Calgary-Northern California-Calgary on ZZR600, Solo
Well, this is my very first post on this forum, I've been an active "reader" for the last couple of months. I did read every single report on the trips to Western US and Cali and can only thank guys on Ducs, BMW, VFRs, Concours, and Edmonton guy on GSXR 750 for sharing their experiences.
So, here's my trip report to Northern Cali. Did it solo May 17 - May 31, 2009.
Day 1: Calgary to Grangeville, ID - 893 km
Woke up at 5:00 am, had a quick shower, light breakfast, checked the tire pressure and oil. I loaded the bike the night before, so by 6:00 am I was on Hwy 2 heading south to the U.S. border at Carway, AB. The crossing took 2 min since I was the only one crossing at the time and the officer asked more questions about my bike and a travel route than the usual customs stuff. The weather was mainly sunny with some clouds and it became more cloudy as I entered Montana. The road through Glacier National park was closed, so I had to take Hwy 89 to 48 and around the park to Hwy 2 to Columbia Falls. Hwy 49 seemed like a fun road to ride on at the beginning, but then the pavement deteriorated so much that there was none on certain stretches and loose gravel and rocks ruled the road the rest of the way. Not going to lie I was happy to finally hit Hwy 2 even though it ended up being a straight and fairly boring ride. As soon as I hit Hwy 2 the sun came out and it started to get really hot. By the time I hit Kalispell, MT I was sweating like a horse. Took the liners out of my gear and stripped down to a single t-shirt under the jacket, so it made a bit better but still too warm, even when riding.
After Missoula, MT I took Hwy 12 West, a road the locals call "Lolo Pass". It was an interesting ride as the road became twisty with very little traffic going west, so I was enjoying myself for about an hour and half when a pick-up truck caught up with me and started to follow. After about 15 minutes of driving on my tail he finally started to pass and ... pulled right next to me, where I almost touched the door of his truck with my elbow, rolled down the window and started talking to me?! What? I could not even hear the guy at 120 km/hr plus I was wearing my earplugs. So I waived him to pull over thinking he might have wanted to warn me about some mess-up on my bike that I could not see from behind. So we stopped. The dude that came out of the truck was all smiles and started telling me how nice my bike was and how many bikes he has at home. He then went on to warn me about the wildlife and rocks and some other shit I have to look for when riding on this road. The minute he stepped out of his truck I realized the guy was ... DRUNK! Like very drunk... The last thing I wanted at that point is having him on my tail again, so I let him drive off first and followed at a much slower pace. And guess what? 5 min later I saw him at a rest area waving at me inviting to stop... Thanks... but no thanks. So I keep riding and seconds later I see the same big Tundra in my rear view mirrors... again!
Last edited by airatair; 06-18-2009 at 12:57 PM.
Day 2: Grangeville, ID to Reno, NV - 960 km
The first day ended on a positive note as the Tundra Man had passed me one more time and I did not see him again. I ended up staying at Super 8 Motel that cost me $68 per night. It was more than I budgeted for, but I made up for the $$ spent later.
I left the motel at 6:00 am local time and took Hwy 95 all the way to Winnemucca, NV. The weather was extremely hot and I changed into jeans and walking boots packing all my riding gear away. Hwy 95 is an interesting ride from Grangeville to New Meadows, ID with some good twisty corners and great scenery. It becomes really boring once you enter Oregon, straight like rail tracks and virtually no traffic. No wonder I felt like covering that stretch as soon as I could, so I gave it all since there were no signs of cops. Oh well, I did not go too far... ran out of gas just south of a little town called Rome! I used my little orange magic can to get me going again and was flying high when my Kawi decided she was too hot to ride anymore. So I had to pull over in the middle of nowhere to let her cool off. Stupid me! I should have watched that temperature gauge, I guess I was too busy eating the miles at 160 km/hr. It's good that my bike has an auto shut-off when the engine reaches 110C, so I did not kill my baby for good. I swear this was the first and last time I ever did this to my Kawi. Anyhow, after about 40 min of chilling in Oregon desert we got going again and reached Winnemucca, NV. After that it was I-80 all the way to Reno, NV. Stayed at Motel 6 at $29 per night. Bought a map of Northern Cali (I don't have a GPS), had my beer and went to sleep.
ride a lot
I guess there aren't many mountains in SE Oregon. I tell you other boring roads in the area: US26 between Unity and Vale, US20 between Burns and Vale.
Originally Posted by airatair
I almost never do such high speed for a long time. In such places, there's probably no risk of getting caught by radar or aircraft, but as you go much faster, your field vision gets narrower, so you may miss some road hazards like animals on the side of the road, etc. One indication is that you understandably missed temperature warning on display, you'd probably noticed if you were riding at reasonable speed.
Another reason that I don't do jet for a long time is that, most bikes are not designed to cruise at such high speed, so fuel economy gets worse significantly, even at legal freeway cruising like 75-85mph. When we can do such high speed, there's almost always very few gas stations around. Even if there are, you'll need to refuel more frequently, so time saved by speeding isn't much when you add those time. Luckily you had a spare fuel.
Day 3: Reno, NV to Morgan Hill, CA - 584 km
Now, finally some great scenery and famous California twisties. Before I hit the highway again I stopped at Michael's Reno Powersports and bought myself a new helmet. Scorpion Exo 700 with dark smoke visor was the one I have been looking to buy for quite some time now. I researched it online and tried it at the shop in Calgary, but the price was too hefty, so I thought I'd wait and buy one in the US. It was tempting to go with Shoei, which also felt great on my head, but I realized if I spent the $$ on the Japanese beauty I may not make it home on two wheels, would have to walk. So I settled for Scorpion at $193 US including the visor and all taxes. It was almost 11:00 am when i finally hit the road.
Lake Tahoe is simply spectacular. I took some time to chill by the beach and take some photos. Then had lunch at Tahoe City and... got lost!!! Rode north to Truckee instead of going south on Hwy 89. So, I had to ride all the way back to Tahoe City and then south to Markleeville, CA. What came next was one of the best scenic/super twisty roads I've ever been on. Hwy 4 to Angels Camp was only 120 km long, but was a ton of fun to ride on. First half is scenic and so twisty that I don't think I went higher than the 3rd gear. The second half is "speedy" twisty corners where you can knee drag as much as you soul desires.
My initial plan was to go through Sonora Pass and eventually onto Hwy 152, but I lost two hours at Lake Tahoe and the sun was setting, so I had to speed up my arrival at my friends' place in Morgan Hill by going through Modesto and on I-5 south to Hwy 152 to Gilroy, CA. I-5 was great in a sense that the pavement was brand new and just perfect, saw only one cop at a rest area. I finally made it to my final destination in California just after 10:00 pm. First half of my journey was over and I was excited to park my Kawi for a week and drive my friends' Prius for a change.
Last edited by airatair; 06-02-2009 at 04:13 PM.
Good point. Agree 100%! I learned my lesson... Plus, I realized I was not racing, and the whole point was to enjoy the scenery and all other things around. The problem was THE scenery, or the lack of it I should say, so I sped up and paid for it.
Originally Posted by Maverik
Day 4, 5, 6 and...... California!!!
I spent a week with my friends in Cali. We visited Carmel, San Francisco, spent the Memorial Day weekend in Santa Barbara. I also enjoyed driving a hybrid for the first time in my life, quite a different vehicle I found. I wish I could just stay in Cali and not go back to cold Alberta. Oh well, be back some day!
By the way if you are ever in Santa Barbara check out "Arigato Sushi", a great little restaurant on State Street with some great flavors. I am into the whole healthy eating thing, so being in Cali is like a heaven to me.
Too bad I don't know how to post a google map of my route here... any ideas?
Day 10: Morgan Hill, CA to Eureka, CA - 600 km
I hit the road at 6:00 am local time knowing that I would spend a lot of time sight seeing today. It took me about an hour and a half to get from Morgan Hill to the Vista Point on Golden Gate bridge. After that Hwy 1 was the planned route all the way to Crescent City, CA. This coastal road did not disappoint and I had the best time of the whole trip on Hwy 1. It was just as described by the guys and gals on this forum who had traveled this route before me. Nice twisty corners turning into stretches of straight highway and back to twisty corners again. I guess the best way to describe it is that I spent over 13 hours riding mere 600 km... I was stopping every 5 min at times to take a pic or simply enjoy the view and stare at the ocean. I don't think I have ever seen that much water in my entire life.
Point Arena was beautiful. I got lucky with the weather as there was no fog or rain that day and I could see for miles ahead. Stopped at Chandellier Tree in Leggett and took an obligatory photo. Then the Redwoods and finally... Motel 6 in Eureka. Another $49 are gone and I have a place to sleep.
Last edited by airatair; 06-02-2009 at 04:42 PM.
This reports needs maps!
Looks like fun. Next time you should avoid eastern OR like the plague and hit central or western, them be good roads laying there.
160kmh cruising in the desert also really kills tire life.
