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Thread: Honeymoon ride through the Golden State

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Honeymoon ride through the Golden State

    It might not be a good idea to admit this, but one of the first things I said after my marriage proposal was accepted was "We have to do a ride in California for the honeymoon". See, I've ridden in California once before and I was itching to get back. What better excuse, right? Thankfully my understanding wife accepted both proposals and we were on our way

    Couple disclamers: I sometimes hate stopping a ride to take pics. I know I'll kick myself later, but I hate pulling myself out of the moment, so if the thread is kind of short on pics, this is the reason. Also, the pics are a mix of my wife's point and shoot and my cell phone, so the style and quality will probably be all over the place. With that out of the way.

    We landed in San Fran late Sunday, May 20th, day after the wedding. After a day of exploring the city by foot (beautiful city, not sure about the locals) it was time to get the bike. My ride for the trip would be a 2007 VStrom 1000 that I got hooked up with through ADvrider. A local guy was renting it out at a very reasonable rate and I jumped on it. He warned me that the rear tire was brand new (not fully scrubbed in) while front was towards the end of its life. To top things off the fog was extra thick and the road coated with moisture. So the ride back to our homebase of Sausalito (buddy's place) was somewhat tense.

    The next morning we set out bright and relatively early for our destination, Mendocino, via the famed Pacific Coast Highway. There were several moments of stress, one coming when an SUV veered into our lane on a particularly twistie portion of PCH about 15 miles north of San Fran (couple second later and we would've been roadkill) and another when I realized that we were low on fuel and the next gas station was 30 miles down the road. Plus it was foggy as shit (but still strangely beautiful).

    We grabbed breakfast at Stinson Beach, where I was informed that the next gas station was about 15 miles away, at which point I was starting worry we might have to do some pushing, but then the guy remembered there is a gas station about 6 miles down the road in Bolinas. Fascinating place, kind of like a hippie agricultural commune, where the gas station turned out to be some sort of a community run endeavor, with prices around $6.00 a gallon. Whatever I was happy to pay whatever it took, for a little peace of mind. After that, things eased up bit and I started bonding with the bike and enjoying the scenery



    PCH is a fantastically scenic road, with plenty of twistie bits, broken up by more relaxed parts that straighten out and let you enjoy the ride. By the time we started coming up on Mendocino (about 150 miles north of Mendocino) I was feeling pretty comfortable with the VStrom and dragging the centerstand in some corners.

    We stopped at a lighthouse about 20 miles south of Mendocino to soak up the sights


    It was pretty windy, so we're a bit of a hot mess, but there we are


    Mendocino if ****ing gorgeous, no other way to describe it. Hippie little town, surrounded by water, forrests and mountains. All you could ask for when looking for a proper honeymoon destination:




    It's also apparently pretty baller, because you run into Bugatti Veyrons parked in the street like it's no big deal


    The next day broke out thusly: I had the first part of the day to my thing (read go riding much more aggressively than I would with the wife on the back) and the second part of the day was a Redwoods hike. The ride I devised was this: Philo-Greenwoon rd (thanks Pashnit!) to 128 to 253 to Orr Springs/Comptche-Ukiah (again Pashnit). About 130 mile loop.
    Philo Greenwood was a pretty great start! Twistie, narrow, decent pavement quality, no traffic at all!




    I saw a dirt turn off pretty much at the spot where I took the pic and figured, what the hell, it's an adventure right? Mind you, my dirt experience is probably single digit in miles and the VStrom 1000 is a big boy. Onward!



    Turned out it was a logging road with a pretty steep descent, about a mile in length with a couple pretty deep ruts. Once I got to the bottom, I figure there was a pretty solid chance I wasn't making it back to the top. I was already rationalizing a hike back to the main road. Well I did make it, with a nice rush of exhilaration at the end when I realized I cleared the last rut. Adventure!

  2. #2
    Junior Member
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    Re: Honeymoon ride through the Golden State

    Next step was 128 which basically served as the connecting road to the much more fun route 253. WHAT A ROAD!!!

    Signs like this are always a good....um, sign.


    It did not lie. Mile after mile of beautiful, smooth, zero traffic twisties. Pictures do not do it justice:


    And then, all too soon I was in the town of Ukiah. It was hot and kind of depressing. Moving on to Orr Springs Road. Orr Springs, leading out of Ukiah was an incredibly steep and narrow road. Also the pavement sucked, bad. It was intense...didn't take many pictures, because frankly...it wasn't a ton of fun and the road required your full concentration. Bet it would be fun on a supermoto though.


