WTF, let's ride the Sierra passes!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by jabandsnort, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. jabandsnort

    jabandsnort a mighty fly dancer

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2006
    Oddometer:
    192
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    SF Bay Area, California
    For the last couple years, my buddy Geddo and I have done a moto-vacation. (you can read about our previous exploits here: Utah WSBK and here: San Jose to Victoria B.C.) This year, however, we were having trouble figuring out where to go. We've gone North, we've headed east, so maybe we're due for a trip down South!?!? Well, yeah, we're due, but busy spring schedules for both of us, and a busted tib/fib on BXR, our companion from last year, forced us into an early August departure at the earliest, which, unfortunately, is a bad time to go South. Add to the mix the fact that we both have young children and are limited to the amount of time we're able to skip town and our options become more limited still... what to do? WTF, let's just ride some Sierra passes. Once that was decided, we came up with a 6 day, 5 night plan that would have us shooting up the California coast from our homes in San Jose, cutting across the state and playing in the Sierras for 4 days. We hoped BXR would be able to join us with such a late departure (shoot, Valentino Rossi was racing in 6 weeks after the same injury!) but as the date got closer we realized that it wasn't going to be. So, one stooge down, Geddo and I were off to the Sierras. :freaky
    #1
  2. jabandsnort

    jabandsnort a mighty fly dancer

    Joined:
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    After an hour or so of highly detailed planning on the back of some cocktail napkins, Geddo and I were finally ready to go. We decided to leave on a Sunday to avoid traffic, and allow for a Friday return which would then give us the weekend to recuperate from our travel induced aches and pains. Here's the pig ready to go, looking much the same as it has the last two years with the exception of the Pelican rear case mounted to a MCPPARTS rear rack and my MotoFizz mounted to a pillion plate from the same manufacturer. (For you GS guys out there, these parts are amazing, I can't recommend them highly enough)

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    The ride started well with a beautiful, if foggy, cruise over the Golden Gate.

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    We normally avoid big highways like the plague, but to make the most of our time we planned to slab it up 101 all the way to 128 at which time we'd jump over to 1 for some coastal views before we headed inland for the mountains. Right at the 101/128 junction we stopped at a BBQ joint. I forget the name, but this is what the parking lot looks like:

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    The food was good, I'd recommend it if you're in the area. Anyway, FINALLY, some nice twisty roads, 128 here we come!!

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    Hey, wait a minute, where's Geddo!?!? What's he doing back there on the side of the road?

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    What? The oil light came on? Does it need oil?

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    F*&K

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    and finally

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    Damn. Anybody know a good Guzzi mechanic in the Bay Area? What's next? Vacation over so soon? Nah, stay tuned for Act 2: You meet the nicest (and oldest) people on a Honda.
    #2
  3. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

    Joined:
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    17,206
    Location:
    Über Alles,California

    Please be ok, little Guzzi. :huh


    Was there a KLR under that bed roll? :lol3
    #3
  4. teachnsurf

    teachnsurf Bonnie Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    254
    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Oh, man. What a place to leave us hanging.

    I can't wait to see what happens.
    #4
  5. jabandsnort

    jabandsnort a mighty fly dancer

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2006
    Oddometer:
    192
    Location:
    SF Bay Area, California
    Being that it was a Sunday, and pretty much everything worth wild motorcycle related was going to be closed until Tuesday, we had no choice but to call off the ride and regroup. Geddo, to his credit, wanting to preserve our much needed moto-vacation pretty much said right away that he'd start looking for a rental. Fingers crossed, we tentatively planned for a Tuesday departure for a slightly abbreviated tour of some Sierra passes. Sorry coast, maybe we'll see you next year.
    Fast forward to Tuesday morning at 11:00am, here comes Geddo on his shiny, (relatively) new rental Honda ST1300!

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    (pay no attention to the finger obscuring Geddo's head, I'm new at taking pics while riding)
    Anyway, off we go! The route for day one was fairly simple, 152E, 99N, 140E, 49N, 120E over the Tioga Pass to camp somewhere on the other side. We never make reservations, preferring instead to keep our options open.
    Here's on of the few pics where he's actually behind me, come to find out that although it seems terribly bland (sorry ST1300 owners, but it is) the ST is a super capable and fast machine.

