XT660R Heaven

XT660R Heaven
Life on the road is fab...

Monday, 28 July 2014

Back to the UK

Well we've been back home for a few days now, caught up on sleep, had a gossip with loads of friends & ate plenty of cake at the local cafe whilst sat in the sun, excellent.

I've been playing on the DR350 I bought before I went away, just done a load of servicing, oil change, air filter, stripped the carb & cleaned out all the dirty bits, it needs new tyres & chain & sprockets next, all on order & the rear linkage needs either new bushes & some grease or just new grease as it creaks more than I do in the mornings!!

Then its time to get out onto the dirt with it & see how it goes there. It is a pokey little thing though & so light after the XT!!

Suzuki DR350 SEW 1998
My lass, Lucy has also bought a little bike whilst I was away to get more time riding so she can pass her full UK bike test, she has a Honda XR125 2005, it's so quiet & easy to ride, although it actually feels heavier than the DR for some reason, especially on the front end...

So the two bikes went to the seaside to watch the sun go down, all very nice & cozy...

Now it's get back into the routine of life back at home, catch up with family & friends & get out on both of my bikes as much as possible, especially as the sun is shining in the UK at the moment.

Have fun all...

Monday, 21 July 2014

California - Thunderstorms, Lakes & Gold Country

We've covered well over 1000 miles in this hire car since we picked it up. When we left Lee Vining, we headed north up the 395 heading to Lake Tahoe, meeting up with a couple of guys who were riding sports bikes, an R1 & a BMW 1000RR, there seems to be way more sports bikes  here in California than anywhere else we've been. anyhoo they recommended we go to Truckee, a town at the north end of Lake Tahoe, so we did, via the 89 which winds over Monitor Pass, 8300ft +, mmm need a bike when we drive these kind of roads, they are almost purpose built for a decent bike!!

Lake Tahoe is beautiful, the Emerald Bay bit lived upto it's name & the drive up the west side of the lake was fab. 

Truckee was busy though, it's one of the busiest places we've been, so we left, taking the 80 over the Sierra Nevada mountains & aiming to find a campsite somewhere. 

With threatening thunderstorms & full campsites we ended up in Plymouth, a place on the 49, which is part of the Motherlode region, so named because there is a seam of gold & silver that stretches 120 long & was the richest  gold producing area in the US at the height of the gold rush era. The 49 follows this seam & a rake of towns spring up here, some of which spawned legends such as Mark Twain, the frog jumping competition & the name of the San Andreas fault.

We visited several of the towns, the most authentic being Angels Camp, home of the winners plaques for the frogs, they are cemented into the pavement!! We ended up in a lovely motel called the Shenandoah Inn, run by an Indian lass from Bolton, interesting accent she had!!
From here we headed back up into the hills on the 108, another fast bike road, there are loads of campsites here so we stayed at Fraser Flats, a cool place next to a river which seemed to be full of trout as everyone kept pulling them out. For us it was BBQ mushrooms smothered in Philadelphia cheese & New York Steak for tea, we highly recommend that!! :-)

Oh we also got our hair cut & Geoff did his ironing!!!

On the Sunday we drove upto the Sonora Pass, 9600 ft, as we got higher it rained harder but the pass is easily the most spectacular of the road passes we've driven up. It changes from trees to huge granite cliffs with a beautiful creek running through it to the actual pass which is all volcanic ash & lava flows, to make it more atmospheric it had thunder & lightning cracking off above our heads!

Apparent the pass was first opened in the late 1800's & was so expensive to build they put a toll on it. It took 3 weeks to traverse one way with a mule train!

So that's almost us for this trip, we got back to camp to find my tent in a small lake, everything soaking & the rain was still pouring down, so we did what all soft people did, packed up & headed to another motel, cheap & cheerful & where we could pack everything up ready for the flight back to the UK on Tuesday.

It took awhile to clean up the mess from the rain but that's us packed & sorted now, only remains to drop off the hire car & get ourselves to the airport without any mishaps...

Oooh can't wait to get home now to take out the DR 350 I bought just before I left... Mud, mountains & friends to ride with... happy days...

Friday, 18 July 2014

California - Yosemite Road Trip

So here we are, in one of the great climbing mecca's of the world & I have absolutely no climbing kit at all!! How ironic is that?...

Spot the Chicken!!

After we'd eventually picked up the hire car, been fleeced by an indian taxi driver, got lost heading east towards Yosemite, we finally crawled into a KOA campsite in a place called Mariposa on the edge of Yosemite NP. Motels in the area seemed to start at around $150, camping at the KOA was $40! We pitched our tents under a beautiful starry Californian sky, Geoff went to sleep, I found a rocking chair for half an hour & sat looking up into the stars, enjoying the peace & quiet before turning in for the night.

