WTF, let's ride the Sierra passes!
For the last couple years, my buddy Geddo and I have done a moto-vacation. (you can read about our previous exploits here: Utah WSBK and here: San Jose to Victoria B.C.) This year, however, we were having trouble figuring out where to go. We've gone North, we've headed east, so maybe we're due for a trip down South!?!? Well, yeah, we're due, but busy spring schedules for both of us, and a busted tib/fib on BXR, our companion from last year, forced us into an early August departure at the earliest, which, unfortunately, is a bad time to go South. Add to the mix the fact that we both have young children and are limited to the amount of time we're able to skip town and our options become more limited still... what to do? WTF, let's just ride some Sierra passes. Once that was decided, we came up with a 6 day, 5 night plan that would have us shooting up the California coast from our homes in San Jose, cutting across the state and playing in the Sierras for 4 days. We hoped BXR would be able to join us with such a late departure (shoot, Valentino Rossi was racing in 6 weeks after the same injury!) but as the date got closer we realized that it wasn't going to be. So, one stooge down, Geddo and I were off to the Sierras. :freaky
After an hour or so of highly detailed planning on the back of some cocktail napkins, Geddo and I were finally ready to go. We decided to leave on a Sunday to avoid traffic, and allow for a Friday return which would then give us the weekend to recuperate from our travel induced aches and pains. Here's the pig ready to go, looking much the same as it has the last two years with the exception of the Pelican rear case mounted to a MCPPARTS rear rack and my MotoFizz mounted to a pillion plate from the same manufacturer. (For you GS guys out there, these parts are amazing, I can't recommend them highly enough)
The ride started well with a beautiful, if foggy, cruise over the Golden Gate.
We normally avoid big highways like the plague, but to make the most of our time we planned to slab it up 101 all the way to 128 at which time we'd jump over to 1 for some coastal views before we headed inland for the mountains. Right at the 101/128 junction we stopped at a BBQ joint. I forget the name, but this is what the parking lot looks like:
The food was good, I'd recommend it if you're in the area. Anyway, FINALLY, some nice twisty roads, 128 here we come!!
Hey, wait a minute, where's Geddo!?!? What's he doing back there on the side of the road?
What? The oil light came on? Does it need oil?
Damn. Anybody know a good Guzzi mechanic in the Bay Area? What's next? Vacation over so soon? Nah, stay tuned for Act 2: You meet the nicest (and oldest) people on a Honda.
Please be ok, little Guzzi. :huh
Was there a KLR under that bed roll? :lol3
Oh, man. What a place to leave us hanging.
I can't wait to see what happens.
What to do, what to do... ?
Being that it was a Sunday, and pretty much everything worth wild motorcycle related was going to be closed until Tuesday, we had no choice but to call off the ride and regroup. Geddo, to his credit, wanting to preserve our much needed moto-vacation pretty much said right away that he'd start looking for a rental. Fingers crossed, we tentatively planned for a Tuesday departure for a slightly abbreviated tour of some Sierra passes. Sorry coast, maybe we'll see you next year.
Fast forward to Tuesday morning at 11:00am, here comes Geddo on his shiny, (relatively) new rental Honda ST1300!
(pay no attention to the finger obscuring Geddo's head, I'm new at taking pics while riding)
Anyway, off we go! The route for day one was fairly simple, 152E, 99N, 140E, 49N, 120E over the Tioga Pass to camp somewhere on the other side. We never make reservations, preferring instead to keep our options open.
Here's on of the few pics where he's actually behind me, come to find out that although it seems terribly bland (sorry ST1300 owners, but it is) the ST is a super capable and fast machine.
120 is a beautiful road, you all should ride it at least once. Here's Geddo paying our toll (the silence you hear right now while looking at this pic, is about 2 decibles louder than the sound that comes out of the STs actual exhaust pipes)
Here's the pig at one of the rest stops
The first day was pretty uneventful, and we ended up camping at the same campground (and almost the same spot) as we had two years ago.
Next up, the Bodie Ghost town and the Sonora and Ebbets passes.
watch out for the bears around midnite in that pup tent
Actually, bears can be a problem, but we don't do any food at our campsite so we're about as safe as we can be.
Day 1- Stutter Step
Bummer start to a week long trip, here's how it went from my POV
Pre-flight checks all done, fluids good, lights working, bags packed and strapped I head over to Jab's
As mentioned by Jab we hit the slab and ride straight out through SF headed for 128 and the coast, here is the GG
I took a trip with my wife out to Mendocino on 128 a couple years back and the whole time I was driving down this
road all I could think was- I need to ride this someday! We finally turn off 101 and eat at the BBQ place at the
entrance to 128... good food.
Belly's full of BBQ sauce we jump on our bikes, the show is finally about to begin... this is going to be a great
ride. We start down 128 and hit the first turn, I notice the bike is losing power, wtf? I give it some throttle
thinking she needs a spur to get her out of the dull straight mindset but the red oil light comes on, wtf!? I slow
the throttle and look for a place to pull over, no room on the side of the road but I spy a place to pull in up
ahead, someone decides to start smacking the cylinder with a hammer at about this time, WTF!?!?
I kill the engine and glide to the private driveway, we check the oil and the level is right, no leaks or smoke.
