Monday, April 15, 2013

720 miles from Lone Pine to Turlock and back...

It's Those Last Minute Decisions That Can Turn a Day...

I've a good friend, and a rider that came down bad sick over in Turlock. For those who don't live in California that's just across the mountains that contain Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks from our camp near Lone Pine...

Only, there's no road across those mountains, so you've got to ride down and around one end or the other. It so happens that our camp is closer to the southern end.

Now, the smartphone said it was faster to ride clear down to Bakersfield, catch 99 there and turn back north. When I climbed on the bike that's the way I was planning to go. But, pretty much as always, when I got to that part of the road where the choice had to be made turn off 395 onto 14 to take the "Fast" road... or turn west toward Lake Isabella on the "slow" road...

... I couldn't resist that lil' demon on my shoulder... and the bike leaned west.

Ok... I've rode that road before and it wasn't that slow... so it's no big deal... only... you get to Lake Isabella and there's another choice... stay on 178 and roll into the Kern River canyon... or... cut a bit NW onto 155 through the southern tip of those mountains I'm goin' around...

Uh... Yeah... I turned off the "Slow" road... onto the... OMG, liver quivering, double rectified, jiggly quivers inducing two lanes of laid back on itself, tormented bent asphalt that is 155 as it rolls between Wofford Heights and Glennville. To say it's the worst bit of badly sanded twisties I've ever ridden on the spring time would be a fairly accurate statement...

WHooEE! You come down a short grade at 40 into a 15 mph hairpin that has two 8" wide tracks through the sand... accelerate back up the grade on the other side into a tight right hander, trying hard to stay in that narrow strip of clear pavement...

When you misjudge your speed a bit and start drifting out of the clear track you feel both ends starting to drift... Uh Huh... your attention is juuuuuuust a bit focused!

... swing back around a tight left hander and there, slowly crossing your "Clear" bit of pavement... is a snake. No time to stop, nowhere to turn...

My front tire rolls up on the snake... the snake squirms... the tire squirms... my liver churns...

Now, the biological process of a churning liver creates a vacuum which causes a suction in the lower sections of your colon. The end result being that when you pull out just up the road, grinning like an idiot, to cool out in a wide spot and take a picture or two, you are prevented from climbing off your bike for several minutes until the vacuum dissipates. :)

Yeah, that's an interesting piece of road!

When you get past the worst of it you come into some country where you might relax your concentration on the road... to actually be able to look around a bit.




Oak trees of some variety blanket the hills on both sides. Cattle laze in the shade of the trees.  The grass is greening in the spring, flowers are starting to pop... the sun is shining in a clear blue sky... the bike throbs and rumbles as I let off rolling into a series of sweeping bends...


Kern county is a pretty fine place to ride!


 Then too fast you drop down out of the hills into the open grasslands below.


Just below there I ran into a country of orchards and vineyards where the perfume of something that was flowering was often so strong I almost couldn't take a full breath!

I caught 99 at Delano and rolled up to Turlock... Now... 99 is nothing to write home about. It's just a road that gets you from here to there. blehhh...

But... at a fuel stop along there somewhere a guy pulled up beside me and climbed out of his car. I was just getting ready to climb back on and finish my run for the day...

... and he says; "Man, that is a beautiful motorcycle!" ... uh ... it had me a lil' speechless for a couple of seconds...

He was in the process of closing the door on a canary yellow Ferrari that he'd just climbed out of. :)

My reply was; "Well, thanks... but ya'll ain't doin' to shabby yourself!" :)

Darryl was a bit lucky, and it appears his stroke is one of those mild ones that a fella has a much improved chance of a 100% recovery from, though it still takes a while.

After a good visit for a couple of hours in the evening and then again in the morning I climbed back on the Raider for the return ride to Lone Pine.... This time with a rising wind. Most of the time it was behind me or quartering from behind so a non issue..

Again... 99 is just miles of... miles. The views along that central valley... well, it ain't ugly or anything like that... it just isn't anything that's memorable...

So back to Bakersfield I rode... coming "home" I cut off on hwy 178 to ride east through the Kern River canyon to Lake Isabella...

Suh-WHEET! That section of hwy 178, especially from Bakersfield to Lake Isabella is ... one of the sweetest bits of asphalt I've ever chased the paint stripes on.



It's the sort of road that you don't have to "push it" to get the best of it. You just pick a gear and sweep on through... punching it between corners on the short straights, engine throbbing as it pulls you down into the corner without brakes...

The bike stands back up straight coming out of the left hander and immediately leans back right sweeping into a fast right, only to come back left... back and forth you sweep and roll... it's a Sweet Freaking Ride!

... just that smooth, flowing sort of dance on the two lane where you hit a rhythm that has you hoping the road never ends. 


 It's a nice bit of riding east of Lake Isabella as well, but that western section, in the Kern River Canyon... is SOOOO-Purb!

... and then... I turned down off the low pass back into Indian Wells Valley, chasing a couple of Harleys... ever'body I'm sure just grinning in the sunshine... and started back up 395 Toward Olancha...

... and the wind that had been behind me... picked up several notches and came strong and steady straight out of the west. It had me leaning at 10 degrees or more just to stay straight down the road... Occasional bursts knocked me over a foot or so as the Yamaha ripped through it at 75 mph.

That wind yesterday evening was wicked! :)

A good couple of days...

Grab Your Handles and Ride!
Brian

7 comments:

Erik said...

Your pictures make me want to go back to California again! I was there in 2011 and rode through Bishop up to Yosemite and out to the northern coast.
I need a California road trip, But this Wisconsin snow has to go away first!

Trobairitz said...

Awesome write up Brian. Such beautiful pictures and scenery. Well worth the 'pucker' moments to get there. I really enjoyed the twisty road pics.

Glad you friend is faring well and looks to make a nice recovery.

Brian said...

Eric; You've got a problem bud, California is great... but so is South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and great chunks of Nevada! Then there's Idaho, Washington and Oregon if you swing around that way... You've got a hard time not getting worn out in beautiful country just getting to Cali! ;)

Thanks Trobairitz though the reason for the ride was less than prime, having good news on arrival and the sweet ride coming and going, I don't guess it gets any better. I'm looking forward to a lot of good rides in Oregon and Washington this summer... not to mention the rest of California between here and there... as soon as it warms up enough to move further north! :)

bob skoot said...

Brian:

I can't wait to experience some of your CA roads. I have been there several times but in a rental car, but it's not the same, you know that.

For the past few years I have been riding mostly in OR/WA/ID, most likely CA for 2014

bob
Riding the Wet Coast

Brian said...

Bob; Working our way slowly north up through the Owens Valley. Going to spend much of the Summer in Oregon/Washington. The plan is to come up the coast... and when we tire of the "Wet" turn east to the interior sun...

California, Oregon, Washington...

There's so many Good roads to ride... it's a fulltime job to keep myself at the keyboard... but a guy has to produce the dinero to fill the fuel tank and replace tires somehow!

bob skoot said...

Brian:

I have been down to Oregon the past 4 years. I wanted to go somewhere different this year. Somewhere I had never been before.

I am leaving Vancouver and heading east until I touch the Atlantic Ocean.

bob
Riding the Wet Coast

Brian said...

Bob; From the Pacific to the Atlantic... that sounds like what could be an epic ride ;)

Some version of that is in my "bucket"

San Diego to the furthest point in Maine? ... one of those "perimeter rides", taking the roads closest to the coasts and borders as a rider can get?

... or just point east and ride? :)