Solo tour of the western US
The weather was great as I left North Van. Blue skies with only a few fluffy white clouds, but that didnít last.
Little traffic and my Nexus card got me quickly into Washington State where the skies clouded over then dumped rain, hail, sleet and snow with 60 kph cross winds all the way to the Oregon coast. The heated gear was great keeping me warm even though soaked. That said, being soaked riding in cold, windy, rainy conditions is not my idea of ideal.
I found some great roads that made the first day a great (or at least interesting) adventure. Took I-5 to Olympia then went west to Oakville and thatís where things got interesting. I had planned on taking 101 around the Olympic Peninsula to Astoria, but decided to take a shortcut across the peninsula through Brooklyn. Unfortunately, that paved, twisty road turned into gravel switchbacks about halfway across.
I learned the Connie can handle loose gravel reasonably well (for a 600+ lb. sport tourer) if you stand up on the pegs and donít fight her. While I didnít drop the bike, I decided this was not the best way to start a 2 week trip and, after three km of slipping and dancing through the corners, I turned around and returned to the pavement. Following more twisty back roads, I returned to the I-5 at Castle Rock then entered Oregon at Longview and followed Hwy 30 for a picturesque tour to Astoria.
After a restoring late lunch (4:30 pm), I continued chasing a patch of blue sky south until I ran out of daylight in Rockaway Beach.
Sorry about the stray attachment. The Connie looks good though, don't ya think?
Day 2 Ė Rockaway Beach to Arcata, CA Ė 732 km
Weather is much improved this morning! Itís still very cold with some rain, sleet and snow, but in vastly reduced amounts. The day actually started out with patches of blue sky.
The riding was the real treat. Unbelievable roads! I started down 101, but it was just too windy and cold so I deviated onto some interesting backroads ultimately ending up back on the I-5 at Salem, OR. On the way, however, the GPS showed me some roads I had not seen nor heard of before.
Little Nestucca River Road and Hwy 20 between Oretown and Williamina (46 km of wonderful scenery and challenging twisties) are two to be remembered,
but even they cannot compare to the 132km between Grants Pass, OR, and Crescent City, CA. The last 20 km through the very technical twisties surrounded by redwood forest is sublime. Sorry, no picsÖ.It was just too much fun to stop.
Didnít see any real sunshine until Crescent City, California, but, if you could find a spot out of the 80 to 100km wind gusts, it was at least warm.
Makes for interesting riding. The cold, sun, wind and winding roads made for a very tired fellow once I had arrived at Arcata.
Only 732 km, but Iím exhausted and retired early to a great little Motel 6 and was treated like royalty for only $39.99. Nice treat at the end of a tough day. Thank you very much, Kimi. Following this treatment I sought out other Motel 6ís and found the service consistent. These folks run a clean, cost effective chain.
Wow this looks like a great trip. Mind posting up a Google Map after all is said and done?
Day 3 and 4 Arcata to Forestville and Petaluma, CA Ė 398 km
After hearing so much about Californiaís roads, I was looking forward to this leg with very high expectations and was not disappointed. At least 300 of the dayís total were truly the highest quality biking roads I have ever experienced.
Hwy 101 to Leggett, along the coast on Hwy 1 to just past Albion then inland on Hwy 128 through the Navarro River Redwood State Park and back to the 101.
My lack of ample photos is another testament to these phenomenal roads. I was in the zone and just could not get myself to stop for pics.
I donít know if it was to repay the Karma debt from my lack of attention to my photog duties, but shortly after arrival at Bill and Sherriís farm in Forestville, the Connie developed an electrical problem (it turned out to be that new fangled KIPASS system) and had to be picked up by the extremely helpful staff at G&B Motorsports in Petaluma. Tom (pictured below with the hat and very cool Kawi transporter.
A modified Honda civic with air shocks) drove the 40 km to my Forestville hostsí rural home, on his own time, to pick up the Connie and deliver it to their shop in Petaluma.
