MotoGP with the Old Man


A Trip Twenty Years in the Making

TThe last time my father and I spent any real time together was twenty years ago. I had just returned from my deployment to the former Yugoslavia. Like so many Veterans before me, the only thing I really wanted to do upon my return was take off on my bike. It just so happened I had just met my soon-to-be wife a week before my father and I took this trip, so the entire time, I was thinking more about getting back to the great girl I’d just met and we ended up heading home early.

For the last ten years, we said we’d take a trip again, but life kept getting in the way, like life does, and it never came together. This year, however, would be different. We made plans and reservations in February, thus committing us to reconnect.

Father and Son in 1996

The last time we rode together, my father was the age I am now. A lot has changed since then, but our love of motorcycles had not. Fortunately, my dad had since realized the value of safety gear.

Motorcycle Choices in 1996

Skip Ahead

To Cross a Desert

Dad is a Harley man. Me, less so. But years ago, he took a spin on my Gen-I Multistrada and decided he had to have one. However, being the Harley man that he is, he could not make himself purchase outside of the American brand, and instead picked up a Buell Ulysses.

Dave drinking a cup of coffee, standing next to a Ducati Multistrada 1200 loaded on a 3-rail trailer attached to a Toyota Tacoma

This would be the bike he would use for this trip while I would be on my brand new (600 miles on the clocks) Multistrada 1200. To save tires and misery, we would be trailering the bikes across the desert from Salt Lake to Reno, where we’d be leaving the truck and trailer at a good friend’s warehouse while we rode around California for a week.

Tom standing next to a Toyota Tacoma with a Ducati Multistrada 1200 and a Buell Ulysses loaded on a 3-Rail Trailer

Dad lives about two hours away, so the plan was I’d head up and load his bike onto the trailer before heading out into the summer heat.

Driving a Toyota Tacoma along Utah's, long, lonesome Highway 30

While we have been criticized many times for “wimping” out and not riding across Nevada – we don’t care. I’ve ridden across the desert enough times to have proved my mettle. Now, I’ll sit in air conditioning, drinking soda-pop and eating Pringles.

Checking tire pressure on a Toyota Tacoma and checking tie down straps on a Ducati Multistrada 1200 and a Buell Ulysses while tied down to a 3-rail motorcycle trailer

What these photos do not convey is that it was about 120-degrees outside. This was just a quick stop to check tires and tie-downs.

Unloading in Reno, Nevada. Ducati Multistrada 1200 headlights and Tom standing next to his Buell Ulysses with Happy Trails saddlebags side luggage

Even driving, it was a long day on the road. It felt great to unload the bikes and head to the hotel. The real trip would start in the morning.

Sonora Pass and Yosemite

Ducati Multistrada 1200 and Buell Ulysses in a pullout on Nevada Highway 431, Mt. Rose Highway

We started off bright and early and we’re ready to escape the urban environment for the rural, however, I eventually gave up and stopped because every fifth car was highway patrol.

Riding a Ducati Multistrada 1200 along Nevada Highway 431 near Lake Tahoe, while wearing a Dianese D-Dry Motorcycle Coat and a Haga replica Arai Helmet

After a short waiting period, morning commuter traffic subsided and the roads were mostly empty again. The epic Mount Rose Highway (NV-431) did not disappoint and carried us up off the desert floor and into the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Riding a Ducati Multistrada 1200 through a corner along Nevada Highway 431 near Lake Tahoe

This is what CanyonChasing is supposed to look like.

Motorcyclist Selfie, wearing a Haga replica Arai helmet and wearing a Dianese D-Dry Riding Jacket

This is how you identify a happy CanyonChaser

Ducati Multistrada and Buell Ulysses Stopping for Coffee at Brockway Bakery in Lake Tahoe, California

We were so excited to start riding that we’d skipped the most important meal of the day. So I decided now was a good time to stop and grab a bite to eat and a coffee.

Drinking Coffee at Brockway Bakery in Lake Tahoe, California while looking at a Ducati Multistrada 1200

The view wasn’t bad either.

Tom Riding his Buell Ulysses, fit with Pirelli Sync tires and Happy Trails saddlebags, in traffic along California Highway 28, North Lake Blvd, near Lake Tahoe.