Once we were both up, we headed towards the NP entrance after a quick breakfast stop at the Mariposa shop for coffee & dried up stale breakfast buns, then wound our way upto the park gate, paid our $20 7 day entry fee & drove into a magical wonderland of rock scenery, pine forests & beautiful rivers.

This is a truly beautiful place. I can see why the likes of Ansel Adams devoted so much of his life to photographing this valley, it is nature at it's best & also most powerful in the way all of these rock faces were formed.

We did all the things normal tourists do, we drove round, took loads of pics, had really awful coffee at the Yosemite village cafe, then drove out again, heading to the Hetch Hetchy valley in the hopes of camping there, no chance, all of the camping is reserved for the hikers coming through on the Pacific Crest Trail, but it was another little gem of a place, a great road into the valley for bikes, a historic damned lake that nowadays fed water to San Francisco, a 167 miles away, all of it gravity fed... although at the time there was a major furore about building this & the likes of John Muir led the opposition to the necessary destruction this project did to the local ecology.

Fire damage to the nearby hillsides.
From here we returned back down the 120 & headed off to Tuolumne Meadows for a look for a campsite but also to see the area, all the campsites were full by now so we headed over the Tioga Pass & down to Lee Vinings, a small town right on the shore of a massive lake called Mono Lake. The thunderstorm that had been building let rip as we descended & the rain started to wash rocks own onto the road, we were so very glad we were in a car at this point!!

Now its a lazy evening in yet another motel, most likely a beer or two somewhere nearby & see what the morrow brings...

Have fun all.

California - The demise of an XT660R!!

We scraped into San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge today, about a mile from the Aladdin shipping offices, Geoff's bike gave a rattle, a bang & then died, at least for a little while anyhoo... it started again & did the last bit to the offices, rattled even louder & croaked on the forecourt!

So with a huge sigh of relief from Geoff, who has been listening to it suffer for several days now, it did the decent thing, finished the trip & will now be heading to the pages of Ebay in as many bits as Geoff can salvage from it once it reaches UK shores again.

For us, we have now changed our plans, hired a car for the remaining days & have headed to Yosemite NP to be proper tourists again.


A road trip of a different kind now!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

California - Wine Country...

California in the sunshine... oooh yeah...

How big is that tree???

Last nights camp fire...

We set off from the Albee campsite this morning & picked up the southbound Avenue of the Giants, down to a small town with an organic cafe that served great coffee & cakes. Once breakfast was done we headed south for some more fun in the trees & the fab road that wound through them, I get the impression that this bit of roa used to be the 101 when it made it's name as a biking heaven road. We carried on south to where the 1 joins the 101, pulled off to  get the photo of Kevin & I under the 'Drive Through Tree', then got into some serious playtime as the bends just kept on coming... This road easily rates up there with the Cherohala, the Dragons Tail in the States & Hartside Pass & the Cat & Fiddle in the UK, plus it has the added bonus of dropping to the Pacific for a fab ride next to the sea... shame it was a cloudy day for us but hey that's the weather!!

Organic coffee anyone??

A lovely British couple we met on their RTW trip

The coast just before Fort Bragg

Fab 4x4 camper van we saw on the coast.
We followed the 1 until it joined the 128, which took us into wine country & had some seriously good bendy sections, nice, flowing & fast, just what the doctor ordered after the cold & windy temperatures of the coast!

We ended up in the town of Healdsburg, which is at the northern end of the Napa Valley & about 70 miles north of San Francisco, it's a cool little town which is clearly used to tourism & catering for the well heeled class of folk, so we're only here because Kevin is a 'well heeled' sort of a guy. We've had some very nice dinner in a superb restaurant, the Cafe Lucia, a Portuguese influenced place, topped off with a couple of very strong beers in the local brewery pub the Bear Republic... There was even a bunch of local bands playing in the town square - a very cool place to spend an evening...

So tomorrow, Kevin leaves us to head to Sacremento & his sisters place for a family catch up, Geoff & I are thinking of heading to the coast for a few days & doing some day trips in to San Francisco to get our bearings & see the sights, so not entirely sure where we'll end up... only thing certain is we have a few days left in the US & we want to see some sights like the Golden Gate before we have to hand the bikes over to our shipping agent....

Hey ho, it's almost time to go home & resume a normal life, whatever that is???

Have fun all...