Tuesday, October 4, 2011
While I was in Santa Rosa, with some very good friends, I got to experience that once again. It was perfect. And it damn well should have been after the hours that preceded it.
The day began perfectly. We were going to tour the Sonoma and Mendocino coast line and the wine country. We saw where "The Birds" was filmed and some other really cool spots. I just didn't know that my friend, that I'll call 5150 for this post, had a plan. Oh yes, he was going to show me one of his favorite rides.
If you're unfamiliar with the term 5150, it's police code basically for a crazy person on the loose. Yeah, you're getting the picture now. He led me on this ride that, for a really experienced rider like himself, is incredible. For me, not so much.
I should have gotten a clue when I saw the "S" sign. You know the signs with the S curves that warn you twists and turns are coming up? Well this one happened to have a super charged S, one on steroids. Beneath the curves it said "next 22 miles." Even the sign makers gave up. Usually you'll see signs along the way with a curve and the speed limit posted. On this road, uh, not.
My first reaction was "OH SHIT!" After that I didn't think of much of anything but keeping my bike upright and staying alive. Oh yes, 5150 was taking me on a trip through hell.
Not only were the curves sharp, they were banked as well and the grade was steep. I used my so called knowledge and downshifted and used the brakes. But you see, I didn't realize how much I was using the rear brake.
In all the classes they warn you not to use your front brake in a turn because you'll drop the bike. Ok, I told myself I could do it. Well, mostly because I had no choice, I had to do it.
At first 5150 stayed within eyesight, then he decided to ride his regular ride and left me in the dust. Oh effin shit! I tried to keep up, I really did, but I was no match for the curves.
Finally we came to a relatively straight stretch of road and before I knew it there was another sign. This one was much like the first, but said 11 more miles of twists and turns. I was sweating it up by that point.
Then going around a curve I applied the rear brakes and they were gone! Nothing! I kept going down the mountain and around the curves with no brakes!
I heard my dad in my head. He was screaming "DOWN SHIFT DUMMY!" So I did. I found a stretch of road that had a place to stop. I was downshifting and applying the front brake and I actually came to a stop.
That's when the guy I'll call Hero for this post, stopped behind me. He checked out my bike and sure enough the rear brakes were gone. There was no choice. We had to change motorcycles. I'd never ridden a bike like his before and it freaked me out, but not as much as going down the mountain with no brakes. He was going to ride down the hill on my white and pink brakeless Heritage.
He went in front of me in case there was another problem so I could see it if it happened. We went through the remainder of the twisties from hell.
Finally we got through the rough part and saw 5150 and his amazingly brave girlfriend at the bottom of the "hill." They were off his bike and had evidently been waiting for quite some time.
I wish I'd had a camera to capture the look on 5150's face as he saw Hero riding down the "hill" on my pink motorcycle. It was priceless.
We explained what had happened and then 5150 informed us that there was only one way out and it was over another "hill." I asked him if it was as bad as the last 33 miles. He looked at me and, without answering my question, said "Come on, let's go."
Well eff me. There I was on a bike I'd never ridden and Hero was on a pink bike with no rear brakes. We had another "hill" to conquer. At that point I'm pretty sure I was near death.
We made it to the bottom and to straight road. We stopped for a drink and some ice cream. 5150 said that maybe the rear brakes had just over heated and after they cooled down would work again. Sure enough, he was right. I still wasn't taking any chances and Hero had to ride my pink bike all the way back to Santa Rosa, through traffic and through the stares of shocked onlookers.
We made it safe and sound. The next day we all rode to Reno for Street Vibrations. I took my bike to Reno Harley and they inspected it. The only thing that needed to be done was to have the brake fluid changed. It had gotten so hot it may have lost viscosity.
I got even though. After we got to Reno we decided to ride part of "The Loneliest Road In America," the straight part. It was nothing but one LONG STRAIGHT 177 MILE RIDE. We stopped for lunch and 5150 said, "You brought me on this 177 mile deserted road for a HAMBURGER?"
Haha, I think we're even now. And for the record, I absolutely love 5150 and his brave girlfriend that, as one of her first rides on a motorcycle, rode with 5150 through hell and back.
An incredible friendship was formed during those ten days, one that can never be severed.