Old roads are now new roads - Day 2
Day 2 [September
Another day and another 250+ miles. The plan for today is to ride
North on the 41 highway until we get into Oakhurst. From there
we'll take the 49 until we reach the 120. The 120 will take us
through Yosemite and back out onto 41 highway. From there we head
South and back into Fresno. It all sounds so easy.
The day starts off slow. Eugene is the first one to bed and the
last one up. I guess yesterday's ride really did him in.
Minh and I are both up and are prepping our bikes before the day's
trip. This essentially means cleaning off all the bug from the
previous night's ride on the 41 highway.
There you have it, bugs galore. This is the off season. It
normally get much worse than this.
We cleaned up our face shield, helmet, windshield, lights, and any
thing else that got covered by bugs. Since the bikes have been in
the cover of the garage, the bug guts weren't baked onto the bike so a
little water and a wash
cloth removed everything. The cleanup took us about 1/2 hour
and we're ready for some breakfast. Minh and I made the decision
to ditch our panniers for today's ride and we're both sure Eugene will
do the same. Definitely a good decision.
Minh and I are both chewing on breakfast, sumi (oriental meatballs with
peas inside) and French bread (baguette) when we finally saw glimmers
of Eugene being awake. Eugene emerges from the bathroom
down the hall way. There was snoring last night and I don't know
who won the battle as I was sleeping in the adjacent room.
Nonetheless, one of the two was practicing to be a lumberjack, or was
that both were practicing to be lumber jacks experimenting on logging
exercises. After coffee, energy drink and whatever else to keep
us going through the day, we finished prepping for the ride. I
had made sure I had plenty of outlets dedicated to my helmet can
batteries and camcorder batteries. I then transferred all the
tools from my panniers to the center bag to get ready for a fast and
more nimble ride.
We finished all our prep work and then mulled around the house a bit to
talked to my mom and uncle. We got roped into conversations so it
was 10:00AM by the time we left. A bit later than I had hope but
it's all good. I took Minh and Eugene through the scenic route of
Fresno: Van Ness, Maroa, and then Gettysburg. Eventually we
had to head out to Blackstone to make the trip to the North end of
Fresno a little faster. Later Minh and Eugene claimed that they
were riding through the Beverly Hills of Fresno. Knowing those
areas, it's not quite Beverly Hills but the scenery is definitely
better than a lot of places in LA. Too bad we didn't have time, I
would have taken them to the fancy part of town. The newer
stretch of Van Ness Blvd North of Shaw Ave. We made a quick stop
at Best Buy so I can get more video tapes for the second day (8 Hi8
tapes). Quick in, quick out, we're ready to
get gas and head to the mountains.
I was hoping to get to a gas station on the stretch along Blackstone
between Pinedale Ave and Nees Ave, but no luck. It was all a
shopping center so we headed North on the 41 freeway in the hopes of
finding a gas stop on the way. Here is where I started noticing
changes in Fresno and the 41 freeway/highway because I haven't been to
this part of Fresno in a long while. The last time I did any type
serious driving on the 41 highway North of Fresno was when I was
working at Sierra
On-Line (SOL), the video game company located in Oakhurst. The
SOL activities dated back to the middle of the 80's. From what I
can tell, the 41 freeway was extended a little further North in
comparison to what memory I have of this place. Interestingly
enough, we got
off of the 41 freeway on to the 41 highway in order to fuel up.
Once again, the TomTom told me to go in the wrong direction because it
thinks I should be on the 41 freeway instead of taking the 41
highway. Again, Minh point me in the right direction,
against what the navigation system says, and we're heading in the right
direction. Hm, maybe I should tie Minh to my handle bar and use
him as my navigation system. Bad idea. In reality, it would
have been good either way. One has a little bit of back tracking
while the other way doesn't have any back tracking. Hence Minh is
Don't tell Minh but either direction would have yielded the same result
We saw a lot of motorcycles on our way North. Most were sport
bikes and cruisers out for a ride in the Yosemite direction.
