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September 25, 2017

Alameda - The Rapy

Like...I can't tell you how much fun today was.

I've been working in Oakland, but without transportation, really. So that, you sort of get used to seeing the city from the inside of a BART train. And, you sort of only get that one perspective. But then, this week, I have the KTM back up here (after riding it 400+ miles yesterday from LAX).

So, now, suddenly the city has a completely different look and feel. I hardly even recognize Berkeley. Now, I come in on University, instead of on the BART lines. At work, I park on the street. But then I see a guy with a helmet walking around on the 7th floor. Dude...where did you park? I parked on the street across from CVS. I offer.

"No...that's only 2 hour parking. You can't park there. THey'll tow you. There's machines where you're supposed to pay, and you put the paper receipt on your dash. There's signs everywhere that say this."

"Oh. Bummer."

"But, you can park in the hills above West Grand, and over there, it's all day parking...just a few blcoks."

So, I move my bike at park at roughtly 308 Lenox Street in Oakland. I don't see any signs that say I can't park there, except for the first MOnday of every month.

Now, my bike is parked and I go inside and sort of suffer through the day. Like...I don't know why I'm here, but I do the best I can.

After work, I decide that I'll ride around and shoot. Because, that's what makes me happiest.

Like...I don't know what to do with my life, but I have to get out and do whatever it is that has a chance of making me happy.

I go back to my KTM after work, not sure if it will be there, since I pulled the plates off of it yesterday. But, the bike is still there where I left it. Just across West Grand from Lake Merritt and Fairyland.

I hop on the bike and start rolling around. I don't have a lot of time before dark. And rolling into SF is such a nightmare of traffic, that I decide to stay and shoot in Oakland. But I've shot all of the murals in Oakland's China Town. So, I sort of keep rolling, unsure of where to go.

But, eventually, I decide to sort of follow the road east, towards Fruitvale Station. I end up sort of loosely following BART east, and now I'm finding some really amazing murals. Work I've never seen before, much less shot. It's like I'm seeing the city through a new lens. From a new perspective. Now, as we go east, the city gets rougher and rougher. More and more dangerous. More police. And, my bike has no plates because I pulled them off for the duration of my stay in Oakland.

But you can't be too careful in this area of the hood. I have 3 visible cameras on me: GoPro, 50D with 17-85mm lens, 50d with 100-400 mm lens.

At some point, a homeless miscreant sees me, and just breaks into a dead run to attack me. I just pop the clutch and open the throttle.

Somewhere near Fruitvale station, which is a pretty gross/dangerous area of Oakland, I go across a bridge that I didn't even mean to really. I'm rolling south, and suddenly, I cross a bridge and now, I'm suddenly in the suburbs from the 1950's. There's normal looking people. It's not just a criminal cess pool like east oakland. I can't believe it. Parks. Kids playing ball. Riding their bikes. I can't believe my eyes. I stop and ask a guy..."Where are we? What happened? I just rolled across a bridge, and it's like I'm on a different planet."

This is alameda, he says. Pretty amazing difference when you cross that bridge, huh?

Lord. I'll say.

I pass a Massage Therapy store that says "TheRapy", which is an interesting choice of capital letters.

Once it gets to be dark, I start looking for my sushi place, the Poke Zone in Oakland's China Town. I hop onto I-880 heading west (In LA they would say THE I-880, but here it's just I-880).

Exit at Broadway. I now know that this is the way to Jack London Square. I figured that out last time I was out here (2 weeks ago). Jack London Square is where I came to when my bike broke down on the Pacific Coast Highway a few years back and I rode the Amtrack back to SF bay area).

What's sort of funny is that, this year, I've sort of gradually reconstructed my little motorcycle adventure where I road my XR down the Pacific Coast Highway and it broke down on me south of Big Sur. Then, I was picked up by kind strangers, abandoning the bike on the side of the road, south to Cambria to a hotel. Then a bus from Cambria to Moss Landing. Changed buses at Moss Landing to San Luis Obispo. Then, from SLO, on the Amtrak back to Jack London Square. Then, somehow over to the Embarcadaro.

I don't really know how I'm going to do from here on out.

My last day on the project is Thursday/Friday.

After that, I dunno what to do. Like...at some point, I've got to get on the KTM and ride it back to Denver across Tioga Pass.

But, today was so insanely fun, that I'm reluctant to leave.

Like...I found scads of murals I've never seen before. The KTM is running pretty well. I added a quart of oil to it at UCLA. Now, maybe I could oil the chain, but it's running pretty well. Might need some air in the front tire also.

And, I'm surprised at how happy I am to be riding the bike around Oakland. It makes me think that I really do need to go down to South America to roll around down there a bit.

Posted by Rob Kiser on September 25, 2017 at 8:33 PM


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