California road trip day 1

Sometimes a road trip isn’t about the road or the views, it’s about the challenge and endurance.

Home to Albany, Oregon

The plan was quick route down, slow route home. San Francisco is 2.5 days.

That meant getting some good mileage in on day one when fresh. So, Saturday morning arrives and after a filling breakfast it’s on the bikes at 8.30, a swift fuel up and head for the US border. This was always going to be my least favourite part of the trip, meeting those nice folks from Homeland Security.

After a 20 minute bike push (note to self, air-cooled bike in long line will always end in a long push) it was time to face the questions, and with me travelling on a Canadian passport and Elliot on his UK passport, questions were bound to follow. Actually, most of the crossing experience was fairly straight forward. The ‘issue’ was on our way out. Guy on the final checkpoint collecting orange pieces of paper insisted that as I’d been in to the office area, I must have an orange piece of paper, even though I didn’t actually need one as I was Canadian. I was dispatched to the office. Fortunately the border staff in the car park had their sensible heads on, sent me back to the bike and radio’ed the orange paper guy to let me through. As usual, the absolute power that these guys have leads to some of them being the consummate jobsworth.

We rode through permanent dark clouds, happily there wasn’t much rain, and around noon it was time for fuel and lunch around Everett.  Having left kitted out for rain, we decided to remain in waterproofs. Good decision. We spent the next 110 km riding through torrential rain and gusting winds. Hard going but we kept chatting to keep the spirits up.

Time for another stop, this time near Olympia, Washington. Elliot was wet. His gloves could be wrung out, his sweater and t-shirt were sporting large dark patches from wicking water. A slow coffee break to refuel also allowed us to dry out and it was of again. We’d made good time, despite the weather. Sometimes a road trip isn’t about the road or the views, it’s about the challenge and endurance.

More rain, easily as heavy as before, then around 80 Km from Portland finally the sun shows up. This was a good chance for our rainwear to dry. Just north of Portland it’s time to stop again. Aching shoulders and neck are always a good sign that the physical limits are being pushed. Now we’re in blazing sun and gloves were duly left on the bikes to dry out.

Another 80Km and that was it, the end of day one. In to the motel, spread our kit out to dry and relax. Our bikes, Ducati GT1000 and Suzuki SV650 had performed superbly. Smooth responsive power, relaxed cruising, a real joy to ride. Tomorrow it’s another similar distance to Redding, northern California, with a Euro quarter final stop somewhere en-route.

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