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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    I stopped one last time on the way back to 395 to enjoy the shadows the setting sun was casting out over the horizon.

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    Once I reached 395 it was already after 5 and the temperature was quickly dropping. I was about an hour and a half from Mammoth and quite a bit further from Squaw Valley, so I opted to head further into Mammoth as I still hadn't quite seen the fall colors I was wanting to. As I headed South, the temperature continued to drop, forcing me to toss my Winter gloves on.

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    I reached the Mammoth Lakes area and accompanying hotels after 6:30. I was cold and a bit hungry, but otherwise very much stoked on the day I had just enjoyed.

    I decided to get a room at Juniper Springs Resort, a local favorite of mine this time of year as the normal $300+ rates go down to $60-90 a night in the off-season. I ended up with a condo all to myself, king-sized bed, huge balcony and a proper fire place for $80. For dinner, I ordered a pizza, took a dip in the hot tub, and finally turned in by midnight.

    The next morning I got up and headed over to the Breakfast Club but not before one last look back at Juniper Springs Resort and Mammoth Mountain (another of California's active Volcanoes).

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    After a damn fine breakfast (they even gave me a croissant to go!), I walked outside to find a fellow Adventure Rider had parked beside me on a Triumph Tiger.

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    I fueled up the bike and headed North with the first stop of the day planned for Obsidian Dome. After a few short miles down 395 I turned off onto the silty desert track and began ripping through the forest. This was my first time on packed desert sand/silt and damn I was enjoying it. The surface was tractable enough that I felt confident but loose enough that I could keep the power on to throw the rear of the bike out through turns. After a high paced but surprisingly short ride down, I reached Obsidian Dome. I spent a bit of time in the area hiking around, collecting a few pieces of Obsidian, and talking to a couple of other people exploring the area who took a moment to admire the Himalayan.

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    Heading back out, I rode further North on 395 and shortly after turned off onto the June Lake Loop. Having been here before, I knew what awaited me and it was nothing short of breathtaking.

    My only extended stop was about 45 minutes long to sit on the beach of June Lake absolutely gobsmacked at where I was lucky enough to be at that moment.
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    I did end up locking my keys in one of the cases but, an officer's hammer and a flat head screw driver was enough to eventually smash open one of the locks allowing me to get the door open enough to retrieve my keys. Won't be making that mistake again!

    I continued to ride around the loop and well, I'll let the photos talk at this point.

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    I headed back to 395, unsure where my next stop would be.

    Next - Chasing Autumn: Part 3
    #21
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  2. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Not knowing when I'd stop next, I took a moment along Mono Lake to explore a bit (and bury the Himalayan to the frame in very deep, very loose sand.... whoops), stock up on water and eat a few roadside snacks.

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    I didn't anticipate getting distracted along the way by the changing seasons I had missed the evening prior on the way South, but needless to say I found myself repeatedly off on random tracks to chase the colors.

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    As I got closer again to Bodie, I noticed a roadside sign that I stopped to take a gander at. Upon further review, it indicated the site of Little Bodie. Being the curious traveler I am, I set off into the desert to see if I could find it.

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    The first and most obvious track had me riding down sand and baby heads to what ended up being a complete deadend. I circled back and found a fork that took me further East toward what appeared to be a small canyon on the map.

    As I descended down, I ended up alongside a dry creekbed on varying terrain including a deep rut going across the track that snuck up on me. Though it briefly unsettled me, I kept the bike planted and composed (I may have pooped a bit) and kept going along the track where Little Bodie apparently was. I never did find it, though after returning home and doing further research, I was awfully close to the site of it. That'll be for another trip.

    The path brought me all the way back to the paved (and eventually unpaved) highway that runs up to Bodie. I was however separated from it by a single water crossing. I took the plunge across and after a briefly wild ride, came out slightly less dry than I was before. I parked the bike to clean some of the straw and meadow-y mess from the bike before heading home.

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    My next and last stop was in Bridgeport to grab a late lunch at The Barn before racing the setting sun back to civilization. After sinking my teeth into what amounted to one of the finest damn burgers I ever did taste, I fled Bridgeport stopping one last time to say goodbye to Sawtooth Ridge.

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    I ended my journey in Squaw Valley for the night, but not before riding tandem with a random gent on a KLR 650 between Carson City and Incline Village. We talked briefly at stop signs and red-lights and vowed to ride again together some day. I'll definitely look forward to it.

