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I remember hearing that saying for the first time in my Motorcycle Safety Foundation Course.  One of the instructors told us that, only to say that he thought the saying was full of shit.  He apparently had been riding for 20 years and had never laid down his bike.  Not in the garage, not in a crash, not in a parking lot.  So he said. 

I don’t know if he was telling the truth, but I do know this, I am definitely in the former catagory.  I’ve laid down every motorcycle I’ved owned.  Whether it was in the garage, parking lot, doing a U turn on a severe uphill, or getting hit by a car, I’ve laid down my bike.  Am I an unsafe rider?  Not at all.  Each one of the incidents happened as a result of another party hitting ME.  (Seriously, I will create a section with my crash experiences so you will know I’m telling the truth…or at least an excuse)  This most recent one, however, was the worst.

Three months ago, I was riding down a well travelled, well paved road near the house.  It was a backroad that had its share of twists and turns and straights that ran through somewhat small towns.  I had been riding back home from lunch in San Francisco and was about six miles from my house.  This road has pullouts for slower traffic to go into when there are speedier vehicles behind. 

So the scene is set.  I’m riding behind a big truck.  I’ve just caught up to it, but nowhere near it.  The truck flashes it’s right hand turn signal and pulls over…well over into the large shoulder.  The truck is showing brake lights as to let me pass.  As I make the pass, the truck speeds up and is now side by side with me and moving into my lane.  This begins to push me into the opposing traffic lane, as the truck would have hit me if I stood my ground in my lane.  As I realized that I may either get hit by the truck or continue riding in the opposing lane risking a head-on collision due to the blind turns on this curvy road, I decided that I needed to get out of trouble.  I did so by speeding up to pass the truck in the middle of a somewhat sharp turn.  In the process of speeding up and passing the truck, the truck hits my rear tire and I cannot maintain my lean in the turn.  My path has straightened out in the middle of the turn…right into a metal beam guardrail.  

The guardrail is there to prevent vehicles from flying into a ditch abut 25′ down in case they missed the turn.  The guardrail did its job perfectly when I hit it.  The Kawasaki Z750S didn’t fly into the ditch, but I did.  Upon hitting the guardrail, I was thrown headfirst off the bike at about 30 mph and I flipped and tumbled like a rag doll 25′ down and about 25′ away from the site of the impact.

Luckily, I remained conscious and checked myself for injury to any body parts.  Spine good, neck good.  I try to stand up…nothing doing.  There was a a hot flash of pain in my right foot and I knew there was something wrong.  It was something that I hadn’t felt before, with the additional familiar feeling of fresh blood seeping out of a wound (I was kid once, and I had lots of kid accidents resulting in blood loss!).  After realizing that something was severely wrong with my foot, I look down to make sure it’s actually still attached to my leg.  Yup.  

After a half assed sigh of relief, I realized that I can’t bend my left leg without a significant amount of pain from my knee.  No warm blood feeling.  Just major pain.  I figured a tear of some sort.  Turns out I was right.  Partial tear in my medial collateral ligament (MCL).

The big injury was the right foot, though.  Somehow the crash caused my ankle to dislocate, two bones in my foot (4th and 5th metatarsals) to dislocate, and a major laceration on the top of my foot.  Nothing that a couple pins can’t fix!xray2

So after a few months in a cast and crutches, my gigantic wound on my foot has healed up, but I’m still working on walking without a limp.  My right ankle and left knee still don’t have the range of motion that they should, but I’m in physical therapy working on them.  My foot and ankle are still swollen beyond belief, so I literally have a “cankle”.  That should go away with time, too, though.  It better…

The driver of the truck?  Hit and run.  The sign of a true coward.  I could’ve been dead, and he/she just left, and that person caused the accident!  No use getting too upset about it anymore… 

I hope this is the last time I “lay my bike down”.  If I ever do again, then I hope it’s like the people in the Craig’s list ads that say, “Small scratch on the tank because my wife dropped it in garage when she was trying to move it”.  (sidenote:  that seems like such bullshit when I read that in Craig’s list)

I did go for a ride through the mountains with Sarah already.  We went two up on Hwy 1 North to Pescadaro to  Sky Londa to Saratoga and looped back taking Summit Rd to  Old San Jose/Soquel Road.  Only 112 miles, but about four hours of mountain twisties.   

loopI was a little tentative at first, considering I couldn’t even walk properly, but Sarah and I both had to ride.  Yes…we had to.  

For now, the motorcycle adventures aren’t quite what they were, but this is just temporary.  It is winter anyways, right?

