Memorial Day Ride - Pescadero

I took off on the bike Saturday with the basics of a route in mind and then just wandered around the hills until I made it to the ocean. Since it's Memorial Day weekend, I was a little worried about traffic, but apparently the route I took was treacherous enough to keep the majority of vacationers away. I spent the majority of my time switching between 2nd and 3rd gear, and when you're riding a moto geared as a dirt bike, that means you're cruising along at about 15-25 mph. The turns were extremely sharp, and the roads narrow. It gave me a great opportunity to practice my vanishing point technique. Here's the route I used on the way out to the Pacific:

Despite what the time estimation says, I was on the road for over 5 hours after everything was said and done. Although that included a couple "wrong turns" (I use the term loosely because I wasn't really going anywhere to begin with) and some time at the beach.

When I finally made it to the ocean, I wound up at Pescadero State Beach. It's a decent distance south of Half Moon Bay, which is one of two extremely busy South Bay beach destination (the other being Santa Cruz). I never encountered any sort of crowd at any point on the ride, so that was a relief. I parked the bike and snapped a couple pictures with my phone (sorry for the poor quality).

There was a group of sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks down by the water, so of course I had to get some pictures of them. I had to descend a sheer wall of loose gravel and dirt in my full riding gear (sans helmet), so that was a little interesting, but well worth the effort. I just wish I had grabbed the camera before taking off.

On the way back into the hills, I stopped at Pescadero to fuel up and wandered into a small grocery store. They had an interesting selection of fresh "mostly baked" breads, so I picked up some cinnamon English muffins and a loaf of cranberry walnut sourdough.


Lick Observatory

Today I took the DRZ out for a pretty nice ride up Mt. Hamilton to the Lick Mill Observatory. It's about a 20 mile trek up the hills after passing through downtown San Jose. It's fun to go from tight urban streets to wide open twisties all in the matter of 3-4 miles.

As you can probably tell from the number of bikes in the picture of the observatory, it's a pretty popular destination for weekend motorcyclists. It's pretty easy to see why if you take a look at those curves leading up to the observatory. The road actually continues on inland for another ~50 miles before the nearest civilization. Some day I'll have to continue East, but for now that's really pushing my luck as far as fuel range. I'm intending to replace my stock gas tank (1.6 gallons = ~80 mile range) with a 4 gallon tank. Whenever I decide to pick that up, I'll definitely make a day trip heading up and over the hills.

I sneaked around to the back of the observatory for a more pristine wilderness view. I parked the bike on the edge to take some pictures, and then walked away for a minute to send a text message to a friend. Apparently, I placed it right in the way of some woman's snack-time view. She told me to move it in a fairly demanding tone. I asked if I heard a 'please' in there, she rephrased and I happily moved it to a parking spot so I could finish my text.

Overall a great ride. It was my first long ride with my new boots and riding pants. I was a little nervous about my choice of boots because they were really tight and restrictive on the first couple short rides I took last weekend. However, I made a point to wear them to work several times, and they loosened up quite nicely. They felt natural and comfortable on the ride today.

I've done a few modifications to the bike on my own thus far. First, I put on the handle guards. They provide a wind-break for my fingers as well as block insects. But most importantly, they'll protect my clutch/brake levers from snapping off should the bike ever fall over... moving or otherwise. I found a freee replacement baffle for the muffler and replaced the airbox. The guy that owned the bike before me cut a huge hole in the airbox, which allowed a huge surplus of air into the carburetor. This made the bike run like crap. So a quick fix was to reduce exhaust flow restriction by tossing away the baffle off the end of the muffler. So I was left with a loud bike that ran semi-crappy. Everything works very well together now, and I'm extremely happy with the bike.


My Motard

A few weeks back I got my California Class M license. Initially the intention was simply to rent a bike with my dad while on vacation in Maui (side note : I've been meaning to put some pictures Maui up, but still haven't gotten around to it). Anyway, I've been shopping around for starter bikes now for about a month. I looked at a couple over the past couple days and even rode a few.

Everything I looked at or rode all pointed to a particular bike... the Suzuki DR-Z400, a 400cc dual-sport bike (dual-sport means it's a street-legal dirt bike). As I started looking around at these bikes, I kept hearing about popular modifications people do to them in order to make them better on the pavement. Basically once you take a dirt bike a put smaller slick tires on it and change the rear sprocket so that it will go highway speeds comfortably, you have just created a "Super Moto" or a "Motard" bike. Companies like Kawasaki, Suzuki and KTM have all observed the demand for this Motard class of bikes and started offering them as stock bikes.

As I looked around, the Motards really intrigued me, even if I had to do the modifications myself. As it turned out, I found a really nice bike for a price I was willing to pay. I ended up buying a 2008 DR-Z400 SM... a stock Super Moto.


I've been out riding it for a few hours and the thing is a blast. Plenty of power for my uses, and actually rides comfortably on the freeway. Although, 65 mph starts to wind the engine a little tight. I can't wait to get it out on the hills for some swervy roads.


Mission Peak -- First Hike of 2010

Andrea is currently down in Mexico getting her visa and loan paperwork in line for Foothill College. So I've been "bach'in it" for the past couple weeks. We finally had a break in the rain today, so I dragged Moose on a hike up to Mission Peak in Fremont (ironically, he was the one doing most of the dragging once we got on the trail). Andrea and I had been on the Mission Peak trail before with Moose, but the weather was poor and we didn't make it to the top. It's basically a trail through an enormous cow pasture all the way to a peak at the top of the East side of Silicon Valley.

