Sunday, 31 October 2010

A Case of the Bends?

I looked on Wikipedia. The Bends is a condition suffered by divers arising from dissolved gases coming out of solution into bubbles inside the body on depressurisation.

I didn’t get that sort of The Bends.

I got this sort....



I had ridden through Groveland just to the west of Yosemite on the previous evening and found these bends on California State Road 120. It was downhill and beginning to get dark. I rode to the bottom of the 4.2 mile road and turned around and rode back up. I loved this road as not only are the bends so great, it has a brand new road surface and the speed limit is 55mph. Whey-Hey!! Back at the top of the hill I found a hotel so I could ride the road again in the morning, take some pictures and make a video of it.

The next day, I rode it three times.

Here are some of the pictures I took of the bendy road....







































A little further west I found the Don Pedro Reservoir, or at least part of it as looking on the map, it is huge....





















I stopped for a while in a very pretty town called Jamestown, which is very small but it does boast its own Harley-Davidson dealership....








































I had to change my plans slightly on this day. I had intended to ride State Road 4, Ebbetts Pass, across the Sierra Nevada mountain range, but I had heard this was closed due to the recent snow. I went into the Jamestown H-D dealer and talked to them about the alternative routes I could take. After talking the options over with them and I decided to take Sonora Pass and I am glad I did!

Sonora Pass has two distinct sections. When riding from west to east, the first and longest part from Sonora to Dardanelle is pretty with many long fast bends, but as it is in the trees, almost no view. There are some great trees however....



























The second part is got exciting just after I saw this sign.... yes, that does say 26%.... it’s not all at that slope but parts of it are....



























It is difficult to stop to take pictures as the road is not very wide and doesn’t contain many places to safely park the bike. When I could I did pull over to take a picture of the view....





















There was snow on the ground from about 8,500 feet up. Thankfully, the pass road had been cleared of snow because it rises to 9,643 feet. It was a little chilly up there....
















































So used to riding in hot weather, every day I stock up with plenty of fluids to take with me. Mainly water, but always lots of cold drinks. I am far too used to this, because on this day I forgot to take the cold weather into account and I should really have been filling my flask with a hot drink instead of iced water! Duh!!

Today was a bright sunny day, blue skies – a wonderful day to be riding. It was cold but I didn’t care. I cranked up my heated grips to the max and put my thin gloves on as this is much more enjoyable than riding in bulky thick gloves. The ride over Sonora Pass was fantastic due to the incredible scenery and the wonderful road. I loved the ride. The temperature was in the 40’s and it was cold but I didn’t care. There was almost nobody else on the road. The hardest thing I had to think about today was making sure I read the line of the road correctly as it dived in and out of the bright sunlight and the dark shadows. What a great ride!

I wondered if I should stop and put on my thicker gloves, waterproof / wind roof over-trousers and a bluff or two, but I didn’t want to stop because I was enjoying the ride so much. I kept riding and just accepted the cold.

I did want to get a picture of the Leading ladies by the snow....brrrr.......





















After passing the summit of the road I came down the other side of the mountain to be rewarded with more great views and scenery....




























































After the pass ended, I rejoined US 395 heading north. I spotted these t-shirts on a barbed wire fence and stopped to investigate.....





















The t-shirts appeared to be mainly from fire fighters. There was a memorial plaque at the end of the line and I realised that this was in honour of forest fire fighters that had died in their (what I assumed to be a) C-130 fire fighting plane. I later looked it up on the internet and that was indeed what it was. I found a video of the plane crash and I can recall seeing the video before, as it was very dramatic as the wings fell off the plane. The memorial plaque must be located near where the plane crashed. As the memorial says, Steve Wass, Craig Labare and Mike Davis gave their lives trying to save a community.




















Further north I stopped by Topaz Lake....





















The guys at Jamestown Harley-Davidson had suggested I stay overnight at Virginia City. The road I took (US 50) to get there was not a good one, with lots of traffic and the views were nothing to write home about. Virginia City is an old mining town and its main street is full of character. It was about 5pm and almost everything was closed! I found a hotel to check into, and managed to find I saloon that sold pizza and had the baseball World Series game on a huge TV screen, so I settled in and watched San Francisco Giants beat the Texas Rangers in this second game of the series. I am beginning to understand the rules of baseball now, so I enjoyed watching this. Beer, pizza and baseball – a good combination!

I had arrived too late to take any pictures that evening, but I did so the next day....

