Highway 49-89-80 trip
Finally, a day to myself. No family commitments. No house commitments. No job commitments. No *dental* commitments. No inlaw commitments. That meant only one thing, time to flee!
Besides which.. since I haven’t bothered to winterize the bike, I need to actually use it once a month. Leaving an engine sitting with the same gas will ultimately seal the jets, harm the rubber componants, and other nasty things. So, I need to either ride, or winterize, and .. I know which of the two I prefer.
The morning started out cold. I knew that, but decided to go anyways. No problem, do the usual - layer up. You can peel layers as you warm up through the day, and since the ST1300 comes with luggage, I’d have no problems stowing any layers I shed. Sweats under the pants. Tshirt, long sleep shirt, sweater. Socks (rare for me). Add the motorcycle jacket, and we’re talking Michellin Man material. But, I’d be warm!
Before even getting out of town, the first 5 minutes of driving showed me a vulnerable spot: massive air flow under the helmet. Like, wow, that almost burns it is cold. So, a trip to the Evil Empire to look for a scarf. I didnt’ really WANT a scarf, but.. I did need something. I found a skier’s headband (wow, so .. 80’s), but decided that would fit the bill. Instead of wearing it around my head to go skiing, I’ll wear it around my neck, like a collar. Worked great - that sitting between my shoulders and my helmet cut the airflow down to an almost perfect amount.
Okay. Now, I’m warm. Time to head out. Where to? I’ve got the GPS, but that’s better to help me from getting lost, or to find a way to a specific place, or to find services near a route or location. I still carry a paper map in the tank bag. I looked at it, and half through a dart.
I picked the general route: 49 north from Auburn, all the way to 89 near Tahoe (Sattley on the map); then back to 80 for a quick ride home.
The route towards Grass Valley was, as usual, slow, but that lasted only 10-15 minutes before 49 ditched the local commuter traffic. Watching the GPS for nearby locations, to see what would be interesting, “Red Dog” and “You Bet” came up. I decided to detour to those to look around; I’ve got ancestors burried there from the gold rush days. Alas, the local cemetaries are not on the GPS; and the one local I found outdoors, knew of none either. It was a fun diversion until I found the dirt roads, which.. the bike won’t handle so well. I used the GPS to get back to 49. I should ask my grandmother some time where the Stehrs and Grays are at.
French Corral: Found an interesting detour; will get a picture up later. Historical marker representing the location of the country’s first long distance telephone line. Local mining company used it. French Corral was one end of it, and it spanned around 50 miles. Being the phone and net geek that I am, I _had_ to detour to see that and snap a photo.
Back to 49, and towards Downieville. Great curves all over the place. Lots of fun. Air’s starting to get downright nippie - gauge says 34F outside. I figured Downieville was major enough to stop and get some coffee, fill up on gas, etc. Whoops. Apparently, one of the town’s 300 residents recently left us for greener pastures, and the town was pretty much closed down while people paid respects. I later also find out the gas station was closed anyways for another reason - the recent power surge in the area destroyed their pumps (among other things).
Next town up, thankfully, had gas at Bassett’s Landing. They were running *out*, but.. I was able to fill up, grab a hot cup of joe, asked about road conditions, and, decided to press on. I disregarded the omen that this place sold *snow park permits*. (Side note: seemed like friendly folks running this gas station / market / diner)
Onward up 49.. Elevation rising. Ultimately hit 6000+ feet a few times; lots of snow all over the place. Gorgeous. I was too cold to want to stop much for photos (heated grips only work when you keep your hands on them). But, the ride was awesome. I kept mostly warm with the windshield up, the grips, the layers. Biggest risk at this point now was watching for “black ice” - places where snow melted on the road, then refroze, which leaves you with about zero traction.
Of note: the vista point before hitting 89, overlooks the Sierra Valley. Worth a look. Snow crested ridges in the distance overshadowing a _huge_ valley that looks like one big meadow, only a few man made structures. In this valley, while driving through it, I saw deer in town, in one of the people’s yards. (Looked like the average person had perhaps an acre “in town”).
Overall, an awesome day trip, with some lessons learned. I think I want to do this ride again during perhaps warmer weather :-).
- Install the air deflectors for the mirrors. I bought’em - get’em installed!
- Glove liners, heated or otherwise, probably would have been equally useful.
- Honda’s heated grips on the top setting, left me with a slight burn on my right hand. Next time, I should only use 3⁄4 power, at least with these gloves.
- Silly skiing headbands work nearly as good as a scarf - and don’t flap all over. Easy on, easy off. Groovy.
- LEO’s all over the place. This is *not* a route to test the upper bounds of one’s machinery. Not possible in winter, but a warning for summer.
- Plan better. Like, perhaps, check the weather report for high elevation. Then again.. it was a day _off_. I didn’t care….
Update: pictures http://gallery.gigo.com/49no-89-50