checked in with The Don who walked us inside, by phone, introduced us to our waitress, Tanya, and then led us through the menu. He should have ridden down to lunch with us. He’s only about 40 miles away but he must have had something else going on to prevent that.

Jess waiting for his baby back baby back baby back ribs.

So that we could document our visit to this eating establishment and collect points in the Rat Ride Eating Game, we were sure to get pictures of ourselves with the menus. So we could truly test the food, I ordered a “Three Way” with pulled pork, tri-tip and chicken. It came with two sides. I chose baked beans and cold slaw. You also get a cornbread muffin. Todd and I split that meal and it was quite enough for the two of us. Jess ordered the baby back ribs only to learn they weren’t ready yet but after a quick group meeting, it was decided they would be worth the wait. Jess had come a long way, had set his mind on baby back ribs the night before and by golly we were going to get that man some ribs! Tom had a problem with the greens he ordered as they weren’t quite ready either. If you show up too close to 11 a.m. when they open for lunch, some of the stuff might not be ready for the table yet. You just can’t rush perfection. Everything was delicious. It’s easy to see why The Don likes this place. {Hey, the regular ribs are greaaat!! and so is the brisket - Don} They offer peach cobbler for dessert but due to a totally inexplicable surge of willpower, I was able to resist. We thought we might try to put the entire lunch on Don’s tab but Tanya wasn’t going to go for that. She’s got your back Don.

The BMW, Triumph, Vespa dealership was just about three driveways down the street so we headed there after lunch to view the bikes and to see if Dirk might be able to fix the Hyper Light problem. They were really busy so we had to wait awhile. While waiting, Tom and Todd decided to do a couple of laps in the recliners. They went nowhere really slow and both of them seemed to totally enjoy the ride.

Boogar flirting with the little Vespas. It was fun to be the big guy for once.
Test riding the recliners at the BMW/Vespa/Triumph dealership.

With the Hyper Lights calmed and minus Jess who had to leave us to meet the prearranged ETA time for his arrival home, we progressed to the Yamaha dealership where Paul once again fell for the charms of a low black machine. This time it was the Yamaha Roadstar 1700 Midnight. “If I were looking for a cruiser” is what he was heard to mutter apologetically to the bike as he walked away and left it there on the sales floor.

Showroom test ride of Yamaha Roadstar 1700 Midnight

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. While Tom, Jess and I were still at the Ducati dealership flapping our gums with the salesman, we heard sirens go by. We joked that it was police chasing Paul and Todd. Turns out that wasn’t true even though it should have been perhaps.

To fully test this speed machine, one must get it up to speed right? Laboring under that line of logic, Paul opened the bike up and took it to 100 mph. I would hate to live in the flight path of that motorcycle shop! Todd said the Ducati was almost silent as it pulled away from him. The softail was at full throttle from the stops and the Ducati was pulling away with what looked like no effort at all. Both Paul and Todd were very impressed with that machine.

Pdub prior to 100 mph Ducati G-force that permatized the smile on his face.

When Todd and Paul arrived for lunch, they told us the sirens we heard were for the two riders we had seen leave the Ducati shop just ahead of them. They heard that one of the riders had wrecked the bike he was test riding when a car pulled out in front of them. If he was also traveling at 100 mph, it’s easy to see how that might happen. Judging from the damage the guys saw on the wrecked bike, it looked like it might have flipped. They heard the rider was going to be alright. I scanned through the internet in an attempt to find more information on the wreck but found nothing. We’ll have to assume the rider was alright and be grateful it wasn’t one of ours.

Happily we live to recklessly blast through city streets at 100 mph another day!? I shake my head in consternation. Let’s put that boy on a moped to save him from himself.

From the Yamaha dealership we rode to the land of Suzuki. They had a warehouse full of bikes but nothing Paul couldn’t leave without. The best part about this stop was the rider we met while parked in the tow-away zone. Funny how if one bike parks in the tow-away zone, other bikes will follow. It’s like the sign no longer exists somehow. Or maybe such signs don’t apply to motorcycles? That must be it. Motorcycles must be exempt from parking laws. What if you pulled up to a place and saw a whole line of bikes illegally parked. Hey, there’s a whole bunch of them. Can’t haul us all off. Think I’ll park there in the shade too. Good spot. So you park your bike there and go inside. A couple of minutes later the Hells Devils mount up and ride off leaving only your bike obviously illegally parked. By the time you come back out, you’re just in time to wave good bye to the tow truck driving away with your bike. Sounds like good material for a repetitive stress nightmare.

