The Pony Express trail

I am always doing research for work and use the Google website for the search function to seek the information I need. I love the historical tidbits that Google does on its splash screen. The other day it had the information about the Pony Express 155th birthday, the geek in me had to read all about it.

The Pony Express is a mail service that spurred due to the threat of the Civil War blocking means of communication to the West.

The service opened officially on April 3, 1860, when riders left simultaneously from St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. The first westbound trip was made in 9 days and 23 hours and the eastbound journey in 11 days and 12 hours.

Eventually, the Pony Express had more than 100 stations, 80 riders, and between 400 and 500 horses. The express route was extremely hazardous, but only one mail delivery was ever lost. The service lasted only 19 months until October 24, 1861.

According to Wikipedia, The Pony Express route is approximately 1,900-mile-long (3,100 km)  roughly followed the Oregon and California Trails to Fort Bridger in Wyoming, and then the Mormon Trail (known as the Hastings Cutoff) to Salt Lake City, Utah. From there it followed the Central Nevada Route to Carson City, Nevada before passing over the Sierra into Sacramento, California.

                                        

The route started at St. Joseph, Missouri on the Missouri River, it then followed what is modern-day U.S. Highway 36 (US 36 the Pony Express Highway) to Marysville, Kansas, where it turned northwest following Little Blue River to Fort Kearny in Nebraska. Through Nebraska it followed the Great Platte River Road, cutting through Gothenburg, Nebraska, clipping the edge of Colorado at Julesburg, Colorado, and passing Courthouse Rock, Chimney Rock, and Scotts Bluff, before arriving at Fort Laramie in Wyoming. From there it followed the Sweetwater River, passing Independence Rock, Devil’s Gate, and Split Rock, to Fort Caspar, through South Pass to Fort Bridger and then down to Salt Lake City. From Salt Lake City it generally followed the Central Nevada Route blazed by Captain James H. Simpson of the Corps of Topographical Engineers in 1859. This route roughly follows today’s US 50 across Nevada and Utah. It crossed the Great Basin, the Utah-Nevada Desert, and the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe before arriving in Sacramento. Mail was then sent via steamer down the Sacramento River to San Francisco. On a few instances when the steamer was missed, riders took the mail via horseback to Oakland, California.

Hmmm…it sound like it would be fun to follow the entire Pony Express route. We stumbled upon one of the old station back in 2012 on a road trip we did.  So, since U.S. Route 50 (aka the loneliest road in America) is already on my list of routes I want to travel on. Now I guess I’ll just add US Route 36 to my list as well.

             

Why do we give our ride a name?

After I posted about getting Purple back, my aunt made a comment about how as a little girl I have always loved the color purple, only eating grape ice cream and purple gum.  So, she thought I was still infuriated with the color purple.   I didn’t actually seek out a bike that was purple but it kind of fell into our lap.  Russ was looking for another TW200 for me since the first one we got had a bad CDI which was a common problem with 1987 model.  A guy nearby where we lived was selling a 1991 TW200 on Craigslist and it was in good condition so we bought it.  This bike became my baby.  So Russ suggested that I come up with a handle so I can join the TW200 forum community.

So I decided to run with the color since I didn’t think I would be changing the look anytime soon.  When I first started looking into name of characters that were purple.  Upon research, I could only find a handful of characters that were purple; Barney (oh heck no!), Cheshire Cat (a tongue twister for me), Grimace (eh?), and the Purple People Eater (that is the one I decided on).  So that became my handle which is kind of long-winded.  Most people either call me Purple or PPE for short.

Since I christen the bike as Purple People Eater, I had to run with theme when I decided to give it a facelift.  When I was looking for a vinyl wrap that has the color purple in it. I stumbled upon a website called MetroReStyling.com where they had a wrap that in a camo pattern and it was purple.  It was damned tedious to put on but it was one of the best investment I ever did.  That wrap has protected the plastic every time I have crashed on the bike (not that many, honest!).

Now, you’re probably wondering if I have given a name to my street bike as well.  Of course I did, his name is Felix after Felix the Cat.  I know that it sound weird to name my ride but I discovered that I was not alone.  According to a Nationwide Insurance survey, plenty of drivers name their ride.  They polled about 1,082 U.S. car owners and found that:

•Nearly 25% of U.S. car owners have a special name for their car.