The road to Oakhurst was pretty much the same as I remembered it back
in the day. However, I do see improvements in terms of
safety. The 41 highway from road 145 (west to Merced) all the way
to Oakhurst now have many more passing lanes. In the past, there
were only about two or three passing lanes on the entire route and you
had to rely on your whits and the power of your car in order to pass
vehicles that refused to use the turnout to allow faster traffic
through. In reality, even with these passing lanes, there are
still plenty of people that refuse to believe that they're slower than
motorcycles. In particular are mini-vans.
As for the part of the highway from Oakhurst to Yosemite, I can only
hope the highway has also been improved.
It didn't take us very long to get to Oakhurst. The roads are
familiar and different at the same time. Old roads are definitely
new roads. The other thing I have to attribute to the different
feel is the fact that I'm riding a motorcycle as opposed to
a car. All the turns appear so easy to make and they aren't as
tight as I remember.
Right before we reach Oakhurst, as we come out of a right hand sweeping
turn and down a steep hill, I look to my left, while standing on the
bike, to see if I can spot the original Sierra On-Line red wood paneled
building. Sure enough, it is still there. Back when I was
working at Sierra On-Line, we were HQ'ed in that building for a while
until a new build was constructed further in town. I can remember
making a left hand turn just before you get all the way to the end of
the down hill to go to work. Again it looks the same but it feels
We reach the Southern end of Oakhurst and not too far up is the turn
off for the 49 highway. My trip odometer shows that we've been
traveling for approximately 28 miles to get to Oakhurst. We turn
on to the 49 and then turn off into a parking lot to decide what to do
next. This also gives me the opportunity to change out video
tapes. We're parked along the side of a supermarket, that I use
to make runs to purchase snacks and lunch when I was slaved to SOL, and
South of a bank. It is approximately 11:30 so we decided to go
ahead and get an early lunch. The Jack-In-The-Box across the
street looks like a good a spot as any.
We pulled up to Jack's place and noticed a nice brandy new Harley
parked outside of the place. We went in, ordered, and sat down to
wait for our numbers to be called. Numbers called, food received,
and food devoured. When we were all done, Minh noticed that the
Harley is still sitting outside while there were numerous people
flowing in and out of the place. Most of the people didn't fit
the bill of a Harley rider. At that point the inevitable question
came up, "I wonder who's Harley that is?" As for me, I had been
asking myself that same question. The only person that fits the
description of a Harley rider is the restaurant manager. He's
big, bulky, has not hair, and looks like the type of guy that would
ride a Harley (pleasant guy). At that point we just knew it was
his bike. All he needs to do is put on a leather vest and skull
cap and he's the mang.
About 1/2 hour to 45 minutes after we walked in to Jack's place, we
were back on the road. From here the goal is to see the Little
Dragon. Minh had found this road on another web site and wanted
to ride it. This is our priority for today. Off we go
heading North West on the 49 highway.
As we left the parking lot, where Jack's place can be found, there was
another train of Harley's driving down the road on the 49 heading
towards the 41. Must have been a good 12-18 Harleys.
Apparently the 49 is quite a popular tour ride. Let's hope it's
not clogged up.
The initial stretches of the highway was normal. A steady 65 with
occasional cars here and there.
[October 19, 2006] - Tangent
If you think I write this stuff in one day, forget it. It
sometimes takes me a week to write about a single day for a trip.
After all, I have things like, work, and goofing off to do (e.g.
playing video games and work on Mr. Moto). Anyway, I digress and
need to get back to the story. Recently though, I had to ground
my bike for two weeks because I did something stupid to my darling
R12GS. Good thing is, it kicked my arshe and taught me a valuable
lesson. No more will I attempt to install lights or do major
electrical work. I'll elaborate more on this strange tale in a
different article. Now, back to the Yosemite blabbing...
