Another Memory snatched from the jaws of Mediocrity

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Mavilago, Sep 3, 2019.

  1. Mavilago

    Mavilago Adventurer

    Oct 18, 2018
    Rohnert Park
    This was a wonderful trip!!! Sorry to spoil it for all of you who were hoping for more death and despair like my last published adventure…..

    This was a weekend family wedding in Eureka, about a four hour drive north for me along US Hwy 101. So: freeway. Boring! I have driven this road so many times my car almost drives itself. But…. This being a kids free weekend, I decided I am going to take the motorcycle and make a weekend trip out of it.

    So the wedding is on Saturday at Three O’Clock, so I would have plenty of time to ride north Saturday morning if I wanted, but I don’t want to be late just because I left late, so I’m going to go Friday after work and get to my Grandparent’s house to camp in their field for two nights before my real adventure begins.

    At least that was the plan.

    So I spent several hours over the days leading up to this ride packing and going over my inventory and checking my bike. Just so I wouldn’t end up with the same comedy show that happened last month… In case you missed it:

    So this is my planned route for Friday:!2m2!1d-124.1636729!2d40.8020712!3e0

    Starting Mileage: 15346
    ETA: 9:30 PM
    Chances of arriving before dark: Slim to None


    So I take off right at five. I’m so happy to be on the road and on my way to what will be an adventurous ride after the wedding, I stop four miles up the road at a friend’s house and chew the fat with him for about an hour.

    So I left at 6PM.

    So I’m not a big fan of freeway motorcycle riding. I’d rather be going low and slow and avoid traffic. I spent years pushing a Road King through traffic, and since I learned about knobby tires and gravel roads, I’d rather just leave the cars on the freeway and take quiet side roads off into the hills. But that isn’t today’s plan. We are going, fully loaded, mach one, directly up the freeway to Eureka.

    Don’t get me wrong, if high speed curvy freeway with light traffic most of the time is your idea of perfect, then most of the time this is the best place in the world. There are only a few towns left that the freeway doesn’t bypass, and most of the road is up to two lanes each direction, so it is pretty easy to keep to the speed limit and just let the road take you and your bike along its gently serpentine path.

    The only bad news for me is that with my self imposed late start, I end up at Taco Bell in Willits at 7:20, which is apparently the busiest time of the day for them. I top off my gas tank, just because I can, and continue on.

    Now some of you may remember, I am on a BMW 800GS, and you may be asking yourself, “if he had a full tank leaving Rohnert Park, he should be able to make it further than Willits…?”

    Yeah, I could have gone to Laytonville, which is almost exactly half way, but I didn’t feel like it. So whatever. Deal with it. Its my trip, and I’ll stop for gas when I want to stop for gas :lol3

    By about 8:20 or so, its dark. So I made it to Laytonville, or halfway, and now get to do the rest of the freeway assault north in the dark with other cars and animals and bicyclists and stuff on the road with me, hiding just out of the reach of my headlight. Not the best, but I keep it just below the speed limit and pay attention and nothing happens the rest of the way.

    I didn’t bother stopping for pictures, because it was night time….. not much to see.

    So I pull into my Grandparent’s place at about 10:30pm. Grandpa comes out as I am about to set my tent up and offers me a space to crash in the living room. It took me all of about .47 seconds to accept the interior lodging. I was more tired than I thought after a full day of work and four hours riding, so pulling up a comfy strip of carpet seemed better than the tent.

    Ending Mileage: 15579
    Today’s Miles: 233
    Stuff Forgotten: Nothing so far.
    Saddle Time: 4 Hours
    Stopped Time: 1.5 hours

    Saturday was a non-ride day. As family trickled into town for my cousin’s wedding, we slowly gathered at various locations around town before coming together for a great family wedding and reception on the beach. I’ll spare you the rest of the details since they had nothing to do with riding except for talking to family and friends about various rides and repairs and such.

    Sunday was a late start. We had a giant family traditional breakfast, and people slowly trickled off.

