Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Taking Eleanor home, the Northern Route.

7.03.2011

Taking Eleanor home, the Northern Route.

I left from Elko, NV yesterday at 6AM and was at the California border by 11AM. It felt wonderful to cross back into the Golden State again, and reentry via I-80 offered some of the most scenic (and twisty) roads that, if you took your eyes off course you could end up in a barrier. That was the kind of intensity of riding that I had missed being in Ohio for so long, where everything around me within a reasonable distance is a straight line or a meandering curve. In CA, even the freeways are interesting!

CA is one of the few places in the world where you can see snow-capped mountains in July and it's 85 degrees at your vantage point.
The return of the expensive gas prices! Well, it didn't help that I filled up on a mountain stop in Emigrant Pass, CA. As you can see, they had enough 4s.
My first recreational stop of the day was the Cycle Gear Superstore in Sacramento, a 25,000 square foot motorcycle store that's the largest one of the entire Cycle Gear chain. I was a frequent Cycle Gear customer when I still lived in CA so it was pretty cool to see their flagship location. I stopped counting how many tires, gear, and what have you I've purchased from those guys. The outside is still under construction, but there was lot of stuff to see inside.

Front of the store is still under construction!
This is just a small portion of Cycle Gear's lineup of Dainese gear. There's also two brands exclusive to the Cycle Gear chain, BiLT and Sedici.
I've always liked Cycle Gear's selection of high-end and current motorcycle gear for both street and dirt. You can actually go there, try stuff on, and they'll have your size in stock! Their large selection of Alpinestars, Dainese, and Tourmaster rival many other stores and this chain is pretty much the store of choice for motorcyclists here in California and in 25 other states. They're also one of the few motorcycle accessory stores that offer a complete competitive price match guarantee on all in-stock items. Their exclusive lines of gear are also very high quality and offer a nice alternative to mainstream pricier name brands. Their special order system is pretty efficient too, and there are actual computer stations in the store dedicated to just catalog surfing and ordering.

Here in CA, it's not a choice on whether or not you use a helmet, it's how much you want to spend on one. At least I'll have no problem getting any Shoei parts while I'm out here.
After I perused the store (and got out of there with a boot air dryer on clearance and a pair of Nike flip-flops that's being shipped home), I hopped on the bike and rode 150 miles south on I-5/CA-156 to Hollister to catch the tail end of the Corbin factory's open house. It was fitting to actually stop there and see where my motorcycle's seat was made. After all, it did just get me through nearly 3000 miles in three days!

Here's the entrance to the world-famous Corbin factory, makers of custom comfort seats and all sorts of motorcycle storage solutions.
Industrial sewing machines line the work area.
Here's where some of the customizing and materials are laid out.
Seat bases, foam padding, and seat backrests. All of this is handmade from scratch here at this factory.
And a random surprise, a Yamaha MT-01! This motorcycle isn't available in the United States, and according to the owner (who also happens to own Corbin as well), this was the only unit here in the US for quite a while. Yamaha missed the boat on this one; it would've been a formidable alternative to the H-D XR1200. I've wanted one since I first saw it on the Yamaha UK website.
After that fun, I headed a little bit more down the road to the Hollister Hills SVRA (State Vehicular Recreation Area) to scout for this week's events at the WOW Ride-In in San Jose and then headed 90 miles back north on US-101 to Oakland to eat some In-N-Out Burger and eventually, hang out at my friend's house. Upon reaching I-880 toward Oakland, I was able to pull a move with Eleanor that I had waited almost two years to do with her again: a freeway lane split. The car I passed even scooted a little onto the shoulder to give me an extra foot to get through because the driver knew that I was going to do it! I didn't need that much room, but the gesture was awesome! Did I mention that drivers here know how to merge, yield, and match freeway speed on entry? I miss that high level of competency in car operation.

And, dinner. This is the first full real meal I had since leaving Nebraska so I relished every moment of this #1 Double-Double combo with over-the-top extra grilled onions. Eleanor got a break from the action.

A fitting photo for a truly Californian motorcycle.
WIN.
So after a 700 mile day, I spent the evening in Oakland with my old high school friend and her husband and I'm currently relaxing there before I mosey on over to San Jose in preparation for the WOW Ride-In.  Here's a few shots of my Sunday adventure.

Oakland is right next door to Emeryville, home of Pixar Studios.
Chickens in the backyard! Can't get eggs any fresher than that.
Georgie hangs out staring at the poultry.