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Posts Tagged ‘Susanville’

Hwy 101 and Redwood Collage

Like many of you I’m accustomed to the routines in life and when August rolls around I’m often thinking about a ride east to immerse myself in all things Sturgis.

Not this year.

This year success would be defined as a slow and meandering journey, not a specific destination. Sure our group had a general idea about riding the pacific coast highway down to the Redwoods and then over to the Sierra Nevada mountains to Yosemite.  But it was left fairly open ended.   There was some thought to traversing back over through Death Valley and then returning to Oregon via the eastern side of the state and what follows is a brief summary of the ride:

Portland to Coos Bay
Oregon offers an incredible diversity of motorcycle road scenery. The state is blessed with hundreds of miles of Pacific Coast shoreline, countless miles of arid canyon and twisted mountain road riding, vast stretches of alpine mountain roads, and some of the most appealing cities in the world.  But we wanted to get to California and took I-5 south to Oregon Route 38.

Highway 38 runs between Interstate 5 near the communities of Curtin to the city of Reedsport on the Oregon Coast.  It’s also known as the Umpqua Highway because the western portions of the road run alongside the Umpqua River.  The road runs by the Dean Creek Wildlife Area, which provides overlooks for viewing regional wildlife and continues on passing through the Elk Creek Tunnel Forest State Scenic Corridor.

We were riding an easy pace and overnighted at Coos Bay.  The next morning we rode down the beautiful coastline on Hwy 101 to the awe inspiring redwood groves.  The road winds along the coast and we fortunately avoided any measurable rain.  Certainly cooler temperatures with the occasional whiff of mist, but very good riding.  The group even took some time for the odd tourist attraction along the way — Ride Through A Redwood Tree — that make this area well known.  Shortly afterward we were on the “Avenue of the Giants” which is well marked and parallels Hwy 101 for about 35 miles.  We stopped at the Forest Service visitor center and took in these amazing works of nature.

With two easy days under our belt we overnighted in Fortuna and made plans to ride NorCal’s ultimate motorcycle ride — Highway 36!  This road is why you own a motorcycle.

California SR 36

140 miles of S-Turns (Fortuna to RedBluff) — Hwy 36 (SR 36) begins in Fortuna at an interchange with Hwy 101. After going through the community of Alton, Hwy 36 continues east through the city of Hydesville. The road continues through Carlotta before paralleling the Van Duzen River all the way to the town of Bridgeville.  We stopped in the community of Mad River which has a small general store, a tiny burger joint built into an old camper or RV, and a gas pump that approached $6/gallon.  We all got off the motorcycle and discussed the unusual nature of Hwy 36 and how it can catch you off guard.

One minute you’re rolling along enjoying the marvel of paved engineering, the next minute you’re working to navigate a narrow section with no center line and massively tall trees which are literally in the road.

Arrival in Reno

The pavement is bumpy and constantly changing, despite some attempts at repaving.   You can ride through the area at a good, but slow speed as there are a lot of  S-curves, tight hairpins, blind corners, and even some swoopy drop offs where the road just falls out from underneath you where even a heavy cruiser seems to get air.  As quickly as it started Hwy 36 opens back up to its wider two lane as if that narrow section never happened.

In general there were few trucks or zaney vacationers on Hwy 36 trying to run us off the road so it was an enjoyable experience.  As we dropped down into the Central Valley the temperatures rapidly shot upward and we decided to grab some lunch in Red Bluff.
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Highway 36 heads eastbound out of the Central Valley  to Lassen Volcanic National Monument and over to Susanville.  It’s nothing to get excited about and while a good road it’s nothing more than a main highway from point A to point B road.  We filled up with fuel in Susanville and headed to Reno where we overnighted.
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More Miles and Smiles – Part 2 HERE.

Map courtesy Google.  Photo’s taken by author.
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US342Street Vibrations is a 4-day event that brings two-wheel enthusiasts from all parts of the country to show-off customs, parade the vendor booths and enjoy the entertainment.  Oh did I mention the local rides?  Yes, there are plenty from Virginia City to Lake Tahoe as well as the various poker runs.

The weather (mid-90’s) really made for a positive experience this year.  Our entourage spent time riding out the Virginia City loop, but mostly we stayed in downtown to mingle with the crowds, talk motorcycles with riders and vendors and take in all that the casinos had to offer up in terms of entertainment.  The vendor booths were busy with crowds most all day long.  Of course there was the monster jump at the Grand Sierra Resort by Ryan Capes who broke the (ramp-to-ramp) record on a motorcycle.

Left Of Center

Left Of Center

And there were lots of bands with some top tier talent, but I enjoyed the non-headliners more. There was Saddle Tramps on the Jagermeister Super Stage and most notable was Left of Center who played the Brew Brothers pub at Silver Legacy on back to back nights.  Our group also caught a comedy club act in the Catch A Rising Star lounge which made the $15 per ticket expense seem like a bargain after all the craps table losses!