What sign? That doesn’t mean motorcycles does it?

Anyway, this fellow pulled up and parked his bike next to the rest of us. Todd yelled over to me to check out the new bike. It was an older relative of Boog. A 1993 Suzuki Intruder with only 8,000 some odd miles on it. Clean machine too. Boogar is a 2005 model with 25,200 plus miles. It was interesting to see just how much alike the two bikes are. All Suzuki really changed was the handlebars (changed to drag bars in 2005) and I changed them back to the old Intruder bars right off the bat. Not much sense in changing a model once you get it right I suppose.

Boog meets an older relative at the Modesto Suzuki dealership.

The freeway entrance toward home was very conveniently located right there by the Suzuki dealer so we hopped on and headed north.

TOM TOM the human GPS rode home via Hwy 49. He shared in a post that he was overheated within about nine miles and pulled off to rest on a bench and cool off. That’s a testament to the efficacy of the cooling vests because the three of us were rolling along in the freeway heat without any problem. Sure it was warm and we sweated profusely when stopped for gas but nothing unmanageable.

Tom resting on a bench.

I can remember one time riding in hot summer California weather when I had to stop and lie down on my bike in the shade. It was a combination of heat stroke and dehydration I’m sure. After soaking my jacket (didn’t have a cooling vest yet) and drinking some water, I was ready to ride again without passing out. You can indeed get too hot on those bikes. The cooling vest really works for me. It cools you just enough that the ride is no longer unpleasant and you’re not at the brink of falling over. It’s a very good thing.

We waved Paul off at his freeway exit and continued toward Auburn. We hit a little bit of stop and go traffic but thankfully nothing that stopped us for long. We were home by 5:45 p.m. That left Todd just enough time to climb out of his gear, get something cool to drink and catch the beginning of his Raiders pre-season game. Perfect timing at the end of another perfect riding day.

My post-ride ride to get back home to Carson on Sunday was both pleasant and uneventful. The cats were most pleased to have me home to turn on the air conditioning for them. Maybe I can sew little cooling vests for them.

In case anyone else would like to make the run to Modesto, here is the ride route from Don that we followed:

Catch the River Road from Paul's place in West Sac.
1. Turn left at Freeport Bridge - 0.2 mi
2. Turn right at Freeport Blvd - 0.8 mi
3. Continue on River Rd - 19.4 mi
4. Slight left at CR-J11/Walnut Grove Thornton Rd Continue to follow CR-J11 - 5.2 mi
5. Slight right to merge onto I-5 S toward Los Angeles - 24.9 mi
6. Take exit 468 toward French Camp - 0.2 mi
7. Turn left at French Camp Rd - 2.4 mi
8. Turn right at S Airport Way - 15.0 mi
9. Turn left at Kasson Rd - 2.7 mi
10. Turn left at CA-132/Maze Blvd - 12.0 mi
11. Turn left at N Carpenter Rd - 0.8 mi

Harley dealer will be the first shop you encounter on the ride side of Carpenter Road. Hit the internet for the addresses of the other shops from there. Doc’s Q’in Pit Stop is located at 421 Maze Blvd.

Enjoy. Las :-)


Saturday, August 16, 2008

2008 Aug 16 - Pollock Pines

2008 Aug 16 - Pollock Pines
Linda DAmico's Ride

{Click on any photo to view the full size image.}

RAT RIDE-AUG 16, 2008 by Las {RAT = Riders Association of Triumph}
Mormon Emigrant Trail / Silver Fork / Ice House / Georgetown

Even though my bike had been grounded by a dead battery, I would not be stopped. Unless all the tires on my truck went flat or the Gods of Lightning decided to strike me down, I was going to meet with the pack of Rats gathering at Kathee’s Kitchen in Pollock Pines on Saturday morning.

