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  1. #1
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    Foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California
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    The "Good Stuff"

    The good stuff...you know it's out there and you know that people aren't telling you about it because they want to keep their best motorcycling routes traffic free and pristine. Well, the one I'm about to share with you is the best of the best and because there's just about nobody out there, I think I could use some company!

    How about a scenic tour that has almost no traffic on the best parts, has soaring mountains, fast running rivers loaded with rapids, a cold wind-blown coast and the largest, oldest trees on earth. Does anyone here want to saddle up their CTX's for 850 miles of this kind of fun?

    This was my first tour of 2018, and as always my wife and co-pilot did pillion duty for me. We left from our home in the Sierra Nevada foothills about 30 miles east of Sacramento, California and headed up the Sacramento valley to the town of Redding. (Route: Hwy 70, Hwy 99, Interstate 5 )

    If you do this ride, this is what you'll find:

    The ride up north is flat, but not uninteresting. In April you can pretty much count on great views of the Sierra peaks full of snow. As you get near the towns of Chico and Red Bluff, the snow clad volcano, Mount Lassen (10,463 ft.) dominates the eastern skyline. A few miles out of Red Bluff, where our route takes I-5 for 30 miles, there's a view that after having done this literally hundreds of times, I never get tired of. As one rides along, suddenly, very suddenly the pure white form of the 14,180 ft. Mount Shasta leaps out in front of you. The mountain is still 100 miles away, but it's so big that it looms over everything else in view.

    We had dinner in Redding with friends and the next morning pointed our CTX west onto Hwy 299. We did a version of this tour last year, but this time, instead of staying on 299 to the California coast, we took the cutoff to Lewiston, past Lewiston Lake and on to Hwy. 3. Once you leave Redding, the “good stuff” starts. First you ride by Whiskeytown Lake, a blue jewel surrounded by mountains with the highest being snow-capped Shasta Bally. Just past the lake, the twisties begin with a mix of sweepers and 30 mph turns. Once you've turned off to Lewiston Lake you'll find a small 30-40 mph road that takes you by the tourist center of Lewiston Lake, by the Trinity Dam and eventually to an intersection with Hwy. 3.

    Once on Hwy 3, this is where the “best stuff” starts. Highway 3 is one of the least trafficked scenic roads in California. I'll never figure out why. To the east is Trinity Lake, to the the west, hovering above are the Trinity Alps. In April and early May they are snow clad and beautiful. I used to backpack in these rugged mountains and their beauty astounds me to this day. Eventually, Hwy 3 goes over Scott summit, a steep, twisty climb that has a couple of switchbacks that cause the road to rise beyond your view as they turn. These are intimidating right turns because when you try to look through them, they rise to your side so steeply that all you can see is the edge of the asphalt roadway before the road disappears from view. Trusting the CTX's torque to pull both of us and our luggage into the unknown, I just leaned the bike into the turn and rolled on the throttle. In a short time I was at the summit and heading down, down, down to the almost deserted town of Callahan. When we got there, we found only one business still thriving in this old 1850's town. The bar.

    We continued on through Etna Valley the home of the Etna Brewing Company and onto Yreka for the night. It was a short day, but after an evening out with our friends in Redding the night before, that was fine with us.

    This is a spectacular motorcycle ride. In the 100 miles since I had turned onto the Lewiston cutoff, not once was there a car behind me other than when we passed through the small town of Fort Jones. We saw a few bicycles, a handful of motorcycles and a few cars coming in the other direction, but this is all beauty and no beast.

    We left Yreka by taking I-5 north for 10 miles until we got to Hwy 96. We would follow 96 for about 135 miles back to Hwy. 299. The best part, and why this is still the “best stuff” is that Hwy 96 follows the path of the wild and scenic Klamath River with it's rocky bed and beautiful rapids. In April, when the weather is good and the snow is melting fast, this river just rocks it's way downhill. There's not much out here...the town of Happy Camp, an old logging town is almost a ghost town now. Seiad Valley showed a little life, and the towns of Orleans, Weitchpec and Hoopa while along Indian Reservations were also very quiet. A gas station or two was about all that was open. Again, no traffic, a stunning river and the Marble Mountain Wilderness beside you make this an unforgettable ride.

    Once back at Hwy 299 at Willow Creek we grabbed a bite to eat and again headed west to the coast. Hwy 299 was also quiet, but there were others using the road. Its a great ride to the coast and shortly after Willow Creek you know you're heading for the Pacific Ocean because you can smell it. That unmistakable smell of briny, salty air. Just follow your nose and before you know it you're riding beside the windswept Humboldt Bay near Eureka, California. It's so windy that this section of road has been deemed a “Safety-Zone” and has a highly enforced 50 mph speed limit. Trust me on this...50 is fine. In fact, maybe a little generous on some days. We don't stay in Eureka because I don't like the cold, windy, foggy weather. Instead we stay off the coast a bit in Garberville, about 68 miles south.

