How would you like to ride on sunny 85 degree October day? It simply doesn’t get any better, while most of the country is getting ready for winter, we get to enjoy days like this almost all year round.
I woke up in the morning to watch Formula 1 finale and sure enough my DirectTV lost the signal on lap 8, just when the announcer said: “while we were on commercial break, we had dramatic chan…” I never found out what happened. It’s OK, I already have the solution, stay tuned for that. My Moto GP races didn’t record as well, so as I write this I don’t even know who won (I strongly suspect it’s red number 27, I’ll see it tonight) As you can see, the day started pretty well.
Originally I’d planned to take Sideout to his second “real” ride and show him my favorite roads around Rockstore, but after hearing about wild fire related road closures all around that area I’d decided that we better off going somewhere else. He was anxious to try out his new side bags, and I figured that a ride through Little Tujunga / Sand Canyon over 14 fwy, to Bouquet Canyon, around Lake Elizabeth and back home through 5 would be perfect test. My girlfriend was to ride with me, I just got our intercom system running and she enjoys having conversation with me while riding so she went.
After eventless but quite windy ride on the freeway we finally got to our starting point. My girlfriend mentioned that it was odd not seeing any bikes on the road, usually there are dozens of riders on Sunday afternoon. Well, I figured that they were scared of a little wind, I’m not, how bad can it get in Southern California, we are not in Kansas after all.
Our riding pace was extremely mellow if not slow, first of all I don’t take any chances while riding with the passenger, and second since it was only 2nd real ride for my friend Sideout, I really didn’t want to push him. Riding slow has it’s advantages, one can relax a little bit and enjoy the scenery. This wasn’t the case though, even going slow I had to stay extremely focused just to keep the bike on the road, the wind was getting pretty bad at times. I had to slow down even more a couple of times to wait for Sideout, he was taking really careful approach and didn’t rush at all. It’s OK, we can wait. You get the picture, I was having no fun at all.
Five years ago I had crashed my 3 day old bike here, and up till yesterday I couldn’t figure out why. I always thought wind had played significant role in that lowside embarrassment. This memorable turn was coming up quick, and just when I was going to point it out to my girlfriend, the wind shifted the entire bike a couple of feet to the right towards the guard rail barrier. My response was nearly simultaneous with the scream in my ears: we must abandon this ride. I knew right away that it would be foolish and dangerous to continue, so I began pulling off the road to wait for Sideout and tell him that we are turning back. Actually, I didn’t have to go very far, since the above mentioned wind gust practically moved me off the road already.
As I came to complete stop I realized that the wind was still moving me towards the guard rail and I was struggling to hold the bike upright. I screamed to my girlfriend: “get off the bike!” She did, in the process ripping out the intercom wire . Once she was off, I managed to get the bike on the sidestand and got off myself. At this point I thought the fight was over and I won. WRONG. Next thing I knew the wind picked up some more and I could feel my bike begin moving towards the guard rail again. I muscled it for about five minutes, knowing in the back of my mind that I might lose.
This is when Sideout appeared, riding slowly to the dreaded turn. Of course he couldn’t figure out what was happening. Lucky he is quite tall and fit, plus his SV650S is a little too low for him. In the last second he realized that he should turn his bike against the wind and just when he did so, another wind gust arrived. It made the previous one pale in comparison.
If you ever tried to armwrestle somebody who is a lot stronger that you, you may know that it’s possible to hold it for a little while but the defeat is inevitable. My struggle with the wind was similar. I deathgripped the grabbar with my right hand while the left one was pulling on the handlebar. My 200 lbs finally came handy as I was hanging on the side of the bike. My feet were pushing against the bottom of the rear wheel as I was trying to keep the bike on the sidestand. What didn’t help at all is that the bike was still perpendicular to the wind.
In disbelief I glanced at my girlfriend and saw her FLYING. Yes, the wind picked her up about 2 feet and she was thrown over the guard rail. Luckily she was able to grip it. Behind her - 300 feet drop. Talk about adrenaline rush. AGATT (All The Gear,All The Time) helped as well.
Meanwhile I was still fighting the fierce wind. I never imagined it could be this strong in California. I could feel the bike was about to escape my grip as it lifted my whole body off the ground. If I hadn’t canceled my full coverage insurance two weeks earlier, I would have let it go. The bike would fall over the railing and roll down the cliff. Let the bike go? Are you kidding me? I was holding it like a bulldog holding it’s prey. Slowly, in the moments when the wind was slowing down, I was able to rotate the bike on the sidestand by pulling on the grabrail. Now it was facing the wind with it’s tail, much better.
