Reached Salt Lake today after a 750 kms run from Hamilton, Idaho.
This is it, we have taken a U – Turn from Seattle and now heading back via 200 miles inland to Los Angeles on the Diavel and the AMG. Have done 4000 kms. Things have started to get hot, dry and very straight. Check out a couple of quick pictures from today, and this is nowhere near the giant empty straight roads we will encounter in a day or two.
DISTANCE. SPEED. TIME :: Day 5 & Day 5: San Francisco – Garberville – Winchester Bay
Text: Praveer (Driver)
Pics: Sunny (Rider)
The Golden Gate bridge was indeed a high point in the trip. And we moved to our Motel in San Pablo post that only to leave early to ride back to the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). Even though we know what was lying ahead was cloudy and chilly weather. But still we had to get next to the ocean for the next part of the ride. And so we did riding almost 400 kms only to reach Garberville and stay at a motel owned by some Mr. Kamlesh Bhai.
Day 6 was supposed to have the same fate as Day 5 as we rode next to the coast and did again almost 400 kms and reached Winchester Bay a small town on the coast with a small harbor.
Now I want to cover these two days in a different way. Not the regular travelogue from here to there and what we saw but something different. I want to talk about the relationship between Distance. Speed. And Time. In the context of the roadtrip and our travels. And you will find in the end that all of them are so deeply related that no road trip is complete without them.
America is famous for its strict enforcement of laws and that is exactly what they do. Distance is dictated by two variables of speed and time. And in America both speed and time are inversely proportional. The speed is not more than 65 miles maximum at any given part of the road (barring in some states where we are not riding). And it even slows down further as the moment you enter a town you are required to slash your speed to not more than 25-30 miles. And also come to a complete halt at all crossings. This is why we have been limited to covering only around 400 kms everyday.
Overtaking is a strict no no and overspeeding can fetch you a fine of upto 500 dollars. So covering long distances one needs to have patience and time because speed will not do the thing for you.
Now contrary to the above point there was a section of our ride on Day 4 where we got to push the limits of both the bike and the car on an amazing twisty road. And this road is just before Stuarts Point on the PCH and connects the inland. Its not yet spotted by highway patrol so the bikers and drivers use it to test their skills on the curves. Its 45-50 kms of sheer bliss through forests, lakes and smooth tarmac. And I pushed the AMG to my limits and found it one of the most exhilarating drives yet in my life. I shouldn’t mention this but I was doing triple digits for a short section of the road on the curves and the car surprised me with its traction control and handling. I mean it is a dream when the drivers seat locks from the sides and holds you tight so you don’t move around on the curves. And there was Sunny on the Diavel which I know for a fact loves the curves as well.
So we can covered distance and speed now lets look at time not in terms of our travel but in respect to what we are seeing when we travel. I have four words for you THE AVENUE OF THE GIANT. Before reading on I think you should google this and read about one of the most amazing parts of the PCH. This is a 50 kms road just off the US 101 highway and boasts of its redwood trees each dating atleast a couple of thousand years in time. These trees are huge I mean big enough to let a car through the trunk and yes we did. And when you spot a location on your ride that has been around for so many thousands of years you start asking yourself this one question :
Are distance and speed really that important because time does win over everything else in the end.
You have to ♥ a Ducati on a cold morning, in this case the Diavel today in our roadtrip.
Text: Sundeep Gajjar (“Rider’)
Completed 3000 kms in the trip. As the ‘Rider’, I have to admit, I was blown away by the AMG CLS 63′s performance, especially on the corners. This is the first ‘high performance’ car that I have driven. Drove it 1200 kms in all sorts of traffic, highways and ultra narrow and sinuous roads. Coming to the Ducati Diavel. 160 Hp and the fantastic looks leave nothing to be desired for. And it leans like a superbike, well almost. Thanks to the ‘Driver’ Praveer Kochhar , for his wonderful company.