I drove the truck from Carson to Auburn on Friday and the tires held steady. Woke up Saturday and loaded up for the 1.25 hour drive to Pollock Pines via Highway 49. Not a cloud in sight. Feeling reasonably sure the Gods of Thunder aren’t taking aim and waiting for me to pass through an open stretch of road so they can get a clear shot at me. Feeling lucky.

Feeling something else too. I’m not sure how to put it into words to share with mere mortals, meaning others who do not ride, but I’ll try. I’m driving Highway 49 towards Placerville. It’s a beautiful morning. The light traffic is snaking nicely along the gently curving road. There is no engine. There are no wheels. It feels as if we’re just flowing through this picture perfect morning countryside. It’s serene. My mind is calmed by this serenity and for a moment I sense THAT something. I say “sense” because it’s not something you can see or hear but something you just feel. I can feel my place in the interconnectedness of it all. I’m just one small part of something so much larger. The population in general. So many of us moving about at random in so many directions.

But this morning I have a purpose. A destination and I’m flowing in that direction. I can sense my fellow Rats also flowing toward that destination. I’m drawn. I’m a part of them. We’re coming from Carson, Auburn, Stockton, Sacramento, Kyburz……….converging……..like so many little streams combining to form a lake. It’s a comforting sensation. A statement about society in general but more specifically, this morning, about the Rat Pack. It’s just a deeper understanding of that “part of the whole” thing I’ve felt with this group before.

And thank you, by the way, for being you. I recently read a book about the Hells Angels and some other motorcycle “gangs.” Also watched a couple shows on the television. Not good citizens in general. Drugs, alcohol, guns, knives, fights-they’ve even been known to kill people. My “gang” carries drugs. Allergy meds, to be specific, to deal with the red watery eyes and occasional welts that arise when we ride through pollen laden areas.

I’m remembering the burger joint in Rio Vista after a spring ride through those pastures Don showed us where they grow windmills.
We laughed about the bumps swelling up in funny places. Eyes swelling shut. Nasal passages constricting. Don’t know what we rode through. Something they use to fertilize the windmills? Some sort of biological warfare devised by the sheep to get even with Paul for buzzing the ewes and lambs with his Bubs?

The most we might smuggle in our gear is a box of Hot Tamales or beef jerky. If it’s an overnight ride, you might find a whole box of Pop Tarts in a saddlebag. Ask our group to throw down with their knives and you might get ONE? Something small and conservative-suited for self defense perhaps but you wouldn’t find four or five blades concealed on each of us. The rest of us might be able to contribute something like a pair of nail clippers-with a file. It’s pointy. They won’t let you wield one on the airplane so it counts as a weapon I suppose. Couldn’t picture us fighting and killing other bikers in a Laughlin casino. Saw that on television too. Could easily imagine surveillance camera footage showing us moving calmly through the casino.
All of a sudden there is a slight pause followed by a general group spasm and then we’re all scrambling on the floor chaotically…….but not to avoid gunfire like on the tv program.

It’s much more likely that we would be scrambling madly on the floor to pick up the Peanut M&M’s. No, we wouldn’t be picking up individual candy coated chocolates from the filthy gaudy colored carpet! Even Rats have standards. It would be those individual snack size packets like the sort you give out at Halloween. No gun fights in casinos over turf, colors or perceived disrespect for us. We’re way too civilized for that. Now food-that’s a different matter. I won’t even go there. But overall we’re an intelligent, decent and highly evolved (if I do say so myself) group and I would like to thank you for allowing me to be a part of that.

Every group needs its black sheep. “Sheep?” Sounds plural. “Shep.” Sounds singular.
I am a black shep. A pack of highly upstanding renegade Rats with one little black shep amongst them. That’s me on my little black bike, in my black helmet and jacket. I like black. Doesn’t show the dirt. I can be filthy and no one notices. Quite a time saver really. Instead of being home cleaning gear, I can be out zooming around on the roads. Wonder how many insect carcasses are lodged between the weave of my open mesh jacket? Let’s just not think about that.

Back to the sharing of the ride info for those who missed it because you were home mowing the lawn or painting the house. Can you say “condominium?” Smart move Paul.

