Last Friday, my employer hosted it’s annual picnic at Saratoga Springs, located in the hills of Saratoga.
If you know the Bay Area, any destination near Highway 9 is essentially an invitation to ride.
I took the freeway on my way there. Dumbarton Bridge – 101 – 85. The ride was mostly uneventful, except for a mildly odd feeling on Highway 85. This freeway has a grooved concrete pavement (for wet traction) but this seems to cause the motorcycle to drift. I loosened my grip on the handle bars and this definitely helped.
Coming back, I used Skyline and Page Mill. The latter is truly an amazing ride. Very sharp turns, elevation changes and beautiful views. Some pics from SBR:
I’ve now ridden about 800 miles in the last month and a half. It’s been an amazing experience so far.
This blog was previously hosted on my own domain (sujitkirpekar.com) and shared webhost (Hostmonster). Due to a recent vulnerability, Google and Mozilla started classifying the blog as a “Reported Attack Page!” making it ugly to read & post to the blog. Solution: I moved it over here to wordpress.com and deleted all the old files there. It will probably take a few weeks for Google to reclassify.
Anyway, now for some overdue ride reports.
The weekend before last (August 20th), I had a chance to ride with the “badris” (for Bay Area Desi RIders) 🙂 . A close friend of mine, Shobhit, recently bought a Honda Shadow 750 and I was introduced to the badris through him.
On Saturday morning, we rode through Nile out to Dublin, where we picked up Vaibhav who rides a Honda Goldwing. We then rode down 680, took the Sunol exit and had a blast riding the twisties on Calaveras.
I did my first 100 mile ride yesterday. Suminder came over at about 5:30PM and we set out towards the Peninsula to ride down Skyline (CA 35). We took the San Mateo bridge and it was very windy. I need to look into getting a) a good riding suit or jacket and b) a good windshield. My el-cheapo Wilson’s bonded leather jacket is not really a motorcycle jacket. It was flapping around, drawing air in and tiring me as I rode the windy sections.
The ride down Skyline was fun, with Suminder and I pushing it to the limit. He is an awesome lead and riding behind him gives me good feel for how sharp the curve is, how fast to take it and how much to bend. I’m now comfortable doing 60-70mph in the twisties and leaning the bike over sharply. In fact I was pretty close to scrapping the footpeg a couple of time. Well, that rite of passage will have to wait a bit.
As we stopped at Four Corners (Hwy 35 and Hwy 9), Suminder unexpectedly dropped his GS. One minute we had pulled into the parking lot to a complete stop and the next minute his bike was on it’s side and he was on his back. A little scary, but everything was fine. There was a small scratch on his engine guard and his bike started right back up. We even took some photos there :
Your’s Truely. My hands were tired, but the DR was definitely not!
Suminder and his lovely GS.
We then had dinner in Cupertino and took the freeway back home. 880N in the dark was not fun, but I survived. The DR has a pretty bright high beam and the blinkers shine brightly too at night.
Some more photos of Skyline (from SBR)
Yesterday I went out for a quick local ride. Morrison Canyon Road and Vargas Road off Mission Blvd in Fremont. These tiny narrow single lane roads are truly gems! Here is a photo (from SBR):
Morrison Canyon + Vargas is only a few miles and gets done in 8-10 minutes tops. But wow, what a blast I had!
Here’s my route:
Yesterday I did my first long distance freeway ride. About 45 miles round trip from my home in Fremont to Mountain View, CA. My friend Suminder was riding his 1150GS alongside, so that helped my confidence. As I log more miles, I’m getting increasingly confident with the DR and have started to get a more intimate feel for the acceleration, braking and turning.
