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Thread: Cooter and Bubbles ride to Mumzys house.

  1. #1
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    Cooter and Bubbles ride to Mumzys house.

    Instead of posting more pics from a trip thats already finished, I thought it would be cool to try and post as we "wing our way up and down the USA" for the next 3 weeks.

    I worked too much last year (shame on ME!), didn't get a long motorcycle trip, and have frankly been a bit 'off' since then It's my glorious 50th b-day in early August and my reward my self for not dying is to start Stella the Buell and see how many wheel bearings I can change on the side of the road.

    This 2020 trip is gonna be weird. I heard somewhere theres a flu or something? Campgrounds, restaurants, and parks are unreliably open. Or closed. Or rumor says... Whatever, we're gonna go full send and wing it anyway. I am already cautious with my health (the regular flu sucks bad enough), and Bubbles is a bit of a germaphobe so this will be more than just a little interesting.

    This will be Bubbles first major excursion by herself (no kids)... and on a bike... and very different than she's used too. She's already a really good camper, not afraid to be uncomfortable, and keeps an open mind with a positive attitude. All mandatory requirements to have a successful fun trip She's used to camping with just her, 2 kids and a dog. That takes a whole lot more packing and planning!

    Bubbles has come a really long way since just having her ONE year anniversary of passing the MSF class Bought 3 motorcycles, a half dozen track days, thousands of curvy miles along all our mountain ranges (maybe 10k?), even gridlock PCH. She's a determined sponge for information and already rides better and safer than a very large percentage of M1 license holders. No kidding. She's an impressive chick.
    Her first bike was an old HD MSF training Blast we got for $650 that didn't run, she fully reconditioned it into a pretty (for a Blast, lol) and dependable runner that has even seen the track! Bike #2 is a beautifully clean and well maintained example of a '07 XB12-Scg she bought for just this very reason. She got it locally from a super nice guy and we still stay friends with him Bike #3 is her 2020 Ninja, and the very first brand-new vehicle she's even bought. Pretty impressive for a single girl raising 2 kids.

    The very-loose-don't-call-it-a-plan, 'plan' is: AVOID ALL FREEWAYS, camping/boon docking all the way but we'll hotel for laundry or hot springs because we aren't complete dirty plebs.

    We'll head north on Tuesday (Aug 4th) starting in Pasadena, through Angeles forest, into Kern/Lake Isabella to spend our first night in the mountains, then going up the east side of the Inyo mountains and see if Yosemite is open. Up into eastern Oregon, across to Crater Lake (Best Marion Berry Pie Ever), up to the Columbia River Gorge, west to Portland, dodge tear gas, see mom for a couple days of relaxing and laundry, and then the WHOLE coast back starting in Tillamook (Ice Cream!), making sure to stop in Big Sur for her (much younger) B-day, then finally back to the Hell Hole of Los Angeles if it hasn't burned down or turned into 'I Am Legend' by then.

    We'll be calling in favors to sleep in a friends yard or meet up with whoever knows a fun local road. She does FaceBook and ADVRider so that should help. Ready!... Set!...


    TL;DR
    Going riding, hope we don't die.
    Last edited by Cooter; 07-30-2020 at 06:35 PM.

  2. #2
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    Have fun, enjoy and be careful and yes, we still expect pictures !

  3. #3
    Senior Member 34nineteen's Avatar
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    Pictures or else! I am looking forward to watching you replace a drivebelt using a fish hook, a stick and a pair of nail clippers.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    I might be ok? I'll take nail clippers just in case I found a missing tooth on the old belt a couple years back while camping in the Grand Canyon (with Bubbles actually)! Rode 900 miles home on it

  5. #5
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    Well... That happened 3625.0 miles total in 20 days. Fire, wind, mechanical and mental breakdowns, marionberry pie, and I can't wait to do it again This is the first 1/2 of the first day, I'll get to writing the rest soon and I promise more pics!

