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Thread: Brandon Hower - 2005 Cal24 (DNF)

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    Brandon Hower - 2005 Cal24 (DNF)

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    I was talked into doing this year's Cal24 by a friend that did it last year. I'd done a couple longer day trips with him and he knew this would be fun for me. I gave it some serious thought when Alan a.k.a. Bronto said I could borrow his Busa for it . So I rode the Busa a little bit over the 2 prior weeks to get used to it and this last weekend it was game time. The plan was to ride with my friend and his old co-workers, one of whom did it last year with him. The route consisted of mostly twisty back roads, but there were a lot of miles of straight highways on 395 and out in Nevada.

    Here's the Busa and my friend's Tiger the evening before the ride in King City:


    The way the Cal24 works is the start and finish line are the same place and there are checkpoints that could be anywhere, this year there were 3 on the route. Saturday at 7am you get the route info and bonus info. The route basically is written instructions saying, "go here, then turn left...then in [wherever] turn here". You have to bring your own maps. And there's bonus questions for more points. It's not a race! And at 8am you are free to go. Just be back by 8am the next morning and hit all the checkpoints in their time windows.

    Here we are on Panoche Rd. The road had a lot of bumps and gravel on it and one part of the road was like 20 feet of pure gravel right after a blind corner :. This was taken during a pee break. To finish the route you have to be riding as much as possible so breaks were few and far between and there were no picture-only stops.


    Waiting on the onramp to I5 at Little Pinoche Rd for our 2 slower riders. Yay, another pee break!


    We took I5 for a couple miles to 168 then 140 east to Merced. This is at the gas station in Merced. The Busa gets great mileage (~44mpg) so the stops were mostly for the R1, GSXR750, and SV650.


    From Merced it was 59 North to snelling then backroads to 49 North. That canyon section of 49 was amazing! Gravel in the center track of the lane on a lot of corners but just flat out beautiful. No time to stop for us. It was the 3 Suzukis that were our fast group and the Tiger and R1 brought up the rear. The R1 was somewhere between us and the Tiger and we hadn't seen him since we first got on 49. We pulled into Jamestown (Checkpoint 1) at 1pm and waited. Andy shows up on the Tiger and we don't see the R1. He missed a turn or something.

    This is Jamestown at the Harley Dealership. We were all itching to trade out nice high tech bikes in for expen$ive Harleys but the trade-in value on a Jap/German/Brit bike is nowhere near enough for the Harley "image" .


    So on we went on 108 to go over Sonoma Pass to 395. There were 4 of us now. The 650 and 750 were in need of gas and we weren't sure where we were going to find it on 108. Several small towns didn't have gas. We came to Dardanelle and got gas for a cool $2.99 for 89 octane (Bridgeport on 395 was $2.99 for regular ).

    Everyone topped off their tanks but being the cheap bastard I was I just got a gallon thinking I'll just fill up in Bridgeport. So we're filling up and taking a short break and here comes the R1. Now we're all back together again and headed over Sonora Pass.


    We didn't even stop on Sonora Pass to take a picture . It was a crime because it was so beautiful up there. So we get to Bridgeport where I was planning on filling up. We filled up in Merced, then I got 1 gallon in Dardanelle but the Busa still showed a half tank. Gas was $2.99 there... and we were paying about $2.21 in Merced. I thought, "like hell I'm paying $3/gal, I'll get gas in Hawthorne or run out trying".

    Here we are just turned off 395 headed east to Hawthorne on 167. This is looking back towards Yosemite Park.


    This is looking the other direction. Can you say, "time to drag knee"?


    167 was straight for soooo long. The Busa's chain was vibrating really bad and the rear sprocket was clicking so I kept it under 100 but had to keep up with the bikes in front of me in case I ran out of gas and needed to siphon. But the Busa just cruised a long and made it to Hawthorne with plenty of gas to spare. I was impressed with it's mileage and range. But then again 90mph is only 4700rpm .

    What's so special about Hawthorne you might ask? Well I tightened the chain there and we headed off east further into the desert. Were were 25 miles or so east of Hawthorne (about 4 miles from Mina) and the Busa's chain was vibrating so bad and making really loud clicking noises that I pulled over and we checked it out. The whole rear sprocket carrier was loose in the hub . The chain had a kinked link in it that bound up even though it was always lubed.

    I decided to call it quits because it would be getting dark soon and we were only going into more remote areas. So I limped it back to Hawthorne and didn't know what I was going to do. I don't have a truck or access to one so I was starting to worry. I went back to the gas station to use the payphone because Hawthorne has no Cincular service. It says for long distance, dial and wait for instructions. I dial my dad and it says $1. I put in $1 and it says for $.50 more. I only had one quarter left and so I got my change back and headed for the building seeing if they have a phone in there.

    Coming out of the gas station was a middle age guy and he saw the bike and commented on it. I said, "too bad it's broken". He asked what's wrong and I told him it was the chain and asked if he had a cell phone. He didn't but his friend did. He came over and let me use his phone to make a bunch of calls. Then he said he had a friend in town that works on bikes and even has a shop in his back yard. So I follow him over there to see if he's home and sure enough he was out in his front yard. I thanked him and gave him a couple bucks for letting me use his phone and for all his help and he had to go.

    So here I am at this guy who I'd just met's house in Hawthorne, NV and he's more than willing to help out. So we take the Busa into his shop and put it up on the ATV/Bike lift. Then we take the rear tire off and inspect the whole wheel/axle. The bearings and spacers were fine, just the cush drive was worn a bit. Also the chain was binding on the sprocket. We put everything back together and lubed the chain up really good and he said it should be fine to get me wherever I need to go. He wouldn't even let me pay him for his time... really nice guy.

    I thought about trying to cut my riding friends off before Pismo Beach but didn't want to risk anything in the middle of the night. So I headed for home. Alan, who owns the bike, was ready to drive all the way out there immediately from home in the bay area . My plan at first leaving Hawthorned was to ride straight back to Sacramento over Donner Pass. But with worrying about the busa I think that tired me out more than riding and I just wanted to get a hotel in Yerrington. Well, I didn't find a hotel in Yerrington so I kept going. It was so windy I just wanted to relax and not have to fight it, but I kept going. There wasn't even a hotel until I got to Fernley, but they were all full because of a car club.

    So I headed to Reno, exhausted and starving. I got to Sparks and stopped at In N Out. Ate my first real food of the day other than powerbars and I was ready to head for home. Going over Donner after midnight was f-f-f-f-reeeezing. I had a bunch of layers and windbreaker but I was still really cold. I stopped once to warm my hands on the exhaust pipes. But eventually I got home after 1:30am. I went straight to bed without showering or unpacking the bike.

    All in all I only did 767 miles and 17.5 hours. I know I could've finished the rally and the Busa would've but I didn't want to take the chance. If I have a bike and the leave time next year I'll definately do the Cal24 again. It was probably the most fun I've had on 2 wheels, up until Hawthorne anyway.

    P.S. If you read this whole trip report give yourself a round of applause
    If Poker's a sport, so's this.

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