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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    Yea I do my best to show where I've gone. I tend to sneak the bike into most pictures, but the truth is that I ride not just because I love being on 2 wheels (I do, don't get me wrong) but also largely because I enjoy seeking out the places where many never go. It'd be a bit counter productive to go there, write a report on it, and show nothing in regard to what the place was like haha.

    When you're down this way next feel free to touch base - would be happy to show you any number of locations listed in the thread and dozens of others I've yet to touch.

    Definitely do. A large majority of these places are accessible on anything to an extent. Originally I rode a number of these trails on the SG250 and would stop when I could go no further. On Bowman Lake Road I took the SG to where the bridge was out and even attempted the dry creek crossing but buried it at the bottom. I then took it up a number of trails leading to the Eagle Lakes area. Sometimes it's not so much what you ride, but how determined and patient you are to get there with your machine. And I'm quite sure the Moto Guzzi would be a good bit more at home on those trails than the cheap, carbed, basically hardtail SG250 was! :D

    That said, we have such a huge diversity of trails in California. I'm trying to work out a plan with a buddy in your area (I used to live in Mountain View) in the coming weeks/months for us to do some exploration along the coast and down toward Big Sur. At the same time I'm wanting to head down toward Trona in the coming months and am also loosely planning a ride for August/September to the San Juan Mountains in Southern Colorado to ride Black Bear, Imogene, and Ophir Passes at above 13,000ft.

    Hopefully my future posts will inspire more trips and journeys for you and others.

    Cheers.
    #41
  2. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Been here awhile

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    Drop me a PM if you're heading in this direction, and I'll most certainly want to pick your brain when I finally take the new machine up to the Sierras. I'm planning to poke around the coast range on Rt 1 N first, but plans, like beer money, are subject to change...
    #42
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  3. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Will do! Hopefully it'll be sooner rather than later. I'll probably ride down on a given Friday afternoon so maybe we can all meet up for eats or something when I get into town. PCH heading north of the Bay Area is incredible and definitely something I'm wanting to spend more time on. I wouldn't hold it against you if my back yard didn't override that trek.
    #43
  4. 805gregg

    805gregg Long timer

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    If you get a chance, get a ride on a DR650, lighter than RE and at least 10 more HP, with a 790 kit mine has 25 more hp, a much better all around bike
    #44
  5. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Having ridden a KLR 650 (not the same bike, I realize), I honestly didn't like how top heavy/tippy it felt. I'm a taller guy, but I honestly really like how low and dense at the base of the COG the RE feels.

    I don't care much for "going fast" or riding at above 75-80mph (the RE will do that, but not much more), although when I do upgrade it'll likely be something like Triumph's Tiger 800 Xcx as it suits my needs a great deal more.

    I intend to do a lot more long distance Adventure riding while having something competent enough that I can ride most trails. No, I may not be able to thrash up the side of the Sierra Buttes on it, but I WILL be able to go most places with it that I'd like to and more importantly, it'd be much more well suited to riding 4000 miles over 2 weeks. The Himalayan currently suits that need better than the KLR would, as would it the DRZ due to the lower right height, more Xc oriented seat/saddle and just the generally low COG making it stupidly easy to ride.

    Hope that clarifies!

    As an aside, if/when I upgrade to something like the Tiger, I'll likely also get something like a CRF250 Rally to ride the harder local trails that aren't 1000+ miles away.

    Full disclosure: My assumption of the DRZ being similar to the KLR in the aforementioned ways may be completely off base as I have no experience on it - so feel free to clarify.

    Cheers.
    #45
  6. GutsyGibbon

    GutsyGibbon Adventurer

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    Those are some awesome backdrops for your Himalayan! I have been following ItchyBoots as well. When I was in India I rode a Himalayan(rental), it is a cool little bike. Thanks for sharing your adventures with it. Keep em coming.
    #46
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  7. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Thanks! I've got a mini report I'll write up tonight from a little adventure yesterday afternoon that may have resulted in a tiny bit of carnage haha

    In other news, I have a tentative job offer that may result in my moving in the next month down to Carlsbad/Oceanside area. The Himi may have new grounds to stomp in soon... more on that later once things come to fruition.
    #47
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  8. CA-Cincinnatus

    CA-Cincinnatus Semi-retired GI-Bill student, husband, GSD-host Supporter

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    Welcome to California!! :D I'm from upstate NY and love California roads & winters.