The motorcycle festival didn’t pass without incidents, however.  There were several motorcycle accidents including one fatality which I posted previously HERE.  In fact, on our ride back from Virginia City we came upon a motorcyclist who lost control and struck a wall on Griner’s Bend, a sharp curve at the south side of Virginia City on State Route 342.  In addition, Police reported there were 72 arrests made at Street Vibrations even though it was considered one of the more peaceful events! Most of the arrests were alcohol related, including 23 for public intoxication.  The police also issued 77 traffic citations and responded to six reports of stolen motorcycles.  It was a busy weekend for LEO, but what I most appreciated was the lack of SWAT teams armed with semi-automatic rifles marching in Virginia City and other areas.

tat_SSBack to the rally.  I missed the roller derby battle between the Rose City Rollers and the Battle Born Derby Demons, but you have to make a call since you can’t take it all in!  The sponsors brought back the firework display which had disappointed many last year when it was cancelled.  And then there was the tattoo expo which put body art on display and inspired one of the posse to get inked.  A big shout out to Randy Burke, owner of Road Shows who puts on Street Vibrations because it was a great event and the rally was kept fresh with some new activities.

Posse Dinner

Posse Dinner

On Sunday morning we were up early because it was all about miles and putting on as many of the 546 miles we needed to do before the heat baked the day.  From Susanville we took CA-44 through Lassen National Forest.  We headed up toward Old Station and then took CA-89 toward the town of Mount Shasta.  I like riding this route. The road is good and traffic is moving fast for a two-lane road.   It has a varied and interesting scenery.  About 60 miles south of Mount Shasta there was a forest fire in early August that raged through the area.  I believe it was the Hat Creek Complex.  More photos HERE.   We didn’t know it at the time, but there was another forest fire filling the air with smoke.  A thin layer at first, but it increased through-out the day.  It was from the Boze fire, an 11,000-acre fire near Tiller, OR and with the southerly trade winds blowing it meant we rode in it nearly all day long!

I-5_SunsetWe entered the Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains, rolled onto I-5 and pressed on through beautiful scenery.  Arriving at the Oregon border we crossed the 4300 foot mark at the Siskiyou Summit which is the highest point on I-5.  We then dropped down in the Rogue River valley through Ashland, Medford and Grants Pass.  Occasionally, I’d catch a whiff of toasted brake lingering in the air, proof that not everyone enjoyed the ride as much as we were!  We traversed the three passes of the Umpqua Valley and after Roseburg it was back to rolling hills.  We continued to deal with forest fire smoke.  There was a small mechanical delay which baling wire fixed in short order with a shift linkage, but otherwise we were all about miles and stops were limited to fast food and fuel.  It took just under 12 hours to make the trip home.

It was a good and safe Street Vibrations trip!

Road Trippn’ to Street Vibrations 2009 — Part 1 HERE; Part 2 HERE.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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posse_lkviewAfter an early morning continental breakfast we brought the bikes to life in the motel parking lot and after a quick fuel stop we shake, rattled and rolled down the US 395 trail.

The road encourages a relaxed pace and many of the trappings of modern travel are just not on this road.  About 40 miles north of Alturas, 395 reaches California and the confusing little town of New Pine Creek.  It consists of barely more than a couple of stores.

Goose Lake

Goose Lake

The California map says it’s in California, yet the Oregon map says it straddles the state line, which at least in practice, it does. The actual location of the state line is a bit confused and about 20 years ago, California officials reviewed the line and concluded that the line should actually be a bit farther north. But locals still don’t seem certain about where it is. Nonetheless local California residents have Oregon mailing addresses (that’s where the post office is), which confuses all sorts of bureaucrats, from cops to tax officials and the uncertainty about location prompts all sort of thrash to reduce taxes and other fees. It used to be that Oregonians had to sneak their kids into the local school, which is (probably) in California. The Oregon welcome sign is on the north end of the tiny town, but the California sign is right in the middle of town on State Line road, though that probably isn’t where the line actually is.  I know that I’m on the “line” — the Oregon/California border in New Pine Creek when I see the shop called “Just Stuff“.  Never a customer parked in front of the building, but it remains open after all these years!
Reno_Skyline
We continue on and nearby the Goose Lake State Park is a large shallow lake that straddles part of state line area yet it’s so remote reservations are not necessary.  We traversed around Alturas and through Likely, Ravendale and Litchfield.  Somewhere along this route we hit about 10 miles of the worst road surface I’ve encountered on previous rides. I dislike that tar base with loose gravel and the DOT thinking that we’ll let the vehicles drive over the gravel until the road is no longer loose!

At Standish we fueled up and avoid backtracking to Susanville by way of the cut-off road.

Reno_NeonThis area is nestled in a high-desert valley in northeastern California, bordered by both lush evergreen forests and arid sagebrush.  First a rugged trading post for Nobleas Train wagon trains, in 1854, pioneer Isaac Roop wrought the first permanent settlement by allotting a large piece of his land for the city, which eventually would be named for his daughter Susan.  The days it’s know more the High Desert State Prison with the high-security, lethal electrified perimeter fence.