Today we did 540 kms: Winchester Bay, OR to Packwood, WA.
The weather on the West coast has been confused and cold. Sometimes its misty, sometimes sunny. Its really messing up with our photography plans. We are right now in a small town of Winchester Bay and looking to reach Seattle by day after early afternoon. Here is a pic from today while we upload the blog!
Text : Praveer Kochhar
Pictures : Sundeep Gajjar
Many photos have been taken by cell phone while on the road. The good ones are taken using Canon cameras. And the best ones will be in the xBhp Magazine October Anniversary Issue.
Well more about the headline a little later in the blog first up lets begin where we left off. In Oakhurst just on the foothills of Yosemite National Park. The United States is an outdoorsy country, people are hiking, fishing, camping, boating, riding and doing all that can be done outdoors. Its fascinating to see how brilliantly everything is laid out for them, with camping stops clearly demarcated, facilities like bathing rooms, barbeque stations, washing machines put out so you can actually live in the outdoors. And we are but experiencing a little bit of that by being on the road for almost 12 hours everyday.
So it started from Oakhurst at around 1030 in the morning and after much debate the decision was taken to ride/drive to San Francisco. I personally wanted to go to this city just to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Its like folklore when you have heard stores seen pictures and countless movies that feature San Francisco, XMEN, Milk, Day after tomorrow and countless other movies. And also to see the trams and the streets that almost run in to the sky as its built on 7 hills. So we left Oakhurst on Highway 46 which was a nice winding road with me pushing the AMG on the corners and getting surprised at the amazing traction control this car has. Its like its been mounted on rails, I took a couple of corners at 95kmph and it was as if I couldn’t do anything to make this car slide. There were lakes on the way with the strong California sun shining. After around 80 kms we left he hills only to discover some amazing flat ground with Golden grass and roads that looked like out of a country song.
Kept riding until we left the beauty of the countryside and reached the cities just before Modesto to have out lunch at the famous Taco Bell. It was around 3pm and we were yet to decide on the place to stay. So Sunny got on with his laptop and trip advisor to figure out the place to stay while we fed ourselves some Burritos (I like the way it sounds). San Fran was about 160 kms and we decided to swap the vehicles so it was not my turn to tame the Diavel and Sunny to plug his iPhone and listen to some of his favorite tracks on the Harman Kardon.
I want to write a bit about riding on the Freeways in the US. I mean they are fast and 6 lanes on each side but the thing that is most scary for a biker are the cross winds. I mean they are so strong in places that they push the bike off course and there were times when I was doing around 120 and the bike would get dragged on the sides. Well we rode without a stop till San Francisco and it go cloudy, colder and windy as we went along. We entered Oakland and then took one of the 3 bridges that connects San Francisco with Oakland and got a first look at this beautiful city.
We had decided to go to Mt. Davidson (a small hill in the middle of San Fran) but because of the clouds we decided to head straight to the Golden Gate bridge. Which was I guess the high point of this trip so far.
GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
So we got on with the job and spent a couple of hours shooting around the Golden Gate Bridge. Soon an American friend of ours who had visited India recently with his wife and toured Uttarakhand on Pulsars (Tom and Terry) joined us and waited patiently as we wrapped up our days work. We went out to dinner at this really old (but now newly built) café called The Cliff House. Which they say is more than a 100 years old. Wrapping up dinner by around 10pm it was time to head to the Hotel in San Pablo around 40 kms from the Café. And I was in charge of the Diavel in this windy almost 12 degrees weather. And so we reached in a not so popular neighborhood of San Francisco. And it was time to crash and that is exactly what we did.
So now our route for the next day is planned thanks to Tom and his insight into some great roads that we can cover. Its time to say adios and we will see you tomorrow.
Detailed blog soon!
Text: Sundeep Gajjar
Photos: Many photos have been taken by cell phone while on the road. The good ones are taken using Canon cameras. And the best ones will be in the xBhp Magazine October Anniversary Issue.
