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Old 06-26-2012, 07:00 PM   #1
DirtClaudeKilly OP
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California Loop

Link to tracks below.

http://dualsportmaps.com/?link=104996

The Plan
I wanted to tippy toe my way into multiday adventure riding. I have been looking at rides like the TAT, CDR and Alaska but since my longest motorcycle trip to date is 3 days, I thought I should start smaller. The good thing is that even though there isn’t that much dual sport riding where I live on the central coast of California, the state of California has lots of great riding. One ride report that caught my eye was the Pacific Crest Quest (PCQ). It is an older report from a group of inmates who follow, as best they can, the Pacific Crest trail from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. I decided that I would follow the PCQ more or less from the Southern Sierra’s to Mount Shasta. From there I would work my way to the coast, travel Usal road, then take Highway 1 back home. I spent a good amount of time reworking the PCQ tracks and planning the return trip. It looks pretty simple on Mapquest and Google Earth, 10 days, 2300 miles, what could go wrong.


I am traveling Solo on my KTM 990 Adventure and plan on camping most of the time. I do have some concerns about being in over my head on some trails and breaking down in remote areas. I do have a Spot connect and my wife said she would come and get me if broke down or broke myself, but how emasculating would that be.

Day one – getting started



The bike is loaded up (overloaded) and I am ready to rumble. I travel to Hwy 166 via Tepusquet Canyon. Tepusquet is a quiet little back country road and is a perfect road to get into the rhythm of riding. Once onto Hwy 166 I traveled through the Cuyama Valley. Hwy 166 can be scenic but it is really just a way of getting from point to point. Surprisingly for this time of the year it damn cold. I felt the need to make some miles so I kept riding and kept shivering. Hwy 166 climbs out of the Cuyama Valley and crests a small hill before it drops down into the southern end of the central valley. This is where the turnoff to the Carrizo Plains is. I turn left into Soda Lake road, it stays paved but potholed for a little while then turns to gravel and dirt – ok we’re starting to ride. The Carrizo Plains is like a lost valley. You feel like you have slipped back in time a hundred years or more, cows, old farm relics, dirt roads and barbed wire fences populate the landscape. The roads that I had decided to follow on Mapquest didn’t exist, not the last time this will happen on this trip. But the roads were interesting and I stopped at this old ranch for a drink of water and some food. Wooden tractors seem like hard way to get work done, I am glad I am riding my steel pony.











I find my way out of the lost world of the Carrizo Plains and make my way east on Hwy 58. The next 15 miles or so are nice twisties, but fast enough to make some time. Once onto the floor of the Central Valley, the mood changes. Oil wells, diesel exhaust, wind, dust and highway traffic, and I haven’t made it to Bakersfield yet.



Keep it pointed east and hang on. I get fuel in Bakersfield, 31 MPG with easy riding, bummer. Once though Bakersfield I turn off on Ranchero road and begin the climb up to the Southern Sierra’s. Ranchero road climbs out of the valley floor through sprawling cattle ranches. The landscape changes from grass lands to Valley oaks then eventually to conifer forests.





This is my first real test of riding the big KTM 990 loaded down with all the gear. I showed my skills by dumping the bike in the first loose semi sandy section. The KTM is hard enough pick up when unloaded but with all the gear and 8 gallons of gas, it is real challenge. I decide to save my back and take off the bags before I try to bring this sleeping beast to the vertical. My back still did not appreciate it. One minor fall and 30 minutes burned. I cranked down the steering damper a couple of clicks. With my confidence waning, I ride like the old man that I am the rest of the way to the Panorama Camp, elevation 7400 ft. Somewhere near camp I picked up the PCQ trail. Day 1: 254 miles.

Panorama campground is nice, no other campers here tonight which I appreciate. No water, outhouses or even trash cans. The bad part is people have left their trash, it’s a beautiful place but people just leave their trash! It is cold and windy, but once the sun goes down, the wind stops and it becomes very pleasant. I break out the libations have a party of one. Maybe I can do this.





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Old 06-26-2012, 07:14 PM   #2
DirtClaudeKilly OP
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The Bike

The Bike

I have a 2007 KTM 990 Adventure. I bought it last winter and have been riding it locally and modifying to make this trip, and hopefully some others. The modifications made to it include:


Weld86 Skid Plate and side stand relocation kit
Turned off the O2 sensors using TuneECU – wouldn’t have tried the trip without this mod
Remus 2 into 1 exhaust
2.3 Gallon auxiliary tank
Scott Steering Damper
Rally Raid fairing
Fastway foot pegs
Blackdog rear rack
Garmin Montana GPS
Giant Loop Great Basin bag
Wolfman medium expedition duffle
Heidenau K60 rear tire
Continental TKC front tire
16 tooth countershaft sprocket