Dad normally takes the major routes, so he’s never been most the places we gravitate towards. So this time, rather than just blast our way across California, dad would get to experience CanyonChasing – and the first leg was simply taking the back-side of Lake Tahoe.

Dad, wearing a flip-face Shoei helmet while riding his Buell Ulysses, asking for directions

This started one of the most common questions dad would ask throughout the trip; “How do you find these roads?

Garmin Zumo 450 mounted on a Ducati Multistrada 1200, riding Nevada Highway 28, North Lake Road, near Crystal Bay on Lake Tahoe

I’ll never tell.

Actually, GPS has proven to enhance my personal enjoyment of these trips. Back in the day, I had to dedicate a lot of attention to simple navigation. Constantly looking for road signs, stopping at intersections to study a crumpled map crammed into the top of my tank-bag. By spending time before the trip researching the roads and building the routes, I am now free to enjoy the scenery and the corners with less distraction. Thanks to my trusty Zumo, navigation now consists of simply following the bouncing ball.

Tom enjoying the view of Fanette Island the Tea House, in Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe from the Vikingsholm Scenic Viewpoint

Of course we had to stop and take a gander of Emerald Bay and Fannette Island. The island still contains what is left of the “Tea House”. The “Tea House” was built at the same time as the infamous 38-room Vikingsholm mansion was constructed.

Panorama of Vikingsholm viewpoint, overlooking Emerald Bay, Fanette Island, Lake Tahoe and the Tea House

Fannette Island is the only island on Lake Tahoe. You can hike down to the shore line for a tour of Vikingsholm, but swimming to the island is strictly forbidden.

Tom Riding his Buell Ulysses on California Highway 89, Emerald Bay Road, along Lake Tahoe

Back on the road we circled our way around the southern edge of the lake.

Riding a Ducati Multistrada 1200 along California Highway 89, Emerald Bay Road, along Lake Tahoe, with a cool rock wall on the edge of the road

Even though much of this route is slow-going because of all the traffic in the area, the scenery mostly makes up for the encumbered pace.

Not much of a shoulder while riding a Ducati Multistrada 1200 along California Highway 89, Emerald Bay Road, along Lake Tahoe

My favorite section of the road follows a narrow ridge line before snaking down some very steep switchbacks. Dad still talks about how scary he thought this bit was.

Riding a Ducati Multistrada 1200 along California Highway 89, Luther Pass Road, just south of Lake Tahoe

We gassed up the bikes then headed south-east along Luther Pass Road, then made our way south over Monitor Pass (NV-89).

Riding a Ducati Multistrada along the top of California Highway 89, Monitor Pass, Robert M. Jackson Memorial Highway

Monitor Pass provides one of my favorite views in motorcycling…

The most scenic part of California Highway 89, Monitor Pass, Robert M. Jackson Memorial Highway. Garmin Zumo 450 attached to the handlebars of a Ducati Multistrada 1200

This view just inspires me!

Dad also said this was one of his favorite roads of the entire trip. It’s a shame it is so short.

California Highway 108, Sonora Pass. Wallpaper worthy

Then it was time for one of my all-time favorite roads. A road that many say all other roads should be judged; Sonora Pass.

California Highway 108, Sonora Pass, double-yellow lines, one of my favorite roads. Wallpaper worthy

Sonora Pass offers some of the most technical and challenging corners, mixed in with fast sweepers, all surrounded by epic scenery. If you have never ridden Sonora Pass (CA-108) put it onto your bucket list.

See It In Action!

The pictures not good enough? Well, check out our simple video of Sonora Pass (CA-108) (Click on the four-arrows icon in the bottom-right corner for full-screen viewing)

I had plans to spend a lot of time capturing video of many of the epic roads we would be riding, but to be honest, I was so caught up in the experience, that I didn’t want to stop and monkey with video cameras. Please accept our apologies.

Hero shot of Ducati Multistrada 1200 with luggage, Kriega US-20 tailbag, Haga replica Arai Helmet

The view wasn’t bad either.

