Howdy, northern California VN riders. Thought you might like a little trip log of the run I took to LaPorte and back on Friday...I played hooky from work to go see the cabin that my boss and her husband are building in LaPorte. I’ve been that way before in the car, but haven’t made the run on the bike and I thought it might be a very nice little ride.
The evening before, we were with some friends. The husband, Rick, is a rider and has a very nice Harley bagger. He told me that he rode down to the Bay Area to conduct some business and that when he returned in the afternoon, it was very hot and he got dehydrated. He warned me to stay well-hydrated on my ride and I thought that was prudent advice.
I rolled out early on Friday from our house in Orangevale (east of Sacramento) and left at about 0630. Here’s the Vulcan loaded up and ready to go in the garage:
When I went up to LaPorte in the car about a month ago, I went up 70 to Marysville, then onto 20 E to Marysville Road to Willow Glen and onto LaPorte Road. We returned the same way.
I thought it might be interesting to go another way, since it was still early and cool. I ran up 70 N…haven’t done a lot of riding on the slab and there was a lot traffic, including lots of 18-wheelers, but the Vulcan kept up well and was surprisingly stable with all the wind blowing around. Ate breakfast at one of the usual fast-food culprits, then hit 20 E and took it up to Loma Rica Road. Loma Rica Road is a very nice two-lane with not much traffic which starts in the rice fields east of Marysville and then goes into the foothills. The valley section is straight and then the road goes into nice gentle bends on its way up the hill. Here’s a section of Loma Rica Road in the foothills:
I took Loma Rica to the end and then turned north on Las Verjeles Road towards Bangor. Las Verjeles is a little more “rural” and requires a slower pace…perhaps a little “goaty”, but a very nice curvy ride.
In Bangor, I picked up LaPorte Road and headed east. This part of LaPorte Road was a section I had never been on and it’s very much like Las Verjeles…windy and tight and the road condition isn’t the greatest. There’s a little settlement back in there called Rackerby, which I’d never heard of before. Here’s the Rackerby Post Office:
At Rackerby, it was getting pretty hot, so I bagged the leather jacket and put on the long-sleeved denim shirt…I sunburn easily and that’s really the only way I don’t get fried….
At some point past Rackerby before I reached the intersection of LaPorte and Willow Glen, I passed a farm with some pooches sitting by the side of the road. One of them, a pit bull mix, decided that I was invading his territory, so he came out to warn me away. I did exactly what he did not expect…I slowed down and suckered him in and then when he committed and got close, I throttled up and left him standing in the middle of the road wondering what had happened. I have a dog and I love her, but I don’t allow her in the road…wouldn’t want her getting hit or being a nuisance to others…but I guess people think differently elsewhere.
Anyway, after the episode with the pooch, I passed the Willow Glen intersection and then LaPorte Road became a great ride, with good road surface, good sign markings and lots of beautiful curves at various speeds. Here is the bike on the shoulder past Challenge:
Went on up past Woodleaf and back further. As I approached LaPorte, the evergreen trees formed a canopy over the road and the curves continued. Here’s a big old evergreen tree next to the road and a shot looking back at the road I had just passed.
Here is the bustling metropolis of LaPorte. The bike is parked next to the general store. The red building in the background is a pub which serves good basic food (hamburgers, chicken sandwich, etc.). There’s also a nice little deli which I hear has good chow as well, but I personally haven’t eaten there.
