I got away for the long weekend, rode up from Mountain View to The Sea Ranch via some nice backroads, including the awesome Stewart's Pt - Skaggs Springs Rd
which goes more or less from Healdsburg to the coast.
The bike just worked - technology and horsepower doing a wonderful dance with my right wrist doing the conducting. The final drive didn't fail, the brakes didn't indicate failure, there was no high idle, there were no bucking broncos, the centerstand didn't collapse, the windshield shielded the wind and didn't discolor, the seat held my butt, the smuggler held my junk, the gps showed my route, and the key started the bike. Wonderful! Now I remember why I bought this machine in the first place -- because it takes an hour for the grin to fade after I stop.
Not that the weekend was without its little hitches, mind you. I picked up a nail on the first part of my ride North. I had just filled up the tire and was checking the TPM and I noticed it down to 40/40, I thought maybe I just screwed up the fill and would fix it at lunch. 20 minutes later the hazard indicator started blinking yellow, down to 40/38. As I cruised across the golden gate bridge towards In'n'Out where I'm meeting my riding buddy, the TPM started blinking red, down to 40/35. It was 40/34 when I stopped for lunch, checked the tire, and damn -- there's the nail, sure enough.
Nav III to the rescue: find nearest BMW Motorrad <beep> Marin BMW, 4.5 miles North. Give 'em a quick call, they've got the tire in stock, and I'll pump it back up with the Slime pump stuffed in the Corbin smuggler trunk and ride in after lunch, no sweat. My buddy is dismayed that I'll need to get a new tire, but such is life. Marin BWM is hidden on a side street, I never would have found it without the GPS and even then I drove by it the first time.
The folks at Marin BMW are nice enough. $154 for the tire and $60 labor probably helps their attitude. The smuggler trunk is a big hit, a couple of people stop by to check it out and I give tours of the voluminous space inside. I kill time by going to an ATM to get cash for the weekend, getting a coffee at a nice French style cafe nearby, and try on a bunch of helmets. I stare in wonder at the size of the LT on the showroom floor, and briefly imagine myself riding across Africa on the bright yellow GS adventure.
An hour later (the techs were at lunch when I arrived), and one last disappointment for my buddy -- I need to gas up -- and we're back on the road. 101 is full of weekend traffic, so we duck off towards the coast and meander our way up to Healdsburg via bumpy little backroads and a bit of Hwy 1. ESA sure is nice, I'm switching from Comfort to Sport every few minutes on these roads.
A quick stop for a drink and a piss at the Dry Creek General Store
, where you can still get Moxie, and we're on to the biggest grin of the day, which is the 15 miles or so of Skaggs Rd from Lake Sonoma out to the bridge. My riding buddy is on a 10 year old GS, so I leave him behind. The B-52's "Rock Lobster" comes on my iPod just as the good part comes up, and it's a great beat for the curve after curve of smooth asphalt. Speed limit 30 -- yeah, right! I'm going double that around the corners, and I'm not the fastest rider out there by a long shot. I wait at the bridge for my buddy to catch up and switch the ESA to comfort: the remaining 20 miles of road is better suited for his bike, but the GT does just fine.
As we get to the coast and the temperature drops to the low 50s I flick on the seat and grip heat, and keep toasty for our quick run up the coast to the house where my wife and daughter are waiting with a glass of wine and the hot tub warmed up to 104. After blasting up Skaggs, the pokey cages on Hwy 1 are just annoying, but we pass by them one after another, there's hardly any traffic heading South.
The weekend passes. We do stuff. It's fun, but not part of this story.
On the trip back, my riding buddy isn't feeling well at all, so he swaps places with another of our friends who hasn't ridden in a while but does have a license... he goes back in the car and his replacement tries to remember the shift sequence: first is down, up for everything else. This should be interesting...
I had a little time to kill while everyone packed up, so I made a couple of quick runs to Gualala to gas up our bikes. I haven't spent much time on a GS before -- it sure is different. The dash is way out in front somewhere, the windscreen is merely decorative, the bars are out past my shoulders, and I feel like I'm squatting on the seat. The rumble of the big boxer is kind of interesting, and I suppose I could get used to this given time, but it's a relief to get back on my GT and rev the smooth K engine with all those extra horsies.
At the first stop sign turning onto Hwy 1 my buddy's replacement runs into me. Gently, to be sure, just a bump on the back tire, but he falls over anyway. I can hear him laughing as he lies on the ground under the GS, so this isn't a big deal. We pick it up and assess the damage: a broken tail lamp cover, a bent cylinder guard, and a scuff on the right cylinder itself. Oh well -- grab some tape from my toolkit for the lamp and we're back on the road.
The right move probably would have been to just take Hwy 1 back home, nice and slow, but I really want another go at Skaggs and my friend is OK with that. It's a bit slower this time to be sure, but he warms up to the bike eventually, and manages to avoid the cows we find crossing the road. When we hit the good part I wave and take off, blast to the end and turn around to come back until I spot him going the other way, then turn around and catch up again -- the road is worth it, go ride it if you can. We stop again at the Dry Creek General Store for sandwiches, then head back towards 101 for a tame ride back to SF. Around Santa Rosa traffic is backed up and I don't relish the idea of lane splitting for 30 miles, so we take off on some back roads again and wind our way South between 1 and 101. This takes a long time, and when we finally get back to 101 traffic is actually moving just fine -- now I'm thinking the detour was a big mistake and we're going to catch hell for getting back so late. But we end up getting there only 45 minutes after the car, not bad considering our longer route and lunch stop.
Finally I leave them to sort things out and take my final run back down 280 to home. The sun is out and it's warm, traffic is light, and I don't see any CHP or planes so I turn off the cruise control and for a little while at least let the bike run in the triple digits where it likes to be.
The grin was still on my face when I fell asleep last night, with that brief weightless feeling that comes just you flip the bike over from one turn into the next playing through my brain.
I love this bike.