Day 11                                                                                     
June 14th, 2007
Castro Valley, Hotel California 

The Timex Ironman went off at 5:30am and I rolled out without delay.  It was important I get on the road early to cover some ground before lunch.  The toughest ride would be the first 250.  About the only good thing I can say about I-5 is its efficiency at getting you somewhere.

I quietly brought my things downstairs and went outside in the still dark air.  I guess Don heard me and came out to say good bye.  I bid good bye last night, so he wouldn't have to get up at this ungodly hour, but that is not Freestyle's way.  "Look you have a safe trip back, and stay in touch."  "You know I will, thanks for having me once again, it was nice, I'd like to stay one more day, but I need to get south,  y'all know you're family."  Like I say, I hate long good byes.  I hope I get to see him before next year, but I don't know.

From the time my feet hit the floor to roll out, was less then 20 minutes.  One of the advantages of riding solo, I don't have to wait on anybody.

With the Zumo pointing the way I went down the long downhill and out to 580 to hook up with I-5.  Gas tank was half, "I'll fill up in Pleasanton, seems to be a lot of options there".  The air was cool, but pleasant.

The 580 was the most barren I'd ever seen it, and I wondered where all the cars went that were in the traffic jam when I came in 2 days ago.  It seemed that mess could  never be cleaned up.

I gassed at a Shell con store at one of the busy Pleasanton exits.  The automatic sprinkler turned on just as I came in the parking lot, but I managed to stay dry. 

The Eastern sun was working his magic and the sky was fading to blue quicker then the miles I was putting down.  There was not much to do for the next few hours but ride.  No great scenery to enjoy, or curves to lean.  If I had music, now would be a good time to turn it up, but that's not me.  I enjoy music for sure, just not on my motorcycles.  "I'll find something to keep my mind occupied."  For the first time since day 1, I was going to have to spend significant time on the interstate.  Of the 600 miles I was doing today, over 400 were going to be on the 4 lane.

From I-5 you can see why they call California the "Golden State."  I trimmed the screen full down and enjoyed the wind sweeping around me.
​One of the finest all around bikes on the market.
I had checked tire psi at Don's so felt good about that.  I also noticed they were halfway gone.  My last Roadtech tires went over 11,000 miles, I was confident I could get home on my present tires.

I was on the way to Jerrol Olson's apartment in Oceanside.  Jerrol and I first met in 2002 when he came up from the south and spent time in the Bay Area when I was in town on a tour.  In terms of riding skill, he was one of the best.  I couldn't even keep him sight when the road grew twisty.

He was also good friends with Dennis Ryan.  You can read more my last ride with Jerrol here.

I spent the night with Jerrol in 2005 and we rode up to San Luis Obispo the next day to meet the Bay Riders.  He told me then he was re enlisting in the Marine Corps.  He knew he was going to be deployed, but that didn't bother him.

We had a great time and ride those few days.  He added PIAA lights and power outlets to my 1300 the day after we arrived at Freestyle's.  He is a great guy, and a good friend, and though I'm significantly older, you wouldn't know it if you see us interact.  I vividly recall the morning we split off, I left to start my ride home, and he was going over to see Norma Ryan.  I told him to look out for himself, and I'd see him my next trip through.

A few months later Jerrol deployed to Iraq.

In the fall of 2006 I received a email from Jerrol's sister informing me he had been seriously wounded carrying out his duty for his country.  I was very distraught when I heard the news.  Details were slow coming out, I later learned he was going to be ok, but his right arm was badly damaged.  It was nearly blown off by a sniper using a armor piercing bullet.  He came home facing many operations and a long rehab.

I kept in contact with Jerrol over the months, and planning this tour I made sure to work in a ride south to see him, now on this long ride down I-5, I was making good on it.

Thoughts about that kept me occupied on the long ride south. The morning was passing quickly as I put down the empty miles.  I approached a dark colored SUV and noticed my right PIAA out in the reflection.  "Dang that sucks, I'm gonna have to see about replacing it."  I figured I would lose one somewhere on this trip, but you always hold out hope.  You can't just walk in a Wal Mart or AutoZone and pick up a replacement, and that's what makes losing one such a pain.

At last the GPS flashed, "Exit 119 rt 1 mile," and with my mind and butt numb, pulled to the Shell Con store at the intersection of SRs 119 and 166.  I topped the gas tank, and went in for a well deserved break,  I just put down 240 miles non stop.  Tank to tank, which is only a big deal depending how far you can go on a tank.  So as a rule, I put little stock when someone says, "I ride tank to tank all the time."

I bought a snack pack of Fig Newtons and a Mountain Dew and found a nice table to relax at.  Outside air temp was already 90 dry degrees.  I put some notes in the Axim, and checked email.

