Last part of Tuesday’s run of 800 miles!

Tuesday night and against all logical thought we are here, plugged into shore power and ready for whatever this year has in store.

Our normal visit leaves Co on the Saturday morning and arrives in Calistoga Sunday evening. Gentle first couple of days then our wine tour day with Jason, circa Wednesday or Thursday, pick up any leftovers in the local area and then the Anniversary dinner in town Friday night to close out the show and depart on Saturday morning ready to join the working week after Sat, Sun on the road.

This year a new plan pushed the time frame back a day as one of our “wine clubs” has its party on the Saturday and was deemed worth staying on for the look……. we will see.

Wednesday now becomes the set-up and planning day and the morning drifts by at Calistoga speed. Always warm at this time of the year with daytimes between 85-90 and the evenings a very pleasant 60-75. Very soon time for the first mission which is the “Dean & Delucca” run for exotic cheeses for the picnic, something of a tradition now and today is no exception other than trusty steed, Beemer, complaining about wanting new plugs.


The Cheese run

With cheeses onboard time to try this mega burger joint which is always bursting at the seams when we go by. Our best burger award has so far been awarded to Middletown Brewery and of course we are hoping its still standing after the fire.


Getting ready for burgers


The selection

St Helena then and our first visit to Gott’s. Burgers are good, beer not so good, but certainly worth a visit. We also take in another winery but they are already in full stories and tasting flow so we are on the outside looking in. Leave this one for another day. Traffic is very slow and has left us too short for our Sterling visit so that goes on hold and the afternoon finishes with a few drinks by the RV.
By the time we get bikes out and tires pumped up we seem to have missed all the appetizers that we were hoping for so its Brannans again and a run down their list.


The appetizer run through

Not the “appetizers” we really wanted but still very good.




Brenda returns from her LA visit to see Phil and brings back a nice souvenir cold. Sure enough, with incubation complete, it descends over me on the Sunday afternoon.

It goes into the classic Monday and Tuesday with watery eyes and nose running like a tap. 7 days left to it’s own devices or about a week with treatment as they say. Just Wednesday and Thursday to get through as its Friday OFF and my last 2 rides of the year at Turkey Rock.

Lack of sleep is beginning to hurt and energy levels are at an all time low. Just can’t get to sleep at night with constant coughing and whatever I do I can not get comfortable, either be that sitting up or in bed. The Trial comes and goes, 2 zero score cards are on the books and amazingly I had two good nights sleep on the Safari.


Great weekend with 2 x Zero Cards

Another week begins and its deja-vu once more and I’m right back where I was last week with watery eyes and running nose. Meanwhile as I suffer news is coming in of a mega fire over in Napa Valley with some areas that we frequent already devastated including our “bendy ride” and favorite burger up in Middletown . The Campground where we always stay is now the Evacuation Center for some of the homeless from the 1000 houses that were engulfed. While we discuss whether our annual visit is on ? or off ? the good old cold enters week 3 and shows no signs or doing anything different so its time for a visit to the Doctor.

Doctor is very helpful, thinks it might be pneumonia, but gives me anti-biotics and other drugs various. The “anti” either kill it or break it up and I’m coughing stuff up like a cross between a sludge pump and cement mixer! …….. but as always sleep is the penalty and I’m not getting any. …….. back to the Doctor who gives me some sleep pills. They come with NO WARNINGS and work exceedingly well. The ONLY problem is that although I can be up at 0430 feeling somewhat refreshed its impossible to know when the little devils are done? A “few” out of lane experiences is all I will say here!! No more pills then! these are far too dangerous.

The weekend arrives and still no decision other than Friday is called in as “sick day” ….. first I’ve ever taken ( more on this later). A lot of planning went into this trip but there are still 2 days left before departure so let the situation bounce along until a Monday morning Go/No Go vote is taken. Having come all this way we are ready to leave. Wise choice or not ? Light rain and damp roads so we will give it a try.

Stop in at the Bus Barn to drop off some papers, and set off on Leg 1 to Elko NV a distance of 575 miles on good smooth roads. The weather is pretty unpleasant with  low cloud, poor viz and drizzle mixed with longer periods of rain.


We wend our way out of Co and through some heavy rain in UT. Out on I70 I see they have put the speeds up to 80 mph but with vintage RV’s about 65 is just fine.


Coming out of Price

On 6 and  through Price the fall colors are not as good as usual but our timing is good and I50 traffic is reasonable as we go north up the Salt Lake freeway. More choices, night stop Toolee amid the 18 wheelers or press on for Elko 200 miles down the road. Brenda opts for a Walmart but these are not easy to find.

Mid afternoon, 400 miles in the bag, early feeding for the dogs and a beer or two for me. We are surrounded with “fast food” and KFC becomes tonight’s offering.


We dine well on KFC

Sleepwise I can get some but there are still some dangerous hangover “dreams” from those drugs. Early departure called for and with my personal medical condition climbing in the low 80% we are underway by 0610 and into yet more rain. Road directions are anything but clear but we are pointing in the right direction for the next 800 miles and now with a CA ETA of around 1830 tonight.


