Exploring California - Journey of a Noob

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by KennyBooBear, Jan 4, 2020.

  1. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Colfax, CA
    This past Sunday (the 17th) I wanted to get out and ride some fun tracks solo, giving me time to stop and take photos and ride at a nice relaxed pace. The latter did get out of hand a few times when I did my best to get the Himalayan repeatedly airborne, probably higher than I have previously just given my growing control and comfortability on this machine.

    I started off with the typical run up Sage Ridge and once I hit 371 chose to head back West to catch High Point Road to Palomar Divide. On this stretch there’s a hard bypass that I’ve always been tempted to give a go but as I have no idea if it connects, I typically avoided it. Well, I gave it a try this time around and it shortens the ride a good bit – albeit by scaling a 50-degree slab of uneven decomposed granite. Going up requires momentum and body position, and even then, the front of the bike gets very light. I enjoyed it so much that I looped around to ride it twice!

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    On the way up Palomar I took the fun way up – a technical and flowy section of mixed single and double track that ascends the first 600ft over a couple miles to the forest road. I found out about this stretch on our snow ride and my only regret is that I didn’t know about it sooner.

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    After this section I tried my best to ride smart and take my time. Apart from passing a few folks in various 4WDs, the ride up was typical. I did end up behind a gal on her TW200 which was cool to see, and at the very top I passed a group of 3 larger ADV bikes coming back down. At the top I took my time and enjoyed the scenery as best as one can (hard not to, frankly.)

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    Just as I got ready to head back down, the TW200 rider made it to the top. We chatted briefly and as she wasn’t abundantly familiar with the loop, I also gave her some basic directions on how to get down to Warner Springs and loop around.

    I then headed down and did just that – only I looped over to East Grade Road and up Palomar. After stopping briefly at the lookout over Lake Henshaw and chatting with a gent who had many questions about the Himalayan (he even asked to sit on it which I gladly obliged. A shock since he was on a gorgeous Aprilia) I shot back up the mountain I had summited less than an hour prior only to go right back down Nate Harrison.

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    Visibility was incredible, allowing me to see into Mexico and the sun glistening off the Pacific. I made it home just in time to see my wife off to work and then get down to the garage to start straightening things out pre-move.

    Later that night Jesse reached out suggesting we get together for one more ride Monday night. The plan was to ride over to the fun route at the base of Palomar and get some solid footage of us thrashing around on Himalayans.

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    In the process, my rear rack managed to get a bit tweaked.

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    I'd explain how, but it's easier if I let the video do the talking here.



    On the way back down, Jesse asked if I'd slow down a bit as it would be better for the camera. These are admittedly words I never thought I'd hear him utter to me haha

    Anyhow, that about wraps up my SoCal adventures unless I happen to make tomorrow night's Hump Day ride. That's still up in the air but I'll try my best.

    Next ride I post will be back in NorCal so expect a change of scenery!

    Cheers ladies and gents.
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  2. dano619

    dano619 Long timer Supporter

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    Safe travels to you and family!!
  3. goodquest

    goodquest Adventurer

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    In for local guy
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  4. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Jun 15, 2019
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    Cheers Dano. Really looking forward to the misty mornings, altitude and lush forests of the Sierras. Now that I can ride at a decent pace I reckon there's a lot of new possibilities that will open up for me with regard to riding - so there should be quite a few new adventures this year!
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  5. Wierdrider

    Wierdrider Long timer

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    Well wishes on your move and new adventures up North KBB
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  6. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Thanks all - got the bikes home yesterday afternoon and back in Temecula already. Boxing things up and getting them down to the garage for the final trip on Friday. If anyone is nearby in NorCal - I'm hosting a little ride on the 13th out of Grass Valley. Should be entertaining!

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  7. Swamper

    Swamper Been Nowhere Done Nothing

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
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    Nor-Cal, Nevada City
    I just went for a ride today and froze my ass off, plus riding in snow ain't what it's cracked up to be. LOL.
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  8. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Haha well this ride coming up is gonna be mostly dirt so you don't have to worry much about wind chill. Also keeping it below 4000 so snow shouldn't come into play much either, but we'll see how the weather rolls for the next 2 weeks!

    In the words of my flying monkey brethren......