We set out on 880S; the traffic was mild and we kept it at about 70mph in the slower lanes. All in all it was a comfortable ride for me, enjoying the weather as I rode down. When we hit Rte 237, the wind picked up and I could feel the shaking (shimmy) from the blast. The DR did fine, but it confirmed what everyone says: The DR is not a freeway cruiser and was certainly not built for high speed cruising. The gel grips definitely improved the ride. As we got to Mountain View the traffic thinned out and Suminder & I picked up the pace a bit. Eventually we hit close to 90mph just before exiting the freeway 🙂 The DR did fine, with plenty of throttle twist left. I’m sure the bike tops off above a 100, but I have really no intention of exploring that range. Alright, everything on this blog is untrue and cannot be used against me in any form.
We had dinner at Taqueria Los Charros (an average burrito) followed by coffee nearby.
On or way back we took the Dumbarton bridge and the wind was howling! We reduced speeds, held on steady against the wind-blast and made it back home safely. A great experience on the whole. When riding the DR, I always return home with a smile.
Last evening, after Anushka’s birthday party, I rode out with a couple of friends to downtown Plesanton. Suminder was riding with me on his BMW 1150GS and Shobhit drove there in his Porsche Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Shobhit is an avid moto-enthusiast, looking to buy his first motorcycle very soon.
The ride was mostly uneventful, following the evening traffic at 45-50mph. There was one interesting moment though — when the DR came onto reserve. I could feel the engine cutting out and knew that I should turn it over onto reserve, but going 50mph and bending over to find the fuel cock is not easy. In the end I had to pull over, put it onto reserve and get back onto the road. Note to myself: I need to get familiar with the fuel cock location. It’s certainly not going to be fun on a freeway.
My friend Suminder (who originally inspired (pressured?) me into getting a motorcycle) rides a BMW R1150GS.
He came over last evening and we decided to go out riding. We started out from home, took Mission and hit 84. A little ways down on 84 there is a small turn off towards Palomares Rd. A narrow, winding road climbing the hills at a gentle pace.
Suminder lead and I followed him closely behind. Suminder’s a pretty mellow guy, but his pace was far from mellow! We were averaging 50-60 on the straights and 30-40 on the turns. He was really riding hard and I was pushed to the limit in controlling the DR. I’ve gotten better at cornering, anticipating the turn, leaning over and accelerating out.
We rode out about 15 miles on Palomares before it hits 580, at which we point we turned back. On our way back we switched bikes for a little bit. The 1150GS was superb, smooth as butter and a pleasure to ride. It felt a bit heavy, coming from the DR, and took me a while to make it turn.
Overall an awesome experience!
My first solo 50+ mile ride. Shruti & Anushka were out for the afternoon, so I had a couple of free hours of riding.
I started out from home in Fremont towards Mission and then took 84 through Sunol. There was mild traffic, but I kept good pace behind a Corvette doing 50-60 mph. Once I got to 680, I took Calaveras all the way to Milpitas. That was one amazing ride. Lots of twists and turns and absolutely no traffic. I must have passed 1 or 2 cars at the most, everyone else was on a motorcycle or a bicycle. I actually saw a couple of DR650s and a KLR650 even. Definitely learning the motorcyclist’s wave.
Some of the turns on the Calaveras are sharp and blind. I had to come down to 10-20 mph many times and used the horn liberally. I’m just starting to get the hang of the motorcycle and I’m still not comfortable bending more than 20-25 degrees. Maybe it’s a dual sport thing (soft suspension), or the worn out knobbies (replacing this week), but I definitely need more time to get comfortable cornering. Going downhill and turning sharply was especially tough.
Coming back I used Paseo Padre for the most as I wanted to stay off the
freeway. The traffic lights were actually a welcome relief to my arms
The bike did very well and I’m impressed with it’s peppy little engine. My butt did not do as well.
My first ride on the DR was from Dublin (sellers location) to Fremont (home). I chose to stay off the freeway completely and stuck to the inner routes. Getting out of Dublin was a little tiresome, but when I hit the Dublin-Sunol road it became real fun!
I stayed at about the speed limit, not pushing myself in any of the turns. I was home in about 30 minutes, smiling ear-to-ear. Shruti was waiting for me, and she too was impressed by the looks and sound of the DR.