Go Beyond

Written by Teran McKinney
/ About Me / Half-time Remote DevOps/Systems Engineer /

Ride to Alice's

It started on a cold Saturday morning, waking up earlier than I'd hope for on a Saturday. But, I wasn't tired so I tried not to be a bum.

I rode out to breakfast. It was delicious. Rode back home and wasn't sure if I should stop riding. I checked the weather. High of about 52 today and tomorrow, grey both days. Tomorrow said rain, today did not.

Looking back, growing up I had an exceptionally strong will (if I decided to use it). I put myself through almost a whole year of a raw foods diet before finally breaking down. I've sat working (not gaming) for weeks at a time. Or, I'll indulge in something not even relaxing to excess, but that certainly isn't work. I realize I haven't made myself a high priority and I've been working on changing that. One of the things to that goal, is asking "What do I want to do?". My natural response is to work on some project. Which is good, but I often do it too much.

So I sat, having an opportunity. I wanted to test out the effects of raising the forks in the clamps by 10mm. But really, I wanted to go for a ride.

Day wasn't perfect. Everything a little damp, but mostly not. I decided to go.

I live in Palo Alto. Decided to take Page Mill road all the way to Skyline, to Alice's, and then back through the 84 and Sand Hill, till I hit El Camino Real. I haven't taken the Page Mill route before, but it certainly looked winedy enough.

That it was.

My steed was a 1991 Honda Hawk GT. Salvage title. Not entirely loved, but I don't think it was ever hated. Bridgestone BT-45 tires were fresh. I'd been trying to get the front and rear balance dialed in.

Initially, near and past 280 it was very windy. After 280, Page Mill had an incredible amount of turns and elevation gain per mile. I think it was at least five miles, pretty much of just turns. And it drizzled lightly and probably had been, as it was all more damp than I was expecting.

There were no other motorcycles. There were rarely any cars. There were, however, many cyclists. It was as if a bicycling road had been opened to cars, but the cars opted not to go.

The switchbacks were awkward. Some were extremely steep. I haven't learned of a good way to take them on, so I took them slowly, I think generally in second. I was greatful for the gearing and flexibility of the V-twin.

Parts of the road were decent. Other parts were choppy. The worst were the sections that had tarsnakes put in. It really seemed the broken pavement was better than the tarsnakes. When wet, they are slippery. Even with the fairly new tires being a bit warm. I slid around them a bit. I've learned to be cautious on them before.

The road I thought was Skyline said Alpine, and a cyclist told me it was actually Skyline. I turned right.

I'd never been so far South on Skyline. There were no Redwoods. The road was horrible. California is notorious for its rain grooved roads. The right tires usually aren't critically affected. However, this road had grooves about two to three inches wide. It kept me on my toes and felt quite sketchy with the bike wanting to rail in like a train.

I pulled off and took my first two pictures at an overlook. I was about to keep going, but really couldn't help but stop for the view. I must've gone up vertically some ways as I could see into the bay. Tires were lukewarm, especially the front. I guess the rain really took the heat out of them.

Kept on riding. Skyline became nice when the trees came. The grooves went away about there. The road still wasn't perfect, but it was good. Certainly enjoyable.

I figured out that I'd made a mistake riding in the weather when I got to Alice's. Saturday, 10:45AM and I was the second motorcycle in the parking lot. Looked like everyone took their Porsche instead.

I ate my Eggs Benedict and headed off, a bit worried for the roads ahead.

The 84 North (La Honda, if I'm not mistaken. How fitting!) was superb. Easier riding than Page Mill. A Toyota Sienna followed me closely enough to be considered embarassing, but I'd like to think I had the lead. That is, until some cyclists came out. They were... fast cyclists. Probably averaging 30 miles an hour. There weren't any great passing points and I'm not sure I needed to. Bike felt pretty decent, but maybe still like it needed to be a bit more aggressive at the front.

Well, pretty decent. The bike was fantastic. I'll keep adjusting it here and there, but in any half-decent stretch of road, it was very stable and predictable. Some of the roads were too rough for the suspension to keep up. But, all in all, it did everything I could expect of it. I had turned a bit timid after squirreling around on tar snakes in Page Mill. The ride back over La Honda took off my timidity and made it all worthwhile.

As for a final recommendation:

La Honda is terrific. A bit blind in spots, but worth the risk. The Redwoods are amazing. Ride it and ride it again.

Page Mill is much more technical than La Honda, and La Honda is a technical stretch of road. It's less busy. Would recommend trying it in the dry if you're an experienced rider.

As for the Hawk, it's the bike that's bringing me back the joy of riding after a number of bad experiences between three different motorcycles before it. It is a fantastic machine all-around, especially for having only half a swingarm.

Now, get out and ride!

Pictures: https://sli.mg/a/zMaWGg




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