RR75: Skaggs Road

On October 3rd, 2021, Akshay (KTM 1290 Super Adventure), Ayon (KTM 1290 SuperDuke) and me (Kawasaki W650) rode some of the roads in the North Bay, including Stewarts Point-Skaggs Springs Rd and Hwy 128. This was my first long ride on the W650 and I was apprehensive of mechanical breakdowns and problems.

We left Fremont early Sunday morning (after a hour delay by Ayon) and our first gas stop was at the Chevron in San Rafael. We exited Hwy 101 on Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg and rode over to Skaggs. The first part of Skaggs was amazing, superbly banked curves, great tarmac quality and no real traffic. About 10 miles in, Skaggs turns into a single lane bumpy, goaty, road. This was fun too, but not as much as those nice sweepers. There was a short section of construction along the way where the road turned to dirt, and the W handled it with ease. After the bridge, we stopped and took some pictures.

Skaggs ends in Hwy 1, and from there we rode up to Gualala. We got gas, and had lunch at Trinks Cafe. The (veggie) burger was very average but I was happy to sip on some Boont Amber Ale.

From there we rode up Hwy 1 and then took Hwy 128 back to 101. The Pacific side of Hwy 128 is definitely one of my favorite roads – I first rode it in 2014, RR34.

We gassed up again in Booneville and made the long freeway struggle back home. It was very hot and the long freeway drone made me tired. Anyway, the W650 did very well. Not a hiccup there and I loved how easy and comfortable it is to ride. It has enough power to be entertaining, and I ran it to 105 mph on a long flat top-speed run. Overall it did the twisties and the freeways just fine. The only limitation on that bike is the tank range. The bike “comes on reserve” at 100-115 miles and I probably have another 30 miles after that. So a conservative tank range of 140 miles, is really the only limiting factor.

Ten year anniversary

July 12th 2021 marks ten years since I bought my first motorcycle in the US, my trusty old DR650. So this blog is now 10 years old, has over 100 posts and gets about 1500 unique visitors (and 5000 views) per year. I started this blog because I wanted to document my journey through motorcycles and have this diary of motorcycling experiences that I can look back on when I’m older. So far these motorcycles have offered a fun, exciting and satisfying journey and I consider myself lucky to be able to enjoy this sport.

I’ve had 9 motos over the last 10 years, sold 7 and still have 2.

    • 2005 Suzuki DR650SE
    • 2002 Suzuki SV650
    • 2003 Kawasaki ZZR1200
    • 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 1000
    • 2004 Kawasaki ZRX1200R
    • 2011 Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa
    • 2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
    • 2008 KTM 990 Adventure S
    • 2007 Ducati SportClassic 1000S

I made many great friends through motorcycling, some old and some young. I probably logged about 60,000 miles over these 10 years. I started out riding slow and became faster as I gained confidence. As I crossed the age of 40, I have started slowing down now, riding more for the experience rather than the thrill of speed. I rode street, track and adv, but did not enjoy the track… Enjoyed adv & dirt tremendously.

Favorite bike (street)? The Hayabusa

Favorite bike (adv)? The KTM 990 Adv S

Best looking bike? The Ducati SportClassic

Best sounding bike? Tie between the Super Duke and the SportClassic

Fastest bike? The Super Duke

Slowest bike? The DR650

Least favorite bike? The Ninja 1000, lol

Favorite brand? KTM

Favorite piece of gear? The Aerostich Roadcrafter suit

Favorite ride (street)? The 2011 trip to Nevada

Favorite ride (adv)? The Lost Coast Adventure

Favorite road? Just too many to choose from, but if I had to pick only one: Wentworth Springs Road. Followed closely by Quincy La Porte, Hwy 49, Mosquito Ridge Road, Hwy 26, Hwy 108 and Hwy 36

Favorite beer? Pliny the Elder, any time I ride in the North Bay

Motorcycling also developed my skills as a amatuer mechanic. Between a dozen or so oil changes, several fork rebuilds, carb rebuilds, many valve adjustments and brake jobs, and helping my buddies with their motorcycle maintenance, I became a decent mechanic.

