Sunday, May 01, 2005

RawHyde Adventure Rally - Day 3

10:00 p.m.

Extremely tired and ornery. Arrived home about 6:45 p.m., pulled all the dusty bags and luggage off the bike and piled them in the living room. I don’t want to put anything away until I’ve had a chance, with a clearer head, to look over all I had taken and evaluate whether I needed each item.

The day began for me around 6:00 or 6:30. Felt well-rested. I trust I didn’t disturb anyone. (I later asked around to confirm this.) The helicopter was preparing to take raffle winners aloft. Issa spoke of leaving before breakfast. Hurried to get my gear packed, slow poke that I am.

Since my electric pump was unusable, I found my back-up hand pump and tried inflating the tires. The pump did not fit the tire valve stems. And my digital pressure gauge gave up the ghost after a single use. “Better to find these things out now!”

I borrowed an electric pump from “Ken”. Got the tire pressures up to a reasonable level before it overheated. Grabbed a muffin and juice for breakfast. Too late for the “breakfast burritos”.

California Adventure Rally: rider-in-training, timtraveler, stuffing his face, as usual (chocolate chip muffin, if you must know). Photo by fellow-Sonoman, Scott Anderson.

Hurried to eat, rehydrate myself and get everything secured on the bike. Rode out of camp around 8:30, no time for farewells. I was playing catch-up. I hadn’t packed the load well, and was pressed forward against the gas tank; not good for riding through gravel, I thought.

The bike was not as stable riding the gravel out to the highway, but there were no mishaps. At Panamint Springs, we refueled. While waiting for a couple of stragglers, I took the opportunity to top off the tires and rearrange my packs.

There were nine of us making the ride today. Anne joined us, but Jeff and Sharon had stayed behind and will ride back at a more leisurely pace. Getting back out on the road, Issa and another rider shot ahead to play in the “twisties” as we climbed out of Panamint Valley. I wanted to play too.

Fearing I was being too bold, or perhaps violating some rule, I carefully passed other riders, one by one. Once clear, I took off in pursuit of the leaders, reaching 100 mph. Finally caught up with them on a high desert straightaway and the three of us rode into Lone Pine together.

Everyone was eager to get home, so there were few stops. But the pace wasn’t as aggressive as Friday’s. Climbing out of Mono Basin, I showed the others what an R1200GS could do, but was careful not to leave Issa and his 1150 in the dust. That would be bad form. But what a fun road!

We stopped again in Bridgeport, this time at a quaint burger stand. Once again, a very pleasant afternoon up here. Ordered a fish sandwich and berry malt, but the others were done and heading over to refuel before I could finish.

Regular gasoline $3.30 per gallon at Bridgeport’s Chevron station. The same price as Panamint Springs. “Robbery.”

We left U.S. 395, turning west onto U.S. 89 and climbed into the Sierra. A new road for me, offering great, expansive eastward panoramas. It got pretty cold at the higher elevations, with plenty of snow on the ground and a sky threatening to drop more. We passed through unfamiliar canyons, parks and towns; places I never knew existed. But there are many people living up here.

A chilly cast of characters returning from the California Adventure Rally. Sierra Nevada, south of Lake Tahoe. (That's Issa and Anne on the right.)

A light rain began falling, though nothing too challenging. We dropped into the Lake Tahoe Basin and just as quickly exited on U.S. 50, joining that perpetual train of cars over Echo Summit. Beyond the crest, rainfall became steady. Traffic crawled down the western canyon, trying my patience. Other drivers were becoming aggressive as well.

I finally moved ahead of the slower moving bikes, leaving them to fend for themselves. In Placerville, the remnants of our group stopped to refuel and officially say our farewells. It was quite warm on this side of the mountains and I was able to shed some layers of clothing. As the others pulled out of the station, I was left struggling to get my over-stuffed pannier shut.

Felt the urge to catch up with the group. (I didn’t like being “left behind”!) But they had a five to ten minute jump on me, and traffic was heavy heading into Sacramento. Nevertheless, I charged back into the mess and split lanes (or “shared” them as some prefer to describe it.)

I was feeling pretty good about the weekend’s experiences, more confident than before. Then, across the concrete median barrier, I spotted a large group of eastbound sport bikes. One shirtless rider had the front end of his bike high in the air, executing a “wheelie” at 60 or 70 mph! Confident, but not that confident.

Driving into the sun throughout the afternoon was brutal, and I worried that I was damaging my eyes. (They were already red and sticky from conjunctivitis.)

I eventually caught up with the group and passed them with a wave just as I turned off on highway 12.

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