By this time Sideout was able to turn his bike around and park it in a safe spot. When he came to my rescue, my strength was complitely drained, I was beginning to get cramps in my legs and arms. In the next 5 minutes we survived a couple more wind attacks and finally I was able to jump on the bike and ride it behind the hill where my girlfriend and Sideout’s bike found the wind shelter.
Here is the Sideout’s account of the story:
There has been a high wind advisory in effect for the last couple of days out here in the Los Angeles area. The winds really picked up on Saturday afternoon. Today is Monday and the warning is still relevant. However yesterday (Sunday) morning Motodisiac and I decided that riding would still be a viable option. So we took off around 11am, him, his girlfriend on his back seat and I. We drove up North, took 210 East a little bit, got off somewhere (Motodisiac knew the way, I just followed) and started our ascent up a canyon road. What happened 20 minutes later was very surreal. This is my account of what happened.
Going uphill I felt a couple of relatively strong gusts, but nothing that would make a sane beginner rider to stop and turn around. Motodisiac with his girlfriend in tow was going faster and some 300-400 yards ahead of me as he is a much more experienced rider. So I come out of the turn and see the following picture. The next turn is some 150 yards away, Motodisiac is sitting on his bike at the end of the straightaway. His girlfriend is off the back of his bike and is standing relatively close to him. My thought was that they were waiting for me. So I slow down, pull up to Motodisiac. And the moment I slowly go buy him I get exposed to the howling wind.
It is blowing from behind the rock hiding the road after the turn. The wind was so strong that it almost pinned me down to the ground with my bike. Wow. I immediately stop. The next second I look left I see Motodisiac holding on to his bike like there is no tomorrow. I put my bike on its kick stand but when I try to get off my bike almost falls down. Wow again. What do I do. I start maneuvering. I want to go back down a little bit to get out from this wind tunnel. Problem is - the moment I start slightly turning the wind immediately pushes me and the bike down to the ground. And I can barely hold it up when that happens. The most frustrating thought at that point - am I that weak? I consider myself pretty athletic. And I am a relatively big guy (6′0″ 200 lbs). But all my attempts to fight the wind at this point in time are futile. The second frustrating thought - I don’t want to drop my bike like that. That’d be a shame. And then the third and the final scary thought - how the hell do we get out of this wind tunnel?
The events described in the previous paragraph span within the time frame of 3-4 minutes. Next time I look left I see the following picture. Motodisiac is almost on the ground in the “shooting rifle while sitting on a knee” position. Except instead of shooting a rifle he is desperately holding on to his bike trying to not let it drop. His girlfriend is hiding behind the guard rail clamping on to it with both arms. That looks really apocalyptic. That very moment the wind slows down just a little and at the same time enough for her to get over the rail and run back down to get out of the wind tunnel. She’s back in safety. Meantime I manage to turn my bike, start it and propel myself down to where she is standing. Wow, I am out of the tunnel as well. I put my bike on the kick stand, jump off of it and run as fast as I can to where Motodisiac is still holding on to his bike. That is about 20-30 yards back up into the turn.
When I run up to him first thing he says is - “5 more seconds and I’d drop my bike”. Keep in mind that he is a fit and strong young male. Also he really loves his bikes, especially his recently purchased Aprilia. So for him to say something like that it really must have been extraordinary tough to fight the nature’s wrath. I grab on to his bike. We fight the wind for a couple of minutes. Then he manages to jump on it. A minute later we manage to turn the bike facing downhill. Motodisiac starts it up and speeds down to where his girlfriend and my bike are. I run after him. We are safe.
And here’s the most amazing part of the story. Apparently when I was not watching the wind picked up his girlfriend and carried her over the guard rail and dropped her there. Thank God it did not carry her further as a very steep slope was some 5 yards away from the rail. Later she told us that it happened so quick she didn’t even get scared. Surreal.
Later we found out that the wind advisory included a line about a 85mph gusts.
P.S. Amazingly all my Cortech bags held on in this wind. The tank bag’s magnets kept their firm grip while the saddebags straps worked as intended. A true test for the Cortech gear.