“Shakedown” is what we said we were going to do a month before we left. A weekend trip into the mountains with limited gear, but it isn't the real deal. Little can prepare you for a change of life that turns your weekend getaways into a new lifestyle. And so what were to be the first days of a new beginning turned into an assessment of what was missed before we left. The bikes revealed their antiquity and our own minds began to clear as we started stripping away the things that made us who we were on that little farm in Salt Lake City. The Shakedown was supposed to be for the bikes, but extended beyond them.
We shall start with the motorcycles. As mentioned on our first day we discovered we had a leaky brake and a broken shock. A good start. “Leaky and Squeaky” we were. In Bishop, California Scott had an eBay front brake assembly shipped but of course it too was leaky. Well, that’s what happens to old things so a rebuild kit for the replacement brake was ordered. It wasn’t ideal traveling the windy California mountain roads with terrible handling and no front brake but well-timed downshifting and an eye for potholes got us through. Sharah ordered a brand new YSS shock from England and had it shipped to Los Angeles, a mere 700 miles away, so the ride was going to be a trial of discomfort for both of us.
Funny story. Did we mention the gasket on the Hammer's gas cap broke and fell in pieces into the gas tank? Gas was leaking out the cap and down the sides with every bump and it was not a great scene. I (Scott) thought of an ingenious solution. By wadding up gorilla tape around the gas cap it would act as a new gasket, but this failed as the gas dissolved the glue and then the tape and the glue sank into the tank to mix with the old gasket. Oops. Luckily Clarke Manufacturing is only one state away in Oregon and their rush delivery to Auburn, California was a 2-day job. In the meantime we took off the tank and filtered the remaining gas through a rag into Whisker’s tank. Thanks to parking lots and ingenuity we cleaned out the glue and were on our way.
Despite mechanical headaches and work obligations, we made time to enjoy the coast.... California beaches and a land-locked Big Sur stuck in time and place gave us the spaces we needed to remember that it's not all work and moto mechanics (reading books and making coffee at the top of a chilly mountain in Big Sur with an ocean view - not a bad way to wake up)
Oh but what a beautiful thing it is to have a new shock for the Hammer. The YSS shock is shiny and sturdy and beautiful. I wouldn't say I don’t want flowers (I do)… I also want shocks. A bouquet of bounce and good handling. In our friends’ driveway in LA we replaced Scott’s over-worked rear brakes and my shock, chain, and sprockets. Then we paid a quick visit to our friends at Lucky Wheels, a DIY motorcycle collective of sorts for a quick weld on the Hammer’s rack, an oil change on Whiskers, and a few beers with good people. With new parts the Hammer felt like a new machine all together and Whiskers can stop - maybe not on a dime - but, can stop.
Aside from moto mechanics, it has been a gear shakedown. The packing, re-packing, re-configuring, and dialing down methods and arrangements can be surprisingly frustrating. We have already broken four of our supposedly indestructible Rok-straps (once Sharah punched herself in the face as it broke), and ditched a pelican case and a laptop to save weight and space. Packing these mid-80’s enduros is a feat in and of itself. We keep seeing modern motorcycles with perfect side cases and minimal gear - but they aren’t fixing their own bikes, or camping, or carrying filming equipment, cooking dinner every night, or riding old motorcycle-tractors. It may look like we have a lot of extra stuff but it’s really pretty minimal. Minimal in the sense that tools plus parts plus spare tubes plus lenses plus this and that and this and a killer first aid kit including sutures really isn’t that much. Oh except maybe my winter coats that were a blessing in the eastern Sierras but are becoming a heavy, bulky, curse as we approach the Tropics. I guess we are prepared for almost anything.
Finally, the other shakedown has been work related. In Cali we were finishing a film project about honey bees - which meant - carting film equipment and extra gear around to beekeepers, almond orchards, and beyond while riding all morning, then deconstructing the motos, filming and interviewing, reconstructing the motos, and riding all night, then editing for 12 hours a day for a week; rinse and repeat!
When we finally left LA it felt like we were embarking for the first time, again. Saying goodbye to friends, leaving the film project behind, leaving the country behind. Ahhhhhhhhhh on to a long lost friend in San Diego (so good), and Mexico!
The great shakedown. We could write so much about it but for now the photos shall tell a story, and on to Tecate for visas and motorcycle import! Viva Mexico!
S and S