•More than 31% were inspired by the vehicle’s color and appearance.

•At 36%, car owners between the ages of 18 and 34 are more likely to nickname their cars.

•Women are more likely to have a nickname for their cars than men — 27% vs. 17%

•About of out of four surveyed think of their car as a girl, with women more likely to have a “baby” girl. Such as “Eleanor” from the film Gone in 60 Seconds or the homicidal Chevrolet named Christine from the movie Christine.

•Men are more likely than women to name their car after a famous or historical person or a character in a movie.

So, do you have a name for your motorcycle or car?  If so what is it?

Purple is back!!!

Whoo-hoo, Purple is back!  I’m such a happy camper now that she is back under my legs.  Now I got that silly song from the 60’s stuck in my head “My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels.

My boyfriend’s back and you’re gonna be in trouble
(Hey-la-day-la my boyfriend’s back)
He’s been gone for such a long time
(Hey-la-day-la my boyfriend’s back)
Now he’s back and things’ll be fine
(Hey-la-day-la my boyfriend’s back)  

Actually, Purple is a she and she is back just in time for the 2nd Annual Lizrdbrth Memorial Desert Ride.  Since 2009, a group of T-dubbers have been meeting up in Desert Hot Springs, CA then riding out Berdoo Canyon which takes us onto the Geology Tour Road in Joshua Tree National Park.  This is where Russ and I met Jeff, Ronnydog, Jimbo and Don and became hooked on the cult of our little bikes.  So when Russ passed away we decided to dedicate the ride to him and put up a plaque and wind chime in a secret place to honor him and cherish the camaraderie of our group.

This year, we had three new riders with us so we had a total of 10 riders all together.  The weather couldn’t be more perfect.  So first stop was to visit the memorial to pay our respect. It felt so good to be back onto Purple and she is running like a dream.

It was me who was a little rusty riding her.  On Berdoo Canyon, there are 3 technical sections on that ride with the last one being the most difficult.  This year, I almost did another “Flying Nun” on the second section but did not fall.  Whew, I was so determined to stay up.  It actually got caught on the GoPro, I was so embarrassed by it.  To tell you the truth, it was actually a good learning tool, I got see what I did wrong.  Looking for the easy way around the boulder instead of going over it is not always better.

The third section was actually a breeze this year.  In the years past, we have watched BMW GS questioning whether they can up or down it as we plow through it.  I think the landscaping is changing for a couple of reasons; one is due to mother’s nature and secondly, there are Jeep tours that travel down that canyon.  I counted five of them when we went up it as they were coming down it.

The rest of the ride was uneventful and relaxing.  We even stopped to have a mid-day snack courtesy of Ronnydog.  Summer sausages, cheeses and crackers, yummy!  Even Jimbo brought his golf umbrella for shade.

The ride is usually a two day affair where the second day is alway different every years.  Also, half of the group go home at the end of the first day and the die hard stick around for the second day.  However, almost the whole group stuck around.  This year we did a ride through the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm and into the Whitewater Reserve.

The San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm is one of the three wind farms and the oldest in California.  The area is also one of the windiest place in California as well.  We lucked out, it wasn’t that bad that day.  It was impressive being up close and personal with these giants.  The early models stand 65 feet high and have 15-foot blades that rotate between 600 and 700 times per minute.  The new ones can stand up to 299 feet high and have up to 140-foot blades.

The last stop of the day was the Whitewater Preserve.  Who knew that in the middle of the desert that we would stumbled upon a 2800 acres oasis.  The preserve is the gateway to the San Gorgonio Wilderness which is now managed by the Wildlands Conservancy.  271 acres was once a privately owned trout farms which the conservancy now maintains.  There are several ponds where you can view and feed the humongous trouts.  One of the ponds offers a catch and release program for the kids.

All in all, it was an amazing weekend with good company and a great host.  So, if you ever are looking for something to do, I would highly recommend checking out the hidden treasure, Whitewater Preserve.

Also, I can’t thank enough to Ronnydog and his friend Thomas who put many hours into re-building Purple.  I’m so ready to start my journey.  Only 37 more days!!

