23 July 2011

Another Rafting Trip - And a Bike Tour

After we were rafting on the American River and having a really good time in Mai, we took the offer of another rafting trip shortly after. This time it was on the Merced River which wasn't as high last weekend (June 16th) as it had been two weeks before. Still it was a lot of fun in Class IV rapids and some calmer areas.

Again we were lucky, getting a really good guide with lots of experience who also did a lot of fun maneuvers like bumping against a rock, getting into a "hole" and just sitting there, skating over rocks and so on. In my opinion, this was our best rafting trip so far. It won't be our last one, though ...

But, back to the whole trip which started on Friday afternoon.

This time we travelled by bike - Friday afternoon / evening from Sunnyvale to Merced (click on the image for a larger version):

Sunnyvale to Merced

We decided to take the scenic route - over Mount Hamilton. It took quite a bit longer, but it was lots and lots of fun.

Joseph D. Grant County Park

A great bike for a great ride

We arrived in Merced around eight in the evening and were both happy to finally be in the Motel room. It was a day of work, then a 200km ride on partially very challenging and twisty roads. Mount Hamilton Road and from Mount Hamilton to Patterson is really, really curvy. The two GSs were awesome for this kind of terrain. Upright sitting position, great handling, light steering and very sure footed on the sometimes dirty and sandy road.

During the trip, Gina met a nice milestone:

4444 miles on Gina

Of course not all miles are added by Andrea - but we've been riding quite a bit in the last months.

After a not so good night due to lots and lots of noise, loud neighbors, a nearby train line, and other noise, we headed out for our rafting trip on Saturday morning. As we wanted to have a good breakfast and a not too long ride, we took the direct way to Midpines:

Morning Ride to Midpines

Unfortunately, we didn't get any photos from rafting this time.

Saturday evening we took the little bit longer, but definitely nicer way back to the Motel:

Evening Ride back to Merced

Back at the motel, we were pretty much done. About 170km on the motorcycles, a few hours rafting, it was a hot and long day. Went out to get some food but couldn't find anything in Merced that looked even halfway decent so we decided to get some snacks and a bottle of Corona at a "7 Eleven" and head back to the Motel. This night we definitely slept better ...

Sunday morning, after some planning, we had the route set: East to 49, North on 49, back west on 132, South to Patterson, Mt. Hamilton, Home. Long, but awesome.

Long Way Home

Awesome Views along the Way

Not Sitting on the Road this Time

Small bike? Nope ...

It definitely isn't small (and light) when you let it drop and have to get it back up and then fix some of the bent parts:

Taking the Valve Cover Guard off
What happened? We did a u-turn on the road and Andrea got stuck in a hollow, I stopped, put the bike on the side stand, ran 20m back, helped pulling Andrea's bike back, looked back to mine - and it was lying on its side. Damn. Should have thought about that down slope, right?

Overall damage assessment: a bent valve cover guard (which I'm taking off in the above photo), some scratches on windshield, handguards, cases, and that's about it. The big GS did well. Luckily.

Merced River - Further Downstream

Some more impressions from the trip:

Rural America ...

Sunflowers Everywhere

Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere

Don Pedro Lake

And of course, when we see donkeys we have to stop:

Scratching a Donkey's Ear

They like each other!

It was an awesome trip! Lots of fun, lots of beautiful roads to ride. Sunday was pretty long with about 370km but we made it. The way back over Mt. Hamilton was certainly tough and we were both happy when we were home!

Trip statistics: 750km (466 miles) of mostly fun backroads, roughly 18 hours travel time (including breaks) spread over three days, hundreds of curves, some really tight twisties, a day rafting on the Merced River, first drop of a motorcycle in 15 years (granted about 9 of them without riding at all), character added to the big GS, lots of seat time and practice for Andrea. Great fun!


  1. Now this is how you added character to the bike... I guess it had to happen some day, and those GS' are probably build for much worse that just tipping over. I am glad that this 'character building exercise' didn't involve an accident, and you getting hurt. The bike is so much easier to mend... Pictures are brilliant, and it looks hot, very hot. And of course an awwww for the last one of the cuddly donkeys.

  2. Yeah - I like to think that I'm experienced enough that I normally don't drop my bikes anymore but stupid things happen. And that was an especially stupid thing to do: leaving the bike running, on the side stand, on a downward slope. Not very smart. For now there is pretty much no real visible damage anymore. A few very, very minor scratches, but that's it.

  3. Well, you came to the rescue to your princess who was in trouble at that time, right? So don't be angry at yourself. It shows that you have your priorities right after all those years ;-)

  4. Oh, I wasn't angry at all after the first 15 seconds of yelling "Shit" were over. After that - it didn't matter anymore, other than fixing the parts that had to be fixed, like getting the front left signal back on which popped out of the stalk, getting the valve cover guard off, loosening the side cases and get them back on and so on.

    All was good - and the reason was perfectly okay. I'd rather have the bike drop a hundred times than have a car coming over the hill while Andrea was stuck in her u-turn ...

  5. It was so painful for me to see the GS laying on its side!! So, the princess better practices u-turns, right?

  6. great RR thanks. btw: are those airflow 4 pants?

  7. I used Mt. Hamilton for training for the Tour of the CA Alps non-motor bike ride. I didn't have much problem negotiating the curves on my 5 mph ascents.
    Sounds like a great trip Ihr zwei Lieben!

  8. @Teep: Yes, those are Airflow pants. And I believe they are Airflow 4. They work pretty well.

    @Dan: Negotiating the curves on the way up might not have been the problem, but negotiating the ascent is a different story ... And downhill can be pretty scary on any bike, motorcycle or bicycle.

  9. What kind of sidebags on the big GS? Really good looking. Are they well constructed?

  10. Those are Micatech V-Pilot side bags and I use a Hattech narrow exhaust. The cases are insanely sturdy, the mounting great, and the overall width is just 32.5 inches. Still giving 74L usable volume.