Wednesday, April 2, 2014

10 hour ride from Joshua Tree to Ventura

After packing up my campsite at Joshua Tree, the plan was to ride up to Sequoia National Park to meet up with Joe, except that it snowed there the night before. We talked on the phone and he suggested Ventura, since how the coastal cities would be warmer than the mountains. I looked at a map to locate Ventura (just north of Malibu) off of Highway 101 and Interstate 126. 

The ride to Ventura should of been a breeze, but I hit all sorts of challenging weather conditions. First off it had snowed within a few miles of where I camped in Joshua Tree. I feared I'd have to ride through snow or even turn around and wait for the snow to melt, but thankfully there wasnt any snow on the roads. 

But I was bundled up like a snow bunny: jeans, moto pants with the rain liner in them, fleece pj bottoms and then pink rain pants. On the top I had a Under Armour fitted tshirt, a fleece long sleeve, a quilted jacket liner, a spine and chest protector and a winter motorcycle jacket. The only cold bits were my toes, fingers and face. My feet were cold inside of a pair of wool socks and my motorcycle boots, I was also wearing long gauntlet motorcycle gloves and a neck warmer. (As long as my neck is warm I can keep it together. This neck warmer that I knit on my cousins loom is one of my prized possessions.) 

It was majorly gusty most of the day. I should of figured it would be windy given I rode through a Wind Farm on Highway 10. When it was gusty I rode in the right lane, going way under the speed limit. Talk about uncharacteristic for me. When it wasnt windy it was raining. And if it wasnt raining it was freezing cold. 
It was a good endurance test. 

Dinosaurs also chased me. 

I discovered that the inside of a dinosaur is really the home to a gift shop. 
You learn something new everyday. 

Navigating roads that I'm unfamiliar with by following directions that I memorized (you cant look at a paper map while riding a motorcycle) is a challenge for me. I figured this road trip would cure that and I was right.

Before heading to Ventura I wrote down on the back of my hand a series of eight highways I'd have to transfer to in order to get to my destination. Every time I changed highways I'd start thinking I'd missed my next turn, but I'd hold out and then there'd be the next exit I needed. This strategy worked until the last freeway change. I ended up just South of Bakersfield before I realized I'd gone the wrong way on HWY 5, adding two hours to my trip. By this point I'd been on the road for eight hours. I turned around and went South and played the "alphabet game" to distract myself from brooding over my mistake. 

I had to stop at one gas station to warm my fingers. I could barely move them. I met a biker lady, who's on a road trip with some friends from my neck of the woods to Arizona. She was super ecstatic hearing that I was three weeks into my solo motorcycle tour of California. She used to ride solo, but now rides double with her man. I was surprised that she wanted to talk to me, let alone go and introduce me to her husband and retell my story of my journey. Her and her husband were the first Harley folks that I've talked to. They're in a clan of their own, so I was honored that they'd talk to a non-Harley rider. Thank you. 

After four gas station stops I made it! It was well worth the 10 hour day from Joshua Tree to Ventura. I was so relieved to get off of the bike. I did a crap park job and didnt even care. Eating an authentic Thai dinner with Joe was very memorable. The owner of Tipps Thai Restaurant is a hoot. Ask me about it in person and I'll tell you all about it. 

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