We arrived at Kathee’s about 9:45 a.m. By “we” I mean me in the truck and Todd on his bike. As promised, Linda and Mario had arrived early to save us a table. Lovely surprise when I walked into the restaurant and saw Ron belly up to that table. It’s been awhile since I’ve been on any rides so I haven’t seen a lot of you guys lately. And Ron brought his friends, Paul and Steve, to ride with us. Nice guys. Interesting bikes.
Breakfast meet at Kathee's Kitchen in Pollock Pines, CA
Paul is a dirt bike rider making the transition to the street with a new Yamaha V-Star 1300 cruiser. I’m thinking he’s going to enjoy this change as it’s far less strenuous and so much more clean. You might have to scrape some bugs off your face shield when you get home from a street ride but I can remember times on the dirt bikes when it was probably best to stand outside and let someone hit you with a hose before you even thought about heading into the house. And dirt boogars. If you’ve done any dirt bike riding, you know about dirt boogars. Welcome to the streets Paul. Ride safe.

Steve. Ah, Steve. One of the funniest moments of the day was when we were stopped and milling about at this bridge. Steve breaks out the sun block and asks, “Anyone need any sun block for their legs?” Yeah Steve. It’s important to protect ourselves from harmful things like….oh I don’t know……the sun’s UV rays perhaps? He’s a funny guy. Always smiling and as Linda already pointed out-nice legs. It was nice to have both of them join us for the ride. With any luck, we’ll enjoy their company again.

Within the next 10 minutes or so, the rest of the riding group rolled in.

After a very tasty breakfast, during which we ordered and then ate Jenn’s cinnamon roll as promised, we geared up for the ride. I was prepared to put on my sunglasses and seat belt in order to follow the group in my cage. Knowing I would be without a bike, Linda had generously offered me her bike or the seat behind Mario.
Linda and Mario saved us this table and ordered their breakfasts.

Las and Linda comparing their biceps. Not sure why. :-)

Las got Jenn's cinnamon bun.

Very generous indeed but there was some question as to whether or not my feet would touch the ground on her woolly mammoth bike. My legs are much shorter than most. It’s a birth defect perhaps or just lazy genetics? “My DNA is exhausted and I’m fresh out of molecules. I simply have to rest.” And then it never got back up to finish the job. Thus, I have short legs.
If I were to get on Linda’s bike and someone were to hold me up from the back until I got to rolling, we might make a go of it. And when we stop I could find a curb, bumper or park bench to lean up against. It could work. Don reminded us of Patrick who would roll up to a stop sign and slide off one side of the bike to plant his foot on the ground. Ingenious technique!

But instead it was decided that Linda should pilot her bike in order to lead us to and fro and Phil would tote my butt behind him on the Nomad. Thank you Phil for chauffeuring me through the hills.
I keep telling him he should rent out the back seat to pay for gas money. Think of it. All his rides could be paid for by the passenger and if he simply wears a t-shirt with advertising, the whole motorcycle thing may be a tax write-off. Huh? Is that a good idea or what? I’ve even got the advertising idea for the t-shirt. Picture this. Emblazoned across his chest in big letters……..WANNA RIDE? And below that would be his phone number. Could be interesting.

So, once we were all properly fed, geared up and seated upon one bike or another, off we went with beautiful weather promised for this perfect riding day. Linda was in the lead and Don was riding tail gunner with the rest of us stretched out comfortably between them.
Getting ready.

The ride route began on one of The Don’s favorite stretches of road-Mormon Emigrant Trail. Easy to see why he enjoys this stretch. It’s a well maintained roadway with trees and that body of water. I think it’s called Jenkinson Reservoir? We stopped there just long enough to take a picture and then we were back on the road. I could see packing a swim suit, towel, good book and picnic lunch and spending a day there. Travel by bike of course.
Linda leads the Ride of 10 bikes. Onto Sly Park Road which is the way to get to Mormon Emigrant Trail.

Over the causeway at Jenkinson Reservoir.
A photo op at the Reservoir.

