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small journeys

Happy 2014!

I enjoyed every moment of 2013, but I am ready to see what’s next.  For me, it was a remarkable year… started it off at the equator in Ecuador; rode my KLR to the southern most tip of South America; returned to a warm welcome of friends and family… but the adventures didn’t stop there – Read more →

ODE to Oscar… my KLR685…

I couldn’t let it go without paying honor to a motorcycle I have shared so many years with, even if it is just a KLR. That’s saying something since I have never done this for any ex-boyfriend. I wanted to show and explain a little bit of the process and development over the last 3 years – 8 months and 46,579 miles as both Oscar and I progressed.

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What happens when a DR-Z, a KLR, and a KTM meet…

We ran the gamut on engine displacement that day.  There was celebration by playing in the dirt, and bouncing around in terrain that looked like we landed on the moon…  But it was only Paisley, OR.  We rode until the sun was no longer high in the sky. The heat of the day faded quickly with the sun.  Three headlights chasing dimly lit double yellow lines until the black of the road ahead folded into the silhouette of the mountains.  The sky turned a deep blue and it was as if someone threw glitter in the sky.

It was a shake down trip for the bikes to see how well they will fair for taking down to Baja.  And just a good excuse for pics:

The trail of the wandering Wickershams

It was a Tuesday, the sun was playing behind the hills, not ready to set, but no longer shining bright on us.  We pulled into a nearly empty campsite and shook out our hands and legs, finally giving rest to the bikes after miles of vibrating beneath us.  As I rushed off to the restroom, I noticed the only other occupants at the campsite were also two motorcyclists. Even though the bikes were the lower profile of a cruiser, they were too small to be Harley’s.

I walked over to an enthusiastic couple who were riding 250cc metric cruisers and happen to be world travelers.  They are happily retired and only started riding two years ago. Already they have 27,000 miles under their belts – the majority ridden in the past 9 weeks touring Western US and up through Jasper National Park in Canada; and about 7,000 on little 125cc motos they bought in Thailand and toured around.  They decided to try out two wheels and a motor after traveling the world for 3-1/2 years on a tandem bicycle, including all the way to the tip of South America.  Talk about bad-asses!  This couple gets big cheers from me for their adventures!


 

 

10 days… 1522 miles of bugs, dust and grime… and barely breaking in a Klim suit.

Some companies know how to do it right.  Klim (as in climb) gear is one of them.  A small family operated company out of Idaho, they seem know what people like when it comes to adventure gear: waterproof, breathable and durable.

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Setting sail…

The hours passed with grace as we walked down the sidewalks of Port Townsend.  Wooden signs flipped over and neon lights dimmed as stores closed when the day turned to evening.  It was a long weekend observing the end of summer, and the holiday was used to celebrate a belated Mother’s Day. The time together was too brief as the final day of play approached.

We said our goodbyes, a quick send off for my mom to the airport and a teary-eyed departure with my sister as the realization hit that I will not see them for at least 8 months. I will miss the convenience of calling anytime.  I will miss the cackling laughter and the wise advice.  I will miss them.  Knowing I will be less available as my attention turns to the road, I savor the smiles and goofiness while we wave and set off in three separate directions.

There are some hills I can’t climb…a.k.a. Knowing when to turn around…

Let me start off by saying, I don’t like turning around.  My first inclination is to push forward in order to find out what lay ahead, mostly since I have already been where I just came from. Occasionally, I find myself in the position, usually one where my safety would be compromised, where I must turn around.  I could read further into it and say I don’t like looking back, I don’t like admitting making mistakes, I don’t want to repeat my steps. Even though I have come to realize the return perspective is a completely different view and experience and allows us to notice things we might not have before, it’s an idea that is hard to relinquish.

After waking up to gorgeous ridge-side views above a fogged in coastline, I took a  drive along a one-lane dirt road: the South Coast Ridge in the Los Padres National Forest off Nacimiento-Ferguson Rd.  The guidebook said it was an easy road… I think I should check the publication date.  I found myself attempting a hill climb that was really meant for 4WD (which, even though I have a 4runner, it’s only 2WD) but I didn’t know it until I was half way up, wheels spinning beneath me, kicking out loose chunks of rock and smaller debris.  The acrid scent of rubber heated to it limit replaced freshness that was in the air.  I was not going to make it up the hill.  I have made it up terrain like these on my KLR, but I was not going to be taking this route to Highway 1 in my 4runner.  The coast was going to have to wait.

My hands were shaking with heightened nerves and my heart was thumping in my throat as I put my truck in reverse, backing down the steep incline, hoping to make it around the bend in a controlled slide in the provided path and not beyond it over the banked gravel and down the side of the mountain. Even though I had jumped out of a plane days prior, I was more fearful now, with fate in my hands on the wheel, hoping my skills and the brakes were good enough to get me and the heavy beast of a SUV out of this mess.   Alas, they did; I found a spot where the road widened barely enough to turn the vehicle around, and then retraced my tire tracks back to the main paved road.  I was happy to see asphalt, but not nearly as excited to see the road from the reverse view.