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    120 is a beautiful road, you all should ride it at least once. Here's Geddo paying our toll (the silence you hear right now while looking at this pic, is about 2 decibles louder than the sound that comes out of the STs actual exhaust pipes)

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    Here's the pig at one of the rest stops

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    The first day was pretty uneventful, and we ended up camping at the same campground (and almost the same spot) as we had two years ago.

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    Next up, the Bodie Ghost town and the Sonora and Ebbets passes.
    #5
  6. SO CAL CHARLIE

    SO CAL CHARLIE Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    23
    watch out for the bears around midnite in that pup tent
    #6
  7. jabandsnort

    jabandsnort a mighty fly dancer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    192
    Location:
    SF Bay Area, California
    No worries, that's Geddo's tent. I spread some beef jerky around it, and then pitched mine on the other side of the campground. :rofl

    Actually, bears can be a problem, but we don't do any food at our campsite so we're about as safe as we can be.
    #7
  8. Geddo

    Geddo ADV-11

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
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    Location:
    Home of the Sharks!
    Bummer start to a week long trip, here's how it went from my POV

    Pre-flight checks all done, fluids good, lights working, bags packed and strapped I head over to Jab's
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    As mentioned by Jab we hit the slab and ride straight out through SF headed for 128 and the coast, here is the GG
    Bridge
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    Self Portrait
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    I took a trip with my wife out to Mendocino on 128 a couple years back and the whole time I was driving down this
    road all I could think was- I need to ride this someday! We finally turn off 101 and eat at the BBQ place at the
    entrance to 128... good food.

    Belly's full of BBQ sauce we jump on our bikes, the show is finally about to begin... this is going to be a great
    ride. We start down 128 and hit the first turn, I notice the bike is losing power, wtf? I give it some throttle
    thinking she needs a spur to get her out of the dull straight mindset but the red oil light comes on, wtf!? I slow
    the throttle and look for a place to pull over, no room on the side of the road but I spy a place to pull in up
    ahead, someone decides to start smacking the cylinder with a hammer at about this time, WTF!?!?

    I kill the engine and glide to the private driveway, we check the oil and the level is right, no leaks or smoke.
    We try adding oil to see if that helps, no dice. A call to the AMA Roadside gets me a tow from Lenny at Redwoods
    Motorcycle Tow and Transport, great guy I highly recommend him if you need assistance in that area. He agrees to
    haul me back all the way to SJ, I wave goodbye to Jab and promise to find a solution to continue our trip. A few
    hours and a couple hundred bucks later I am home looking for something to rent, I spy a couple of options and place
    some calls the next day.

    My search leads me to a BMW 1200RT or a 1200GT, both booked but "we have Harley's", hmmm Sierra passes on a Harley, "no
    thanks." I then call the second option a Honda ST1300, well they had Harleys and Goldwings as well but they just
    aren't what I am looking for. The ST1300 looks capable enough if a little less than exciting, I mean it's no
    Italian beauty but I don't suspect it will leave me stranded and heart broken on the side of the road either... hot chicks
    can be fickle bitches!
    #8
  9. Geddo

    Geddo ADV-11

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    233
    Location:
    Home of the Sharks!
    Loading up
    [​IMG]

    I start the engine, wait is this thing on!? Damn how can you tell, a quick twist of the throttle, yeah its
    running. This is an incredibly quiet and smooth running machine, I'd say it runs like a sewing machine but I
    wouldn't want to cast aspersions at the sewing machine.

    I will say one thing about this bike, it can pack it in, I put all my stuff in the hard bags and am ready for the
    road. My first impression of this bike is that for a 1300 it sure is tame and easy ride, power is good to great
    with a very smooth power curve, add to that the electric windshield, adjustable head light, relatively comfy stock
    seat... not too bad.

    Back at Jab's for a dose of deja vu we finally move out, slabbing to Tioga Pass and camping in Yosemite. As I pull
    up to the first stoplight we hit I look over at the car next to us and a nice older lady in an Oldsmobile is
    staring at my bike, not just a quick glance either, she is staring at my bike like she's a cougar and I am sitting
    on a giant silver rabbit, hmm that's odd they're usually averting their gaze from me.

    As we head to Tioga Pass I am starting to notice a trend, the more experienced members of our population keep
    looking at 'MY' bike, with a friendly wave or just to come up to say "Hi, where you headed?". This is quite
    strange to me, I get it some when I am on my Guzzi but it is usually from other people on motorcycles, these are
    just the normal natives rolling on 4 wheels. I have never associated the bike I ride with the attitudes of the
    general public before, never noticed it I guess, until now.