There is not much to report on the 49 aside from a lot of trees (big
tall trees), a lot of Harleys going in the opposite direction, and a
lot of open tarmac. Town one, town two, we kept on
trucking. We went through Ahwahnee, Nipinnawasee, Elliott Corner,
Bootjack, and finally Mariposa. The road in Mariposa forks right
to go to the 140 highway, and forks left to go on the 49 highway.
We know we have to fork left but we decided to stop at this gas station
to rest and get our bearings straight. Plus Eugene has to leak
again. Minh and I still didn't know whether we have passed up the
Little Dragon or not. Minh kept asking me if we have passed
it. Heck, I don't know this road. How am I suppose to
answer that? I haven't been on this stretch of road before.
I might have lived in Fresno for 20+ years but that doesn't mean I go
touring Fresno like a tourist. We look at Minh's map a lot closer
and came to the conclusions the Little Dragon is most likely still
ahead. Happy with the fact that we didn't miss any photo
opportunities of the serpentine road, Minh sighed relief and was
happy. He then reminded me to stop for a photo of the Little
Dragon when it comes up. You bet your asteroid man, I'm not going
to miss on photos especially when it's the focal point of our ride.
Just around this point as Eugene came out of the mini-mart, we saw this
older fellow riding up to the pump to fuel his bike. Curious
enough he had a cool little passenger. It's a Daschund in a sling
complete with goggles.
From what the driver told us, his Daschund was happy as a clam being a
passenger on the bike. He loves it except when he sees
deers. That's when he want to leap off and chase after
them. Pretty cool little guy.
It was time to go. We started suiting up for the ride
ahead. Just about when we were almost ready to go. A car
pulled up and parked in front of us. The lady walked into the
market while her kids are waiting outside in the car. Not too
long after I put on my helmet one of the kids popped out of the car and
asked me, "Excuse me, is that a camera on your helmet?" To
which I replied, "Yes, it's a helmet cam." "Cool!" I Guess
he hasn't seen one in real life before. You don't know how many
times I get asked that question. A camera stuck to the top of my
head attracts all kinds of attention. Unfortunately it doesn't
help me pickup chicks. Darn! You have two choices when it
come to having a helmet cam. Either the people freak out when
they see you or they look at you funny and then pop the ten million
dollar question (e.g. Is that a helmet cam?).
Off we go onto the 49 highway. Again, Trees, dead grass, and a
lot of tarmac. The towns Mt Bullion and Bear Valley whizzed
by. Approximately 2 miles North of Bear Valley as the road start
sweeping right, there is a vista point over looking an open valley
below. My immediate reaction was, this has to be the beginning of
the Little Dragon. Sure enough, it is. Minh is absolutely
elated. The view is spectacular. We couldn't ask for
anything more, except to ride the road ahead of us. "I want to
cross that bridge!"
Some of the pictures aren't very clear because there is a bit of a haze
on the horizon. This might have been cause by forest fires.
When you look at the panorama, take a close look at the second panel of
the picture. There is a large puff of smoke in the
distance. Yup, a forest fire. In fact, as we were parked
taking pictures, a fire man drove up to see what we were doing.
We started talking and he mentioned his son was currently working on
putting out the fire that we can see in the distance. He said the
fire started not too long ago and isn't really too bad. It's
pretty much contained. I mentioned to him that we passed the big
fire off of the I5 close to LA as we were heading up towards
Fresno. There are numerous forest fires going on in
California. He mentioned this is the high season for fire
fighters and that his son doesn't get a break these last couple of
months. It's pretty bad since there are so many fires going on at
the same time. We chatted a little longer and then he said his
Seeing the bridge below, Minh and I were both wondering if we will get
a chance to cross it. I can't see too far ahead with my TomTom
and Minh's map sucked. Nowhere on his map does it show switch
backs down to the bridge, but we can see with our own two eyes the road
in front of us has switch backs. The road on his map looks almost
like a straight line. This made me rather confused, but I figure
we're going to end up going in the right direction anyway because at
this point there is only the 49 highway.
