Matt and Greg ride California

It was time for the annual trip to California.  Matt and I ironed out times, prepped the bikes, figured out a way to get them there from Calgary, and we were set.

As always, click on the picture to enlarge it.  All  flickr pics here:

Overall plan was to get our asses and bikes down to Don’s place in Lodi.  Ditch the car and trailer, and go riding.  Uneventful tow down with the car, and a slight hiccup on the tow back (One of the sensors on the turbo went, we made it home).
We wanted to camp as much as possible, to keep costs down. Weather dictated otherwise.
Below is the overall planned route, which ended up being slightly different. Plan called for roughly 3300km total.

Our first two days were get there days.  We killed time by driving roughly a tank each (500-600km), eating greasy chicken, and streaming MXC Extreme Elimination Challenge on Matt’s phone. Matt was in trouble when he got back to work. Apparently video’s use quite a bit of data :).  Weather was decent, and the car towed like a champ, even loaded down with two bikes. We averaged 600k on 45-50L of diesel.

The rig.
The tow rig

We arrived at Don’s hacienda early.  We broke out the beer, unloaded the car, bikes and set to work prepping for the ride.  Don arrived shortly thereafter, and joined us in drinking beer, and general bs’ing.

Day One:

The plan was to meet Tim and Don at Putah creek cafe for breakfast, in Winters CA. We headed south from Lodi, mostly because I’m a muppet and wasn’t paying attention. We eventually got through the farm fields, and flat roads, and got a few turns in before breakfast. Tim and Don met us in Winters, and much fun was had over an excellent breakfast, procured by Tim.
Thanks Tim, you are a gentleman.

The motley crew
Dan, Matt and Tim, at Putah Creek Cafe in Winters CA
Dan, just out of shot 🙂

The four of us rode W-NW, and much fun was had. Tim peeled off half way during the day, and headed home. Dan, Matt and I persevered on to Fort Bragg, as Leggit was too much of a push in the dying daylight. A clean motel six, and excellent Mexican restaurant wrapped the day up.

Day two:

Destination is Walnut Creek. We have a roof over our heads for the night at Matt’s friends place, Pete and Beth. We headed south on hwy one, stopped for a nice 1 hr walk to take in the scenery.

Where’s Waldo?
Another beauty of a day in California
Hwy one and the FJ

We had an excellent lunch at Busters in Calistoga CA. We then hit some back roads to avoid traffic. Dan peeled off home shortly there after, and we were left on our own to find our way to Walnut Creek. The GPS delivered us safely for an early arrival, and yup you guessed it, more beer! We spent a very enjoyable evening with our guests, Pete and Beth and their very energetic kids Teddy and Evvy.

Our excellent stay for the night at Walnut creek
If the lid fits…

Day Three:

Big sur is our destination for the night, with a stop at Laguna Seca. Mines Road was a treat, SE of Livermore.   The big highlight of the day; Hwy 130. Lick Observatory on Copernicus Peak. Stunning road leading up to the peak, and even better heading down. Fudge nine at Copernicus peak.

Quiet! don’t wake the day sleepers!!
Lick Observatory, on  glorious hwy 130

We stopped in at Laguna Seca. I’ve watched many races on TV, but never had the chance to check it out in person. My favourite part of the track is the corkscrew. There was a cheap car endurance race. Very neat to watch.
We wrapped up the day at the worlds most expensive campsite.
Big Sur welcome sign should read: Welcome to Big Sur. Hope you brought money.

The cork screw
Light fading on the PCH
PCH north of Big Sur

Day four:

Starting the day on the PCH. Life is good
PCH south of Big Sur
Dead things on N.F. road
Nacimento Fergusson Road

Plan is to end up in or near Ojai. We head inland on Nacimento Fergusson Road (N.F road).
Great mexican lunch at Don Hermanos, across the Chevron in San Miguel CA.
Hwy 226, short but truly amazing. Hwy 58, fantastic start, some straights, and finishes very well near Taft CA. We fuelled, bought food and beer, and set off to find a camp site way up in the hills

Pump Jacks
North of Taft
Camping at 2000m. Cheers!
Pine Mountain

Day five:

Play day in the hills! How better to start a day than riding Hwy 33 with no one on it. A large breakfast in Ojai, and some arm twisting on Matt’s part to convince me to ride to Malibu. I was feeling a bit shit, as my cold started coming on full steam.
The hills never disappoint. Typically in California, when someone fast comes up behind you usually move out of the way. The Audi Q7 driving cock did not get that memo. We took our time coming up Westlake Blvd (hwy 23). Cock man finally turned off on Mullholand East. We continued on at our own pace to Decker canyon Road. Wow wee! We took some time off to take it all in, and chatted to some locals that complained about the constant sunshine (kid you not!).
We hopped onto the PCH to link up to Latigo Canyon Road (LCR). We lane split a whole lot of traffic, including three sports cars (Porka boxter s, BMW M5, and a 911). Didn’t think much of it, and hung a left on LCR. I took the lead at a brisk pace, Matt followed, with the three cars not too far behind us. I was enjoying myself, when about 5 minutes into the brisk charge up LCR, boxter man appeared out of nowhere. This dude was moving. I was mostly in 2nd gear to negotiate the tight blind corners, but it looked like I was holding up boxter man. I gave it a honest go for three or four corners, and finally let him pass, figuring that he could set the pace, and I could push him. Man was I wrong. One blind right hander, followed by three quick flick flack left-rights, and boxter man was gone. Ok, keep going. Another 5 minutes go by, and M5 man is up my back tire. And he’s not hanging about either. Ok, let’s play! This time I managed to put in six to eight decent corners, before my left peg hero blob touched and shifter foot touched, and I backed off. M5 man took off. I tried to follow for a few minutes, but couldn’t hack the pace. Either end up on my ass, or back off, and ride my own pace.
I turned off Kane Dume road, and found the two guys parked up on the side. I said hello, while we waited for Matt and 911 man. Turns out these guys ride the roads often (go figure!) and have been driving track for the last 10 or so years. We all had a good laugh, and went our separate ways. A quick stop at the snake for some people watching. An R1 bouncing off the rev limiter, and doing huge stand up wheelies. A local guy on a hopped up FZ09, wearing full leathers complained that he wouldn’t dare ride LCR as there was a touch of rain last night and the road was dirty. Funny we never lacked grip 🙂
We flipped a u-turn and headed back to Ojai for the night. We wrapped up the day with pizza and lots of beer. We booked a hotel room to attempt to get rid of our colds, and turned in for the night.