The store was a busy place of farm hands and oil workers.  The 2 cashiers never stopped ringing up folks.  A kind looking mid aged Mexican lady, of robust frame and stiff joints, was mopping the floors near my table.  She was oblivious to everything but the task at hand.  I was taking things in while she rowed the mop in a vigorous manner, when I noticed something on the floor under a chair.  It was a red change purse, the kind we use to carry to school and opened by squeezing it.  It was obvious it had fallen from one of her pockets.  Before I could open my mouth to tell her, she was walking away.

I jumped for it, and tapped her shoulder,  "Excuse me senora, perdido este?" And handed it to her.  "Oh! Oh! Si! Si!  Gracias! Gracias!"  then rambled off whole paragraphs in Spanish I had no chance of translating.  But it was obvious she was very thankful.  I tried to slow her down.

"lento! lento!"  The senora slowed down and between her broken English and my Spanish, we were able to speak a little.

The short story is she had about 5 dollars in bills and change in the little purse and tried to give me a dollar for returning it to her.  One of the most moving things I'd ever experienced on a trip.  Of course I refused.  I tried to tell her it was not a big deal.  I'm not going to steal from ANYBODY, but from a lady mopping floors???  The thought made me ill, and I'd feel sorry for any human being that would do such a thing.

I needed to call someone about my PIAA light.  Someone who could a take a few minutes and do some research.  "If I could find a dealer somewhere on the way today or tomorrow that would be good."  Reg Siemens of Winnipeg might be a good candidate.  Computer savvy, knows the product, and what its like being a long way from home on a ride.

"hey do me a favor and see if you can find a  bulb for my blown out PIAA 1100.  Try the BMW dealers in Arizona and Southern California.  If you have any luck just shoot it to me in a text message.  Don't drop what your're doing, but work on that when you have time, I'd appreciate it."

"Ok I'll do some checking."

"Just find a BMW dealer, they usually carry them, lemme know what you find out."

It was a nice break, and I might have hung around longer, but they were playing loud hip hop music on the system instead 80s, and chased me off. I got back on the road and took 166 to SR 33.  I rode by the con store I stopped at last year in Maricopa.  Place still looked the same.

The first 20 miles of SR 33 are nothing special as I sped through the valley to the mountain tops.  It was late morning and I was on schedule.  "I'll be in Ojai as planned eating lunch soon."
​  SR 33 was all mine on this day.
The road grew fantastically curvy and the riding was FUN.  No traffic, I had the road to do as I pleased with.  I put the 1300 through its paces as we went up and down in the hills.  The turns were not the tight bends like Deals Gap, but longer with a more sweeping radius.  The sun was bright and the sky blue and clear.  Perfect conditions for some all out hooligan riding, but not doing that.  I'm alone and a long way from home.
​SR 33 bending through the mountains.  Great riding.
I stopped for pictures and enjoyed the ride.  It was 50 miles of great fun.  Plenty of good scenery also.  Worth the effort if you are ever in the area.  I crested the last hill and started the descent to the pleasant town of Ojai.  I came through town looking for a local place to eat, but failed to find any that looked like my type.  Before I knew it was in a McDonald's eating my regular bread burgers.

A text from Reg had come in, he found a BMW dealer in Scottsdale with a bulb in stock.  "I'll swing over there tomorrow when I come through."  

The best part of the day's ride was over.  Now it was just a matter of riding south to Oceanside.  I remained on SR 33 to Ventura where I picked up the 101.  Every mile south brought me closer to the congestion and chaos of LA.

The ST worked me past slow moving cars and trucks in the far left lane.  As the traffic built up I concentrated harder.  By the time I reached Glendale I was in a fast moving 80 mph train.  I looked far down the road at the cars up there, because I had to keep the gap closed to the vehicle immediately at my 12 o clock, if I opened a safe distance a car would only move in and take it.  I was less then 1 second behind the car in front, so if it stopped suddenly I'd never be be able to adjust in time.  Thus I was looking at the vehicle 5 up, if I saw brake lights on him, I knew to slow down long before the guy in front of me even moved his foot.

Traffic was thick but moving until I-10 and then merging problems began.  From here all the way to Long Beach the 405 was a parking lot.  After crawling a long for a mile I used the secret weapon-lane splitting, or as they say in the UK "filtering," a much more appropriate term.

The ST is not the best bike for such maneuvers, but good enough.  I slid past the 5 mph traffic at 25, sometimes when the alley narrowed.  I'd filter several miles then come back in for a break.  More then a few times, motorist would see what I was doing and move over just a bit for me.  

I was pushed out of the way several times by jokers on narrow sport bikes.  It was not unusual to see them move up the line at 50-60 mph.  I'm just not doing that, I don't trust the cars around me enough.  At 25 mph I can avoid most anything that comes my way, but if a guy cuts me off at 60?  Going to be bad.