Plus some other things I can’t remember. With all of these mods, I couldn’t afford not to go in this trip. The one glaring omission from this list is professional suspension tuning. That’s next on the list. I did pack more than I needed but I couldn’t decide on which items to leave behind. When I started I did have 4 liters of water, 1 liter of cooking alcohol and 1 liter of drinking alcohol concoction. I probably didn’t need that much water but if I ever get stranded I will want that water.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:52 PM   #3
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:12 PM   #4
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I spent some of my formative years in Bakersfield and recognize Rancheria Road well. I think I even recognize some of those downed trees/snags and your campsite. Those pictures bring back memories, wow. Did you go up to the fire lookout?
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:33 PM   #5
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Enjoy!
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Old 06-27-2012, 08:17 AM   #6
DefyInertia
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Looking forward to the rest of the report (I live in SF). Curious to hear about what you brought with you as the amount/weight of stuff I brought with me on my first long-distance moto trip is vastly different from the system I use now.

I generally go through at least 2L of water per day, especially when eating dehydrated meals. I've found that picking up water a fuel stops usually works well, but I water filter can often times fill in the gaps if needed (although I've yet to do a trip that required brining a water filter).
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Old 06-27-2012, 09:06 AM   #7
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I'm in with this one! As an ex-Californian who follows the news from that state, I appreciate being reminded what a great state it is.

Thanks for the report!
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Old 06-27-2012, 09:14 AM   #8
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Day 2 – Heading North

I survive the first night in the wild, no worse for the wear. A deer comes close to my camp and decides to eat all of the dirt around where I took my morning pee, I didn’t know they did that! I pack up camp and hit the road. One thing that bugs me is how long it takes to break camp, I need to get better at this.




The night before when coming into camp there was a sign saying the road was closed going to Johnsonville. That’s the direction I am going so I hope that it is a soft closure and I can make my way through. I head north out of camp on forest road 23s-16. The road had turned to pavement just before camp last night. The riding is perfect, winding road, sun shining and great views. I think I have seen 3 vehicles since I got onto Ranchero road yesterday, 2 of them were Forest service trucks.





Eventually I hit the road closed signs. There is plenty of room to pass and a few motorcycle and bicycle tracks so I press forward with renewed hope. I make it though to the other side of the closure and stop to take to a picture, as I am starting up my bike I see a forest service truck coming down a side road so I decide to make a brisk exit, just in case.



After about 20 miles of riding on this 23s-16, intersects mountain road 50 which I take west a few mile, then turn north on the Great Western Divide Highway, these are both paved, painted centerline high speed 2 lane highways. After a few miles the PCQ tracks send me left on NF21s-94, also known as Crawford road. This is a typical forest service road, semi rough but maintained enough to that I feel comfortable that I am going to get through, I am also getting my dirt riding mojo back.






After this 20 mile dirt section the road intersects with Hwy 190, near the little town of Pierpoint, there is a little café there where I have an early lunch and use their wifi to check emails etc. From there it is west and down in elevation. Hwy 190 is a very twisty but nicely paved road, you can’t help but have fun. After dropping a couple of thousand feet in elevation and countless turns I take a right on CR-137 and a left on Yokohl (sp?) drive I head toward the town of Lemon Grove and the next gas stop. These roads are twisty but the potholed and patched so you have to watch you speed a little.





Gas mileage now under 30. From Lemon Grove I deviate from the PCQ (for the first time of many) and take Dry Creek road then Hwy 245 instead of the busier Hwy 198 northward. Dry Creek road is a wide fast track that goes back up into the mountains from the valley floor. After some time hwy 245 intersects with hwy 180 and the PCQ, after a couple of more miles it is off of the highway and back onto forest service roads. First NF-13598 then NF-12501, down the Kings River.






Once again I dump the bike, I hit a rut too slow and stall it, once the big KTM start to lean, there is no going back. I make a mental note to feather the clutch.



Another 30 minute of lifting and repacking I am back on the road and head down to the River. Here I take a break and find a nice little swimming hole on a tributary.






From here it is time to make it to camp. My destination is Giagantea about 42 miles and 5500 feet in elevations away. Black Rock road is a narrow rough paved road that turns a rocky gravel road as it climbs out the Kings River canyon. After a while it intersects with Mckinley Grove road off of which my campground is loacted. Giagantea is a beautiful camp ground, nestled amongst the Sequoias. Again, I am the only camper.

Day 2: 186 miles, and it took all day.