We try adding oil to see if that helps, no dice. A call to the AMA Roadside gets me a tow from Lenny at Redwoods
Motorcycle Tow and Transport, great guy I highly recommend him if you need assistance in that area. He agrees to
haul me back all the way to SJ, I wave goodbye to Jab and promise to find a solution to continue our trip. A few
hours and a couple hundred bucks later I am home looking for something to rent, I spy a couple of options and place
some calls the next day.
My search leads me to a BMW 1200RT or a 1200GT, both booked but "we have Harley's", hmmm Sierra passes on a Harley, "no
thanks." I then call the second option a Honda ST1300, well they had Harleys and Goldwings as well but they just
aren't what I am looking for. The ST1300 looks capable enough if a little less than exciting, I mean it's no
Italian beauty but I don't suspect it will leave me stranded and heart broken on the side of the road either... hot chicks
can be fickle bitches!
Day 1.5- Try This Again...
I start the engine, wait is this thing on!? Damn how can you tell, a quick twist of the throttle, yeah its
running. This is an incredibly quiet and smooth running machine, I'd say it runs like a sewing machine but I
wouldn't want to cast aspersions at the sewing machine.
I will say one thing about this bike, it can pack it in, I put all my stuff in the hard bags and am ready for the
road. My first impression of this bike is that for a 1300 it sure is tame and easy ride, power is good to great
with a very smooth power curve, add to that the electric windshield, adjustable head light, relatively comfy stock
seat... not too bad.
Back at Jab's for a dose of deja vu we finally move out, slabbing to Tioga Pass and camping in Yosemite. As I pull
up to the first stoplight we hit I look over at the car next to us and a nice older lady in an Oldsmobile is
staring at my bike, not just a quick glance either, she is staring at my bike like she's a cougar and I am sitting
on a giant silver rabbit, hmm that's odd they're usually averting their gaze from me.
As we head to Tioga Pass I am starting to notice a trend, the more experienced members of our population keep
looking at 'MY' bike, with a friendly wave or just to come up to say "Hi, where you headed?". This is quite
strange to me, I get it some when I am on my Guzzi but it is usually from other people on motorcycles, these are
just the normal natives rolling on 4 wheels. I have never associated the bike I ride with the attitudes of the
general public before, never noticed it I guess, until now.
We get to camp in Yosemite, I am out in the field setting up my tent and a guy walks up to my bike, right past Jab
and his GS, and says "HEY! how's the ST?" Turns out he has an ST and wants to talk a little shop. I tell him it's
actually a rental but I think it is a really good bike if a little lacking in the character department. He frowns
and says "well that's because you need to get some farckles!". He tells me a few tall stories and we share some
talk about riding position improvements. He departs after a while, turns out he wasn't even in our campsite he was
just driving by and saw the bike and decided to stop.
My spider senses are tingling... :eek1
We gotta see more pics from Yosemite :deal
A few more pics of Yosemite
We blew through Yosemite pretty quick, but here's a few more pics for Gadget Boy.
On to day 2
After a mosquito filled evening and COLD night (note to self; 40 degree sleeping bags are NOT comfortable in 38 degree weather) we headed off to Lee Vining for breakfast. Over pancakes and eggs at Nicely's Diner, Geddo and I decided to make the run out to the Bodie Ghost town prior to strafing the Sonora (Hwy 108) and Ebbets (Hwy 4) passes.
Bodie was interesting, after seeing pictures on here I assumed it was small and seldom visited. I was surprised at the number of buildings and visitors there were at this out of the way spot.
Here's Geddo dual sporting on the ST (dig that sewing machine exhaust growl)
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and here's a few pics to add to the thousands already posted here on ADV.
Lastly, this is probably the one spot nobody spoke to Geddo about how great a bike the ST1300 is. Strange though, because the average ST fan probably remembers when Bodie was a thriving town...
Let the strafing begin
After Bodie, we make the run to the Sonora pass. Great roads, gorgeous scenery, in my opinion this is the best RIDING road of all the passes.
Pat just got the quote to fix the Guzzi..
As much as I (we'll) make fun of the ST, it was a very effective tool for Geddo. I'd love to blame it on the tired suspension on my GS (Wilburs are already on order :evil ) but the truth is between Geddo's riding and the speed of the big Honda, I could rarely keep him in sight. It was great fun trying though! :clap
As great as the Sonora pass was, I think both Geddo and I were a bit let down by the Western side of Ebbetts. It was nice and flowing, but there wasn't much technical about it and we got to the summit fairly quickly. Time to look for a campsite! We settled on Silvertip, after the first one we looked at was full.
This was a great site for our needs. Lots of deadfall (free) firewood; flat, soft surfaces for tents; and running water at each spot made it perfect for wandering motorcyclists
Here's Geddo talking to yet another ST fan
"It's SO quiet, I love it!!"
The Bear Valley Resort Lodge is right down the street. There we found a general store (only open til 5:30!?!?) a semi-fancy restaurant, a bar, and a pizza place. We settled on pizza, and I'd say it was pretty good. Took a long time though... For the record, a medium will get you 8 pieces and between the two of us we didn't finish it.
We made the calls to the better halves, and headed back to camp.
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