ride reports

Riding down the Lost Coast

Mattole Road, California This past weekend, I went riding for the first time with the ladies of Pashnit.com to the Lost Coast along Northern California. I never imagined what I would be up against...

It was my first group ride with that many women (25!) and for that long, 3 nights and 4 days. It's also the furthest north I've ever gone on my motorcycle. These gals get together every year to do a long weekend of riding and they don't just ride to one place, either. We went to 3 different cities altogether.

Givi luggage SV650S

There's something different about riding with just women, it's not necessarily better than riding with a co-ed group but it's just different. Better in some ways for sure. I really had a great time and can't wait to do another weekend trip with these girls next year.

I'm contemplating trying to get a group of local friends together for an overnight, because I had such a kickass time. I've only got a few photos of day 3 (saturday) and day 4 (sunday) since I had a GoPro malfunction (i.e. me not knowing what setting I needed to use to take photos every 10 seconds) on friday.

Day 1 - Santa Rosa to Weaverville

With 350 miles ahead of us, I met a few girls in Santa Rosa on Thursday morning, and then we headed up 101 to meet a few more folks in Laytonville. After Garberville, we pulled off on the Avenue of the Giants.  If you've never ridden through the Redwoods before, it's something you don't want to miss. The road was perfectly paved and the traffic was fairly light. There are a few parking lots to pull off and walk down some trails to see them up close. I highly recommend riding or driving this road. Beautiful!

avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants Hwy 254

After we visited with the big trees, we continued up 101, stopping quickly in Rio Dell for gas, and then onto 36 East. YES! I've heard so many good things about this road, and to finally ride it was awesome. Well paved, lots of nice moderate twisties and sweepers.

highway 36 east

I won't bore you with more of these awesome pics. Sadly, I didn't get any footage of Hwy 3 north, which is another kickass road with more tight twisties than 36.

We stopped briefly in Hayfork for a snack/break and then onward up 3 to 299 North to get to Weaverville, a sleepy little town.

Day 2 - Weaverville to Crescent City

Day 2 started early, with an 830am start after breakfast at 730. We started out north on 299, then north on 3. We stopped in Callahan, a very small (no services, except a small general store/post office) town off 3.

After Callahan, it was onward to the Forks of Salmon. We headed north on 3, stopped briefly at Etna (no services) and then headed south on Sawyers Bar Road to get to the forks.
Unfortunately, I didn't get any pics of this road :(
But it's a narrow, goaty ride at some elevation. It's paved, just a little bumpy. We rode along at 20-30mph and enjoyed the view. The ride along the river is beautiful, and at a few points, we saw people floating down the river on intertubes. It looked awesome, we were all jealous at how cool and comfortable they looked in the water.
It was really hot, so at one point we pulled over under some trees to take a break and relax. It was a really fun road with a fantastic view, and I highly recommend taking it.
We continued north on Salmon River Road, to get to Hwy 96 North. I was getting really tired by this point, thank goodness we stopped in Happy Camp for a late lunch. One of the few places to eat, called Pizza House. A small, family run shop that wasn't expecting 20+ women to show up, that's for sure. It felt great to sit down, have a couple slices and enjoy the air conditioning.
After filling our bellies and our gas tanks, we headed  north on Indian Creek Road which turns into Grayback Road as you head north to Oregon, the road turns into Co Hwy 5828 / NF 48, then that turns into Co Hwy 5560 to O'Brien. I don't think we stopped there, but we headed south on 199 and got to ride through the Redwoods again. That never gets old. My new friend Pyxie and I rode the final miles into Crescent City together. If you're looking for a kickass photographer in or near Sacramento, check out her website.
Hwy 101 to Crescent City
Crescent City highway 101 199
We then stayed for the night at the Curly Redwood Lodge, made from one huge curly redwood tree. Oooo. We rolled in fairly late, so it was a very early night for me since we would be up early again to head over to the Lost Coast. YES!

Day 3, Crescent City to Shelter Cove. The Lost Coast.

I had really been looking forward to this part of the trip. But I had no idea what the lost coast was, or where it was, or how amazing it could be! It was miles and miles of goaty goodness. Although most people on sportbikes would never consider riding the roads I went down, I was looking forward to it and I knew I was going to have a great time with my friend Nancy. She had led us on all these incredible roads so far, and I trusted her to take us places that were fun and within our limits.