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Old 06-27-2012, 09:54 AM   #9
bilborides
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Very nice.I am packed and ready to go,i can smell the fresh air and pine needles.Have a safe and great trip.I am with you on this one
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Old 06-27-2012, 09:56 AM   #10
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I think it's the salt they are attracted to.
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Old 06-27-2012, 11:08 AM   #11
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Excellent! Just what I had in mind. I WILL follow along.
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Old 06-27-2012, 01:08 PM   #12
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Heh, I've been thinking of trying something very much like this but in reverse. Will keep an eye on your trip.
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Old 06-27-2012, 03:11 PM   #13
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Try 25lbs of air. Are you losing the front or stepping out the rear? Once you loose/use some of that liquid you are carrying, handling will improve.
15 Tooth Counter Sprocket wouldn't hurt.

Enjoying the report. A few days alone on the road and it will seem normal.

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Old 06-27-2012, 05:43 PM   #14
DirtClaudeKilly OP
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Day 3: All about the destination

My plan had me riding about 250 miles today, with a lot of it off pavement. I get up in the morning with a sense of purpose pack up camp and move on. I follow the McKinley Grove road to Dinky Creek road and into the town of Shaver Lake, it is a nice high speed twisty road. I think I got off of the PCQ somewhere but that is a continuing theme. I have mapped out a route that takes me north of Shaver Lake for what looks like a short cut to me. Wrong, my shortcut has a gate across it and I end up wasting a couple of hours going nowhere. I retrace my route back south through Shaver Lake on hwy 168 and take right turn north on Auberry Rd. I am a little behind schedule so I decide to bypass the PCQ dirt section and stay on the paved road for a while. I will rejoin that later on Mammoth Pool road. My new route takes me down Auberry road, then north on Powerhouse road and then back east on CR-235. Somewhere on CR 235, with little fanfare, I pass though the geographic center of California. The riding now is bumpy paved roads. I pass by Redinger Lake and finally hookup with Mammoth pool road. Now I am making some time. Mammoth Pool road is nicely paved and twisty – another ongoing theme. I stop at a look out over Mammoth Pool Reservoir.



I am now back on the PCQ route and I follow into the forest. First it is paved, then dirt, some more paved, then more dirt along with a couple of creek crossings. This is what I call following the purple line, or the tracks of the PCQ on my GPS. Without the tracks I am afraid I would have been lost many times over. There are so many interconnecting roads and trails. After about 30 mile of this I pop out onto a highway. I think it is Hwy 41 but I am not sure exactly where I am. I am looking at my maps and GPS when a guy on a KLR pulls into the dirt road and sensing my disorientation stops to help. It turns out he was an inmate ShastaKLR, the only inmate I meet on this trip. He straightens me out (thanks ShastaKLR) and even asks if I am doing the part of PCQ. I answer yes but realize that is not an accurate answer. I am only doing parts of part of the PCQ. I decide at this point to take another bypass from the PCQ. Instead of going North on hwy 41 to Fish Camp then back into the forest, I went South, down to Oakhurst, then take hwy 49 to Mariposa, then finally hwy 140 to Briceburg road where I hook up with the PQC again. Briceburg road crosses the Merced River then switchbacks steeply up about 1500 feet.





Once through the switchbacks the landscape opens up to a large scrubby mesa. It feels real remote. I have some trouble following the PCQ because there is not a discernible road where the purple line wants me to go. I follow the only road there is. Eventually I find a way back over the security of the purple line. The road that I am on shows little sign of travel. There are 2 motorcycle tracks and a truck tracks that soon turnaround. After a few miles the road gets rougher and more overgrown





Then it gets a little hilly and deep ruts start crossing the road. After dodging a few ruts, I am a little late crossing over and get stuck in a rut – literally. The good news is that the bike stays standing. It takes a while but I work my way out of the rut and up to a safe place to stop.










This was one of the scenarios that had given me concern. Getting stuck in a somewhat remote were I couldn’t get the bike back upright or back onto road. So there was some satisfaction to extricate myself from that situation. I keep pressing on, I am a still a little nervous that I will come to a rut or washout that I can’t pass. Are those 2 motorcycle tracks or just one motorcycle coming and going? I was thinking to myself that they would be stupid for riding out here alone. After a few more miles the road changes and the ruts are gone. The sun is getting low in the sky, and I am hustling to get to the next crossroad, hwy 120. It takes a while, including a 5 mile wrong turn, but as the sun is almost setting I make it to hwy 120. There is a gas station and food mart there. I grab some gas, water and an extra big bottle of a microbrew IPA (this becomes a trend) and take off, next stop Cherry Valley Campground, on Cherry Lake. Another 30 miles on nice windy scenic, paved mountain roads and I pull into a dark campground.

Day 3 275 miles

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Old 06-27-2012, 06:49 PM   #15
yamalama
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Great.
Looking forward to more.
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