By about 1430 Nevada time  or now Pacific we are around Reno so  up Donner Pass and see if anything has been done this year? Well some improvement from the mid 2000’s but now there are chunks of concrete coming out AGAIN! it will be just as bad in 2 years!

Down to lower elevations and battling 6 lane freeways past Sac with bumps, holes and debris time for the big circle to the last 100 miles to Calistoga. Freeway keeps stopping and after a 10 mile crawl its a standard “Rubberneck” accident with truck and bike ……. stop, count casualties, then full power! Yes, I remember how pointlessly infuriating these were in our many years in Phoenix.

Eventually hit our northbound turnoff and now into full setting sun but amazingly our timing is still good and we roll in to our slot after 12.5 hours and 800+ miles.




My favorite trials venue “Casper”

With the weekend plan right on schedule time to drag out the Yam and give her a run as she hasn’t been ridden since Casper 2013.


Casper 2013

Since Casper she has had the new Apico footrests, new rear tire, sprocket and chain, tensioner block, and Rockshocks to replace those Magicals that were anything but! My favorite Renthals were put back on along with new grips The bike feels really good and very lively with the super motor.


NEW tire, sprocket & chain, those Rockshocks to replace the “non” Magicals and some new Apico footrests.

Going back to when Superglitz last had a revamp. The Engine and head got the BJ porting treatment along with the reed block mod. The through the frame Big Bore WES exhaust went on. New hangers from SM for the footrests as the originals were too thin. New Apico rests to complete the back end. Up front Ty350 forks, the IT front wheel and Gas Gas mudguard and brace. All singing and dancing OKO 26 and Iridium NGK topped out by the Shedworks retro tank seat unit.



TY350 forks and IT front wheel


Through the frame Big Bore WES system


MkII SM hangers with the Apicos


Gas Gas fender and brace


Flatside OKO

Sunday morning, an early start so we will be on the road early. Today no Mooning and all the sections are along the base of the Rock or close to the circular trail. Peter, John and Ed are all non starters this morning and we have Sam Reeder and Rick Fields joining Mike and myself both on Suzukis.

Section 1 is a climb over some grooves up a path. Plenty of rollers, dirt and stones and several turns to stay on line before a right turn through rocks and then run out to the ends card and the drop off!

Finding the way down and over the next adverse is 2 which is a popular bit of trials real estate and we have used this in every conceivable direction. Today take the loose path to the left and follow the slot upward over some steps to get high enough for a right hand turn then down 2 four foot drops to get on the lower bedrock plateau for a tight right hander to set up for the last two boulders to the exit.

Section 3 should be easy for everybody being just a ride around a huge rock in long grass then climb up a path for a 180 left to the exit. Took a long time to beat the grass down to see what was in it.

Section 4 is just inside the gate by yesterday’s 6. Getting up to the start gates was trickier than the actual section. Flat path with loose rubble into right turn uphill onto bedrock and turn around outcrop before dropping down steps and bigger rocks to the exit.

Follow the loop to yesterday’s 7 and here is 5. Big looping ride up a shale path and then a couple of steps, a few gnarly rocks and prickly pear.

Up the more challenging portion of the loop and I can feel that Yam power! The suspension is spot on and the Apico footrests feel great. Over the back of Saturday 8 is Sunday 6. An adverse climb up the bedrock to a loose dirt path staying on this through a series of dips to right 180 turn across the wash and the run down to the ends.

Back around the loop taking us back to the start for Section 7 with an uphill start into a precise left 180 descending turn amid rocks and loose and then following the blue through scattered rocks and dirt up and around to the exit.

Leading up to the start 8 begins on the trail, a couple of turns on loose flat rock amid knee high boulders then bounce into gulley and stay in the upward groove to the exit. Beware loose rollers!

The Trialsmasters  gave us a gift at 9 or a split marker has gone missing ?

10 is all on pumice bedrock and unless you clip a roller this should be an easy ride for the clean, in by the blue and follow all the way round the section to the exit.

A clean loop for me and reviewing what we have ridden the ones that will need care are 2, with the entry and uphill and again on the exit. 6 could get loose through the dips. The first turn of 7 must be precise and 8 could end up with a lot of loose rocks on the first turn.

Out again and safely through 1-5 but as I suspected there has been a lot of wheel spinning in the dips of 6. Re-walk that left turn on 7 and it steers well with idle power. 8 looks a bit “wobbly” and Sam rushes in and finds himself flat on the ground!

2 loops done, clean for me, and Sam on 6 after the get-off in 8. The other 2 are averaging about 15 per loop but enjoying themselves.

Once more then and clean all the way to 5. Have a look at the dips in 6 and they have all firmed up. Turn in 7 is now clearly established and the loose rocks in 8 have gone. Another clean loop and another zero card.

Easy drive home arriving at 1900 having achieved exactly what I wanted with 2 good rides and NO problems! The Yam really is a joy to ride! A stunning bike and one that deserves to be ridden a LOT more often!