Christopher:  This was a four day trip that was planned by me…which meant that it was totally last minute.  Sarah and I decided that we should take a motorcycle trip before she went back to school in Denver.  I said that I would plan the whole thing, and Sarah was all for it.  Man, I can’t believe she didn’t want to help.

So, after looking for a few hours online , I found a few campsites available in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  We’d be able to camp and ride some awesome roads on one trip…kind of like our Yosemite trip, but we’d be able to camp out longer at one site.  I’d planned on using one site as our basecamp and riding some loops each day, then returning to the basecamp each night.  The loops were awesome rides, and each night at camp was a blast!  Great riding, great scenery, great food (every night MEAT grilled over an open fire).  Just awesome.

Sarah: we had an awesome time! Luckily, Chris is an awesome cook on the camp fire. We had steaks, chili, and chops. Not bad for ‘roughing’ it 🙂 I was sad that this would be our last trip for several months as I was heading back to Denver to finish up my school. But this allows us time to figure out our next trip in the winter!

Day 1:  Santa Cruz to Humboldt Redwoods State Park. (340 miles)

We left early in the morning and took Hwy 1 all the way up.  Took over 10 hours, but, as usual, it was a lot of fun riding the coastline.  Plus, we never ride on the freeway unless absolutely necessary.

Which brings me to a tangent:  I think it’s sad to see motorcycles traveling on the I-5 between Los Banosin the North and Los Angeles in the South.  It could be out of necessity that these motos are on the freeway, like time constraints, medical reasons, etc., but…what a boring ride…hell, it’s boring in a car, so I don’t want to even imagine what’s it’s like on a motorcycle.  I guess if I wanted to just wear out the middle of my tires, then that would be the best ride to take.   (Gotta love tangents.)

We get to the Hidden Springs campground right at sundown, pick up some firewood, set up camp, and plan for the next day’s ride.  (insert picture)

The campground at Hidden Springs had amazingly secluded sites, considering how many sites there were.  We had a site 124 (I think) and it was perfect.  The vegatation that surrounded each site kept everything private, unlike some of the other campgrounds in the HRSP, where everyone is out in the open and one can see from one side of the campground to the other.

Day 2:  Loop from Hidden Springs Campground to Capetown to Fernbridge and back (130 miles, seven hours)

After waking up to the sights and sounds of nature (the birds chirping, the sunlight permeating through the tent, and me yawning and moaning for coffee), we start our day with a hearty breakfast of eggs, spam, toast (with butter and jelly, of course), and coffee (nothing beats a french press out in the woods).  Our first loop would be considerably short, however, it still took a long time due to the roads and terrain.

We made our way through the HRSP on the Avenue of Giants.  What great ride to be amongst what truly are giants.  Riding at a slow speed to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells is definitely the way to go.  No point in speeding because there are plenty enough cars on that road.

We knew we started to approach the coast when the temp began to drop and it got downright chilly when going 45-50mph.  The high speed winds didn’t help, as they just pushed Sarah and I around,  but made for some really neat coastline action; there were lots of violent wave crashes and the color of the water was an odd brownish gray (probably due to the high wind conditions stirring everything up?).    As we finished the coastal ride and began to turn inland towards Fernbridge, the road began to narrow and get a little goaty.

Fernbridge was a perfect place to stop for some food.  There are quite a few restaurants/eateries on the main strip.  After lunch, we stopped by Jamie’s Jams, a tiny hole in the wall store  that sold fresh jams and preserves.  We were quite surprised to see that there wasn’t a store clerk in sight, and that you actually purchased the jams by the honor system.  After putting the eight bucks (pricey!) into the money holer, we got the red plum preserves and headed out.

Day 3: Loop from HRSP to Fortuna to Weaverville to Willow Creek and back (320 miles, 8 hours)

This loop had lots of scenery and very few cars on the road with us.  It started out really cold, but ended up warm as we made our way back to basecamp.

Heading north from basecamp on the 101, we exited HWy 36.  It was a scenic route that led us east into Shasta Trinity Forest.  It was a gradual climb, and higher we got, the colder it became.

We had to pull over more than a couple times to warm up before getting to the juntion with Hwy 3.   The turn onto the 3 was kind of tricky.  It came up real fast at the top of a hill and we had to make a quick left onto the 3 towards Weaverville.

We took a brake for lunch in Weaverville at a Noelle’s Garden Cafe on Main St.  It was a gorgeous day and the place had some really cute outdoor seating, where we had studel!  I was thinking apple strudel, but it turned out that they were actual meals!  I had the ham and egg strudel, Sarah had the spinach and cheese strudel.  They were both yummy.  The town itself was very rustic and had looked like an town you might imagine from the old west.