    While talking about rides and riding, I slowly formed a new task for myself. I had previously had the idea to take two days to get home, and ride through the Mendocino National Forest from north to south, and also a plan to ride Forest Route One from CA Hwy 299 to CA Hwy 36. I was also trying to merge these two, when one of my uncles gave me an idea.

    Try to get as far as I can towards home without passing a stoplight. Now this sounds like a challenge.

    My turn to leave came around noon. Since I had not unpacked my camping gear, I just needed to load check my two 2.5 gallon gas cans, tent, sleeping bag, and other contents of my bags, say my goodbyes and take off.

    Starting Miles: 15579
    Departure Time: About Noon

    In order to avoid stoplights, I had to take a significant detour:

    Heading east towards Freshwater, and then up into the hills east towards Kneeland, was a blast from the past. I grew up in Eureka and traveled this route hundreds of times, but maybe only one or twice in the last 20 years. It’s an immediate hill climb with hairpin turns that eventually levels out, head down into a small valley, and eventually drops into Korbel and Blue Lake off Hwy 299.


    I stopped in Blue Lake to top off my gas tank. I figure I have plenty of extra fuel to make it to Dinsmore on Hwy 36, but it is easier to fill the tank on the bike than unload the gas can and later refill it. So a gallon and a half is all it takes.

    If you have never ridden Hwy 299, don’t ever plan on coming here. It is so remote that the amazing scenery and gentle climb into the mountains isn’t worth bothering to ride up here. J


    At the Vista Point at Berry Summit, I spent about 45 minutes talking with Ralph, a fellow GS rider from the area who regularly heads to a lunch stop east of Willow Creek from Arcata, just because he’s retired and he can.

    So Forest Route 1 runs north / south from Hwy 299 to Hwy 36. 20 years ago, it was paved for the northern half, but dirt for the southern half. Aside from the occasional pothole and sometimes herd of potholes, anyone on a full dresser Harley could make this 55 mile stretch without touching dirt on their nice shiny chrome. There was even cell service in a few spots. Specifically, if you see this rock, there is service for about a mile either direction:

    Gas stop in Dinsmore. I didn’t need that much gas, but again, it was just habit and convenience. From Blue Lake to Dinsmore was 87 miles. By now it is a little after 5pm, and I am starting to get the feeling I won’t make it to the Mendo Forest by dark. The reason to get that far is because it is public property and I can camp just about wherever I want.

    Berry Summit to Dinsmore

    IMG_1327.JPG Heading south from Mad River, I rode south to Ruth Lake, across the dam and rode the west side of the lake on County Road 502. This road was all dirt and gravel, but the east side I believe is all paved. I ended up near a small forest fire and watched a few helicopter air drops and I rode around three sides of where the smoke column was slowly snuffed out.


    Dinsmore to Kettenpom

    Continuing south, the road eventually does lose its pavement and turn to dirt, somewhere near Kettenpom. I rode through town at about 6:45pm, and the gas station was already closed, so I kept going.


    Traveling south from Kettenpom, the road was fair to good, dirt and gravel, a few potholes, no big issues. The former town of Mina was deserted. I guess I qualified as rush hour…..


    A few miles later:


    14% down grade for a while, this will be fun :-)

    Shortly after passing Mina, the sun went down over the horizon to the west and guess what, it got dark! OMG! I don’t really care for nighttime dirt riding, but I’m kinda stuck. Don’t have much of a choice. I need to get to Covelo and then east.


    To be continued.....
  2. Mavilago

    Mavilago Adventurer

    Oct 18, 2018
    Rohnert Park

    Kettenpom to Covelo

    So after traveling the last 15 miles of pure washboard insanity into Covelo, I pulled into the gas station at about 8:30pm. Pitch black.

    I top off the tank and head east. I figure it is an hour to the top of the ridge to get to a legitimate campsite. As I rode CA Hwy162 east, the temperature finally fell from the 90+ degrees it had been most of the day, to a nice and comfortable 75. By the time I made it to the Eel River work station, it was down to 65 degrees. As I pulled up and thought about the hour long dirt hill climb that I was about to undertake in the dark, I gave up. I was tired and it was bedtime. I pulled into the campground and called it a day.

