ABCs of Touring
Southern California Trip - May 2002

Dave Schultheis

The ABCs of Touring is a program of the Harley Owners Group that encourages owners to ride throughout the country (and the world!) and gather points by taking photographs of official city, county, parish, state, provincial and national signs while traveling.

My co-worker Dave Clements has a 2001 FLHT Standard that he got during 2001. He had done well in the ABCs for 2001 and wanted to do even better for 2002. So he set up a trip through northern California and invited me along for the ride. This is our trip through southern California that took place about a month later.

The plan was to participate in the 2nd annual Santa Clara Valley Peace Officers Memorial Ride (from San Jose to Bolado Park near Hollister, also known as the San Benito County Fairgrounds) and then go south from there.

Saturday, May 18, 2002

Dave's co-rider for this trip was his daughter Brittney (10). They left their home in Manteca and rode about an hour and a half to San Jose.

Meanwhile, I rode to San Jose Harley-Davidson, where I met with other members of the San Jose Chapter of the Harley Owners Group and rode to the parking lot across from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department in San Jose.

I registered, got a donut & juice and bought an event tee-shirt, then wandered the crowd until I found Dave and Brittney, who were in the process of determining the source of a puddle under their motorcycle.

Once oil had been ruled out, they were concerned about a gasoline leak. He had just fueled a few blocks away, so it could have been overflow. Dave called his home dealer in Modesto and they suggested he "bring it in." He then called a closer dealer and they suggested an overflow problem in the smog stuff. When the bike was started and run for a while, there was no more leak, so the trip was "on" again.

We schmoozed with various friends and co-workers (Sasha M., Sgt. Kevin S., Donn A., Rose M., others) then participated in a brief ceremony to honor fallen law enforcement officers in the valley.

The instructions were for various groups to form up and be ready to move out. There was a lot more waiting than forming, but we finally did leave the parking lot about 11:00 a.m.

Our H.O.G. chapter was spread out all over the place, and I didn't see Dave or Brittney, but knew I would be seeing them when we got to our destination.

This was an escorted run all the way, with officers from various agencies deployed along the way and/or peeling off the run to assist at various locations.

We started south on CA Highway 87, then south on CA Highway 85, south U.S. Hwy101, east on CA Highway156 and then south on CA Highway 25 through downtown Hollister on San Benito Street and Union, the south on Airline Highway and out of Bolado Park on Hy 25.

It was about a 70 mile trip completed without stops, and I failed to note what time we arrived at the fairgrounds, but it must have been between 12:30 and 1:00 p.m.

In the parking lot I met with Ben L. (from County Fire) and his wife and admired the creative way he had cabled his helmet to his rear wheel. After making my way to the food line, I met with Kevin J. (from S.J. H.O.G.), co-workers Sasha M. and Kenley R., and finally got some grub. The food was good but this report is not about the food.

I met with Dave and Brittney again in the grass parking lot for a picture or two, then we left Bolado Park about 2:15 p.m., heading south on Hy 25.

Not far down the road we came upon two California Highway Patrol cars and one California Department of Forestry engine at the scene of an accident. We counted five motorcycles at scene or nearby, but didn't stop for any other details as everything seemed to be under control.

As we neared the east entrance of The Pinnacles National Monument, I stopped for a CA Hwy 146 picture and Dave stopped to talk with a group of other riders resting at the side of the road.

Back on the road again, we stopped at the Monterey County line for a picture. Since this is a very rural place with very little car traffic, we watched the cows in their pasture for a while.

After a few more miles, we arrived at the point where Hy 25 ends at CA Highway 198, with a choice of going west to King City or east to Coalinga. Our planned route took us through Coalinga, so we turned left. I could feel a dryness in my throat, and this usually means that I am getting a cold. Oh, well.

Not far down Hwy 198, Dave's bike started to cough and sputter, acting like it was out of gas. He stopped at a safe place on the side of the road and unsuccessfully tried to restart the bike.

Since I was running low on fuel myself, and since we knew that gasoline was not available in the direction from which we had come, we decided that I would press on and see what help I could find, while Dave and Brittney would wait for help.

I stopped at the Priest Valley Saloon, where the only customer said he had a can of gas at home, and would go and try to render aid. I continued into Coalinga, where I found a Chevron Station at Elm and 7th at 4:30 p.m. I was close to running out of fuel myself, with 196.6 miles on the trip odometer, the farthest I had ever gone (at that time) on a tankful.

Meanwhile, Dave had been able to get his bike started and had made some forward progress, but it sputtered and stalled again. Then, two riders stopped to see if they could help. After another short wait, while he explained the problem, it started again and he rode toward town. Even though these other two riders had been going the other way, they escorted him all the way into Coalinga to make sure he made it.

So when I started back to where Dave had been stopped, I saw the other riders and then saw Dave and Brittney, and guided them to the Chevron Station where he filled his tank.