At one point we hear a motorcycle in the distance. From the sound
of it, it's a Harley. It's a good several miles away from us down
the valley below, most likely close to the bridge. Let's pretend
it's 2 miles away from us. The fact that we can hear the pipes
from two miles away means it must be deftly loud to the driver.
To this day I still don't understand how anybody can handle the noise
and vibration from straight pipes. I know it grabs automobiles'
attention, probably piss off auto drivers too because the noise is so
loud, but how can you hear anything above all that noise? Ah,
nothing like an excellent source of noise pollution to disrupt nature's
beauty. Surely enough, about 5-10 minutes later, the Harley pass
our vista point.
Now we suit up to continue our trek.
As we finish and are ready to leave, this RV pulls up and makes
a really bad parking decision (e.g. no consideration that they might be
blocking Minh's egress). The way our bikes were parked, we were
down hill so it's almost impossible to backup and move our bikes
around. Well, this RV decided they owned the entire parking area
and parked right in front of Minh so that he can't turn right to
leave. He's trapped. I then motioned to Eugene to help Minh
by pushing him backwards so he has a shot of going around the RV.
Job done, we all took off for the open road. People can be so
rude and inconsiderate.
Now that we're done staring at and taking pictures of, we're off
to ride the Little Dragon itself. Since Minh's map is so
incomprehensive (e.g. just a road map not a high resolution topo map),
it doesn't show the steepness of the switchback. However, we did
end up passing a street sign that read "6% grade". That' pretty
steep for most vehicles. That also means the switchbacks could be
pretty sharp. Yes indeed they're sharp, but the road is a
pleasure to ride. No imperfections on the road and there is only
mild cases of sand and dirt on the road. It's quite
technical. Poor Eugene is not use to this type of riding so he's
lagging behind. Eventually we get to the bottom of
things, and boy did I want to go backup and ride down again. Just
before the bridge crossing, we stopped to take more
pictures. The bridge itself is pretty cool. It looks
Bridges are always so cool regardless of age.
The road we came down.
Here he goes again folks. Center on the double yellow.
... But this is a truly cool shot. Maybe Minh is on to something.
I love the texture and colors. OK Minh, so maybe you're not so
completely odd after all.
There is an interesting Harley like sound, but it's not entirely
Harley in origin. Rather it's the sound of a speed boat's
I kept on thinking a Harley is coming when it was a boat passing
underneath or near the bridge.
At this stretch of the road, a small band of moto cruisers passed us in
the opposite direction. Everybody has been very friendly
today. Only in several rare occasions did other bikers ignore us.
Riding the bridge was cool. I should have doubled back and rode
it again but it's already 2:30PM and we need to finish the remaining
part of our day trip. The Little Dragon went on. The road
got more curvy and more technical. What Minh and I didn't realize
was that Eugene wasn't familiar with this type of riding and he didn't
know about engine breaking. He pretty much rode the entirety of
the Little Dragon only using rear and front breaks. That must
have been tough. The road curves, the country side is absolutely
gorgeous, and the technical aspect of the riding made it all an
exhilarating experience. One of my thoughts, "Too bad Russell
isn't here. He would have loved this road."
This is a typical sampling of the scenery around the Little Dragon.
Relaxing his back, I guess.
The Little Dragon ends and the 49 highway continues on. My
original hope was to reach the 120 highway by 3:00PM so we need to keep
moving. We reached 120 highway around 3:30PM. Not too
bad. Only 1/2 hour off. I pulled over to change camcorder
batteries and put in a fresh tape. This also gives Minh an
opportunity to take pictures of a near by power plant.
Just several hundred yards ahead is the 120 junction.
... and still fidgeting.
While we were on the side of the road, A BMW tour bike, it looked like
a K1200LT, passed us, and another train of Harley passed on the
opposite side of the highway. Forget raising your hand to wave at
every one, just hold it up. There must have been at least 5-10 of
them. All in all, I think that makes it three trains and a count
of approximately 40-50 Harleys for this entire trip so far. Man,
that's a lot of rumbling under the pants.