I gassed up the bike and ran on out to Silvertip Springs, where my boss and her husband are building their cabin. I got there about 1030 or so…I was taking my time. They were both there and they took me on the grand tour. The cabin is partially completed, with the outer shell, floors, stairs and wall frames in place. They built the deck from the new plastic wood-like stringers that will never need replacing, which is probably a good idea considering the amount of rain and snow that place will see. We talked for awhile and the boss’ husband checked out the Vulcan. He’s a rider also and used to own a Vulcan 1500…he liked my little bike. He currently rides a Victory Kingpin Tour…really nice ride…
Anyway, I got ready to leave after I’d been there about 30 minutes. I was debating whether I should go up the Quincy-LaPorte Road to Quincy, but that seemed like more ride than I had planned for, so I decided not do so. I rode down to Little Grass Valley Reservoir…what a nice little lake…understand that the fishing there is pretty good and it’s very scenic. At the lake, I checked the maps and decided to return back down LaPorte Road to Challenge, pick up Oregon Hill Road there to Marysville Road and over to 49 back to Grass Valley.
The ride back to Challenge was uneventful and fun. I stopped in Challenge for some water, but left in something of a hurry…documented elsewhere and not worthy of repetition here…and went to Oregon Hill Road. Got down about ½ mile and the road became truly “goaty”…very lumpy and rutted…and it went on that way for 12 miles, so I decided that the discretion was the better part of valor and went back to LaPorte and on down to Brownsville, where I stopped to check the maps. Here’s LaPorte Road in Brownsville:
The bike is getting a rest at the Brownsville Post Office in the shade (it was now getting very hot):
While I was looking at the maps, a very nice older gentleman walked up and asked me if I knew where I was. That was a pretty good question, since I often don’t, but in this case, I did and I told him I was looking for a way down the hill without going back to 20 and Marysville. We talked for a few minutes and checked the map and I realized we were at the intersection of LaPorte Road and Frenchtown Road:
I decided to run down Frenchtown Road to Oregon House, then head east on Marysville Road past Bullard’s Bar Dam to 49, then take 49 down to Nevada City and into Auburn. Frenchtown Road was an interesting ride, with decent road quality and lots of low-speed curves and windys. There was an interesting barn along the way and I stopped to photo it with the bike…no one from the house across the street came out to yell or anything, so I guess it was cool:
Reached Oregon House and turned east on Marysville Road up to Bullard’s Bar. Marysville Road was wide open, with lots of high-speed curves as it climbed into the foothills and not much traffic. The road shoulder on the approach to Bullard’s Bar Dam was fenced off with cyclone and barbed wire and lots of signs with dire warning that the dam was under constant video surveillance…probably one of the little effects of the 911 attack, I suppose. I was therefore unable to photograph the downstream side of the dam, which was concrete and was probably 300-400 feet high and pretty astounding. The road went across the top of the dam and I was able to stop on the far side and take a picture of the roadway…no one approached me about it or made an issue:
I continued onward and turned south on Moonshine Road towards 49. This is a very pretty, short detour with tall trees and old buildings along the way. The road’s not the greatest and should be taken at low speed. At the far end near the junction with 49, the road runs parallel to the middle fork of the Yuba River.
I turned onto 49 and headed for Grass Valley. Ordinarily, particularly during the uncrowded, cooler early hours, I imagine that this is a really nice ride, but it was early afternoon, stinkin’ hot, and there was a lot of traffic going both ways. I did not like that part of the ride much. I pushed on through Grass Valley and into Auburn. By this time, I was getting pretty tired and needed to stop and eat and rehydrate. Carl’s Jr has pretty good brewed ice tea and you can refill as many times as you like, so that’s where I stopped and tanked up. I found some shade for my faithful little bike also:
After I was feeling sem-human again, I took Auburn-Folsom Road down the hill….that’s a really nice little urban cruise…to Oak Avenue and then home. Racked up 245 miles on the ride and had (mostly) a great and interesting time. I learned several things…the most important was that in this exceedingly hot weather we’re having, you MUST stay hydrated and rest OFTEN and in the shade. I also found that the Vulcan did better on the slab than I thought it would and that for me, riding on the slab sucks and I’ll avoid it whenever and wherever I can…
The VN 750 ran great, stayed cool and got me there and back in one piece. I noticed a little driveline lash and surging which occasionally got kind of funky in the curves...but all in all, the bike did well...better than I thought it would do.