    You might enjoy www.pashnit.com's California Motorcycle Roads - https://www.pashnit.com/ and the Bay Area Rider's Forum - https://www.bayarearidersforum.com/forums/ and their rallies (completely unlike a HD rally, no mass groups) all over the state, and into NV on occasion - https://www.bayarearidersforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=540710

    I envy your location up by the Sierras, it must be nice not having to ride an hour to those roads, congrats!! :D
    #48
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  9. GutsyGibbon

    GutsyGibbon Adventurer

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    Tentative welcome to So Cal.
    #49
  10. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    The Sierras are incredible - truly. I've been out here since 2012 so certainly not new to the state, but my love for it and the terrain we have is no different than it was day 1. I'll check those sites and forums out!

    Danke! Hopefully everything goes through as expected. I'd really like the move for a few reasons, namely my salary doubling haha
    #50
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  11. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    I went out on a mini-adventure of sorts Wednesday after work.

    I've been viewing a route that takes me through Cascade Shores (small community on the edge of Scott's Flat Reservoir) and ultimately onto the road that rides up to Chalk Bluff. Chalk Bluff is a popular riding spot for trail bikes and suck; There's a lot of single track up that way.

    In any case, the main road through Cascade Shores turns into gravel/dirt/mud/hole-filled madness after a short distance which makes it a fun, rocky, washboardy ride. A bit of muck and mud initially, but nonetheless.

    I've been through the area a number of times, and after a short distance there's an ATV/Dirt Bike playground of sorts you can turn off and down a steep bit of single track onto. Further up the road there's a fork that either goes to Chalk Bluff, or Little Greenhorn. The latter takes you all the way down to Greenhorn Creek over the course of many miles and this is the route I had been eyeing.

    I wrapped up work and anticipated the 30 mile loop would take me an hour, hour and a half tops if I dilly dallied.

    loop.JPG

    The loop pictured consists of 11.7 miles of forest/fire roads of varying quality. At times it's smooth and packed allowing you to ride up to 50mph comfortably, though most of the time it was filled with holes, rocks, random patches of mud (especially in turns), a few patches that were nothing but deep, tire swallowing ruts of mushy/sticky clay, packed red clay (which I found out on this trip is like ice on a motorcycle), and a creek/river crossing for good measure including having to cross the 120ft long gap of river rock.

    The first 4ish miles of tracks were fun, and I even stopped on the way to explore down into the Dirt Bike/ATV play area for kicks. After going down about a mile of single track and such, I turned back as I hit a section that went down a very steep, very wet and rocky slope. Since I didn't know where it went, I deemed it not worth getting the bike stuck down there and decided to turn back.

    I stopped for a little pose at the top of the trails.

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    I began going down the road further and at the fork, made a right further carving down into the first of 2 little canyons. This first canyon bottomed out at a hairpin where a small 8ft wide creek ran under the road at. As it was scenic and I wanted to sit down and enjoy nature for a minute, I stopped here and snapped a mini panoramic photo of the bike.

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    This is where it got interesting - A mile or two later, the terrain had quickly changed from rock/and gravel to red clay. Suddenly I found myself fighting the rear end for traction and then I hit my first big mud hole. I'll happily admit that I crept through it slowly, waddling my way through. Had I not, I know for sure I'd have been picking the bike up repeatedly. Once through I stopped to take a photo of the now caked up bike with the hole/ruts in the background.

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    I got back up to speed and the tires cleaned out well. Just when I thought the road was improving, on a descent I felt the rear tire start to come around to my left.

    Before I could do anything about it, the bike was completely jack-knifed and sliding down sideways. A second later and I was low-sided but only long enough for the brake pedal to catch and spin me around 180 degrees. Within an instant I went from upright riding and enjoying myself to sliding down the hill on my back.