    After all these years trying, I had finally chased and successfully caught Autumn.

    Next Up - A PG&E induced trip up Pole Creek Road.
    #22
  3. Justice Bikes

    Justice Bikes Adventurer

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    Redmond, Oregon

    Excellent adventure Kenny, thanks for sharing it with us! Keep them coming.
    #23
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  4. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    As most familiar with California know, this past Autumn/Fall we had some issues with wind storms and PG&E subsequently shutting off power to huge swaths of the state. Politics and reasoning aside, this created a bit of a dilemma for me as I work from home as a Systems and Network Engineer/Administrator. During these rolling outages, I would often take off on the bike up into the mountains for days at a time to work from the resort my lady works at which had it's perks in the form of being right at the base of many trails I'd usually take an hour to reach.

    One particular afternoon, after concluding a days worth of work (and a few too many cups of coffee), I made the decision to hop on the Himalayan and seek out some trails. I found one on Google Maps and cross referenced it on Maps.Me and after further review, decided it would be a good candidate for an afternoon exploration run. The road was listed as "Pole Creek Rd." It started off docile enough as any gravel forest road does until a few miles in when I reached a junction. I took the fork that led West and the gravel forest road immediately became technical.

    I spent the next half hour or so picking my way through basketball sized rocks, baby heads, loose sand and gravel, up very steep grades often separated by the remnants of small rock slides. I'd also have to clumsily straddle a mud pit, and carefully work my way over a few long patches of snow and ice. Before I knew it I had ascended 2000ft over the last 3 miles, and though tired from fighting the elements up the side of the mountain, I finally reached the top. It was about 4:45 in the afternoon, so I whipped out my camping chair and the camera and simply sat.

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    After a good 30 minutes or so of this sitting activity, I packed everything back up and headed back down the way I came. Later on I'd review the remainder of the road on various GPS apps and learn that it continued past Tinker Knob's near 9000ft peak and ran parallel to the Pacific Crest Trail (I was already at 8200ft!), flanked the cliff face and turned back toward Highway 89. I'll have to swing back by this year to complete all 18ish miles of the loop. Despite the technicality of it on a heavy bike like the Himalayan, the views alone made it worth the exhausted muscles. I ended up riding about 7 miles each way, though what took me 30-45 minutes to go up was done with gravity on my side in no more than 20.

    On the way back down I powered on the GoPro and recorded a great deal of the ride. Here's a short clip to give one an idea of the sort of terrain in the area. Also, sorry for the crap audio quality. It's something I've been working on haha



    If there's anything the Adventure Riding has taught me, it would have to be the importance of going into the middle of absolutely nowhere.

    Next Trip: Devil's Postpile of Sierra County
    #24
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  5. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    So at the beginning of November, a gentleman from our local rider's group here in Grass Valley reached out to me through Facebook. His message went as follows:

    "Hello Kenneth, I am impressed where you are riding the RE. Most of my dual sport buddies have moved away or quit riding so I am always looking for someone who wants to get off the the tarmac. I have a KLR 650 that needs to get out. If you are looking fo a someone to ride with let me know and I'll send you my cell #." And ride we would....

    I replied in earnest and after a bit of chat, he suggested we take a ride out to Devil's Postpile.

    Devil's Postpile is a rather famous geological formation on the Western side of Mammoth Mountain (a good 250 miles from my home.) It consists of massive pilings of geometrically shaped rock jutting vertically out of the ground. At the top of the cliff, the posts form near perfect hexagons, almost as if someone tiled the forest floor. I've been wanting to get out that way for some time so this piqued my interest.

    After more discussion, I found out however that there was this same sort of geological formation much closer to us located in Sierra County. Some more discussion continued and we finally agreed to meet up Saturday morning to ride out into the Wilderness.

    After meeting up in Nevada City, we headed out onto some small 2 lane roads that wound and wound for 10 or so miles until eventually, they brought us over top of the South Yuba River via. Edward's Crossing Bridge. The bridge is a steel arch bridge built in 1904 to support mining efforts in the numerous mining establishments along Central and Northern California's Motherlode. Once crossed, the road goes from a single lane wide paved series of switchbacks to a rock and gravel unpaved, but graded road.

