My dad bought me a KZ 90 -a Kawasaki- when I was 12. I loved that motorcycle. For a 12 year-old it was a source of freedom. A way to get in to trouble a little quicker. One day I went over a jump that was a little to big and wiped out pretty good, busted the front shocks. My dad saw the whole thing and realized I was a little loony. In high school I graduated to a bigger bike. After about a year of riding it, I almost got sucked under a big rig at 55mph. I promptly put it away. A car seemed to be a safer bet.

Until the inaugural Tour of California, my last ride on a motorcycle had been 30 years past.

Now, I’m a big and tall guy. I can’t go to just any clothing store to buy my duds and sometimes feel weird about my size, even more so on the back of a motorcycle. It makes me feel a little like Herman Munster. Good thing my driver was 6-5 too. We were the largest duo on the road, hands down. The motorcycle shocks were buried a couple of times.

I plan all year for my one day on a motorcycle chasing the Tour of California. I stretch, do hip flexors at a gym and read up on all the riders and memorize their tour numbers. You know, Levi #1, Lance # 2, Cavendish # 13. If I am going to cover it, I need to know who to shoot while on the back of a motorcycle. Too hard to read a cheat sheet while going 40 MPH downhill.

Like I’ve mentioned before, last year was pretty bad. The rain was not a pleasant experience. I learned quite a bit from the 2009 foray.

This year, the rain reappeared as we hit the coastal range. Of course, the non curvy part of the course WAS JUST FINE. Precipitation hit just above Lake Berryessa and became progressively worse. It wasn’t a February drenching but the rain felt like needles lightly poking my face . Howell Mountain Road in Napa was a pretty smooth ride though. In 2009, my driver and I got stuck with the peloton on the ride down and became absolutely treacherous, downright scary as we went side by side with the riders. We got down the hill in front of the peloton on Monday, which let me plan for a scenic in the Napa Valley.

Then the Oakville/ Trinity grade.

Trinity Road is scary in a car when it’s DRY, but when it’s wet and toured on a motorcycle it takes ultimate concentration just to hang on, much less make photos. The grade absolutely scattered the field out. Riders that were cruising before, gasped for air on the way up. Ninety degree switchbacks added a little more misery to peddling.

I have to say, coming down Trinity with rain on the road was not real fun. Plain and simple.

Bennett Valley Road has to qualify as the bumpiest road in Sonoma County as you head out of Glen Ellen. I felt every dip, pothole and swale.

When I turned in for shuteye last night, I still felt like I was riding on the back of the motorcycle. Truly strange it was.

Would I do this again?


-Kent Porter