    "The difference between an ordeal and an adventure, is attitude" says author Bob Bitchin'. Nick-named by Cheech and Chong, a body guard to Evel Knievel, a long time biker, and extreme sailor, I trust he's right. With both motorcycles disassembled under a very small tree in a very hot desert, the mushroom cloud of a fresh grass fire only a few miles away, and the sharp sting of 30,000 volts still vibrating up my arm, it was clearly time for better attitude. But we'll get to that.

    The Cooter version of Mr. Bitchin's quote goes more like "The difference between a trip and an adventure is lack of planning". Perhaps it's sheer laziness that I usually end up in an adventure, and this was no different. Except, The Bubbles.

    A lifelong friend, lionhearted companion, and a perfect puzzle piece to add to this usually solo stupidity, uh... adventuring. Only just having her one year anniversary passing her MSF test with honors, I have no doubt of her skill, safety, and will power, to make this an even better Escape From LA. In the last year, her voracious desire for the sport has netted her 3 cool motorcycles, competent repair skills, and even a full restoration of her first bike! She's done a half dozen track days, LA traffic (sorry no, your city is not 'as bad as LA') and over 10,000 miles spent winding through the Santa Monica Mountains, apexing her little pig-tails to her hearts content. But as an old hand at this, I know theres always something new to upset your balance (that's foreshadowing folks).

    Both Bubbles and I knew the dumpster fire that 2020 turned out to be was going to force us to be a bit more comfortable with winging it, and that suited us perfectly. Armed with a bunch of new, untested camping gear (don't do that), zero reservations (do that), a tentative destination to Mumzys place 2 states away (Marionberry pie for breakfast? Cmon, ALWAYS do that), and our positive attitudes, we spent the last night in a comfortable bed, completely sleepless with excitement.
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    Here on this forum, we know Buells are fantastic motorcycles. Fun, weird, and simple as a hammer. You know how people resemble their pets? I'm calling you out.. it's the same thing for motorcycles. Of course I took 'Stella', and she's riding her XB12Scg she bought from a local guy named Rio who not only threw in a giant box of extra parts in the deal (that will be very handy in a day or so), he ended up being so nice we have kept in contact since (also very handy in a day or so). The bikes are basically identical except I have the long/tall version, and hers is the short/low one. Like I said, pets.

    There was one actual pet that made the cut to travel with us, and would be fine for whatever path we were going to end up on.
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    Ya. I know.
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    Get it?
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    There you go. Now you get it...

    The morning of, went without a hitch. Up early, coffee, Cliff bar, a game of solitaire on the throne, last minute second guessing packing, one more game of solitare... The only true proper way to leave the city of LA is to go through the Angeles National Forest, but to get to Pasadena from the start point near LAX means 3 of the worst freeways LA has to offer, and even Monday morning traffic can be lethal. Literally. Not too shaken (but definitely stirred), and safely at our first gas stop at the base of highway 2, my first thought was "Some motorcyclists choose to vacation and travel by interstate freeways only!?". They are wrong.

    The length of Angeles Crest Highway is gorgeous scenery that gets completely ignored by motorcyclists when there are 1000 even more gorgeous curves to fly through. I'm familiar with those roads now thanks to the Satans Whores Motorcycle Club that showed me that waking up at 5:30am on a Saturday on purpose can actually be fun. Burning off the edges of your tires is a fantastic way to spend a sunny day with good friends (allegedly, sir).

