Another Motorcycle Weekend

Since I continue to be Smokey Without Da Van (more on that later), I might as well enjoy myself while I’m stranded in LA. This past weekend was the southern California edition of IMS Outdoors. I attended the Pennsylvania show and spent most of the time riding as many motorcycles as I could get my butt onto. My newfound LA biker crew, consisting of Carolyn, Reuben, and Ghazaleh, had already planned to go. I hadn’t expected to be here long enough to join them, but since I am, I went along for the ride.

This time, I didn’t get a press pass, or even try. I simply wanted to go, hang out, socialize, and enjoy the experience. I’m pleased to report that this mission was a complete success. I relaxed so much that I even forgot to take my own pictures! So I’ve swiped a few from my friends to show you what it was like. My feet weren’t happy with all the walking I did, but it was worth it.

By pure luck, I also managed to hang out with Shadetree Surgeon and Cheyleesi from YouTube while I was there. I’ve been following Shadetree for years, and even met up with him way back when we were in Florida, since the bar where he works isn’t far from my aunt and uncle. Not to flex, but we talk online fairly regularly now. To me, he’s not a YouTuber with over 200,000 subscribers. He’s just Josh, and it was fun to hang out with him again. I hadn’t met Chey before, so it was good to finally make that connection too. One of her bikes is a Honda PC800, which is a bike I owned for seven years and know extremely well. I’ve put all of my knowledge and resources at her disposal if she ever needs it. We riders of old Tupperware bikes need to stick together.

It was also fun to meet other fans of theirs as they passed through. Quite by accident, I picked up a few new followers of my own thanks to meeting through them, so thanks for that!

Photo: Carolyn Marks

After the show, we fought our way through horrible traffic. Thank goodness for legal lane splitting. Reuben led us to a Salvadoran restaurant in LA. We got a table for four, plus room for our helmets and gear. As Reuben promised, the pupusas and other food were of even better quality than the place Carolyn brought me to in Montebello, which was still very good. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: trust a local to lead you to the best stuff in any given area. We parted ways after dinner, and Carolyn and I fought even more traffic back to her place.

I slept in the next day, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Still, temperatures in the 80s called me to the road once again, this time for the riding. I took Carolyn’s Sportster back to Angeles Crest, this time to ride the entire road from west to east, then loop back to her place on the highway. I’d ridden the entire road in bits and pieces, but never all at one time, or on the same bike, so that was my goal. I slapped my GoPro to the side of my helmet and recorded the trip until the battery ran out. I’ll edit that together and post it up here at some point.

There’s not much I can say about this run through Angeles Crest that I haven’t already said. The one part that sticks out is just how crazy the temperature change is as you go through the whole thing. At Carolyn’s, I was 500 feet above sea level. I wore all my mesh riding gear with no liners and was still a bit warm as I worked my way out of the city. As I climbed to a peak of 7,900 feet, the liners went in, and I was still cold. Fortunately, I could feel the air warming up around me on the steep descent from Wrightwood down into the San Bernardino valley. I now fully understand why van lifers in Arizona prefer to drive to higher elevations than long distances north when it gets hot in the summer. The temperature change is profound.

If you’re wondering what’s up with my van, you’re not alone. I just took a ride down there (on my own bike this time) to get my Jackery charging cables and to see what’s up. Ironically, the vacuum leak is fixed, but it’s the parking brake cables they’re having trouble with. Every time they get a set that’s supposed to be for my van, it doesn’t fit. At this point, they’re in the process of fabricating a bracket to make the cables they have work, since the ones that work simply aren’t available. I guess I know why the company that owned the van before me didn’t fix them properly before I bought it.

Of course, custom fabrication work takes extra time and costs extra money. I’m hoping my simple request to fix my parking brake doesn’t add a ton of time and expense to what’s already going to be an expensive repair. The good news is, they think I should have it back tomorrow. Of course, I’ve heard promises of a short-term return several times now, so I don’t really believe them anymore. I did say I’d like to hit the road after Thanksgiving, which is the truth. I’m also going to need a couple of days to move back into the van and make sure everything’s working.

Including the house batteries. They’d moved the van to a different bay, and didn’t plug it back in. When I popped inside to grab my Jackery charger, the refrigerator was flashing a low battery warning. I pulled up the Renogy app (the one and only time it’s ever been genuinely useful to me since I can’t get inside to look at my battery monitor), and it was at 11.9 volts. It’s not supposed to get under 12.3. I plugged it in and the voltage immediately jumped up to 12, so I hope they haven’t been damaged from being depleted so much.

That 4.7-volt starter battery warning concerns me as well. I hope it’s a false reading. At least if it isn’t, and worst case they killed my starter battery, that’s on them to replace. I’m more concerned about my house batteries. I absolutely need them in order to work and maintain my life on the road.

Oh, and I still have to test fire and run my propane heater, since I didn’t have a chance to do that after moving it to a higher mounting location. Temperatures are getting down to the 40s in Quartzite, so I want to make sure I have the heat working before I go.

I seriously hope I don’t have to take the van to a shop again for a long, long time after this. While it’s happened in about the best situation I can ask for, it’s still inconvenient to be without my home. Plus, a regular repair shop doesn’t know the first thing about maintaining the charge of house batteries, since it’s not something they ever really encounter. While damaged batteries could be an excuse to upgrade to lighter lithium batteries if I need to replace them anyway, I seriously hope I don’t need to. Plus, I don’t know if I can afford lithium batteries after all these van repairs. That’s why I stuck to AGM batteries in the first place.

At any rate, it looks like I’ll be in LA for Thanksgiving, and hopefully able to depart soon after to make my way to Quartzite. I have a stop or two I’ve thought about making on the way, but I’m not sure if I will or not. It’s about a 4-hour highway drive from LA to Quartzite, so I could easily do it in a day if I wanted to, and make up a little bit of lost time. On the other hand, Quartzite isn’t going anywhere. It’ll be there when I get there, so no need to rush. I’ll have to see how I feel about it once the van is back, tested, loaded, and ready to go.

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