    We followed Grizzly Hill Road for a short while longer before turning off onto yet another unpaved road, Tyler Foote Crossing. This one though, was clearly unmaintained. Within minutes I could see why this is the route we were on. We wound around a tight (6-8ft wide at times, on the edge of a near 1,000ft cliff face down to the Yuba) road built by Italian Immigrants in the early 1900s to allow easy passage between the Tightner Mine in Alleghany, CA to the North Stare Mine located in Grass Valley, CA.

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    The path itself is made up of a mix of gravel sitting atop carved and blasted granite rock. As can be seen in the photos, the road is supported by hand laid, stone embankment walls. I imagine those who were responsible for such construction had a very heavy set of stones themselves.

    The rock face to our East was moss covered and often dripping or even cascading water onto the path we rode down, adding to the varying traction. The more we descended, the more technical and rough the path got. I'd be lying if I said I didn't spend a large majority of the descent on the pegs, blipping the throttle over rocks in order to get my Himalayan airborne.

    After a technical but fun descent, we stopped for a breather on Foote's Crossing Bridge.

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    At this point, the road began ascending quickly and the substrate changed yet again. We were now on a bed of fist sized, unpacked rock and dust, charging up the mountain. We spent the next 11 miles largely in 2nd and 3rd gear, pegging the throttle to rip loose the rear tires of our adventure dual sports and feel a bit of adrenaline pump through our veins on the way up. Doug being an older gent in his 60s has a hell of a lot more riding experience than I, so it proved a fun game and opportunity to hone my skill keeping up with him and the KLR.

    After crossing a series of cliffs and rock faces made of Andesite, we reached Alleghany. We rolled through taking a short moment to enjoy the briefly paved road through town before dropping back back off pavement to Forest City. Once there, we hopped off the bikes for a few to check out the old Stamp Mill from the mining days, the Dance Hall, and the various artifacts left over from the 1800s and early 1900s.

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    After around 15 or so minutes, we hopped back on the bikes and rode another 10 miles of dirt, gravel and rock to Goodyears Bar and ultimately, Highway 49. We would subsequently ride 4 miles of paved highway into Downieville.

    Once there we took a break to get some lunch at the locally well known Two Rivers Cafe. I had a damn fine burger to top off the biological tank. Downieville, like most others in the area, is an old mining town. Unlike the previously ridden through Alleghany, Forest City and North Columbia, this one still maintains a population. This is largely due to Downieville's fame as a mountain biking destination.

    After lunch we got back on the road, only to turn almost immediately onto the dirt. For the second time this day, we were racing up a steep, rocky grade. After 9 miles of treacherous rock, dust and general mayhem we reached Saddleback Mountain. Over those miles we had ascended more than 3,000ft. We stopped to catch our breath and take in the incredible views. From where we were located we could see the Sutter Buttes located some 90 miles to our West as well as Lassen Peak nearly 70 miles to our North.

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    Another 5 miles of gravel switchbacks followed by high speed curves through the forest and we reached the trail head.

    The geological formation itself is located just a few hundred feet off the to road beneath Deadwood Peak (maps list it as Forest Road 21N16) so we parked the bikes and hiked up. It was definitely breathtaking to see in person.

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    Photo Cred to Doug for this one ^

    After a few minutes of being awestruck we hiked down, hopped on our bikes and raced home to beat the setting sun, but not before taking one more photo with our machines.

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    We had 25+ miles of gravel back to Highway 49 where I at some point lost track of Doug, turned around and found out that evidently I had passed him as he waved, and I having failed to see him, continued down the road for 10 miles thinking I was chasing him. We had a good laugh about that although at the time I was admittedly growing concerned that something more sinister had occurred.

    By the time we reached 49 we stopped for a few more minutes, talked about the day while enjoying a bag of pistachios before ultimately hitting the pavement and making our way back to Nevada City just in time for the sun to set.

    We parted ways and I went into town to reward myself with a calorie dense meal. By the end of it, we had ridden about 85 miles of gravel, rocks, uneven granite, shelf roads and crossed sections of road that were entirely blocked by downed trees. Another 45 - 50 miles of paved road in total made for easily one of the best single day trips on the bike yet.

    I managed to run the GoPro for half of the day leading up to Downieville; stupidly I forgot to clear my memory card before the trip. Whoops!



    Thanks for tuning in.