    I got up, laughing my ass off like a crazy person, and assessed the damage to myself. Luckily, my gear did it's job. When I got thrown around 180 degrees the back of my helmet smacked the dirt fairly solidly, and in the process of initially going down, I took a good smack to my knee pad. The knee pad did it's job and protected my knee, but just below the pad I ended up with a small bruise.

    In short though, I was no worse for wear and by no means injured. I removed my helmet, gloves and jacket and proceeded with righting the bike.

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    After I got geared back up and assessed the damage to the bike (in the process realizing there was something off about my rear brake pedal: it was now sitting about 3cm higher than before causing some awkward foot positioning), I continued on down and eventually made it to Greenhorn Creek. I began to cross the creek, but once I reached the other side I quickly realized a problem.

    The road up the other side was a very steep, 100+ ft stretch of mushy, dug out clay. At the very top of it, the path went nearly vertical for a few feet. I quickly realized I had little chance of making my way up this without dumping the bike and/or injuring myself repeatedly, and likely not being able to make my way up it at all.

    I quicky texted the lady and let her know I'd be late coming home, updated my app to continue sending her my coordinates, and backtracked the whole way.

    I reached the ATV playground just as 3 teenagers on their 250s (and one on a 400) dirt bike arrived back at the dirt road. We nodded at one another and they continued up another path.

    I snapped one last photo realizing I was at the right place at the right time.

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    I quickly set back off on the bike and found that the dirt bikes were following me out. I think they were a bit surprised at the pace I kept heading out and when we all stopped at the Cascade Shores General Store, we talked for a brief moment. When they had found out I went all the way down toe Greenhorn, they seemed shocked. Not because I got down there on my bike in particular, but because they seemed to think going down the muddy, mucky path in it's current state was crazy on any bike :rofl

    I got a bottle of water, told them to ride safe and rode home. I then spent an hour cleaning my gear....

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    In any case, it was a fun and ultimately good lesson to learn - it's not about getting where it is you want to go faster than the next person so much as it's about just getting out and enjoying the ride, regardless of what obstacles end up presenting themselves. All things considered, it was a damn fine evening.

    Also, packed red clay is a bitch.

    :beer
    #51
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  12. CA-Cincinnatus

    CA-Cincinnatus Semi-retired GI-Bill student, husband, GSD-host Supporter

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    Nice write-up & pics!
    #52
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  13. fr8dog3510

    fr8dog3510 n00b

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    Great write up! Looked at a Himalayan last week. Need something that'll go off road. Seem to always end up on roads that are pretty rough on my fj-09. The fj is a keeper. Looking to add.
    We recently moved to Idaho from Citrus Heights. Snowing now. Bummer.
    #53
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  14. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    You know, it's funny - I've read an abundance of publications regarding the Himalayan being a poor choice for off-roading - and those same publications go on to indicate more road going bikes as alternatives and I don't really understand it.

    The Himalayan is by no means a perfect bike (ergonomics aren't great for a taller gent such as myself, saddle sucks unless you make foam adjustments, suspension and brakes are just okay for highway riding, it tends to be a bit gutless especially at altitude) but it's a well balanced mix of capability and simplicity. The damn thing is so stupidly easy to ride and cost considered, the suspension is very apt at soaking up washboard, rocks, ruts, ledges etc. that as long as you have decent balance, the thing makes you feel like a rock star. I think I've progressed on it faster than I could have progressed on anything else because the COG is just so low and the bike is so generally easy to ride (and the skid plate and center stand hold up to repeatedly smashing rocks and such.)

    When Tyler of the EveRIDE channel on YouTube discussed it, that was pretty much his assessment of the bike. It's not that it's super capable, it's that it's very simply an easy bike to ride which makes it extremely capable.

    A KLR650 or a DRZ400/650 will always be a better bike off-road at the hands of a professional rider. But due to them both being more top heavy, and less forgiving on the throttle etc. they're simply more difficult bikes to ride for the average person. Meanwhile, nearly anyone can hop on a Himalayan and enjoy moderate trails with confidence. In Tyler's review he mentions the "slow bike fast" thing, and that's exactly what it is. It's simply a blast to ride a slow bike fast, meanwhile those on more powerful, more capable machines almost never reach the full potential of their motorcycle.

