Friday, April 16, 2010

Guest Post: Some Perspective From the Back of the Bike

Greetings fair readers of Brian goes west! I'm here to offer some perspective from the passenger seat. 

First of all, California is a really really long state. Especially at 25 mph. I was pretty glad to finally leave it behind, because it felt like we weren't making that much progress when we couldn't get out. As a mid-Atlantic native, I'm used to hitting a new state every few hours. Or minutes if you're going through Delaware. 

Advantages of being on the back of the bike include not having to make decisions or pay too much attention to the road. Brian alluded to the fact that there is some active participation required from a passenger so that you're not shifting your weight too much, you're leaning into the turns correctly, and you brace yourself properly for acceleration and deceleration so that you don't hit helmets every time you change gears (i guess one good thing about only having four gears is that aforementioned gear changing is necessarily limited? Too soon?). Brian's "So today was a little uncomfortable as we both worked things out" means "Today was a little uncomfortable as Sharon kept not paying attention and ramming her helmet into mine every time we changed gears and I almost threw her off the bike."

Disadvantages to being on the back of the bike include not having to make decisions. Since there's not a lot of communication possible even at the turtle-like 35 mph, my contributions to decision making were limited to being able to request a stop. That kinda gets frustrating. Especially since I may or may not be known for talking a lot. Loudly. Also, after trying both seats, I can say with confidence that the passenger seat is much less comfortable. 

We'd been lucky enough to mostly avoid rain until this day, but less than an hour after leaving Coos Bay, we felt and saw a little bit of rain, so decided to pull off and "rain suit up!" We both looked really really ridiculous. I'm pretty sure there's pictures on Brian's camera somewhere, but let's just say it's a good thing we weren't trying to impress any young, good-looking Oregon-ers. We did stop at a delicious pizza place to warm up and watch a lot of the Masters. Needless to say, this cut down on our ability to make a lot of miles this day, but I'm pretty sure we both thought it was worth it. After getting back on the road (and, for the record, I called Lefty's victory from Day 1), we put down some miles but then hit some heavier rain. 

As we got to the early evening hours, it started coming down pretty hard. Once you get to a certain amount of wetness, it doesn't bother you as much (at least for me), and since I didn't really have great rain gear (athletic pants over jeans? Oops?), I hit that point pretty quickly. It does make the drive much much colder and we decided to call it a day pretty early in Tillamook, OR. Land of cheese making. Their cows smelled pretty bad (and this is coming from a girl who grew up next to a dairy farm and normally isn't that bothered by our bovine brethren), but the high school was the Tillamook Cheese Makers. So that was exciting. 

We stopped at a local gas station to evaluate our motel options and had a nice little chat with the gas station attendant (you can't pump your own gas in OR. Reminds me of my college years in fair New Jersey!). Once thing I really enjoyed about this trip is how readily people approach you to chat you up when your all motorcycle-geared up. It's an easy way to start a conversation -- where you guys coming from? -- and people were a) very impressed with Brian's lengthy trip and b) always willing to share a bit about the local area, politics, or whatever else came to their mind. It really was a cool way to travel and see the people in small towns across the West Coast and get a little insight into the various regions. And, as a professed lover of talking, it pretty much warmed my heart every time. 

We ended up staying a the Red Apple Inn, which had a very nice little innkeeper. We got some more cheese and sausage (breakfast/lunch/dinner of champions!), but supplemented with some red apples. Seemed appropriate. And some delicious Northwest Pale Ale. Or NWPA for those in the know. We had to cut Portland (land of the microbrew) out of our trip to save time (heartbreak), so I was glad to get some local brews. The heater didn't really work, so that was a little bit of downside, but other than that, it was pretty nice for a cheap motel. I called my friends in Seattle to let them know we would in fact arrive on Friday. We'll be staying with two of my very good friends from college, whom I hadn't seen in about a year, so I was very excited. 

Last thing -- Since I didn't get to post on the SF side of the trip, I'd like to take the time now to thank Stephen and Stacey profusely for hosting us. They are really awesome people and it was great to meet them, hang out, and offer my expert advice on furniture selection. Thanks guys! 

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