It's been a few weeks since I've really ridden the BMW. We've had some awful weather lately: winds, rain, flooded roads. With this weekend shaping up to be nice, Tony and I made plans with Sean (Thirdwaver) and Jesse (QuickNinja) to do a good long ride and then retire to Sean's house in Livermore for a Canada trip planning session. (eh?)
The plan was to do a run down 25 to 198 and get lunch at Harris Ranch before heading back the same way. There are a few other roads in that area that are normally options in the summer, but they tend to have water crossings after big storms, so we didn't want to risk them.
Sean was having someone come over early Saturday morning to replace the windshield on his car, so we knew we'd be getting a somewhat late start. I'd pushed for a meet-up around 9:30, but we ended up aiming for 10am at a gas station at Tully Rd and 101. Tony also called a couple of other friends Friday night and Robert (Squidhunter) was available.
We ended up meeting at the gas station around 10:30 and thus made it to Hollister around 11:30 for a quick Starbucks break.
Heading down 25 I was initially concerned by several areas of dry mud across the road and frequent wet pavement. Tony, in the lead, notched down the pace to a level that was fun, but conservative in response to uncertain road conditions. Tony (F4i), followed by Robert (SV650) and Jesse (YZF600R) on their sportbikes tended to pull away slightly in the curves from Sean (ST1300) and I, but we generally had no problem catching up in the straights.
The traffic situation on 25, as usual, was nil. We caught up with a few cars, but they usually courteously pulled over or just kept to the side on long straights. There were a few cases where the lead bikes "cleared out their exhausts" on the deserted straightaways, which always bothers me slightly, but I didn't really mind testing out the newly broken in R12ST on what really is one of the safest roads in the area to do so.
We stopped for a quick break at the intersection of 25 and 198. Robert had to be at work by 5, so he went west to 101 from there to slab back home. We headed east into roller coaster country. Sean and Jesse had never been on this part of 198. When Sean mentioned this over the radio, I replied with "Well, you're in for a treat." A second later, Tony said the same thing. (Great minds, eh?) Sean's response: "Guess I'm in for a treat!"
Being a more heavily traveled road, 198 was pretty clean so we felt comfortable wicking it up. Tony had mounted his new camera on the bike to try to get some videos of the road so we had to stop a few times for him to fiddle with it. We'll have to do some more experimentation because his fresh batteries kept dying.
The R12ST was really handling great. I've pretty much gotten comfortable thrashing it and no longer am consumed by terror of dropping my $17k purchase. I spent much of the day in 2nd and 3rd gear, shifting when I noticed myself hanging out too close to redline. Others have said that the 1200 engine loves to rev, and I have to agree. The redline sneaks up on you with no indication of trouble. I also love it's stability in big sweepers. I'd always had somewhat of a head-case in high speed sweepers on my YZF but am now able to relax and enjoy them.
We finally got to Harris Ranch around 2:30 and were seated after a 5-minute wait. It was pretty empty in there and we got our food quickly. Yummy as always.
We finally got going again just a little after 4pm. We knew we didn't have much light left, so we wanted to get as far as possible before it got too dark.
Getting back into the hills, we were following a few cars going VERY slow. We took advantage of a few passing lanes and got ahead of them. At first I was concerned that one of the cars that had passed the slow leader was going to be on my tail through the twisties, but I pulled away from him a few turns later.
About 10 minutes later I saw a white pickup coming up on my rearview. I radioed ahead to Tony asking if we should let him pass. As a group we pulled slightly to the side so he could get by us all at once. Sometimes it's really nice being in communication with the entire group. The truck disappeared quickly with Sean wondering aloud if we were going to come up on him in a ditch.
With the light starting to fail, we came up on the 25/198 intersection. Without even hesitating, Tony led us right past the turn-off. At that point, it was safer just to get to 101 and slab back home than to face 60 miles of deer-hunting in narrow twisties in the dark.
I had been running my Quest2 GPS all day in passive mode, letting it show me the turns up ahead. Once I knew we were on our way home via 101, I pressed and held the "find" button, which is set to automatically navigate home. Without stopping to fiddle, I was able to tell that we were 120 miles from home and approximately what time we'd get there. I love my gps. So flexible and easy to use.
The ride back was uneventful. Tony got to try out his new Widder electric vest. Mmm warmth. (Yeah, I had mine running too.) We got home around 7:30, changed, fed the pets, and got in the car for a quick ride up to Sean's house in Livermore. We got the route set for the Canada trip and then headed home for some needed sleep.
It was good to get a ride in. I'd been jonesing for a few weeks and today was definitely worth waiting for. It was around 330 miles for the day.
My only ongoing gripe is the oil consumption I'm seeing with the ST. Since the 600 mile service I've added a full quart of oil (bought from the BMW dealer). Tony helped me toss the ST up on the centerstand when we got home from the ride today. It's gonna need more oil again. Guess I'll try to pick up some tuesday on the way to the BARF 'Bux meet. Maybe 2-3 bottles this time instead of just one. From what I've heard, oil consumption is normal for BMW boxers during the first several (10?) thousand miles as the engine hard parts break in. It's strange and kinda annoying considering I've never had a vehicle that burned this much oil in so short a time. A "quirk" I'll get used to, I'm sure.
Of course, after a full Saturday of riding, Sunday morning Tony and I got on the bicycles for a 17 mile ride up the Los Gatos Creek Bike path. Ooh, my butt hurts. From my bicycle seat, not the ST.