After lunch we headed on Hwy 299.  Great ride with lots of high speed sweepers.  The whole road paralled the Trinity River (I think that’s the name).  After having the river well below us on the left for most of the ride, we finally hit the 101 and went south to Eureka.

We stopped at the Lost Coast Brewery for some nachos and a beer.  Afterwards, made our way back towards basecamp stopping in a the really small town of Scotia for some chicken to barbeque for the night.

Day 4:  Headed back home (sort of)

On this last leg of the journey, Sarah and I decided to try out some other routes inland, since we’ve been up and down the coast on several occasions.  We decided to see what Napa Valley had to offer in terms of riding.  There wasn’t much.  But there were A LOT of wineries…it is Napa Valley.  It was really hot, and we changed our minds about heading home and decided to stay out another night.

We took the 101 South for a while and broke off east on the 175 and headed towards Calistoga hoping to find a place to stay.  We couldn’t find anything that was in a town that had anything to do!  Sure we saw places to stay, but the towns were sooo small, and we wanted somewhere to hang out, besides in the hotel.

We decided to hit the coast again and hoped to find a place to stay.  We didn’t think it would be too hard as it was the Monday of Memorial Day and everyone was heading home from their holiday.  We took the 128 west out of Calistoga and headed towards Stewarts Point on the coast.  That road was very interesting as the tail end of it had a small town, in the mountains right before the road descended to the coast.

Once e headed south on Hwy 1, we began to get a little anxious to find a place to stay because the sun was going down.  We finally found the Salt Point Lodge just north of Jenner.  It was your standard hotel by the coast.  Great views, high price.  Side note, we spent a lot of money on dinner at the restaurant at the hotel.  The food was mediocre, at best, and  way overpriced.  But when you’re the only game in town, I guess you can do that.

We headed home the next morning taking the freeways (yuck) to make up time.  It didn’t matter, though, because we had a wonderful time taking in the gorgeous weather, scenery, and roads Northern California had to offer!

Dead Battery

Panel off

Panel off

I always wondered what I would do I if I my battery went dead while I was out riding.  I mean, the thought of coming back to my moto and it not starting up, isn’t pleasant.  

Thankfully, my battery hasn’t died, yet.  So what’s the point of this post?  Well, it didn’t die on me.  It actually died when Sarah took the BMW for a ride. 

Fortunately, she was able to call me  in the afternoon in Santa Cruz and I made it on time to San Jose BMW to get a battery.  After getting to Berkeley (she was in a weeklong class at Cal), I proceeded to change the battery for the first time…on a slope…on the street…without the proper tools and without a manual.  I figured it would be really simple…but then Sarah reminded me that it’s BMW.  To BMW’s defense, it was relatively easy to figure out, but damn were there a lot of screws to take out! 

After about an hour and a half (I was using this multi-sized allen wrench tool that was not conducive to easy removal of the screws, but coincidently, very adept at causing me to gouge my knuckles on hard parts), the job was done.  Sarah was super helpful and without her, it would’ve taken me twice the time.  I know she could’ve done it herself, though.  (Thanks for letting me pretend like I know something about motorcycles, honey.)

Although it wasn’t the most ideal situation for me to be changing the battery for the first time without a manual (still don’t have one), it was a great learning experience. 

I’m still wondering what I’m going to do when my battery conks out on ME.

Side Stand Up

Side Stand Up : The World's Only Motorcycle Radio Road Show

Sarah & Christopher: Thank you to Tom and Jerry at Side Stand Up for having us on the show! We had a great time and hope we can be on again in the future! Check out Side Stand Up online and the episode from July 15, 2008.

Trip Route

Santa Cruz, CA to various locations in/around Yosemite National Park
Friday, June 27, 2008 through Monday, June 30, 2008

Trip Summary:
Day 1: Santa Cruz to Incline, CA (Dirt Flat Campground) 310 miles

Day 2: Incline, CA to Jamestown, CA, 230 miles

Day 3: Jamestown, CA to Alpine Lake East Shore Campground, 223 miles

Day 4: Alpine Lake Campground to Santa Cruz, 289 miles

Total mileage: 1052 miles

Sarah: We had an awesome trip! Read each daily post to get an idea of routes we took and issues we encountered. The majority of the routes we followed were from Mad Maps which were mostly pleasant. A few were “highway-like” but luckily some were incredibly windy, secluded, and absolutely beautiful.

Christopher:  What a way to spend my birthday!  Thanks to Sarah, my gift was was this spectacular four day trip to Yosemite.  We had never gone there before, and we haven’t camped in a while, so I was really looking forward to the trip.  The weather was great, and I had a new tire, so I couldn’t wait to roll.

