It certainly seemed do-able. Google maps said 410 miles and 8.5 hours. Didnít quite work out that way.
Left my house just after 6:30AM and after a quick stop at the ATM and another to fill up the tank, I was on the road. I slabbed it over Pacheco Pass and on to Fresno where I met up with Jamileh and Dave (aka Curvemaster) just off 180 in Fresno. After a brief discussion of where we were going, we were off with Dave on his Sprint ST, me on the Cali, and Jamileh on her Yammie.
We took 180 all the way up the hill and into Kings Canyon NP and kept going to the end of the road in Cedar Grove. The road leading to the park is a blast with nice sweepers and there was not much traffic making for a pretty quick ride up to the entrance. Once inside you have to watch your speed but the curves are tighter and the scenery is impressive. Really surprising there are not more visitors there, especially when I see pictures here of all the folks waiting in line to get into Yosemite. In comparison, it felt like we had the park all to ourselves.
The weather at the entrance was chilly due to the altitude, but down on the Cedar Grove side it was near perfect. The only negative was that it was very hazy, which really effected the majestic view as you go over the hill.
The road along the river (courtesy of Jamileh)
The river was flowing pretty good and so were the falls.
Dave's nice ST and my Guzzi
At the end of the road we decided we would go back out of the park and let Dave lead us on some great roads headed south where we would eventually meet up with 198. My plan was to take 198 all the way to 25 and then back to Hollister.
Since we were going to be going a long way without seeing a gas station, we gassed up inside the park using the oldest working gas pump Iíve ever seen. Afterwards it was a brisk ride back out the park and back through all those lovely sweepers on 180 to Dunlap Rd. Dunlap is a real gem. Plenty of tight twisties mixed with some sweepers and short straights. Eventually it connects with 245 at the Mountain House where we stopped for lunch before continuing down 245.
Getting gas from the old pump while Jamileh and Dave wait patiently
The Mountain House. Notice the two nice old Nortons?
At some point while I was trying to keep up with Dave, I noticed my bike felt as though it had no power when I tried to accelerate. It didnít feel like it was missing or anything, just like it had no power. Since we were mostly going down hill I didnít need to use the throttle much but I was starting to think about what it could be. First thought was bad gas. Who knows what kind of crud is in that 100 year old gas pump and how long that gas has been there. Shoot, it could have been half water for all I knew.
After a few miles, I saw Dave stopped by the side of the road. I pulled up and mentioned my bike was running like crap. Immediately he pointed down at my motor and I saw my right side plug cap swaying in the breeze. Thatís strange, I though to myself. How does a spark plug cap fall off a plug. I put it back on and it was OK again. At this point we turned onto Bodie Rd for more twistiness until we finally reached the valley floor and started heading south to 198.
After a while I noticed once again my bike running badly and saw the plug cap had fallen off again. I pulled over and this time looked it over more carefully. To my surprise, I found that the threads on the end of the plug had corroded or stripped and the screw-on tip was stuck inside the cap. I could not get the tip out of the cap and it would not stay on the plug. Basically I needed a new plug and cap in order to make it right.
Although the plug and cap are common NGK parts, finding them on a Sunday wasnít going to be all that easy. We stopped at an Auto Zone and struck out. We then headed to Jamileh and Daveís house where we called Wilsonís in Fresno. They had the plug and some caps, and said one of them would probably work.
After some talk and water, I figured it was time to go. Instead of 198 and 25, now I would be slabbing it home with a stop in Fresno for the parts. I also new I would likely have some wind to contend with.
Once I was on 99 heading north, I knew I was in for a long ride home. Already the wind was pretty strong and I knew it would be worse. It was about 40 miles or so to Fresno where I got off and found the new Wilsonís dealership. Pretty impressive place with a massive inventory of bikes.
It took a while but eventually I found a cap that would work and got two new plugs figuring it was best to change them both. Kudos to the people at Wilsonís for letting me scrounge through their box of plug caps to find one that would work.
By now itís after 6 and I figure Iím starting to wonder if Iíll get home before dark. I get gas and get back on 99 north. I notice the wind is now stronger and with nothing but my small windshield, itís going to be tiring. Its 30 miles or so into the wind before I get to turn west onto 152 and start dealing with the cross wind.
Once onto 152 I start thinking the cross wind may be worse than the headwind. I can do 70-75 but it requires a lot of input. At this point itís starting to cool off. I had taken off several layers earlier since it was up in the 80ís but now it was cooling off and I figured Iíd have to stop soon.
The farther west I go, the stronger the wind is. I pass a couple guys on Harleys with no windshields and half helmets. They are doing about 65 and look miserable. I continue on trying to go as far as possible before stopping to add layers. I figure Iíll wait for a convenient place with some wind protection, but there is none to be found. I know Iím not going to make it to Los Banos, so I just stop on the shoulder by a gravel road.
Once stopped I can appreciate just how strong the wind is. I take off my jacket and toss it on the ground so I can put on my Gerbing jacket liner. My heavy ĺ jacket starts to blow into the road but I catch it in time and hold it with my foot while I zip up the liner. I figure I might as well be prepared so I plug in my gloves as well. Whatever discomforts I have left to face, cold will not be one of them.
I fight my way into Los Banos and realize that I probably wonít make it home without getting gas again. Normally it would be no problem, but I figure my mileage has probably dropped a bunch with the wind Iím fighting. So I gas up for the last time and head out of LB. Itís about 7:20.
Shortly after getting out of town I see they have the Gusty wind warning in effect for Pacheco Pass, Oh Joy! The temp has now dropped to the high 50ís and itís time to turn on the heat. The wind is strong enough that itís hard to control the bike with one hand while adjusting the Gerbing thermostat. But I manage and immediately Iím toasty warm.
From there on till I got down the other side, it was a constant battle to stay in a lane and dodge all the crazy Sunday drivers. Once that was out of the way, the rest was easy. Eventually made it home just after 8 PM. GPS Odo says over 500 miles for the day.
Lots of great riding up in that area, but next time, Iíll do it as an overnighter. Thanks to Jamileh and Dave for showing me a great time.