A couple hundred feet further and we make a right turn onto the 120
highway. Again, a good clean highway. Well maintained with
no visible ruts or anything. It must have been recently
repaved. This time around, even Minh's map shows the switchbacks
that we have to go up on this part of the 120. The good news is
Eugene knows about engine breaking now. However, he's not going
to need it going up hill. Next thing you know traffic backs
up. The culprit is some construction work being done on the
road. Heading up this stretch, my trip odometer shows 140+
miles. Time to fuel up when the opportunity appears.
The 120 is not quite the same as the Little Dragon but it's still fun
We made it to the out skirts of the town called Big Oak Flats and go
for the first gas station we spot. We all fueled up and pulled
off to the side. Eugene, his uncontrollable urges for ice cream,
went into the mini-mart and got himself 3, yes 3, ice cream
sticks. Feast your eyes on this proof.
One going into the mouth and the other two in hand.
It's become quite apparent that he just doesn't stop eating. He's
like a mean food processing machine, and he has to go whiz a lot
too. By this time you should recognize that we stopped a lot this
day. We could have just fueled up and kept on going but
nope. Eugene has to get his cold treat fix. We stood around
for a while talking about this or that until Minh asked Eugene how
often he lubes his chain. Hehe, I don't have a chain to deal
with. Yes, I'm a lazy bastard and I love it. Blab this blab
that, next thing you know we were all trying to get Eugene's bike on
the center stand so we can lube his chain. "Spin the wheel!" Minh
claims. I'm standing there kicking Eugene's bike rear wheel as
Minh sprays chain lube on the chain. What was Eugene doing?
Standing there watching of course. Minh and I are both already
doing the work so why worry about right? Right. Lazy bugger.
Once again, off we go. On to the road in front of us. We
have to pass through Yosemite in order to get to the 41 highway and
then home. My concern was that we might end up riding home in the
dark. Not something I would prefer to do but will do if we have
to. Having been through Yosemite so many times, I know the speed
limits in the park is outrageously slow. Not only that, auto
drivers have a tendency to not use turnout lanes when they
should. Anyway, we press on. The speed limit in Yosemite is
slow, but Big Oak Flat takes the cake. 25MPH through the entire
town. Doggin' it. Not only that, the fuzz was all over the
The fun really began when we got out of Big Oak Flat. The road is
wide and the turns are slow and sweeping. You approach, lean in a
bit, and add a little throttle to finish the execution. It was
dreamy. There are no real words to describe this part of the 120
other than heavenly. It gently sweeps back and forth. You
lean one way, go through it, and then throw the bike into the other
direction and lean into that turn. It was effortless bliss.
The country side is breath taking, and the temperature is
perfect. Not too hot, not too cold. Just right. I
wish I could ride like this forever. Traffic? There is none
to be seen. The road contained just the three of us. We
were in heaven until we reached yet another vista point near the
Tuolomne River. We stopped for some pictures and a quick restroom
break, for me. By the time I was heading to the rest house, the
parking lot had emptied. There originally were two large vans
full of girl scouts or some organization like that in the parking lot
when we got there. When I came out, nobody was in the lot.
Eugene was starting to eat again, while Minh and I were taking
pictures. After a short amount of time, more and more folks
started showing up. Initially two Star cruisers showed up.
Then, one by one, a bunch of vehicles started pulling in. At this
time, we had already gotten ready to continue our journey. Some
of the guys started looking at Eugene's bike and started
trippin'. I guess they had never seen a F650GS before. Bla
bla bla, with a bunch of laughter, and then they started heading in my
direction. At this point I had already saddled up. When
they finally noticed my helmet cam and everything else, it got really
rowdy. One of then made a comment to the effect, "Look at this
one, he's like James Bond." They hovered laughing and
smiling. I thanked them for all their compliments and started up
the engines. We waved them goodbye and headed off on our
way. Man, what a mob scene. It was a good mob though.
Pretty funny and pretty weird. I guess they have never witnessed
an R12GS before.
The 120 bliss continued until we reached the West Yosemite gate.