Dogs are allowed off-leash anywhere along the Mission Peak trail. Which left plenty of opportunity for one of Moose's favorite activities... eating cow crap! At the bottom, he was running around completely berserk because of being pent up due to rain, but we quickly knocked most of the wind out of his sails as we started up our 2,300 foot elevation-gain. A couple petted him somewhere about half-way up, and he thought that was a good time to sprint in 50' circles. The guy said something to the effect of "I knew labs were high-energy, but damn!". Damn indeed sir! Around that point, I stopped for a breather and took some pictures of the bay & valley.

The keen observer will probably notice several hang-gliders and para-gliders in these pictures. Well it turns out, there was a swarm of them all over today. They were launching from about 3/4 of the way up the trail and floating around all day. I counted 10 in the air at one point while snapping these pictures.

As we neared the top, the terrain got fairly harsh. The grade increased and the trail became a sort of hop-scotch over boulders. There was a herd of cattle grazing in this area, and Moose was captivated by them. I thought he would just like to go up and smell one... because that's sorta what he does to everything. Turned out he had a less tactful approach in mind. He started yapping at one of the calves... which, of course, pissed off the herd. 60 lb. lab vs. a gang of half-ton cows doesn't seem like a winning situation. I grabbed his choker and hurried him the hell away from the cows and all was well.

Once we got to the top, we sat around for a bit so I could catch my breath and take some pictures. The temperature seemed to drop 20 degrees up there (probably from the wind) so we didn't spend to much time on the peak.

While leaving the summit, I saw several hang-gliders practically buzzing the people on the top ridge. So I snapped a few pictures of them flying nearby. They were actually close enough that it was difficult to frame them on the camera, but I got a couple keepers. The last two are pictures of the hang-gliding camp (well below us at the time) and then people packing up their gliders back at the bottom of the trail.

After the hike, I was beat... not to mention hungry beyond comprehension. But Moose was filthy from running around in the mud and eating crap for the three hours we were on the trail. So I bathed him and to my amazement, he was still wired! His burst of energy was short-lived, however, and I was finally treated to some peace...


New Couch

Per request, here's a picture of the new couch I picked up about 2 weeks ago. I started off browsing Craig's List for used couches, and then ended up finding a new couch for almost the same price I would have spent on a used one. The free delivery and disposal of my broken Futon sorta sealed the deal. As you can see it's brown leather, and very comfy. I may go back to this store and pick up a bed frame at some point.


Pointless Moose Videos

One week straight of rain, preventing Moose from going out for his daily runs in the park, results in a lot of pent-up energy. I discovered a little while back that he gets nuts whenever I blow on his nose. So of course I take the chance to mess with him as often as possible. Here's a video of Moose and me break-dance fighting.

This one's a little older, but for those of you without facebook...

Andrea was watching a show on Animal Planet profiling unusual pet products. One of them was a special cat door that recognizes a chip that gets implanted under the skin. The door then only unlocks itself when your cat tries to push through. Moose took interest in the cats onscreen... but when they showed a close-up of a cat coming through a pet-door, he lost it.

Finally, Andrea bought some shoes. When we got home with them, Moose took and instant liking to the box.


Moose Goes to the Beach

Andrea has been back here in California staying with me for the month of November. She had been trying to convince me to take Moose swimming since probably the start of summer. I always shot the idea down because we had no good way of transporting him to and from without making a total mess of my car. Well, thanks to Mom and Dad for picking out a collapsible dog kennel that fits snuggly in back seat... and thereby removing my excuse.

Some friends had described a beach near Halfmoon Bay to Andrea a while back. A beach where dogs can run off-leash (sort of a rare beach to find). So we set out on Saturday to get Moose his first experience with the ocean. We even convinced our friend, Samara, to bring her dogs along as well.

As we were driving out to the coast, the weather wasn't looking very hospitable. In fact, it was raining for most the drive. But as we arrived the rain let up and eventually the sun came out and everything worked out rather well.

Moose was more or less content to run around in the sand and did some splashing around in the water, but he wasn't enthusiastic about actual 'swimming'. He certainly got more comfortable with the water as the day progressed, but it may have had more to do with the tide going out and him being able to touch bottom.

Samara's dogs (Charlie & Sophie, the 2 Boston Terriers in the pictures) were either scared of the water, or too chilled to the bone to even think about going all the way in. It looked like they still enjoyed themselves. They had a game where they would wait for Moose at the edge of the water any time he went out to fetch a toy. When he got back with it, they'd take off like a shot thinking Moose would follow.

There were also a number of other dogs that came up at various points. One especially lively Pointer mix started wrestling with Moose and then tried to coax him way out into the ocean. He thought she was a lot of fun until that point.

Sophie, the one with the black face, is an extremely enthusiastic digger. She always gets scolded when she tried it at the school, but this is the beach! Samara let her try and dig to China. Moose was there for moral support, and Charlie tried to help out but just seemed to end up with sand on his face from standing behind Sophie.

Here are some final shots of when the tide started really going out and the sun came out. By this point, Moose would chase pretty much anything I could throw out into the water because it was shallow enough for him to bounce off the bottom.

Overall it was a big success. We spent 2-3 hours at the beach, then left the dogs in the cars to pass out as we got some lunch. Then of course it was back home for mandatory bath time. We'll have to do this again and see if Moose can actually learn the doggie paddle.