----------------------------------------------------------------

The next morning, I went downstairs in the hotel in Virginia City in search of breakfast, but they don’t serve food. I went for a walk and discovered the Place Hotel serves breakfast but doesn’t open until 0830. I walked around the small town taking some pictures and went back to my hotel. The bar was open and people were sitting around and I couldn’t at first work out what was happening. I sat down and asked why these people were in the bar and got chatting to a guy called Mark, his wife and three really pleasant children. I was told there was a ghost tour around the town the previous night which included the hotel I was staying at – the Silver Queen. They apologised for making a lot of noise, but I had slept right through it.

There was a radio show being broadcast from the hotel. K-Bull 98.1 was the station and they were talking about the events of the night before. The two broadcasters had been up most of the night as part of the ghost tour as well.

The bar of the Silver Queen early in the morning....



















The radio show presenters, err, presenting, or is it broadcasting....





















Mark, his family and I went off to the Palace Hotel and shared an enjoyable breakfast. I asked each of the family members that after their nights events, on a score where 0 means not at all and 10means totally believe, did they now believe in ghosts. All of them scored it about a 7 or an 8, even Mark who says beforehand he was totally sceptical, like me. They told me of a few events from the night before where they could smell a fire/smoke in one building where somebody had died in a fire, marks appearing on a window and a cold feeling in one room. It was enjoyable talking to them and as a bonus, they bought my breakfast for me!

A few pictures from my walk around the town....

The main street, called “C” street. I just looked on a map, the street go from A street to R street. The miners who first lived in the toiwn were obviously not a very creative bunch!....




















The wooden sidewalk....



























The Red Dog Saloon (proprietors of Pizza and beer from the night before)....



























The sign on the side of the Bucket of Blood Saloon building. What a great name!....




















I am glad the guys at Jamestown H-D recommended Virginia City to me.

If the road leading to Virginia City was not a good, the one leading it was very good, with its long sweeping bends. This was State Road 341 and the 431 all the way to Lake Tahoe. I knew a storm was going to arrive in the mountains later that day, so I was keen not to hang around Tahoe for too long as I wanted to get to a lower elevation as snow / rain was forecast.

I did manage to stop a few times near Lake Tahoe.....

The view looking down from an overlook on SR 431 as it approaches Kings Beach....






I didn’t quite get my feet wet, but it was close....




















Leaves (note my botanical expertise) near the lake edge....




















Looking down at the rocks on the east side of the lake. You can judge the size of these rocks by looking at the person standing on the top of one....



























The Cave Rock and its road tunnels....



























A beach that I imagine gets busy in the height of summer is deserted at the end of October....





















The entrance to a house where Halloween is clearly a big event....















































From Tahoe, my route back across the Sierra Nevada mountains was 88, the Carson Pass, which crests at 8573 feet. It was cold again at that level and I was on a mission to cross the mountains as quickly as possible and to get lower, so I only stopped once for a picture of a lake.... I don’t remember what the name of the lake is....




















Carson Pass is nowhere near as much fun as either Ebbetts Pass (SR 4) or Sonora Pass (SR 108) so take one of the latter two for the best roads and views. Yes Dom, I now realise Carson Pass is named after Kit Carson and not Johnny Carson!

I started to warm up a little as the road continued it slow climb down the mountains. I wanted to find a Holiday Inn Express to stay at where I could do my weekly clothes wash. Thanks to my GPS, I soon found one.

I walked to the nearest restaurant which was an Italian called Vince’s in West Sacramento. I sat at the bar and chatted to Chris who enjoyed nearing about my tour. It was their Halloween night and all the staff were wearing costumes....

This guys outfit was impressive....



























The owner of the restaurant in his costume....



























Chris on the right, with another staff member....



























I needed to catch up with my blog, so after a meal and a few drinks, I left the staff to their fun.

My regular readers will remember Paul, my friend from the UK who rode with me in the New England States, and that his wife Sarah recently gave birth to their son called Jack. Paul just sent this picture of Jack and I have to share it with you. Future biker me thinks?....



























Finally, when i was in Jackson Hole I saw a sticker in the window of a car that said “Surf Wyoming”. I took a picture of it as I couldn’t work out what it meant....




















Somebody has anonymously added a comment on the post giving a link to explain what it means. Thanks to who ever did that. You can check out what surfing in Wyoming means here.It is very cool!

13 comments:

Mr. Motorcycle said...

Sweet! You sound like me. I find a windy road, and just can't get enough. I'll do like you and go back and forth on it a few times before moving on if I can find the time to do so any way.

Motorcycle Philosophy said...

Looks like the leaves of a Manzanita. I really love riding up through the Sierras, all those photos brings back great memories!

Charlie6 said...

Gary, wonderful pictures....heated grips are a great thing at times aren't they?