A little further up the road, Linda and Mario introduced us to something new. Something we had ridden past I don’t know how many times and didn’t even know was there. It is the memorial Linda mentioned in her planning ride posts and Paul followed up on later. Very sobering story. Park under the road sign for Snow Mill Road and then hike a couple of yards to the white crosses on the highway. There’s a little dirt path off the highway to get there so you don’t have to walk beside the fast moving vehicles. You will find a motorcycle engine crafted into an interesting piece of art as well as the memorial crosses and a couple of plaques with information. Seems people have left little things there from time to time. Dew rags are an understandable gift to leave at a biker memorial. A little less easy to understand, but no less heartfelt I’m sure, was the plastic werewolf hanging from a wheel. Remember: It’s the thought that counts.

I won’t rehash the details of what has been called “the worst accident in El Dorado County history but I will include the web site address Linda provided earlier in case you would like to read more on your own. Roadside Shrine - Mormon Emigrant Trail and Saw Mill Road
Just south of Snow Mill Road up on the hill is this Memorial to some fallen motorcyclists.

Here Ron is reading the plaque in the above photo.

Mormon Emigrant Trail has been there a very long time. Probably since the time when our forefathers and foremothers were immigrating and thus the name. Can’t remember how many times I’ve ridden/driven this road. Countless times at least. However, this roadway was completely different as a passenger.

As a passenger it’s always difficult to adjust. What do you do with your arms when you’re accustomed to holding a set of handlebars? Strange sensation being on a bike and speeding down the road with absolutely no control. It’s unnerving really. Something I’ve learned to do to get past the initial nervousness that comes with riding pillion is to sit up straight, relax, let your arms hang comfortably at your sides and then close your eyes. Deep breath. Feel the bike. Feel how solid and strong it is. Tap into that strength. Find your center of gravity. Anchor yourself to the bike. Now you are one with the bike as you move down the road. Half human-half motorcycle…………….mancycle! Or womancycle as the case may be. It’s fun to close your eyes when you’re sitting on the back. It’s a whole nother sensation.

After I calmed down and became one with the bike it was then quite fun to just take in the scenery. No need to watch the road or the bikes around me so my eyes went up. Since I’m usually required to watch the road, I don’t often get to observe what’s going on up there in the tree tops. It’s a lovely view through the trees to neighboring or way far away mountain tops. Endless tree tops with beautiful blue sky peeking through here and there and fluffy white clouds hung for decoration.

The higher up the hill we went, the prettier and more serene it became. I think perhaps it was because we were getting closer to God or whatever you want to call the Universal Consciousness. It just feels more calm up there than closer to the big cities at their lower elevations with all the hustle and bustle and pollution and noise and crime. It’s easy to understand why they refer to these areas as “God’s country.” The angels hang out there in the tree tops. You can feel them smiling down upon you as you ride through. I didn’t see one. Tried snapping pictures while I was looking the other way in an attempt to trick them but I still didn’t catch one.

Hey, talking about pictures……….since I was riding passenger and didn’t have anything to do with my hands, I just snapped away with the camera. It’s a numbers game when you’re shooting from the back of a moving motorcycle. If you take 100 pictures, 25 of them will turn out. The others are blurred from the vibration and are dealt with by liberal use of the “Delete” button. Hip hip hooray for digital cameras! You shoot, check and if you didn’t get what you’re looking for, shoot again and again and again.

Got the cutest picture of Shorty (Steve) riding behind us with a big ole smile on his face. Don’t know if he realized he was being photographed and smiled for the camera or if he’s just a really really happy guy. Either way that’s what we like to see-happy bikers.

Up on top of the hill I waved the angels off as we made the left turn onto Silver Fork Road and began the descent towards Kyburz on Highway 50. According to the road signs I saw, Silver Fork Road is about 16 miles long. General impression? Silver Fork Road is a gradual downhill ride with hillside on one side that reminded me of Yosemite in places and a drop off to the river populated with tents, gleeful splashing children and fishermen on the other side.

I didn’t see her but at one point Phil became distracted in the direction of the river. When asked what the problem was, he explained that his “bikini detector” had gone off and he was scanning for the source of the alarm. So there was something for everyone there. And where did all these people come from? How did they know this place was there? I never knew and I’ve driven past it my entire life. I thought Silver Fork Road went back off Highway 50 for a couple of miles to some houses and quit. Boy do I have a lot of ground to cover. If I’ve missed something this nice so close to home, what else is out there waiting to be discovered?

