SMW2K Trip Report
Day 1 Ė Thursday May 18, 2000
Cool clear Thursday.† I had planned to get up at 4 am and hit the road at 5; have to be in Minden, NV by early evening.† Yeah, right!† Finished packing and loading the big Magna around 2 am, slept until 7, hit the road at 7:30.† On the way, finally, aw shite, forgot the map to Leonard's house.†
Leonard McKey, another sabmag lurker like me, has graciously offered to split a room at the St. George hotel for the weekend and even provide a meal and a bed Thursday night at his home in Minden. †Volcano is just a 90 mile hop over the pass for Friday.
7:40 am.† Second start.† Left the driveway toward Jefferson and I-5.† The saddlebags, and two backpacks are hardly noticeable, rear spring pre-load to the max, Pirelli Dragon GT radials topped off with a bit more air pressure.† MS Expedia-Streets and Trips 2000 says the quickest way to Minden is via Eugene, Klamath Falls, Susanville, and Reno.
Traffic on I-5 is heavy so I get in the left lane and follow my general rule.† I am now the second fastest on the highway.† I tag on to every cage that passes until no more are passing.† One hour straight-away to Eugene.† Just south of Eugene, glad to be out of the morning commute, I head east on route 58 to the Willamette Pass.† Quick stop for gas outside Eugene just to be safe.† 58 follows the Willamette River into the Cascades, lots of sweeping, climbing curves, traffic is light and speeds are high.† Unfortunately, after going a few miles I discover that they are laying fiber along the highway to central Oregon.† MS E-S&T didnít mention this.† Stopped four times along the route for extended minutes.† I am very glad to have read the FAQs and have installed a lower temp fanstat and a manual override switch.† Four bars† is the most I see, two bars in the cool morning air while moving.
Finally clear of construction and passing the strings of traffic that had waited ahead of me I follow a guy in a silver Lexus doing 85 over the pass.† Fine by me.† The sweepers are feeling pretty good and the guy never pulls away.† An Oregon State Police patrol vehicle (Ford Exploder) is in the right lane just over the crest of the pass, obviously doing the double nickel.† I see him before Mr. Lexus and slow way down.† The Lexus slows abruptly as brake lights go on suddenly and the body pitches forward.† This guyís toast I think to myself, Mr. OSP canít miss that in his rearview, the Lexus had approached way to fast. The guy has way more luck than me and a few miles later the LEO pulls off.† Just over two hours after leaving Eugene, three plus hours since departing home in Stayton, I reach 97 in central Oregon.†
Traffic on 97 is fairly light.† A light gray overcast above, temperatures in the low 40ís.† Mr. Lexus went north as I turn south.† I increase speed as I still need to make Minden in time for dinner.† Chemult comes up pretty quickly and I stop for gas again, just to be safe.
Back out on the highway I turn it up.† 85 to 90 seems pretty good and I begin passing traffic with alacrity, or as Iíve read on the list, with extreme prejudice.† Strings of two, three, and four cars go down.† Chip trucks, log trucks, motorhomes, campers, pickups come up and go down just as quickly.† I wish I had a radar detector as I scan the long straight highway ahead for signs of LEOs.† Time passes uneventfully as I amuse myself by dispatching anything in my lane and trying to think up a name for my Magna.† Cheetah comes to mind as I easily catch and sail by southbound traffic.† Then I think, no, this bike is too long legged and has much more stamina than a cheetah.† Iíll keep thinking about it.† Before I know it I am on the outskirts of Klamath Falls watching signs for the turnoff to Alturas while checking mileage for a gas stop.† I decide to stretch it just a bit and stop for gas in a small town, Merrill, about 20 miles south of K Falls.† If I didnít stop for gas I would have had to stop to clean off bugs anyway.† It must be spring in the northwest.† I think I can count at least two dozen insect species on my face shield although its hard to tell in the liquid condition most become.
