As my bike ticks itself cool, I find a moment to chronicle the experiences of being a bookworm motorcycle enthusiast. Everyday offers opportunity for a two-wheeled adventure, even if it is simply commuting to work or going to the store. Riding is not a weekend hobby but a routine aspect of life, so from the asphalt to the page, this is my contribution to the world of motorcycling. -Y-
~~~THE NEXT RIDE~~~
Wednesday, August 29th 2012 - Victory at Laguna Seca: Cancer Undone
Last year, Laguna Seca was a desperate act of fulfillment. The ride up the coast was more of a race against an internal beast which couldn't be seen but so horribly felt. The Corkscrew was an indomitable feat that monstered us. It was all so familiar but suddenly so overwhelming. What was a yearly tradition became, just this one time, a nightmare come true. So much time focusing on staying awake, staying aware, staying alive.
But this year.....THIS YEAR was a triumph. A complete and absolute victory over the trials suffered last year. We rode up the coast and we were able to eat dinner at a table and not through feeding tubes. The weather was beautiful and we could enjoy it for what it was and not for what it may be for the last time. We hiked up the Corkscrew and shared a few tears at the top; memories forgotten flowed like rain when we saw the transport cart go by, the only means of getting to the top in 2011. It was a sobering and celebratory time at Laguna this year and in our attempts to forget last year, this time around will take the place of past misfortunes and sadness.
We made it home and it was back to normal life, normal work, and normal food. There was no recovery time in bed to regain strength and there was no follow-up appointment in Oncology. We did laundry. Made dinner. Watched a movie. Went to bed. Last year will probably never be cleaned from our minds, but the heaviness that blanketed this house for over a year now, has been lifted.
I'm grateful and so is he, and we hope to never forget what we fought so hard for only a few months ago.
Moving on to more pleasant and generalize summaries of the past several months since my last substantial update............
2 students, upon returning from a visit home to Japan, come to class and inform me that they wish to ride in the States. The one on the left started out looking for another GSXR (3 years experience on a GSXR 600 in Japan) but ends up on a Triumph Speed Triple. The one the right started out looking for a cruiser (15 years experience on all bikes in Japan) and ends up on an FZ1.
The squid in the middle is their friend and a smart kid. Only 18 years old and I asked him jokingly when he was going to get his bike. He said, "I'm too young and I'm not ready for that. I'm not mature enough."
I'll give him an A.
Well, it's been six months and a long six months at that. Since February, I've had my usual runs on Ortega and PCH and through Santiago. Work has consumed me and my bike is none too happy for it. I've tried to ride here and there but it's almost impossible to escape the 12 hour days 6 days a week. Sundays have become rest days and my bike has been properly patient with me and my old bones.
In two weeks, I'll be another year older, and this year has been full of rough roads and detours. Heck, in the past 6 months a great deal has changed and for the most part, it's all positive.
Well, except for worsening tendonitis in the right elbow. I'll shrug that off, unless that starts to hurt too.
Riding partner has improved tremendously and has been recovering well. He's eating more and working out and putting on more weight. Though his eating and swallowing are still a bit problematic, his overall condition is leaps and bounds beyond what it was earlier this year. (See 3 photos below: Student Departs (2), Sea World Turtle)
During a moment of desperation, I planned an overnight in San Diego followed by a ride through Palomar and Idyllwild. It was all well and good until we got up to the forest area and got turned away due to a cluster of 6 fires burning around us.
So, we turned back and stopped for lunch at some sushi joint at this place called Mile High Cafe - American, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Sushi. http://www.yelp.com/...-cafe-idyllwild
Yes, you read correctly - SUSHI in the MOUNTAINS.
I thought to myself, "This can't be good. We're going to get sick."
Surprise surprise, it was actually pretty good (for the mountains). With a slight taste of ash in our mouths, we finished up and made our way home. The fires didn't make for a cool ride down and the ash was horrendous. The temperatures were already high but the blanket of smoke made our thermometers soar.
Along the way, we stopped for gas and when I returned to my bike, I found a fairly large puddle underneath on the ground. Green. Uh oh. Under front of the lower fairing and nowhere near the overflow tubes. Double Uh oh. We ride home via Ortega Highway and in the garage, more coolant leaks out. This turns into a two-week issue which was easily resolved. The fan had ground into the radiator mesh causing the leak. Odd really since I didn't hear any unusual noises. Confusing.
Ordered a new left lung and all was well with the universe.
Skipping ahead, we work through the following weeks and eventually make it to Laguna. During the interim, I bought an actual camera and figured I'd start taking proper photos instead of relying on my phone. Problem is that I don't know how to use this damn thing. I've fiddled with the settings and found a good combination to take pretty clear pictures but I have no idea how I did it and I don't want to mess with it.
So with my piece of curious modern technology and lack of ability to use it, we're off to Laguna.
Leaving Thursday afternoon and stopping in SLO, we have dinner at Margie's Diner and gorge ourselves on meat and fresh local vegetables. They cooked the steak RARE and I'm sure there was some health code violated here, but man was it good. Onion rings were phenomenal and gigantic. Everything was great and I'm looking forward to stopping in again next year....maybe sooner.
Friday morning, we set off and enjoy our annual pilgrimage to Monterey.
We made it to our usual hotel. Checked in to our usual room number. The sun had just come out as we made it to our room and the view was calming. I went for a walk to stretch my legs while my riding partner took a nap. I roamed around the beach next door and enjoying some fresh air without a helmet.
The races were good and I found a few fun little things in the parking lot. We hiked the Corkscrew (something we couldn't do last year) and watched practice. I also managed to get some good shots of the riders as they went by.
