California 2013

So the plan is as follows.

No real names are used in this blog to protect identieties.

Myself, Greg Smalkauski, aka ‘the ewok’ on either my ’01 VFR, or my ’12 Super Tenere (decision pending), will be joined by Wade Horsman aka  ‘captain rainbow’ on his 2006 ST1300.  We may have a third contestant joining us, Willy Wonka aka ‘Captain Pin it’ on his slow 2013 Kwak zx14 .

Plan is to truck the bikes to Brookings Or, unload, and set off on Saturday March 30th, to California.

Saturday night in Lakeport CA.  Sunday Night in or near Fresno CA.  Monday night in or near Bakersfield CA.  Tuesday night, Santa Maria.  Wednesday night, either Scotts Valley, or Redwood City Ca. Thursday night, Fort Bragg CA.  Friday night, back at Brookings Or.  Saturday April 6th will be spent driving back home to Calgary.

Next update will be on either thursday march 28th, or friday march 29th.  My camera is coming with, and the go pro as well, I’m hoping to have time to upload the days pics/video’s nightly.

Here’s a short link (LOL) to the google map I laid out.  The route is not written in stone, no dead lines, we go where the weather is, and the nice roads.  Ride what we feel like, eat at the finest restaurants (jack in the box), and stay at the nicest places (motel 8):,+Oregon,+United+States&daddr=41.0940823,-124.1554133+to:40.682709,-124.1993036+to:39.5566388,-123.7632756+to:Lakeport,+CA,+United+States+to:38.1510873,-120.641871+to:Fresno,+CA,+United+States+to:36.7910706,-118.602262+to:36.2679429,-119.0073661+to:35.9925813,-118.5835859+to:35.5989359,-118.510866+to:Bakersfield,+CA,+United+States+to:34.7503941,-118.6928467+to:34.3513459,-117.8901499+to:Santa+Maria,+CA,+United+States+to:36.0239699,-121.5707561+to:37.1849348,-122.0328494+to:Redwood+City,+CA,+United+States+to:38.1428509,-122.8766675+to:Fort+Bragg,+CA,+United+States+to:40.5512729,-123.1485048+to:40.6560059,-123.1552159+to:40.902475,-123.9171767+to:41.0154763,-124.1071308+to:brookings+oregon&hl=en&ll=36.677231,-120.849609&spn=2.418519,5.108643&sll=41.060197,-124.07753&sspn=0.282688,0.63858&geocode=FQOsgQIdspOX-CkXQ39SCKXaVDGfevQAYkezsQ%3BFcILcwId64mZ-Cm5A9P7hUDRVDFXDhh1-WKanQ%3BFdXEbAIded6Y-CnPS2KrJQTUVDHklYNa4lIUMQ%3BFR6WWwIdtYWf-Clz20RbXc2BgDFZeyc1ANNkRg%3BFYe_UwIdC3Ss-Cm__Cjd3eWDgDHwoiq9kkU_rA%3BFa8jRgIdsSbP-Cn9i080c5qQgDEC11vHvp_-7Q%3BFVq2MAIdVWrc-CmdTp5U4V2UgDERuKNJZEASew%3BFR5jMQId6kXu-CmJJPGcDtm_gDG-Y-nEn9kqAQ%3BFaZnKQIdehfo-CnZzeJjw0qVgDHVFpBD_8UZyQ%3BFQU0JQId347u-Ck3NlcEYyHAgDEefgEtG4Ugjg%3BFVcyHwId7qrv-Cmd7lyCFNDBgDFA–dFto3n_g%3BFezAGwIdKOvn-CkNy5S5yGvqgDHIdP6YCQw2WQ%3BFbo_EgIdEuTs-CmR1WQmQODpgDGSK-jLmwrVSg%3BFfEoDAIdmyP5-Cn3pGKOcR7DgDHUfAKsug4VjA%3BFUpXFQId-UvS-CkJxlQMqg_sgDGONFqKZVL9Cw%3BFaGuJQIdPPrA-CkPQOLAJIOSgDHBkSnzGn0o-A%3BFaZlNwIdL-25-Cl_W5tKmUmOgDFtCYY2GvxwvQ%3BFZ_6OwIdPdK2-CnhXvNTOaCPgDFtaqoLm3vkuA%3BFYIDRgIdBQ2t-CmhO8xaQM6FgDGQyVnEeAyF_g%3BFdvkWQIdk-Ge-ClvSALFUzWAgDHfnKw3ioSF0g%3BFWjDagIdKOeo-ClP0fkrCqfTVDHejLMT7omH3Q%3BFYVcbAId8cyo-Cm1J2ksN67TVDFJi9LFmNpKrA%3BFUsfcAIdiCyd-CkhLRboFV_RVDHaGJY9zCB8NQ%3BFbTYcQIdhkaa-Cl5JE5TeETRVDFwiPvXDQ8PPQ%3BFQOsgQIdspOX-CkXQ39SCKXaVDGfevQAYkezsQ&dirflg=ht&doflg=ptk&mra=dpe&mrsp=1&sz=11&via=1,2,3,5,7,8,9,10,12,13,15,16,18,20,21,22,23&t=m&z=8

