Monday, October 06, 2008

First Dirt! (road, that is!)

On Sunday last DR650 Mark and I took off mid-afternoon for sights unknown (well, some of them unknown). This was to be our first post-600 mile tune-up ride, with enough miles and road-learnin' to satiate. The route was one I'd been thinking about a lot in the last 10-11 months - the dirt roads west and north of Sutherland Dam road outside of Ramona.

The day was mid-80's inland as we jetted from his house to our mainstay Highland Valley road. A lovely piece of engineering work, HV meanders and carves through some beautifully craggy orchard land, up into the hills towards Ramona. We flitted through the curves, leaning and throttling up and down through gears joyfully meshing their songs for all the world to hear!

We took a break at the Dam, gazing over the receded reservoir and making up our minds then and there to head northward wherever possible to try and mate up with Mesa Grande road (leading to Santa Ysabel, and Julian). At first gingerly, then with a bit more confidence, we motored down the graded dirt road until reaching the Black Canyon bridge, built in 1913. It headed north and upwards, so we headed that way too... Recapturing some of the elevation lost when cruising down to the Dam, we climbed back up to the ridges and continued the journey. The dirt road was sweet and by the end of the 15-20 miles I felt more comfortable on the "fire-road" quality dirt. The bike felt stable and I rode up on the pegs leaning in towards the tank wherever possible. We ended up above an Indian Reservation where the signs posted made it very clear we were not welcome, and onward towards Mesa Grande.

Love that road, MG. Been on it many times on the K75, but the F800GS was magic on it: Smooth, swoopy, sure-footed. It doesn't have the lowest center-of-gravity in the tool shed, but sweet nonetheless. Shot around the corner where Yoberdude slid out on a sandy apex - funny how memories come back!

We carved down the side of the hill until Lake Henshaw reared. And, before you hear it from anyone else, I did in fact run over an indecisive squirrel - weird thump-thump. MG let us off at Center Loop; a right turn and we were at the Hideout Steakhouse and amidst a PILE of Victory bikes on a ride down from L.A. Wahoo - the dual-sports have arrived! ;-)

A nice crew, cool and friendly. Mark and I took their "group photos." However, I was surprised how so many were sipping beers. I mean, I'm no prude in that area as some of you know, but piloting a two-wheeled horsepower machine like a loaded $25k Victory back through some of the windiest roads in SD County on home via the super-slab to LA didn't seem like such a good idea.

Minutes later, on the way to Julian we were re-routed near Springview road off the 78 about 3 miles out of Santa Ysabel. We'd seen the medi-chopper in the field behind Dudley's and I grimly thought the worst. The paper later reported a 21-year old sailer lost control of his cycle and hit a tree. Gotta keep yer head screwed on straight with this motorcycling stuff!

We'd come this far, and Julian was in our sights. Surprise of surprises - I wasn't looking for a slice of their famous apple pie, but rather some good home-cooked chile to beat back the chill in the late afternoon air. Alas, none was to be found where we settled in to eat, so a BBQ Pork sandwich and cole slaw was the order of the day.

After a quick gas-up, the ride home - 79 to 78 to Old Julian Hwy to 78 again to Poway road and on to Ted Williams Parkway to Hwy 56 - was fun, but not as fun as it could have been: too many cages on the road, esp. on my favorite sweepers between Santa Ysabel and the turn-off to Old Julian.

All told, a successful first long trip on the bike - a bit over 100 miles methinks. My odometer ticked over the 1000mi mark.

So many roads, so little time.


rbaine said...

Very nice my friend... would love to be riding with you guys! Hi to Mark and dig his ride as well. RB

Jon Wright, teacher extraordinaire said...

Squirrel killer!

Hey, did you feel a little chill when you "flitted" over Mesa Grande?

-- Jon

Marble Madness said...

Now you're really starting to make me jealous. I sold my cruiser a couple months ago and DIRT is exactly why I'm pumped to get my 800. Oh, and seeing your ride (along with the one I just saw in Salt Lake) got me to change my color from Bumblebee to Magnesium.

What kind of mileage did you end up getting on the excursion?

Keep the posts coming!

Kevin said...

Rbaine - looking forward to that day, amigo. We'll end up in your neck of the woods soon.

Teach - ha! You caught that, eh? MG felt good, even through the "corner of doom" where the apex gravel still haunts.

MM - I love the Mag color way more, but I'm not a flash guy. I didn't track mileage for that day, but the computer is indicating 48mpg since I got it - lots of 80mph on highway and city riding. I need to experiment with the whole trip computer thing and will do that next serious ride outwards. Let me know when you get yours - you live in the SLC area?

Marble Madness said...

No we were just down in SLC to get our Mini serviced. I live up in the Boise area. They say mine is to arrive by the new year. Merry Christmas!

Kevin said...

I was up in Boise this Summer on a "long way 'round" trip through Buffalo, Yellowstone and then over to Ashland, OR. All in the truck - you can read/see pics elsewhere - look in the July archives. Fun trip - Boise looked like a pretty cool place to live. Love to get back up there on the bike with a week to kill! (maybe not in the Winter though) ;-)

Marble Madness said...

Sounds like a fun trip. It will be a great place for the GS. Idaho has over 30000 miles of dirt roads to play in. Keep the rubber side down.