    When my good friend Doug and I were traversing all of that snotty mud a week ago, I found we were both going at the same pace but while he was often waddling, I confidently kept my feet on the pegs and made my way through - and that was on a damn near bald front MT60 and a-not-designed-for-mud Mitas E-07 on the rear and collectively despite his many decades of experience on me, we probably almost binned it an equal number of times.

    Long story short - I don't think the Himalayan gets enough credit as an off-road worthy bike. The damn thing does really well on trails in my first hand experience. I've no doubt there are things that'd do better, but I have no qualms planning a trip to Ride Imogene, Black Bear, and Cinnamon Passes as well as Poughkeepsie Gulch later this Summer on it. I'll effectively be able to buy a bike in Northern California, ride it to Southern Colorado and enjoy some of the best roads in the country all for less than the OTD of a lot of far less capable bikes. It really is a hard bargain to beat.
    #54
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  15. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    This past Friday at around 2 in the afternoon, my good friend Doug reached out to me as he had decided working on Saturday simply didn't sound palatable.

    He suggested we ride out across the valley floor, through the Sutter Buttes and to the Eastern side of the Coastal Range to explore some as of yet, unexplored by us roads and trails outside the towns of Leesville, Stonyford and Elk River. Doug doesn't much care for taking his KLR 650 on longer rides, so he would be on his 2014 Super Tenere on Shinko 705s for this trip.

    We met up Saturday morning at 9am, just around the corner from where we live and promptly set off. The first part of the ride was admittedly boring as it had us simply going down Highway 20 to Marysville and Yuba City. If you've ever been to either of these towns, you'll understand why I say boring - and if you haven't, you aren't missing much.

    We topped off our tanks on the West side of Yuba City and set off toward the Sutter Buttes. It wasn't long after that we were cruising past large pastures of sheep and cattle, as we slowly carved our way into the skeletal remains of a long extinct volcano. About half way through, just adjacent to the site of a U2 Spy Plane crash a few years back, we stopped for our first break.

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    After a few minutes, we hopped back on our steeds and continued on. The day would be fairly fast paced as we had 2-300 miles planned (by the end of it, we traveled 273 miles according to both what was indicated on my backtrack via. Google Maps and my trip odometer.) We turned off onto Butte Slough and took it into the small town of Colusa. This road was noteworthy as it rides the top of the levee alongside the Sacramento River. Once in Colusa, Doug was feeling a bit famished so we stopped at Burger King so he could sate his appetite. I had eaten a large breakfast but as I have a stupidly fast metabolism, I also took the opportunity to down a Whopper Jr.

    A few minutes later and we were back on Highway 20. We quickly cut through the town of Williams and a few miles later, turned off onto Leesville Road, and what a road it is...

    Initially we started off on the flats, whizzing past fenced in farms but not much later we were passing huge green rolling pastures covered in grazing cattle, skirted with the mountains to both the East and West. As we continued, the road began to climb and we found ourselves on a perfectly paved, untouched ribbon of tarmac that was made for dreams.

    After a number of switchbacks and unguarded turns, we stopped to take in the view of the valley below.

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    Doug would later go on to say a couple of things regarding this area. Firstly, that this was his new favorite road, and secondly this trip would be the longest amount of time he had spent on entirely new-to-him roads in Northern California in over a decade. The latter surprised me in particular, as this is a man that puts the amount of miles I've ridden since July to shame, and he's been doing for 40 some odd years, but I digress.

    We continued on and after ascending a total of about a thousand foot, we found ourselves just outside of Leesville. The planned track for the day had us turn off just before reaching the "town" onto Huffmaster Road. For the next 6 miles we rode on a dusty trail of red clay that was at times, not much more than a mud pit. As Doug was on the Tenere, he picked his way through each of these patches carefully - often times after I waded in first to ensure the mud was tractable.

