April 5, 2009

San Francisco Dash: Day One

Vancouver B.C. to Medford, Oregon (970km)
March 19, 2009

I was out the door at 06:35 to a dark, cold, and rainy day. Traffic to the border was light as I rushed against suburban traffic. There were no problems crossing the line other than juggling gloves and helmets after getting the photo taken and driving up to the booth. I gassed up just after the border, and then prepared to shot through Seattle and its rush hour traffic and quickly as possible. It was still cold and raining.

Seattle has great carpool lanes (which bikes are allowed on) and express routes so I was through quicker than expected. I had originally planned for a breakfast stop but thought the better of it and pressed on. I had a long long way to go and at 200km it had barely started for the day.

The I5 (U.S. interstate) is a fine enough route through Washington and Oregon states, but nothing spectacular. It's the 'tastes like chicken' of roads inspiring only blasé familiarity. Breakfast was a Cliff Bar (energy bar) savoured at a few gas stops.

The rain continued all through Washington and most of Oregon. Stopping in Maytown rest stop I because so cold an uncontrollable chill set in and I had to warm up under the electric air dryers in the washroom. I planned on eating a sandwich I had bought back in Vancouver the day before in a desperate attempt to avoid the fast food chains that would be temping travelers who didn't know where else to turn. It's a testament to the heated jacket that I looked forward to getting back on the bike and feeling the warmth soak through. It wasn't until Roseburg the sun came out, and when it did the day turned spectacular.

Nine hundred kilometers into the first day and the weather was now in my favour. In the beautiful dusk light I finished the ride into Medford, OR, and found a cheap motel. Travel Lodge was clean, friendly, and $40 per night.

I sent an SMS to A.S. inquiring about places to grab dinner in Medford. A pizza place was sourced and off I went. At some point I decided I should check my oil while the bike was still warm and discovered the level was low, low enough to warrant filling up with more before the next day's ride. BMWs take a peculiar weight of oil that I knew would be difficult to find. After about and hour of riding around trying to find an open shop I ended up at Walmart and bought some oil. Heading to the bike to fill it up I discovered that in fact it didn't need oil, I just hadn't waited long enough before checking it before. The pizza sandwich I ended up with was remarkable only in its unremarkableness and I was glad to hit bed.

The next day promised much better riding as I was going to head into Shasta-Trinity forest in California.

Check out the series
Prelude: Trip preparation
Part 1: Vancouver to Medford
Part 2: Medford to San Francisco via Shasta-Trinity Forest
Part 3: San Francisco to Medford via Klamath Falls
Part 4: Medford to Vancouver
Coda: Conclusions to a great spring trip

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