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Old 04-14-2014, 06:23 PM   #1
JayElDee OP
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California ride advice please

I will be in California for about a week in mid May. Some questions regarding possible route, please. Looking for pavement and will be on a loaded r1200r. not camping.

Is it just INSANE to consider riding through Death Valley around May 15/16? I suspect it will be hot, like low 90s, and that would be ok, but I do not want to be foolish expecting one thing and encountering a life threatening other thing. And can I get a true feel for the place riding through in a day?

I want to do the PCH. My original plan was to ride to Bakersfield, then to San Luis Obispo then up the PCH. But is it better going from north to south? Going N->S you're on the ocean side and it would be easier to stop for views/photos.

I do not want to ride through SF, but would like to see the Bay and Golden Gate if possible, just want to avoid dealing with the SF hills on a fully loaded bike and a 32" inseam.

Last year I rode 101 from Oregon to Fortuna and took 36 across, lots of fun, but there are other crossing roads farther north, any other suggestions appreciated.
So in essence I am looking at a big loop with the four corners being DV? and San Luis O on the south and north of 36, maybe way north of 36 from the Pacific to the Nv border, eg 299/44, then from wherever the loop ends start heading back to the swamps.

Appreciate the help and TIA

John

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Old 04-14-2014, 06:33 PM   #2
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Re: DV, You could hit up most of the 'main/on highway' attractions (badwater basin, artist drive, ubehebe crater, and if you're adventurous, ride out to Racetracks and back) in a day or day and a half.

Direction doesn't matter that much on the PCH. The best views are in very twisty areas, typically no problem crossing over to a turnout on the left if you are heading north. I certainly wouldn't take a hundred-mile detour just to run it in a different direction.


There aren't any significant hills on the western side of SF - take 280 to 19th street to the Golden Gate. Ride up to the Marin Headlands on the other side for great views.

As for your northeast corner, I wouldn't take 299 all the way over into NV - I would hit up Lassen Volcanic National Park and follow 89 all the way down through tahoe and beyond... an awesome route. 88 into Markleeville, 89 over Monitor Pass, then zigzag a bit... 395 south to 108 over Sonora Pass then back over 120 through Yosemite....
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Old 04-14-2014, 08:05 PM   #3
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Depending on where you spend the previous night one day is plenty to get a taste of DV paved roads.
Book a room in Shoshone at the motel and start your day from there and take 178/190 through the park and then spend that night in Lone Pine, Big Pine or Bishop. Elm Street motel is groovy in Bishop.
Mid May is fine. I like to go to DV when it's even hotter, that's the idea right?
Oh when you go along 178 be sure and detour to the right through Artist Pallet or whatever it's called, it's paved.
Personally I wouldn't spend the night or buy fuel in DV, it's just so expensive. Fuel up when you can, at the latest Baker or Parhump depending on which direction you choose to approach. There IS gas at Furnace Creek for about $8 a gallon. OK I guess if you need it, there have been times I would have gladly paid $10 for a gallon!
Gas also in Shoshone. Great restaurant/bar too.....the Crowbar......how can you not?
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:41 AM   #4
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If your heading west out of the park, take 178 to Lake Isabella. Hang a left on Bodfish/Caliente Rd. Great ride. If you don't, the trip down 178 along the Kern River is pretty darn good too.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:17 AM   #5
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You are correct that southbound is slightly better on the PCH, because you have the view over the cliff continuously. Nothing wrong with doing California counter-clockwise.

Across the Golden Gate bridge and taking Hwy 101 through San Francisco will not place you on those difficult hills. Just south of San Francisco, I would use Hwy 92, Skyline Blvd (home of the famous Alice's Restaurant), and Hwy 9 to get between Hwy 101 and the PCH.

By the way; the Golden Gate Bridge has gone all high tech, and you have to pay your toll before you get there. There are some walk-in places to pay, so look that up on the internet before you go. PITA, I know.

How about some foodie tips?

Drakes Bay Oyster Company in Pt. Reyes has oysters the size of your hand.

