Last Fall on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, locked in a room and slaving away on my master's degree, I received a message that looked something like this:
"Hey guys, not sure if you would be into it, but how about we ride to the MotoGP at Laguna Seca next summer?
Next Summer? I'd be finished with school and have a substantial bank of vacation time. I'd need a graduation present to myself. Is he kidding me?
I fantasized about the upcoming trip all year long. And after a Winter that seemed like it would never end, launch time had finally arrived. (nevermind the unfinished walls, I'll never get around to it)
Boise, ID - Lake Tahoe, NV
Flips21 put the fear of God in me by telling me how hot California's Central Valley was so I took a small red umbrella to keep the sun off my shoulders. I'm scowling because I don't like to be disturbed when I'm "becoming one" with my GPS. (remembering how to use it because it has been so long)
Remember the 70's movie Logan's Run
? This is what it looks like "out there". Notice the speedo responsibly photoshopped at not
triple digit sight seeing levels. Logan aint no speeder. Well, not until he meets Jessica-6 that is. Anyway...
1) This picture is upside down because of:
A) The secret "ride upside down" feature of the Moto Guzzi
B) Shroom induced photography
C) The space aliens of the Nevada desert
MisterSmooth does his impersonation of the ST.N WTF smiley. His Guzzi is actually right there beside him, it's just cloaked so you can't see it. This kind of thing mysteriously happens out in the Nevada desert all the time. I think we all know why.
Paranoia sets in as the group begins to turn on itself. MisterSmooth's Guzzi and
Major 662's BMW have both vanished into thin air. The VFR is ultra-resistant to Nevada space aliens because of V-Tec.
2) What we are viewing here is:
A) A place where you can buy real American ice
B) MisterSmooth is channeling Las Vegas
C) They finally received the new air hose ordered in the 1960's
D) Beautiful downtown McDermitt
Major 662's bike rematerializes by the vacuum. The BMW roundel is highly coveted by the Nevada desert space aliens. Looking at this bike, you can see why. Aliens may be able to ripple time, but this bike can ripple pavement.
Gort, obtain a Subway sandwich. Hold the peppers, and destroy those loud pipes while you're at it.
What? You guys seriously still can't find your bikes? Did you look by the vacuum? They always reappear there. Does anyone know where the restroom is?
We make the desert crossing and arrive at Lake Tahoe where we meet with Flips21 who rolled in from Northern California. Left to right: MisterSmooth, Major 662, Flips21, XLR8—Four friends enjoying beverages and conversation after a day of riding.
Lake Tahoe, NV - Monterey, CA
This is the launchpad at Tahoe Control. Major 662 admires his investment in quality luggage and I think Flips21 may have just "Pledged" his jacket. Remember: Shinier=Faster.
One of the more enjoyable activities when riding with this crew is a chance to play in the middle of a busy highway. MisterSmooth is clearly trying to blame Major 662 for causing a six car pileup on Monitor Pass.
Monitor Pass. Nice Curves. Truly Spectacular.
We didn't really have a reason to leave.
Busted! It's been what, 80 miles since the last Pledge treatment? Not to worry, Rossi will love it even if it's dirty. It's a Guzzi. Belissimo.
Around 9500 ft.
I'm a sucker for a good lookout so we stop to take in the view at Donnell Reservoir.
Can I get a little "me time" please. I need to concentrate. I'm trying to pee on a fish.
After shenanigans at the reservoir, we took a lunch break here
. The food and service was excellent. The V-Tec in the VFR is so volatile, it has to be parked by itself.
This is Highway 49, also known as the Little Dragon
; Drizzled over the landscape like frosting atop a velvety cake.For the preservation of sanity, all pics having to do with the crossing of California's Central Valley have been skipped. — Ride Report Management.
We arrive at our hotel in Monterey. Now what do you do when you're staying in Monterey for the MotoGP? You wander around looking at bikes. You know what this is.
Riding over Sonora Pass, I thought I saw MisterSmooth's Guzzi consume a flying object. Or did I? I kept forgetting to check. Feeling a little guilty, the Guzzi finally coughs up the evidence.
Race day. I expected to petrify my clutch hand from hours of slowly filtering in and out of the race flashing hang loose signs to passing squids. There was none of that. If you arrive by motorcycle, you get to go in via a special entrance just for bikes. We simply rolled up to the gate, filed down an almost pleasant six mile access road, and parked in this very lot; Easy and so well organized. Bravo.
The infamous turn #2. Basking under a wonderful 65 degree morning and beautifully dangerous
, it's the venus fly trap of race corners.
The Daytona Sportbike race was earlier in the morning. There was a bad crash here that red flagged the race.
It's not really my thing but helpful if you need to get a good look at your headers. These guys drew a crowd all day long.
Artwork from the rear end of a sport-touring machine that nobody wants.
Seasoned MotoGP veterans MisterSmooth and Flips21 brought their own lunch while Major 662 and I chose to eat trackside on this special burrito table just for GP newbs from Idaho.
Lap 1!...or 3. I couldn't believe how quickly these guys covered the distance. It's so much faster in person.
Most of us have seen the corkscrew on TV however, a camera doesn't capture how magnificent and steep this corner really is. It's spectacular. It even has its own Facebook
Looking down from the other side of the corkscrew gives you an idea of how much elevation the riders gain.
Ready to Race.
Eventually we bid farewell to the 2011 MotoGP. This is a very well organized event and I highly recommend going if you've always wanted to attend.
Monterey, CA - Santa Rosa, CA
Our post race itinerary involved making a trek up the coast to sample some more roads that Northern California had to offer.
It was kind of a pain packing a giant fan but I really wanted to capture that California wind blown look.
My father was from Oakland and I visited him often when I was younger. He was disabled so there were no 49er games, trips to the SF Zoo, Exploratorium, or Fisherman's Wharf with Dad. Instead, my uncle took me to all those places. Riding around the area stirred up many old memories including the yearnings of a young man who always wished he could do those things with his father. I got a little emotional when we stopped here which took me by surprise. I don't think my riding companions ever knew what was up. I just told them I was bonking.
Where's Waldo? It's full of tourists, but I love this place.
From the top of Mount Tamalpais, Alcatraz doesn't look so bad ass. Legend
has it that Tom Ritchey, Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze and others forged the beginnings of mountain biking here. There's even a film
about it. I love this place too.
Santa Rosa, CA - Lake Tahoe
Flips21 shows the Idaho boys how the lane splitting/filtering to the front thing is done. Then he talked the flagman into letting us hang out in the shade near the far corner. When the pilot car arrived, we were first in line and eventually...gone! Nice trick.
MisterSmooth corrupts yet another youngster, condemning him to a long life of fun, thrills, and wanderlust. Check out the footwear though. Things aren't starting out well.
Lake Tahoe, NV - Boise, ID
We didn't take any pictures on the ride back to Boise because it was one of those days where you're just trying to cover the distance and return home. I'll remember this time as a celebration for finishing grad school, my first MotoGP race, and of course, a great time with good friends and excellent roads.
3) We're looking at a picture of a cup because it's:
A) An inside joke that nobody will get
B) A "coffee name" gone really wrong
C) The end of a ride report