Two Guys on Two R65's

Bay Area to the Sierras

Russ and I leave on a clear morning in August. The Beemers are loaded to the gills, and we are psyched to go. We have just been to a party the night before, but we take it easy there, and are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. We take off up Lawrence Expressway, and then up to Milpitas on 237. We are finally getting out of the Bay Area.

Russ has worked out most of the major details of the trip, so I start as being a very interested bystander. We take all backroads to Stockton, including one levee road that has settled quite a number of times, and it is just like a rollercoaster. When we get there we look for a place to eat some food. We find a dumpy little donut shop on Charter way, the road that used to be the main drag through Stockton before I-5 was finished. The donuts and coffee are fair, but filling. Then, on the way out of Stockton, we see a couple of other guys on bikes eating somewhere else on Charter. We wave and then proceed to promptly get lost trying to find Highway 4 out to the Sierras. When we finally find it we are winging our way towards the foothills.

Highway 4 has about a hundred different personalities. As you get closer and closer to the foothills the road, although straight, goes up and down. This makes passing difficult, because you don't want to go when you get a chance because the next hill might hide another car. We pass anyway. There's one section that turns from about 70+ curvy road into 45-60 tight stuff. Russ doesn't slow down much, so I catch up with him in the next town, where he has a TB (Tiny Bladder) attack. We get gas and take off towards the mountains.

This is the point where 4 turns into Switzerland or something. We are going well over 80 through these sweeping turns in the mountains. There is plenty of space to see, and not many cars or campers. Of course, when we get to the summit near Alpine Lake, Russ has to stop again. As we are taking care of business, a Beemer goes by, and it's one of the guys we saw in Stockton! We get back on the road, and finally get past this guy (he's going real slow) and finish our descent from the Sierras.


After all the trees of the west side of the Sierras, the barreness of the east side is quite a contrast. We stop at another summit to take a picture after Russ makes a really daring pass on this guy with a Porsche that likes to go real slow through the corners. There's nothing out there but little bushes and boulders. Then it's about a hundred hairpins down to the bottom of the mountains and then a jog and then we are in Nevada.

We eat lunch in an inn in Wellington, and then it's off to conquer the desert. We head out to intercept highway 50 via alt95 and as we come onto 95 we see a straight road heading off to infinity. The speed mounts. Pretty soon we are doing well over 100 miles per hour. The sensation of speed only exists in the noise in my helmet and the ground passing beneath. The scenery does not seem to move any faster. There is a lot of flat area, punctuated by large mountains. The road goes in a straight line for quite a few miles, and then there is a very small curve sign, and the road curves a very small amount, like a freeway curve. Even at 100 mph! It's open range land, too, but the cows can be seen from quite a few miles away.

We come to the junction of 95 and 50 and I pull off the road to talk about the speeds we're traveling and as I pull off onto the gravel shoulder I apply the front brake. At this point I realize this is probably not a great idea considering the looseness of the surface I am on. Alas, it is too late. I am going about zero miles per hour but the locked up front wheel gives out and I fall down. Russ is right there with a camera, laughing his head off. It is funny, but I don't feel that way at that moment. We sit around for a while and take off towards the north, but at slower speeds. We continue like this for the better part of an hour, and then my bike stumbles. Hmm, I think, time to go on reserve. The nearest town is called Fallon, and I am sure I can make it on this tank. I slow down and get down on the tank and just as we are rolling into town, the engine quits. Fortunately there is a gas station right there, so I paddle in and we both tank up to synchronize our gas stops.