As with most electrical problems, the solution was a simple one, but took two days of correspondence by Dan of G&B with Kawasaki USA and some very helpful input from Stuart and the crew at Richmond Motorsports. In any event, I ended up spending two extra days with my very gracious hosts in the heart of Russian River wine country enjoying good food, wine and company. Clearly, while I missed the riding, this outcome was not all bad. I guess I still had some good Karma left in the account.
Cool report Justin, that Connie looks good all loaded up!
Day 5 Petaluma to Reno Ė 460 km
Back on the road Friday afternoon, I chose Hwy 49 through the Yuba pass for my run to Reno. The boring run through/around Sacramento to Grass Meadow, CA, was more than justified by Hwy 49.
As well as the entertaining roads, there were several small towns that begged to be explored.
Yuba pass, while not the highest pass encountered on the trip, was certainly the sandiest on the eastside of the mountain.
The road up the pass was a blast as attested to by the sign in the middle picture (blown up for a closer look) was more than accurate.
The great curves and spectacular views on the east side created a smile that lasted throughout the boring run across the desert to Reno.
I haven't entirely figured out how to post the maps, but hoped to have that worked out shortly. Stay tuned.
Originally Posted by Dustin2
Thanks. Going solo meant carrying more than originally planned, but the extra load ended up being a non issue.
Originally Posted by CHIA
My Dad & his wife are going to take off for a couple weeks, and are just doing a dry run this last couple days to test the gear selection & luggage.
Originally Posted by j2beers
Is that yellow bag a SeaLine brand? Looks very similar to one he bought.
thanks for the trip report.
sorry to hear about the electrical gremlins... hopefully that will be the end of them.
i actually reconize some of the coastal locations! cool! now i am having MAJOR roadtrip withdrawals.
you are right about the backroads around s. oregon and n cali! gotta get there soon!
ride safe and have a great trip!
Nope. It's a Wolfman adventure bag that I picked up on sale at Burnaby Kawi. Every type of attachment points imaginable and it kept the critical stuff dry through some very bad weather. Tough too.
Originally Posted by CHIA
The views post Yuba were spectacular. As often happens, it was difficult to capture the vastness with one, non-panorama shot.
Day 6 - Reno to Mesquite, NV Ė 911 km
Todayís ride was planned for 590 km ending up with a camp in Death Valley.
A cold but early start from Reno (they'll let you park just about anywhere early in the morning)...
and complete lack of traffic resulted in arrival in Death Valley around 1:00 pm. A lot earlier than anticipated. The ride down 395 to Death Valley was beautiful and the views spectacular, especially from the Conway Summit. There had been snow here until very recently, but the roads were clear and sand free now.
Despite the views, the roads were somewhat underwhelming from a riding point of view until I got to Hwy 190.
The 18 miles of Hwy 190 heading into Panamint Springs (eastbound into Death Valley) was a real treat. Imagine 18 miles of twisties compressed into 2 linear miles with an elevation change of 3500 feet. It was so much fun, I went back up and did it again. Iím embarrassed to admit that, once again, I did not take the time to get pics of this section. Sorry. Clearly, I need some retraining on this photo taking skill and some form of mount system that makes taking pics more convenient. Maybe video is the answer.
I arrived at the bottom of Death Valley shortly after 1:00 only to find the campsites full and the temperature around 100 degrees. After touring the Visitor Centre and chatting with some local bikers, it was time to continue on in search of a place to sleep. I highly recommend driving the length of Death Valley, despite the heat, because the road south provided some more twisties and as well as high speed sweepers.
The other side of Death Valley is almost vacant with the exception of Pahrump (easy and good to miss) and Las Vegas. It was after dusk when I breezed through Vegas and, big glitzy cities not being my thing, it was easy to give it a miss too (It didnít hurt that all the hotels were booked for a couple of conventions in town. Even the Motel 6 was full). Pushing onward to Mesquite, I arrive there near 10 pm and beat.
Day 7 - Mesquite, NV to Tuba City, AZ - 636 km
This leg was all about Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks. The ride through Zion was a blast as well as spectacular.
I don't know if you noticed, but these great biking roads were all paved with red aggregate taken from local sources. The colour and unbelievable scenery gave the entire ride a surreal feel. Again I was blessed with a relative lack of competing traffic. Probably too early in the season.