    "No babies!"
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  9. Swamper

    Swamper Been Nowhere Done Nothing

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    Aug 24, 2003
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    Snowed down to 2,000 last night, towns a mess.
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  10. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Yea I keep seeing friends post photos. The caltrans cam at exit 135 in Colfax seems to indicate there's 3-5" in Colfax @ 2400ft.

    Wife is happy we missed it.

    I'm not ☹️
  11. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Colfax, CA
    I'm back!

    After a hectic and at times far too stressful moving process at the end of January, we were all but completely settled by the end of the first week in February. Prior to our move I vowed to start hosting some local DualSport rides in the area to get others out exploring our backyard of Nevada, Sierra, Placer, and Alpine Counties so I went on the local riding group page and posted a ride for February 13th. The idea was to keep altitudes lower than 4,000 so as to avoid the snow and such and though I ensured in true Flying Monkey Adventure Rider fashion that we'd ride rain or shine - I quickly found that the "No babies!" mantra of the FMAR group wasn't as quickly adopted up here :jack

    In the week leading up to the ride, I called over to my buddy Doug and asked if he was interested in heading out for a quick scout of the intended ride area. The next day at around 11:30AM, we hit the trail.

    As we had in the past, we planned to ride down Yankee Jim's and back up to living ghost town of Iowa Hill via. Shirt Tail Canyon. If time permitted we'd continue on to Foresthill on Finning Mill Road.

    With this being my first ride since moving back North, I realized quite quickly how much I had grown as a rider. The last time we were out here I had just as much fun on these tracks as I do now, but I recall white knuckling nearly every turn and corner and my safety net was to always sit down in the turns or when things got slippery. I also recall struggling to keep up with Doug - not so much any longer.

    Though I realize Doug was by no means giving it the beans, I found that keeping up with him meant going frankly slower and at a significantly more relaxed pace than I had grown accustomed to over the last year. This was rather nice as it gave me plenty of opportunity to take in the scenery as we edged closer to the canyon descending down to the North Fork of the American. Once we reached Yankee Jim's, I think Doug sensed this and encouraged me to ride in front from this point forward.

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    I was grateful for this as the South side of this track is where it becomes more entertaining. Don't get me wrong, it's still a very easy track either which way you look at it (little more than an unpaved road with occasional ruts and larger rocks of decomposed granite making their way through the terrain) but the South end offers quite a bit more variety in both changing scenery, narrow passages and just generally flowy tracks with a bit more in the way of obstacles strewn across the road.

    On the way up the other side, there's a couple of beautiful cascades that like to crash down the mountain especially so during this time of year.

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    At the second of the two cascades you can either continue up Yankee Jim's into Foresthill or hang a left down Shirt Tail Canyon. As planned, we hung a left. This set of tracks puts you alongside Bushy Creek for the first 3 miles or so, and then begins zigging it's way up the side of the mountain to Iowa Hill. On the way up there's a very mild crest that, with enough speed and a bit of a preload on the suspension makes for a fun place to air out the pig.



    I reached pavement after making short work of the 6 miles up to Iowa Hill and had just enough time to dismount, remove my gloves and get the camera ready to fire off some shots of Doug's arrival. This one turned out the best as far as I'm concerned.

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    After a quick break for a piddle, we set back off pounding twisty pavement for a few miles. As we wound further up the mountain a surprising amount of snow began to flank the sides of the road. By the time we reached Sugar Pine Reservoir there was as much as a foot plowed off to the sides. This was a bit concerning as I knew Doug didn't have a lot of time for the ride and it was likely that Finning Mill was completely snowed in. We worried not for now though, and just took in the beauty that is the Sierras.

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    Another mile or so up the road and we were at the turnoff for Finning Mill. As suspected it was blanketed in hard packed, icy snow. As Doug is on the OE 80/20 tires KLRs come with and also lacking in time, we opted to turn home and pound pavement down Iowa Hill Road. To say the least, it was damn good to be back out with my original riding buddy.

    Unfortunately as is often the case with Winter in the Sierras, the 13th approached with a weather forecast indicating 100% chance of rain for the day and potential snow. I addressed those in the group wanting to attend and by popular vote, we opted to push the ride back another week to the 20th. During the week leading up to the ride I took one more quick pre-run of the area to check the snow levels and to my delight I found that there was no snow even up to 4,000. From Foresthill you can see across to the other side of the American River's Middle Fork and it appeared that the snow level had risen to around 5,000 - this was good news for the 20th!