We stopped in Sonora for a quick, light lunch, then back onto the bikes. We ran south along CA-49 for a few miles then turned East on CA-120 to head into Yosemite. I took a short detour onto Ferretti Road, a typical California crumbly one-lane bypass that seems to serve no purpose, but offers giggly-fun riding. Again dad asked “How do you find these roads?

Tom riding his Buell Ulysses into Yosemite National Park along Southside Drive

Into Yosemite, we were pleasantly surprised that traffic was relatively light.

Riding a Ducati Multistrada 1200 Into the tree's in California Yosemite National Park along Southside Drive. Garmin Zumo 450 mounted to the handlebars.

We had no plans to spend much time here, but wanted to wander through the most scenic part of the park.

Tom riding his Buell Ulysses in the shade on the ashphalt in California's Yosemite National Park, Southside Drive

Dad had never been to Yosemite and was quite impressed with the towering faces that look like an Albert Bierstadt painting.

Tom standing next to his Buell Ulysses, fit with Pirelli Sync tires and Happy Trails saddlebags, with El Capitan in the background while visiting California's Yosemite National Park

Of course, we had to stop for an obligatory “El Capitan” photo.

Ducati Multistrada 1200 in California's Yosemite National Park, in front of El Capitan, Kriega US-20 tailbag

The view wasn’t bad either.

Mount Hamilton Mountain

We spent the night in Mariposa but the plan was to start out early and cross the Sacramento Valley before the heat of the day.

We skirted around Modesto and through Turlock instead then stopped briefly in Patterson for gas and a drink before hitting another CanyonChasers favorite, Del Puerto Canyon Road (CA-130).

Ducati Multistrada stopped on a single lane bridge along California Highway 130, Del Puerto Canyon Road, while heading to the top of Hamilton Mountain

Del Puerto turns into San Antonio Valley Road (but keeps the 130 number) as it climbs up and over Mount Hamilton, the tallest mountain overlooking Silicon Valley, but more famous for the Lick Observatory.

CA-130 was built before the observatory, but in anticipation of it. So the grades has to be kept fairly mellow, this means there are thousands of switchbacks and the road is very popular with cyclists because it never gets very steep.

Scenic overlook of all the twists, turns and corners of California Highway 130, San Antonio Valley Road, near the top of Hamilton Mountain

This road always feels so desolate and remote, despite its close proximity to some serious population centers.

Nearing Lick Observatory, along California Highway 130, San Antonio Valley Road, at the top of Hamilton Mountain

I find it so impressive to come over the rise and find Lick Observatory, the world’s first permanently occupied mountain-top observatory.

Historic Image of Lick Observatory on top of Hamilton Mountain California, while Highway 130, San Antonio Valley Road, was still dirt

It was constructed between 1876 and 1887. Yes, over 100 years ago when all the materials had to be brought up by house and wagon, which is why it was so important the road couldn’t be too steep.

Ducati Multistrada 1200 Parked at Lick Observatory, on top of Hamilton Mountain witha Kriega US-20 tailbag, Garmin Zumo 450, Haga Replica Arai Helmet, Ducati Performance Saddlebags, Dianese D-Dry Coat and Dianese Gloves.

We hung out at the top, enjoying the view of Silicon Valley and had the great opportunity to talk with some locals who ride up here on their lunch break. We also discussed the route and got some great suggestions on roads not to miss. It’s always important to talk to the locals about which roads are not to be missed.

Scenic Panorama overlook of all the twists, turns and bends of California Highway 130, Mt. Hamilton Road, from the Lick Observatory on top of Hamilton Mountain

Looking west down at the road we’d soon be taking. Look at all that wiggly! It just makes me all giddy. Dad was really impressed and had to ask; “How do you find these roads?“.

After we made it of Mount Hamilton, we made our way across San Jose and into one of the neatest places I’ve ever ridden.

The road goes around a small grove of giant redwood trees, along California Highway 236, Big Basin Highway, in the middle of Big Basin Redwoods State Park

I don’t know what to call the next section of roads we savored, so I’ll just call it the “Skyline Blvd Complex“. The myriad of roads that branch off of Skyline Blvd (CA-35) is impressive. CA-9, Big Bend Highway, CA-236, Empire Grade, Graham Hill Road, Laurel Glen Road, Soquel San Jose Road… The list goes on and on. But each of these roads is purely wondrous. One can get happily lost simply following their nose through what may be one of the most staggeringly beautiful pieces of real-estate in the nation.

