Getting to bed last night at 5:30pm didn’t work out as well as I hoped. I was still amped out from work and my mind just would not turn off. After 6 hours of trying and maybe getting 2-3 hours of quality sleep, I gave up trying, dressed up for my ride, kissed Linda good night, and was out of the apt. by midnight. It was pretty chilly, and even when I think I’m overdressed for a ride, I appreciate every last fiber of every layer I put on because my ride started out cold and only got colder. The first 500 miles from Simi Valley to Redding were misery in a bottle.
Sensory deprivation can be fun when played the right way, but when traveling through the Central Valley in pitch darkness with nothing but the hum of the motor and your sense of smell working, it was torture. Getting back to that sense of smell…it’s beyond my comprehension that people actually grow and consume food from the valley after what my nose was put through. Smells of rotten eggs, fertilizer, road kill, petroleum, cow shit, brake pads and rubber kept hitting me. I’ve driven that route a hundred times, normally in my car with the air conditioning running and the windows closed, so I was isolated from these smells until last night. No windshield to protect me. No daylight to distract me. Thanks to my normal circadian rhythm and my lack of sleep (and the utterly straight road), I was fatigued like nothing else. Usually the sun is enough to wake me up. I saw it rise in Sacramento at around 5 am, but desperately wanted a bed to lie down on. It wasn’t until Redding, where the roads got interesting, that I caught my second wind.
I had been through Redding many times, usually on my way to a renowned hang gliding spot…Hat Creek Rim. I was familiar with the first 60 miles of the 299 and it brought back many fond memories of camping at the Rim. Little did I know what magnificent vistas I missed right behind the Hat Creek Rim launch site…all the way to Boise. The 299 snakes through red rock ravines, meandered along full flowing streams and rivers, took me to some spectacular summits and valleys. Riding through this part of California gave me the same rush as launching off a 4000 ft. cliff. And the scenery continued through Oregon. Sorry, no pics.
A few things stood out in Oregon to me…the breathtaking greenery, the old rustic barns and corrals, and the ridiculously low speed limit. Seriously, 55 mph on a road with a 10 mile long straightaway? My Ducati has trouble at 55 without a little clutch play. Those are parking lot speeds! And since it was my first time traveling through Oregon, I had no idea how strictly the roads were patrolled. So, I picked a quick moving SUV and shadowed its speed (75 mph or so) and stayed far enough back to give me time to slow if a state trooper did appear. I saw one trooper the entire time. Better safe than strafing a corner at 90 mph and risk losing my license/the Duc/ and my freedom. Slow and steady was the theme of the day. Just as well, because the views were breathtaking. Literally inches away from the ocean-sized lake (Lake Albert). Goose Lake and the small town of Lakeview were also gorgeous. There seems to be two Oregons…the one with trees and the one with desert scrub. I preferred the one with trees, but the deer warning signs kept me from completely letting my mind go. I didn’t see any deer, but came within 2mm of hitting a chipmunk. At least they wont kill you if you hit them. Civilization was a few hundred miles apart in this area. Aside from the car I was shadowing, I didn’t really see much else. Maybe 20 cars the entire 300 or so miles I was in Oregon (not counting the small towns that scatter the area). I hit about 10 minutes of rain outside of Burns. Just enough to chill me and soak the bugs that were splattered on my face shield.
With Idaho came civilization and the 84 freeway. It was a big departure from the little 2-lane roads I had been on for the majority of the trip. But it was welcome as I had only 50 more miles before reaching Boise. I met up with a group of online friends from the Boise Riders.Net web site. It was at a Krispy Kreme in Meridian. They nearly shit when they learned I had just ridden up from Los Angeles, but they couldn’t deny that my helmet hair was 1,000 miles tweaked. I chatted with a few and left around 8 PM. I was then treated to a hot meal by my mother-in-law. Ham, broccoli salad, twice baked potatoes, bread, and chocolate pudding for desert.
I’m sore, but loving it. I may have to do that ride again.
P.S. Thanks to Brandon for signing my witness form!
Total distance: 1,069 miles
Total time: about 17 hours
Total bugs killed: 3,510