    And here lies my mistake for the trip…..

    After setting up the tent and getting my stove out to boil water for the Chicken Teriyaki Mountain House dinner I had been dreaming about since about Zenia when my giant pancake breakfast from this morning wore off, I felt utter and total disappointment.

    My camp stove was out of fuel. So no hot water, so I ate the freeze dried Chicken Teriyaki cold. Not really good…..

    But I cannot blame anyone but myself. So I curled up in my sleeping bag and passed out. I thought about oiling my chain, but didn’t want to fire my bike up in the middle of a crowded campground at 10pm. So I planned on doing it at the top of the mountain in the morning.

    Ending Mileage: 15795
    Today’s Miles: 216
    Hours of Sore Butt: 9
    Stopped Time: Less than an hour

    4 AM! It was 4AM! It was slowly dawning on me that it must have been opening weekend of hunting season or something, because it was like we were being evacuated. About every five minutes a truck fired up in the campsite and drove off and up the hill into the Forest. Thankfully the guy in the RV right next to my tent left the RV there with his two dogs inside. And I was super happy that they didn’t bark and howl until about 5:15am when I finally gave up and got out of bed. Once they heard me moving they started howling and barking again. I need to remember to bring dog biscuits to give them to barky dogs to keep them somewhat quiet.

    I left about 6:15am.


    This route is part of a ride I took last summer through the Forest, so I am familiar with the road conditions for the most part. It’s up and up and up and hugs the hillside for almost an hour.


    Traveling along this portion of Hwy 162, it is renamed to Forest Highway 7, or FH7 for short. It’s is two lanes wide, hardpacked gravel with some potholes, and a really easy ride. If you are not careful, you end up going too fast.

    Forest Route Map

    This stretch of road I passed a few cars, mostly hunters driving really slow. I stopped at Paskett Meadows Campground for a break and a snack. It was basically empty. $10.00 per spot. If you are looking for a new camping spot with almost no one there, this is a perfect place for it.


    The temperature had dropped here down to 52 degrees, the coolest it had been my entire trip. It felt great. But I knew it would be warmer later today.

    More Forest Map

    The next two hours was a lot of up and down and back and forth along some extremely pretty territory. It was slowly warming up and there was not a soul out there but me. I traveled slow, mainly to take in the scenery. The vistas are amazing.

    Just don't let some of the roads deceive you:


    I found a really big culvert:


    Traveling around Lake Pillsbury turned up a few camper packing up to go home at the end of their three day weekend. Going south on the M1 south of the lake entered the burn area from last year’s Ranch Complex Fire. Several areas of the road had been rebuilt and loggers were clearing salvage lumber. The roadway was quite slippery a few times where the new road had turned to powder under the heavy equipment and was like riding on the beach. I could feel the rear end sink in the dust while turning up the multiple switchbacks.

    I arrived in Upper Lake at around noon to a wonderful 95 degrees. Ick. I took a break at a gas station for a snack and cold water, but didn’t bother with gas. I actually wanted to run the tank low at this point and start using the spare cans I had with me since I was within 90 minutes of home.

    I headed south on CA Hwy 29 past Lakeport and Kelseyville. This quick 25 miles of highway was a welcome change from 20 to 30 mph I had been going all day. I had almost forgotten my bike had more than three gears.

    Upper Lake to Kelseyville

    Even though I was almost home, I had one more little adventure up my sleeve. I was going to try to get over the ridge to the west somehow and get to Geyserville. So I turned south on Bottle Rock Road and started trying to go west. Unfortunately, no one bothered to tell Google that most of these roads are all private property:


    But the security guard at the geysers geothermal plant gate took pitty on me. He said that this happens every day with people trying to go where their GPS said was a road, but it’s a private one. He told me to go south to Middletown and take Western Mine Road.

