08.12.2001 (Sunday), 11:16 PM

Altamont

Swimming in fuzz and dehydration, I doused the lights and wrote in the cool, dark corner of the house...

Altamont, well...sucks. But I knew this going in. It was Interstate 5 that caught me by surprise.

Jan and I took The Big Show to Nevada City today for a Boston Terrier club meeting and barbecue. We thought it would be a good break-in for a future longer ride...and for the most part we succeeded. However, it wasn't the bucolic tourer I had anticipated. I knew that the Altamont Pass would be windy and make the 'Show's fairing sail well but Interstate 5 was an altogether different beast.

The morning ride was pretty uneventful even though it was cold. Our conversation before we left went something like this:

    Me: Jan, do you want to take your jacket liner with you just in case?
    Jan: Why? It's blazingly hot in Sacramento!

20 miles in and we're both wishing for a blanket to hide under. That, however, would all change soon.

Nevada City is about four miles north of Grass Valley (the US home of eMagic...Hi Dave!) which is about 24 miles north of Auburn which is about 30 east of Sacramento. It's in the mountains just above the "snow level" (3000 feet) and the weather is supposed to be universally mild except for those days of snow and/or 70% humidity and 90+ temps...uh, like today. So we roasted. But that isn't the good bad part...

On the way home, we retraced our route on I-5. The onshore winds came hard. I mean, it's all flat land for Pete's sake! So sue me, I got a "D" in college meteorology...it was really fucking windy. Now in car, it's not so noticeable because you have a cage around you. On a bike, *you* are the cage. So we got blown left and right and all around. Attempting to pass semi-trucks was the most hazardous as the wind they cut plus the wind they dragged plus the wind ahead of them almost made us 75 mph median beef a couple of times. So I employed speed...as my moto-racing buddy Ain says, speed can only make it better. It did but struggling to hold onto the 800+ pound Big Show for 32 miles was an exercise. And not one that I'd like to repeat anytime soon. Compared to the stretch of I-5 we were on, Altamont was a picnic on a still summer day...well ok, maybe not that good. We still hunkered down and got through it.

Perhaps we should have chosen a shorter duration practice ride. It was, after all, four hours in each direction with stretch and gas stops. There is something to be said for developing an iron butt early though. The extra weight will keep the onshore winds a little more sane.

Posted by wjc