Central Valley

The Return (260 miles)

I was going to get wet going home. The real question is how much. We had a series of storms blow over the entire northern California area last night so things were damp to say the least. At about noon it appeared that the worst was to the east and south. Now it was just a matter of timing the weather to the south by taking some interesting roads up north to well, fill up the day with fun. With a bike packed and dry, it was time to go!

IMG 0951

This area has four fun roads that cross the sierra that are worth doing. I’ve listed them least technical to most technical. Conveniently this is also the order they appear from north to south!

  • State Highway 32 – Nice run along Deer Creek
  • State Highway 70 – Feather River Canyon. Deep canyon run with a fair amount of traffic. Has the added bonus of lots of train tracks in the area
  • State Highway 162 – Changes names a few times on the way to Quincy after state control ends. See below for a nice picture of the crossing at Lake Oroville. This road was also paved in 2010.
  • La Porte Road – Super fun, really technical, some pucker factor for the noobs.

I decided to take 162 as I was curious to see the bridge and how full the lake was after some winter rains. I had some time to kill so I wanted to do a bit of riding in the hills. After crossing the bridge, I caught up with the rain. Given that I was climbing in altitude and the area got snow last night, I figured it was time to u-turn and head back to town. I stopped at the north end of the bridge (there is an overlook here) to just take in the sights. It’s a different view in the middle of a winter’s rain vs the summer’s heat.

IMG 0955- IMG 0966

I didn’t really do a lot of research as to where to go, so I just picked two random points east of 99 and had the GPS route me the shortest way between those two points and Sacramento. The route took me through the very edge of the foothills so there was some tickle to the roadway which was far better than a flat freeway or a frozen mountain pass. I’ve done a lot of the “main” roads, so it was cool to get some coverage on the really minor ones in the area. The nice thing about having the gps send you on a goose chase is that you really don’t know what you’ll get. I got lucky in this one as there was a mix of goaty, sweepers, and tight turns all with 55 mph speed limits.

I also want to stop at more random places. When I was rolling down Marysville road there was this big camo colored sign announcing “Tough Stuff Jerky.” It was odd enough that it got my attention. Pulled the u-turn and went inside. The woman at the counter was very open with giving out samples which included: sweet chipolte, x-hot, teryaki, peppered, and chardonnay. One bonus to this brand is that it’s very low carb. Most jerkys have 8ish grams of carbohydrate. These had less than 2. The minus is that it’s has hard as a brick. Yep, it lives up to it’s name.

The GPS didn’t have any great ways to get from CA-20 at Marysville Road over to I-80, so it was a semi fun ride to CA-49, then a long slog back on 49 with all the weekenders heading home. Once on the freeway things seemed to pick up until Roseville where there is a seemingly ongoing construction project. Most bay area commuters are used to bikes lanesplitting, but this set of folks seemed to want the bikes to stick in line. I had one guy close me out! Argh 😦

Dinner in Sacramento was at a pretty cool Italian place, Paesanos. I met a fellow rider whom I know for dinner there for some discussion on the next great moto-venture-tour could be. It’s always fun to talk bikes with fellow riders!

Scorecard (C is average. No grade inflation here):

Category Score Comments
Seating B+ We got right in and you could tell the host knew how to effectively seat guests.
Atmosphere C Nice place, but nothing beyond it’s peers.
Wait Staff A- Spot on with orders and not too overbearing.
Food B- Taste was good and presented well
Value A Italian restaurants that can make good food affordable will never go under. This was one of those.
Overall B+ Definitely good and worth a return trip when in town again.

I really enjoyed the ride home. The ride wasn’t even all that interesting. I mean, it was all freeway. I dunno. It was one of those zen moments. I was riding the I-5 out in the middle of nowhere. You could see stars all over the place. The Tule fog was just beginning to form in the north end of the valley. It was tickling the landscape and you’d ride through whisps of it all down the freeway. At the gas station the tanker truck driver asked how I kept warm as it was in the 40′s. Everyone seems to be amazed at Gerbing’s work in heated gear. It keeps me very warm well to 30. At least that’s as far as I’ve tested it.

All in all a good weekend. It’s great to be riding again without leaking coolant. Now where do I go next?

Categories: Central Valley

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