Thank you so much for sharing this road with us Linda and Mario. Thanks to The Don for the suggestion. More riding……less work. That is clearly what is called for here. One other thing that stood out to me………..pine needles. Piles and piles of pine needles gathered up against the asphalt curbs lining each side of the road. It was suggested that those unusual asphalt curbs were installed for the purpose of directing water flow/snow melt. For those who have not yet discovered this for themselves, pine needles are slippery. Stay away from the pine needles. Because of the pine needles and the camping population, this is not a fast road. It’s a sight seeing road. Might have to revisit with the sleeping bag on the back of the bike some time and enjoy this area more thoroughly.

By the way, did anyone else see those big plants growing down beside the river on Silver Fork Road? What were those? They resembled a very large house plant my mother called Elephant Ear. They look so out of place. So much more like something you might see in the Costa Rican rain forest rather than our high desert climate. Very interesting.

We were warned ahead of time about the cross traffic at Silver Fork and Highway 50. Not only are those drivers apparently “cross” but they’re moving very fast. Be extremely careful at this intersection. As a long time commuter on Highway 50, I can attest to regular driving speeds of 65. Add the curve in the road, throw a slow moving motorcycle out there in front and you’ve got a mess. Watch for your opening and boogie! Leave the leisurely toodling behind on Silver Fork and goose it! If waiting for a safe opening causes you to become separated by cages, no problem. There is a passing lane just up the road a bit where you can coast along in the slow lane to regroup if needed. You could also wait at the turn off to Ice House Road for any stragglers.

Ice House Road is a right turn off Highway 50 when headed west as we were. It’s well marked if you’re watching for the sign. It was at this turn where we parted ways with The Don. He had a previous commitment to participate in spreading the ashes of a fellow VROC rider at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge and had to tend to the arrangements for his early morning departure. VROC Ride to spread a VROCer's ashes.

Let’s hope none of us does that sort of ride any time soon. If you’re on a ride with us, we prefer you be in the form of a human or mancycle rather than ashes. But know that if the need should arise, I would be honored to strap your ash to the back of my bike and transport any one of you around for however long you should desire and dump you off at the destination of your choosing. I might reserve a bit of you to fertilize my favorite flowers. Then, each time they bloom, I will smile and think of you.

With Linda capably climbing the curvy roadway up the hill and Mario assuming the sweep, we ascended Ice House Road. The trees are much shorter on this road so you don’t enjoy the shade given on the previous roadways and it’s noticeable perhaps due to the lower (lower than Mormon Immigrant and Silver Fork anyway) warmer elevation and the fact that we were coming into the warmer afternoon heat. Phil explained there had been a fire and these smaller trees were the product of seeding efforts. They have a ways to grow before the angels can use them for cover. It’s still a pretty ride. The last time I rode this stretch I was coming down towards Highway 50 with Fozzy and Big Jim Taco (?) when we encountered a motorcycle wreck. I remember thinking how awful it would be to wreck on this road because of the wait for the ambulance to get here. It’s a bit off the beaten path.

A little further down the road Linda artfully avoided a possible bruise or two with a clever horizontal parking maneuver at the turnoff to Robbs Valley Resort. As a rider who has also parked in this manner, I’m able to fully appreciate her grace and timing. I was planning to tactfully omit this bit of ride information but since she has already shared……

We’re moving along on Ice House Road. Paul can’t contain himself any longer and leaves the pack to see what that hot little Ninja can do. Todd can’t bear the thought of being left behind by his racing buddy and takes off to catch Paul. At some point Jess broke out and took off to catch some high winds as well. (Sometimes these guys remind me a bit of the family dog blissfully riding along with his head hanging out the window in the wind.)

