Riding from SF to LA on a Motorcycle
Many years ago, I decided to take a trip down from the Bay Area to Southern California. At that time, I was just getting into riding and thought it’d be a fun opportunity to ride my motorcycle down rather than drive. The ride was not exactly what I had expected it to be.
I prepped for the trip by doing a tune-up on my 1999 Honda CBR600 F4. It was running fine, but I wanted to make sure it was in tip-top shape before the trip.
I also bought a tank bag with a see-through cover where I placed a Garmin monochrome GPS in. Remember at that time, smartphones and GPS on smartphones were not that common. Also, the color GPS’s were all pretty expensive– at least a few hundred dollars. So I settled for one that was less than $100 just in case I needed it. If you remember those days, these cheaper GPS’s took forever to find the necessary number of satellites for it to work, but when it did it worked okay.
I also packed my bag and used this netting with hooks that I bought from Cycle Gear to tie it down on my seat. I didn’t want to be carrying anything on my body during the long ride. Another thing I bought at the store was a CrampBuster.
This thing slides right onto your throttle and allows you to use your palm to hold the throttle open on long rides. That way, you’re not gripping the throttle open for a long time which can cause serious cramps/numbness. Here’s a link to the item if you’re interested in buying one on Amazon.
The Ride Down
After work on Friday, I fueled up at the local gas station in San Francisco before heading down. During the week, the weather was dry but starting Friday a drizzle started. I probably picked the wrong weekend to go, but I was already set on doing the ride.
As the drizzle transitioned into rain, I continued with my ride. The rain started when I left San Francisco, and did not stop until I almost hit Los Angeles. Stupid me, I had no rain gear, so I was basically drenched by the time I got down. I knew that the weather was dry down in LA, but I didn’t think the rain would hit me the entire time getting there.
A normal drive down to LA from SF would be around 6 hours, however I didn’t anticipate that the ride down would take much longer. Because the gas tank is so small on a motorcycle versus a car, I had to stop every couple of hours to refuel. This probably extended my trip by another hour or two from stops alone.
Why I’d Rather Drive than Ride
After riding for so long even with the CrampBuster (which helped a lot still) there was some fatigue. I not only felt like I needed breaks, but I also felt a bit bored at times. Maybe if I took a more scenic route, it would have been more enjoyable, but I took Interstate 5 which can be the opposite.
Sometimes you take driving a car for granted. By the end of a drive, you’ll normally notice that you’ve hit a ton of bugs on the way down. This is evident with bug-splatter all over the windshield and grille. When riding, the front of the bike may take some of this splatter, but most of it hits your helmet and jacket. By the time I got down to So Cal, I had smashed bugs all over my helmet, inside the crevices of my helmet, my jacket, and even inside the perforated holes of my jacket.
Another thing I’ve taken for granted driving in a car is the protection you have against rocks kicking up and hitting you. I wore jeans on the ride, but some knee protection would have been nice. A few sizable rocks kicked up and smacked me in the knees which were a bit painful.
All in all, I’d say this was an awesome experience but I would probably not do it again if I had the opportunity unless I was riding with other riders. I much more enjoy the creature comforts of being in a car for such a long and boring drive on Interstate 5.