Unfortunately a pool of gasoline formed under his bike again, so we knew there was still a problem. While moving the motorcycle out of the traffic pattern at the gas sation, he was unable to downshift, and looked down to see that part of his shifter linkage had come apart.

Since I had recently experienced a similar problem, I got out the proper tools and in fairly short order had it put back together again so that we could continue. The fix lasted about 24 hours before failing again.

Now that things were back on track, it was 5:30 p.m. and we continued south on CA Highway 33. Just about an hour later we stopped at Blackwell's Corner (CA 33 at CA 46) for highway sign pictures, then continued south, passing Brown Material Road (!), and through the communities of McKittrick and Taft. It was a long, hot ride and we collected quite a few insect specimens on the motorcycles. They were a mess.

In the community of Maricopa, we turned east on CA Highway 166. Over a period of only a few minutes, the temperature dropped what seemed like 30 degrees.

We reached Interstate 5 but decided to go another two miles to CA Highway 99, where we got fuel at a Texaco Station near Mettler at almost 8 p.m.

We decided to continue south on Hy 99, which merges into Interstate 5 just four miles later, and rode over The Grapevine, a major north-south artery, crossing over Tejon Pass.

As it was getting dark, we turned off I-5 in the community of Castaic, pulled into a Jack-In-The-Box parking lot that was well-lit and checked the map. The vote was two-to-one that we find a motel for the night, rather than continuing.

I used my broken Spanish to ask a J-I-B employee where we could find a motel, and he used his broken English to tell us to go back under the freeway and turn right.

Right around 9 p.m. we parked at a Comfort Inn and got two rooms. I was given Room 131, a non-smoking ground-floor room with a refrigerator and all the normal stuff. The motel clerk allowed us to park the bikes in a well-lit area under the overhang near the front desk. We parked them right-side to right-side and cabled them together.

After stowing all our stuff in the rooms (and I got an extra blanket), we walked across the street to "Cafe Mike" for some dinner. I requested an omelet and cottage cheese, but got an omelet and hash browns. Fifty per cent wasn't too bad.

The liquor store next door was closed, so we couldn't get any orange juice for the next day.

When we had checked into the motel, we had asked at the front desk for some rags to clean the bugs off the bikes. When we returned from the dinner walk, someone from the hotel staff had left us some hotel rags.

Dave and Brittney went to their room and I went to mine, where I took a shower and watched television for a while, then went to bed about 11 p.m.

Miles from home to Bolado Park = 80. Miles from Bolado Park to Castaic = 259. Miles for the day = 339.

Sunday, May 19, 2002 - Castaic, California

I slept okay but was awake several times in the night due to draining sinuses. Plus, I could not get the room temperature to a comfortable level.

I was up about 6:00 a.m., turned on CNN, packed my T-Bag and lugged it up to the front of the motel, then cleaned a few of the bugs from both bikes before attaching the T-Bag.

We checked out of the motel and tried to enjoy a positively crummy Continental breakfast. I don't know why they just don't tell the truth, as in "We don't care if you want breakfast or not, we're offering crap."

We were back on the road at 7:25 a.m., went back to the other side of the freeway and fueled at the familiar Union 76 Station in Castaic.

We then proceeded south on Interstate 5, then east on Interstate 210 to CA 71 for a Riverside County picture and to CA 91 for an Orange County picture. While turning around, we got a bonus "Anaheim City Limits" sign that we had not expected.

Retracing our steps, we went back on CA 91, CA 71, and westbound on I-210. Near Sylmar, we took the Maclay offramp and refueled at a Union 76 Station at 10:05 a.m.

We got back on westbound I-210, then turned northbound on I-5, took a short side trip west on CA Highway 126 to the Ventura County line for a picture, then returned to I-5 and headed north.

We rode over the Grapevine on I-5 and then continued north on CA 99 to Bakersfield and pulled into a Denny's Restaurant on Panama Lane at 12:15 p.m.

After lunch we refueled at a nearby Union 76 Station and continued north on CA 99.

One hundred thirty-five miles (two hours and fifteen minutes) later, Dave's bike was sputtering again, so we pulled into a Mobil Station in Madera. Shortly thereafter, I turned west on CA 152 near Chowchilla, while Dave and Brittney continued north on CA 99 to their home in Manteca.

A very few minutes later, he had trouble with his shifter linkage again, but was able to limp home. (His home dealer later "fixed" the problem permanently.)

I had some slow going through Los Banos (traffic) and then it was a little windy through the Pacheco Pass.

. Just to make sure that my weekend was complete, I encountered some rain in Gilroy but continued north on U.S. Highway 101 through Morgan Hill and then home on Monterey Highway, Bailey Avenue and McKean Road into Almaden valley.

I stopped at Wolf Camera to turn in little plastic cameras but they were closed. I got home at 6:45 p.m.

Miles for the day = 507. Miles for the trip = 846.

Post script: I got my pictures processed the next day and they had all come out quite well.

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Created on May 23, 2002. Last updated on February 13, 2003.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA