It's been a over a month now since I came back from my first long ride.
It took me that long to find the time to go through more than 3,000 photos and finally put a website together.
I should have been with Fury on his ride to Sawtooth, but I was unable to meet his fix date for 24 hours, So I went on my own.
I basically went south to San Francisco by using the Oregon coast from Astoria and on. I was able to stay for about a week at some friends house in the north of the bay area. This gave me the time to tour around the city, and discover the region around Santa cruz and Monterey. I made it as far south as Big Sur. After buying some camping gears and soem extra stuff for my bike I took off again, towards Kings canyon and Sequoia national Parks.
I then went south to go over the sierra mountain range, and accross the Death Valley to reach Las Vegas. The South Rim of the Grand canyon was next after crossing the colorado over the Hoover dam.
I went around the canyon to reach the North Rim in one day. Then made it into Utah, when I realized that my rear tire was becoming square. So I backtracked to Las Vegas, and wasted a couple of days there. This gave me the opportunity to visit a Nevada State park called the valley of Fire, which was a really nice place.
It was then time to go over to Utah, and go through Zion, Bryce, Capitol reef, and Arches National Park. It is in the town of Moab and Arches NP that my luck started to run out on me, or bad karma started to fall over me. My digital camera got knocked over on the ground in a stupid accident, and died.
I then changed my plans and headed straight to Denver, to get a new one. I then wasted one other day getting the new camera exchange for another one and a new front tire installed. Colorado Springs was my base for 2 nights, and on the second morning at pretty early time, I finally climbed the famous Pikes Peak, which was my objectif for the trip.
A couple of days through the rockies with a couple of bad road choices, and places to stay soon convinced me that it was time to go home. i was also asked to come back for some work anyway.
It took me 3 full days of solid riding without much more tourism to get back to Vancouver from the really cool town of Durango in Colorado. I did this through Salt lake city and Boise. When I reached Yakima for my last night, I stopped riding the US interstates, to go check out the cascades (Washington pass,Winthrop) and Leavenworth so many on this site rave about on a weekly basis ;-)
I had an awesome time, and met countless cool riders. Shared diners and lunch with some of them. Exchange tips on road to take things to see and avoid.
As mentionned by a few members of this forum, the northern California roads are really great on a bike. Great surface, and scenery all along.
I did not enjoy the Oregon coast as it probably deserve it due to a really annoying fog. I will have to go back down there to really appreciate it I think.
One piece of road kept in my mind for a pretty long time. This was Hwy 9, which basically link San Jose in the South of the Bay to Santa Cruz.
The section between Carmel by the Sea and Big Sur was incredible. I bet that most of the guys and gals who ride down to Moto GP go there at least once.
I got flamed on this forum, because I did not recognize or knew about Cannery Row in Monterey. well guys for me that place is Overrated. It surely must be an awesome atmosphere during the GP week, but other than that, sorry but it sucks big time.
I however had 10 times more fun riding every possible access road around Laguna Seca. Somehow I imagined the place and track to be much larger. This does not fit the American standard. I hope to make it for the Big day one of those years.
The next great road I liked, was inside Kings canyon NP. It was terrific, for a few reasons. I elected to camp for the first time at the end of the canyon which is a dead end road. So I arrived late afternoon, which meant great sun ligthting heading east. Zero and near Zero traffic. I had those curves for myself. The following morning, same deal. Again the sun is pefect as I am heading west, and I started so early that the traffic was super light. Really if you ever happen to make it to this area, you will have a blast.
The Death Valley was next, and pretty stressfull probably due to all the advices and comments and stories I gathered in the days before. Nonetheless, It was one of my best day ride, and great speed momentum. The temperature rose to 43 deg C that day, but I made it through around 40 and just before lunch time.
The next great memorable ride, was going around the grand canyon by the East. temperature went up and down all day, and it was hard on the body. But the Navajo reserved area, little colorado, and Lees ferry made all this worthwile.
Now if you ever go down to Southern Utah, you must you absolutley must ride the entire length of Hwy 12. This road has it all. national parks, amazing curves, and passes, even a crazy section which takes you from the bottom of a canyon, to its edge, and once you get there you ride at the crest of it, with another valley on the other side. So you basically ride on top for a few miles. And to top it off Hwy 12 goes over the Grand Staircase escalante. You will need to watch your gas on that road
Pikes peak is in a league of his own. It is being paved a bit more every year, so I guess some purist are going to cry. But maybe one day this will actually open to sports bike. And when this happen, I know a few who will have a real blast. Right now, one would find it a bit excessive to pay $10 to ride only half way up.
I only road in the southern section of the rockies. My favorite part was between Ouray and Durango. It was by far the most scenic, and the road was near perfection. Hard to believe it snow and freeze down there. Maybe our Canadian road enginneers could take note.
I hated Vail, and moderately appreciated Aspen and Independance pass.
I will definitively go back down there and investigate more, but for what I have seen so far, I really prefer the Canadian rockies. They really stand out comparatively for me.
Funny enough, I came back without a single speeding ticket. I payed super extra care in California, and always tried to keep to the speed limit in build up areas all along the trip. The other big factor is that I keep myself under control whenever on an Interstate. And that is key. I saw so many Highway patrol, they would surely had gotten me, if I had not been conservative.
However, in the middle of the desert, with nobody around, I had lots of fun, really lots of it.
This trip taught me a lot about myself, and my abilities, I have pushed my limits to new levels. I did my first over 1,000 km day. And after spending a meal chatting with an IBA member ( A BunBurner guy no less) I might set myself up for one of their challenges one of these days. But I need way more experience first.
Anyway, here is a couple of pictures in no particular order.
To see more you will have to visit http://www.gstouring.com
You will be redirected automatically, no worry.
Thanks for reading.
Oregon coast road.