Northern California Trip 2016

Riding up the coast of California on a motorcycle trip

We certainly enjoy Southern California, but it’s no secret that we love riding north. Jamming up the coast is great, especially on a week day before summer tourist season hits.

Riding harley-Davidson Sportster up the coast of California

The excuse for this trip was easy–we had to run the May 1st Nor Cal Cycle Swap, so we needed to get to Sacramento one way or another. We do this event four times per year and usually ride to at least one of them. McGoo drew the short straw and drove the box van up to Sac while about a dozen of us hit the road a day or two earlier so we could take our time.

Central California Motorcycle Riding

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San Simeon Motorcycle Trip

When we made it to the Hearst Castle area, two of “Team Under Thirties” had issues with less-than-maintained evo sporties. We didn’t have the parts to fix their issues so with a AAA Ride of Shame and a little help from @_buztin Justin, half of the Under Thirties got hauled to Bill’s Custom Cycles in Monterey where Matt and Wayne dialed ’em in. The rest of us camped in Big Sur and the wounded young guns met up with us a day or two later.

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Meanwhile, my FXR cooked a battery and I mis-diagnosed it as a shorted cable but eventually figured out the the voltage regulator wasn’t regulating. So, after cooking the second battery, we needed to get from Big Sur to the nearest shop to buy a new one and a voltage regulator. Just so you know, you can run an Anti-Gravity micro start as a battery. It’s highly NOT recommended by them, but in a pinch it is possible. You have to break out the little nanny sensor in the power supply cord so it’ll allow the unit to send full power for longer than a few seconds. We wired up hard connectors instead of alligator clips, zip-tied it to the frame rail and started the bike. I successfully rode for well over an hour to get to the H-D Dealer in Salinas where I bought a battery and a new voltage regulator. I’ve used these chargers to start trucks, other bikes, power my phone, etc but this was a first time for this stunt.

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We did our casual riding event: Ride to the Pines on Saturday, worked the swap on Sunday, then hit the road once our duties there were wrapped up. We were stoked to add a couple addition friends, Shelby Cobra and his bad ass old lady–Gator on her sporty chop. The original plan was to cross over on the 80 and run down the 395 to get back home. Last-minute weather checks revealed fresh snow falling in Mammoth, so we decided to stay on the west side and haul ass down the 49. This way was a little shorter anyway, and gave us a bit more time to chill, instead of just mashing miles all day. Groveland is only about 100 miles south of Sac, so it was an easy pull. Otto had a favorite spot to pull off on that route, and as he likes to say “dip our nuts” in the river. So we cooled off a bit, then made it to camp before dark. The location that night wasn’t the most epic wilderness spot, but the weather was great and we stocked up on beer and Shelby brought the biggest joint anyone had ever seen, so it all worked out.

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Big breakfast at the Iron Door in Groveland is never a let down, so we filled up before making our way another 100-ish miles to the KOA in Mid Pines, just east of Mariposa. They put us as far away from regular campers, which was nice so we could get it on a little. Mostly we napped and took jaunts into Yosemite and around the area. Otto came back from a solo mission with some meat to roast, so we ate well and crashed out high and content. There are some stories about hot boxing a tent and other shenanigans but they are better told in person…

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The next day was hot as balls, so we basically just hauled ass home. To me, this was the perfect basic trip: almost 1,000 miles total in a long weekend with good friends. We had enough of an agenda to keep things moving, but weren’t stuck to a oppressive schedule. Plenty of time for nut dipping, beer drinking, lots of exploring and a perfect excuse to ride several of our favorite areas in the Golden State. Ride motorcycles. Have fun! -Bill

All photos: Geoff Kowalchuk

  • nicolebodd

    Stunning photography. This is a dream trip for me, to ride the coast and to see Big Sur.

    • Biltwell

      Dream trip for us too, Nicole. We are very fortunate to live close enough to ride this area at least once a year! Glad you liked the photos.