I crashed on the street once, on Ayon’s VMax on Calaveras Rd, where I braked too hard, the rear wheel locked up and the bike slid. As the bike came to a stop, it tipped over. Thankfully both the bike and me came out without a scratch. In the dirt, I did crash a couple of times on the DR650 and KTM 990, but both were again slow speed falls in soft dirt, and thankfully no damage to me or the bikes.

I’ve also had several close calls. On Day 1 of the 2014 annual trip, I almost lost the front end on my SV650 on Hwy 1. The road between Rockport and Leggett is excellent, and I was pushing the bike hard. At the mountain ridge the road crests and takes a sharp left. I came in too hot there and braked hard almost losing the front end. I was able to recover, but rode the rest of the ride with caution. On the 2021 Sierra Passes ride, I got into a pickle trying to pass a long line of slow cars, as one guy in a car didn’t notice me and jumped into the passing lane almost taking me out. I was able to avoid him, though narrowly by only a few feet. Surprisingly he didn’t back off even after he noticed me, he just kept going as if nothing happened. I’ve tried to learn as much as I can from these close calls, never coming in too hot into a turn, let alone a blind turn, passing other cars and bikes with extreme caution, and in general, passing cars only when truly necessary.

So what’s next? The thirst for speed is gone. I only ride to meet friends, get some fresh air or explore a new place. I’m in no hurry now and I have no motivation to “take the corner” as fast as possible. I much enjoy a relaxed paced. Also the quest for a different bike every year is gone. I like the 990 and I’m enjoying the adventure riding experience. I will keep it for a long time as long as it’s running.

Onwards and upwards then, to more rides and more experiences. I’m grateful for everything.




RR74: Frolicking in the Forest

On the heels of the failed Death Valley trip, I was itching for some dirt adv action on my KTM 990. Adv riding offers a chance of exploring roads and areas that are, literally, off the beaten path. I’ve ridden pretty much all the “motorcycling roads” in California, but I’ve not explored the off-pavement part much. Vijay noticed this thread on AdvRider – Forest Frolicking in Northern California and and that was the impetus for this trip. I know the word “frolic”, but I’m not sure if the present participle froliciking contains a “k”. I won’t Google it though, lol.

Shobhit’s VStrom was broken with a failed clutch from Death Valley. Akshay and I worked on the bike and successfully replaced the clutch. I rode the bike on a 450 mile ride across the Sierras, and everything was good. So with a working bike now, Shobhit decided to join the ride. Akshay could not make it unfortunately, for good reason, his wife was turning xx and he wanted to throw her a surprise birthday bash. Mahesh could not join, his daughter was having surgery, and a few others dropped out, so eventually it was 6 of us – Anil (Kawasaki Versys 650), Ayon (Honda CRF250L Rally), Gokul (KTM 690 Enduro), Shobhit (Suzuki V-Strom 650), Sujit (KTM 990 Adventure) and Vijay (BMW R1200GS)

Friday July 9th 2021

In the second week of July, there was a heat wave in California. Temperatures in Fremont were in the high 90s, while Sacramento and the central valley were up to about 110F. We had a quick video call the night before and discussed whether it makes sense to cancel the ride. With everyone’s tight schedules and limited time, it would be hard to reschedule the ride – so we decided to just go. Shobhit flew in on Friday, went over to his sisters house for some time and came to my house in the late afternoon. He brought with him a pelican case that we bolted to the back of his VStrom. Here was the final outcome, the box came in handy for the trip.

We left the Bay Area with Ayon and Anil at about 4PM. It was incredibly hot along the way and we all wore mesh gear. We stayed away from the freeways for the most part, as Ayon was on his 250. He did fairly well though, keeping up with all of us in the twisty parts.

We stopped briefly at a small town called Buena Vista, CA. Here we bought cold water bottles and poured some of that water down our mesh gear to keep us cool. It was incredibly hot at that point, but we all made it ok that day.

We reached our hotel in Grass Valley (Best Western Gold Country Inn) at about 8PM and met with Vijay for dinner and drinks.  The beers at 1849 Brewing Company were good, and so was the pizza. Gokul trailered his KTM and joined us later at the hotel that night.

Saturday July 10th 2021

This was the planned route for the day, and we did about 75% of it.

We left early that day, gassed up near the hotel and hit Hwy 20 towards Tahoe. We filled up Shobhit’s top box with beer and ice, the smile says it all.