Pine mountain ridge road, looking North towards Taft.
Pine mountain ridge road

Here we go. Hwy 33 first thing in the morning.
Hwy 33
Decker Canyon road. Amazing
Malibu Hills
The Snake
Mulholland Snake

Day Six:

Once again, HWY 33. No traffic, perfect pavement, and the sun is out. Magic. That said, just before our turnoff on Lockwood Valley road the fog rolled in. Thick enough that you could see 10 meters in front of you, and that was it. We rode out of the fog, and into light rain. It ranged from mild to flat out annyoing and hard on Interstate 5. We ducked into a starbucks for some coffee and a rest. Half an hour later we manned up, and went back into the rain. Eventually by Rankin Ranch the rain cleared and we were once again back in the sunshine. I had a detour planned to Glenville on the 155. We didn’t make it far before the weather turned ugly. As we climbed, the rain turned to wet snow. The road was none too grippy. We decided to take a few pics, and turn around. We wrapped the day up in Kernville, at a decent little motel. Pub food rounded off the day.

Fog on hwy 33 Hwy 33 in the fog
Rain tapering off
IMG_2540 More weather on hwy 155 Hwy 155
Hwy 155. Crappy, yet pretty
The motel guests IMG_2560

Day Seven:

We woke to a frosty morning. 5C and frost on the bikes. Further up the road, the temp dropped to 2C, and we had several sections of road that had ice on it. We gingerly made our way over the mountain.  Bit of a shame, as hwy 190 is an excellent road.

The link above doesn’t show us going through Yosemite, as it’s currently closed for winter.  We did ride it, and it was excellent.  One thing to keep in mind is that the speed limit ranges from 25 to  40 MPH.  Most people do the limit or less, so for us two wheeled hooligans, it’s a bit of a drag.  Lucky for us, november is not busy, and we made quick progress .  Towards the end of the park, the speed limit perked up, and so did I.  So much so that I left Matt behind.  I really should have waited, sorry man.  At any rate, we regrouped, and headed down to Sqaw Valley to find a motel, pizza and cheap beer.

Sunny morning, day seven
I found this guy crossing the road IMG_2569
Yosemite Park. Great roads. Low speed limit, and slow traffic. Use caution.
The view from 2300 m

Day eight:

Nothing too crazy on the last day. Weather was a bit we took it easy, and stareted making our way NW towards Lodi. Halfway through the day I noticed my clutch cable starting to frey. Naturally I freaked out, and thought that it would snap immediately. It lasted all the way till Lodi, and then some. I have a new one on order. We made it back to Don’s house early. Loaded up the bikes, and made our way slowly out of Lodi, into the Sacramento traffic.

Mexican dumping ground just out of shot
Cold day. We were meant to turn right. We turned left
Wet and Cold
Check out the road in the back ground. Stunning stuff.
The aftermath of the drive home
What the FJ looked like

In summary: Great trip, good company. 3300 km on the bikes, 4400 km in the car. Both the bikes worked brilliantly (Matt had an issue with his front headlight, working whenever it damn well pleased). My FJ09 was in its element. The upgraded suspension soaked everything up. The motor was stunning especially at sea level. A couple of times, hard on the gas, over a crest, I would pull huge third gear wheelies (TC off, cover clutch and rear brake). It had power everywhere. Matt and I both run Michelin PR4s. These tires work a treat. They never gave us any cause for concern. Great at full lean, on the brakes, in the rain, and in the snot. At 3k km, mine are nicely scrubbed in, and show little if no wear. Can’t wait to go again, to re-ride some of these roads in the dry, or very least without ice 🙂


2 thoughts on “Matt and Greg ride California

  1. Great trip. Was that a VW JSW (White) you used to haul all? While I am now located near the Space Coast Area (Florida) I still have a home and family in the bay area. Seeing the Lick Observatory was a kick. Bay Area drivers are not the best …. Glad you had / having a good time. Brent AKA Harry Dresden

    • Hi Brent. Yep, it’s a 2010 6 spd std TDI. It did very well. I did have a turbo sensor go on the way back home. Total PITA to replace. $200 sensor, plus $350 in labor. Overall we had no issues with the California drivers. They were very good with bikes. 99% of people moved out of the way, and when lane splitting made room. People in Yosemite did not move, too busy gawping at the scenery. Otherwise an excellent trip

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