After passing where Paul and Todd had pulled over, Linda spotted the right turn to Robbs Valley Resort. I’m guessing she caught the sign a tad late or something? She applied the brakes and pulled off the roadway onto the dirt/gravel apron. Bike wasn’t stopping as requested and began to slide. There was a dirt embankment ahead of her. It would have been far worse had she bumped/hopped/flew over that embankment. She did the best thing she could think of and turned the bike left. The front tire caught the soft dirt embankment and stopped the bike alright. Then gravity took over and pulled the bike right out from under her. She simply stepped off as the bike went down. Slick as you please. Just like a pro. No harm. No foul. Excellent technique! Before any of us could barely react, Mario was at her side demonstrating proper lifting technique. And you didn’t know these rides could be educational?

The purpose of this stop wasn’t so Linda could show off her impressive horizontal parking technique but rather so we could explore this little out of the way resort area and get something cool to drink. They have a store, bar, restaurant, cabins, showers, etc. It’s a cute little place. Linda, Mario, Phil (with me behind) and Pdub braved the short gravel road down to the store.

The others (Todd, Ron, Steve and new Paul) opted to pass on the gravel and continued on towards lunch in Georgetown where we thought we would catch up to them later. This is where we lost Jess but I wasn’t too concerned as I know he’s familiar enough with these roads that he would eventually find his way back home. And if not, he could call one of us to come and get him. This is a good reminder to swap cell phone numbers at the beginning of the ride. Then when we find ourselves in the middle of a game of unintentional hide-and-seek, we can phone a friend to resolve the issue.

After the short rest stop at Robbs Valley Resort, we remounted our trusty bikes and headed down the road. Phil was having a go as leader. Pdub had shot out ahead of us again. Apparently it’s important to catch the left on Wentworth Springs if you want to get to Georgetown. When we arrived at that Wentworth turn, there was Pdub sitting patiently and waiting as we’ve been trained to do at turns. Thanks Pdub for waiting there to cue us in case we should miss the turn. Of course you could have also been sitting there waiting for us to come along to confirm this was the correct turn. I’ll assume the first more gallant scenario. At any rate, it’s good riding manners to wait at turns. We often split up again after the turn but at least it keeps everyone on the right track and gives us a point in time where we know everyone was present and accounted for. Heaven forbid we ever have to go looking for someone but if that should ever occur it would be much better if we were able to narrow the search as much as possible.

At this point in time I would like to lightly chastise Pdub. We saw you at the Wentworth turn. When we got to Georgetown we couldn’t find you. We were reasonably certain you had met up with Ron, Steve, Paul, Todd and Jess but couldn’t be certain as we couldn’t find them either. A tiny part of me was worried that you had gone off the road on that unfamiliar bike. Phil called your cell and left a voice mail. Before I could get too worried, we saw you ride past with some of the other lost boys. Bad Pdub! I don’t worry about riders who wander off in a group but you were last seen bopping along on your own so it gave us cause for concern. Sometimes cell phones don’t work where we are so you can use that as an excuse if you like. We forgave you already. You were just such a happy boy on that borrowed Ninja. How could anyone possibly stay mad at you?

So, the Wentworth turn brought us into Georgetown. We scanned both left and right as we passed through town but there was no sign of Todd, Ron, Steve, Paul, Pdub or Jess. We had been ditched! It seemed those Rats had run off and left me and the VROC contingency behind! For those who haven’t been to Georgetown, it’s not all that big a place. I think you could throw a rock from one end of town to the other. Well, I couldn’t but someone else with a good pitching arm might make a good show of it. We stopped at the big yellow Worton Market for the facilities (outhouse in back!) and another cool drink.

Linda warned me that the store was stocked with particularly interesting and unique items and she wasn’t exaggerating. I found a cast iron long-horn bull head that I didn’t feel I could leave without. It was heavy and stuck out in every direction but I was undaunted. As a veteran black-belt shopper I’ve learned that if the desire to possess something is strong enough, the method to transport that item home will come to you like an inspiration. Except for the rock I tried to transport home from Yvonne and the doggy pooper scooper I bought for my sister, I’ve never had a problem. Don’t ask about the rock! Once outside I met with concerns by the less reckless and perhaps more intelligent members of our riding group-that would be everyone but me. They just didn’t feel the same inspiration/insanity that had possessed me and insisted on finding a safer way to transport my new treasure. Mario stepped up, took the bull by the horns, and remedied the situation. Thank you sir. Quite kind of you to rescue me from my own silliness.