March 28th update:

just trucking along, uneventful day, great weather, and clear roads.  Spokane is the stop for the night.  Tomorrow is Brookings OR.  Below is our set up, and line up.  ST12, ZX14, ST13.  I did order some adjustable pegs, and a mra windscreen deflector for the vfr, but it did not show up in time.  As I would have been comfier on the ST, it won out in the end.  The VFR is at home under a blankie.



Captain Rainbow!


March 29th.

decent night sleep in Brookings, left the truck and trailer at Jan’s place, thanks again guys.  We’re off to Lakeport Ca for the night, I was damn tired yesterday, so didn’t post up.  Here’s Jan and Jan’s wife (I’m sorry, I forgot your name..I was so tired yesterday it vacated my tired mind)


Saturday March 30th,Today’s route linky: about 400-410 miles (due to the detour at coral bottom road)

Left Brookings OR, stopped in for a nice breakfast in Crescent City CA, crab cakes Benedict, tasty.  So on we went on hwy 101 all the way to the turn off to 299.  I’m amazed how many rozzers (coppers for those who don’t watch Top Gear UK) were on 101, so we were happy to vacate it.  299 did not start out very promising, but boy howdy did it improve…to no end.

Stopped in Willow Creek for some gas.


plan was to take a right at Big Bar (road Coral Bottom rd) which would join up to Hayfork.  Very entertaining forestry road (paved), but about 15 miles up, we hit snow, and well, you can only take a zx14 ninja through snow, fallen trees, and tree bark so far..  Needless to say, captain ‘pin it’ was very impressed by my road choice.




Pictured is ‘cap. rainbow’ with ‘pin it’ luggage set up.  Yep you see right, an actual piece of travelling luggage, wheels and all, strapped to the back of the bike.  Amazingly it’s stayed on, the water proofing is poor apparently 🙂


So back down we went to rejoin the 299.  Well if the first part was good, the second was amazing, and it kept getting better.  Hwy 3 to hwy 36 was a blast.  36 was amazing again.

Sadly ‘pin it’ ran out of go juice, so the 1 gallon tank that I carry came to the rescue.


somewhere along the way we met a couple that suggested the road out of Ferndale.



Little did I know that I actually rode that road back when I owned my Honda ST13, and remember having countless near death experiences, and re-occurring thoughts of realizing that I simply brought the wrong bike for the job.  Having remembered my experience , I proceeded to share it with my road going travel mates.  We passed on that road, and headed down through farm country, thorough what my close TV friend Jeremy Clarkson described as a ‘slight sprinkling of massive discomfort’

We arrived at our destination, the pot capital of California, Garberville.  It smells like weed, the place is overrun by stoned hippies, and stoned douche bags.

Pin it headed for the hot tub, and the teenage girls, me and Rainbow went to the local pizza place for a beer.   Called my sweetie, via the dreadfully awful wifi provided with the room, and called it a night.

Tomorrow, we’re off to Lakeshore/Lower Lake to meet up with Tim from the Super T board.  He’ll show us the sites, and some local routes.  Can’t wait.  Rain Rain, stay away!

Captain Rainbow is asleep.  the wifi is not working, so I’m off to bed.  As a side note, the new tire if working very well, great grip, and good confidence.  I’m pleased.


Sunday March 31st:  the route:,-123.799438&spn=0.584903,1.277161&t=m&z=10&vpsrc=6&msa=0&msid=204362710563176768454.0004d95821207d39d0627

Day started out, by turning off hwy 101, on to hwy 1.  Drove by the drive through tree, sadly it was closed.  No matter.  Hwy 1 was an absolute blast, riding through the forest, technical, twisty road.  From there we headed to Ukiah or something via the Comptoche-Ukiah road, just outside of Medecino.  California has a tendency to have a fantastic road, turn to absolute crap.  It’s not a complaint, but merely an observation.  After all, I’m travelling with two road bikes.

