Monday, May 10, 2010

Boise and Back

Originally posted 8/19/2009

The Duc in Yosemite.

Last week I rode up to Boise for WPS' National Sales Meeting. Since the shortest route to get there is around 850 miles, I decided to break the ride into two days instead of trying to cover that distance in a day. Then I figured, since 2 days is plenty of time to cover 850 miles, why not take the scenic route? So I did.

I left Sunday afternoon, got onto Angeles Crest Highway and ended the day in North Las Vegas. In case you've never heard of Angeles Crest Highway, it's one of the better and longer intermediate-level twisties here in So Cal. I couldn't have as much fun as I wanted as traffic was relatively heavy, but I still enjoyed the beautiful ride.

The next day I took the scenic route up to Boise via eastern Nevada, going through US93, Nevada318, US6, back onto US93 before finally hitting Interstate 84 and arriving at Boise. Eastern Nevada is way more scenic than I had expected, and I thoroughly enjoyed the open roads.

After three days of meeting, I hit the road again on Thursday afternoon. I started the ride by cutting through southeastern Oregon on US95. While in Oregon, the TPX scored another save for me. The posted speed limit on all the highways in Oregon is 55. I was doing around 90-95 for the most part. At one point, I was riding on a long gradual incline, and I could see the road going into a decline ahead, but I couldn't see past the crest of the incline. As I got close to the crest, the TPX started going off with a weak K alert, then it really quickly ramped up. I knew something was up. I had already let go of the throttle at first warning so I've slowed down a bit, but I was still a good 15-20 or so over the posted speed limit, so I decided to apply the brakes. Good move on my part because as soon as I got to the top of the crest, the road goes into a pretty sharp decline for about a quarter of a mile and then shoots straight back up into a pretty steep incline, creating a mini-valley. And you guessed it, right at the bottom of the valley is a cop. It was a perfect spot for the cop. His radar signals are trapped by the valley and if you are a motorist not abiding the speed limit, it's easy to get caught. I was probably still a bit over 55 when I started the decline, but it wasn't fast enough to warrant the cop pulling me over. If it weren't for the TPX, I would've probably still be going at around 90 heading into the decline and probably would've gotten a ticket. I ended the day in Fallon, NV.

The next day I continued on US95, then cut over to California via Nevada359/CA167. I then made a pit stop at the world famous Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining before cutting through Yosemite on Tioga Pass, probably one of the most scenic rides in California. After getting out of Yosemite, I then cut over to Ben Hur Road.

Oh man, do I have a story to tell about my ride on Ben Hur Road. First of all, the road is awesome. Very light traffic, in fact, I only saw one vehicle the entire time I was on it. The road is very fun, with plenty of twisties. About the only down side is that part of the road is in not-so-good condition, pot holes, bad patch jobs, and loose gravels here and there. But overall, fun.

I got into it immediately and was having fun with the twisties. Then, about 10 minutes into it, I got into trouble. Now, I've been riding consistently for about 8 years now, and if you want to count messing around on friends' bikes as riding, about 15 years. In these past 8 years, I've never really made any gross mis-judgments while riding. I've never gotten myself into situations where I'm thinking to myself "oh shit, I'm f'd". I've always rode within my abilities, and when I'm on the twisties, I push my limits but always knew when to back off. So, back to Ben Hur. I was coming up on a right turn. The right side of the road is a hill so I couldn't see the other end of the turn, but I was slowing down going into the turn, getting ready for it. As soon as I got into the turn, I realized that I was going in too hot. The turn turned out to be an almost u-turn, and it was much tighter than I had expected. Immediately I leaned down even more, but realized I was still too hot. The next thought went through my mind was: "shit, I'm going down", and I can feel myself starting to low side. I then decided to apply my back brake. By now, I've already drifted into the oncoming lane and I can feel my right foot dragging on asphalt. I thought I was going down for sure. All of a sudden, I realized that my bike was aligned perfectly straight with the other side of the almost u-turn, and I must have hit my front brake a bit because I felt like my bike was a bit more upright then where it was just a fraction of a second ago, so I punched it on the throttle. I could feel the back wheel spinning out as it was on the loose-dirt shoulder, but it regained traction real quickly and somehow, miraculously, I got out of the low side and got back on the road.

I couldn't believed what had happened. I was certain that I was going down but somehow I got out of it. After gathering myself, I started to try to analyze what had happened, and realized that it was my instincts (and probably luck) that got me out of it. There is no way that I could've figured out what I needed to do to get out of that situation if we were to freeze frame each split second and ask me what I should do then and there. I knew that had I gone down, I probably wouldn't have killed myself as I knew that I wasn't going that fast, and worst case scenario would be the bike landing on me and dragging me down the ditch. Probably a broken foot (or two). It would've been a bitch to try to get the bike out of the ditch, and I'm out in the middle of nowhere. It took me another 20 minutes or so after the close call to see any sign of civilization; a house on the side of the road. It was a blessing that the road had almost no traffic, as I had drifted into oncoming lane, but it would've been a curse had I gone down.

Needless to say, I went easy on Ben Hur the rest of the way, and after getting out of the back roads, I took CA99 back to LA.

All and all, it was a memorable four days of riding for sure. 1,883 miles when it's all said and done, and overall moving average of 68 with top speed of 116 (trust me, the Duc wouldn't go any faster) according to the GPS. I thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and gained new perspective on my riding abilities. I realized that I was probably a bit tired before I hit Ben Hur, and I'm almost certain that it had some effect on my judgment, and it was a good reminder to myself to always be alert with my riding, and never get careless with it.

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