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    On this particular scout I decided to return home via. Ponderosa Way and see if it too was significantly less daunting than I recalled. I was elated to find that while it was considerably easier than I recall, the road was also strewn in baby heads, occasional ledges, rocks and all manner of obstacles that made it much more of a "challenge" than Yankee Jim's or Shirt Tail could offer. While still easy, for an inexperienced rider the Weimar side of Ponderosa Way could probably be considered an Intermediate ride.

    From the top where the road's level of difficulty tones down significantly, you get some lovely views looking toward the South.

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    As Saturday quickly approached it seemed like the weather would be damn near perfect, if not a bit moist in the wee hours of the morning and certainly a bit on the nippy side. Still, it was going to be a far better riding day than the prior Saturday.

    I awoke early on the 20th to find that the NWS radar indicated that it was snowing at our home in Colfax. I leapt from bed to look out of my living room window only to find that the radar knew the square root of dick about the current state of my weather. By 8AM I was on the road, heading to the starting point of our ride in Grass Valley. It's time like these that I'm thankful for the cold weather gear I have - the temps ranged between 32 and 34 on the way into town but I was plenty snug, even cruising at 60 on Highway 174.

    After a cup of joe and a bear claw, I awaited the 4 gents who had all marked themselves as "going." By 8:30 I quickly resolved myself to the fact that the cold air had scared them away from the adventure - which seemed strange on account of how stunning the day was already turning out to be.

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    I waited a bit longer just in case, and the finally set off back down through Colfax and onto Yankee Jim's. The route would be the same as my ride with Doug only with the intent of riding Finning Mill and then cutting over and down to Michigan Bluff. The return from there would take me back up to Foresthill via. the always stunning Mosquito Ridge Road and them home via. Ponderosa Way.

    Once on Shirt Tail, I took a moment to hop off the bike and listen to the calming sounds of Brushy Creek running beneath me.

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    I couldn't resist stopping again since I wasn't leading a group and now had no sense of urgency - in a way this was for the best as it allowed me to stop and smell the proverbial roses. The scenery up here never gets old to me.

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    I thoroughly enjoyed ripping up toward Iowa Hill as hard as I could though, as it kept the blood pumping in my hands enough to ward away the effects of the sub 40 degree air. It should come as no surprise then that as a result, I quickly found myself at Sugar Pine Reservoir. It should be noted that once I began climbing in elevation on the pavement, the road became increasingly covered in fresh snow from earlier in the morning. Evidently the radar wasn't completely lying to me.

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    Once again I'd find myself questioning my expectation of conditions on Finning Mill Road. Last time I rode it I recall it being a slimy mess of muddy red clay with occasional patches of snow. I was beginning to expect it would be much of the same.

    I was not at all disappointed.

    Partie Deux En Route...
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  12. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Location:
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    The snow covered trees and low slung clouds hugging the tree tops easily mark one of my favorite mountain scenes to find myself immersed in on the way to Finning Mill. This day made damn sure that my brain was chocked full of memorable views.

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    I commenced my short break and ran the last mile or so up to Finning Mill. To both my surprise and slight relief the road wasn't at all as snowed in as it was weeks prior. In fact, there was no snow at all apart from a few spots of slush mixed in with the red clay mud and of course copious patches of snow off the sides of the logging track and in the treetops.

    As I made my down and back up the other side of this 7 mile stretch of slushy iron enriched dirt, I suddenly recalled what a pain in the ass it was to clean my bike the last time I rode here. This time it'd be worse, as I was carrying a great deal more speed and on this trip I wasn't avoiding the various pits of muddy water along the way. By the time I reached the pavement there was a grin reaching across my face from ear to ear despite my lower half being painted the color of red clay and my bike being absolutely caked in the stuff. I was getting hungry though and made the decision to ride into Foresthill first before charging down to Michigan Bluff. While in town I topped off the tank too.

    The burger and battered fries at the Maker's Mountain Eatery made for an intermission of pure perfection.

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    As I made my way back to the bike, an older gentleman likely pushing 90 years of age quickly turned off the road in his Subaru to tell me that the clay soaked, Indian made hunk of iron was "the best looking bike" he had seen in years. We chatted a bit and I found that in the late 40s/early 50s while stationed in Japan he had owned a Vincent Black Shadow. He had joked that if he hadn't sold the thing back then instead of importing it back here when he returned to the states that his retirement would have been a great deal more lucrative. Before setting off he pulled from his pocket an Eisenhower Dollar and told me it was my reward for riding such a cool looking machine. I made sure to shake his hand and thank him for his service, but not before exchanging names. Steve Stevenson - you're not likely to ever read this, but you're a damn good bloke!

