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Author Topic: Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back  (Read 1793 times)

Ducati Scotty

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Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back
« on: September 13, 2010, 11:38:09 PM »
I recently took my 2010 RE C5 from Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back again.  My brother in law was getting married and my wife and son went down earlier than me and were leaving later.  I figured it was a nice opportunity for a little vacation.  I originally intended to do this on my Ducati Monster but it got totaled and I bought the RE with the settlement check so here I am. 

My RE C5 is a stock bike for the most part.  I ditched the stock mirrors for Napoleon bar end units and also installed Pro Grip 714 gel grips.  For the trip I also added an Alaska Leathers Deluxe butt pad and a Throttle Rocker.  I bought the bike from Vespa Portland with 1,000 miles on it, it was their demo bike.  That factored into the purchase.  There was no way I was going to get past break in on my own in the few weeks I had before the trip so the 1,000 miles already on there were welcome.  I managed to get another 800 on myself before leaving.  Just enough to shake the machine out and get comfortable with it.  I changed the oil and filter at 1,500 miles and before I left I went over and tightened every fastener on the bike.  Any tool I used I took with me plus a spare tube, cables, and a few other goodies just to be safe.

The total trip came up as 758 miles each way on Google maps.  This is going down 101/1 along the coast.  These roads are better suited to the RE, being a little slower than the freeway.  Also, it's about an 11 hour trip going straight down the freeway and that much freeway riding is no fun at all for me regardless of the bike I take.

I started off at 9am.  It was later than I wanted to leave but I was up late the night before cleaning up the house and doing last miunte prep on the bike.  No reason to get up early and start off tired.  I had packed all my goodies in a duffle bag that I bungeed across the pillion seat and had the things I needed at hand in a tank bag with my maps in a clear pocket on top.  The duffle was pretty heavy with all the tools I had in there.

It started out on a bad note.  Since I left late there was traffic and it was cold and cloudy.  It takes about 2 hours to get to the coast and about an hour in I was wondering how bad of an idea this was.  As soon as I got to the coast the sun broke and the scenery improved.  It wasn't much warmer but it lifted my spirits anyway.  I stopped and had a snack and a stretch at a little light house.  Everything below the 500 foot cliff was fogged in and it looked very surreal.  Oh, and i shifted the bag so the chain lube can wasn't digging into my back any more ;)

Back on the road.  101 is a nice combination of small highway with some longer straight runs, in town boulevard, and coast hugging scenic route with steep cliff drops.  While the curves would be fun at speed the risk is too great.  I love riding this road but I don't go fast.  I chugged along really enjoying things, especially the scenic coastal sections and the high cliff roads.  There are some long kinda boring sections near Dune City but they pass quickly enough and you're into really nice roads. 

I had some snacks and water in the tank bag but didn't stop to eat at a restaurant until Port Orford, OR near the CA border.  There is a place there called the Crazy Norwegian's Fish & Chips.  My wife and I discovered it a year or so ago on a road trip and with her dad being a crazy Norwegian we felt obliged to stop.  Good fish & chips but the crab melt is divine!  I highly recommend it.

I wanted to get to Eureka, CA the first day.  This was about 350 miles and I figured a good place to stop, being a bigger city I figured there would be plenty or restaurants and hotels to choose from.  I got to the edge of Redwood state park and kept on motoring to Eureka.  I passed a gas station and a little while later the low fuel light came on.  The station was a few miles back but there was another town a few miles ahead.  I got there to find the gas station there had been abandoned long ago.  I saw a sign for the next town and it was as close as the station in the other direction.  My gamble failed and I ran out of gas on an uphill a few miles outside Trinidad, CA.  Since I just needed some gas and nothing else I called AAA and told them where I was (always stop by a mile marked when you can) and they dispatched a super hero to the rescue.  This was just before 8pm and I wasn't far from Eureka, my intended stop for the night.  It was still light and I figured I may still make it. 

Well, it took longer than expected for the truck to arrive.  It was now dark and getting everything sorted including paying for the gas over the phone with a credit card took a while.  It was a nice rest on the side of the road and I stretched and snacked but now it was dark and cold and I was past 12 hours on the road.  Arcata was the first town I saw hotel and gas signs for.  It was maybe 15-20 miles more to Eureka but I figured rest and dinner were more important than some arbitraty line in the sand so I stopped in Arcata and got a room at the motel 6.  It turned out dingier than most I've stayed in and there also wasn't much to choose from other than fast food.  I gasssed up the bike, got a buger, and called it a night.  Well that is after I had to tighten the speedo cable in the parking lot and burned my arm lubing the chain.  Ouch!