    Up Next - A Late November Run to Uncle Tom's Cabin
    #25
  6. WRC51

    WRC51 Long timer

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    Good stuff, keep it coming!
    #26
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  7. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Thanks! Definitely trying to keep the content flowing. Have a couple more worthy rides to post before I'm caught up to present day, but as the peak of Winter is behind us I suspect I'll be riding more. Going out this weekend with the same friend from above, but unsure as to where our itinerary is going to take us. I suggested a route over the Rubicon River that I located on MVUMs but we'll see what happens. Should be all updated by Sunday.
    #27
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  8. yobuddy

    yobuddy Been here awhile

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    614
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    Central Cal.
    Thanks for sharing. Left me with some great ideas for multi-day rides. Some areas I have been to, many I have not. Just to add to your list, when you are in the vicinity of Mammoth you might want to check out a loop from Mammoth to Benton Hot Springs and then back via Hwy. 120. We will probably have to wait until spring to ride that area from where we are situated.
    #28
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  9. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Thanks and yes, the Great Basin is one of my favorite playgrounds. It's just so darned far away.

    I'm actually planning to ride as close to the top of White Mountain Peak as I'm allowed this coming Summer. At the very least (assuming no closures), I should be able to reach the base of the switchbacks at 13,000ft.

    I'm also intent on riding further South (I was thinking of heading down in a week to Johnson Valley to attend KoH 2020 but probably not gonna happen) to explore the Trona Pinnacles by bike and the surrounding desert. We'll have to see what 2020 brings, but I suspect there'll be a lot more than the 6000 miles I covered between mid July and mid November haha
    #29
  10. Tiggergv

    Tiggergv n00b

    Joined:
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    6
    Great thread - I left Grass Valley 3 years ago - Plenty of riding here in Idaho in the summer months but I miss the year round opportunities of Northern CA.
    #30
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  11. GreggM

    GreggM California dreamin Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2005
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    Bay Area
    Enjoyed your post, thanks! Glad Noraly has turned on another rider to the Himalayan!
    #31
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  12. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    I can only imagine! I've never been to Idaho but the topography in maps and low population make it a seemingly desirable place to be an on ADV or Dual sport. But yea, we're pretty damn lucky here in the Motherlode with the territory and general access we have to riding.

    Cheers. Yea, I knew I wanted an ADV bike but had no idea where to start. I was gunning for a new/old stock (2018) KLR 650 until I found the Himalayan. I know the KLR is probably "technically" a better bike, but there's just something about the Himalayan that drew me to it, and it seemingly draws others as well. I can't go anywhere without people stopping to comment on it, and to date mine is still the only one I've seen on the road.
    #32
  13. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    One weekend morning, after breakfast with the lady I began twiddling my thumbs deciding what I wanted to do. After some contemplation I thought, why not ride to Uncle Tom's Cabin? After all, it was the latter part of November and we still lacked any mention-able snowfall.

    I set out around 10:30am and took Highway 49 all the way down through Auburn and ultimately into the Auburn State Recreation Area, a spot known for numerous hikers, trail runners, folks on horseback and such exploring the large network of trails. I took a few minutes to explore once at the base of the twisty road, took the time to listen to the American River flow and eventually snapped a shot of the Himalayan in front of the Foresthill Bridge (highest bridge deck in California) before continuing on up to Cool, California.

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    In Cool, I turned off onto CA-193 and followed the winding highway up to Georgetown. Georgetown is mostly famed for being the HQ for Jeep Jamboree USA and also where the annual Jeepers Jamboree sets off from on their way to run the Rubicon. Prior to that, like most others in the area it was a gold rush town.

    I turned off onto Wentworth Springs Road and began my last push toward Uncle Tom's. Wentworth Springs Road eventually turns into the Rubicon Trail, though that wasn't my goal for the day.

    Once I reached Stumpy Meadows Reservoir, I stopped to take in the beauty of it all.

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    I kept the break short though, as this time of year your daylight fades fast. I continued on but unsurprisingly got distracted when I spotted some dirt tracks leading away from Wentworth Springs. Needless to say, I had to see where they went.

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    After killing way more time than I probably should have, I hopped back on the saddle, rode out the way I came and cruised for another handful of miles before reaching the cabin.