    We get to camp in Yosemite, I am out in the field setting up my tent and a guy walks up to my bike, right past Jab
    and his GS, and says "HEY! how's the ST?" Turns out he has an ST and wants to talk a little shop. I tell him it's
    actually a rental but I think it is a really good bike if a little lacking in the character department. He frowns
    and says "well that's because you need to get some farckles!". He tells me a few tall stories and we share some
    talk about riding position improvements. He departs after a while, turns out he wasn't even in our campsite he was
    just driving by and saw the bike and decided to stop.

    My spider senses are tingling... :eek1
    #9
  10. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    61,031
    We gotta see more pics from Yosemite :deal

    :lurk
    #10
  11. Geddo

    Geddo ADV-11

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
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    233
    Location:
    Home of the Sharks!
    Yeah, that's going to have to be Jab's department, I wasn't able to take on bike pics without my tank bag and we didn't have much time to stop and smell the roses in Yosemite. My posts are going to be light on pics but Jab can fill in the blanks with his pics.

    Jab...
    #11
  12. jabandsnort

    jabandsnort a mighty fly dancer

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2006
    Oddometer:
    192
    Location:
    SF Bay Area, California
    We blew through Yosemite pretty quick, but here's a few more pics for Gadget Boy.

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    #12
  13. jabandsnort

    jabandsnort a mighty fly dancer

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2006
    Oddometer:
    192
    Location:
    SF Bay Area, California
    After a mosquito filled evening and COLD night (note to self; 40 degree sleeping bags are NOT comfortable in 38 degree weather) we headed off to Lee Vining for breakfast. Over pancakes and eggs at Nicely's Diner, Geddo and I decided to make the run out to the Bodie Ghost town prior to strafing the Sonora (Hwy 108) and Ebbets (Hwy 4) passes.

    Bodie was interesting, after seeing pictures on here I assumed it was small and seldom visited. I was surprised at the number of buildings and visitors there were at this out of the way spot.

    Here's Geddo dual sporting on the ST (dig that sewing machine exhaust growl)

    <embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" wmode="transparent" src="http://static.photobucket.com/player.swf?file=http://vid42.photobucket.com/albums/e309/jabandsnort/Road%20Trip%202010/VID00052.mp4" width="600" height="361">

    and here's a few pics to add to the thousands already posted here on ADV.

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    Lastly, this is probably the one spot nobody spoke to Geddo about how great a bike the ST1300 is. Strange though, because the average ST fan probably remembers when Bodie was a thriving town...

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    #13
  14. jabandsnort

    jabandsnort a mighty fly dancer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    SF Bay Area, California
    After Bodie, we make the run to the Sonora pass. Great roads, gorgeous scenery, in my opinion this is the best RIDING road of all the passes.

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    Pat just got the quote to fix the Guzzi..
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    As much as I (we'll) make fun of the ST, it was a very effective tool for Geddo. I'd love to blame it on the tired suspension on my GS (Wilburs are already on order :evil ) but the truth is between Geddo's riding and the speed of the big Honda, I could rarely keep him in sight. It was great fun trying though! :clap
    #14
  15. jabandsnort

    jabandsnort a mighty fly dancer

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2006
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    SF Bay Area, California
    As great as the Sonora pass was, I think both Geddo and I were a bit let down by the Western side of Ebbetts. It was nice and flowing, but there wasn't much technical about it and we got to the summit fairly quickly. Time to look for a campsite! We settled on Silvertip, after the first one we looked at was full.

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    This was a great site for our needs. Lots of deadfall (free) firewood; flat, soft surfaces for tents; and running water at each spot made it perfect for wandering motorcyclists

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    Here's Geddo talking to yet another ST fan
    "It's SO quiet, I love it!!"

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    The Bear Valley Resort Lodge is right down the street. There we found a general store (only open til 5:30!?!?) a semi-fancy restaurant, a bar, and a pizza place. We settled on pizza, and I'd say it was pretty good. Took a long time though... For the record, a medium will get you 8 pieces and between the two of us we didn't finish it.
    We made the calls to the better halves, and headed back to camp.