Our first turn off from the highway was on to Washington Road, which took us down to the quaint little town of Washington, CA. Gokul was last in the line of riders and we had to wait a good 10 minutes there for him to catch up. It turns out that he was riding slow because he thought “chunks” could fly off his knobby tires on the pavement 🙂 We picked up some sandwiches from the General Store there and were on our way.

The first dirt section of the day was Gaston Road which goes through the very small town of Gaston. I don’t think we even noticed that place on our way. The road was a mix of hard packed dirt, some loose gravel and some patches of deep sand. It was a good challenge for us all, and we made it down the first 10 miles or so without incident.


As we continued on to Meadow Lake Road, the road became more rocky and soon we got views of Bowman Lake

As we descended to Bowman Lake the road became very rough and rocky and we were riding this challenging terrain very slowly. Luckily we made it to the Lake without incident, where we took a break and dipped in the lake. It wasn’t very hot here because of the elevation. It was warm but comfortable and the dip in the lake felt really good.

I enjoyed sipping a Sierra Nevada hazy IPA in those waters. Pure bliss. The amazing forest and the beautiful lake were great stress busters.

As we started on our way out, the terrain remained pretty challenging till Jackson Meadows Reservoir. We were now about 40 miles into the dirt, and post lunch we were all getting tired quickly. We took several breaks along the way, hydrating with water, making sure the bikes were ok, and just taking a break in the shade.

On Meadow Lake Road, Ayon and Shobhit were leading, and they decided to make a right turn towards Meadow Lake. Next I saw Anil and Vijay ahead of me ride straight towards French Meadows. For a minute I panicked there, thinking that if the group splits up and someone gets lost, it could get dangerous quickly. Most of these forest roads are unmarked and look pretty similar, it’s easy to get lost. Luckily, Ayon and Shobhit retraced their steps and joined us back a short distance down the road.

Vijay had the heaviest bike of the group and he was definitely struggling. Thankfully he was able to manage it over the rough stuff and we made it to the French Meadows Reservoir. When we hit the tarmac there, we all let out a huge sigh of relief.

As we left French Meadows Vijay noticed a tire pressure warning on his BMW dash. He had a flat rear tire. He was able to ride the bike on the pavement to Hwy 89, where we took a break and fixed the flat. The heat was on at this point and we were all tired, with ~60 odd miles of off road work.

At this point, we were debating whether we should ride more dirt, or simply head back to the hotel. It was only about 3PM, so we had time, and we decided to explore a bit more.

We headed down Dog Valley Road, which turned out to be the best road of the day. Gentle flowing curves in easy hard packed dirt. A few whoops along the way, but easy stuff to handle. We all go comfortable riding this patch at higher speeds and enjoyed the views tremendously. We took another stop here to look at Vijay’s tire. It was slowing losing a bit of air, so we pumped it up again.

From Dog Valley Road we took Smithneck Road back to Hwy 49. Again this was easy stuff, scenic and very relaxing.

We hit pavement a bit before Hwy 49 and took a break.

From here we decide to gas up in Loyalton and make our way to our hotel for the night (Gold Pan Lodge in Quincy). Gokul left the group here. He rode back to the hotel in Grass Valley, where he loaded his bike on to his SUV and headed home.

The huge plume of smoke from the Beckwourth Complex fires was visible. And the road to Frenchman lake was closed. We saw lots of firefighting equipment on the way, including helicopters, airplanes and firetrucks.

We made it to our hotel in good time, like 6PM, so that gave us enough time to wind down from the hot and tiring day. We had a few beers at Quintopia Brewing – they were pretty good.

The garlic fries were 10/10

Sunday July 11th 2021

The last day of our trip we decided to skip any dirt section and take the twisty road home. Vijay’s tire was looking weak and none of us really had the energy to tackle another day in the dirt.

Anil had broken his Versys-650 front fender the day before and his rim was also bent. So it was probably a good idea to skip the tough dirt sections.

Ayon picked up coffee at Morning Thunder Cafe and we were on our way.

I had heard of Quincy La Porte Road for many years, but never ridden it. We came close to riding it in 2020, but the fires blocked us out. So this time when we did get a chance, I was blown away. Superbly laid tarmac, excellent curves, great views and no traffic. We stopped along the way a few times to take some pictures.

