The 300 Mile Solution

Problem:

Solution:

I suppose there are lots of solutions, but I kind of liked the one I picked. The bike, for those who don’t know, is the new BMW K1200 LT. If you don’t know what it looks like go to http://www.snafu.org/pics/k12lt/ and take a look.

Anyway, I left the house a little after 10 AM – there was a short delay to make sure the CD changer was loaded with fresh CDs. The goal was to be back around five with 300 more miles on the bike. I didn’t have an exact route planned, but a general idea of the roads I wanted to hit. Sub-goals were lots of twisties at the beginning, with no long freeway stretches until the end of the ride when it came time to come home.

Oops… one more delay. I first headed to the local shoe repair to pick up my boots. I was hoping to have some kind flap added to cover the hook-eyes that gouge things like motorcycle seats when I’m too lazy to pick my leg up all the way. No dice. I’ve not given up, though. Mitsuko and I thought of a different modification. I like these boots and am not going to replace them.

On to the road. Started on 92 heading west. Turned south on 35. Skyline is wonderful on a weekday morning. No traffic at all. The temperature did dip to around 50. As I was wearing my summer gloves I turned the grips on. Much better. I’d left the house with out filling up in part to see when the “low fuel” indicator illuminates and also to see what the range is. The trip computer says the range is around 280 miles – I don’t know if I should believe it yet.

There were two or three bikes at Alice’s. I waved as I passed. Continued south on 35 to 9 where I headed west. It’s been quite a while since I was on that stretch of road. One truck in front of me and he pulled over to let me pass. The temperature had risen to the low 60s along the way; the grips were turned off. Again, no traffic until the Boulder Creek area.

At Felton I turned onto the Felton Empire Grade which snakes through some dark redwoods up to the Empire Grade. I turned onto the Empire Grade and rode it into Santa Cruz, where I stopped for gas just before turning onto highway 1. The low fuel indicator wasn’t on, yet, but it had been 210 miles since last fill up and the gas gauge was heading toward the red warning area.

Once gassed up it was south on 1 until Watsonville where I took 152 east over Hecker pass. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the road so empty. It was great! I jumped off of 152 and onto 101 for a few miles before heading south on 25. Lunch was on my mind. I continued in to Hollister where I stopped at the Cozy Cup Cafe on Forth.

While I was eating lunch the owner and his wife were drooling over the new bike. They currently have a year old R11RT, I believe. From their comments it wouldn’t surprise me if they headed up to Cal BMW for a test ride after closing the Cafe at 3 PM. I’ll try to remember to ask what their current machine is next time I stop in.

Highway 25 south of Hollister is in very good condition. There were very few places with rough road/potholes. All were quite evident and easily avoidable. The only problem with highway 25 is what it does to my right wrist. According to the book I’m supposed to keep the RPMs under 4000 for the first 600 miles. That’s just over 90 MPH in 5th (don’t ask me how I know). On 25 I keep trying to twist the right wrist farther than that!

I didn’t go to the end of 25, but took the Bitterwater cut-off to King City. Nice road. It terminates at First (I think) where I turned left for a few blocks to Broadway. I was ready for a stop and there was a convenience store on the corner at Broadway. Time to stretch my legs and grab something to drink.

Decisions, decisions. The odometer reads 487, I’m over 100 miles from home, and it’s 3PM. Guess it’s time for that long freeway stretch. Well, I can make this a test of general comfort: can I make it all the way without a rest stop. I normally like to stop every 60-90 minutes. This will be at least 2 hours coming after 200 miles (and 5 hours) of riding. I pull the scarf and winter gloves out because I expect it to get cooler later in the afternoon. Time to go.

I like cruise control. Once on 101 I got it up to about 72 and enabled the cruise control. Then at Greenfield I had thoughts about Carmel Valley road… nope. Maybe next time. Back on cruise control and continue up 101. Things go smoothly until traffic comes to an almost halt just south of Gilroy.

Apparently there’s been an injury/accident and all traffic has been funneled into one lane to get by. I’ve got 2-3 miles of lane splitting before I get to the one lane portion. Lane splitting? Yep. The new bike seems quite wide. The mirrors, like my old bike, are the widest part. I just looked at the mirrors and split where I could fit, wait where I couldn’t. I don’t think there was any difference between this bike and my previous bike.

From 101 I took 85, then from 85, 280. About 15 miles from home I noticed the low fuel indicator. Wow! The odometer read 242 miles. The trip computer says I’ve averaged 45 MPG and my remaining range is 39 miles. That fits with the specs that says the indicator comes on with 1.1 gallon left. The fuel gauge needle is just on the red. There’s a gas station around the corner from my house. I’ll get gas there. Strange coincidence, though… the last CD in the changer finishes playing just about the same time. What does it mean?

From King City to the gas station by my house is about 130 miles. By the time I’m home the odometer reads 620. The last leg took 2 hours and 15 minutes, a bit longer than normal due to the slowdown before Gilroy. The knees are a bit sore, but I’d be ready to get back on the bike and do some more if necessary.

Let it rain tomorrow. I’m ready for my Friday service.