We never went down a long dirt road, although we did hit a small patch. Nor did we cross any rivers or mud tracks. We just hit some of the most amazing roads the coast has to offer, and more.

It was a foggy, cold start.  We started south on Highway 101 and then took exit 765, Newton B Drury Parkway.

As you head down 101, right after you pass Orrick, after Hilton Road, turn off onto the Old State Highway. This was another gem that I also missed on my camera. If you look at the google maps I put together, I highlighted this part in red. I know not everyone will love this road, but if you're up for it, it's well worth the short detour.

Apparently it was a part of the old state highway, so unfortunately it's a little overgrown, goaty and darkish. But, the road is still open because people actually live there! It was a little creepy but oh so fun. We only went ~25mph since it was pretty narrow even though it was a 2 way road. We only ran into a few cars coming along the opposite direction and they were easy to pass. It was twisty, tight and bumpy. What was really cool was seeing these old houses that you knew people were still living in. But how? It was like going back in time.

We then kept on down 101 south and stopped for a tasty lunch in Ferndale. It's a really cute town with antique stores, boutiques and other shops that we didn't have time to check out. Because we had somewhere to go!

From Ferndale, we headed south on Mattole Road. Basically, this road takes you all the way down a good chunk of the lost coast. This time, I had my GoPro ready to go.

Started a little bumpy and then went back and forth between bumpy to smooth, ultra bumpy and then smooth again until we dropped down to the coast.

Lost Coast Mattole Road


Lost Coast Mattole Road


For some reason, I didn't get any pics from Honeydew to 101 :( :(. I don't know if I forgot to restart the camera, or if my battery died, which sucks because this was SO SO awesome. Switchbacks with elevation! One of the highest decreasing radius turns I've ever ridden. The turn went up this steep hill, so steep that I couldn't see it until I was facing it. At one point I was looking down at the bottom of the turn and I could see the next one because we were going downhill! The part where Mattole Road turns to Bull Creek Flats is soooooo good. If you love tight, twisty turns, you'll love it.

A weekend in South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe Hwy 89 28

Last weekend, I took my very first solo weekend trip on my motorcycle to meet with the organizers of the Lake Tahoe Adventure Motorcycle Rendezvous

The rendezvous is taking place in August, from the 23rd to the 26th.  I was one of about 9-10 people in the motorcycle community invited that weekend and I had no idea what to expect. It ended up being one of the best riding weekends I've ever had in the 9 years I've been riding.  I grew up going to Tahoe in the winter, skiing since I could I stand. I don't know why it took me this long to figure out that going there in the summer is a fantastic vacation spot. You feel like you're so far away, but you're really only 4 hours from home. The lake is so beautiful and relaxing (pics below), you can't help but stare at it and immediately feel the stress and tension leave your body. I was really sad to leave, but excited that I got the chance to spend some time there, albeit short.    

I took the boring way there (80 East to 50 East), but for me, I had fun the entire time! My first solo overnight adventure. I'd always taken trips with my husband for anything extended but this time, I couldn't bring him with me.  

I didn't want to arrive late or rush getting there, so I took my time and left early, around 11am. It's typically a 4 hour drive in the car, so  figured 6 hours if I stopped for lunch and  couple of breaks. 

I left on Friday morning and my first stop was lunch in Sacramento off 80 East. The traffic was really light so it only took me an hour and a half to get there. 

Oishii Teriyaki Sacramento Lunch

A little protein and some veggies and I was good to go. The weather was a little warm once I got there, but it wasn't that bad.  I wore my Ignition 2 and Gear 2 outfit for the weekend, which worked well for the varying temperatures. A quick stop for gas and I was on my way. I usually average about 60 mph on the freeway, especially in the flats. 

From 80 East, you take the 50 South Lake Tahoe exit, which takes you directly to guess where? South Lake Tahoe. It's the easiest route there. The road doesn't get very fun until you reach Placerville. Then you start to climb the Sierras and ride along the mountains, twisting and turning (lots of medium and large sweepers) until you get to downtown. 

Highway 50 East towards South Lake Tahoe

As soon as I could see the lake, I had to pull over and take a pic. I can feel the relaxation coming! 