    So heading south, I knew I could detour around Middletown to the west so as to avoid any stoplights, so I turned off on Dry Creek Cutoff. So this road is a sneaky dude. It is paved, quiet, almost perfectly straight with a few bends. And then BAM! No road and the creek. No signs saying “Road Closed” “Bridge Out” or anything. But the river rocks were not too big so I just went for it and it was no big deal. It was dry, like the name, and there were plenty of packed down tracks where cars and trucks had been driving it all summer. The lady on the other side wanting to go north gave me a dirty look in her little sports car before turning around to follow me back to the highway because she didn’t dare drive down into that ditch. Reflecting on my trip, that 100 feet was the most difficult of the trip.

    What a cool little road. Western Mine Road was mostly down to single lane and the Lake County side was almost all dirt and gravel. At the top of the ridge, the road crossed into Sonoma County and was paved, but not by much. Forest Route 1 in Humboldt and Trinity Counties was in better shape. Still, a fun winding ride down to the valley floor and CA Hwy 128.

    More Maps

    From the top of the ridge, my gas light was on, and I was probably going to stretch it to make it home inside of the last gallon, so I stopped at my most hated gas station, you know the one, and put gas in from one of my spare cans. The people driving in and out gave me such weird looks.

    Anyway, the last few miles home were uneventful, other than my first stoplight of my ride home happened at Montecito and Calistoga Road. I almost tried to dodge it, but I knew I couldn’t make it all the way home anyway since I was fenced in by stoplights, so I just gave up and poked through the Santa Rosa traffic.

    Home at about 3pm. Bath for the bike, beer for me. Another memory snatched from the jaws of mediocrity….

    Although it looks surprisingly clean in the photos.....


    Ending Mileage: 15979
    Today’s Miles: 184
    Total Mileage: 633
    Saddle Time: About 9 hours
    Stopped Time: Less than an hour
    Total Ride Time: 22 hours
    Number of times I dropped the bike: Zero

    Until next time.....

    Attached Files:

    dirtytroll, weldpro, Amphib and 2 others like this.
  3. Dirt Diggler 707

    Dirt Diggler 707 n00b

    Feb 13, 2016
    Santa Rosa
  4. c1skout

    c1skout Long timer

    Sep 29, 2009
    Western PA
    Thanks for taking us along, it's nice to see the real California instead of just the big cities on TV.
  5. weldpro

    weldpro Been here awhile

    Dec 19, 2009
    Susanville, California
    Thanks for sharing! I know most of the country you rode however some was new. I liked how you linked the maps into the report, very cool!
  6. Mavilago

    Mavilago Adventurer

    Oct 18, 2018
    Rohnert Park
    Thank you for coming along for the ride. I like researching where I am going to go and then trying to figure out if I was on the correct road or not. Most of the time I find some road I am unfamiliar with and research it for my future rides.
  7. Duanob

    Duanob Been here awhile

    Jul 22, 2015
    Now Spokane, WA
    You Californians are lucky, you have one the best states to ride in, all except for the socal and bay area traffic but the weather is good just about all year and hundreds of miles of awesome two lane and drop dead gorgeous scenery!

    BTW you must really be worried about gas, you have a 2 gallon on the back of your bike as well. I just carry a 1 litre Primus bottle. The only time I've run out of gas on the road I was 2 miles from the next town and gas station. I just fill up often enough and haven't come close since. If I do I'll probably be a couple of miles from a station, too far to push but yet, close enough for a litre of petrol to get me there. If I were off roading I'd probably carry more.
  8. Mavilago

    Mavilago Adventurer

    Oct 18, 2018
    Rohnert Park
    So I usually carry two 2 gallon gas cans, topped off to about 2.5 gallons. This trip was no different. I know the math works in my favor that I can get back from anywhere I am if I run into a dead end, but I still worry about running out of gas wandering around in circles "in the middle of nowhere." I also figure that if I come across someone else in need of gas, I don't want to feel stingy by not offering a small amount of gas.

    So far, the only time I have needed to use the extra fuel I've carried was northbound on the Dempster from Dawson City enroute to Eagle Plains. We fueled up at the start of the Dempster and I needed probably half a gallon more than the gas tank would hold. Funny, but southbound I made it without adding fuel. I was on E with several miles into the gas light, but I didn't need to add gas. I figure it was because of the gradual incline for much of the route northbound, which is obviously opposite southbound.