As to Carson Pass, good to see you remember the history lesson learned in Denver! : )

dom


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

motoroz said...

That road looked awesome. I can see why you rode it multiple times. Halloween brings out the creativity of a lot of people. Lake Tahoe is so pretty. I was there 20yrs or so ago (in a car). Will ride there someday.

BeemerGirl said...

Wonderful...again!

The video was spectacular! Loved the grass and trees in the beginning giving way to scrub at the end. My kind of road with some twisties, but not all of them being tight. I will extend an invitation and a place to stay if you decide you would like to try the Tail of the Dragon; 318 curves in 11 miles.

Sorry you couldn't enjoy Tahoe a little longer. It is a beautiful place. But at least you were able to ride through and see it. -Lori

All Over The World said...

Wow what a road Gary,
Thought for a moment you were in The Peak District going over from Sheffield to 'The Cat & Fiddle'
Yes we put in a few miles that day from Doncaster to Ace Cafe and back, it was my treat to me for my birthday that was the next day, Ashley (my lad) & me was out for approx 12hrs in total. stopping for approx 5hrs for petrol & breaks, we also met up with a bloke John Lewis who rode around europe, see http://www.k2asv.co.uk/
All the best with the rest of ur trip.

Tony T

mq01 said...

ahhhhhhhhhh home! im so glad you're enjoying so many of these roads! i get spoiled by them, i love these roads! it makes it very hard for me to ever consider moving :) fabulous gary, simply fabulous!

ps, if you have time/opportunity, let me know when you're further west. ooooh, judging by your map you may be here?!?... btw its great riding weather this week, the Bay Area is expecting 70-75F days thru Thurs AM.

Axel said...

What great pictures again, thank you for sharing. But it is sad when I look at your tour route at the bottom, seeing nearly all red turned green, just a small stretch along the coast left, and you back in the UK. After this epic journey, and its real time reporting, you would have deserve a flight home on Concorde. But as they say: its not over till the fat lady sings. Looking forward to your final stretch.

Gary France said...

Mr Motorcycle – I have done that a few times. If it is good road, then it makes sense!

MP – Thank. My horticultural knowledge is very poor.

Charlie6 /Dom – I adore my heated grips because they mean I can leave my thick gloves in my saddlebags! I remembered the history lesson! I laughed when I saw the Kit Carson Pass sign. LOL

Oz – On Sunday I was in a bar having dinner and watching the baseball. I went to the restroom and laughed as I saw three guys putting on Halloween make-up. It was very funny seeing them helping each other!

BeemerGirl / Lori – One day I would love to ride the Tail of the Dragon as I have heard so many people talk and write about it. Thanks for the invite! I didn’t mind not being able to spend more time in Tahoe, as I have been there before.

AOTW – I must go ride the Cat and Fiddle one day, as I have never done it. I hear they have average speed cameras now. That was quite a trip you had to the Ace!

mq01 – I can see what you mean about not moving. Sorry I didn’t have time to meet up. I am enjoying the warm temps once more, but in about two weeks I will be getting back to the UK and its much colder weather!

Axel – For a long time the green moved across the USA very slowly, but the last few weeks it seemed to have moved much quicker! As you say, not much red left now! Coming back on Concorde would have been a real treat!

Susette aka Limness said...

Ah Gary, you are are having a funtastic experience still!!
I've had my head down in life stuff for weeks now, but early this am decided to check in and spend a couple hours reading your ealier posts and hardly touched all you've posted so far... what an incredible journey, epic proportions indeed.,,, these chronicles with your multi media accounts of journal, photo's, video are superb. I like to run the vid's and listen to the music and sounds of the bike while reading the posts and seeing the photo's.

What does Jackie think of all this now that she's been over, traveled with you a ways, and gone home?

Currently you are in some of my favorite areas of California. I went to school at Diable Valley Jr. College in the Bay area (Mt. Diablo area) where my mother lives. It was a magical time in the late 60's and early 70's and I've feeling some travel envy. I hope you try some of that great seafood along the coast and boy are you in for some glorious days down 101!

my best to you...

FLHX_Dave said...

I'm surprised you found Virginia City. Cool place. I loved walking through some of the buildings. Awesome as usual!

Eve said...

I love it that you got the Bends three times in less than 24 hours Gary!!!! hahahaha What a great road!
Congrats to Paul on his baby!
What another great time!

Eve said...

Ha ha ha!!! I forgot it was both ways...now that I've finished the video....WHICH WAS VERY FUNNY....So let me rephrase that last comment...I'm glad you got the bends 5 times in less than 24 hours Gary!!!! hahahahah!