One of the great things about riding a motorcycle is the tie that all motorcyclist enjoy. Yeah, I am one of those guys that waves, to every motorcycle rider I see, even if it is a guy on a scooter. Why, because I love the fact that a perfect stranger and I have something so close in common. Riding a motorcycle in modern times is not a necessity like it was in post war Europe or Japan, or as the cheapest means of transport like it was here in America. Instead you ride a motorcycle now, because you love it. You like to live life just a little bit different. I am not saying all people who ride are hard core bad ass people. I mean I am an elementary school teacher, but rather we live life by a different set of rules, and that unites us. You can almost always count on a fellow motorcyclist stoping to help you out if you are stuck, you can always count on another rider giving you parts or gear, for free, just because you need it and they got it. You can always count on at least one good story every time you stop and talk to someone.
I bring this up because just the other day I was getting on the IMS Triumph Tiger 800XC when a old man walks up to me and starts talking. I needed to get home, it had been a long day and my wife had to deal with a 4 year old and a 2 year old for the last 12 hours alone, so you can see my hurry. Well this particular old man had started the conversation by asking about the bike, saying he had seen me on the freeway and really wanted to talk to me about the bike and was glad that we ended up in the same place at the same time. When I explained to him the bike, the engine, and all the add ons, his smile just kept getting bigger. You see back when he was in college, one summer he bought a brand new, Triumph 650 Bonneville Twin Carb, and rode it from Pittsburgh up into Canada, along the Trans-Canadian Highway, down to LA in California. Seeing me on this Triumph really brought back those memories, it was almost as if he had just gotten of the bike in LA all over again. It was really something else to see this bond between the two of us. We had never meet before, and probably never will meet again, but I had found in this old man, and he in I, an instant friendship that you just don’t get with other people. Now, I have never done a ride like he mentioned, and it will probably never happen for me, but each time I swing a leg over that bike, each time I fire up that 800cc Triple and hear the purr of that exhaust, I am making memories that I will hold onto for a lifetime. And one day I will be that old man, telling some young kid about how I used to have this hopped up Triumph and how I rode it everywhere, off road and on. It will be at that point that I connect with a person in a way that I just wont be able to connect with someone who doesn’t ride. And that kid will do the same thing one day himself.
This kind of experience is something else, it is something that few understand, and it is something that I hope to pass on to generations to come.
So today, take the time and wave at a fellow rider, stop and talk for a minute, help them out on the side of the road, you never know when you will make a life long friend that you never had before. So go make a friend and get out and ride.
So Thanksgiving has passed now, and Christmas is coming along very soon. It is a great time of year to sit and reflect on what we have to be thankful for. Over here on the Central Coast the winter is pretty mild, we don’t have to pack our bikes up because of the snow, or convert them into snow mobile type machines. Instead we are pretty lucky to get to ride all year long. Now since I am a school teacher I was thankful to get the entire week of Thanksgiving off and took the opportunity to ride down Highway 1 from Monterey to Pismo Beach (while my wife took our daughters the faster way on the 101) to meet Scott Wright, the owner of IMS, for a Thanksgiving getaway with my family. I of course was riding the IMS Triumph Tiger 800XC and was hoping to get some time at the Oceano Dunes, and was not disappointed.
First off the road riding section. WOW, I am very thankful of the men and women that put countless hours of time into crafting what has got to be one of the most amazing stretches of road in California. The most beautiful sections of road were from Monterey to about Cambria. It was tight, twisty, forest, ocean, cliffs, and just all together amazing views and roads. The opportunity to pass slower moving traffic is not as abundant as I would have liked, but it is times like that I still found something to be thankful for because it allowed me a chance to just really admire the views and enjoy the scenery.
After about 3 and a half hours of amazing riding I arrived in Pismo. Spending time with family is always something to be grateful for, and after an amazing dinner I followed Scott out to Oceano Dunes for some riding and a impromptu photo shoot. The bike tracked great in the sand. I didn’t go into any of the deep stuff out in the dunes, staying primarily on the compact wet stuff near the water. I was very thankful for the GPR Steering Stabilizer as it helped in the few rough spots, or where the sand was a little softer.
End of the day, there is a lot to be thankful for. Your adventure ride doesn’t have to be a 6 month tour to South America from Alaska, it can be something as simple as a ride down the coast for Thanksgiving, and a cruise on the beach. Thankfulness is a frame of mind, don’t let other things get in the way, and if you have time, just get out and ride.
After the ride to Colorado and back the IMS Triumph Tiger 800XC has been regulated to what 99% of all motorcycles do, commuter duty. Since the ride I have moved back to Monterey CA where I teach at a elementary school 21 miles away from home. In the last few months over 2,000 slab miles have been put on the bike, and I have learned a few things. One of them being, even though TKC80 tires are phenomenal in the dirt, and grip really well on the road, they suck on mileage. After the 2,000 some odd miles of commuter duty the tires are over half way gone. I learned that on the street I can almost drag the pegs with out any trouble in a fast corner. I learned that even though the bike may be advertised at 45mpg, 38mpg-40mpg in stop and go normal everyday traffic is what is really going to happen. I also learned that having a bike like this isn’t just about big adventures, but the 1% of the time that you get to really just ride, and that 1% is what it is all about.