The Flying Nun

Remember about a month ago I wrote about one of the two most outrageous adventures that I have had on the TW200.  Well, I think it’s time I tell you the story about the time I earned the nickname “The Flying Nun” by my fellow T-dubbers.

It was my birthday weekend about 2 years ago and a group of us decided to go camping in Borrego Springs, CA.  This town is the home of the largest desert state park in the United States.  The park encompasses more than 600,000 acres.

So we decided to ride up the South Coyote Canyon Trail and that where the adventure began.  Here is the story in Russ’ voice:

I gotta do some bragging on my wife here. Bad as it turned out, up to this point she displayed her finest riding to date in negotiating this rock pile. Then, for some inexplicable reason the bike made a full-throttle left turn off a rock, then launched off the trail. She let go of the bike just before it went over the side, then performed a perfect pile driver head first from maybe 10 feet or so above into the smaller boulders (beneath her bike in the pic). From our vantage point I was fairly certain I had become an instant widower. The get-off looked bad. Real bad.

The view from top of Coyote Canyon

Our new friend Don and I were watching from maybe 100 feet below. We scrambled up to her location, and she was not moving. I started taking inventory, not allowing her to move, insisting that she operate first fingers, toes, etc. Finally I asked her if she could move her head. A bit irritated by the question, she said “No!”, and my heart sank.

What she meant was “No, Jerkweed!. I can’t move my neck because my helmet is wedged between these two rocks! Are you blind? Quit playing paramedic and get me outta here, you idiot!”

Both the worst and the best moments of my life within seconds of one another. We extricated her helmeted noggin from its “wedgedness”, she got up, walked it off for a while and got on with life.

Her knee’s gunna be a little jacked for a while and major portions of her anatomy are presently the same hue as her bike ( which was spared once more by the grace of TCI) and the story had a happy ending courtesy of these fellers:

Jimbo, Ronnydog and Don…my heros!

I have to add my 2 cents to this story and to tease the guys a little bit….when I crashed there were 2 other scenes unfolding as well. On top of the trail was Ronnydog and Jimbo doing a re-enactment of the Abbott and Costello comedy scene of “Who’s on First” but instead with the First Aid kits. Then Lizrdbrth and Don on the bottom of the trail were doing a re-enactment of the Chariot of Fire scene where they’re running on the beach in slow motion. The guys felt like they were running in slow motion to catch up to me as it was going down.

Ironically, while looking for pictures for this blog post, I found a picture that Lizrdbrth has mocked up on this crash but never posted it in the original ride report on the TW200forum website.

 The moral of the story being fully geared (AGATT) saved my skins and the only that was bruised were my knees.  The next day they were in the lovely shade of blue, purple, and green.

I still had the best time that weekend and I love these guys.  We have had many great weekends; camping and putzing around on our TW200.  I’m looking forward to our 2nd Annual SoCal Lizrdbrth Memorial Ride in Joshua Tree National Park where we all first met back in 2009.

Withdrawal

Sigh, the next two weeks, I’ll be going through withdrawal of not being able to ride my motorcycle.  I’m on a business trip training our new employee who will be taking over my job.  This meant I had to leave my motorcycle back at home and rent a car so I could pack up all of my training materials to give to her.  

While hanging out at the hotel room while it is beautiful and sunny in San Luis Obispo, I noticed that I’m starting to get antsy and restless.  Damn, I want my bike now so I can cruise up and down the 101 freeway of Central Coast.

Am I the only who get this way, is this a real problem or is it all in my head? So I had to hit the internet to find a cure for my problem and came upon this survey (author unknown) and laugh my ass off.  I scored  eleven out of nineteen below so I think I might have a problem.

Motorcycling Addiction Syndrome 

Even more serious than the mania for chocolate is the growing epidemic of MAS, or Motorcycling Addiction Syndrome. Don’t laugh because you might be its next victim. Just to give you a possible heads up in case it’s creeping up on you, here are a few questions to quietly answer for yourself. 

How many of these apply to you? 