Just as Mario had finished dealing with the bull we saw them riding through town. Shorty (Steve) was in the lead and didn’t appear to see us. Ron, Paul and Pdub were in tow and waved as they passed by. We learned later that Todd had already left the group earlier and headed back to Auburn while Jess was probably out there ahead of us somewhere enjoying his ride back towards home. The lost boys turned onto 193 which would take them back to 49. Phil chose Garden Valley, a different route that he had found some time earlier quite by mistake. By his calculations, we could pop out on 49 ahead of the lost boys. We thought it would be fun to sit at the side of the road and wave again as they went by making them wonder how the heck that happened. But rather then tormenting our fellow Rats, we detoured once again with Linda in the lead to investigate yet another new back road. After rejoining Highway 49 for a short distance, Linda lead us, via back roads, back to Kathee’s Kitchen where my truck was parked and waiting.

Did you all see Phil’s GPS? Besides entertaining you with a cute little motorcyclist on the display, it’s also quite functional. It does everything but scratch your butt and with the proper attachment, it might be able to do that as well. As we were riding, I asked Phil about a body of water off to our left. With a finger on his left hand, he was able to touch the screen to drag the display to the right until that body of water was displayed on the screen. Union Valley Reservoir. It’s that easy.

According to the magical all-knowing GPS, Phil clocked about 250 miles on this ride. We gathered at Kathee’s Kitchen at 10 a.m. and arrived back in their parking lot around 4:30 p.m. A good long day of riding.

Hungry once again, we decided dinner was in order. It was on my way home to Carson and it’s in Linda and Mario’s neighborhood, so we agreed on German food at the St. Pauli Inn just below Kyburz. A bit out of the way for Phil but he wasn’t tired of riding yet anyway. After enjoying a HUGE meal, we all headed in separate directions for home. I rolled in around 7:30 p.m. It was a great day of riding and I agree with Pdub that it’s worthy of a rerun ride.

Would there be any value in doing the rerun ride backwards so we hit the hotter Georgetown area earlier in the day and save the cooler shady mountain roads for later in the day? It’s possible it also heats up on Silver Fork and Mormon Emigrant so it wouldn’t make any difference. Might also screw up the timing for the stops as well. It really wasn’t horribly hot this time anyway so it doesn’t matter much. Might make a difference in warmer weather.

It was another fabulous day of riding and I would like to thank everyone as your presence contributed to the enjoyment. Thank you Linda for stepping up to fill in as ride leader, for the time spent planning, for so competently leading us and sharing your neighborhood with us. You said in one of your postings that you probably weren’t qualified to lead us on a ride. I can state from experience that is incorrect. You are indeed quite qualified and I would be pleased to follow along behind you on future rides if we should all be so lucky.

And that’s the way it was from the back seat of the Nomad.

Boog-Enjoying the new battery and ready to roll.

From Pdub:
Linda did a great job as ride leader. Anyone who thought the pace was slow wasn't riding behind Steve on the way home. At one point an elderly woman in an SUV who was stuck behind us was honking her horn and shaking her fist at us.

I have to say this was a very nice ride with Ice house, Silver Fork and 193 { Editors note: I think this was Wentworth Springs Road} to Georgetown all being great roads. The memorial for the five riders who died in a horrific crash back in '89 was impressive and quite sobering. If you want to know more about that maybe you could google it. It occurred on Sept. 2 and resulted in a hellacious inferno.

I would definitely like to do this ride again if not this year, definitely next. Those who couldn't make this one deserve another chance because they really missed out.

Enjoyed each and every one of you. Oh, I'll close on a cautionary note; never wear shorts on a motorcycle even if your legs are as nice as Steve's.

The Ride Route:
The Riders:
Linda DAmico.......... Vulcan 900 ................Ride Leader
Mario DAmico.......... Vulcan 2000
Pdub........................Borrowed Ninja 650
Jess H.....................Sprint ST
Ron H......................FJR 1300
Phil T.......................Vulcan Nomad
Las..........................Nomad Pillion
Todd........................Harley Softtail Custom
Paul........................VStar 1300
Don I.......................Triumph Legend