Fallon is where we are to pick up highway 50, and off we go. We are trying to make Austin tonight, and we still have a hundred miles to go. We take up our warp speeds again. We try switching bikes, because mine is getting a slow wobble around 100 and I want to see if Russ's bike does it, too. Well, when I ride Russ's bike, it does it, but when he rides mine, mine doesn't. It's me, or something. He never has any high speed wobble problems. We figure it's my own personal ærodynamics that are causing the problem. One thing is, it's getting real hot. And I find that about midway through the afternoon, my seat gets hard. Real hard. Russ is gloating because he has a 2.5" foam pad on his seat. He's comfortable. I have a pad, too, but I don't think it makes a very good saddle, so I don't use it. It's too tall and mushy. So I'm riding along trying to find some sort of comfortable position, which is nearly impossible because they are all gone. I try putting my feet out towards the back, try to drape them over the passenger pegs, but the saddle bags are in the way, and the best I can do is precariously place my calf on the peg so the toes of my boots are about a half-inch from the ground. The benefit is that air blows down my boots. It's not cold air, but it's better than nothing. My brand new size 10 boots are too tight still and my feet are in intense pain, my injury to my toe from crashing wearing tennies a year before is throbbing exceptionally.

We make up for this by going fast. We are in a place in Nevada where no one goes, I think. Nothing out here but cows and bushes and a two lane blacktop. Russ and I are riding like Road Warriors, right on the center line. It is dusk and we have arrived in Austin, Nevada.

We drive through Austin, and it is a real dump. Half the buildings look like they should be demolished. We decide to ride through and find the park nearby. There is a pass between the town and the park. Up, up, up, and then down, down, down. We have our choice of two spots. We pick one, set up our tents and head back down to town for dinner.

We eat at a place called something like the Country Store. They have a reasonable selection of food, none of it exceptional, but all of it filling. As we eat, a couple of motorcyclists come in, and they turn out to be the guys from Stockton. We beat them to town by 3 hours! As it turns out, they don't have a place to stay yet, so we offer to share our campsite with them. Russ and I pick up a sixpack and head back. We've had a little wine, though, and when we get to the top of the pass, a stop to read a sign turns into a few blown attempts to lay scratch in the gravel of a large lot. We get smart and head back to the campsite. We spend a few hours talking to Chuck and Jim, who are both from the Bay Area. The one with the Beemer has all his stuff tied onto the bike with one nylon strap, and none of it is waterproofed! After we all decide we are tired and go to bed, these two, who are both fat, keep making jokes to each other as they both try to squeeze into a tiny one-and-a-half man tent. They giggle and giggle and after they finally fall asleep, one of them makes snoring sounds that are more like a Harley-Davidson starting up.

We make it through our first night, say good by to Jim and Chuck, and head off for breakfast. We make the 50 miles to Eureka in less than half an hour, again cruising at very high, illegal, rates of speed. Now, don't get me wrong. This 100 mph stuff is not especially comfortable on a fully loaded Beemer. We only do it for short amounts of time. It just becomes sort of a matter of fact way to cover the distance from the spot we are at, over the flat space in front of us, to the horizon. After we get breakfast, we continue our speeding until Russ all of a sudden slows down to talk to me. Now, we have been having a problem all trip. Whenever we need to communicate, we slow down and try to yell at each other with our helmets on. I can tell by his reaction that Russ can hear what I am saying, but I'll be damned if I can ever hear Russ! I can see him yelling in his helmet, but I can't hear anything. So we slow down, and I find out that he wants to wait here and see what I look like, and sound like, when I go by at 100 mph! I say, you are nuts, and then I go about a mile and a half down the road, and zoom by. I see Russ take a picture (he takes pictures of everything, but only if he is in the foreground), and I decide I want to see what he looks like going by. Beemers aren't very loud, so it isn't that impressive, except that we know how fast it is.

We are near some sort of mine, and in a half hour, two trucks have gone by in the other direction. We haven't passed any cars since yesterday sometime. This is about as far away from anything as you can get, so we don't even feel especially dangerous doing what we are doing. We are heading towards Idaho now, and we see more mesas and mountains. We eat in Mountain City near the border and ask which time zone we are in. It appears to be a fairly negotiable thing in these parts, as it depends on which time zone your friends are in. Then we spend the rest of the day crossing Idaho plains and getting hot again. It really is agony again, and we wonder if it will ever get cold. We aren't even going fast anymore!