We skirted Honey Lake and rolled into Reno by mid-afternoon.  The posse unloaded and enjoyed all that Reno and Street Vibrations could offer up in the form of some nighttime refreshments.

Road Trippn’ to Street Vibrations 2009 — Part 1 HERE; Part 3 HERE.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Last year‘s return we woke to rain and the 90 mile ride to Susanville was much too wet and cold.  So cold in fact that snow had collected on the hill sides.   Not this year!  It was perfect riding temperatures and cool, crisp air departing Reno helped focus our minds that we had an 11 hour day of riding ahead of us so giddy up.

From Susanville we took CA-44 through Lassen National Forest.  We headed up toward Old Station and then took CA-89 toward the town of Mount Shasta.  I like riding this route. The road is good and traffic is moving fast for a two-lane road and it has a varied and interesting scenery.

Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta

Southern California seems to get most of the riding attention, but the fact is, Northern California has some of the best riding in the state and is much less congested. Most people visiting northern California are surprised at how much “nothing” is here. It’s pure motorcycling heaven that includes winding mountain passes, majestic redwoods and active volcanoes.  We enter the Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains and press on around deep cut curves through beautiful scenery. For those of us who love mountain riding, this ride doesn’t get any better than this. Occasionally, you’ll catch a whiff of toasted brake lingering in the air, proof that not everyone enjoys the ride as much as we do!  We were all about miles today so, no time to stop at Lassen Volcanic National Park.  However, if you get a chance I recommend taking a few hours and visiting this dormant volcano, with its bubbly bits perking out all over.

When we stopped in Mount Shasta for fuel the clothing layers were peeling off as it was getting hot.  We intersected with I-5 and headed north.  This is called the Shasta Cascade region of California.

“Reeeneeneeeneen! Reeeeneeeneen!”  Was the sound of a two-stroke I passed on the freeway.  Not sure where that relic came from, but after passing and giving him a nod–the brotherhood of the biker–I fell in line with all the leather, tattoos and big-bore V-twins and let the orange polyester short-sleeve Polo riding shirt dude fade in the mirror.

Arriving at the Oregon border I-5 crosses 4300 feet in the Siskiyou Summit which is the highest point on I-5.  It then drops down into the Roque River valley through Ashland, Medford and Grants Pass.  We rode over the three passes of the Umpqua Valley and after Roseburg cruised the rolling hills.

We did an Elmer’s dinner stop and then it was the final few miles to home in a little over 11 hours.  Another terrific and safe Street Vibrations trip.

Summer is officially over!!

Read more about the Street Vibrations trip at Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5.

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I was up early on day 2 and stood for a moment in the motel doorway, contemplating the Road King as though it were some postmodernist sculpture in the sunrise. Its gleaming chrome “big twin” engine, pipes, polished black-on-black fenders, beach bars and seven-inch headlight is nirvana in terms of form and function. I suspect the low grade headache has more to do with the tequila shots from the El Aguila Real restaurant the previous night than the crappy pillow.  It was time for some caffeine.

The rest of the crew was stirring and we headed across the street to the Tall Town Café & Bakery for some melt-n-your-mouth handmade cinnamon rolls.  Even from the outside you can tell this ‘Ol School bakery means business and the eggs with home-made biscuits and gravy were perfect for the short 250 mile ride into Reno.

After breakfast we brought the eight bikes to life in the motel parking lot and the neighbors likely wondered when was the quiet possession of their homes revoked?  The sound makes your heart beat a little faster and we shake, rattled and rolled down the US 395 trail.

The road encourages a relaxed pace and many of the trappings of modern travel are just not on this road.  Like the Doobie Brothers song “Clear as the Driven Snow“… “I keep rolling, and rolling, and I can’t stop, and I can’t stop…” there are no big box stores, no chain motels, no fast food chain restaurants and a couple hand painted billboards.  In fact at the Oregon – California border in New Pine Creek there is a shop called “Just Stuff“.  I’ve never seen a customer parked there in all my years riding to Reno, but it’s still there!  And near by the Goose Lake State Park is a large shallow lake that straddles the state line area and it’s so remote reservations are not necessary.

We cruised thru Alturas, Likely, Ravendale and Litchfield.  There is a running joke in this part of the country that the GNP is your choice of rocks, junipers, or sagebrush.  Not much happening in the high desert, but I did learn that the WNBA basketball player Kayte Christensen attended elementary school in Likely.  How unlikely! 

At Standish we filled up and chatted a bit with some High Desert State Prison guards making a shift change at the high-security, lethal electrified perimeter fence prison. We skirted Honey Lake, avoid speeding tickets and rolled into Reno by mid-afternoon.

The crew unloaded and enjoyed all that Reno and Street Vibrations could offer up in the form of some refreshments.  A couple of the “sig others” arrived in town and we had an awesome dinner in a local Italian joint called La Strada.

Next up is the Virginia City, Kit-Kat and Carson City tours.

Read more about the Street Vibrations trip at Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5.

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