Remnants of the Bear Fire of 2020

Along the way, we took a short detour to the Little Grass Valley Reservoir. It was short dirt section of 5 miles, but it took us to this dramatically beautiful lake.

The rest of Quincy La Porte was also excellent and we all had a great time riding down the mountains on that road. Note to self – it’s well worth a trip up there just to ride QLP again!

We had lunch at Punjab Tandoori Grill in Yuba City. The Indian food there was simply amazing (it was highly rated on Yelp) and the owner of the restaurant turned on the TV to the Euro Cup final between England and Italy.

It was 100F+ outside, so after the delicious Indian food and beer we took the freeway back to the Bay Area. We made it, again, in good time, with enough daylight to spare.

Shobhit flew back to Seattle the same night. All our bikes were ok, no major mechanical failures. None of us crashed or hurt ourselves, so it all turned out great. I really liked riding in the Tahoe National Forest and the Plumas National Forest. I would like to go up there again!


RR72: 2021 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride

On May 23rd (which happened to be my parents 47th wedding anniversary) I took part in the San Jose Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. It was hosted by Spirit Motorcycles the biggest Triumph dealer in the South Bay.

Per Wikipedia, “The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is a global motorcycle event raising funds and awareness for prostate cancer research and men’s mental health programs”. There was a good showing at Spirit, approximately 250 motorcycles or so. A lot of Triumphs, but a few Harleys, Ducati’s, Royal Enfields and Moto Guzzis.

The ride [route] per say was slow and a little boring, putting along at 25mph through Downtown San Jose, Willow Glen, Campbell and Santana Row. Lots of people were waving or honking, cheering along as we rode. Riding an air-cooled Ducati slowly on a hot day was an interesting experience. The temperature gauge on my bike rose to 290F, the highest I had seen previously was about 235F.

Yours truly, on the ride.

Gathering at SJ City Hall for a group photo.

This Sport Classic won the award for the “Most Dapper Bike” – I spoke to him and it turns out the owner is from Fremont also.

It was a fun experience overall and I look forward to doing it again next year.

RR71: Ride down to King City and Lonoak

This ride was a repeat of RR21 from 2012 and RR56 from 2020. I was riding the Sport Classic and met up with Akshay (Moto Guzzi Griso), Anil (BMW S1000XR) and Mahesh (BMW S1000XR) and we rode down Uvas to Hwy 25 down to King City.

We had lunch at El Lugarcito Restaurant (a very mediocre fare, similar to 2019) and rode back to Hwy 25 on Lonoak Rd. I loved the desolate landscape there and it was great to visit after almost a decade.

While we were stopping for pictures along Lonoak Rd, Akshay hit a patch of gravel and tipped over his Griso. The damage is minor and we rode on.I was impressed how fast the Sport Classic can go in a straight line. I easily saw an indicated 130 mph on Hwy 25, with more room to go. The air cooled engine is grunty, torquey and surprisingly good at long smooth twisty rides.


RR70: Death Valley 2021

I have been to Death Valley several times now, at least four times over the last 20 years, but never on a motorcycle. My first trip was in 2001, in a rental Nissan Sentra. And the latest trip was with the family in 2018, in our FJ Cruiser.

Death Valley National Park is home to the longest network of off-road trails in California, easily accessible from the main paved roads. I had been mentally planning this trip for many years and it was finally coming to happen. 

Many friends got involved and joined in. Many invited friends of their own and it became a big group quickly. A lot of preparation went into the trip. My friend Shobhit from Seattle even bought a motorcycle specifically for this trip (2015 VStrom 650)! Akshay bought his KTM 990 a few weeks before the trip, Gokul bought an XT250. Edit: Actually Gokul bought a KTM 690 early in 2021, but it had engine issues, so in the last minute he bought another XT250 to make the ride!

After buying motorcycles, people bought gear, accessories, fuel containers, gps units and more. We single handedly bumped up the GDP of California for DV2021. I changed the oil, adjusted the valves and flushed the coolant on my 990. I even rode it about 500 miles after the service to make sure everything was working ok – and it was – until it wasn’t. 