    Riding East on Foresthill Road, the turnoff for Michigan Bluff is positioned no more than a 1/4 mile East of where you exit Finning Mill Road. What lie ahead is a pristine ribbon of paved road that evokes to Rossi within us all.

    Admittedly, Michigan Bluff isn't much worth mentioning but the views off of Gorman Ranch Road as you descend toward the American River's Middle Fork are substantial.

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    Once the dirt meets the tarmac of Mosquito Ridge Road there's immediately a turnoff you can use to look further down the canyon or in my case, back up toward Michigan Bluff. And yes, she be a dirty gal.

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    I'm glad I didn't spend too much time here trying to get a solid view into the canyon, as a bit further down the road a far more breathtaking view is surrendered.

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    At this point it was near enough to 1:30 so I beat pavement as hard as I could back over to Ponderosa Way. This go around I didn't lollygag as much as I tend to and only stopped once along the way. Having not taken the time during my previous scout, I decided to take in the views of the American River Canyon briefly before charging home.

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    On the return there were a few hiking groups that gave me nods of approval, the last of which was fairly large and positioned just uphill from the most technical section of the track. It consists of a drawn out stretch of babyheads with a few ledges and large boulder sections thrown in for good measure. I blipped the throttle up the first and largest ledge enough to air out the piggish Himalayan and the continued on past them gingerly, making sure to wave as I went by.

    The miles went by quickly and as we live only a few miles further up from Weimar, our driveway was quickly beneath my tires. Upon my return home, our dog Lima lost her mind and had to rush outside to greet me. She provided good contrast and a wagging tail of acquiescence of my day's worth of antics.

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    As always, thanks for reading. Til next time y'all.

    P.S. - If you're interested in joining in on my next ride, I'll be organizing monthly and possibly bi-monthly rides as the Winter snows melt. All skill levels accepted - we'd love to have you along for the journey.
    :beer
  13. picknpluck

    picknpluck Been here awhile Supporter

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    I'm interested!
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  14. Ol Man

    Ol Man Long timer Supporter

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    Nice to see you enjoying your new neighborhood. Beautiful scenery.
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  15. Swamper

    Swamper Been Nowhere Done Nothing

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    Nor-Cal, Nevada City
    Isn't that Makers Mountain Eatery in Forest Hill.
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  16. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Jun 15, 2019
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    Will keep you posted moving forward then. I'm debating starting a Facebook Group as it relates to my rides up here in a sort of, Flying Monkey-esque way so that I have a place to organize future rides and such, but until then I'll be posting here about them. Hopefully I can get my FPV setup finally figured out so that I can begin recording half decent videos of these adventures. Audio is a real bitch.

    Cheers. Having lived up in this area for the better part of 4 years, I'm thrilled we made the move back up here and furthermore - now own a home in Gold Country. As someone who loves the outdoors, this area makes it so easy for me to get "lost" while still only being 25 minutes from my office in Rocklin. I've yet to find another place quite like it!
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  17. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Probably the more accurate name rather than "Makers Pub." I could only recall "Makers" and was too lazy to Google it haha. I'll be sure to amend the OP.
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  18. picknpluck

    picknpluck Been here awhile Supporter

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    Cool...and let me know if you do get that Facebook group up and running.
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  19. fr8dog3510

    fr8dog3510 n00b

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
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    9
    Great ride. I miss the area. We lived in Citrus Heights and relocated to Idaho about a year and half ago. I'm on a FJ-09, tried going down Ponderosa Rd. to cross the wooden bridge. Had to turn back. I like the ride from Colfax to Foresthill via Iowa Hill. Keep the ride reports coming! 20190421_134719.jpg
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  20. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Most definitely! Getting the idea formulated and in the coming weeks I'll likely get it going.

    Gorgeous bike! Idaho has some incredible riding too - looking forward to getting out there this year hopefully.

    Yea Ponderosa would not be fun on the FJ - even the Foresthill side which is the relatively easy part. The Weimar side would result in some smashed pipes and possible a cracked case along with it if you weren't abundantly cautious haha

    I'll definitely keep the reports coming! Cheers and thanks for reading!
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