    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. pierce

    pierce Aven'Tourer

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    a walk through bodie is like a walk through time. :ricky
    #16
  17. Geddo

    Geddo ADV-11

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    233
    Location:
    Home of the Sharks!
    Day 2- My Take
    We head out in the morning and grab some breakfast at the local greasy spoon,
    [​IMG]

    then its on to Sonora Pass. We take a quick detour out to Bodie.
    Bodie Church
    [​IMG]

    Bodie Wench
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    Notice how the wench is struggling with the lever...

    As Jab mentioned, this is not what either of us expected, it is much more popular than we thought it would be and people seem to be
    materializing out of the desert to see the place. We head out after a few pics to take on the next pass.

    What a beautiful ride Sonora Pass is, I rate it above Tioga due to the infrequent traffic here. You have to be
    real careful on this road as there are many sharp switchback turns and no signs warning you about the recommended
    speed for the turns. But no matter the ST is just swaying through the turns like a yacht in the open sea, this
    bike is as smooth as silk. :ricky

    One of the switchbacks on Sonora, popular for the two-wheeler crowd
    [​IMG]

    The best I can describe the feeling of this bike is, it feels like many well engineered and precisely fitted pieces
    of steel working in perfect harmony and obeying every whim of the rider, you become one with the bike, it is merely
    an extension of you as you move to the beat of the road, anticipating your intentions, there is no feedback just a
    smooth rhythm...this is completely opposite to my Guzzi which is more like sitting on a box of exploding fireworks
    shot out of a cannon! :wink: The Guzzi feels more like a tool you are using to carve up the road, you are
    constantly trying to control the bike as well as coax it to your intended path.

    Plan for this day is to finish Sonora and then find a campsite up on Ebbets Pass, we head up Ebbets and stop
    halfway to get a drink of water, its hot and we are parched. Along comes a bike headed the opposite direction,
    just as he rounds the bend and sees us he brakes hard and flips a bitch to come and stop next to us. I figure he
    is lost or in serious need of some assistance... until I notice he is on an ST1300. My mind says 'no, this is not
    truly happening' but my ears say 'oh yes' as he asks me how the ST is running for me. His name is Rich and he is
    real nice guy, not being 'good with the Internet' he apparently ordered some tires by phone for his bike. He
    didn't know what to get and the kid on the phone must have had a sense of humor cuz he ended up with some bi-ply
    monstronsity on his front end that barely cleared the fairing and wouldn't allow for the fender to fit over. We
    cannot believe he is riding the passes with this thing... but then again it is an ST and I imagine if you put
    square wheels on it it would still ride better than half the bikes out there.

    I am now truly dumbstruck, I have apparently stumbled upon a cult of motorcyclists I had no idea existed. I feel
    like an outsider that has been given a tiny glimpse into a secret society, I start to wonder if I am somehow
    inadvertently being rude by not giving them the secret handshake. I fear that I have obtained too much knowledge
    of this secret society and begin to have concerns about going to sleep for fear that a gang of grey-hairs is going
    to sneak into camp and take me away so I cannot tell the tale.

    We reach camp and pull into a spot, as we are unpacking a nice retired lady strolls over and says "I thought I
    heard motorcycles coming through here..." immediately I sarcasticly respond "couldn't have been mine!". She smiles
    and says "They're so quiet!" then tells us how nice it is to have motorcycles in camp. :huh

    Her whole family comes to this campsite every year for a little reunion and she truly seems happy to have us there.
    She gives us a tip as to where to pitch our tents and says again, "What wonderful motorcycles!" After I pick up
    my jaw I setup camp and have a nice quiet rest, the secret society I decide is too polite to abduct me, they have a
    sinister plan to kill me with kindness! :twitch
    #17
  18. Jrmobb

    Jrmobb Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    218
    Location:
    A national park somewhere
    Im loving the ride report, Its putting a smile on my face :D

    Thats mind blowing the dedicated st crowed. I would have imagined BMW guys would have been much more popular but you learn something everyday.

    Keep up the report, Im right there with you guys enjoying the trip. :lurk
    #18
  19. teachnsurf

    teachnsurf Bonnie Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    254
    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Shhhh... you're giving away the SecreT.
    #19
  20. jabandsnort

    jabandsnort a mighty fly dancer

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2006
    Oddometer:
    192
    Location:
    SF Bay Area, California
    Geeze, these ST-fans kept coming out of the woodwork! :norton Normally on our rides I get my fair share of comments about the GS, but this time next to the ST it was like my bike was invisible, it was ridiculous.

    SecreT, haha, that's a good one. :rofl

    More to come!
    #20