IMG_3629 IMG_3625 IMG_3623

The start of 175 was there, not much to look at, but my oh my what a road.  Stopped in for lunch in Lakeport, from there wet got…wet, actually we stayed dry, the weather was wet.  ‘pin it”s luggage set up probably got wet again.  Took hwy 29 south, which then joined up to 175 south, another gooder.  At a few points, I was certain we got transported to southern Europe, amazing views and roads.

At that point we pointed the scooters south, on the interstate, and blasted down to San Fran.Got to ride across the bridge, very cool.  Rode through San Fran, three times, but finally found the detour we needed, it’s a busy busy place, then on to Santa Cruz for the night.


above: Comptoche-Ukiah Rd


above, and below: HWY 1 south of Garberville

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below: well it’s the bridge.



below: somewhere in Italy….


Monday, April 1st, today`s route:

Down highway one, nice nice!.  several locals recommended the road 30 MI south of Big sur, boy was it worth it.  Basically took us into the clouds.

From there, got to ride through an army base, lots of small critters, gophers, some weird ass miniature bunnies, coyotes, army humwees, a water crossing it had it all!

Then it got really good, hwy 198, we`re coming back!  Lunch…mexican, authentic, so authentic, the guy spoke no English, no matter.  From there a nice short cut to hwy 25, which in itself was mighty tasty.  Now we`re in Hollister for the night.  Decent room, too bad the muppets next door are using their outside voices inside the room next door.  Thank god the walls are made out of cardboard.  Can you say sound proofing.  Thank you and good night.


above and below: NW of Coalinga

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Below: ‘cap. rainbow’, parks his bike like a boss!

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Above: Wade assumes the position, he went to park the bike, and it slid out from underneath him.  the crash bars did their job, and we left it long enough so I could archive and document the event with my camera 🙂

below: this is the entrance to the army compound.

IMG_3684 IMG_3682

below: the road 30MI south of Big sur, into the clouds we went.

IMG_3678 IMG_3676 IMG_3674 IMG_3669

below: Monterey, or Italy somewhere, well done folks, fooled me.


Tuesday, April 2nd.  The day started out ok, with us leaving Hollister.  Plan was to get to Scotts Valley to pick up my new rear shock, and have breakfast.  After dealing with morning rush hour traffic, we found our way to an extremely twisty, bumpy, pot holed pile of a road.  If I was uncomfortable on it, i’m not sure how ‘pin it’ and ‘rainbow’ felt.  needless to say, all leftover crap asphalt goes to die on this road.  Forgettable to say the least.  Made it to Scott’s valley, picked up my new shock, and proceeded to install it behind the restaurant we had breakfast at.  No real issue to speak of, and I noticed an immediate difference (less dive, and does not settle as much).  After leaving Scott’s valley the plan was to hit hwy 35, sadly we missed the turn off (no markings whats so ever), and proceeded to ride all the way to san fran via the super slab.  Fun.

Rode through San fran, attempted to have a coffee at fisherman’s wharf, after 30-45 minutes of sitting and fighting traffic we gave up and got the f. out of dodge.  We hit hwy 1, which was a treat, a bit busy but nice never the less.

Stopped in for a late lunch, and I had a very forgettable burger, ‘rainbow’ had a burrito the size of an arm, which tasted decent, and ‘pin it’ had some tuna out of a can.

From there, we hit some more roads, that we’re not really worthy of mention.  All in all a get there day, tomorrow will hopefully be a good one.

Below: kidney breaker of a road, all unused material is ‘put down’ here


below: my new shock being installed, literally ‘out back’

IMG_3709 IMG_3723

below: San Fran’s fisherman’s wharf



wednesday April 3rd.  Today’s route:,-122.758484&spn=0.587181,1.277161&t=m&z=10&vpsrc=6&iwloc=A&q=Doran+County+Park&cid=7556414272749897255

Left Guernewood this morning, and casa el super Gayus.  The place was so gay friendly they had condoms provided in the bathrooms, swell!

anyways…run down to hwy 1 was pretty nice.  Turned right, and pointed the scooters north.  Stopped in at a seaside resort (sounds ritzy don’t it?) near Welsh Landing.  Got to ride through some more fog, and unseen scenery.

At Stewarts Point, we turned east.  ‘pin it’ decided not to risk his kidneys on the bumpy road, and pointed it straight north on hwy 1, we were to join him in Gerberville at the end of day.

Now this road running east, was tight, a bit bumpy, and very technical.  But about 20 MI inland, it turned into a real treat.  We will be coming back again.

Coffee, and work at Skaggs Springs/Cloverdale, from there we headed NW on the 128.  On the map it does not look like much, but oh my god.  Best road so far, smooth as glass, technical.  Had the tunes going wicked time.  Funny thing, as we crossed from one county to another the road went from ok, to awesome, odd how they work things down here.