    Uncle Tom's has a long history in this neck of the woods, but nowadays it serves mostly as a stop on the way to the Rubicon or in Winter, a famed Snow Wheeling destination. Inside the ceiling is a thick carpet of dollar bills from decades of passers-by making their respective mark. They serve cold beer and snacks, and have a few cabins on site as well as a campground. Most of all though, it's set on the edge of a stunning meadow and is one of many places in the region one can find a great deal of peace and tranquility.

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    The owners were out splitting wood for the long Winter ahead when I arrived. We shot the breeze for a bit, had a beer and then I rode home - unable to beat sundown but still made it in before it got too late. Having been to Uncle Tom's many times before on various 4wd excursions, this was my first visit to date where I was the only person there other than the caretaker and the owners. It made for a nice opportunity to sit down with the folks behind the place and share conversation.

    I'm sure I'll be back soon.

    Next Up - An afternoon for old bridges.
    #33
  14. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    The wife and I did some travelling in December, paired with inclement weather (snow and rain in grandiose quantity) and one serious bitch of a flu in early January which kept me off of two wheels for a bit.

    Finally last weekend, I fired the bike up and took it on a mini adventure.

    While I had my SG250, I took it down to Yankee Jims bridge and back. The road is a mildly rough but graded shelf road that slowly carves down to the North Fork of the American River, and eventually crosses the canyon via. the aforementioned bridge. At the time, due to my having been vibrated to bits on the little bike, the bridge served as my stopping point before turning back and heading home. The road took around 30 minutes for me to complete on that bike due to a lack of experience, the simple fact that the bike wasn't built to ride these kinds of roads, and due to my not knowing what awaited me beyond that point.

    In any case, I decided last weekend that I'd explore past there on the Himalayan.

    I set out late after a morning round of disc golf and intentionally found my way heading toward Colfax on back roads. I started off on Dog Bar Road and switched over to Highway 174 once I reach Mount Olive Road. Mount Olive is a short unpaved connector but as the roads have been damp as of late, it provides a fun cut through for me to hone my skills and get warmed up before riding better trails and forest roads.

    I quickly cut through Colfax and in short order I was speeding down Yankee Jims Road. It's funny the difference that time, experience, and a more well suited machine make. When I took this same route in June on the SG250, I approached 30mph on one occasion, but otherwise was pretty much restricted to an average speed of 15 or so. Some months later and I'm blasting down the road at 35-45mph with great confidence, control and comfort. It wasn't long before I reached Yankee Jims Bridge.

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    This time around, as my skills had greatly improved and due to my being saddled on a far superior machine than when I was last here, I decided to continue up the path to see where it went.

    To my elation, I stumbled upon a couple of seasonal waterfalls and cascades down the sides of the cliffs, slowly making their way to the American River.

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    At the second set of cascades, there was a junction. An immediate left would take me down Shirt Tail Canyon Road. I reviewed it a bit on the maps and it appeared to take me to Iowa Hill. Alternately I could continue back up the other side of the canyon via. Yankee Jims and into the town of Foresthill, allowing me to loop around to Ponderosa Road, back down through the canyon and up the other side to Weimar, where I'd make my way home.

    After a bit of thought I chose the latter route, leaving Shirt Tail Canyon for another weekend ride (ironically I would end up doing this route the very next weekend; yesterday in fact.)

    Once I got up to Foresthill, there was still about 6-8" of snow on the ground from the previous week's storm. I was geared up so the temperature didn't get to me, though I did get some strange looks from those who went by as this seemingly insane person was intentionally romping his motorcycle through various patches of snow.

    After a few miles riding on paved road, I turned off onto Ponderosa and it quickly turned into a packed, graded but slightly dampened dirt path heading down. As my experience in mud is limited, the few patches of greasy mud I encountered made the riding a bit sketchy for me (this would change the very next weekend as I would end up later riding about 25 miles of greasy mud.)

    Once at the bottom, I was greeted with yet another historical bridge and a brand new perspective of an area that's been in my back yard for the past 3 years.

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    I made my way back up the other side and found that Ponderosa Way is easily one of the best kept dual sport roads in the area. The section between the American River and town of Weimar is a rutted, rocky mess of curves, switchbacks and generally steep climbs; And damnit did I have a blast tearing up it. With my growing confidence and skill, I made sure to keep the throttle pinned the whole way up. I'm quite sure the few lifted 4WD trucks I passed on the way began to rethink their transportation choices when I blasted by, as they crawled slowly up the grade.