1. I have gone riding when I was depressed, or to cheer myself up. 

2. I have gone on riding binges of several tanks of gas or more in a day. 

3. I ride rapidly, often ‘gulping’ roads. 

4. I have sometimes ridden early in the morning or before work. 

5. I have hidden bikes in different places to sneak a ride in without being seen. 

6. Sometimes I avoid friends or family obligations in order to ride motorcycles. 

7. Sometimes I find myself analyzing sections of roads as if I were riding, even while in cars. 

8. I am unable to enjoy myself with others unless there is a bike nearby. 

9. At a boring party, I will often slip off unnoticed to go riding. 

10. Riding has made me seek haunts and companions which I would otherwise avoid. 

11. I have neglected personal hygiene or household chores until I have finished a ride.

12. I have spent money meant for necessities on accessories instead. 

13. I have attempted to complete an Iron Butt ride. 

14. Most of my friends are unapologetic motorcycle riders. 

15. I have sometimes passed out from a night of heavy riding. 

16. I have suffered ‘blackouts’ or memory loss from a bout of riding. 

17. I have wept, become angry or irrational because of a road I have ridden; or, worse, NOT ridden. 

18. I have sometimes wished I did not ride so much. 

19. Sometimes I think my riding is out of control. 

If you answered ‘yes’ to three or more of these questions, you may be a motorcycle addict. Affirmative responses to five or more indicates a serious problem…professional help is strongly advised. 

Once a relatively rare disorder, Motorcycle Addiction Syndrome, or MAS, has risen to new levels due to the accessibility of higher quality motorcycles at a relatively low expense since the end of the Second World War. The number of motorcycle addicts and abusers is currently at record levels. 

SOCIAL COSTS OF MOTORCYCLE ABUSE 

Abusers become withdrawn, uninterested in society or normal relationships. They fantasize, creating alternative worlds to occupy, to the neglect of friends and family. In severe cases they develop bad posture from riding in awkward positions or carrying heavy tool bags. In the worst instances, they become cranky bike mechanics in small towns. 

Excessive riding during pregnancy is perhaps the number one cause of moral deformity among the children of Road Racers, Tourers, Squids, Wannabes and Posers alike. 

Known as Fetal Motard Syndrome, this disease also leaves its victims prone to a lifetime of vertigo, daydreaming, emotional instability and an unnerving predilection for unsuitable leather garments. 

HEREDITY 

Recent Harvard studies have established that heredity plays a considerable role in determining whether a person will become an abuser of motorcycles. Most abusers have at least one parent who abused motorcycles, often beginning at an early age and progressing into adulthood. Many spouses or significant others of an addict become addicts themselves. 

OTHER PREDISPOSING FACTORS 

Fathers or mothers who are road race fans, collectors, or heavy leather wearers; parents who do not encourage children to play team games, read voraciously (except Rider and Motorcyclist magazines), or watch television (other than Speedvision) in the evening. 

PREVENTION 

Premarital screening and counseling, and referral to adoption agencies is urged in order to break the chain of abuse. One percenters in particular should seek partners active in other fields. Children should be encouraged to seek physical activity by joining teams, and to avoid isolation and morbid introspection. Proximity to road maps and National Geographic magazines should be restricted. Keep two-stroke oil securely locked away and out of reach. Playing cards inserted into bicycle spokes must be looked upon as a primary initial symptom, as should inadvertent twitching of the right wrist and incessant muttering of the syllables “Udden-Udden.” Children noted exhibiting a ‘thousand yard stare’ in the direction of a setting sun are likewise considered candidates for early intervention. A preference for tiny boots and multi-colored leather diapers indicates incipient ‘motorcycle madness’ and requires urgent, immediate treatment if any semblance of normality is ever to be achieved.

 So do you think you have a problem, how many of these have you answered yes to?

Always…always…have a Plan B

The other day, I asked my friend, Ara Gureghian, who has traveled around the world on a motorcycle to give me one piece of an advice and he said “Always… always… have Plan B [and for that matter C and D…]”.    Even before my trip has even begun, this has been the case.

LifePlanB

You may remember I posted awhile back, that the biggest challenge for my trip will be the added accessories such as the heated grip, heated vest or the GPS since I could not find anyone who will upgrade the TW’s stator.  I originally came up with the idea of having two batteries on the bike; one for the bike and the other one for the accessories.  The problem with that idea is how to charge the second battery while riding.  After the Horizon Unlimited event last September, another idea was presented to me with replacing the headlight which put out 55 watts to an LED light which can range from 10 to 20 watts and adding an auxiliary light for the high beams that is on a kill switch so it doesn’t draw so much power.  Then add a fuse box with kill switch to control all of the added electrical accessories and voltage meter to track it all. Well, that plan fell through as well, there a huge concern of frying the electrical system and draining the battery.  So we only were able to swap out the headlights with LED light which will allow me to run the GPS and charge one item such as a cell phone with a USB port.  However, I need to find another solution for the heated gears.

