Tuesday, planned a "little" ride down to Visalia to get some city and county letters. Starting in San Jose, thought I'd head down Hwy 101 to visit Gilroy (G) and King City (K), swing over Hwy 198 to Visalia and a little town called Ivanhoe (I). A real Steinbeck agricultural town two blocks long. Post office is a 30 foot wide window front in an 1940's building housing 4-5 other businesses. Only sign marking it as a PO is decal lettering in the window. Turned North up Hwy 99 to Chowchilla then West on Hwy 152 back to Gilroy, North on Hwy 101 back to home. Looked like a reasonable distance on the map, I didn't bother to add up all them little numbers. Since I was exploring the little and medium sized towns all the way, there were long times at fairly slow speeds and lots of side trips. No hurry, just meandering most of the day.
Left Sunnyvale after having breakfast with a buddy at 9:30. Arrived back home at 9:15. Almost 12 hours in the saddle. Far, far longer than I was figuring. When I left, I was thinking maybe I was going to do about 300 miles. Turned out to be 490 miles. Whew! I know Iron-Butt is 1,000 in 24. Does 500 in 12 at least qualify me for one-tin-bun?
In the future, I'm going to be a little more careful planning and know what I'm getting into. Still stiff and sore. Think about sitting in one of those vibrating chairs for about 11 hours longer than it feels good for. Also think about sitting in an airplane seat for twice across the country. That begins to describe what my body felt like after my 12 hour bike ride. Of course, other than the fatigue, the spirit is really bouyed and the imagination expanded by traveling to far away places. I'm really glad I did it. Planning my next trip right now.
Weather was good all the way. Clear, sunny, 70's and 80's, perhaps reaching 90 mid-afternoon in the heart of the valley. Not too much wind. Leather jacket was hot when in towns trying to find a building or sign with the name I'm looking for to take my qualifying picture, but with the vents open, was real nice when moving and getting the air to move through.
South on 101, I picked up Gilroy for the letter "G" and King City for the letter "K".
Hwy 198 from Hwy 101 across to Hwy 5 is interesting. "Next services 53 miles." Two lane, meandering through the rolling hills. Desolate country. Cow country, nothing else growing there. No trees, grass dry and brown. Vegetation nowhere thick enough to mask the gray-tan dirt everywhere. Road is really good though. Curves well and fairly marked. Pavement is in good condition. Lots of whoop-de-doos. Rolling over the can't-see-the-other-side hills causes me to slow to where I think I can swerve or stop for that inevitable hidden squirrel, deer, cow, stalled car, hay wagon, etc. Not even a close call though. Very little traffic in either direction. Was a good day for that part of 198. Had a bite in Coalinga (pronounced C-oh-a-ling-a). Interesting story, named after the steam engine coal stop. Coaling station #A, first refueling of big trains heading North from LA. Pronounciation of name was officially changed when steam engines no longer visited and town pride demanded something more acceptable. Along 198 I came across the Fresno County line sign.
Continuing on 198 over to Visalia on Hwy 99 was good as well. Much more traffic, but moved right along. Started mixing with lots of big-rigs and farm vehicles. They were all cooperative and helpful when they could be. Sure makes riding enjoyable when you don't run into someone with an axe to grind. Just North and East of Visalia is the little town of Ivanhoe. Good for my letter "I".
Hwy 99 North is a just-get-there route. Speed limit is 70, traffic cruises at 75-80. Lots of big-rigs, pavement pretty pot-holed and make-do patched.
I forgot about the bugs in the valley this time of year at sunset. Heading across the fields plastered the bike and me just about every place they could reach. When they hit my shins they smacked pretty good and smarted even through the Levis. Had me wishing I had been smart enough to don my chaps. I guess with me heading toward the little bugger at 75 mph and it heading toward me at 4 mph, a large bug has quite a bit of momentum. Bike is in the driveway now drying off after a good bath. BTW, I am a fan of that Mr. Clean No-Dry Carwash gizmo. I have really hard water and I'm very lazy. This No-Dry thingy works for me as advertised.
A couple of factoids of nature: When they build roads across the vast, open fields, they tend to make them run precisely North-South and East-West. When the time of year is the Autumnal Equinox, the sun sets exactly in the West. Of course I turned West on Hwy 152 exactly at dusk. I spent about 45 minutes staring directly into the near-to-the-horizon sun through an increasingly buggy windshield. My bike does not have a sun-visor other than my left hand held out in front of me. Now, at 70-80 mph it is not all that confidence building to be riding one-handed and blind. As lucky timing would have it, just as the sun disappeared below the approaching Western hills, I reached the portion of Hwy 152 nearing Hwy 5 where it starts to wander in directions other than due West.Was a good day, all-in-all. Picked up three city letters and three county letters. My total is up to 30, I'm shooting for the threshold of 36 so that I can get a pin and a sew-on patch. Going to try to get 38 or 39 letters in case the activity directors decide some aren't to their liking when I send in my photos. Does anyone know what that LED clip light thingie for 46 points is? Sure would like that stainless steel travel thermos, but 56 seems out of reach for me.
Updated: February 25, 2015 11:14 AM