    We made it down and after letting ourselves through a gate, we ended up on miles of gravel road. Over the next 44 miles to Leesville, all but about 10 consisted of us roaring down mixed gravel, and hardened clay roads at 50-60mph. The terrain was by no means difficult but occasionally we found ourselves rocketing through pocked and pitted roads, or flying over crests to find a large swath of mud awaiting us at the bottom. I largely had no issue with this, but there were a few times where Doug had some puckery moments on the Tenere (largely influenced by speed and tires).

    Along the way, we reached a crest where we could see clear across the valley back toward Nevada and could make out both the Sierra Buttes (not the same as the Sutter Buttes we had ridden by earlier in the day) as well as Lassen Peak. As the crow flies, the snow covered peak in the first photo and on the left of the second photo is 88.1 miles from where these photos were taken.

    The Sierra Buttes outside of Downieville are a bit closer, and are slightly visible to the right of the foreground hill in the second photo.

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    After many miles of high paced gravel riding, we found our way into Elk River and stopped for a moment at the Stony Gorge Dam.

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    We picked up the pace yet again and about 17 miles later, stopped in Stonyford for our first and only real break. We shot the breeze for a bit with some other fellow bikers who between the number of bikes there, were ironically all in awe over the Himalayan rather than the Super Tenere, WR250, Yamaha Virago, or the 2 KTM dirt bikes on prem. I spent the next few minutes answering questions and running through the mods before Doug reminded me we were chasing the clock.

    In the midst of it all, I forgot to assess my fuel situation. You see, in stock form the Himalayan was averaging 70-73mpg giving me a range of 250-280 miles on a tank. The hard cases create a substantial amount of drag however, and since adding them my average has consistently been between 55 and 62mpg (most of the time in the 57-58 range). I realized shortly after we hit the road that I was at a bit less than a third of a tank and the next fuel stop was in Williams, 40 miles away. With the roads Doug had planned, Williams was actually closer to 65-70 miles away.

    We stopped to water a few trees about 8 miles outside of town before getting back on gravel when I brought this to his attention. I made it clear that I didn't mind chancing it, but if things went tits up we'd be relying on him to fetch me a bit of fuel. After some humming and hawing we decided it'd be best to take the more direct route, ultimately through Leesville and backtrack down the amazing road we came up earlier in the day - it didn't disappoint.

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    We stopped in Williams to fill up the tank. By my math, the Himalayan took 11.8 litres of fuel and is rated as having a 15+- .5 litre tank. I like to err on the side of caution and assume I have a 14.5 litre tank. Realistically speaking, with 2.7 litres of fuel left, I probably could have made it another 40ish miles before running dry, but why risk it?

    In any case, we continued on and raced back across the valley. As we rode up Hammonton-Smartsville Road back toward the Motherlode, we caught a glimpse of the incredible setting sun behind us. We stopped one last time to take in the views.

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    The silhouette of the Sutter Buttes added to the drama of it all. It was yet another case of right place, right time.

    The sky continued to glow for the next few miles before darkness set in, just as we entered Penn Valley. Another 15 minutes later and I was pulling into my driveway.

    By the end of it, we had a 273 mile day over 9 hours, 7 1/2 of which were spent in the saddle. In the grand scheme of things I prefer to have my days split 50/50 with time on and off the saddle, but this day in particular I wouldn't trade for anything.

    Until next time.
    #55
  16. dano619

    dano619 Long timer Supporter

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    Lovin this!! Thanks!!
    #56
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  17. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Thanks Dano! I'm hoping to get out and ride 100+ miles this Saturday but wanting to keep it more off-road than last weekend, so we'll see where it takes me. I'll be sure to bring the SLR and take more photos than last week :D
    #57
  18. Motoman66

    Motoman66 Green Rider

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    Great RR. Hope to ride this area someday. It looks pristine !
    #58
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  19. EMFL

    EMFL It's an adventure if nobody died Supporter

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    Nov 7, 2018
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    Very much enjoying the RR. I am in the Bay Area and need to explore the Sierra's more. Appreciate the detail, wonderful pics, and your enthusiasm for riding.
    #59
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  20. KimPossible

    KimPossible Proud Patriot

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    Thank you for sharing your ride report. Enjoy and looking forward to more.
    #60
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