Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: How I ended up in Ohio, Part I

9.22.2009

How I ended up in Ohio, Part I

So why Columbus, OH of all places? I could have chosen anywhere else in the world, but the world is a nicer place when you have someone to share it with. So here enters Matt, my fiance who you'll read about in these posts every now and then.

Let me give you a bit of background on this. Back around Thanksgiving break 2007, I put up this ad on Craigslist in hopes that I'd find something to do over the weekend.

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Motorcycle rider? Ever been to Palos Verdes? Here's a chance. - w4m
I'm looking for someone to take a quick loop on the motorcycle around the Palos Verdes Peninsula. If you've never been down here, it's a great place to ride - my "lunch break route" as I like to call it. Nice shoreline, some twisties, but lots of scenery and sea air.

I'm a long distance rider with nothing to do this Thanksgiving. I can't go too far thanks to my schedule, and I've taken this loop so many times by myself during the day and during the night that I might as well be a tour guide. If you're into more riding, we can also improvise a route all over the South Bay...it's my home turf.

I enjoy all day rides with no destination in mind. That's where I learn the most of about the world.

Searching for a young biker (22-30) who enjoys riding for fun and is safety-oriented (i.e. wearing a REAL helmet and proper riding attire). No racing or stunts (the police love to ding riders for speeding and recklessness in PV) and I don't care what bike you ride, although you do need to have a bike - I'm not taking passengers at the moment. Perhaps a chat at the coffee shop afterwards.

Would like to ride with you sometime this weekend!

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Well, to say the least, the responses started flowing in. Most of them were quite stupid. I probably went through about 25-30 e-mails. Many of them were the typical "pic for pic" BS which wasn't what I was really looking for. I scared most of them off by just mentioning what bike I was riding. (This is why I love Eleanor, my 2007 FJR1300A...she looks out for my well being and keeps the jerks away.) In case you're not aware of this, I ride the largest sportbike that Yamaha makes. So the little pussies with their 600 sportbikes stop talking to me. And then, I get this e-mail from a particular "Matt" from Orange County.

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It appears I missed this weekend, but I'd love to take a nice ride somewhere. I got my M1 endorsement at in March but I haven't taken any fun trips yet - just to and from work everyday. If you're free another weekend, I'd be more than willing to go for a ride. What kind of bike(s) do you ride?

-Matt

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Hmm, someone who wrote more than a sentence? Quite intriguing. So I replied back and so did he, and this continued on for more than two weeks. And we talked about subjects ranging from work and random hobbies. In fact, he even stopped by the Long Beach Motorcycle Show last week looking for me at the Women on Wheels booth and missed me by about an hour. A missed connection, but we continued e-mailing each other.

So yesterday comes around. I had two parties to attend that day and a photography session at Neighborhood Church. I write to Matt that the Women On Wheels Christmas Party was at Finbar's in Long Beach and he was welcome to join. He writes back, drops is phone number in, and tells me that he'll see me there. I get a little excited because I finally get to meet the person behind these e-mails.

I'm at Finbar's with six other members and we're waiting for our food and the like. I get a call from Matt and he's telling me he's lost. I give him directions and even get to the point that I'm handing the phone over to one of the Orange County ladies to help out. (I'm trying to figure out how he's able to speak to me while riding, and I realized later he had a Bluetooth helmet piece on...LOL.) So about an hour of going in circles, he finally comes by. I'm talking to the other ladies, and turn around to see he's standing there in full BMW gear, much to my chagrin. He's in good spirits, and I'm already impressed with his patience...I figured that he would've given up and went home but he stuck around. We were done with our food by the time he arrived, but he was fair game for riding back with three of us to PV...

So we begin riding toward the PV Peninsula. Here was the proposed route:

1. PCH to CA-103 West toward Terminal Island.
2. Terminal Island to Vincent Thomas Bridge
3. Vincent Thomas Bridge back to coastline.

Well, it didn't necessarily go that way. Going down PCH I overshoot 103 and we end up just going through PCH and the ghettos of Long Beach and Wilmington. I redirect everyone down Gaffey and all the way to the end by the Korean Friendship Bell, back up Western and on PV Drive West. When we get to the 7-11 at the corner of Hawthorne and PV Drive West, we stop for gas..well everyone except me. One of the riders needed to split off and run some errands, while the other lady needed to be sent over to the intersection of Beryl and PCH (which I popped out the GPS for and complied). So with only three of us left, we take the coastal route until that intersection of PCH and Beryl where she peels off without a trace. I look in the rear view mirrors and realize that it's just me and Matt now.

We finally roll to a stop at the corner of PCH and Catalina Ave. This was my chance to really take him around town. So, the first thing I ask him is "Are you a fan of hills?" He nods with a 'yes' and I take him through Knob Hill and 190th St. With a left on Anza and another left onto Del Amo Blvd., I take Matt through one of the first of many sharp curves on our path back toward Palos Verdes. I take the twist to the point of nearly dragging my toe through the turn, thinking I'd lose him until we met back up on the straightaway.

He stays on my tail.

Impressive, I think to myself. We continue down Maple and all the way to 235th St. which loops right back onto Crenshaw. A left on Crenshaw and a right onto Narbonne Ave. and the loop is nearly complete. PV Drive East, my test for him. Could he keep up the pace. Was he really the adventurous type that he's been showing to me all day? I was to find that out soon.

Palos Verdes Drive East is a winding, six-mile course that ends in three loose hairpins and a view of the ocean and Catalina Island (on a clear day that is, we were lucky). This road is my home, so every curve is predictable, every piece of road is familar all too well to me and Eleanor. And glancing over my shoulder I could see that for him, it seemed the same way. As I tried to lose him it seemed that he was gaining on me with every twist. We stopped at the end of PV Drive East at the same time, take a couple seconds to breathe off the obstacle course, and continue back onto Portuguese Bend and the gas station where this adventure had begun. I take him to the Starbucks right above the gas station and we stop for an hour or so with coffees and chatting about this, that, and the other thing. (He pays, by the way.)

I check my watch and it's about 5:20. I have to attend the second of the two bike club parties that were slated for today. I tell him that I have to go to this party and remind him that he could split off at any time. He follows me anyway. We swing by the house so I could pick up the exchange gift, take a couple Advils (I wasn't feeling to well), and go back down the hill to Normandie Ave. I introduce him to everyone at Motorcycle Touring Assocaition 3 and he actually ends up joining the club! We have to leave at 7:45 to make it to the final stop of my day, a photo shoot at Neighborhood Church of the annual live-action Christmas pagent. (Basically, members of the church reenact scenes of the Christmas story, standing still the entire time. Cycy asked me to take pictures for her.) He stayed for that too! And the entire time we were talking about everything from religion to the story of how a drunk driver took one of my drama group kids two years ago.

For some reason, the drunk driver story got him really riled up. He's in the process of becoming a police officer and it turns out that it's one of the things he's passionate about stopping.

It seemed that religion was another basis that we had in common as well. Turns out he was one of those kids that grew up in the Catholic household. That turned out for good times on the conversation. So I snapped pictures while we chatted, and when that was all done, we stood in the parking lot by our bikes and continued to talk some more. Then I led him home via the 110, entering on Anaheim and getting off at PCH to loop on back home. All this was over by 9PM, and I went straight to sleep after that in a slight bit of pain from whatever else was attacking me at the time.

So that's my story. He didn't leave. He was with me for those eight hours of riding and adventures within my own backyard and appeared to enjoy it. No complaints, all curiosity, it was a day to remember.