Just a short ride over to Petaluma, you can get a motel room for $55 right next to Lagunitas Brewery. There is an excellent sandwich shop right across the street.

There are two good seafood restaurants in Moss Landing. Phil's Fish House, and the Sea Harvest.

In Monterey, as well as Pacific Grove, Petra Cafe serves real Turkish coffee. I prefer the original location in PG, because the older Jordanian couple runs that one.

Just a bit further south from your SW corner, there is a cool Motorcycle Museum in Solvang, California. Solvang is a little Danish village where you can get strange beers, sauage, cheese, pretzels, and "aebleskivers".
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Old 04-15-2014, 07:14 PM   #6
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Oh, man! thanks, just what I needed!

To go on a bit, and I have to look at maps, but The PCH above SF, does it have a different appeal than the part south of Monterrey?

Would the Lassen road be open by then, you think?

And I did 120 and 108 last year and I still talk about them, but may look for something different??? 108 was great because I did not have to deal with any traffic, had it to myself, but with slow moving traffic I think all the fun of it might be sucked out. 120 was remarkable, I especially liked the section that had the waves, or whatever y'all call them. So, I went that way and by Mono Lake also.

And thanks for the encouragement re DV, can't wait. I travel with extra gas, usually about a gallon, so I should be good there.

Psyched! I'm looking forward to both Nevada crossings also. I did it on Extraterrestrial on the way out and on 50 on the way back. Like being on another planet and beautiful.

Any more pointers re restaurants and good motels along potential routes would be welcomed.
Thanks again

John
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:01 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by JayElDee View Post
Oh, man! thanks, just what I needed!

To go on a bit, and I have to look at maps, but The PCH above SF, does it have a different appeal than the part south of Monterrey?

Would the Lassen road be open by then, you think?

And I did 120 and 108 last year and I still talk about them, but may look for something different??? 108 was great because I did not have to deal with any traffic, had it to myself, but with slow moving traffic I think all the fun of it might be sucked out. 120 was remarkable, I especially liked the section that had the waves, or whatever y'all call them. So, I went that way and by Mono Lake also.

And thanks for the encouragement re DV, can't wait. I travel with extra gas, usually about a gallon, so I should be good there.

Psyched! I'm looking forward to both Nevada crossings also. I did it on Extraterrestrial on the way out and on 50 on the way back. Like being on another planet and beautiful.

Any more pointers re restaurants and good motels along potential routes would be welcomed.
Thanks again

John
Hwy 1 north of SF is beautiful as well. Different than the Monterey-SF stretch for sure. If you haven't been, check out the Lost Coast. I'm actually going to be camping at Usal Campground there on Sat May 17th.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Coast

Lassen might be open. Don't know yet, but it's looking pretty good. Glacier Point road in Yosemite already opened up.

If you've already done 108 and 120, then you must do 4, Ebbetts Pass... assuming its open. One lane for most of the fun stretch. Not much traffic that early in the season.

I'm near San Jose if you need a place to crash, do an oil change, whatever en route.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:30 PM   #8
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ok, first - nobody calls it "cali" and the bay area is not "the bay" -- just saying, "san fran" is also not used locally. Do not feel obligated to append "the" to any numbered freeway (ie "take 80 west" vs "take the 80 west"). Additionally, if you address random strangers as "hey sugarpiehoneybiscuitdarlin'" that will be taken here as condescending (unlike the City That Care Forgot where it is normal and customary).

So, a counter clockwise tour of California in mid May would probably be quite nice. We have this thing about microclimates and when it starts getting really warm in the inland valley, it holds a big fog bank along the coast and you're more likely to get hypothermia on the northern part of Hwy 1 and heat stroke on Hwy 5 all within less than 100 mi.

If Lassen is open - HIGHLY recommended - check out cabins at Manzanita Lake Campground: http://www.nps.gov/lavo/planyourvisi...campground.htm

Also, consider staying at fire lookouts -- there are some great options and I really enjoyed the Mendocino National Forest lookout: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mendo...a/?recid=25306 and if you search on "fire lookouts" in northern california on rec.gov, you turn up plenty of options!