$30 bucks later ($10 for each bike) we're in Yosemite continuing on the
120 trying to reach the 41.
Eugene and I riding off in the distance as Minh snap some pictures
we entered Yosemite.
Little did I know, we were still very far from where we should
be. As mentioned before, Yosemite's speed limit is really
show. The maximum speed you can expect to drive at is
40-45MPH. Passing lanes, what's that? Turnouts? Sure
there are, but who's going to use that? Initially, this part of
Yosemite is not too bad. Traffic still consisted of Minh, Eugene
and myself. We cruise slowly but we're make pretty good
progress. I had never been on this part of the 120 before so I
didn't know what to expect.
We even ran across several fellow R12GSers. They were all loaded
up with panniers and what looks to be camping equipment. They
must be with the ADV Rider group. I even had a chance to see the
new blue Rally 2 Pro suit in action. For an entire 3 seconds.
Yet more awesome scenery so we had to stop and take more pictures.
R12GS glamor shot.
CBR1100XX glamor shot.
The road behind us.
The road in front of us.
At this point I'm still clueless as to how far it is to the 41
highway. My TomTom tells me but I truly have no point of
reference because I have never been on this part of the 120
before. We kept on going. The 120 eventually meets up with
the Big Oak Flat road. This is where the scenery start to get
familiar. The further we go, the more I started worrying.
Why? Because this road resembles the road that I use to take to
go to Yosemite Valley. If it is the same road, it's going to take
a long time to get out of Yosemite.
Big Oak Flat road turns into Northside drive. North side drive
eventually meets up with the 140 highway and the 41 highway. An
interesting point. While we were driving down Big Oak Flat road
(about 35MPH), we had quite a bit of elevation from the stream/river
below. At one point we drove pass this series of trucks parked to
the right of the road. What's even worse is we noticed two guys,
most likely a National Park rescue team, was putting on climbing
harnesses getting ready to rappel down the side of the
mountain. Not a good scene to behold. Either they're
practicing or they're getting ready recover or save somebody. We
never found out the reason nor the outcome, but it was a curious scene
I drive for a little bit and next thing you know, I was all
alone. I knew Minh wanted to take some pictures because the
scenery was gorgeous. I hope I caught it on the helmet cam.
As before, what I did next was to find the closest spot available to
pull off to wait for Minh and Eugene. I found a spot right after
a small tunnel. I think Minh and Eugene will spot me when they
get close. Next thing you know Minh pulled up right behind
me. I then see Eugene and motioned for him pull up in front of
me. Instead, what did he do? He kept on going.
Huh? Dam hand signals. Everybody keeps on misinterpreting
them. Now that Eugene is off and running (at 25 MPH), Minh and I
took and chased after him. When we caught up to Eugene, I got him
to pull off and then told him that I wanted him to park in front of
me. Oh well, so much for the photo opportunity. It's
getting late so we just pushed on.
stopped again where Big Oak Flat road meets the 140 highway for some
more photos. I was still worried about our time. It is already
pass 5:00pm and we're barely at the
41 junction. As you can tell from some of the pictures, we're
starting to loose sun light.
The orange tinge of a sunset.
Now this is funny and weird. Several guy drove up in a pickup
truck, jumped out of the struck, hopped over this
stone barrier and ran down to the stream. Screaming and yelling
as they go, of course. I don't know
What the hell they were doing but there was definitely a lot of
noise. Whatever makes them happy I guess.
To the 41 highway.
I try to take a couple more pictures but all of my flash memory cards
are full. No more photos for this boy. Minh and Eugene has
to do the rest.
The orange sun light in the sky means the sun is setting soon. So
I told Minh and
Eugene that we have to get going and hopefully get out of Yosemite
before sunset. As we round the corner to take the 41 highway, my
suspicion was well founded. We are on the road to go to Yosemite
Valley. This means we're in fairly deep and have to get out as
fast as we can if we hope to reach Fresno with any amount of sun
light left. My concern about not wanting to drive in the dark has
do with my experience on the 41 highway in the past. It's a
dangerous road during the day let alone driving at night. Night
time presents more problems because you can't see too far ahead of
you. On a country road you never know what manner of creature
might walk out onto the highway in front of you. It's a
big problem for cars let alone motorcycles.
