Thursday, July 5, 2012

Up Hwy 39 to Crystal Lake

And, all I have to show for it is a nice helmet-pressure knob on my forehead.  Which is great, considering all that could have gone wrong...
The Professor and his family came down to Long Beach for the 4th of July holiday.  He had ridden his bike down so that we three could head out for a ride on Wednesday morning.  Which is just exactly what we did. 
The weather could not have been more perfect.  It was actually so cool here when we set out at 9AM that I put on a long-sleeved t-shirt over my short-sleeved one at the last minute.  We expected the cloud cover to burn off by the time we got to the base of the mountains, but it remained cool until we stopped at the top, in the parking lot for Crustal Lake. 
The traffic both ways on the 605 was great.  So much better-- can I say that again, so much better-- than going to Azusa via city streets.  Which is how we got there last year, before The Male let me on the freeways. 
East on the 210 to Hwy 39 and then up the canyon, way past where we stopped on our first trip.  I felt so much more comfortable on the tight curves, it actually become enjoyable.  We still ride at a rather geriatric pace, being geriatric, so we pulled over at turn-outs often to let the crowd behind us pass.
We rode past the recreation area where there were literally hundreds of cars parked alongside the road on both sides.  So, take note: if you want to explore this recreation area, come early in the day or you will be scrambling for a parking spot. 
Once we got past the tight space through the day-use area, the road became much less crowded and more fun, too.  At about 5,600 ft. elevation, we arrived at the first of two parking lots for Crystal Lake. 

Take another note:  The second parking lot is quite a bit shadier.  It was HOT. 

The Professor and I walked over the hill to take a quick look at the lake, while The Male stayed with the bikes.  I was worried that we might get ticketed for not having a day pass.

We had a quick snack and drink of water before gearing up to head down the hill.  That's when I noticed that I had 59 miles on this tank of gas.  My tank's limit is about 80-90, which obviously wouldn't get me all the way home.

That's when my birthday present from The Professor and The Mommy came into play:  A bright red 1-gallon spare gas tank, that fits just perfectly in my saddlebag!  Yippee!  No more frantic searching in unknown parts for a gas station!  Thanks again, guys!

But, poor Male.... all suited up, in the hot, hot sun, with mean, biting flies buzzing around us, figuring out how to work the new can's nozzle...  He's a great guy. 
With my gas tank filled up, we made the loop through the perfectly lovely, shady little campground and began the ride downhill.  I rather enjoyed it! 
Then, on to the 210, the 605, and back to cool, still-cloudy Long Beach. 
It was a great way to spend the holiday. 
Love you guys!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Angeles Crest Highway with the Guys

A few weeks back, early in December, our son-in-law, The Pilot, was here for the weekend.  He was the management's representative on a Christmas party circuit for his company.  One of those stops was here in our town, and he worked out the schedule so he could stay the weekend.
He had decided to rent a bike while he was here, so that we could all go riding together.  He had shipped his gear and reserved a bike.
On Saturday morning, The Pilot and The Male geared up, and I drove my car, while The Pilot, who's 6'2" rode my bike to the motorcycle rental shop.  Poor guy; his knees were up around his ears.
Once there, he got his rental ST1300, I parked the car and the three of us, each on a bike, headed up the freeway to meet The Professor at the start of the Angeles Crest Highway.  On the way there, I only had one near-death experience, when I didn't see a truck in my blind spot and started to merge.  I caught myself before any damage or shrieking was done.
I so wish I could have taken my iPhone out of my pocket and taken a photograph as we made a transition from one freeway to another.  The transition road was a huge, high, beautiful, sweeping expanse of concrete.  From it I could see miles and miles across downtown LA.  It was gorgeous.
As we headed north toward Sunland, the freeway begins to pass in to quite a rural area; there were tall pines along the freeway and the air smelled thickly of their piney scent.
Once off the freeway in Sunland, we met up with The Professor, made a quick stop for gas, and headed up the road.
 It wasn't too long before The Pilot and The Professor passed us by (We told them they didn't have to go along at my stately and age-appropriate pace, and they didn't!).  The curves on this road will enchant even the most reluctant of bikers.  Our destination was Newcomb's Ranch, a biker hangout about 35 miles up the road.
The Male and I enjoyed the ride and the beautiful scenery.  I had never been through this part of Southern California, and LA seemed a world away.
It took us about an hour to get to Newcomb's Ranch, where we were surprised that the guys weren't there yet.  We thought that they might have continued up the road to Wrightwood.  But, no, they had taken a wrong turn and had headed back to civilization.  They turned around, we were soon enough having lunch together. 
By this time, the sun had gone behind the tallest mountains, casting deep shadows in the curves.  On the way down the road, I had trouble with my eyes adjusting and would experience a few brief moments of not being able to see anything upon entering the shadow.  That took a little fun out of the ride down the hills.
Once again, the younger set took off down the road, planning to meet us on a turnout before getting to the freeway.  From this stop, we could see over the LA basin, and this photo doesn't do the view justice.
Checking out the map for the ride home:
We had to make a stop to gas up my bike (tiny gas tank), and i had trouble making a sharp enough turn into the gas station.  So, I just went down the side road and turned around.
On the 605, our last stretch of freeway toward home, the traffic bunched up a bit.  The Male was in front, and The Pilot and The Professor were behind me.  And, I found that rather comforting.  I knew if I got into any trouble that they would be right there.  Fortunately, they weren't called to duty, but I knew that they would!  I love you guys.
We made it home all in one piece, 182 miles in all for the guys, and 162 for me (I drove up to the bike rental shop.).  It was a great day, and I'm gaining confidence with every successful outing and looking forward to the next one!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mission San Luis Rey and a 60th Birthday