On Sunday I finally got a chance to do that. About 20 miles from my house, on Highway 1 is Bixby Bridge, the most photographed feature on the West Coast, and just north of the Bridge is a 11 mile dirt road called Old Coast Road. At one time this was the only way people could get from Big Sur to the Monterey Penninsula, and is now open to all street legal vehicles. I have ridden it before on a older IMS dual sported XR600R, with 90/10 street/dirt tires. But now I had the right bike, with the right tires, and all the time I needed to just enjoy it.
I usually have Touratech 45L bags on the bike, but for this ride I took them off, and I suited up in my full KLIM gear, and SIDI boots. I have not worn all this gear since the ride to Colorado and I forgot how nice it really was (I normally just wear the jacket when I commute). Since I was going to be meeting my wife after the ride, I had jeans on under the pants, and a normal shirt on under my KLIM Jersey and Jacket. The pants and jacket kept me warm during the cool morning fog here on the Central Coast, and when the sun came out they unzipped and ventilated really well. The TKC80 tires, even though the back was over half gone, still gripped really well, especially after I dropped the pressure from the high street pressure of 36-38psi down to about 18psi in the front, and 22psi in the rear. After that they stuck like glue, I could corner as hard as I was comfortable with and brake with confidence, even with ABS causing a few pucker moments in the loose stuff.
The first part of the ride is a lose gravel downhill dry section. Since this road is a street legal vehicle road, you have to keep your eyes open for the random truck or SUV. Coming behind me at the beginning of the ride was a guy in a SUV following a little to close behind me. This did cause a little bit of a rush and I over cooked a corner and with the ABS almost slide into the ditch on the side of the road. After that I simply pulled over and let the SUV pass, aired down the tires, and just had a blast.
As I moved deeper inland and further into the forest the ground got wetter and the grip just got better. I come from riding a dual sport XR650R, and to be honest once the Tiger got moving it felt almost the same. Only the sound of the engine was different. The power that the Tiger was addictive, the linear way that the power just came on and kept coming on, was amazing. There was a direct connection between your right hand and the rear tire, and how much you slide is completely up to you.
One thing I love about Old Coast Road is that along the way you see that people have build and still live in houses hidden deep in the mountains. The area is absolutely beautiful, and with the recent rain, the plant life is amazing. Near the end of the ride I stopped at a point that over looks the ocean and Highway 1 to take a few pictures. During my little break, a small group of maybe a half a dozen riders on F800GS bikes came riding by. While I was there another guy stopped at the same point, in a brand new 1200GSA on it’s maiden voyage. He said he was taking a picture to send to a friend to make him jealous. This is when it hit me. Yeah 99% of these Adventure Bikes will spend 99% of their time on the road, commuting back and forth. Most of the guys who own one of these bikes is in a similar life situation as I am, kids, wife, regularly scheduled job, bills, the whole lot. We can’t just drop everything, travel from Alaska to South American and then on to Africa, up to Russia, Europe and back home. But it is the times like this when we get to ride with our buddies, or make our friends jealous, or just get away, it is these times, these 1% times, that make riding what it is. It is these times that help define this Adventure we call life.
So yesterday was a big day, not only was it Father’s Day but it marked the start of the Two Day ride from Yucaipa to Ouray, CO. Overall things went great. No accidents, no dehydration, no problems. The Klim Jackets and Pants did great. Now nothing aside from true A/C is going to keep you from feeling hot in the 100 degree weather that we experienced riding through Barstow to Vegas. But once you unzipped the jackets a few inches, and opened up all the vents, it did a really good job getting decent airflow regardless of the model (Overland, Traverse and Badlands Pro). Our Camel Backs full of ice helped to keep us hydrated by providing a constant trickle of cold water and helped keep our backs cool as well. The SIDI boots were incredibly comfortable, and the Gore Tec lining did as advertised, and keeper our feet dry and fairly sweat free. The KLIM helmet did a great job. An open face helmet at highway speed does have some drawbacks, namely wind noise and things hitting your face at 65mph plus hurts, but it did give you extra air flow to keep your head from sweating to much. And a good set of headphones or ear plugs do wonders at reducing the wind noise. Our Seat Concepts seats were worth every penny, after a 6 hour plus ride, those of us lucky enough to have the Seat Concepts seats felt a lot better then those that did not, and could have easily done a few more hours.
Lastly the new IMS ADV 1 foot pegs were great, they gave us a huge platform to move our feet around while seated, giving us the much needed room to move to avoid leg cramps and general discomfort, and the extra leverage they provided really did wonders in the dirt. I leave you with a few snap shots of the ride, and not to worry, there will be plenty more to come.