    I made it safely to Weimar and hopped on Dog Bar, eventually taking Mount Olive a second time back to 174 and finally home. I stopped one last time to take a photo of a milestone on the Himalayan.

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    And no, it was not 68 degrees out that day. As the temp sensor is under the seat, it reads much higher than the ambient air temperature. In truth it was around 40-43 for most of my day trip.

    Next Trip - A Lesson in the Mud
    #34
  15. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2019
    Oddometer:
    188
    Location:
    Grass Valley
    With this post, I can finally bring this thread into present tense.

    This weekend my good friend Doug and I decided to get out on the bikes again. Little did I know, soon my fear of mud would disappear and in its place love would rise from the ashes.

    Doug and I had been discussing a ride for a few weeks though our varying schedules kept interfering. Finally, he reached out on Friday with the intent of a ride the following day at Noon. I gladly obliged.

    Keen on exploring a 4WD route I found in a 2002 publication called "High Sierra SUV Trails" I suggested we head to Foresthill via. whatever avenue he desired, and then went beyond down to the Rubicon River and attempt to locate this route. Due to potentially wavering weather though, we decided to instead go back down Yankee Jims, but this time take Shirt Tail Canyon across and over to Sugar Pine Reservoir, where we'd then take Finning Mill Road to Foresthill allowing us to make a full loop back down Yankee Jims and then head home.

    We got started just after Noon and set out on Lower Colfax Road. This made for a fun warm up of narrow but paved twists and turns. After a few miles we turned back onto Highway 174 and raced to the start of Yankee Jims.

    Once we reached Yankee Jims, a sign warned of construction in the area. We discussed it briefly but after insisting that I was here the previous weekend and that the road was indeed open, we decided to forge on.

    Now Doug has been riding a very long time. He's in his early or mid-60s but damnit the man can ride the shit of his KLR 650. His control and general balance of the thing is extraordinary in my opinion, although I suppose one should expect such a thing when you've been on 2 wheels for 40+ years.

    We started off as Doug would later say, "terrorizing" Yankee Jims and to my elation I kept up just fine. Blasting through the curves and reaching speeds at times of 40-50mph (my math based on my GoPro footage and the distance covered over a certain time had us averaging nearly 28mph down the shelf road), we made our way down the shelf road in no time at all and beyond the bridge to the junction of Yankee Jims and Shirt Tail Canyon for our first breather.

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    After a few minutes to collect ourselves, enjoy the falls and chat, we hopped back on our bikes and raced up Shirt Tail Canyon Road.

    Shirt Tail Canyon follows Brushy Creek and at the latter part, a number of other tributaries of the American River for 7 miles up to Big Dipper Road, giving us the option to turn toward the practically abandoned mining town of Iowa Hill or Sugar Pine Reservoir. Due to it's location, the path was much looser and at turns, a lot muddier than the former Yankee Jims. We would vary between 30 and 40mph on stretches only to shift down through the gears, throw our weight opposite of the bike's lean and flog on the throttle to keep us going through the slimy mud. During the final portion, the benefit of having a much better front tire (and a hell of a lot more experience) on the front of Doug's bike began to show as he slowly pulled away. Luckily he didn't get too far ahead, as once we reached pavement I was only a few short seconds behind.

    We turned toward Sugar Pine Reservoir and sped on.

    After carving through the mountains on paved roads for a couple of miles, we arrived at the reservoir.

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    I even fired up the little cheapy DJI Tello Drone. The poor image quality has me seriously debating investing in a DJI Spark, however.

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    After a few minutes sharing stories, snacking on Clif Bars, jerky and pistachios, we set off again. A short ride up the mountain later, we turned off onto Finning Mill Road and almost immediately the mud showed up the greet us.

    I'll restate this from earlier, but my experience in mud up until this point was very limited and I was admittedly a bit afraid of it.

    We sped off initially clipping along at about 50mph, rose up to an area partially cleared by previous logging efforts where a few other folks had collected to enjoy the beautiful Winter day. We continued on and after passing an abomination of a Ford Excursion (nothing against them, but when you jack it way higher than you should, put it on huge albeit low-profile MT tires, it becomes quite clear that its a mall crawler) the mud really started to appear.

    We went through a few slick areas that I cautiously powered through, using my best efforts to keep the bike straight and front tire straighter. Feeling the bike slosh around had me on edge to say the least. A short while later, we approached an even bigger, deeper, sloshier spot of mud. It was at this point that all of the training videos and all of my practice kicked in.