Yesterday was The Male's 60th birthday.  And, in a completely not-to-character decision, he actually took the entire day off work.  Incredible!  He decided that he'd like to go for a ride down to the next mission on our list, San Luis Rey, in Oceanside.  And, he wanted me to go, too! 
Which, if you understand him at all, is a huge decision.  He is ever fearful that I'll get my self killed on his watch.  Which is, frankly, a reasonable concern.  Our ride involved 70 miles one-way, of mostly freeway riding.  And, he wasn't at all sure that I could keep up freeway speeds, and thereby not get run over by a semi, so you can see what a sacrifice he made...
We mapped out our route, got geared up, and headed out.  It was a gorgeous day to be out and about, with a clear blue sky and perfect temperature.  We got gas first, then on to the 405.  We stayed in the right-hand lane as much as possible, going a respectable 60MPH.  Respectable for me, at least.
It was wonderful to not have to stop at stop lights over and over, to just sit and ride.  Of course, I stayed vigilant, and have the sore neck today to show for it.  But, it was so much more pleasant than city streets.
We made it to the mission in a little over an hour, got gas, and had lunch before we began our visit.

The ride back was a little more tense.  The traffic started to bunch up about 20 miles from home.  And, as I get more tired, my stops tend to get sloppy.  I was dreading stop-and-go traffic for 20 miles, and I could easily see myself dropping the bike.  But, all my slow-speed training came in quite handy, as I only had to come to a complete feet-down stop twice.  One of those stops, I stalled the bike.  But, it was easy to get going again, and the traffic wasn't moving much, so I didn't cause a scene. 
One of the little joys of riding is catching scents that you wouldn't get in a car:  sizzling french fries, eucalyptus trees, the ocean...  But, there are others out there, like skunks and pot.  Yep, amazingly enough, not once, but twice, we passed drivers, windows down, smoking a joint!  On the freeway!  Be careful out there, friends...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Gang of Three takes on Palos Verdes

So, yesterday, our son, The Professor, came down to our house on his bike, a Vstrom 650.  His family drove down, and The Mama was very nervous, watching The Professor ride while she drove!

After lunch, while the family took naps, The Male, The Professor, and I headed out on our bikes for the loop around the Palos Verdes peninsula.  Once you get past the congestion and general ickyness on PCH (the Pacific Coast Highway) and up into the rolling hills and horse country of Palos Verdes, it's a lovely ride.

Usually, there are stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, but not for today.  A very low, dense, fog had come in off the ocean, and there just wasn't anything to see until we got nearly all the way around.  It was cold and damp, too; quite the change from down on PCH, where it was sunny and in the 70s.
We stopped at our usual lookout for a stretch and a snack, and we were able to see a bit of ocean.  Then, back through San Pedro, up the 110, to PCH, and then home, 52 miles in all.
Uneventfully and safely! 

Before we left, The Professor took The Mama around the block a few times.  She liked it!
All suited up and looking appropriately tough.  (Ha!)
At our usual look-out point.  Not much of an ocean view, I'm afraid!