Both sides of the 405 were hopeless, 10 lanes of molasses.  Nobody was going anywhere except us 2 wheel types.  Still it took me over an hour to break free.  I'd never seen anything like it, and I've been in traffic jams all over the country.  Jerrol told me it was just a typical LA day.  I can't imagine enduring that every day to get to work.

The GPS took me to a toll road (73) near Irvine, the first I'd ever seen in California.  I used it to connect back to the I-5 near San Clemente.  With all the expressways, I'm sure there are several options to get through LA other then the GPS route.  The Garmin looks at the most direct route.  I didn't know the system so I stayed with the menu instead of the buffet.  But I'll say this, some of those options might have added significant more miles to the ride, and the fact I could filter still probably saved me time.  In a car?  I'd want to check the alternative by pass loops. 

Back in open space I sailed south.  I was in a good mood, and the miles went by quickly to Oceanside.

A scenic vista was on the way so I stopped for a pic.  A trip to the Hotel is not complete till you get a picture of the Pacific Ocean, and here at this vista I was presented with my first opportunity. 
​The Pacific Ocean.  Scenic vista from I-5
The ride then took me by the Pendleton Marine base, and by 4 pm I was at last exiting for Jerrol's.  I had his exact coordinates as captured by his Zumo, so I was confident finding his apartment in the maze of side streets would be easy.  After several turns and twists through Oceanside, I found his apartment near the ocean.  I turned in the complex and came right to his garage, after a 538 mile ride miles, including a non stop run from Ojai.  Not as far as I thought it was going to be.

Jerrol heard the high tech growl of the ST and came down to greet me. You can't fool him, he knows a ST when he hears one.  What a nice greeting we had, hugs and hand shakes all around.  He was smaller in nature now, but very fit looking and healthy.  He carried his injured arm at his waist.

Like a true motorcyclists he looked over my bike.  "Dang bro good to see ya," he said.  "yeah man you to, you're looking good."  I pulled my bike next to his 05 1300.  He helped me with my stuff as best he could, and took me up the stairs to his apartment.  He really has a nice place, with the all the latest toys.  Big screen, computers etc.
Rachel was still an hour from home (wife to be) so we spent some quiet time together.  Jerrol Olson is great American.  He did his duty for his fellow Marines and his country, and he would tell you he would do it again.  Where we get such men I don't know.  His life is never going to be the same, but he says he is going to do the best he can to get some of it back.

The surgeons in Baghdad are the best in the world, and only their skill saved his arm.  He wants to ride again, but still has a way to go.  He has undergone 8-9 operations, and had a stroke during one that affected his vision, and he can't see well from the sides.  He knows he has obstacles to overcome.  He is still drawing a full check from Lockheed (employer at time of deployment), and full active duty pay.  He also has several checks for disability on the way from the government.  Lockheed has assured him a job is waiting for him when he is able to return, and his final monthly disability check is still under negotiation.  He says he is being treated well.  All I can say about that is- HE BETTER BE.

We conversed about a lot of things but most of it was private and I'll let it go at that.

Rachel arrived while I was in the shower, so I was glad to be all cleaned up when I met her. A nice young lady.  They are getting married soon, Jerrol did well for himself.

After getting acquainted, we loaded up in Jerrols mini van and went to Outback Steakhouse.  Same as 2005, I asked Jerrol if he remembered the young waitress we had all revved up that evening.  He was in a bad spot with Rachel in the car, so I had to back up.

I felt really bad for Jerrol treating me, but he said it was the least he could after my riding all the way to south to see him.  This from a guy who is was in Iraq, but that is his nature.

We had a long wait for a table but that was ok, the conversation was good.  The meal was great, as was the evening.  It was niceto be with him again.  I hate what happened, but I'm just thankful to have him back, and that is how he feels.  "It could be a lot worse, and it was/is for many others," he told me.

I mentioned my PIAA light when we arrived back at the apartment, and my predicament.  We looked up the BMW shop in Scottsdale on Streets and Trips; it was 20 miles out of my way.  "I'll expand the search to include any PIAA dealers in the area," and quickly found 3 hits.  They were closed and we were not able to call to find out if they any had one on the shelf.  "I'll call tomorrow and leave you a text what I find out."  "Ok bro, sounds good, think I'm gonna turn in."

After a few notes in my Axim journal, I edited a few pictures,  and pre sorted my things for a quick getaway in the morning.  My plan is ride SR 74 out of valley, over the mountains to I-10, to begin the long ride across the Mojave.  No doubt it will be hot, as I'll be in flight the hottest part of the day, but not a big deal to me.  
My only goal tomorrow is to put SR 74 in the book, and make Phoenix.