Sigh, I can deal with the 100 degree weather anytime but I’m a total wimp when it comes to cold weather.  After much brainstorming with the gentleman who worked on the electrical for me, we came up two alternative solutions.  One is that I will buy the lithium-ion battery operated heated base layer and glove liner from Venture Heat.  There are so many brands to choose from but I decided that base layer and glove liner might be the best way to go since is it smaller and lighter than the vest or jacket for storage wise.  In addition, I don’t have to carry a second set of winter gloves, I’ll just use the liner inside of my favorite winter glove.

venture-base-layer VentureGlove

Secondly, I will carry two Anti-Gravity Micro Start Personal Power Supply jump starter and battery booster. Supposedly, they will jump-start any vehicle and powers or charges any electronic devices such as iPad, cell phone, GPS and GoPro.  It will jump-start the car a couple of times on a single charge.  The reason he is suggesting two, is one for charging and the other one is for back up in case I can’t get to a place to charge the PPS units.

MicroBattery

If the heated gears do not work as well as I hope then the worst I can do is go down into Baja for the winter and avoid the US entirely.  The beauty of not having a set itinerary is that I can adjust the sail anytime I need to.

Trails, Tracks, and a Sunset, Oh My!

Today I was at a loss as to what to write about for my weekly blog post.  So instead of doing my daily exercise to get in shape for my year-long trip (oh how I wish that I had the same perseverance to do my exercise as I do riding my motorcycle, sigh), I decided to take a hike.  This is probably a good thing since I was starting to get cabin fever with all of the winds and rain we have had lately.  Now that the hills are starting to turn green I can see the various trails calling for me to check it out. So I packed my journal, iPad, a book (Freedom on Both Ends of the Leash by Ara Gureghian and Spirit), a camera, flashlight, water and headed for the trail across the street.

Halfway up the hill, I came upon so many spin-off of the main trail that I didn’t know which one to take.  Then I heard Russ tell me to follow the tracks.  This brought back fond memories of when he used to take the kids and I camping.  Once at camp, he would take us on a hike to explore the area.  He would teach the kids how to read the animal tracks.  We would follow them for hours on end to see where they would take us to.  Also, we would come upon animal dung and he would pull out the latex gloves out of his back pocket and start shifting through the dung to see what is in there.  At first the kids were totally grossed out but when he started pulling bones, seeds and rocks out of them.  They became enthralled and it became a game to find the biggest pile of dung we could find during every camp outing.  One time, they found an entire small bird skeleton in one of the pile.

IMG_0031

I finally made it to the top which sit between an area called Summit Valley and Honda Valley, I found a spot to sit while waiting for the sun to set behind Wrightwood.  I decided to pull out my journal and noticed that it has been awhile since I last wrote in it.  Ever since I have gotten my iPad, I have been writing less and less in my journal.  Anyway, as I get ready to reflect on my hike, I noticed how eerily quiet it was up here.  Even though, I live in a world of silence, I still hear a lot of background noise which sometimes can become too much for me to process.  I can’t naturally tune out sounds like an average hearing person can.  Now that it is quiet except for an occasional shriek from the crows, my other senses become more alive such as sight and smell.  It just rained the other days which washed away the smog and haze that lingers around.  The power line gives a sharp contrast to the bluest sky with cloud changing color of white, orange and red as the sun set.  I also love the smell of the desert after it rain which are due to the Creosote, the oldest living plant.  Some people think they smell like tar but I have to disagree.  Either you love it or hate it.  Anyway, back to the ground, I can now see that the flowers such as the California Poppy, Fiveneedle Pricklyleaf, and the Mojave Sage are now starting to sprout too.

Well, it is time to pack up the journal now that I’m losing daylight and want to get back down the hill before it get too dark.  Glad I did, I got to watch the moon rise over the hills behind my house as I walked back.