Just before the California border I pass another OSP with radar scanning northbound traffic trying to catch some out of state money.† Rt. 39 and 139 to Alturas takes me up into the mountains out of the central Oregon desert and Klamath valley.† US Forest Service land and long straight roads with very light traffic.† Occasionally I get to have a little fun on fast rising and dropping sweepers, but otherwise the road is pretty straight.† I find that overdrive, sixth gear, is best used at speeds above 75.† I keep my rpm in the 4000-6000 range, charging the battery (I hope) and keeping the oil pressure up.† Anything below 75 and 4th or 5th gear is just fine.† Time passes and soon the turn off for Alturas appears.† Left to Alturas, right to the mountains and Susanville.† Iíve been both ways in the past and go left as I figure gas is more available through Alturas.
15 miles later and I follow a CHP into Alturas.† Checking mileage I see that I have gas for a few more miles and head out of town on 395 south bound for Susanville.† About 26 miles later I stop in Likely, CA. for gas, lunch and a drink.† Linda has packed me some sandwiches and I wash a couple down with a pepsi and also eat the orange she packed.† My ass is just beginning to feel like it may be getting sore so I stretch and walk around a bit while I give Linda a call.† Somewhere between here and Oregon the overcast has burned off and it is clear and sunny, downright warm when you arenít flying down the pavement.† The bugs are still plentiful and each stop sees a complete wash of the helmet face shield.† Iíve never really liked windshields, but they are looking better now.†
Itís right around 1pm and Iíve been on the road about 5 and a half hours.
After about 30 minutes of down time lunch is over and Iím ready to hit the road again.† Now 395 south of Alturas is nothing if it isnít straight.† Linda and I once cruised it northbound in a Nissan Sentra at 105 on a return trip from Las Vegas.† Leaving Likely I wick it up a bit more and cruise at 95+.† Traffic today is even lighter than before.† Bugs however, are not lighter and only a few miles are enjoyed with full visibility.
High speed cruising is great and the Magna is chewing up and spitting out the miles quickly.†† Spying another CHP with his lights dueling the sun for visibility around a big downhill sweeper I slow and pass the poor, hot, cage driver receiving a ticket.† I resume the cruise and only slow down again as the swooping downhill sweepers start outside Susanville.† I slow a bit more as there is a county road shortcut, A3, if I recall correctly, that completely bypasses Susanville around the end of Honey Lake.† I look closely for it; I donít want to miss it again!
Ah-h, there it is.† I make my left and have saved a good 30 minutes.† Now start looking for gas.
395 south of Susanville is almost as arrow straight as north of Susanville except the altitude is lower and its downright hot.† A quick gas stop, pour in a couple bottles of water, and I should be good the rest of the way.† Traffic gets heavier as I get to the outskirts of Reno and the temp. even hotter.† Its just about 3:30 in the afternoon as I get in closer and the traffic gets more fierce.† I had not expected this.† Planning put me into Reno ahead of any rush hour, but shit, what is this'† Damn near bumper to bumper and in the heat I am just about choking on dust and exhaust.† At the moment this isnít fun.
Leonard has given me good directions and I just stay south on 395 toward Carson City.† Soon, 395 limited access, divided highway, gives way to strip malls, traffic signals, and side streets.† My last trip to Las Vegas we went around Reno to Fallon and Rt. 95.† Reno and surrounding area has grown.† Maybe Iíve lived in the rural west too long but I was amazed how far south the traffic went.† I was nearly in Minden before it let up.
4:30pm.† Iím in the right town.† Just need to find Leonardís house and take a load off.† Since I might be a hair early I ride around town and scope the layout.† I find the turnoff for Leonardís neighborhood and run back into town to gas up so I wonít have to stop in the morning.† Back to Leonardís, pull in the driveway, climb off, stiffly, and here comes someone whoís recognized the distinctive V4 sound.† 600 miles, tired and a little sore, but canít wait for the ride tomorrow over the mountains to Volcano.