If it was at all fiscally reasonable, this is one of the places in the world I would most like to live.

Motorcycles Lane Splitting in California

When we came out into Santa Cruz, we’d timed it perfectly to coincide with the Friday afternoon commute. I’m no stranger to Lane Splitting and firmly support all states implementing its practice. It’s tragic that only California (and most every other industrialized and developing nation on the planet) see’s it’s value.

Dad, however, had never lane split, so I was afraid his law-abiding ways would have him sitting in traffic while I disappeared over the horizon. I was quite proud when he followed suit. Later on, dad would say that lane-splitting was his mostest favoritest part of the entire trip. “It’s like breaking the law, without getting into any trouble” he said. He talked about it many times.

Officially, CanyonChasers fully endorse and support lane-splitting.

Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway

Like a pilgrimage to mecca, we had finally arrived at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway under a thick cloud of coastal fog, all which added to the magic of the experience.

Early morning fog at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, near turn 11, during free practice one of the 2012 MotoGP Grand Prix

The fog really did make it feel that much more magical. I was so geeked out that I was taking photos of everything!

Early morning fog at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway corkscrew, turns 7, 8 and 9, during Free Practice One, during the 2012 MotoGP Grand Prix

FP3 was about to start so I hoofed my way over the infamous “Corkscrew”. It’s really not my favorite place to watch, mostly because everyone else wants to be there too, but it’s kinda part of the Laguna Seca Experience.

The unfortunate thing was because of the fog, most of the riders sat tight until about the last fifteen minutes.

The view from the top of Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, overlooking turn one and turn two, Ducati Island and all the vendors, in the fog, during the 2012 MotoGP Grand Prix Race weekend

FP3 being over, it was time to experience another Laguna Seca tradition. Time to check out the vendors, particularly Ducati Island.

Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, Moto Guzzi streamlined, vintage race bike by Pro Italia

Of all the times I’ve been to Laguna Seca, the vendors seemed to be the most lacking this trip. But there was still quite a few really cool bikes, such as this brilliant Moto Guzzi.

Wizzers on Cannery Row in Monterey California, during the 2012 MotoGP weekend

At the end of the day, Qualifying Practice behind us, it was time to head to Monterey to walk along Cannery Row. Again, they seemed to have messed things up. Police roadblocks made it impossible for any motorcycles to get onto Cannery Row to park, as a result, there were hardly any bikes to gander at, which, in the past, have always been the best part.

Race Day

After Warm-Up in the morning, not a lot is really going on until the main event. This is largely due to Moto2 not coming to Laguna Seca. Oh well. More time to wander about.

Elusive and Desirable Cagiva/Ducati Elefant 650, in blue and white - not an Elephant

The elusive and magnificent Ducati/Cagiva Elefant (with and F). Winner of multiple Paris-Dakar races after Cagiva and Ducati merged and Cagiva started using Ducati’s Pantah Desmodue motors.

Elusive and repellant Ducati Indiana 650, Ducati Cruiser, black and chrome

The elusive and repellent Ducati Indiana. This was Ducati’s first attempt at a cruiser. Isn’t it awful?

Tom sitting on a Ducati Diavel Black Carbon at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, during the 2012 MotoGP races

Since dad is a Harley man to the core, I thought maybe he’d get a kick out of Ducati’s second attempt at a Cruiser. The pavement rippling Diavel. Sadly, dad didn’t much care for it and instead was much more impressed with the Moto Guzzi Stelvio. Can’t argue with that.

Tom and Dave sitting In the grandstands before the 2012 MotoGP race

As time for the main event drew near, dad and I found our way to our grandstand seats. I’ve never had grandstand seats before, but it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be, but not for the reasons you would expect. I had a great time discussing the in’s and out’s of MotoGP with those sitting around me. A couple, rabid Casey Stoner fans obviously, who ride all the way from Perth to Melbourne (1700 miles away) every year for the Australia round… Another couple from Barbados who fly to at least three or four rounds every year (what would that be like?).