Santa Cruz to Dirt FlatSanta Cruz to Dirt Flat Campground (near Incline, CA) – plus side trip through Yosemite

Mileage: 310 miles

Sarah: The ride to the campsite was a bit brutal. We had to take highway type roads to make it there (152 to 59 to 140). After Watsonville the temperature was incredibly hot. But luckily we invested in perforated clothing to keep us (somewhat) cool.

Off of the 140, it was a little tricky finding the Dirt Flat campground. I figured we would see signs off the main road but there were none to be found and luckily someone at Indian Flat campground pointed us in the right direction (hang a left at Frontera road then left on Incline). I had reserved this camp site a few weeks before, but there were still a couple that were vacant. The site was great; right next to running water which was freezing and a great relief from the hot weather. Chris and I took a quick dip in the icy water, set up camp, and headed towards Yosemite and to Oakhurst to pick up food and wood, then back up north on the 49 towards Mariposa and back on 140 towards our camp site.

Christopher:  Incline? Never heard of it.  I’m glad that not too many other people have either.  The campground was a bit out of the way, but it was a great location and not crowded.  The stream that was running right at the foot of our campsite was amazingly refreshing after riding from Santa Cruz.  I didn’t particularly like the ride on Hwy 152 because it was extremely hot and extremely not curvy.  Although picturesque heading into and out of Merced, I am not fond of being on a motorcycle and seeing the road and the telephone poles and wires and trees and the lines and the cars ahead of me going straight until the horizon.  However, as told by a wise man (also a rapper with his own clothing line):  “Sometimes you have to go through the pain to experience the joy…this too shall pass.” 

After we set up camp and cooled off in the creek, we mounted back up and headed into Yosemite National Park.  We decided to take a loop that we would not be taking to get to our other destinations for the weekend.  It took a couple of hours, but well worth it.  We got to see Half Dome and rode through this newly dug tunnel.  I think it was newly bored…well, whatever, it was really interesting because it didn’t look complete.  Not like in Switzerland where the tunnels are five miles long, and are concreted on all sides.  This one was quite rustic and unrefined; the tunnel looked jagged and rocky as we rode through.  Not sure if that was intentional, but it did have an effect of coolness.

We decided to pick up some provisions for dinner and breakfast at a general store that was still in the park.  I never thought I’d pay $20 for a can of Vienna sausages, six eggs, and firewood.  I have to tell you, though, those were the BEST Vienna sausages I have ever eaten in my life.  Seriously, we opted to not by anything else and chance for a bigger, cheaper market somewhere else.  I couldn’t bring myself to by a $15 pack of hotdogs for dinner.  That would be a steal at a ballgame, though.  Anyways, luck would have it, we ran into a Raley’s, where we acted like grownups that were hungry and tired.  Okay, there wasn’t any acting, and we did get some good grub to cook on the grill that night.       

Packing

Outlook

camping

Dirt Flat to JamestownDay 2: Dirt Flat Campground to Jamestown, CA

Mileage: 230 miles

Sarah: The second day we headed into Yosemite and took many many stops to take in the awesome scenery. Strangely, there were not many people on the roads heading east. The park was awesome and it took us several hours to get through it as we took many pictures and videos along the way. (We wanted to make sure we got our money’s worth – $10 per bike for a 7 day pass). By the time we got to the east entrance, there was a huge line going into the park. I’m glad we avoided that!

We took a lunch break outside of Yosemite in Lee Vining. I had a Chicken Fiesta Salad which was… interesting… plus, a bonus! lots of lipstick on my water glass. Yummy!!

We also took a pitstop at Bodie; a ghost town right off of the 395. It was about 9 miles of beautiful winding roads and 3 miles of dirt. A little bumpy but you get used to it. The $3 admission was worth it- the town is awesome and hard to believe thousands of people used to live there.

The 395 was beautiful but felt like we were on the interstate. It was very straight and not many curves to keep our attention. It was a relief to get on the 108 (Sonora Pass) which was VERY windy and ABSOLUTELY beautiful! There were several camp sites on this road which I think we will probably stay at if we were to return. This was an awesome ride and I highly recommend it if you are in the area.

Jamestown turned out to be a cute town. We were pretty tired, hungry ,and excited about taking a shower 🙂 We stayed at the Royal Carriage Inn and enjoyed the company of Jen, who worked the front counter. She was a funny gal who tried to make our stay a good one. We grabbed some dinner – for me, a cajun shrimp dinner from the National which was… okay. Then headed to Stogies for some drinks and a cigar. Robert and his wife were very friendly and helped us choose our stogie. They had a big selection of wines and beers with GREAT prices.

BikesPork LunchSarah taking a breakRideChrisInside StogiesTiaga RoadLeaving Dirt Flat