Sunday, April 18, 2010


Methinks it's been more than a decade  since I've showed up at Giovanni's Restaurant (err... Mr. G's) on a Sunday to ride with the venerable BMW Owners Club of San Diego.  Back in the day when I had my K75S, was editor of the Road Signs (the club's monthly fishwrap), and was a single man, it was pretty much a 3x per month thing.  Heck, back then I figured no better way to learn the back roads of our county, blazing trails, kicking tires, and meet new people.  Plus, the annual Oktoberfest rally was always a blast.

With nothing much going on this weekend, unlike the upcoming 2-3 weekends, AND a couple of new tires on the F800GS - Michelin Anakees - I decided to jump back in the pool and check out how the club was doing.  I'd fixed breakfast for me and the kids, which made me burst out the door a little later than planned, but still had plenty of time for some coffee, tire-kicking and getting to know a couple of people at Giovanni's.  Klaus - the fellow with the sidecar built in Switzerland comes to mind, as does Terry who is a retired musician living right across the street from the start of Highland Valley road - one of my all-time fav roads.

But who should also walk in but good 'ol John Hermann, the King of the Alps.  All decked out in his black leathers fresh from the Coronado trek on his trusty R1200R, he looked dashing with a characteristic twinkle in this eye - great to see him!  Made me sorry I missed the annual running of the Wildcat Canyon ride last weekend.

I elected to tag along with Terry and the ride leader for the morning named Bill.  Terry was riding 2-up with his wife on a K1300GT, and the rest of the pack was a mix of R1200 and R1150 bikes of the road and dual-sport variety if you get my drift. Fun to see a guy on one of the big GS's doing a wheelie down Ruffin road as we left.  I was definitely the odd man out on the F8GS.  There were 10 of us total.

Only Bill knew the route, so we followed him down the 15 south to 805 south down to hook around Otay Lake.  Ahhhh... a road I know well.  Still... these guys were fast and butter-smooth through the turns.  Zoom - Zoom - Zoom, ten in a row we blasted through the corners, only slowed by the occasional car or Border Patrol enforcement truck.  I was focused and in the groove with the pace, the F8GS humming along always above 5k RPM in the sweet band, shifting snick-snick up and down in formation.  As I was getting used to the tires, I was a little reluctant to press the outer edges, but definitely shaved some newness out of 'em.  We hit Hwy 94 and continued to haul butt towards the east, past Portrero and the burned-out church where I took a few cool photos back in January, past Dulzura, and on into Campo for a rest at the Circle K mini-market at Cameron Corners.

It should be noted that the roads are delightfully twisty in this part of the county, making them a magnet for folks like us but also for the "squids."  Dunno why we call them that (I'm sure my friend Jon will weigh in here), but these are the high-speed sport bike crowd who really MOVE down the public roads.  You really have to be on your toes because these cats will whiz by, aftermarket pipe howling, or just dice through our 10-bike formation pell-mell looking to move to the front of the pack like we're on the track at Willow Springs - been there, done that.  I don't begrudge them at all, but on a twisty road, oncoming traffic, bicycles on the right side, there is damned little margin for error.  I was even passed a couple of times on the right side which was a bit reckless by most people's reckoning.  I know... some of you are thinking "pussy", but hey, I'm also mortal.  ;-)

Anyway, after a few tire kickin' stories at the mini-mart and a couple of artsy antique gas pump shots I couldn't pass up, we threw our legs over the saddle and fired up the iron horses again.  The group jetted over to old Hwy 80, rolled through the Border Patrol stop there, and then I broke away from the group to head back home via Hwy 8.  It was close to noon, and I had some things to do back at Buckwheat Manor.

After free wheeling through the back-country, I was still feeling pretty froggy on the way home and thus didn't suffer the slow "car coffins" lightly.  Taking no prisoners, despite a few stiff breezes, I cruised back in record time clocking 85-90mph most of the way on the 8.  Hwy 67 was a little more leisurely - I fell into a pack of Harley cruisers for awhile.  Finally the home stretch on Scripps Poway Pkwy towards home provided a little amusement talking stoplight-to-stoplight with a pig-tailed girl on a Sportster heading from home in Ramona to Mira Mesa.

All told, a great little re-introduction to the club and some fun riding.  Wished I could have done the Laguna Mtns with the rest of the gang, but next time will certainly be the charm.  Oh, the new Anakees?  Sticky as gum - couldn't be more pleased on the tarmac.  Big shout out to San Diego BMW Motorcycles for a job well done mounting/balancing the tires and also replacing that pesky gas tank under warranty!  Stay tuned for a fire trails report on the tires when I go riding with R1200GS Mark.  ;-)