Once the race is over, its my favorite time to go looking for the superstars of MotoGP. The race is over, the pressure is off and you have a better chance of more candid interaction.

Now, I’m really not a fan-boy, but do enjoy being a fly on the wall to see how racers interact with the fans. I feel that racers should recognize fans as the biggest reason why they have such desirable employment options, so I like when riders behave accordingly.

2012 Ducati MotoGP Crew Chief Jeremy Burgess

Jeremy Burgess, the super-genius crew chief. Just being this close in proximity I understood the nuances of suspension tuning a little bit better.

2012 MotoGP Tech 3 Racer Andrea Dovizioso, wearing Green Spidi Leathers, signing autographs at Laguna Seca raceway

Andrea “Dovi” Dovizioso, at this time, his contract with Ducati to take Rossi’s place was only rumor.

2012 Yamaha Tech 3 Rider, Cal Crutchlow, signing autographs at Laguna Seca raceway

The rider I was most impressed with, Cal Crutchlow. His demeanor and interaction with the fans was very similar to Nicky Hayden. Cal appeared to be very generous, friendly and gracious.

MotoGP racer Randy de Puniet and girlfiend Lauren Vickers at Laguna Seca Raceway in 2012

Randy de Puniet with super hottie (and super smart) Playboy Playmate of the year, girlfriend, Lauren Vickers. I must mention, in real life, she looks like she maybe weighs 100lbs.

Cal Crutchlow, MotoGP Tech3 Rider, pushes his Specialized S-Works bicycle across the paddock

As an avid cyclist myself, I really got a kick out of Cal’s bicycle. It probably costs more than most peoples motorcycles. S-Works Dura-Ace Di2… Nice!

Coastal Climates

California China Grade Road, Skyline Boulevard, Riding a Ducati Multistrada 1200

With the race behind us, now was when the riding began. The plan was north, so we headed directly back to the Skyline Blvd Complex where we happily meandered our way around.

Dad was really impressed and said it was like riding on dirt roads, but without any dust. Then he asked “How do you find these roads?“.

See It In Action!

The pictures not good enough? Well, check out our video of a few miles of China Grade Road. (Click on the four-arrows icon in the bottom-right corner for full-screen viewing)

Ducati Multistrada 1200, with headlight gleam and glint, parked in front of Alices Restaurant along California Highway 35, Skyline Blvd, and Highway 84, La Honda Road. Haga replica Arai Helmet

I was starting to get hungry, and what better place to stop for a bit than Alice’s Restaurant. You can get anything you want here. Or so they say.

Now this place has a special meaning for me, but maybe not for reasons you would expect. In 1986, when I was a very impressionable aspiring motorcyclist, watching Top Gun for the Kawasaki GPZ 900R.

vintage Kawasaki magazine ad, Great River Road, Lake Pepin, Minnesota
Vintage Kawasaki Magazing Ad, Old Spanish Trail Restaurant, Bandera Texas
Vintage Kawasaki magazine ad, Marcus Dairy, Danbury Connecticut

In 1989 and 1990, Kawasaki had a series of magazine ads that featured paintings of people on their motorcycles visiting local motorcycle haunts. Lake Pepin in Minnesota, the Old Spanish Trail in Texas and the Marcus Dairy in Connecticut (as well as several others that I couldn’t find).

1989 Kawasaki Alices Restaurant Vintage Ad, Alice's Restaurant, Skyline Boulevard, Woodside, California

The image that totally captivated me was Alice’s Restaurant. Mind you it was 1989 and I was a very impressionable 16 years old, the idea of riding to Alice’s Restaurant was indescribably cool. I mean, just read the copy…

You tighten the chin strap, turn the key, hit the button and the engine snaps to attention like a West Point cadet. You ease the big bike out of the dark garage into the too bright Northern California sunshine. The Ninja idles its way through the early morning traffic as you get reacquainted after the week’s layoff. The last sleepy faced driver grows small in your mirrors, then disappears as the road opens up and snakes out ahead… a sweeping left, a little jog to the right and you pull into the carnival that is an Alice’s Sunday morning. Time to eat and stretch and talk about how good it was and how great it’s gonna be… Some days, life is truly good. Other days, it’s even better. Kawasaki. Let the Good Times Roll.