As we round the beginning parts of the 41 and head up the mountain
side, there is not doubt in my mind that we're in for a long ride
out. The proof is when we go through the two granite
tunnels. Of course what do you do when you go through a
tunnel? You have to honk for joy. Beep, beep beep beep,
beep ... beep beep! So far there are no signs of traffic and
we're the only three on the road. Maybe we'll make it out without
a problem. I never should have thought that.
The road is slow and the turns are sharp. I can see why they post
35 as the speed limit. However, being motorcycles, we can take
the turn at 45 and it's not a problem. In some cases, even a
little faster. Left, straight, right... left, straight, right...
it repeats over and over. We're still making decent time until,
you guessed it, traffic! Three car in front of us. The one
immediately in front of me is keeping a little distance from the car in
front of him because the car in front of him is tail gating the car at
the very front. Tourist driver(s) that don't know how to
negotiate mountain roads and probably will refuse to use turnout
About 15 minute staying behind this bunch, traffic is backing up
because of the idiot in front. There were numerous turnouts but
he refuses to take them. How rude. I kept on pressuring the
car in front of me in the hopes that the front most car would yield to
traffic. No such luck. We're stuck. This is why I
hate driving in Yosemite. At one point there was a Harley behind
us. Of course there is not even one single set of dashed yellow
lines to allow for passing. Everything is solid double yellow all
the way through. Whenever there is a straight, it was too short
to make a passing maneuver. Even an illegal passing
maneuver. The Harley guy chanced it and made it through. I
don't like the idea of making that illegal pass and end up being road
kill from an on coming car. Plus, I have two other people to
worry about. When we finally reached the South gate, it was about
7:30pm. We could have easily shaved off 30 minutes if the idiot
in front of us would have let us by, but that's not the end of it
all. The other thing was, it's starting to get cold. Very
cold. I knew that if we make it to Oakhurst, we stand a better
chance since it's lower elevation and would be a little warmer.
As we got out of Yosemite, the cars in front of us are still in front
of us. They're not that much faster than when they were in
Yosemite. The other bad news is that the 41 from Yosemite to
Oakhurst has not changed. This means it's narrow, sharp, and
slow. The hope that I had, earlier today, about this part of the
41 being improved is dashed. It's hopeless. It will be slow
going and dangerous.
I was so focused on putting pressure on the car in front of me that I
hadn't notice Minh trying to signal me to pull over. Eventually I
saw his blinkers and flashes of the high beam and acknowledge his
desire. I then look for an open spot to pull over. Sure
enough we found a pull out area and pulled off the road. The
train of cars whizzed pass us in a hurry to head South. Minh then
told me that he had been trying to get my attention for the last
several miles. He needs to change his face shield and put on a
liner. I was cold too but I wanted to get to Oakhurst where the
temperature is warmer. Oh well, nice try. Eugene put on his
liner, and a hood under the helmet. Minh put on another layer and
changed his face shield. I think Minh also put on a hood under
the helmet also. I put on my Gore-Tex coat liner and used a
bandanna instead of a hood. I was looking for my scarf but I must
have left it back in LA. Bummer. I also took off the
neoprene over grip from the grips as they prevented me from using my
heated grips to warm my hands. We were doing all this milling
around in the dark. All we had were our bike's headlights and my
hazard blinkers. I left the hazard on so that passing cars would
see us and not flatten us where we stand. Thank god for hazard
lights. While we were milling around trying to put on warm
layers, I mentioned to Eugene that I haven't seen one person pull over
to ask us if we needed help. I also mentioned that most like
nobody will stop and ask us. I was wrong and had to eat my words
as one of the locals stopped on the opposite side of the road, made a
u-turn, stopped next to us and asked, "Are you guys OK? Do you
need some help?" I replied, "No, we're just putting on clothing
to keep ourselves warm. Thanks for checking on us." The
gentleman said "No problem" and circled around to head where he's
going. I mentioned to Eugene, "I guess I'm wrong." while
Minh made comments to the effect that the people around this area are
pretty nice. I gave a quick call to my mom to let her know we're
all OK and that we're going to be late heading home. I think I
only had one tick mark on my cell phone but I was glad to be able to
make the call.