We finally started out from LA at 9 AM. Me on the Diavel and Praveer in the CLS. It was cold and overcast. There is a strange kind of mist in the mornings which lasts upto 11 AM when the sun begins to shine through. We hit the much hyped Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), No.1 to see what it was all about. I was prepared for dull riding because I had noted in my repeat trip around NZ in 2010 on a Suzuki Bking that coastal areas look best under blue skies and sunshine and they look absolutely awful and gray under overcast. Thats of course because the water is blue as its reflecting the color of the sky than anything else. Plus riding is always a pleasure on sunny days. So yes, it was dull. For a while. Until the sun came out and the mists cleared. Suddenly everything became beautiful.
The PCH runs, for a lot of part, hugging cliffs on one side and the mountains on the other. There were fast moving low hung clouds which added to the drama. It reminded me of NZ and The Great Ocean Road in Australia. However this look somehow much more massive in proportions - from the vast sea to the high cliffs marking the boundaries of the roads. We had our lunch in a place called Lompoc, on the PCH. Here we met the owner of the restaurant who admired the Diavel 360 degree for quite a while before coming up to us to say that this was the first time he saw one of these and that he was quite impressed with the looks at least. He also had a Ducati 999 of his, therefore only a Ducatista can understand the thrill of riding a Ducati. The Driver meanwhile could only participate passively as we discussed motorcycling. During our lunch the owner suggested us that we do the famous Big Sur (a part of the PCH where the Santa Lucia mountains rise abruptly). The Big Sur extend from 400kms north of LA to 135 kms south of San Francisco. He also suggested that we do Yosemite National Park, which was actually inland and would be a sort of detour. A lot of people and books had suggested Yosemite as well, hence his suggestion fell in place and turned into a conviction of sorts. So today (August 17th) we made it via Big Sur to a town called Carmel by the sea after trying various other places on the way. All motels and hotels were full. It seemed that all the US was on the move, holidaying. After a lot of hunting we finally found a Best Western hotel in Carmel, which by the way was a very beautiful town. And very chilly too.
To reach Carmel I had to ride through thick fog at 9 PM in th night on mountain roads. It was more difficult than I thought. Why, read on below. The quality of US roads. So far. Has been disappointing. I didnt think I will ever write it like this. But the roads in LA were quite bumpy, with cracks and repairs. There were good roads as well but the bad ones shone through more often. And then there was the Big Sur. It is a landslide area alright, but the quality of the roads was decent at best. I was afraid of taking a fast turn lest there was gravel, cracks and sometimes even potholes on the road. No the US quality that i had been fed with so far. The roads in Australia and most parts of Europe were much better than here. So far.
Aug 18The next day saw us wake up in a VERY chilly and overcast Carmel. However the whole town was draped with a party atmosphere as lots of vintage cars showed up, in all shapes and sizes. And thats when I also spotted my breakfast and lunch for the day:
After that sumptuous breakfast we hit the road again after a quick refill. Onwards to Yosemite! It was VERY chilly. But as soon as we started going inland the weather changed abruptly. The skies cleared giving way to a clear and bright sky. The temperature skyrocketed to decently hot. The landscape became a painting golden rolling hills under a blue sky and with me enjoying every bit of it!
And here is when the Carminator was first sighted:
The road from Carmel to Oakhurst (a town 20 kms before Yosemite) looked like Maharashtra in summer with all its golden rolling hills. It was quite hot in Oakhurst when we reached there at 4 PM. In 15 minutes we checked into our Comfort Inn hotel and set out again to Yosemite which was another 150 kms return ride. Yosemite was a great place to ride with the tall trees and the sinuous roads. Truly a motorcyclist’s delight…If it not were for the tourists teeming everywhere. I was a little disappointed, for the lack of photo opportunities with the vehicles as well as the crowd. All said and done here was one more place checked out of the must see list. But I hope the rest of the trip shows us better!