Camper Hunting in Idaho

Finally, we get to Boise. We buy gas and get on a little road going up the Payette river. The road is full of nothing but campers coming the other way, and slow old people going our way for us to go around. I remember it is Sunday evening, and that helps explain the problem. The road also seems to be completely under extensive reconstruction, so if we aren't dodging campers and old people, we are skittering over huge cracks in the pavement, and long gravel patches. Once again my butt is hurting, but it is starting to cool off at least. We arrive at McCall, eat dinner, pitch a tent or two at the Ponderosa State Park, and take a shower! It is our first in two days.

The next day, rested and refreshed, we take off up the road. We stop at a roadside café, called the Sportsman, or something. This guy comes out in fatigues, and Russ tells me later he stinks. We get our usual cholesterol laden breakfast for about $4 apiece and hit the trail. The Lewis and Clark Trail, that is. By midday we arrive in Missoula, Montana. Russ is worrying about his rear tire, though, and we stop at a BMW dealer there to check on getting a new one. While we wait, we talk to the proprietor, who used to live in San Jose. We tease him about not being able to ride his bike in the winter there when it is -40° out. We look at the batteries. Russ is a little worried about his because it has been dying at home when he doesn't ride it for a while, but he passes up the chance to buy a new one.

Glacier National Park

A few hours and a hamburger later, we are at Glacier National Park. We find a good campground and go eat a pizza at a kind of a bar type place. We find good tunes on the jukebox and stumble back to the tents. The next morning after breakfast, Russ's bike won't start. We push and push and push and finally it goes. I also notice that my headlight is broken. It still works, only the lens has been fatally injured by some construction byproducts. So while Russ pushes, I am calling Kallispel, Montana, and Calgary, Alberta. Motospezial in Cochrane, outside Calgary has the right headlight. We decide to spend the day at the park and do a day hike. Mr. Stud Kackley is in great shape and he has to wait for Fat Bob (not the Harley) during the climb to the top of Apgar peak. The climb is worth it. The view of all the peaks and Lake Macdonald is breathtaking. We hike back down, and decide to go jacketless to the nearest eatery to get copious quanties of liquid refreshment. I also drive my bike through mud-puddles. We spend the rest of the day driving through the park to the other side. A beautiful place it is! We drink beer and play Pole Position in a bar with real Indians. We wonder if they are happy being in a reservation. There is an incredible moonrise, and we can hear our neighbors' Harleys many miles away.

The next morning we are treated to quite a number of views. The first is the incredible rock formations cut by the glaciers around us. The second is the wonderfully wholesome Montana girl waitress we have at the St. Mary cafe. The breakfast is just as good, and we head off to Canada.


When we get to the border, after dodging open range cattle, the Customs man waves us off to an inspection area, goes through our saddle bags and pronounces us fit vistors for Canada. We are constantly bombarded by signs explaining the metric system, and the fact that radar detectors are illegal in Alberta. The first town we get to, the sign outside says 50 km/h (35 mph). Russ doesn't have metric on his speedo, so he waves me ahead. We stop in Fort Macleod for funny money. We head on towards Calgary, across the plains. The Rockies gradually move away from us, and we are bored by the monotony of the road which is labeled 50 km/h for miles because of construction gravel. We get to Calgary, snack, buy gas and head off to Cochrane.

When we get to Cochrane, we haven't a clue as to where this Motospezial place is, so being guys, we just drive all over this dumb little town looking for it. We finally, miraculously, stumble across it down some alley, and the guy does seem to have the headlight. I take it outside to the bike, and guess what? It's too small. The guy, who's name is ??, rummages around and finds some ancient beemer headlight, somewhat yellowed, that fits. He doesn't, however, have a battery for Russ's bike. This dooms us to a few more days of push starting and jump starting his bike.

We find a diner, a real family place, and pig out. It's time to head off to the Rockies.

(to be continued...)

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This page created and modified monthly or hourly by Bob R. Kenyon ©1999