An Unseen Force Pulling Me Home

Joe made breakfast to send me off on my final leg and I was on the road at 8 AM.  I really felt a strong force tugging me home so I rode at 75-80 on the 101.  Normally I would take highway 154 through the Santa Ynez Valley but it is closed due to a large fire so I stayed the course to Santa Barbara.  I am in this area every spring for an archery event and ride secondary roads like highway 150 through Ojai but today I just wanted to make time so stayed on the 101.

As I got through Ventura and then Woodland Hills the traffic increased until I was in the San Fernando Valley where it got very heavy at 10 o’clock on Saturday morning.  I had to split lanes around the freeway interchanges and finally escaped toward Pasadena.  The traffic was thick everywhere but moved at a brisk pace.  Eventually I needed one more fuel stop and got gas in Asuza.  I had ridden 200 miles since I started which is a pretty long stretch that took about three hours.  I guess my ass is finally broken in for the long haul.

At the fuel stop I had only about eighty miles to go and now I felt the force really drawing me.  It was hot and I wet my base layers so I could be cooler than I was the last hundred miles.  I had a text from my wife.  She would not be home because she was gong to the San Diego Pride parade.  Dang, I hope she has not switched teams in my absence.

I continued on the Foothill freeway until turning toward Pomona, then Chino, then Corona.  In Corona the traffic was really heavy and I had a long stretch of lane splitting in the heat to put the cars behind me.  The traffic thinned after the mall near El Cerrito, go figure, and now the temperature climbed to 102.  As I neared Lake Elsinore the traffic got thick and I split lanes from there all the way through Temecula.  Where the hell is everyone going?  The Pride Parade?  Or the casino, since it thins out after that exit.

Splitting lanes again is a real pleasure.  On my trip there were a number of times that I was stuck in traffic and would have loved to do it.  It is one of the reasons I love California.  I don’t split lanes like a madman like I see a lot of people do on my daily commute.  I steadily work my way through the cars and find that most drivers are glad to give me room.  There is something fun about doing battle with traffic like this.  It is a lot like riding briskly on a winding road; it requires total concentration and quick reaction.  I find it fun.  And, when people saw me coming on my fully loaded, thoroughly grungy, adventure bike they let me pass without complaint.

Once the traffic thinned again I was ten miles from home and left the freeway ahead of where the GPS wanted so that I could ride the last five miles on familiar roads that are not straight.  I got to my neighborhood and found that it looked the same as when I left.  At home I found the front door locked and no one here.  Such a grand arrival, but hey, I had all this time to do as I pleased so the rest of the family can do what they want as well.  Elroy, my cat, was very glad to see me after all of this time.  I am his favorite human and he missed my supreme petting skills and wanted to make up for lost time.  I got out of my hot gear and unpacked a few things and stuck the warm beer from my cooler into the freezer then tuned on my PC to see what emails I missed.  Almost all of the 750 emails were junk, as they usually are.

So I had my Alaska adventure.  I traveled 11,034 miles.  The bike ran flawlessly but a few times when the quality of fuel was suspect it protested at low speeds.  My Mitas E-07 tires were terrific.  The rear started with 12mm of tread and now has 4mm left.  I think at least another thousand miles could be had from the rear.  The front tire started with 6.5mm of tread and has a bit more than 4mm left.  The oil leak from the rear of the engine is typical when the seals age and so I will have to split the bike and replace them, not a big challenge for me and I will be able to get things cleaned up after all the bike has been through.  The bike looks cool with all of its road grim, dirt and remnants of mud.  I have used it for its intended purpose.

People have asked me what the highlight of the trip was.  It is not possible to pick one thing but I will try and capture some of them in future posts.  I now have a lot of video and photos to go through and arrange so please stay tuned for those future posts as well.

One thing I learned is that the adventure would be enhanced by sharing it with Sandy.  I don’t think she would be up for six weeks on a bike.  I want to go back and see things I missed and re-visit places I loved and so the best way I can think to do that, and have my life companion with me, will be in a small RV.  I can’t wait for that adventure as well.

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