Bakersfield would be the southernmost extension of our ride. Our route now would be indirectly north.
We took a great set of roads from Bakersfield to Reedley.
Randy led most of the day. I slowed down and was making the most of the scenery. Marv, ever-watchful, was usually in the back. At around 2 pm we were on a hot, shadeless stretch of road near Sequoia and King’s canyon National Park. We were scouring the area for a place to take a break in the shade, when we happened across a fire station at a spot called Fountain Springs.
It’s not really a town, since the fire station is the only thing in sight. It is right at a turn we would make from Old Stage Road, onto Hot Springs Drive. In the parking lot of the fire station we found a place to park in the shade, a picnic table to rest, and a very fit and talkative young firefighter who brought us a pitcher of ice water, and three glasses. She was very engaging, and I got the impression she was bored with the duty in such an out of-the-way place. She filled us in on what to do in the local area, and told us a bit about firefighting. She had captured all of our attention.
Our firefighter was called in for a meal, and so we collected ourselves and mounted our bikes, bound for Reedley.
There isn’t much to say about Reedley. This was where we had intended to meet back up with Dean, but he had bent his handlebar, and decided to just scoot home on the freeway after visiting his friends. Randy, Marv, and I were now on our own to continue the ride.
We had reservations for Thursday night at the Alpenrose motel in South Lake Tahoe.
The climb to South Lake Tahoe from Reedley was fantastic. There may be no other region with as many miles of great motorcycling roads as the California Sierras. The unfrequented roads are well-engineered, scenic, and very twisty.
As with the ride to Reedley, we each had had our fill of curves long before the day’s ride was over. As we gained elevation, the temperatures became much more comfortable. I think Marv may have even turned on the electric heat. When we got checked in, Randy hit the casino. Marv and I were on our own for dinner, so we headed to the Nevada side for a bite to eat.
On Friday, we awakened to a chilly morning. We circled around the east side of Lake Tahoe to the north, took the North Shore Road up to CA-89, and headed for our next night in Weaverville.
We turned west again on CA-36. It was a chilly start to the morning, but we crossed through a very warm section near Red Bluff in the middle of the afternoon.
After passing through Red Bluff we took the fabled CA-36. It’s a very twisty, hilly, well-paved road. As Randy mentioned later, it’s so twisty and hilly you nearly get motion sickness riding it. We hit the junction with CA-3, rode it to the junction of CA-299, and then on to Weaverville.
Randy had a route planned for Saturday to go to Cottage Grove, Oregon, and an all-day freeway ride to get home on Sunday. Marv and I were enjoying the ride, and we both had time to extend it a day. That would allow us shorter days, and enable us to avoid the long freeway stretch. Randy and Marv were both wearing their tires pretty thin. We were watching them for signs of cord showing. Randy set his sights on Eugene, which was as far as he could comfortably go. Marv and I would take back roads and stop in Roseburg for the night.
Randy, Marv, and I set out from Weaverville on CA-3 through the Trinity Alps region. It was a chilly-but-clear morning. There were deer EVERYWHERE that morning. We made several stops to creep past groups of them in the vicinity of the road. I was wearing out watching for them. Deer and motorcycles rarely meet with a happy outcome.
We made a stop in the old, almost-ghost-town of Callahan, near the turn-off for Cecilville. We talked to the store owner there for a few minutes, and then made preparations to depart.
This would be our last break with Randy. He was going to follow CA-3 into Yreka, while Marv and I would take the Scott River Road up to the junction with CA-96. We split off, and Marv and I wound our way along on a narrow, though well-paved back road. We got to the junction with CA-96, and turned east. The only reasonable, paved route into Oregon at that point is I-5, and so we took a 12-or-so-mile ride up the freeway. We exited onto Old Highway 99 S and found a few side roads to get us north. We then had another short stretch of the freeway to get us to Medford.
As we made our way through the Medford retail district on OR-62, Marv motioned to me to make a stop. He pulled into a parking lot to discuss the condition of his rear tire. We decided that it was a last chance to get a replacement. It was Saturday afternoon, and motorcycle shops are usually closed on Sundays and Mondays. It was decision time. Marv made the smart choice and we started calling shops to see if we could get a tire and get it mounted. We tried the Kawasaki dealer in Medford first, since Marv is riding a ZX-14. They had two tires that would fit his bike, but they were sport tires. Marv wanted a sport-touring tire since sport tires are designed for performance, and don’t last as long on city streets and highways. The guy we talked to at the Kawasaki shop was less than helpful. They could mount and balance the tire, but they didn’t have a swing-arm stand with which we could lift his bike to remove the wheel. We went outside for a few minutes to discuss options and, after a few phone calls, we went to the Ducati/BMW dealer at the south end of town. These guys, on the other hand, were very helpful. Marv and I pulled the wheel. They changed the tire and balanced it. Marv and I reinstalled it. We were finished with plenty of time to ride the rest of the route to Roseberg.
On Sunday morning, we took a route which was nearly the reverse of the route we had ridden south from Monmouth more than a week prior.
The roads, the weather, and the route were dazzling. I was enthralled with the motion of winding through the lush Oregon countryside. It was a splendid way to wrap up our California ride. Marv and I stayed in Forest Grove, a small town west of Portland for our last night.
On Monday morning we decided to finish it up with a quick three hours on the freeway. That would allow me to get back in time to make it to work on Monday.
By the time I got home from work, I had logged over 3,600 miles. I didn’t want it to end.