The final rider count was 11 – Akshay, Ayon, Bobby, Gokul-small, Gokul-big, Mahesh, Sandeep, Shahab, Shobhit, Sujit and Vijay.

Day 1: March 19th, 2021.

Seven of us: Akshay (KTM 990), Bobby (Ducati Scrambler), Shobhit (Suzuki VStrom 650), Sandeep (Honda Africa Twin), Ayon (BMW R1200GS), Mahesh (Honda NC700X) and me (KTM 990) left the Bay Area riding south for Death Valley. The winter of 2020 was one of the driest on record and it had not rained in about 2 months. But as luck would have it, on March 19th 2021, it started raining as we rode down on the first day.

Vijay trailered his Honda Monkey to Death Valley and brought along his brother Vikram, cousin Ravi and neighbor Salmaan. These were the “Sherpas” who carried a whole bunch of gear, a cooking stove and other supplies. They cooked some fabulous meals, including a goat curry. The sherpas, enroute in Salmaan’s Jeep:

Sandeep’s friend Shahab got his KTM 500EXC in his Honda Ridgeline truck. Gokul-big brought his Honda CRF450L in his Ford Ranger while Gokul-small got his Yamaha XT250 in a Jeep Gladiator. 

Our first stop for the day was in Hollister, where we gassed up and decided to ride down Highway 25.

As we started down Highway 25, about 10 miles in, Shobhit pulls over in an emergency maneuver. It turns out that he lost his shifter linkage. He had adjusted the linkage the night before, raising up the shifter to accommodate his large MX boots. He probably did not tighten it down enough, so the linkage fell off and the bike could not be ridden easily. At first we tried looking for the linkage on the road, but quickly realized that a small piece of metal, probably 6mm in diameter is going to be very hard to find. Shobhit called all the Suzuki dealers nearby, none of them had one in stock. So we decided to head back into Hollister and “make” a shifter linkage using an M6 bolt. As Shobhit rode his bike back to Hollister, he had to “ride the clutch” as he was not shifting. He was running the bike in 6th gear, from a start.

Anyway, we get to Hollister, it is raining and Bobby is getting impatient and restless because he has work call he needs to get on. He is also wearing mostly mesh gear and has gotten soaking wet. In what appeared to be his frustration, he decides to part ways with us, and head back home. That was the first of many casualties on this trip. Seven Down To Six

With the rain coming down on us, we worked outside the Ace Hardware in Hollister, trying to fix the bike. They folks at the hardware store cut the bolts to various lengths to make it fit, and we JB welded the other end. 

We got some nice hot lunch from Wong’s Chinese Restaurant next to the Ace and with the bike apparently fixed, we decided to press on.

In about a mile from there, Shobhit realized that his clutch was slipping – badly. He could basically put the bike in gear while it was not moving and let the clutch out without the engine cutting out. Revving the bike was getting only about 10% of the power to the wheels, so the clutch was definitely fried. Second casualty of the day – Six Down To Five.

At this point we were discussing what possible next steps would be. One idea was to head back to San Jose and Shobhit would ride Ayon’s CRF250L Rally. Somehow Ayon was not in favor of that – tensions were running high and patience was low. In the end I suggested Shobhit rent a car from Enterprise in Hollister and drive down to Death Valley. The only car they had was a minivan, but at least they had something that Shobhit could use. He drove the rest of the way down to Death Valley.

The remaining 5 of us, started to make our way to DV. It was already pretty late and we’d probably wasted 6 hours on this breakdown. We rode down I-5 to get there as quickly as possible.

Somewhere along the way Mahesh broke off from the rest of us – but coincidentally, he met us back at the Shell gas station in California City. At this point it was late at night and dark. The roads out there in the desert are even darker and rest of the ride was a bit scary. I spoke to Vijay over the phone and he mentioned that the winds were blowing strong there with a lot of sand in the air. 

The two Gokuls rode up to Trona Pinnacles on their way in. They took some great pictures. 

From California City, we took Redrock Randsburg Road to Hwy 395 and Searles Station Cutoff to Hwy 178. Both roads are completely desolate with no signs of life anywhere nearby. As I was riding Redrock Randsburg Road, my KTM 990 started to act up. The electricals started to fluctuate erratically. The tachometer was bouncing all over the place and the speedometer was going crazy, fluctuating between 0 and 140mph. 