Alice’s Restaurant, Skyline Boulevard. Woodside, California

Does that not just inspire you? “snap to attention like a West Point cadet”. I mean, wow!

Vintage Kawasaki Ad, Alice's Restaurant, print, hanging in the mens bathroom

So, I walk into the men’s room, just before leaving, and look what now sits framed above the urinals… Funny how things go sometimes.

San Francisco, California, at the top of Lombard Street

We wound our way into San Francisco. Again Dad has always skipped the sights so we followed some of the more famous route of the “Bullet” car chase before we did a quick run down Lombard Street.

Riding a Ducati Multistrada 1200 and Buell Ulysses down Lombard Street in San Francisco, California

Lots of cars had the same idea about Lombard Street, and it was a lot steeper than I remembered. With all the cars, the steep and somewhat slippery grade, I had a helluva time getting a photo – this was the best one of the lot. Sorry about that.

Riding a Ducati Multistrada 1200, being followed by Tom on his Buell Ulysses, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in the fog. Wearing a Dianese D-Dry Motorcycle Coat

Northward we continued. A single bank of fog was covering the Golden Gate Bridge.

Riding a Ducati Multistrada 1200 motorcycle across the Golden Gate Bridge, in California, in the fog

…and it was thick enough that you couldn’t even see the top.

Riding a Ducati Multistrada 1200 motorcycle across the Golden Gate Bridge, in Californai, in the fog

By the north end of the bridge, the fog was much thinner and allowed us to actually see the iconic orange structure.

Riding a Ducati Multistrada 1200 motorcycle down California Conzelman Road, in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, overlooking San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge

We veered off the freeway and I took dad up to the top of Conzelman Road. The fog and the clear sky was quite pretty if not somewhat stereotypical.

Scenic Panorama of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, only the top of the bridge can be seen above the fog

It looked exactly as it should. How nice is that?

Riding a Ducati Multistrada 1200 motorcycle down California Conzelman Road, in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, overlooking San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, wearing an Haga replica Arai Helmet

We ran back down Conzelman Road, and the view was every bit as neat on the way back down as it was on the way up.

Narrow, windy, Pacific Coast Highway in Northern California with a calm Pacific Ocean in the distance

We stopped for fuel, then began our way up the Pacific Coast Highway. I’m always amazed by how quickly you go from dense population to stark emptiness in so short of time.

Narrow, windy, Pacific Coast Highway in northern California with the Pacific Ocean barely visible behind a layer of fog

This has to be one of the most epic stretches of road. Magnificant coastal views, undulating tarmac with enough corners and bends to ensure the center of your tires rarely get used.

Overlooking Russian Gulch along California Highway 1, just south of Jenner California

One of my favorite elements of the north Pacific Coast Highway is the repetitive gulches. This road pattern feels like it repeats itself over and over again, all with what feels like the exact same sequence of corners. It’s an absolute giggle!

Ducati Multistrada 1200 parked in front of Stewarts Point Store, at teh head of Skaggs Springs Road

Time to head inland onto Skaggs Springs Road. A famous coastal mountain road that meets the Pacific Coast highway right at the infamous Stewards Point Store.

Single lane, Haupt Creek Bridge, along California Skaggs Springs Road

Many say Skaggs Springs Road is best run from East to West. I disagree. When run from West to East, it starts out as a super tight, technical, tree lined route that gets progressively faster and faster as corners evolve into wicked-fast sweepers.

California, Skaggs Springs Road

It’s easier for my brain to deal with tight corners become fast corners than the other way around. When it goes from fast to slow, I tend to find myself entering corners faster than I really planned. West to East is a little more forgiving.

In an ironic turn, twenty years ago I wanted to head home early. But now it was dad who was ready to be back home; home in time for his anniversary. So we ended up modifying the original plan to get him home two days sooner.

