Well, I rode all the way up from LA County to about 40 miles south of my destination (Zephyr Cove, Nevada, on Lake Tahoe) but couldn't get over the pass on Highway 88 yesterday. The earlier weather reports didn't predict all the snow they got up there. When I was heading up the pass, I had to stop for road construction and one of the workers said something about chain control up ahead and that I might be told I had to turn around, but tha I was welcome to try if I wanted. Although I grew up in the snow belt of upstate New York, I have never really spent much time in the mountains, so I guess I did not clearly understand what those words "chain control" implied. Also, I had already ridden 450 miles to get there and had only a few miles to go. So I continued on and made it up to 8000 feet and then as far as Silver Lake with the roads looking remarkably good, but then it started snowing and the already-cold temperatures dropped further down to 33 degrees F. The road suddenly narrowed to two snow tracks and all the vehicles pulled over. It was obvious that the risk-benefit ratio had just tipped the in wrong direction, so I turned around.
The hardest part was turning the R1200RT around in the slushy, snowy mess with anxious drivers still trying to head through in both directions. I truly hadn't intended on riding in these conditions, but the road had been looking okay until very quickly it didn't, and by the time I could come to a gentle stop without skidding, I was stopped on a less-than-ideal surface. I now understand why they require chains to be put on before vehicles reach the snowed-in segment of the road, because basically, it's okay until it isn't, and then can you lose traction before you've even had a chance to think, "Gee, I should probably turn around and head back". There were about 10 cars and trucks that all pulled over at the same time and their drivers must have gone through the same thought process that I did, although it sounded like some were planning to wait it out by the side of the road and then try again. Not me, man! I had to make a U turn that I hope never to have to repeat, but I am grateful that the bike remained shiny-side up and we made it back down the pass with no further difficulties. Then, because I had nowhere to stay up there as I was now unable to get through to Zephyr Cove, I decided to cut my losses and ride all the way back home rather than scramble around for another motel.
So I ended up doing a 600+ mile ride yesterday, all told. It was an adventure, as they say. Makes you appreciate those Urals with sidecars!