The reality is that turning around isn’t that big of a deal, sometimes it’s the smarter choice, sometimes it’s the only choice.  I have to embrace the idea that it will give a different perspective and opportunity for experience.  If anything, I appreciate the fact that I am around for another day to ride, to explore, to play.

the Painted Desert…(edited)

(*sometimes I struggle with how little or how much to share…so here is version 3, edited excerpt of “Flagstaff, Loosing Bolts, the Painted Desert, Taos, and the 1,000 miles home”*)

 Riding along I- 40, for as wide open as it is crossing the Arizona desert, felt like a wind tunnel.  The day’s end brought me to the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest, which in all my traveling of the Southwest, I have never been to. I wandered through as the sun drifted lower and lower, setting for the nights close of the park.

It was truly magnificent scenery of geological sediments of time creating striped  multi-colored rock formations.  I highly recommend the 28-mile excursion to anyone who happens to by driving by. And there happens to be free camping next to the gift shop.

Waking up at 5am, even before the sun, I packed up camp with only a tease of winds.  Timing happened to be right, so I found a spot of even ground and moved through a series of stances as the sun illuminated the sky.  Outdoor yoga doesn’t happen often, but it’s a great way to start the day.


Instead of running back and re-tracking the I-40, I went through the National park again, noticing different features with the sun lighting up the other side.  It was early on a Friday, and I was trying to imagine the park in full summer swing, but it was really peaceful to have the place all to myself.

 

That serenity ended as I looped the on-ramp back to the Interstate.  It seemed like no matter which direction I turned, the 40mph winds were there to greet me head on…

…but as the wind blows, so must I move on again. Back on the KLR chasing the road of sun sets … 1,000 miles west to Los Angeles.  It was good to be going home.

Chasing Colorado… (mountains, hills, and two wheels)

(Overdue post!)

So, just how many different bikes can I ride in a week? Um… 6…

It was a week in high elevations with great company, amazing views, delicious beer, and making my motorcycles at home jealous…

I imagine its all the fresh air that is making my lungs burn.  The winds are picking up velocity in the afternoon, disrupting the silence of the aspens, and leaving my ears ringing for the sirens and barking dogs that I do not miss in LA.  Birds and their chirping are my company as I sit on the porch, watching the golden light of springtime in Colorado.  It has been a lovely week visiting a close friend, who has so willingly provided ample choices of two-wheeled transportation during my stay.

(When the first stop from the airport is to get our ears molded for custom fit plugs –  btw, they are just that amazing- its going to be a good moto week!)

1st excursion: Mountain Biking around Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.  Playing in the dirt for the first time where my legs are my power, no engine to motivate up hills or around corners, I appreciated the mellow introduction to technique while in awe of rust colored rock formations, towering along sides of the trails.

2nd: A 310 mi loop ride, starting with Skyline ridge in Canon City,  winding up hwy 50 along the Arkansas river to Salida for lunch (bacon wrapped dates…yum!), then glide through rolling hills of hwy 285/24 home, riding a V-strom all the way.  I had originally written off the Suzuki DL650 because as functional as it is, looks do weigh heavier than the bike.  To my surprise, there was pep in its take-off, it hugged the corners despite having to throw it into them a little, and the seat carried me comfortably all day.

3rd: a short 50 mile dirt jaunt over Mt. Herman road (see view above) on a Suzuki DR-Z400s… I get it, I really do, why so many of my KLR friends said I should start on something smaller, something I can throw around easier, learn to kick out  the back end in the curves, something with power when I hit the throttle…It was just plain fun to be able to do that so easily.  Next time I will bring more appropriate gear and let loose a little.

4th: Bringing the Tiger home aka, trying to keep a Triumph Tiger Triple 1050 under triple digit speeds while riding along the sweeping curves of farmland back roads.  All I need to say: FUN!

Then a round of Test rides (why not when visitng a state that will actually let you try ‘em out?):

5th: Ever wanted to ride a sewing machine? The Triumph Tiger 800XC was kind of like that.  After riding the Tiger 1050 all morning, to swing my leg over an longer bored, down-tuned 675 engine, it was so buzzy I didn’t want to push what already felt like high revs in 6th gear (even though yes, it could go higher) and take it over 65mph (which it did easily, despite comment). And mind you, my normal ride, a KLR650, is notorious for vibrations, yet I didn’t like the tiger’s.  On the upside, it hugged the road nicely in the turns, felt very light and nimble for a 473lb beast. I can understand why its so popular with those riders transitioning from sport bikes or new to adventure bikes. I was really looking forward to the Tiger 800, but just couldn’t get past the engine.

6th: Now for a bike I could listen to it purr all day…the BMW R1200GS. They call it the king of Adventure bikes for a reason.  At first off, I could feel the heaviness of its 532 lbs, but twist the throttle and it goes wherever you want it to.  It has a balance like no other machine I’ve tried…maybe I’m just a sucker for lower end torque and cushy suspension.  (When am I going to get one?…not just yet.)

Almost 7: Yamaha’s Super Tenere, you were on the list, but time did not permit.

After this week’s adventure, I must admit that Colorado will always have a piece of my heart.  From the first time I rode through its deliciously twisty, yet rain-soaked roads on a trip 2 years ago to the current days of good times with good company… even though I had to give the motorcycles back at the end of the week, the memories and joy will always stay with me.

Morning Ride on Old Spanish Trail Hwy…