Hot and Cold – at the Same Time

Ducati Multistrada 1200 parked in a pullout along California Highway 253, Boonville Road

First thing, we grabbed breakfast and grabbed some oil to top off dads Buell before heading back towards the coast on Boonville/Ukiah Road (CA-253).

California Highway 253, Mountain View Road

Boonville Road turned into Mountain View Road and we were back onto the coast. It’s incredible how the world turns from cured grasses and sparse vegetation to lush greens and cool temperatures over just a few miles of riding.

California, Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1

Droping back towards the ocean, the temperature drops dramatically into the 60’s. We turned north and ran up the coast for just a short ways before turning back inland on CA-128 and towards Navarro River Redwoods State Park.

Ducati Multistrada 1200 and a Buell Ulysses at California, Navarro River Redwoods State Park, Highway Pullout

Navarro River Redwoods State Park was impressive and we needed to stop and take it all in.

Scenic Panorama of a Ducati Multistrada 1200 and a Buell Ulysses inside California's Navarro River Redwoods State Park

Its really hard to try and capture the enormity of it all.

Forced Perspective of a Ducati Multistrada 1200 at California's Navarro River Redwoods State Park along California Highway 128

The age and the size of these tree’s kinda’ makes one feel small and insignificant. A little bit of perspective… Most Redwoods live between 500 and 700 years. That means the average Redwood began life in the 14th Century. That’s when the Ottoman Empire began its expansion, the 100-Years war began and the Black-Plague ravished Europe. Many Redwoods live to be well over 2,000. That’s the time when the Roman Empire reached their largest size, the Colosseum was constructed, the death of Jesus on the cross and the beginning of Christianity.

Horrifically, 96-percent of the Giant Redwoods have been logged.

Cured Grasses along California's Comptche Ukiah Road

Back inland, we returned to the cured grasses and sky-high temperatures.

Ducati Multistrada Speedometer gauge reading 100-degrees

The temperatures are in the low to mid-60’s along the coast and into the low 100’s inland. This is not the highest temperature we saw. We rode north to Willits and turned coast-ward again along CA-20.

Ducati Multistrada 1200 parked in California's Navarro River Redwoods State Park

Hindsight being what it is, we should have skipped CA-20. It’s the main route to Fort Bragg, and as such it’s heavily traveled. We should have taken one pass south, Orr Springs Road/Comptche Ukian Road or one pass north, Branscomb Road. Next time.

Kriega US-20 Tailbag attached to a Ducati Multistrada 1200. Flexible straps allow for a stuffed rabbit and a stuffed duck to ride along.

We stopped briefly in Fort Bragg where I continued a long-standing tradition of picking up some stuffed toys for the dogs. The toys ride along outside the bikes where the pick up the scents of all the places we travel.

Riding a Buell Ulysses through Dense Redwood Tree's inside Navarro River Redwoods State Park in California

From Fort Bragg we rode north into the waning daylight. Highway 1 turns inland towards Leggett and once again enters the dense trees.

Riding a Ducati Multistrada 1200 through Dense Redwood Tree's inside Navarro River Redwoods State Park in California

The rideing is remarkable and breathtaking. I don’t think I would ever grow tired of this.

A sign for the Chandalier Tree, Drive-Thru Tree in Leggit, California!

Of course we had to stop at the Drive Thru Tree! When Mike and Lindsey came this way we inisited they stop. We almost revoked their CanyonChaser status when they reported back that they thought the drive thru tree was campy. We were aghast! What did they expect? Of course it’s campy! It’s a road-side attraction, and we love ’em for being campy.

Two motorcycles, a Ducati Multistrada 1200 and a Buell Ulysses at the Chandelier Tree in Leggit California

The Chandelier Tree in Drive Thru Tree Park is a 315 foot tall coast redwood tree in Leggett, California with a six foot wide by six foot high hole cut through its base to allow a car to drive through. The hole was carved in the 1930s. A vintage postcard of the Chandelier Tree was shown during the opening credits of National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Tom and Dave with their two motorcycles, a Ducati Multistrada 1200 and a Buell Ulysses at the Chandelier Tree in Leggit California

This will be photo we’ll use to remember this trip.

The Lost Coast; We Found it!

