One of the great joys of being in the Bay Area is the chance to meet some great people at the Ducati events. The other day I met a man named Hans who happened to own quite a collection of vintage Ducati’s, some of which he is willing to part with. So today I met with him to take a look at my next project bike, a ’67 Ducati 250 Monza. He is going to find me some more parts for it while I collect the money. I should take ownership sometime this summer for a winter project next year!
I woke up this morning…err…this afternoon and read Dean’s little adventure ride on the Motorcyclist’s Cafe Forum and I thought that would be nice to do. Then I went about my day. Later that night I went and saw Dredd and while I was riding home at around 9 pm it hit me…what’s stopping me from going on a ride…?! So I went home, switched helmet shields and gloves, and took off.
I first went and topped off the tank…4 gallons – ~40 mpg…lets see how far I can go. I hopped on the 101 South and just rode. I was thinking that I should be doing this more often. I used to just take off and ride all the time. However, since moving out here I have been so preoccupied with the excitement of a new place, a new job, a new life, that I haven’t even followed my own advice enough…take time to appreciate what’s around you. A big hindrance to this has been the notion that I can’t just take off on the 999 because it’s too uncomfortable. Wrong-o…if you ride a bike long enough, your arse gets used to being ‘uncomfortable’, and I know you all know what I mean.
I continued on the highway until Gilroy and something told me this is where I need to get off. South and East I now went along Hwy 152…the smell of California Sage mixed with manure from the occasional farm was a welcome sensation. The moon was just beginning to wane from full and the night was bright. The outlines of the hills to the East and the West were silhouetted nicely. The highway eventually came to a crossroads, and with a decision to go West to civilization or East to the unknown, I chose the unknown. Twists and turns and curvy roads are all nice during the day, but the night-time is made for lazy sweepers…roads that is.
152 wound up into the eastern valley hills to Pacheco State Park and continued on. In the moonlight I could make out the hillsides as I rode, the small tress and shrubs dotting the landscape. The temperature fluctuated from 78 to 69 from one hill to the next until I came to the summit of the hills. As I started my downward descent, I noticed a sign for Dinosaur Point, overlooking the San Luis Reservoir. I pulled the next u-turn I could and trekked it down an old, deserted and faded double yellow to a nice lookout spot over the Reservoir and the next valley East. Here I stopped and took a relaxing break on a boulder and watched the night linger on. The picture really doesn’t do it justice, but it was night.
From there I decided I should start making my way back home. Back on 152 down past the East-West crossroads to 156 South. There were a couple stop lights in the middle of nowhere on this stretch. I got the urge here to see my shift light come on for the first time since I moved here. Green light…I launch off the line, front tire pulling up through first – second gear and I’m full tuck and wide open throttle – third gear and the speedometer is passing 125 – the shift light blinks again and I shift to fourth as a I decelerate down from 145. Man, was this bike ever designed for full tuck and WOT! I get to the next light and pull into the gas station for a refuel…for myself.
Leaving the station I hop on 25 North, a nicely paved two-lane black-top. The smell of farms and even strawberries finds my nose. I have never before smelled strawberries from the road. You can’t experience that in a cage! The night is getting cooler and I figured home should be the next stop. Back onto 101 North and home. The garage finds the 999 without even the fuel light on and 120 miles on the odometer.
Thanks Dean, for inspiring me, and reminding me, to go out and explore. Every rider needs to do this, wherever they are, whether its new roads or old.
After seeing someone rig a Helmet Mounted Display (below) I am sold and am hoping to get MOD (Micro Optics Display) by Recon Instruments in the future.
Though it’s made for Alpine goggles, I’m sure I could rig it for use in a motorcycle helmet.
After much debate with Chris, I have decided that the best tourer to accomplish all of the trips that I want to do is going to be the bulletproof DR650. So, in another year or so I will get another DR650 for myself and a DRZ400 for my wife. The cost of the bikes plus the necessary, and unnecessary, modifications will still be thousands less than a BMW F800GS that I originally wanted to get for 2-Up adventures.
The DR is a bike that can do the miles without any fuss, is cheaper than most other bikes of equal function, and easily modified. If I was stuck in the middle of nowhere with a limited tool kit, I’d rather be on the DR than any other bike, plain and simple. It has one carb, no coolant to lose and is one of the most temperature-stable bikes out there with the oil cooler, and the current model has existed relatively unchanged since ’96 because of it’s elegantly simple design. That means lots of donor parts if needed. If it got us across the US without any trouble, surely it can take me to see the rest of the world!
Here is an epic example of before and after DR650 modifications.