Our first stop of the day was Rancho Cordova near Sacramento to visit Clearwater Lights. We have two sets of their brilliant lights (pun intended) on the bike – one set each of Glenda and Krista. There was a cosmetic issue with the Glenda bezels which had faded in the sunlight (apparently a few had got through quality control with inadequate UV protection) and Glenn, the owner of Clearwater, had been happy to offer to replace them.
We started out nice and early as we were heading to our new friend Don’s house in San Raphael afterwards and didn’t want to arrive late.
As ever the early morning mists provided some beautiful scenery and the road was practically empty. We did get overtaken by a lad on a sports bike. Kevin spotted him coming and warned me: “We’ll be moving over in a minute as there’s a sports bike coming up behind us’…[pause]…”Oh maybe not, he’s only catching us up on the straight bits”. Sure enough, on the next straight we moved over and he came shooting past us. There was a bend just in front and we saw him brake, sit up, wobble, brake a bit more then just about get round the bend on the correct side of the road before pulling into a lay-by. We assume he’d stopped to get on the phone to his local BMW dealer to order a GS!
As we went nearer to and further away from the coast we either had the sun in our eyes or were enveloped in the morning mist. I noticed the sun/mist battle created a very interesting effect – it looked like a rainbow but without the colours. I wasn’t sure if it was an optical illusion or whether the camera would pick it up. It did. You’ll have to excuse the electric wires in these shots, I got quite frustrated that I couldn’t avoid them but I suppose they have to go somewhere.
We rode round a huge lake which obviously reminded someone in the old days of Switzerland as the town was called Geneva. It was probably the prettiest lake we had ridden past – gloriously blue with trees and some houses but it wasn’t totally built-up like a lot of other lakes, some of which don’t provide such good views from the road. Many of the waterfront houses had long jetties with boats suspended out of the water.
As we drew nearer to Sacramento the land dried out again although there were plenty of vineyards. We rode past miles and miles of them and I wondered how they harvest the grapes, some sort of mechanisation I assume.
The road here was still not too busy and had enough bends to keep Kevin happy.
We arrived at Clearwater to discover they had moved into these premises a few days ago. Nevertheless Glenn was happy to give us a tour. Whilst this was going on he assigned a couple of his engineers to swap out the Glenda bezels. Unfortunately it took rather longer than anticipated as the threads on the mounts stripped and in the end the whole casings were changed. Glenn also asked them to change the lenses on the Kristas.
Eventually the lights were finished and we headed towards San Raphael. There was no charge – “All part of the service” – and we left very happy with two sets of very clean, shiny, lights. If you’re in the market for auxiliary lights we’d have no hesitation in recommending Clearwater. The lights aren’t cheap but you really do get what you pay for. We first bought some of these for our 1400GTR and the first time I saw them perform at night I suggested to Kevin that we got a pair for the FJR as well. We no longer have a GTR and its auxiliary lights have migrated to the GSA.
Thanks very much Glenn and thank you Billy and the others for your hard work.
We bought our lights directly from Clearwater in the US but there is a now a UK distributor.
If you’ve read earlier entries for our trip you may remember we met Don in Sacramento, during the IBR, at Haustyle Motorcycles when we were having the tyres changed. We chatted for quite a while whilst the work was being done and he very kindly invited us to stay with him on our return trip if we were passing by. He’d also been in contact with Kevin via email giving him some road suggestions which were excellent.
The road to San Raphael was extremely busy in places but coming the other way from San Francisco was even worse. We hoped we wouldn’t have to come back this way.
We arrived in Don’s street and stopped when the SatNav told us to. We weren’t sure what the number was as we hadn’t noted it on the waypoint name so I gave Don a quick call and discovered the house we’d pulled up outside was theirs. He wasn’t home yet and neither was his wife Kim so he told me where to find the key. It was very strange being in someone else’s home when we’d never been there before and they weren’t around, but nice to be able to sit and chill out for a while.
Don and Kim soon returned and we had a lovely evening eating, drinking, chatting and sorting out what we would do over the next couple of days. We decided to play it by ear, depending on how tired we were in the morning, but we knew we’d be going to their favourite café for breakfast.