Long goodbyes. You know the kind. There’s always something to be said, a hug to share or a bit of sage advice your bound to give or receive when you leave someone.j Whether you’re heading to the grocery store, back home or around the world. As my possession slowly transformed from loose belongings strewn around John’s garage, house and office to neatly packed modules on my motorcycle we all realized my days were numbered and I’d soon have to depart Southern Humboldt to do what I set out nearly two weeks to do — travel the world: from top to bottom, then all the way around.
Since arriving in the gateway to the Los Coast and the King Range, nostalgic stories and new material were shared each day among friends. And while many empty bottles of wine piled up, I made serious progress in my motorcycle “shake down”. That is, tweak my packing, eliminate unecessary stuff. Leaving Southern California was so fast that I didn’t really have time to pack and do test runs. Keep in mind, this is a new bike, too. I barely put 2000 miles on it before leaving on my journey of adventure and discovery.
The F650GS Dakar differs from the standard BMW F650GS in two ways. First, it has a larger front wheel — 21″ instead of 19″ on the standard. Second, the suspension is stronger and the bike sits higher offering the adventure or doff-road rider much more travel in the rear shock. Another minor difference is the Dakar model doesn’t come with a center stand. This makes routine maintenance more difficult, especially on the road. But I took care of that by installing a Touratech center stand. This is just one of many modifications I’ve made to the bike in prepping it for the journey. Soon as I spend more time on the road and have idle evenings to contemplate the journey behind and ahead, I’ll add content to this blog with full detail of my modifications and my experiences — for those motorcycle adventurers, I think you’ll find great information. For the rest of you, you can see just how much work goes into getting equipment and gear ready for travel in the unknown
The sun seemed a bit higher and glaring at me through the skylights this morning when I slowly woke. Oh my god! Ten O’clock! So much for an early start. After a long wake up shower I examined the bike. Still a few loose items that I forgot to pack. I throw them in the top case for lack of a better strategy. Today is d-day number two! Got to move on. John and I have lunch in Garberville where two motorcyclists, one on a BMW 1200RT and the other a Suzuki V-Strom. As they ask about worldrider I learn they’re from Vancouver and are headed that way. Me? I thought I was leaving but in the middle of lunch realized that I left something at John’s.
So one more time on a fully loaded bike I venture up, then down his steep, dirt and gravel driveway. Then back up. I’m just about to touch my front tire on the tarmac of a nice smooth, twisty and fun road when I realize, “SHIT” I left my earplugs on John’s table. You know the drill: one more time on a fully loaded bike I venture up, then down his steep, dirt and gravel driveway. Then back up. Practice makes perfect.
A glorious ride through the magnificent coastal redwood forests. I ride through the Avenue of the Giants which winds through thousand year old twenty and thirty feet wide redwoods. Grove after grove of soaring giants. Large stumps and fallen trunks reveal their massive girth and craning my neck as I twist, turn and test my bike through these tame but exciting roads. All systems check. Feels good.
From just north of Crescent City, California I hopped on route 199 which whisks and winds along the Middle Fork of the Smith River, perhaps the only major river system in California that isn’t damned. Though laden with 150lbs + of gear the bike handled nicely through each traffic free twist and turn. One thing about the 21″ front wheel of the Dakar is that due to the changed geometry of the bike it seems a bit clumsy on these roads compared to my old GS. But for what is clumsy here today will reward me with the potholed and dirt roads of Mexico, South America and beyond.
Perhaps beyond the great redwood trees my biggest treat today was riding along the Siskiyou Gorge with its steep polish walls falling into the tame river below. I crossed the California border into Oregon about 7pm today and found a resting stop here in Grants Pass, Oregon about an hour from the border.
While this is beautiful camping country, tonight it’s this hotel with free wireless high-speed internet access. And how long do I think THESE opportunities will last? I guess take advantage while you can.