    Perfect blue skies and hot weather only solidified our resolve to do the absolute minimum of any freeway riding that we could possibly do and head for some elevation via the tiny black squiggles on the "map". I put "map" in quotes because the pathetic paper AAA road maps are, well, pathetic. They are fine for traveling by interstate, but then why the Hell would you need a map for that? It's true you get what you pay for. The Apple Maps color engineer gets a swift kick in the 'nards as well. Dark grey squiggles on a dark green background? Kick. Road names and whole roads that disappear with the slightest zoom out? Kick. 1pt font that doesn't enlarge? Kick, kick. Wheres my positive attitude again? Thankfully I know my way around the lakes, through the Antelope Valley, past Willow Springs Raceway where both Bubbles and I have had fun weekends racing our hearts out, and avoiding the 14 Freeway, just popping out for a fuel up in Tehachapi and short jaunt down the 58 to the Caliente/Bodfish road. I've been anxious through the flat boring valley to get to the newest resurfaced and aptly nicknamed Lions Back that runs the spine of golden grass hills and cow pasture with tight winding corners, and heads up to connect with Lake Isabella, through Kernville and hopefully to our first campsite, somewhere in an open pasture deep in the Sequoias.
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    Stomach grumbling, and close enough to Kernville for a late lunch, I pull over near some free range cattle hiding in the trees and take out the phone to get a pic of Bubbles coming round the corner, right behind me. I wait, it's hot. I take off my jacket. Still hot, I take off my helmet, careful to listen closely for the rumble of her V-twin so I can capture the shot. Silence.

    Silence does grow. So does worry. Theres no hope of the comms working in this valley, and no hope of any cell signal this remote, so on with the gear and flip the u-turn I never wanted to have to make.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    I disagree with the notion that motorcycles are more dangerous than a car. Despite the actual numbers confirming that opinion, motorcycles are vastly more maneuverable, with uninterrupted sight-lines, and better exposure to sound and environment, than the typical humdrum SUV blob has. That exposure is also the source of my worry for Bubbles.

    Cruising back the way I came, looking in the ditch for a glint of metal, or a day-glo green helmet is not the way I pictured how the first day would go. A few miles of sharply increasing concern and the phone rings in my helmet. It says "The Bubbles". I didn't kill her today. Whew!

    Turns out her ever faithful Buell started sputtering and dying at the same exact time I shot forward to satisfy my apexing withdrawals and play pro-photog at the cow crossing. Poor Bubbles had found a shade tree near an abandoned house in the heat and patiently waited for me to notice that half of the members of our motorcycling adventure were missing.

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    Ugh, no spark in the front cylinder. Here I am stealing parts off my bike to diagnose hers, making both bikes inoperable then, fire.

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    That was clear sky an hour ago.
    Jerry Rodrigues is one of the 1132 residents of Caliente, Ca and possibly one of the nicest people we've met. Ok the only person we've met so far, but I'm happy to say that this theme repeated itself through out the whole ride, and frankly the reason we're out there in the first place. Jerry's been a resident there for his whole life. From bussing in to Bakersfield for high school, shipping off to Vietnam, thankfully returning safely, to now having a gig inspecting railroad tracks all over Cali. Pulling up in his construction yellow S-10 Chevy, his first words were "Hey, I saw you from my house across the street, is everything OK? I have some ice water if you want?" Try that broken down in a city with a population of 3,979,567. Caliente +1, LA -1.

    There's success diagnosing the spark issue when Bubbles front plug wire falls apart in my hand. "No worries" says Jerry "I'm building a hot rod over there, I got what ya need". A quick tour of Jerrys backyard to show off the new Can-Am he's proud of, unfinished projects, and a Caliente history lesson, I use my Leatherman, trusty Benchmade, and a length of plug wire stolen from the 1984 Oldsmobile hot rod, and have a good plug wire to get us back on the road.

    Having been a mechanic and a 'fixer' my whole life, I recognize the risks of machine repair and when to be especially careful. Most times. I also know that spark plugs use about 30,000 volts to make the spark jump the gap of the spark plug, and to be very cautious checking that spark that fires when you crank the engine over. I also know that my Buell has a built in "cleaning feature" the fires the spark plug many, many, times when you flip the red run switch on. And absolutely forgot all about that "feature" when testing this new wire on my bike. ZZZZZZZZZZZAP! Holy Hell I will never forget that "feature" again. Ever.