My gracious hosts put me in the Tahoe Lakeshore Lodge, the only hotel with a view of the lake from every room. Ahhh. Not only did they have a spa complete with massage packages, but also a lovely pool for the kiddos on site (right below the sand).  They also have condos with kitchens and bbqs outside for larger groups/families. 

South Lake Tahoe Hotel Spa Lake Views 

Lake views South Lake Tahoe

My room was clean and comfy with an excellent view. One thing I'm always worried about are hotels that aren't non smoking. Thank goodness I was on the CA side! Smoking, especially early in the morning makes me nauseous.

That evening, I met up with everyone at a really good restaurant at the Latin Soul Restaurant over at the Lakeside Inn and Casino. The food was surprisingly delicious even with the smoky ambiance. 

Day 1, Saturday

In the morning we rose nice and early to meet for breakfast at 8 at the Red Hut Cafe, a great little breakfast diner that also had a classic ice cream fountain. Carla King and I were the only women that weekend, so we did our best to balance out the testosterone. Lucky guys!

Breakfast Red Hut Cafe South Lake Tahoe

Unfortunately, my morning started out with a flat tire. Thanks Carla, for recording this momentous occasion. :) Instead of plugging it, I decided to slime it since it was more like a slight tear/divot vs. a nail or something that was pluggable. Lucky for me, I found the last bottle of slime at OReillys Auto. In order to insert the slime, you have to first remove the valve stem.  I believe you need a special tool to take it out and luckily one of my comrades had one to do this.  Air starts to spill out and then you just attach the slime tube to the stem and start squeezing the tube. Just a few spins of the tire and the slime gets distributed all over the inside of the tube. If you need to use the slime, you don't want to just let your bike sit there without going for a ride to make sure the slime covers everything.  

I hate getting my hands dirty, so I always keep a pair of latex gloves handy under my seat.  $0.75 into the air/water machine at the gas station and I was able to get her pumped back up and ready to ride.  

After a brief detour, we were on our way, south on Hwy 50 to 89 South. Our first stop, the west fork along the Carson River.  The area reminded me a little bit of Yosemite valley. Someone ordered up the perfect temps and it was with us all weekend. 


Next stop along Hwy 89, a cute little town called Markleeville.  

Carl (our host!) and Mike our ride captain take a break at what used to be the old gas station.

Motorcycles, always making up our own rules. 

Although my fellow motorcyclists mostly rode a mix of standard adventure bikes; KLRs, BMWs, Triumph Tigers and KTMs, Tim from Pashnit and I had our trusty sportbikes to tackle the pavement. I thought this weekend might have too many off road sensibilities, but I was assured by my hosts that there would be plenty of pavement to go around and no need to ride a different kind of motorcycle up there.  No need to worry, for now. 


After a brief rest, it was onward to the top of Monitor Pass, along Hwy 89 before 395. This section of road was one of the most pristine, well paved, non tourist driven roads I've ever been on. A nice mix of twisties and sweepers in a beautiful canyon, to the top of one of the highest points in the Sierra Nevada. It's closed in the winter, because of snow but during the summer, it's open for anyone to ride, drive or bicycle. The views were outstanding and the roads were perfect. It reminded me a lot of Mines Road out in Livermore, except that the roads are well paved the entire way, there aren't any suicidal one lane roads and hardly any traffic. I did my best to take some pics on the bike, but my riding while shooting skills leave a lot to be desired.

Heading down the mountain...wheeeeee

My on board camera photos seem to be getting better.  I forgot the GoPro at home, so these were taken with my G12 strapped to my tankbag. The flip around screen on that thing is what sold me. I love the ability to swivel or pivot the screen and take pics at different angles.


A quick picture to capture that delicious road and then onward to lunch! Walker Burger was right along 395 south of Topaz, before the 108/395 junction. What a great find!  Tasty burgers, shakes, fries and even some ice cream on their menu. There isn't much else around 395, so it was the perfect lunch stop.  


After lunch, we headed home the sort of boring route, up 395 to get back to our hotels and what not with plenty of time to relax and clean up before dinner. I think a good alternate would've been to go back the way we came. We left the gas station in Meyers at 10 or so, so it wasn't a really long route, but a good way to go if you want to stop a few times, take scenic photos, stop for lunch and then head back. 