The bike itself was running fine. I had turned on my heated grips and was using my much needed fog lights. The fog lights worked well and guided us on this desolate piece of road at night. While the engine was running fine, I was in a desperate mode of panic. I didn’t want to be stranded in the middle of the desert with a non-running bike. I could feel the bike was cutting out at low rpms, so I was giving it a good rev every now and then. I was also keeping it revved up, clutch in, on all turns and sharp corners. The cross-winds were strong and a lot of sand was getting blown around. 

Anyway, by a stroke of luck, and the grace of God, we made it to Stovepipe Wells 🙂

We came in right at midnight, having started at about 8am that day. Right as we were turning into the hotel, I didn’t rev the bike very much and it died right there, 50 feet from my hotel room. Yes, some things worked out better than others, now Five Down To Four. The bike never cranked again, it was totally dead electrically. But I was relieved. I had made it over the dark and dangerous roads to our safe hotel – where we had several folks to help us fix the bike. 

We had some pizza that night, a little bit of scotch and called it a night.  Shobhit had made it to the hotel about 30 minutes ahead of us. It was quite an adventurous day. 

Day 2: March 20th, 2021.

I got up relatively early on Day-2 and immediately went to look at the bike. I dropped the skid plate and looked at the battery. I was hoping that one of the terminals had come loose, but the connections were good. I borrowed a voltmeter from a guy on a KLR and the battery read 0V. Strange, how could the battery be completely dead? It should still read a few volts, I thought. Next another guy came out to help me – it turns out this guy is a mechanic and runs an auto-shop in Fremont, what a small world! Anyway, he brings along a battery pack and we try to start the bike, but it only cranks weakly. He calls his brother, gets another battery pack and connects them in parallel. That was sufficient juice to start the bike and it runs! It idles nicely but when we measured the voltage at the battery it was under 12V. We then concluded that the alternator was probably bust and was not charging the battery. I was disappointed at that point – thinking I could drive out of the park and pick up a replacement battery – but that would be of no use if the alternator was not charging the battery. Game over, really.

With Shobhit and I not able to ride, we decided to rent a Jeep at Farabee’s Jeep Rental and Tours. This meant we could at least stay with the larger group as we explored DV off-road. So we drove out to Furnace Creek in the morning and rented this tricked out Jeep Wrangler.


The first (and only) off-road trip of the day was through Titus Canyon. We assembled at the start of the Nevada-side entrance to the canyon and the Jeep was trailing behind the 7 bikes. Vijay had decided to go ahead and meet up with other folks and ride Titus separately. 

I had driven Titus Canyon in my FJ Cruiser earlier, so this was not really new. Shobhit and I served as the “sweep” vehicle for the 26 mile trip, picking up bikes as they dropped. First was Mahesh, he had a small tip over in deep gravel, then Sandeep had a spill in the rocky terrain descending Red Pass, and finally Ayon had a fall on the gravel deep inside Titus canyon. Thankfully all the incidents were minor and nobody got hurt. Corralling such a large group turned out to be difficult and we stopped numerous times for pictures and breaks. 

Gokul/big took some great pictures.

A lot of funny business.

Anyway, we exited Titus Canyon after about 4 hours there and it was already mid afternoon. Some of decided to go out to Ubehebe crater, where we drove a little off-road. Gokul-small decided to head home, we helped him load his bike into his truck. Gokul-big and Shahab rode out to Teakettle, but they didn’t ride all the way.

Vijay was the only one who actually made it to the Teakettle Junction on his Honda Monkey. After all this, turns out the smallest 125cc bike was the one that made it the furthest. 

Shortly thereafter Shobhit and I returned the Jeep and made it back to the hotel. We all gathered for some much needed beer and food. Here is a picture of all us at the dinner that night:

While we were drinking that night, a group or Brazilian riders came by our table. Among them was the same guy who had tried to help me get my bike started in the morning. It turns out that one of the riders in their group had had an accident and they were looking for someone to ride his VStrom 650 from Death Valley back to the Bay Area. This worked out well for them and for me, as I took them up on their offer. The injured rider would drive back with Shobhit in the minivan.

Day 3: March 21st, 2021.