As a side note, route 253 to Ukiah looked good (next year).  At Navarro, we pointed north, another sweet one.  At Comptche, we hung a left, and another winner here (rode it on sunday morning as well, in the other direction).

Stopped in Fort Bragg for some safeway fried chicken and egg salad, tasty stuff.

Once our greasy lunch was destroyed, and a giant local seagull fed, we kept on going north.  Some real nice scenery, the fog cleared, so we stopped for a few pics, traffic was very light, and the going was easy.

Now, the cherry on top.  Roughly north of Westport, hwy 1, the road gets wicked twisty, about 35-40 MI of a roller coaster ride, this will be a do-over next year again.  I have to take my hat? off to the drivers in California, they see you, and pretty much always get out of your way by moving over, when there’s space.  Very cool.

Gerberville for the night, pizza and beer.  Another fantastic day in California, thank you.

below: the view’s from hwy 1, stunning.

IMG_3791 IMG_3788 IMG_3785

below: ‘rainbow’ doin’ the needful dance!


below: hang a right at Stewart’s point, heaven.


below: ‘rainbow’ playing peek a boo


below: more from Stewart’s point road

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below: entrance to Stewart point road

IMG_3751 IMG_3748

Thursday, April 3rd, today’s route:

The day started with mild rain, no issues.  Original plan was to head straight up hwy 101, to Jan and Sharon’s place in Brookings, so we could load up and head out.  At the turnoff to hwy 36, weather was overcast, and misty, we waited for ‘cap. pin it’ to go by so we could inform him of the change of plans.  Sadly he had the hammer down, and the blinders, on, even though we were clearly jumping up and down, waiving our arms, he motored right by.  ‘rainbow’ did try to catch up to him well past Eureka, he was somewhere north of the legal speed limit.  We promptly turned off on hwy 299, sent him a text, and advised him to catch up with us in Brookings.  Drove down to Willow Creek for a coffee, weather was still very humid 🙂 but not pouring buckets.  We pointed the bikes north up the 96, which was a lovely road, which brought us to the junction of 169.  Without knowing the area, we came to a sign that said, ‘road’s end-21 miles’ well, that’s not very promising is it? When I originally looked at the map, google informed me that the 169, joins the 101.  Maybe not all pavement, but joins never the less.  Luckily we found a very helpful local that gave us the lay of the land.  Turn left at the bridge, and left past the bridge.  30 miles of very  twisty paved road, up to the summit, 10 miles of brand new paved twisty road, gave way to 20 miles of hard packed, dirt and clay road.  I was not worried, but ‘rainbow’ described riding his bike down this snotty stretch, as if riding a snake down a hill.  Luckily he kept the formerly shiny side up, and we made it down with no issues.  I did fail to mention that by the time we turned off the 96, someone, really turned the taps on.  I had to stop at the top of the road to pee, and that may of done in my waterproofness of the gear.  The gloves were impossible to put on with wet hands, the jacket and pants were still dry at this point.  We rejoined the 101, and headed towards Crescent City (CS).  Just south of CS, a truck followed by a brown buick pulled out in front of me.  The default speed of all california car drivers when raining is 40 mph, and they proceed to do just that.  I passed the guy in the brown car on a double solid (lane splitting is legal in the state), at roughly 60mph (5 over the limit).  I didn’t pass the truck in front, as we pulled into town.  Half way through town, I got pulled over by not one, but four CS sheriffs, who kindly informed me that the brown car I passed was an off duty officer (who pulled in, and told his supervisor, using his outside voice ‘yep! that’s him!!’ ,really sherlock?! I’m the only guy in town riding a bike, with a hi-viz vest on.  They gave me a talking to, along the lines, that yes lane splitting is legal, but according to them it’s not safe.  Whatever, I passed on a straightaway, with 2 miles visibility in front of me.  Sorry boys, you got nothing on me.  Yes, sir, no sir, were my answers, and I was happily on my way.

Earlier I mentioned the taps being turned on..well, someone got the pressure washer out, and turned on the fan to biblical speed.  By the time we got to Brookings, I was soaked from my man boobs down to my crotch.  Oddly enough, half way from the wedding vegetables, to my knees, I was bone dry.  Luckily the heated vest kept me warm, but I will talk to my local Klim dealer, to see what they have to say about it.

We happily got out of our wet clothes, loaded up the bikes, and pointed it north.  That night we made it to Eugene for the night.  Friday we made the very long and uneventful trip home.