We did however, stop and take a quick detour to get back to 50. I present to you, the infamous Kingsbury Grade (Hwy 207 West). I wasn't sure what to expect from this, as my friend Mike told me that it would be a mostly paved road with some broken pavement. Ok, I can handle that. No problem. It looked a little ominous from the bottom but I thought, it can't be that bad, right?

Yeah, right! Ok, it wasn't an off road trail. There were lots of chunks of pavement, gravel and dirt/sand. I almost wiped out several times, my front tire losing traction and wiggling angrily beneath me.  I don't know how, but I managed to make it all the way up without falling! My new friends were very happy that I made it thru without incident and impressed that I did so well. Hell, so was I. I totally expected to eat it at every corner. We finally made it to the top, sort of. 

Looking back at where I came from:

Unfortunately, the way out meant I had to go a little further and risk it just a little bit more. At this point, I just felt resigned to the idea of falling down. I figured that if I bit it, then at least I have friends behind me to help pick me up.  What you don't see in the next photo is that beyond the curve (and beyond that long patch of dirt), a nice 2-3 foot mound of sand awaits! I do love sand when there's a body of water involved, but not in the way of my motorbike. 


I had no idea how to ride uphill through a pile of dirt like that, so I just opened the throttle and hoped for the best.  Once again, the motorcycle gods were smiling down on me because I had a major front tire wiggle and saw the pavement flash before my eyes. Again, my bike righted itself and rode right through without incident. Maybe I could just add some knobby tires to it and turn it into a dual sport? :) I really wished I had something more useful in this environment, like a KLR or a KTM, but I didn't need it. I did just fine with what I had. It was a little more stressful than fun, but I could see having a blast on something a little more friendly for the dirt.  

After conquering this road, I definitely foresee a dual sport in my future. I don't know how soon, but I think I definitely want one someday in addition to a sportbike.

After a long day, we finally headed back to our hotels to relax a bit before dinner that evening at the Riva Grill on the Lake.  The view was beautiful, the food was outstanding and of course, I was in great company. What a perfect way to end a great day of riding!


Day 2

Unfortunately Day 2 would be a shorter ride since many of us were leaving that afternoon.  We headed North on 89 up the West side of the lake and stopped at the historic Tallac Estates.  They belonged to 3 wealthy families that spent summer vacations there from 1894 to the early 70s. The area reminded me of being on the East Coast, with a beautiful view of the lake. It's a national park, so anyone can visit for the day and take a stroll along the lake. You can't stay there anymore as far as lodging, but the estates are frequently used for private and public events.  




Something about this place was so beautiful, so cool. It made me want to rent a cabin or house on the lake and spend a week there, soaking up sun and enjoying the view.  

After the estates, off we went to Emerald Bay. The road around the lake wasn't crowded, except when we got to some traffic lights in a couple of the small towns. But even then, it was fairly light and not a lot of waiting in traffic.  You're never going faster than 45mph or so, the scenery is fantastic and there's a few gas stops, restaurants, motels and other shops along the way. 

We passed some beautiful rental properties too, so I imagine there are a lot of options for summer vacations.  It just made me yearn even more for a vacation! Aggggggh.  

I think this next stop is Glenbrook Bay, but I can't remember exactly. All I know is it was one of my favorite and most beautiful spots I visited all weekend. 

Alas, this was the last stop before heading home. 

I plan on going back to Tahoe in July for the AMA Conference and then August for the Rendezvous.  I also want to go back for a short vacation with my hubby. We're long overdue for one and this place is right in our backyard. So much to do in one place, great roads and relaxing scenery.

If you don't like casinos/hotels, then stay on the East or North side of the lake for a more remote, relaxed vacation. I think there's something for everyone, on 2 wheels or 4.

I'm so happy I went on this trip, since I really didn't know what to expect and I saw a side of Tahoe that I never got to see growing up. I spent a lot of winters going skiing with my family but we never went there in the summer.  Now I will :)

I met some really nice people and I can't wait to see them next month at the Rendezvous. If you love to ride, then you'll love this event. Hope to see you there.

Huge thanks to my wonderful hosts from the Tahoe Adventure Ride and the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority!  

Useful Info:

Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority - TahoeSouth.com

Lake Tahoe Adventure Motorcycle Rendezvous - TahoeAdventureRide.com

Tahoe Lakeshore Lodge and Spa - TahoeLakeshoreLodge.com