Sunday, January 10, 2010

E-Ticket Sunrise

Today I just needed to ride. Following a tough week at Nik and a super-busy Saturday, my goal was to just spend the morning riding and shooting pics out east of San Diego.

I was flying solo, so time and distance was not an issue. After studying the famous BMW Owners Club of SD ride map, the Laguna Mountains called out like a siren!

I left Buckwheat Manor at 5:35 bundled up to the hilt, with neck warmer, windproof vest and new BMW "Allaround" gloves that have some nice warm lining in them. Still wicked cold though (more on that later!). I filled up with gas at the Mobil on Scripps/Poway Parkway, and took off like a shot to Hwy 67. I was hustling so through the foothill curves of that dangerous two-laner I was alternating between high beams and low (when traffic approached).

Sunrise was to arrive at 6:52am according to the paper, so I scrambled to get into the back-country by dawn. Once I got on I-8, I was flyin' at 90mph much of the way to the Hwy 79 turn-off at Descanso to which I arrived about 6:20am. The highway riding was mostly in the mid- to -high 40's, but once on the twisty tarmac heading towards Lake Cuyamaca my temp guage was indicating 27 - 37 degrees. Heated handgrips were blasting, but the cold was severe. I was a bit concerned about hitting some "black ice", but there hadn't been any precip for a couple of weeks and the days had been warming up nicely.

It was a race to find some picturesque country before dawn - something other than just burnt hills or craggy foothills. I stopped about 6:40 and took some shots just to have a tale to tell, but knew there had to be something better. Rounding a few 15mph corners, the valley to the south of Lake Cuyamaca opened up, with the still beauty of the waters posing as if for a postcard.

I spent dawn time there by the lake, with a few other hearty travelers passing by (one motorcyclist). Otherwise, still, cold and clear. Perfect!

After the sunrise, I had planned to scoot for Julian and familiar territory, but decided instead to head still higher into the mountains on Sunrise Hwy (S-1) to check out the hang glider launch precipice I recalled from so long ago - Kwimmee Point. I was sad to see several memorials there at the launch, and disappointed as well at the graffiti.

The sun was starting to warm things up a bit, and since I'd been jonesin' for a cup of Joe for miles & miles, it was time to do something about it. Old Man Sol was really low on the horizon, making for some blinding curves, but nothing deterred me from arriving safe & sound at the Blue Jay Lodge. Looked like I was the first customer of the day for Ms. Connie from Descanso who was friendly (and biker-friendly) as she could be. We chatted while I warmed up about back-country news mostly.

By the time I finished some coffee and eggs (sunny-side up if you please), local Earth temp was in the low 50's and I was heading south Japatul Valley Road. Sunrise Highway deserves a special mention here - the maps just don't do those wonderful sweepers justice! Smooth, fast, predictable asphalt, glory be thy name! ;-)

Now... I could very well have settled for that excellent bit of a morning ride and cruised I-8 for home, but my thrill-thirst to ride and explore was not yet sated - Hwy 79 turns into Japatul Valley Road south of the 8 and I knew that ultimately that would take me to Hwy 94 and homeward bound. JVR is a wonder, and it's kissin' cousin Lyon's Valley Road is just as good. There's NO substitute for morning rides without traffic. Jetted past the Barrett Honor Camp on LVR - need to look that up. Think it might be for "wayward youth..."

After nearly 5 hours on the road, I pulled back into the garage at home. Exhausted, but stoked for another great back-country "E-Ticket" ride on the F800GS barnstormer.

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