Air BnB is a pretty good option -- if you load the app on your smartphone, you can find a place "tonight" -- which can be an interesting adventure.

If you head south via 152 to 5 en route to Yosemite or the bottom of Hwy 395, you might consider staying at Mercey Hot springs -- https://merceyhotsprings.com/ and do some driving around Little Panoche Rd and Jolon - off toward Pinnacles - gorgeous area, and likely to be full of goldfield and other hardier wildflowers.

Then, of course - you can head down to Yosemite and go over Tioga Pass to Hwy 395 -- and south to Mammoth to soak in hot springs (and camp -- dispersed camping there is ok as long as you don't camp right next to any of the hot springs).

Head a bit farther south -- there is a turn off for Devil's Postpile (worth a visit) and Alabama Hill is a great stop for pictures and some off road riding. Then keep going to Big Pine and head into Death Valley to see Eureka Dunes -- or turn south sooner and go down Saline Valley Rd and go to the oasis.

You might not leave Saline Warm springs -- if I could live there, I might!

Hwy 395 is incredibly scenic -- you won't have any complaints backtracking and doing it again northbound. I promise.
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Old 04-16-2014, 09:21 AM   #9
High Country Herb
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I have been on both sections of Hwy 1. The Big Sur section has slightly higher cliffs, and is more prone to fog in summer because of the warmer (low pressure) regions inland. The section north of The City also has cliffs, but has more points of interest such as marsh lands, oyster farms, micro breweries, seafood restaurants, and small towns. If you want to stop often to eat, shop, or sight see, the north is better. If you want to ride all day without stopping, the south is better.

I also highly recommend Hwy 4 (Ebbetts Pass) over the Sierra. If you thought traffic was light on Sonora Pass, wait until you see Ebbetts! There are a couple of places where lakes are literally feet away from the white line.

Through Yosemite, you might try the Hwy 140 section through steep canyons next to the Merced River. Also, there is a really nice Hostel just west of the Park in Midpines. Mariposa now has 2 micro-breweries. One of them might even be called a nano-brewery, since the beer is brewed by the husband of a lady who runs a wine tasting shop. You squeeze past all the foreign tourists at the wine bar, and there is a tiny table with just a few taps in the corner.
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Old 04-16-2014, 07:21 PM   #10
Roadracer_Al
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There are only a few passes over the Sierras.

If you are going South of the Sierras -- assuming clockwise direction around CA -- then I highly recommend swinging a little bit further south and picking up 33 at Ojai, turn West on 166 to Santa Maria. You could swing by the famous off-road riding area, Pismo Dunes. The rest of your way up to San Francisco can be on the PCH.

If you're so inclined, you can take a very pleasant out-and-back off of HWY 1 to Alices Restaurant - there are some crazy twisty roads in those hills.

You run the risk of over-doing the twisties and having twisty fatigue.... that's LONG day of mostly twisty roads!

Oh, and the name of the Hostel mentioned above in Midpines is "Yosemite Bug" -- stayed there 2 or 3 weeks ago: cute place, the restaurant is pretty decent (a little spendy) but get a massive black mark: no decaf coffee.
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Old 04-17-2014, 07:18 AM   #11
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http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/188431...pi=SL500_SY115
This is a great bookj
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Old 04-17-2014, 08:25 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayElDee View Post
I do not want to ride through SF, but would like to see the Bay and Golden Gate if possible, just want to avoid dealing with the SF hills on a fully loaded bike and a 32" inseam.
Pretty good advice here. I've done all of these routes many times, but this particular sentence caught my eye. Last summer on my way to the Salem rally, I rode my fully loaded GS down Lombard Street. I wouldn't do it again . Everyone just stopped for photos as I was trying to trackstand. My inseam is even shorter than yours. Wise to avoid the hills when there are so many video cameras pointed your way.
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Old 04-17-2014, 06:32 PM   #13
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Is it just INSANE to consider riding through Death Valley around May 15/16? I suspect it will be hot, like low 90s, and that would be ok,


considering in May the average high temp is 100 and the record is 115..... hell it get to be low 90's in the dead of winter. It's the hottest place on Earth - you know that right?