Aggg.... Helmet hair!

And, today, I'm paying for that ride through that chilly damp fog.  I woke up yesterday with a scratchy throat and tried to ignore it, but today, I'm in the full grip of something nasty.  Still in my jammies, which is probably more than you wanted to know...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fourty-four Miles to San Gabriel and Home

Today was a beautiful day in the neighborhood: mid-seventies temperature and sunny skies.  The Male and I decided to take the opportunity to head north to Mission San Gabriel.  We've been to San Juan Capistrano and Santa Ines, and this one is right here in our back yard, so to speak. 
We decided to keep off the freeway, and instead, we headed up on Highway 19, Rosemead Blvd.  It goes right by the Whittier Narrows Recreational Area and dam.  We'd never seen either before. 
We found the Mission easily and parked under a big tree for the shade. 
 These grounds are not a beautiful as San Juan Capistrano, nor as historically charming as Santa Ines.  The plants were more along the lines of native, rather than ornamental, flowers and cactus.  That being said, we enjoyed our visit. 
 We were simply amazed at the size of the grape vines; you wouldn't be able to get your arms around the trunk of the largest.  They were started from seeds, rather than cuttings, so the grapes are exceedingly tiny and used only for making sacramental wine. 

The little museum is crammed with artifacts and The Male could have happily spent the entire day there, reading every little handwritten note.
We wandered the grounds, and then went out to the bikes for our lunch, waiting for a wedding to conclude so we could go in the original church.
Back to the grounds, where the wedding was still going strong.  It had been over an hour by now.  I felt sorry for the bride; her feet were probably hurting!  But, that gave me a little more time to seek out some photo opps.

The wedding finally concluded, and we went in to the church.  They were busy in  there, taking down flowers from one wedding and putting the next wedding's flowers in their place.  We didn't linger long.
Then a walk around the outside grounds, and home safely, and thankfully, once again. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Riding into the Sunset

The Male finally let me out on my bike again.  It's been a while, and I am rusty.  However, in my defense, I did an amazing parking job in our driveway today.  So what that it was on the wrong side.  It was still amazing.
So, to bring you up to speed: We went out this afternoon for a little 17.5 mile run to the barber shop. I felt a little shaky starting out, as it's been over 2 months since my last ride. But, a few times around the block, and I was feeling more confident.  We stopped to get gas first, and then headed out.
I need to remember that we have Bluetooth, so every little "oopsie" I utter is heard. And, that just makes him worry even more, "You OK???"  "Yep; just caught my toe on the peg." Et cetera.
It was a lovely afternoon, and the breeze felt great through my Joe Rocket mesh. Like every other afternoon ride, though, we come home into the setting sun.  Makes it a little trickier to see clearly.  So, we just ride like the old geezers we are. And, we made it home safely.  Again. For which we are thankful.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

86.4 Miles and Only One Near-Death Experience

So, we're making great progress!

The Male, however, is still a little shaky.

We headed out today for Cook's Corner, a famous motorcycle hangout in Orange County.  Now, mind you, we weren't actually going to stop there.  Heavens, no,  We'd be exposed as the fakers we are faster than you can say, "I'll have the biggest tattoo you can draw!"

Getting there necessitates a bit of freeway, 22 miles, and then a long stretch along a winding, rural highway.  That part is truly lovely.  But, once past Cook's Corner, where I DIDN'T lay down my bike at the 90 degree corner--how embarrassing would that be?--the road gets even windier, with 3 really, really sharp turns.

And, I over-shot one.  Big time.  There were a few cars behind us, and I felt a little crowded, so I was probably going too fast.  Honestly, I don't remember.  I do know that I was too close to the inside of the curve, so it was very tight.  I probably would have been OK had I been on the outside of the curve.

So, I didn't make the turn and instead, shot over into the other lane.

Where, LORD be praised, there were NO oncoming cars.  Oh, I will be having flashbacks about that for some time. 

The Male was more than a little upset.  He gets that way whenever I almost get myself killed.  So, we pulled over by a park, had some water, and tried to shake it all off.
But, it took the fun down a notch or two.  He kept asking all the way home, "Are you doing OK?" 
And, I was.  Really.  I got up to 70 MPH on the freeway, a new record for me.  Didn't pop the clutch, kill the engine, drop the bike, or anything but that one itsy-bitsy mistake.  So, now can we all just move on? And, never mention this again.  Great!