    "Confidence and riding position are everything" I thought to myself. And with that, I began to go for broke. A few miles into our muddy journey and I was for the first time loving the slick and slimy stuff. With each curve I found myself leaning my body further opposite the lean of the bike and powering through more and more. I was intentionally aiming for the slicker, deeper spots of mud just to give myself more opportunity to practice.

    The final challenge on Finning Mill existed in the form of a 1/4 mile stretch of soaking wet mud, covered in patches of snow and ice. I gave Doug a bit of space ahead of me and began powering through. Laughing and joking through it all, including all of the moments where the bike wanted to have a mind of it's own, we made it through to the other side and ultimately to Foresthill Road.

    We stopped briefly to catch our breath and comment as to how unexpectedly awesome Finning Mill was. I can confidently say I no longer fear mud.

    We took off again, turning off in "downtown" Foresthill to take Yankee Jims back down. At the Yankee Jims/Shirt Tail Canyon junction, we stopped one last time to revel in the ride we had nearly completed.

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    After a bit, we decided to ride back via Shirt Tail Canyon Road, only this time we would turn toward Iowa Hill. I led for this second ride through Shirt Tail Canyon and found that my confidence had increased exponentially. This pass through had me flogging on the bike in each muddy curve more and more and moving at a rate of speed probably greater than my skill level should really allow. But adrenaline is a hell of a thing.

    We rode through Iowa Hill and down to the American River yet again. Carving back up the canyon, we made our way to Colfax and cruised 174 all the way back to town. Doug pulled off on the side of the highway shortly before his turn off where we shook hands, and committed to ride again soon.

    I made it home shortly after, grinning ear to ear. My wife was just leaving for work, and she came out to find me covered knee down in mud, and the bike considerably more caked up. She went on to say "Disgusting!" and probably still doesn't understand why I was so happy.

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    She headed off and I opted to ride into town to clean the bike and treat myself to dinner downtown. As I sipped my coffee and ate a combination of Gnocchi con Pesto, Spinach Ravioli Alfredo and Italian Sausage I could do nothing but smile with the memories I had just made.

    My GoPro died just before we headed up Shirt Tail Canyon for a second time, but I threw together a primer of the day's riding. I'll work on cutting a better, non music intensive video that should be up in the coming week.



    Thanks for reading. This coming Saturday looks like good weather, and possibly warm enough to allow a journey up above 5000ft. Stay tuned!
    #35
  16. Bike Guy

    Bike Guy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 20, 2005
    Oddometer:
    956
    Location:
    sierra foothills, hwy 49
    What great ride reports. I salute your enthusiasm. (And youth)
    #36
    KennyBooBear likes this.
  17. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2019
    Oddometer:
    188
    Location:
    Grass Valley
    Thanks for the kind words! I don't really know how to explain it but I find the more that I ride, the more I wish to find a way to find a way to make adventure riding my career and lifestyle. I have a potential solution for the career part I'm working on, though it also may just turn into an early retirement solution contingent on how successful it becomes.

    Starting in the Spring the monthly meetups are Ol' Republic Brewing should continue. If you're ever in the area, it's the second Tuesday of each month. Bikes, like-minded folk, damn good street tacos and beer. It's a hard ticket to beat on a Tuesday afternoon.
    #37
    jconli1 likes this.
  18. Bike Guy

    Bike Guy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 20, 2005
    Oddometer:
    956
    Location:
    sierra foothills, hwy 49
    Thanks, I’ve heard of it. I’ve got lots of stories and a very old body
    #38
    KennyBooBear likes this.
  19. uncle m

    uncle m Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2014
    Oddometer:
    343
    Location:
    B.C.
    Excellent report and great enthusiasm for riding! As with the Itchy Boots videos, I appreciate that your photos show the terrain around the roads, and not just the roads themselves. Northern California has been an annual destination for the last few years and this report is showing me more places to go next time!
    #39
    KennyBooBear likes this.
  20. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    792
    Location:
    Mountain View, CA
    Thanks for the ride repprt! I'm not sure I'd want to try all those roads on the Guzzi, but I'm sure I'll want to try some. I'm making a list...
    #40
    EMFL, BrockEvan and KennyBooBear like this.