Having said all of that, it shouldn't keep you from checking it out. Its incredibly beautiful just bring lots water, maybe some emergency shade and a SPOT. You're going on an adventure ride! if it gets hot, dunk your shirt in water and put on your jacket. works like magic.

Im not going to toss a bunch more advice on top of everything else in this thread but I will say - DO NOT miss the coast from around San Fran down to Big Sur. If you have the time, take as much of the coast as you can..... IMHO it's the most beautiful place on Earth.
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Old 04-17-2014, 09:06 PM   #14
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Such food for thought, thanks to all!

Quote:
ok, first - nobody calls it "cali" and the bay area is not "the bay" -- just saying, "san fran" is also not used locally. Do not feel obligated to append "the" to any numbered freeway (ie "take 80 west" vs "take the 80 west"). Additionally, if you address random strangers as "hey sugarpiehoneybiscuitdarlin'" that will be taken here as condescending (unlike the City That Care Forgot where it is normal and customary).
Point taken, appreciate that.
But, please, NOBODY SAYS THAT down here--and if they did I'd laugh at them, but not take offence. Most certainly nobody but tourists and those who sell them stuff say "Nawlins." It is not "normal and customary." Checkout ladies will call you "baby" and "dawlin'," though.

So, do locals say every syllable? San Fran-cis-co and Cal-i-for-ni-a?
note: I changed Cali to California. By "the Bay" I meant the actual body of water and by Golden Gate I meant the bridge, not the passage.

How about "Norcal" and "Socal?" Are those labeling words also?

Quote:
There aren't any significant hills on the western side of SF - take 280 to 19th street to the Golden Gate.
On the maps it looks like 1 goes right through to the GG bridge, would that be a good route if I am arriving from the south?

Again, appreciate all the help,

John

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Old 04-17-2014, 09:45 PM   #15
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But, please, NOBODY SAYS THAT down here--and if they did I'd laugh at them, but not take offence. Most certainly nobody but tourists and those who sell them stuff say "Nawlins." It is not "normal and customary." Checkout ladies will call you "baby" and "dawlin'," though.
Oh, there was a lady at Domilise's poboy shop who would just pile on just about every single thing in a string. Mostly in neighborhood corner stores is where I encountered that -- oh, and what's that restaurant in East New Orleans where they would bring catsup in packets... dang, forgot. They did that, there, too.

But here - you cannot call someone "baby" "sweetie" "darlin" unless you know them or they will think you are condescending or being a flirt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JayElDee View Post
So, do locals say every syllable? San Fran-cis-co and Cal-i-for-ni-a?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JayElDee View Post
note: I changed Cali to California. By "the Bay" I meant the actual body of water and by Golden Gate I meant the bridge, not the passage.
awww, that's sweet! I think that some folks from the southern or central parts of the state might say "Cali" ... mostly frat boy types, I suspect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JayElDee View Post

How about "Norcal" and "Socal?" Are those labeling words also?
I honestly don't hear people speak those words in conversation -- that could be a Los Angeleno thing (like adding "the" to freeway numbers).

Quote:
Originally Posted by JayElDee View Post
On the maps it looks like 1 goes right through to the GG bridge, would that be a good route if I am arriving from the south?
If you are arriving from the south on Hwy 1, you will go through the city -- and you will see a split that will say "Bay Bridge" that will send you up Van Ness right to the bridge which isn't very much fun, honestly. Instead, if it is a weekday, you should get off and come have lunch at Adobe with me. :)

OK, seriously though - you can head toward Twin Peaks, ride up Market St, get a nice view of the city and then go up the Great Highway, check out Golden Gate Park.

I've got a membership to the museums -- so if I am free when you come through, I'd be more than happy (schedule permitting) to get you in the door at the CalAcademy, the DeYoung or the Legion of Honor (which is right on the Presidio with fantastic views of the Golden Gate).
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