    Orr Springs rd runs through the Montgomery Woods State Reserve, my first encounter with the famed Redwoods. They're pretty fantastic and everything I had hoped for


    About a mile or two after the redwoods reserve Orr Springs's pavement smoothed out and turned into Comptche Ukiah road. Holy shit!! Top 5 road I've ever ridden. Beautifully smooth pavement, turn after fantastic turn, pretty good sight lines....I mean all the ingredients of a great riding road. I'd equate it with the Dragon, only not quite as tight and much more fun. Just a brilliant road. Not sure where it falls on the Northern Cali pantheon, but it's up there with route 33 out of Ojai (SoCal, I know) as far as I'm concerned. No pics, sorry, I was having too much fun. And then...my ride was over. Though the hike in the Hendy Woods State Park was pretty awesome in it's own right.


    Hermit hut. Apparently a WWII Russian soldier lived in these woods for years, befriending some locals and pretty much becoming a local legend. Fascinating story:


    And that's about it for my Mendocino riding pictures. The next day we rode down to Yosemite park, which was an adventure in its own right, but I'm not sure people are super interested in a honeymoon slide show. Though we did almost get hypothermia trying to ride back to San Fran. I can post those tomorrow if there's any interest. For now this concludes the Mendocino portion of the ride report:

    The next morning it was time to say goodbye to lovely Mendocino and head for Yosemite National Park. The day started inauspiciously when I dropped the fully loaded VStrom in the steep parking lot of the local coffee shop. Lovely bike when it's moving, but it's a top-heavy bastard in a parking lot, especially when there is an incline involved. Oh well, we got back on the road, taking 128 all the way from PCH to 101. 128 has potential to be a really nice road, with a scenic ride through redwoods to get things going, a relatively straight middle section through wine country and Boonville (great folks at the local hardware store hooked me up with Gorilla tape for the busted turn signal and talked bikes for a little bit) and a really twisty bit that leads you into 101. The only hang-up is that the traffic kind of takes the fun out of things. One of the reasons I love Cali roads is that there is just so little traffic, but 128 seems like a heavily used road.

    101 was pretty much what I was expecting, boring slab. Just gotta get through it. Nothing too eventful, except I got the bright idea to fill up in Richmond, which is probably the one part of the Bay Area you'd rather avoid. Oh well, nothing I haven't seen in North Philly. From there it was I-580, to 120 and into the agricultural valley before the Sierra Mountains (not sure the name). The road was straight, the billboards were conservative, the produce stands were delicious (too bad we were loaded to the gills, no room for those gorgeous cherries and strawberries).

    At long last we made it to the foothills of the Sierras. Google directions had us taking Old Priest Grade road up into the Sierras, instead of staying on the much more fun Tioga Pass (120). Instead of having fun in the uphill twisties, we went up an increadibly steep road, with not nearly as many turns. The poor strom was properly overheating when we got to the top.


    Still a pretty great road though:


    Now I didn't know much about Yosemite going in, going there was my wife's idea (I was partial to Lake Tahoe). But the scenery was absolutely astonishing. Just shocking views that probably don't translate well from our crappy cameras:







    The road into Yosemite valley (where we were staying) wasn't bad either, though the traffic was kind of heavy.


    The weather on the way in was fantastic, low 70s and bright skies. This would change, for now I was just trying to imagine any human being climbing this rock:


    The next day, we hiked about halfway up the Upper Yosemite Falls trail, before realizing we didn't bring any food and 1 bottle of water for a 6 hour hike.

  3. #3
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    Re: Honeymoon ride through the Golden State

    The hikes in Yosemite are brilliant for FWIW. I was wishing we had a couple days and some serious gear.



    And then it started snowing:




    It pretty much rained the rest of the day, which was fine since we needed a little bit of time to recover from the long ride the day before and the morning hike.

    The next morning, roads were damp, but rain had seemingly stopped. The views in Yosemite valley were pretty stunning:




    By the time we grabbed breakfast, it's drizzling again. Wait it out, or make a go of it...decided to get the hell out of dodge. As soon as we're geared up and ready to go it's raining for real. Crap. I'm wearing jeans and cold weather gloves (not waterproof). The jacket and boots are waterproof. Same thing with the wife. As we start making our way out of the park, the rain keeps getting worse and as the elevation increases it gets progressively colder. It's a solid 30 miles of winding mountain roads to get out of the park from Yosemite valley. At some point it starts snowing. By the time we make it to the ranger station at the eastern entrance to to the park. I've pretty much lost feeling in the fingers, there is a pool of ice cold water in my crotch area and I'm not sure how much further I could've kept riding. The wife was somewhat shielded and seems to be ok....or she's just a total trooper, either way, she doesn't want to kill me. We change our jeans in the welcome center and I try to dry out the gloves as best as possible. Watered down hot chocolate at the gas station 5 miles down the road has never tasted so good.