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    This picture will haunt me.
    Sporting a fresh Doc Brown hairstyle, I know without any doubt, that the wire I made works just fine, I install it on Bubbles bike and.... nothing. Arrgh. Swapped coils with my bike, nothing. Checked wires, nothing. Checked ECM, nothing. I even enlist the help of friends smarter than me via text and, nothing. Suns getting low, the grass fire is getting uncomfortably smokey and close, time to call it. AAA can't get us for hours and even when they do, no ones allowed to ride in the truck (Covid blah, blah). As a testament to Buells, we can still ride into the night, with only 1/2 her engine working, all the way too beautiful, scenic, hot as crap, full of homeless, Bakersfield. Oh, only the last two apply.

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    The Hampton Inn sets the scene for bike repairs and fine dining for the next 2 days, but for tonight, dehydrated and beat from a very long day, we miss dinner at the only decent looking walkable distance restaurant by fifteen minutes and have to settle for Jack in the Box, caddy corner to the hotel. But that means drive thru only, which means getting back on the bike, which means suiting up in the heat, donning a sweaty helmet, and waiting at busy intersections for the lights to change. Because walking is infectious? Sigh.

    The next morning, still confident in my skill and with every single other option exhausted, I focus on the ECM being the ultra rare cause of her woes. It's halfway through lunch when I decide its worth the 240 mile round trip over the Grapevine, back to the box of Buell parts where a completely functional ECM waits for me to be the mechanical hero. Suit up, set the throttle lock at a safe and legal 55mph (allegedly) and the miles fly by. Its dinner time by the time I get back and the simple ECM swap not only does not fix the bike, it makes us just late enough that the only decent walkable restaurant is closed. Again. The magnificent Mexican cuisine from the Taco of Bells gets the call this evening for fine dining choices in Bakersfield. Maybe it was the Chalupa Supreme Dorito shell double cheese with fire sauce, but my favorite quote from the man's man of my generation crept into my head. "A man's got to know his limitations". Although I'm not holding his 6 1/2 pound, .44 magnum revolver while I'm thinking it, the quote still carries some weight.
    Taking defeat gracefully is a hard learned and hard earned trait I am proud to have. Or maybe I'm just so used to being wrong. Either way, Bubbles bike was in pieces and not going to be repaired despite my best efforts. We decide to take Rio up on his hugely generous offer to haul her and her bike back to home. Never daunted, Bubbles wants to re-start this trip immediately, this time on the 2020 Ninja 400 she bought 5 months ago as her track bike with no idea if the bags fit, or even if she can do the long ride in a much more aggressive riding position that the Buell has.

    Rio-the-gentleman-savior has her loaded up early, I'm riding back over the Grapevine towards home for the third time in 2 days, and we are in her driveway adjusting saddlebags on her Ninja and riding back out of town by noon. Determined to persevere!

    We cheated a little using the freeway to get to the curvy 178 into Kernville. It still has me traveling the Grapevine (for the fourth time) but making time to a good lunch spot at Kern River Brewing and just enough time before sunset to get the very last camping spot at Headquarters campground, right on the Kern river.

    It may not be the grassy field, high in the Sequoias that we pictured 3 days ago, but the cool waters of the Kern river on my feet, watching a happy Bubbles float around in the lagoon, sure feels like a victory to me.

    Well rested under the stars, easily packed and ready for day 2. I mean day 4...
    Look at those smiles! Neither one of us expected this to be the longest riding day, getting virtually nowhere, of the whole trip.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    EEC4C388-E711-4AEF-8901-C1DBCD688165.jpg
    Yep, it all fits! The little Ninja will prove itself to be quite the awesome ride.
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    Lower Kern River, off the 178.
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    Even all the way at Kernville, the Caliente fire is raging!
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    The turkey found his peeps!
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    Look at those happy a-holes... They don't even know this will be the longest day getting nowhere of the whole trip..

  8. #8
    Senior Member 34nineteen's Avatar
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    Keep the story going. I'm sure there is more to this!

  9. #9
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    Yeah, we're all waiting, stop trying to fix the bike and write the story with pictures.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    Getting to it!
    The first 3 days were quite the struggle to just get out of town (obviously). Day 4 we FINALLY get to actual ridingand went to the wrong side of a MOUNTAIN RANGE, did the whole Sherman Pass (9200'), and slept behind a bar.



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