It was cold yesterday. Of course, I mean that in the California sense of the word. I’ve decided 50 degrees in California is like 15 in a state that actually experiences cold weather. So yesterday, when it started out at around 42 degrees outside my apartment, frost on the laurel-like ground covering, well that’s pretty much the deepest, darkest heart of winter for California. It’s no time to be riding a motorcycle (without heated gear). But I’d been playing racing games all morning and Rob and I had cleaned and lubricated our chains a couple days ago (you’re sick, shut up), so I was in the mood to at least just ride around a little bit, if not head into the twisties…
At first I was just going to ride around the reservoir a bit, but I got to 92 and thought, I’ll head over to the coast maybe, just there and back… Well by the time I got to Half-Moon Bay, I was ready to ride. So, 92W, South on Highway 1, then back up 84 into the hills. What can I say, that bike is fun, and with an ungunky chain (thanks bolty.net) and the sound that my exhaust makes right in between 5500 rpms and 6000… It’s gorgeous. The bike sounds happy right there. A throaty note as if one of the birdy creatures from The Dark Crystal had been drinking too much milk on a hot day when they were required to do their little, harmonious call. It sounds tough, a bit dark, a tiny hint of foreboding. And right there the bike is ready for anything. An opportunity to pass and it jumps from its hum into a screamy war cry, ripping open the air, feels like it’s slicing right into the metal of the car as I swing out, around, and slide back into the lane.
It was a pretty day as well. The sun, low in the winter sky, pushing my shadow out next to me so I can see my silhouette racing by my side, stretching and squashing with the landscape. When I turned East again on 84 the sun was behind me and the hills that usually take on this suede-like brown color and texture during the summer are bleached out even further in this light. The grasses look hollow and brittle like bone, everything really dead before the rains start greening it all up again.
As I got deeper inland the temperature started to drop and by the time I got into the shade of the redwoods, I was cold. The road had patches of wet now, then even some puddles near the edges of the macadam. I’d try to push the tires down into the turns, but I could feel the little slips from the back and had to slow down and straighten up. By the time I got to La Honda, I was pretty much froze.
The road did get drier as I started to climb back up the hills as more of it was exposed to the sun, but just when it was dry enough to start really riding again, a line of cars formed in front of me. I got past two of them (pretty illegally) just to bump up against 6 more. This is the most frustrating thing to me as a moto rider. Good road, slow drivers. All I want them to do is pull over a little and let me go by, just a smidge. I made the most of what I could salvage, really slow on the straights so I can throttle through the turns before I come up against a facefull of exhaust again.
I reached Alice’s like this and then had to pull over to warm up my fingers. Another game I play… I will literally sit idling, waiting for traffic to get way ahead of me before I start heading down the road again. But you also have to go before more traffic comes. So, I wait until the last possible second, when I see a car headed down the road I want to go down, and then I blast in front of them. I need at least half the way down to be traffic free.
But the cold and my bundled-upness against the cold, isn’t very conducive to leaning and sliding around on the seat and looking deep into turns, mostly because I can’t really move under all those layers and the fact that my muscles are as stiff and brittle as cold taffy in this weather. And on top of that, I ran into more traffic barely a mile from the top.
All this is building my frustration and, with my bad attitude, and questionable “moves” to get past people, dirtying up my moto karma.
I finally get down to Woodside and turn north on Canada road. I can do a couple things here. Take Canada all the way to 92 or take it about halfway and then jump on 280. I should have just taken Canada all the way, but I was cold, frustrated, and pretty over this ride. I dove onto the on ramp for 280 and here is where all that frustration got let out. I ripped through the gears and was doing 85 before I even got onto the freeway. Some slalomming through the traffic, 95-100 mph and you get to 92 pretty quick.
Here’s where my tiny little mirrors let me down. It wasn’t until I was on the ramp to 92 and the CHP cruiser was right on my ass that I saw him. The small elation and frustration cleansing ride tightened right back up into an ugly ball of “oh shit” in my chest. Would I get lucky again? He didn’t have his lights on, he’s going for someone else… He’s going to blow past me when we get off the ramp to chase down someone else…
Lights, small siren blast and I’m on the side of the road talking motos with one cop while the other checks out all my information. Maybe if I make enough nice and small talk they won’t give me a… “I wrote you up for 80 even though we were going over 90 to catch up with you at one point.” Of course, you’d be going faster than me to catch up. “Oh, thank you officer.” “You can go to traffic school if you haven’t been in 18 months.” “Oh… thank you officer. Thank you very much.”