I didn't get the best rest but was up and out early the next day.  I was figuring I had all day but found out the night before from my wife I needed to be at the rehearsal around 4pm to take care of my son since she was in the wedding party.  So on the road at 7 and chugging away, vowing not to stay in Arcata or Motel 6 on the way back.

More and more beautiful roads.  I really love 101 in southern OR and northern CA and it's just so pretty.  In Legget, CA CA1 begins and branches away from 101.  It's right at the Redwood that you can drive your car through (closed that early) but it starts with a sign that says, "Narrow winding road next 22 miles. Watch for bicycles."  Motorcycle paradise.  This is a great little section of road on 2 wheels and rotten otherwise.  When I tried to share the magic with my wife the year before on our road trip it just made her car sick. :P  But I was having fun.  Too tight for speed unless you really know it but so much fun to wind through under the evergreens.  It drops out right around Fort Bragg, CA which has a nice little sorta hippy restaurant on the coast named Cafe1.  I got some pancakes and kept rolling.

CA1 is even more beautiful, windy, and fun that 101.  Just gorgeous.  I kept trucking all day long.  Somewhere around Bodega Bay the road leaves the coast and goes inland for a bit.  Having been cold the whole way down it was a welcome reprieve but I ended up in farmland that looked unfamiliar and very remote.  I kept rolling keeping an eye on the fuel light and hoping for some more civilization.  Soon I saw some more power lines, then traffic lights, then highways and a gas station.  I pulled in and filled up and tried to figure out where the hell I was.  Somehow I had lost CA1 and was back near 101.  A bummer since this is the lowest section right near San Francisco but give the schedule I was trying to keep it was going to be quicker to get to the church from 101.

I was dreading this part.  California freeways can be dangerous in sections for slow vehicles.  I've been going 90mph though Los Angeles and being passed like I was standing still.  I got lucky.  There was a little traffic and so 65mp was just fine.  A little hot and boring for me but no danger of getting run down.  It was only about 20 minutes to get to the Golden Gate Bridge.  I stopped for a quick pic with the bridge in the background and sent it over the cell phone to Justin and Pedro (my dealer and mechanic at Vespa Portland) to let them know I had made it.  They were psyched for me.  Then across the bridge and into the city for the rehearsal.

I got in just a bit too late to meet my wife and sister in law at the chocolate shop down at Fisnerman's Warf but in plenty of time to make the rehearsal.  I was pretty beat and very sweaty and now walking around in the heat in my moto gear and getting sweatier.  We got in to the church and I watched Tor as my wife went through the rehearsal.

Wrap that up and then a few more miles south to Redwood City and a shower.  Again I was a little worried about the freeways.  It was fine.  Either there was traffic and no one went fast or it freed up and no one cared that I was plodding along in the right lane.  It was about 9 hours total the second day.

Insert stories of two days of wedding madness, family drama, etc. here.  No need for details, you've all seen it before.  I did end up sleeping through most of the reception being exhausted from the two day ride.

The bike had used a little oil on the way down, about 4 oz. so I topped it up before leaving.  Also, daily chain lubing, etc.  We drove up to the city and met some friends in town for lunch.  They had been living on the east coast and had just moved to San Francisco about a month or two earlier.  They have a daughter about our son's age so it was really nice to see them.  After that I hit the road around noon and started heading north.

I figured I should shoot for Eureka again, making this the short day since I started out late.  Also, I was not taking CA1 back but going through Napa Valley and St. Helena in particular.  I went to school there about 7 years ago and haven't been back since.  So a quick pop across the bridge and a right and I was on my way.  It was sunny and warm.  The whole ride down had been cold until I got lost and wound up on 101 so this was a welcome change.  I passed my old house and waved to it, familiar landmarks and then ended up at V. Sattui winery.  They only sell their wines at the winery and I had been too poor when living there to buy them.  I bought two bottles of their Madeira wine, one for me and one for some friends.  I then motored up memory lane to the Culinary Institute of America where I had gone to school.  Shortly after I graduated they had greatly expanded the school.  I parked and threw my jacket over the wine bunggeed to my bike and went it.  I got super lucky, my friend Christopher who is the concierge there was just beginning a tour so I tagged along.  I got to see all the new things the school has added since I left.  It was great and great to see Christopher.  No time to dawdle beyond that so back on the road.