    Here's another “best stuff”. To get to Garberville, we ALWAYS take the Avenue of the Giants. These are the famed California redwood forests with enormous trees. I cruise the Avenue at 20 to 25 mph., which is kind of “look around” speed (if you're careful). The light as it filters through the branches and onto the fern strewn forest floor is as impressive as these tall, wide and ancient trees. The bark on the trees, formed like vertical rivulets reach out from the darkness of the deep shade and into ones imagination, much like watching clouds turn into familiar shapes on a partly sunny day. We've been here many times and plan to return many more. The Best Western in Garberville is always our home when there. Their every night wine and cheese party brings the hotel's guests together and we always meet interesting people there. This year it was Peter and Heidi (no kidding) from Berlin. They were here to hike the Kings Crest Trail. We found them to be so interesting that we had breakfast with them too. Now, they have friends in the United States and we have friends in Germany.

    Day four would take us home, but first we went through more redwood forests along Hwy. 101, through gorgeous wine country and along Clear Lake on Hwy 20 which used to be the resort of choice for San Francisco's “social elite”. Once past Clear Lake, we were on home footing and before long we were riding beside the smallest mountain range on Earth...the Sutter Buttes.

    Now, home again, we feel like two kids who just inherited a candy store. Make that a chain of candy stores. This is not a tour to remember. This is a tour to repeat.

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    Before shortening the name to Callahan, it was Callahan Ranch. The hotel has been empty for decades.

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    On the approach to Scott Summit, one can look back at the snowy Trinity Alps.

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    In Callahan...the one business that's still viable...the bar.

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    In Yreka's old town my wife said that she preferred the Corbin seat to this...

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    California's redwoods. You can't see the big, big trees here, but you can see how dark the forest is and how bright the filtered light is as it hits the forest floor.

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  3. #2
    Member mtvic's Avatar
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    Aug 2017
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    Nice! And a good reminder that 2 up can be accomplished on the CTX. Certainly more room on that wood chair though...
    2014 CTX 700 dct
    2016 NM4

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  5. #3
    Senior Member
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    May 2016
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    Illinois
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    Another great story with pictures!

  6. #4
    Senior Member
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    Foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California
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    I forgot to add this photo of the "Big Guy". He wanted to ride my CTX. I don't know, maybe he wanted to eat my CTX...hard to tell:

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtvic View Post
    Nice! And a good reminder that 2 up can be accomplished on the CTX. Certainly more room on that wood chair though...
    mtvic, you're right...the CTX does just fine as a 2 up machine. Terrain doesn't get much more rugged than on this tour and the bike pulls the grades well, cruises at highway speeds without complaint and with my manual transmission got an average of 73 mpg. Now, that's thrifty! Could it use better suspension? A little more power occasionally? Well, sure...but we both ride in reasonable comfort on it and it has never let us down in the mountains which is where we tour most of the time.
    Last edited by rickster; 04-24-2018 at 11:52 AM.

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  8. #5
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    The CTX is very capable bike for two up riding, I am a solid 240 lbs and was worried, but riding in the Blue Ridge was a breeze for the DCT in sport mode.

  9. #6
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    Sep 2015
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    hey, Rickster
    visit the "Rider" mag website.
    They are looking for ride stories and yours may interest them. Don't know if they pay, but bragging rights would be good if you got published.
    You'd need to triple the length and provide several good pics. Looks like the pics would be no problem.
    Your ending sentence is great.
    '14N
    keep your word, no excuses

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  11. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buddyrider View Post
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    The CTX is very capable bike for two up riding, I am a solid 240 lbs and was worried, but riding in the Blue Ridge was a breeze for the DCT in sport mode.
    You two look really comfy on the bike. I always like to read about and to see others touring together.



    Quote Originally Posted by ofdave View Post
    hey, Rickster
    visit the "Rider" mag website.
    They are looking for ride stories and yours may interest them. Don't know if they pay, but bragging rights would be good if you got published.
    You'd need to triple the length and provide several good pics. Looks like the pics would be no problem.
    Your ending sentence is great.
    Thanks ofdave...this is pretty specific to the CTX rather than to motorcycle touring in general, so I don't know if "Rider" would be too interested. I do appreciate your comment though...

  12. #8
    Senior Member
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    Jul 2016
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    Apple Valley, MN
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickster View Post
    You two look really comfy on the bike. I always like to read about and to see others touring together.





    Thanks ofdave...this is pretty specific to the CTX rather than to motorcycle touring in general, so I don't know if "Rider" would be too interested. I do appreciate your comment though...
    OH no, rider would love it. You'd cut SOME references to the C, but you could still give it a plug. Like merely adding that you were worried a bit that the 700 wouldn't have the guts to get up those passes. But then imagine my appreciation for what this ride can do! Something like that. As I was reading your story I thought this is rider mag quality.

  13. #9
    Member kujawskir's Avatar
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    Aug 2016
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    Carlisle, PA
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    I can't find the sport mode on my manual CTX, but the lady assures me it's on.

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