The ride back from DV to the Bay Area was mostly uneventful. I was riding the VStrom 650 which I enjoyed. I was amazed that the bike could easily touch 100mph and sustain that speed for a long time. Ayon and Akshay broke off at Tehachapi. They retraced their route so that they could ride Hwy 178. Having ridden that highway a few times before, I was not interested, and I was generally frustrated with the whole situation. I pressed on, and rode Hwy 33 to 198 to 25 – which made it a little interesting. I got home, solo, in good time, while Vijay was gracious enough to trailer my broken bike back. I picked up the bike from him in a few days. 

The Brazilian group and Shobhit stopped by the Enterprise in Hollister and brought his bike back in a truck. Eventually we all got back home in one piece, all 11 of us, so things did work out well. A few broken bikes and some lingering resentment, but that wore off pretty quickly. As Valmik’s teacher says, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset”.

A few days after getting back my bike, I bought a new Yuasa battery, put it in and the bike fired right up. Maybe the battery was old (probably 5+ years) or faulty, but it left me a little nervous about the bike. So that concludes this ride report, my first “failed” ride of the last decade. Not bad a record I guess, but made for good memories. 

Maybe I will go back to Death Valley again next year! 

RR69: Ride along the Sacramento Delta

In February 2021, I did a gentle, mild ride along the Sacramento Delta to Freeport Bar & Grill Restaurant. This was an enjoyable ride at a gentle pace, alongside the Sacramento river on mildly twisty roads. Hwy 160 goes through some interesting towns like Isleton, which I had never been to before. We had a decent beer at the restaurant.


2007 Ducati Sport 1000S

On Jan 12th 2021, I bought a used 2007 Ducati Sport 1000S. I had sold my KTM SuperDuke just a few days ago and I was on the hunt for a new motorcycle for a few months by then.

My goal was to get something different, a complete contrast from what I had before. The SuperDuke was a true beast, extremely powerful, light, nimble and with all modern electronics. So this time I was looking for something more mellow, retro, classy, analog and … slow.

I started off my search kinda looking everywhere, first a Triumph Rocket 3. These are mostly all my pictures, taken by me, of bikes I rode, and not off the Internet.

And a Triumph Speed Triple

I looked at a couple of Bonnies (very nice bike)

A nice Thruxton

I was very keen on the Kawasaki W650 / W800 series, but they are rare and hard to find on the used market

I also have a thing for Honda Valkyries, and I test rode one. It felt great (massive, powerful) but I was unsure of the 700 lbs weight and how easy it would be to live with the cruiser long term.

I was also very interested in the Triumph Thunderbird Sport, after seeing on the Fall Colors Trip in 2020 but this one was down in SLO.

But eventually I stumbled on this GT1000 in Walnut Creek and after the test ride I was hooked. I was not specifically looking for this bike at the outset, but after riding one I instantly knew this was the one to buy. The shiny red paint, the brushed metal triple clamps, the gauges, the sound of the Termignoni pipes and the raw character of the air cooled motor – it just felt amazing.

I looked at a LOT of GTs and a few Sport Classics. They sell pretty quickly and if you don’t act fast, you miss out.

There were a couple in LA, one stock and one nicely modified.

One in Richmond Virginia that I really liked:

A nice red one in Ashville NC:

A local one in Cupertino

A nicely modified one in Colorado

I missed out on this black beauty by a matter of 3 minutes. The listing went online over the weekend and I called the dealer exactly at 9AM on Tuesday when they opened. I got a busy phone signal and I tried again in 3 minutes and by that time the dealer had a deposit on it.

I literally went over a dozen potential bikes, before I stumbled onto a Sport 1000S in New Mexico. It was for sale on consignment at “The Hood, New Mexico” and after checking it out, I decided to buy it. While the bike had higher miles, I was not worried about the air cooled Ducati dual spark motor – I had seen several examples of high miles. More importantly the bike was in pristine condition and mostly stock, so it made me feel good about buying it.


I got the bike shipped over from Las Cruces, NM and it arrived in just 2 days. The bike checked out and I guess the rest is history.

The day it was delivered, what a smile I had on my face 😁 😁 😁

This post is only the story of how I ended up with the Sport 1000S. More on the actual bike in a future blog post.