I rode on through the valley and the farmland, some scenice some not so, and rejoined 101.  A little bit of the boring highway stuff here and then some better scenery.  I made it to Eureka without incident around 8:00.  I took a sweep through the town and tried a few hotels, ending up at the Best Western I passed right when I came into town.  Much nicer than the Motel 6.  I ditched my bags and grabbed some dinner while I called my wife.  Unfortunately the hot tub was closed by the time I got there but I took a nice hot bath.  I had two days up, two days there, and now day 3 of riding.  I was tired.  Today was 8 hours on the road.  Some TV and then bed.

I rose early and got a light breakfast that was complimentary at the hotel and was off by about 8:00am.  It was very misty, I had to wipe the bike down before I left.  It was foggy enough that I there was water collecting on my visor but I wasn't getting my jacket wet.  After a little while it cleared up and I was moving along beautiful roads again.  Timing it just right I stopped at the Crazy Norwegian and got another crab melt for lunch. 

Then just keep motoring.  Usually the fourth day of the trip becomes the slog and this was no exception.  My butt was hurting and this was going to be another 12 hour day.  Somehow the pretty parts seem to short, the boring and in town parts too long.  So I was getting pretty close to home and glad to see that I was still in good daylight and probably would not arrive home after dark.  I was glad for that.  I stopped and checked the map and did a rough estimate on my time, probably about 3-4 hours out.  A little more road and it started to rain :(

This was a disappointment.  The weather so far had been clear almost the whole time and hadn't been cold at all on the way back.  I was less than an hour from turning inland and was hoping that when I got away from the coast maybe the rain would abate.  What had been a light rain turned into a heavy, steady fall.  I was wet.  Then I was soaked.  My jacket is not waterproof and I hadn't taken my rain gear since all of the weather reports had been universally sunny.  Mistake.  I slogged on.  Stopping to fuel up in Oregon (where full service is the law) for some reason my credit card doesn't work.  Through the chill and the wind and the ear plugs I'm trying to make out what the attendant is saying.  "No I don't feel like walking 200' back and forth in rain and soaked gear, try this card instead."  Thankfully the second card worked and I was off on my soggy way again.

I turned in from the coast and the rain was not letting up.  Still, now I was only 2 hours or less from home so that wasy good.  It was around 5:00pm so the traffic was heavy but it was moving.  The rain got heavier and lighter over the miles but never stopped.  Around an hour out I called my wife.  She had just landed and was on her way back from the airport, we'd probably get home around the same time.  Inspiration for a weary man.

Slog, slog, slog for the last hour and I was home.  I was soaked through, shivering, and exhausted.  I managed to get the bike into the garage and hang some of my gear.  Then into a hot shower for a good half hour.  I was still a little chilled when I got out but put the rest of my soaking gear on the porch to dry, or at least drip.  It ended up about 11 hours total.

So aside from being colder than expected the whole way down and raining for the last 2 1/2 hours of the trip it was great.  The bike did really well.  I spent most of the time going 50-65mph with slower speeds in town and on some high altitude climbs.  The speedo cable came loose once or twice and sound like it now needs some grease.  The bike drank a few ounces of oil on the way down and a few on the way back, totally acceptable in my book for running it at those speeds for hours on end.  I didn't need to adjust the chain the whole way.  No fasteners came loose.  Somewhere on a hill climb the heat shield on the muffler started to rattle.  I thought the bike was just breaking in a little more and giving different vibes but I discovered yesterday that there's a little clip on the underside of the shield that broke off.  I'll have to do something about that. 

Total mileage was just about 1600, from 1800 to 3400 over four days riding with a few side trips on the two days in town.  It's weird.  I rode the bike when it had about 300, then 700 miles, then bought it at 1000 miles.  If felt different every time as you could feel it breaking in.  When I left with 1800 I thought it was broken in but the feel changed again over the trip.  Doing that many miles in a few days gave me a special perspective, I don't know if I would have noticed it over a much longer time.  The bike seems to have fewer high frequecny vibes but more low frequency vibes when pushed to the higher rev range.  On the plus side, it spins up to speed really easily.  I had Justin and Pedro ride it.  They said it definitely felt different but felt good, one of the best REs they've ridden so far.  It was also ticking a little when I got back but that seems to have subsided.  I think I just did a fair amount of the break in over those 4 days.