Gear report:

The Bike.  Faultless.  Great amount of power for what we were riding, go switch was rarely used.  Sea level rocks, and make it very hard to keep the front wheel down in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd (the new shock does not help with the wheelies 🙂 ) Luckily I never really made it out of TC 1 or 2, so they were curtailed immediately.  As a side note, ‘rainbow’ took it for a spin twice, and needless to say, he’s looking to buy one.  I did ride ‘pin it’s’ zx14r.  Oh my sweet jesus, that thing is fast.  It turns a human being into a pigeon.  It’s so fast that your eyes rotate from the front to the side, upon acceleration.

The new shock.  A revelation.  Zero sag, compared to the stock shock.  it cuts out the bumps (peaks, and valleys, think a sine wave, with out the peaks and valleys).  The rear end is much more composed, it doesn’t step out at all.  On the negative side, the spring is on the stiff side, and since the sag is all gone, I have to tip toe the bike on the higher seat setting, at the lights.  this is not a complaint, but merely a obeservation.  Over the future, the spring should settle a bit, soften up, and come down.  I can always fiddle with the compression (hi and low-speed) to hopefully help out with that.  All in all, money very well spent.

Mitas Dakar rear tire: I’m impressed with this tire, very impressed.  I put it through 3000km of hell.  I really should have gone with a road biased tire, a metzeler, battleaxe, or the new michelin’s would have been better for the task at hand, but the Mitas is cheaper, and worked a treat.  We really did 30 odd KM off-road, the rest of it was broken pavement, superslab, smooth as glass asphalt, and loose surface odd’s and ends.  The tire gripped very well, right to the edge (pics to follow), good confidence in the rain, and good wear.  I don’t think I will see the 20xxxkm that some guys report for wear, since we were pretty much in it all of the time 🙂  It did step out on me twice, mid corner, cranked over, and on the gas (nice little slides, that TC failed to even notice, but this is before I installed the new rear shock)  Highly recommended.  At this point, i’m half way to through the first part of the tire.

Shinko 705 front tire (8xxx km on it before we went on the trip):  The front tire was feathered before we set off, so I did notice it pushing a bit in corners.  Eventually I got used to the feeling, and carried on.  it held up nicely, but it’s showing some cracks between the knobs.  Again nothing alarming.

Klim badlands pants and jacket: out of the week of riding, we really had only two full days of sunshine.  Thursday was a down pour, and the jacket let go, about 300 km into the day, soaking my ‘ab’ LOL, and working its way down in to my gentlemen’s area.  All zips were done up properly, but the zippers were not garaged away, as Dave6 suggested.  Overall, i’m extremely happy with the fit of the gear, just need to investigate, why I got wet on thursday.  Again, it was the equivalent of standing in front of a pressure washer, with 120km/h winds to go with the light sprinkling of major discomfort.

Gloves: I bought some winter riding gloves from GW cycle.  Full leather, and sealable cuff.  Again, 300 km into it, the finger tips had pools of water in them, but to be fair, they were $50, and I never waterproofed the leather.  I will do that eventually.

Alpinestar water proof boots (the scouts stayed at home, these are my road boots).  Bone dry, the entire ride, quite amazing actually.  Comfortable, no issues whatsoever.

Shoei Neotech:  Great lid, you can actually feel the venting working, on the three setting.  Quiet, and comfortable.  I always wear ear plugs, or earphone ear buds.  Both worked well with the lid.  The sun visor is a treat, and the pinlock fog shield actually works.  Recommended

Update, April 10th.

So here I sit in my crummy cubicle.  Weather is crap outside, so i guess i’m not missing much there.  But I have to say, looking back, it was probably one of the best trips I have ever taken on any of my bikes.  The people were friendly to us when we were on the bikes (moving out of the way, when filtering on the 101, they gave way between the lanes).  Weather was pretty decent, considering we were pretty early in the season, all in all, i’m looking at the calendar and wondering when I could come back.  Life is good  🙂

bike fix

above: I have never done road side repairs.  this one was not really needed.  I could have waited till I got back home to swap out the shocks, but we still had 3 days of riding left, so why not put in the fresh one.  Went well, I just needed clearnace for the swing arm, and shock mounts to clear, hence the space below the rear wheel.

below:  Start of hwy 169.  Lovely road, even in the rain

hwy 169 hwy 169-1

below: road to the clouds.  30 Miles south of big sur.

south of big sur panoramic


6 thoughts on “California 2013

  1. I thought you would hit snow some where this time of the year. Ha. Glad to hear about the tires. I just pu a set of the Dakars on the bimmer for the Santa Fe trip. Watch for the fault lines have fun.

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