    Thus ended probably the most miserable and stressful 45 minutes of my riding life. At least I got to ride the Tioga pass on the way down:


    And in a few hours we were back in Sausalito. Next day we rode around San Fran for a few hours to soak in the sights (great way to see the city btw).


    There was a carnival going on in the Mission


    The obligatory painted ladies:


    Tasted some local fare (or not)


    Golden Gate Park was hopping for the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge.


    Btw, have I mentioned how awesome legal lane splitting is? Well, it's pretty ****ing awesome. The city was jammed for the celebration, and we sliced through all of it like no big deal (the wife dug into my side a little harder than usual, but I took the pain like a man). Something so obvious, that ofcourse it's illegal in 49 states. And just like that, it was time to return the Strom. The total tally for the trip might be less than impressive, but I think it's fair to say that the miles packed a punch:


    Thanks for looking!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Hornet's Avatar
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    Re: Honeymoon ride through the Golden State

    Roman,
    Great area for riding area and a honeymoon! Superb pics!
    Ah the Comptche road...one of my favorites...very few riders know of that little gem. Been there twice so far this year.

    Tim

  5. #5
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    Re: Honeymoon ride through the Golden State

    Thanks Hornet. Updated the report for Yosemite and San Fran. Just wanted to say thank you to the Pashnit community for being such an excellent source. Without this website, I doubt I would've found some of the roads I ended up taking for my ride in Mendocino County, can't wait to get back to Cali in the near future.

  6. #6
    howling at the moon coyotebros2's Avatar
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    Re: Honeymoon ride through the Golden State

    Congratulations on starting your new life together … Great report.

    One little,tiny, niggly little thing … and it is probably just me … We had a great San Francisco columnist here for many years, by the name of Herb Caen. Anyway, he hated when people (always those from somewhere else) called San Francisco "Frisco". I think he felt it implied an intimacy that was not real. Much like that goofy Uncle that gave you a nickname you hated. I have the same reaction to "San Fran" -- it is a great city and joy to live near … She deserves to be called by her full name "San Francisco"! Just five more keystrokes will do the trick.

    It is a small thing, and you did a great job with the RR. I am glad you love CA and hope you return soon for more!

    Also too -- sorry about that Series [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUMpDmfDVCc&list=UUmRH1t7DE1OrAZUb9E3QAVg& index=7&feature=plcp"]Wilson! - YouTube[/nomedia] back in 2010 -- ok, not really!!!!

  7. #7
    Super Member Orson's Avatar
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    Thumbup Re: Honeymoon ride through the Golden State

    Fantastic pictures

    You can never have too many Highway 1 pictures

    Thanks for posting
    A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. Lao Tzu 600 B.C.

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  8. #8
    Combat Truck Monkey matthewp's Avatar
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    Re: Honeymoon ride through the Golden State

    Roman, congratulations on your nuptials! You really have an eye with the camera, I love some of the shots in Yosemite...

    And, by the way, it's apparently supposed to rain in Yosemite when you're on your honeymoon ride. This was my wife and I on Memorial Weekend 4 years ago.
    "The reason the American Army does so well in wartime, is that war is chaos, and the American Army practices it on a daily basis."
    - from a post-war debriefing of a German General

  9. #9
    Super Member Papa-Ken's Avatar
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    Re: Honeymoon ride through the Golden State

    Roman, thanks for posting your great ride in pictures and prose. You covered a lot of territory during your visit and I am quite sure those memories will linger a long time as have mine from 1952 visiting New York City while stationed in Essex, Maryland. Atlantic City was a ghost town then but Wildwood New Jersey was all that and more. Talk about where the girls are Labor day holiday the last big fling prior to school.......WOW...Ken
    Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know "why" I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved.........Will Rogers

  10. #10
    Junior Member racebrooks's Avatar
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    Re: Honeymoon ride through the Golden State

    Roman,

    Congrats on the nuptuals and the intestional fortitude of you and your bride to take this ride into the wilds of NoCal. BTW, your pics were excellent and IMHO, there was no need for a disclaimer.

    Just curious, is it Philadelphia or is "Phillie" ok? Next time your in this part of the country you might want to see the sites of "Vegas" while you are out here. Of course, you surely being on the east coast have been to "Jersey" a time or two. As a life long native of SoCal and Dodger fan, you can see why we call the SF Giants the "hated Giants" in casual conversation. BTW, no need to return the bashing, I love "San Fransisco" and all that it has to offer but it's just one little niggling thing..."FRISCOOOOOO." I got my 5 extra key strokes in!




    Best wishes on your new life together.

    Randy

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