The seat sucks for long rides, I'm still waiting for my prostate to pop back out.  I would not have been able to make it without that Alaska Leathers sheepskin.  It saved me.  Fortunately, after the first hour or so you get kinda numb and you can kind of bear it but I would not have wanted another day in the saddle.  I'll be looking to resculpt that seat soon.  The rest of the bike was fine.  I never really went over 65mph so even without a screen wind was not an issue.  I had lots of spares and tools and only used pliers and chain lube the whole trip.  Oh, and I had a few pieces of paper to make funnels with for adding oil.  Other than that I have no complaints and the bike was really comfy.  I had very few aches or pains and my hands and feet were just the least little bit tingly at the end of the day.    I'd get better luggage next time, some nice saddle bags instead of the strapped on duffle.  It's got a high center of gravity and you have to keep an eye on it.

I don't think I'd do that trip again, at least not in two days.  I did 12, 9, 8, and 11 hour days.  That's too much to be fun.  I think I'd do it (or any other long trip) again only if I could take three days each way, somewhere in the neighborhood of 6-8 hour days.  Longer than that is tough.

Big thanks to Justin and Pedro for the spares and the free oil filter and rings on my return.  So there's my story, hope y'all liked it.

Scott

t120rbullet

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Re: Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2010, 12:07:16 AM »
Great ride report.
Wish I was with ya!
CJ
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prof_stack

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Re: Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2010, 12:32:31 AM »
Thanks Scott!  I was right there riding with ya, in a vicarious sort of way!

What was the fuel mpg on the trip?
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r80rt

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Re: Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2010, 12:35:28 AM »
Sounds like a good ride.
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gashousegorilla

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Re: Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2010, 12:41:53 AM »
WOW Scotty!!!  Great report ! A real testement to your endurance and the Bikes!!  Well done!
An thaibhsí atá rattling ag an doras agus tá sé an diabhal sa chathaoir.

Vitalc

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Re: Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2010, 01:40:21 AM »
Superb report, heroic ride!
Thanks.

I did that road (SFO to Vancouver Island and back) with a sweet companion in a little open sportscar.
Remember most places you mention. Absolutely loved the trip.

wouldn't DREAM of doing it on an Enfield though  ;D

baird4444

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Re: Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2010, 01:58:33 AM »
great ride!!  next time continue south thru Big Sur...  
   I've been there in a cage but dream about it
on 2 wheelz!!
           - Mike
« Last Edit: September 14, 2010, 02:01:14 AM by baird4444 »
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UncleErnie

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Re: Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2010, 03:44:18 AM »
No salmon jerky?!  Are you nuts?

I sure do miss that ride.  You're a lucky guy.
Run what ya brung

meilaushi

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Re: Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2010, 03:19:21 PM »
Marvelous ride report!  You are properly called a REAL Motorcyclist!  Good show! :D
Ralph Meyer
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Ridin' 58 years & counting!  Back roads are fun! Member IBA.

Ducati Scotty

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Re: Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2010, 04:11:53 PM »
Forgot a few things:

1) Everyone loved the bike, motorcyclists and everyone else too.  Lots of people stopped to take long looks and chat.  One guy said it was the perfect motorcycle but he admitted that's his opinion because he's English ;)

2) I can see where the BMW guys really dig their bikes for touring.  The upright riding position is super comfy.

3) Almost forgot, pictures! http://picasaweb.google.com/scottaraujo/TripToSF#

To the remarks above:

MPG?  No idea.  I do enough math at work, this was vacation.

Big Sur and Carmel, both beautiful.  I've been through there on 2 wheels and 4 but this was technically a trip to the wedding and not just vacation for me so I could only go so far.

Not a big fan of salmon jerky myself.

Scott

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Re: Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2010, 09:17:09 PM »
Thank you for this report, I enjoyed it very much. I rode with you on google  ;D
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Re: Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2010, 12:01:31 AM »
Scott,

On your ride did you ever wish the footpegs were located further back, or further forward? 

Oh, this question is fair game for anyone with some miles on the C5/G5.
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r80rt

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Re: Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2010, 12:23:13 AM »
The foot pegs are placed good for me.
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Ducati Scotty

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Re: Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2010, 01:33:48 AM »
On your ride did you ever wish the footpegs were located further back, or further forward? 

I used the rear pegs from time to time just for some needed variety but no, I'd say the pegs are in a great spot.  No leg cramps or major stretching needed on the whole trip.

Scott

Andy

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Re: Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA and back
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2010, 02:23:42 AM »
Scott,

On your ride did you ever wish the footpegs were located further back, or further forward? 

Oh, this question is fair game for anyone with some miles on the C5/G5.

After about five or six hours in the saddle, I thought about alternate foot placement, but not because it was uncomfortable - just needed some variety!
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