The single-lane Lost Coast Bridge, with wood decking in California, near Garbervielle

We spent the night in Garberville and headed out first thing to find the Lost Coast. For years I’ve read about this road, but have never been able to make the time to head into the Kings Mountain Range. We started out by heading west along Brice/Thorn Road.

Nearing the coast while riding on Mattole Road on the loast coast of northern California

We turned north onto Ettersburg Road (and then Mattole Road) and even though the temperatures were cool, the grasses were cured and brown.

Fiding the The Lost Coast on Mattole Road in Northern California

And just about the time that I’d thought I’d taken a wrong turn we came over a rise to this view. We’d found the Lost Coast.

It was named the “Lost Coast” after the area experienced depopulation in the 1930s. In addition, the steepness and related geo-technical challenges of the coastal mountains made this stretch of coastline too costly for state highway or county road builders to establish routes through the area leaving it the most undeveloped and remote portion of the California coast.

A tiny, single lane bride with steel decking along Mattole Road on the Lost Coast of Northern California

There was virtually no traffic and what road construction there was looked to have seen better days.

A Ducati Multistrada 1200 parked in a pullout along The Lost Coast of Northern California

We stopped to take a gander. The wind was howling and the temperatures were in the high-50s. It was quite cold.

Dave reflected in the mirrored visor of Toms Shoei helmet; meta photo

I simply thought this was a cool photo.

Looking south along Northern California's Mattole Road along the lost coast.

Looking south, the road only follows the shore for a very brief time before it turns inland and back on itself. This is the steepest section of pavement I have ever seen or ridden. I have no idea how they were able to pave it.

Two motorcycles, a Ducati Multistrada 1200 and a Buell Ulyssess parked on historic main street in Ferndale, California

The road meanders through ranches and farmland, through dense trees before it terminates in Ferndale – a town that appears to have been lost in time. The town is so quaint, but I was having a hard time capturing the look and feel of the town.

a Ducati Multistrada 1200 parked on historic main street in Ferndale, California, and a sign for Rings Rexall Drugs and Farmers Daughter

Instagram to the rescue!

A Ducati Multistrada 1200 parked on the side of the road along California Highway 36, Bramlot Road, at the intersection with California Highway 3

Now it was time to get dad home in time for his anniversary. So we turned East on CA-36 and aimed towards Reno. CA-36 proved to be much more fun than I would have expected offering everything from one-lane tight and twisty corners to fast sweepers with vast vistas.

California Highway 36 Road Sign. CanyonChaser Approved

It is CanyonChaser approved – at least until CalTrans removes my blatant vandalism.

Ducati Multistrada 1200 dashboard, guages, speedometer, with a Garmin Zumo 450, staring down a long, lonesome California Highway 36, east of Quincy, Califorinia

We stopped in Red Bluff for gas then made our way towards Quincy. The majority of great cornering opportunities were now behind us; so sad.

Yellow lines in the center of an Empty California Road, with scattered clouds in the distance

Long, straight, lonesome highways. California is such a diverse place.

California HIghway 89 signs indicating that I'm in the middle of nowhere. Reno 92, Marysville 93, Scenic Byway.

Just as the sun was dropping below the horizon, we made it to Quincy. But this sign makes it look like Quincy is about a half a mile from the middle of nowhere.

To Cross a Desert – Again

Toytoa Tacoma hauling three motorcycles on a 3-rail trailer; a Buell Ulysses, a Honda VTR1000 SP1 and a Ducati Multistrada 1200

Alas, the trip was now over. Quincy was less than an hour from Reno. We went to my buddies shop, picked up the pickup and loaded up the bikes as well as a special delivery bike that would be returning to Salt Lake.

Final Thoughts

This was a “trip of a lifetime” for more than one reason. As I imagine it is with most fathers and sons, there have been times of great conflict and while my father and I have always had a good relationship, there were a handful of issues lying just below the surface.

Not only did this trip allow my father and I to reconnect over the one thing in life we have most in common, that common ground allowed us to adress some of those underlying issues that had been creating friction in our friendship for many years. Not only am I grateful for the time I got to spend with my father, but we are also now closer than we have been in years. For this, I am intensely grateful..


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