Day 11: Eureka, CA to Prineville, OR - 490 km
The morning of day 11 was a foggy one, so humid that I had to wipe my visor every once in a while to be able to see. Still, some nice views and little traffic at 6:00 am. I reached Crescent City, CA around 7:30 am, gassed up and took Hwy 199 West and into Oregon. The goal for the day was to spend some time at Crater Lake and make it as close as possible to the Painted Hills area. Hwy 62 to Crater Lake in Oregon was a good ride, mostly good pavement and little traffic. The road was surrounded by the wall of trees and it was easy to enjoy the ride and a fresh air.
Crater Lake impressed me most on this trip, even more than the Cali coast. I guess I simply expected the coast to be super-uber-breath taking, but this lake was just as magnificent. Again, the Mother Nature had blessed me with some great weather that day and I took advantage by taking some great photos and just contemplating the view. I was surprised by the amount of snow at the lake, pretty cool thing I thought, sweating in my gear at 85F.
After that I had a pretty uneventful ride to Bend, OR on Hwy 97, the most boring 200 km I've ridden on this trip. Do not ride 97 from Crater Lake to Bend if you're in the area, too many cars and commercial trucks, straight and simply exhausting. I then cruised through Bend and Redmond and ended up at a very nice Econolodge in Prineville, OR. Definitely not the Double Tree Resort we stayed at in Santa Barbara, but for $48 it offered the most comfortable bed and the cleanest and best working shower out of all the little motels I had stayed at all along the way. I went to the grocery store nearby and bought some veggies and fruits for the dinner.. Did not really fell like eating a lot as the whole day was extremely hot. Slept well that night...
Last edited by airatair; 06-03-2009 at 11:01 AM.
I know, the map should be here! I just don't know how to copy a google map so it shows the route that I took... how do i do that?
Originally Posted by tetsuo69
Last edited by airatair; 06-02-2009 at 05:48 PM.
Day 12: Prineville, OR to Burnaby, BC - 940 km
The only notable stop today was the Painted Hills area. I made a mistake though. I came to see the hills in the morning. And after talking to some locals I realized that the best time to see them is in the late afternoon or when the sun is setting. I guess, that's when you really get see the colors. Oh well, there was nothing I could do about that, so I took some pictures and hit the road. I rode interstates for the most part of the day just trying to cover some ground between the Hills and BC. I took I-84 west to Portland and then I-5 to Olympia, WA. I then turned west and then north on 101 to Port Townsend, WA. That road along the sound would have been a great ride if not for the trucks, endless number of cars and cops all the way from Olympia to the ferry at Port Townsend. Still, I thought it was a much better and interesting route than spending hours in the rush hour on I-5 near Seattle. I missed the ferry by... 8 minutes, darn it! So, I had to wait an hour an a half till the next one. A nice couple on Harley pulled in some 30 min after me, so we ended up chatting about routes and scenic highways in WA, CA, OR and ID. I then followed them on Hwy 20 to I-5 where they headed south and I rode north to... Canada! Arrived at my parents' place in Burnaby just before midnight. I am home now!
Last edited by airatair; 06-03-2009 at 11:06 AM.
Forgot to mention in the last post. I ran into this machine in Oregon. It was a Ural, a never-dying Russian motorcycle that I used to ride when I was a kid (I was born and raised in Siberia, Russia). I was quite shocked to be honest to see my "grandfather's" era machine cruising on the highways in the States. I've heard that they sell them in Canada and the U.S. but have never seen one myself. Anyhow, I thought it was pretty cool to seat on it again after almost 15 years since I rode one last time.
Day 13 and 14: Vancouver, BC.
Slept pretty much the whole day on Friday. Saturday was quiet and relaxing with tons of some yummy home made food. I love Vancouver, I wish I never left the city for Calgary.
Day 15: Burnaby, BC to Calgary, AB - 1000 km
This ride was boring, but I was not really expecting anything as I've driven Hwy 5 and Hwy 1 so many times before and I just wanted to make it back to Calgary in time for a hockey game (Det.vs Pit). Stopped for gas and to pee only and rode non-stop the rest of the way.
So, to summarize the whole journey:
- would do it again on a bigger bike (K1300S!)
- was impossible to hit all the scenic highways in one trip (e.g Hwy 36 in NorCali), so definitely lots of roads left to ride on
- would be more fun to have a partner or two next time, now that I have done it solo
- would want to camp out next time instead of motels/hotels, just for the adventure
- it felt good and safe to have been prepared (tire repair kit, knife, flashlight, lighter, extra can of gas, chain lube, scotch tape and a bunch of other small things you need when traveling alone)
Hope you enjoyed the report. Sorry for any grammar and spelling mistakes, English is my second language, so I am still learning every day.
I've yet to find a good method for that aside from taking a screenshot and then uploading that as a pic. Be sure to post the Google Map link as well though, as it makes it easier for anyone trying to copy the route
Originally Posted by airatair