The food at the Turn 4 Suite was fantastic.
My usual stop at Bullwacker's proved to be utterly disappointing, so much so that I don't think I'll be returning next year.
However, dinner at The Chart House was great.
Cannery was CROWDED, so I didn't take too many photos there this year.
But I did manage to snap about 500 shots at the track. Turn 4. Suit 1. Row 1. Not the best seats but pretty good. I will remember to reserve in Suite 7 next year where the exit of 4 and the entrance of 5 are visible.
The ride home Monday was foggy but beautiful and relaxing. Once the sun burned through the mist, it was clear skies all the way home. We stopped in Pea Soup Andersen's for lunch. Traffic through the valley was hot but manageable and not nearly as horrid as years past.
We made it home by 4:30pm and it was laundry and sleep the rest of the day.
I had Tuesday off as well and used it to meet my two students and give them their Laguna t-shirts and hats. Soon after that day, they took their first ride up Ortega and stopped to take a photo with them wearing their souvenirs. Good kids.
This is the first time in my life that I've been offered time off and actually enjoyed it. Granted it was a 3 week holiday but I only needed 7 days. During the pseudo-vacation, a long-term student of mine was out of time and leaving to return home. He stayed with us for a few months when he first arrived last year, and he rode in Japan. We took a few rides with him and gave him the SecaII.
For his last night in America, I invited him over for one last ride. We took a night ride to the coast and south on PCH back through the canyons. It was a fond farewell because he was a good student and listened well both in class and on the bike. We're going to miss him (far right - September 2011 ::compare riding partner's condition:: July 2012).
Returning to work for a couple weeks before being told that I have one more 3-day weekend before the second half of the Summer semester begins. So I did what any ride-deprived person would do - I plan another overnight in San Diego....well, La Jolla to be precise.
Rode down to La Jolla for an evening. Worked out in the hotel gym and had a nice steak dinner at Fleming's. Checked out early and headed down to San Diego to visit Sea World. We had breakfast next to the Shamu training area and then spent the day walking around, looking at polar bears, penguins, beluga, etc.
The ride home through weekend traffic was a good technical exercise. We ran into more idiot riders than drivers, which was interesting. Sport bikes were splitting between all lanes, making cars swerve at random intervals. Harleys that wouldn't get out of the way between lanes 1 and 2. Two bikes in the carpool which took up the entire lane when in reality they could have fit 4 abreast. Aside from one big black van swerving in front of us, most cars moved aside.
At any rate, the weekend ended and it was a nice time. The next day I headed over to the Farmers Market on Main St. in Huntington Beach for one final day in the sun. It was a nice ride in and a nice ride out.
Now, it's back to work and long hours at a job that I love but pay a price for my passion. All the while, my bike waits for me, always patiently, in the parking lot and in the garage, for our next adventure.
Yesterday, in an entirely unrelated ride outing (except for the fact that I rode to this place), I discovered one of the most contemptable spots in all of Orange County (and there are many). I seem to do some of my best writing when I'm angry. http://www.yelp.com/...0L3meg/src:self
Other than that rant, not much else to report but at least there are plenty of photos.
As always, thanks for reading.
Future Rides: We may be riding out to Colorado for a week some time later this year. I think most of you are in or around that area. I'll keep you posted.
Thursday, July 27th 2012 - Laguna Seca
Life has been busy and not allowing for proper rides, but patience results in a greater reward than instant gratification. We leave in less than 12 hours for Laguna, and when we return, I'll finally have another proper ride report to give.
See you when we get back.
Monday, June 18 2012 - A Long Time Coming
Brief recap: Last update - April. No Rides. Update before that - Late February. Julian/Palomar. In between - Work.
Laguna Seca is next month and our tickets arrived in the mail 3 weeks ago. I am desperate for a ride and none too simple. I've made offers on Blackbirds halfway across the country just to have an excuse to take a week off and have an adventure. I'm debating on taking tomorrow off and riding around for 12 hours. I don't want to wait until late July.
They say that motorcycles are therapeutic. That's true, but it's a double-edged cliche. Prolonged periods without proper riding time can lead to extreme behavior such as offering to buy a $6,000 bike which would result in a total of about $7,000 and a week without pay as I peddle around the country looking for places to get lost. Instead of pinning places on a map to explore, work has pinned me down in the office. Granted I'd much rather work too much than stress about not working, but it's difficult to have a weekend when you take your work home.
Maybe I should walk away from it all and open a motorcycle shop.
The only bike news I have to report is the Viffer was taken in for his first outside job. That's right. He's been touched by someone else. I left him overnight for a full work up at 36,000 miles. He came back happy and quite fast. New brakes, oil, clutch and brake fluids, plugs, and the basics. Valve were clean and everything else was in good shape. Rode him home then at night through the canyons and man did he fly.
Washed, waxed, and detailed. He looks, feels, and sounds brand new.
Blackbird #2 is still running well but there seems to be a bit of an oil leak. Will have to get that looked at.
The XR600R is up and running. The CB350Four is on deck for carb kits set to arrive Thursday. After that, Blackbird #1. Still not sure if a valve was dropped or a new theory being the cam chain tensioner, but either way, it's going to be a labor intensive job.
I'm still in the market for Blackbird #3 but realistically, any grandiose ideas of exploring the wilds of the midwest will need to wait.
Plenty of photos since February, but none of riding. Sure I've gotten on Ortega and Santiago but nothing which took me so far away from home that I saw a sunset and a sunrise. Sad.
That's all I have to report for now. Figured I'd write something for the time being. A boring blog update with no rides to report on a riding journal. 6 miles everyday round trip to and from work. Tires are still cold when I park.
Thanks for reading.
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