Sunday, May 01, 2005

I score a set Hot 'n Tasty Twins at Rancho Mirage!

As the jet took off from White Plains Airport I closed my eyes to welcome the sandman. It was barely time to open for business and I'd already spent the last few hours moving at warp speed. Now it was time for the professionals to do their job so I could catch some shut-eye.

The Plan: Fly to Cali for two nights at the exclusive Westin Mission Hills Resort and Spa in Rancho Mirage where I had a date with not one but two hot twins. You might expect that at my age and having been married nearly a quarter-century I'd know better than to drop everything and spend a full day traveling completely across the country just to meet a couple of young twins. Well Bunkie, I may be middle-aged and married but as has been said many times before, "I ain't dead!" Besides I was their guest and they come from a very well respected family that I couldn't refuse. As I fell asleep I figured that at the very best I'd get would be to spend a few hours alone with each one for a quick fondle and grope. I'd just have to ditch the rest of their family. At 30,000 feet I fell asleep visualizing what I was going to do when I finally got to California.

The yellow sign bore a twenty mile-per-hour warning coupled to a squiggly arrow curved more ways than a Coney Island contortionist on a holiday weekend. A train of newly minted silver motorcycles sprouting leather-clad pilots spin by effortlessly at triple that speed. Desert wildflowers lined the road in stripes of yellow, red and blue that shivered in the passing vortex. On the horizon volcanic rock hills glowed red as they bathed in the last rays of sporadic spring sunlight. The entire scene was a breathtaking tableau of man, machine and nature.

In either direction the road offers an mélange of hairpins and switchbacks carved into canyon walls and mountainsides following paths that could only have been dreamed up by a deranged landscaper during a drug-induced joy-ride in a bulldozer. Or by a motorcyclist.

Some roads travel full circle or more as they cling to the canyon walls on an inner spiral only to spin out to the hillside roller-coaster-style with each turn demanding total concentration to negotiate at speed.

I'm part of a small cadre of motorcycle journalists privileged to be riding BMW's latest sport touring twins, the R1200ST and RT. We've just left the tight twisties of Mount Palomar and as we descend the hairpins that open up to sweeping curves with panoramic views of high desert, civilization, and in the distance Rancho Mirage home to the Westin Mission Hills Resort and Spa. I fought the urge to do a 180 and head back to the hills.

My pre-lunch riding hours were spent fondling the R1200RT. Both of these twins represent the latest incarnation of BMW's two-wheeled philosophy. For '05 the engineers added power and shaved weight; the standard formula for going faster and improving handling, and they did it well, increasing power by more than 10% on both bikes and reducing weight on the RT by 70 pounds and the ST by 55 pounds over their respective predecessors.

While I prefer the low bars, lighter weight, sleek profile and altered chassis design of the sporty ST especially for canyon carving, those of you who carry a passenger will find the luxury of the RT as difficult to pass up as it is for others to pass it. From the wind and weather protection of the motorized windscreen to the RT's heated seat and grips this bike is equipped perfectly for early spring temperature changes that occur during a long day's ride. And as darkness falls the new triple H7 headlights with show you the path.

Both bikes instantly rocket to illegal speeds courtesy of BMW's latest re-design of the 4-valve twin 1170cc powerplant that they introduced in 1994. Shaving that speed off when you see the trooper is effortless thanks to servo-assisted brakes with ABS.

The big tech news is the optional ($750) electronic suspension adjustment aka ESA; which allows you to tune the ride to meet your handling desires as easy as it is to change radio stations on the single-CD stereo receiver.

With the day's riding over and all of us flying or riding off in different directions BMW once again proved their command of touring uncharted territory by taking us to dinner at a Caribbean yacht club in the middle of the desert but all I really wanted to do was play with the twins some more.

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