We started up our engines and headed off. Boy I could really use
the auxiliary lights right about now but they don't work. Oh
well, at least the low beam was working well enough because of a recent
H7 bulb change out. BTW, I have made it a policy for myself to
change out my light bulbs every year. From my experience the
halogen bulbs loose their intensity after so much repeated use.
The H7 bulbs don't cost a whole lot and it's a small price to pay to be
bright enough for people to see you. Anyway, the first thing that
struck me as being odd is the fact that my grips are so small. I
have been riding my bike with the neoprene grips on for a long while so
it's an odd change out. Not only that, the darkness was so dark
that all I could see was my instrument cluster and my head light.
Everything else was not visible. This includes my switch for the
heated grips, the left/right turn signal switch, the horn, the high
beam switch, etc. I can't see anything else! What a
trip!. I was in front so I kept turning the high beam on.
In several instances I was a little slow on lowering the light because
I couldn't tell where the switch was. Talk about drive by
feel. This is it. It is a surreal feel driving home.
It felt like I wasn't on my 12GS. Weird.
I sigh a sigh of relief as we reach Oakhurst. I also noticed the
temperature change at the Southern edge of Oakhurst. We got to
and passed the 49 and 41 junction. The same junction we
took about 8 or so hour earlier this day. It doesn't look the
the dark. We pushed on. I'm so glad to have the high beam
that I have on the R12GS's. I can see really far when it's
on. I wish I could leave the high beam on as it makes driving in
this pitch black a lot easier. Unfortunately there is still a
substantial amount of traffic on the opposite side.
Photos? Forget it! Don't even think about it. I just
want to make it home. Plus it's so dark what am I going to take a
photo of? South of Oakhurst we ran into more traffic. We
ditched some of them at a passing lane and made it into
Coarsegold. As I got out of Coarsegold, I look at my rear view
mirror and only saw one headlight. That's not good. I'm
suppose to have two headlights behind me. Who is the one
headlight? Is that Minh or is that Eugene? It's Minh.
Where's Eugene? What happened to him. Minh and I rode slow
on the highway letting cars pass us while looking and waiting for
Eugene. At some point I even contemplated turning around to go
look for Eugene. Eventually I spotted the lone headlight.
"OK, there he is. Where has he been?" Oh well, he can catch
up to us. I cranked the throttle and started off. Minh is
right behind me and his light is super bright in all this
darkness. I periodically check my mirrors to see where Eugene
is. He still lagging behind in traffic. We hit a couple of
stop lights on the way back. I can see Eugene is behind us by
several cars. A couple of lights later, he right behind
Minh. Excellent! Now we can speed home. We do a good
65-70 all the way until we reach the 41 freeway, just North of
Fresno. We take the freeway until we reach Shields Avenue.
We take the exit heading down Shields until we reach Maroa. Maroa
to Mc Kinley and next thing you know we're back at my parent's place.
My parents came out to greet us and are glad to see we're all OK.
They weren't too worried since I had called ahead. What were the
words that came out of my mouth? "Ten hours in the saddle!"
"Yes, another ten hours in the saddle, and it was all worth it."
I then proceeded to make comments about idiot drivers in
Yosemite. Not something uncommon. We all parked, went in
cleaned up, and had dinner. The clock on my bike shows
8:30PM. We had left my parent's place at 10:00AM. That's
easily 10+ hours. Wow! What a trip.
Day 1 [September 23, 2006]
Day 3 [September 25, 2006]
Written on: October 6, 2006
Last modified: October 23, 2006