West Coast Magnas Home Page

West Coast Magnas

Ride Reports

Rider Photos

Uploaded Videos

Original Ride Page
Includes maps, intinerary, routes, details

June 24th - 30th, 2007
Ride Reports - Posted July 9, 2007
Ride ReportsPhotosVideosOriginal Ride Info

Ride Reports ---- PokeyV65 ----- Magniac
From PokeyV65: Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5

It all started at Mike's Pizza, a small independent pizza joint with great pizza, ribs and sandwiches for a meet & greet. 16 guys anticipating 5 days riding some of California's most beautiful and twisty roads. After dinner, we immediately started (continued) the talk-motorcycles-over-beer-by-the-pool tradition.


After the Monday morning chow time, there was a gathering of 13 Magnas, a Shadow, 1 FJR, a Vulcan and an FZ1 in the
parking lot of the hotel. The weather seemed perfect, the right temp for Mesh or light jackets, little wind and no clouds in sight. A quick safety/group ride meeting and we were ready for some fun. With Magniac in the lead, we launched up (east) Hwy 108. The relatively short run to Strawberry gave everyone an chance to get comfortable riding together and see where they fit in line. [video]

Hwy 108 is a loonnngggg string of sweeps and twists on a road in fabulous shape (other than a few places where to-large-for-the-road RV's kicked some sand or gravel into the road). This run was pure heaven. A perfect first day road. Everyone was able to ride at their own pace, test their limits and gauge the other riders. We gathered back together as a group at a few scenic stops, like the Lake Donnell Overlook and of course the summit of Sonora Pass. There were a lot of grins when we stopped for gas in Bridgeport, hands gyrating like fighter pilots, talking about the ride.

For lunch we stopped at a highly recommend Mobil station. Yep, lunch was a gas station. Well, actually the Whoa Nellie Toomey Deli inside the Mobil. Ask anyone that works in the area or Yosemite and they say, "If you're going out the 120, wait and eat at the Mobil station. Best food in Yosemite". So that's what we did: Buffalo meatloaf, mango salsa, ginger coleslaw, burgers, lobster taquitos, pizza - something for every taste and wallet. Try it.

Tioga Hwy (120) west through Yosemite National Park, majestic. It's a curvy road, winding through amazingly beautiful vistas. The tourist traffic (actually pretty light on a summer Monday) and federal speed limits keep you riding slow enough to actually enjoy your surroundings. There are portions that feel like a moonscape right next to forests of giant pines. It's a very serene and impressive ride. At one overlook, you have a chance to see Halfdome from the backside. Lots of photos taken in this part of the day [start here].

We continue on Hwy 120 through and out of Yosemite. Right near the end of the days ride, still on 120, is the New Priest Grade. A fun 3 mile stretch of road, with sweeps, twists and switchbacks that drops almost 2500 feet. A number of riders enjoyed this stretch a lot.

Back in Sonora, after group dinner, we gathered back at the pool, drank some beer (& soda) and lied about the days adventures. Till the hotel girl kicked us out at 10:30 (the pool officially closed at 10).

Day 2

The morning gathering lost a Magna or two, Beerme's FJR and Quietriders FZ1. But it was another beautiful day. A touch warmer at 9am than the day before. We were heading for Yosemite again and knew we wanted to get some elevation early to get away from the heat.

We headed south on Hwy 49 where we picked up Todd on his Shadow 750. The stretch from Moccasin to Coulterville is fun with it's long wide sweeps and a grouping of tighter twists, but it's only an appetizer to the run from Coulterville to Bear Valley (Mariposa).

This portion of Hwy 49, now being referred to by some as the
"little" Dragon, is only two simple things; 1) a road kept in great shape and condition, 2) a long collection of twists linked to make a very technical motorcycle riding road, (okay three things), 3) a blast. Plenty of rock faces on one side and cliffs with 1000 foot drop offs on the other side add an aire of danger to riding this road. Many of the turn radiuses reduce right in the middle, adding a touch of pucker factor to the fun. Even riding this road leisurely, you have to concentrate. The twisty part ends at a large overlook, from which you'll see many of our pictures. It's hard to capture in the photographs the road itself and grins it causes. [video]

Heading on towards Oakhurst on Triangle Rd., we had a little mishap. So after a little wrenching, a doctors check-up (and okay) and some yard clean-up, we decided to eat lunch at "Happy Burger, the biggest menu in the Sierras". Plenty of quirky places to eat in the mountains. And with all the cameras on the ride, people this time were careful about how they ate their hotdogs.

Because we were now running a little behind, we decided to proceed to Yosemite along Hwy 140 that's runs next to the untamed Merced river.

Once into Yosemite, we headed straight for Glacier Point. Not only is Glacier Point one of the most beautiful and scenic spots in Yosemite, it's a fun road getting there. Half Dome, El Capitan, waterfalls, the valley floor, it's all visible from Glacier Point. No visit to Yosemite would be complete without the drive and short hike to look over Glacier Points' cliff. [photos]

After some sightseeing and a snack break, we hit the road again and cruised through Yosemite Valley. We crossed the junction from 140 to 120, which is very scenic in it's own right, with tunnels and the signature rock guardrails. Leaving Yosemite through the northern Hwy 120 gate.

This gave the riders the chance to ride the New Priest Grade once again. Then back into Sonora for more loitering by the pool. There was some drinking, a few cigars and a lotta bull. We passed out some goodies from the sponsors this evening; books, Magna parts, shirts, glasses, key chains, hats, volt meters, etc. Many thanks to our sponsors; Cycle-istiC, Cruiser Customizing, Gold Rush Motorsports, KEW Productions.

Day 3

The group, smaller by one Magna, met in the parking lot of
Gold Rush Honda, one of our event sponsors. After checking out the newest Hondas (and probably the Yamahas too) and the accessories, we mounted up and started our transition to Lake Tahoe.

The fist stop was Columbia State Park. A well preserved old west town, with lots of vintage stuff including a working black smith. While most of the group stayed their for an (much to long I'm told) hour. EzRydar sat in the Jamestown/Sonora Harley Davidson dealership parking lot wrenching on his V65. He had a worn tire (after riding all the way from Michigan to get here). The HD had the tire he needed and agreed to do a fast mounting job the very morning we called them. So EZ pulled it off, HD mounted and balanced, then EZ & PV65 got it all back together - with loaned tools and some free HD grease. (A big thanks to Jamestown HD and Cindy). Then they caught up.

Next came the Big Trees on Hwy 4. Most of the guys walked the short northern loop to view the amazingly large redwoods. As it turns out, the trees are still really big. Check out the various picture sets (or the 2004 MRA rally) to see them.

We stopped for lunch in Arnold. We had Mexican food in a place where there appeared to be only one guy working; host, waiter, cook, busboy all rolled into one.

We continued east on Hwy 4 on wide roads and big sweeps until we reached the Bear Valley recreation (ski) area where the road began to narrow down. Just as it turns into a single lane with no center line, we stopped at the beautiful and serene Lake Alpine. This high mountain lake is right from a postcard. It actually even has facilities and a bicycle path all the way around it. It's a great one day get away - or a break point for some big mean biker dudes needing to sleep off a big Mexican meal.

Many of the riders mentioned that this next section of Hwy 4, Ebbetts Pass, was there absolute favorite. A narrow road, one & a half lanes at best, with no center line. Nice smooth asphalt that weaves through the high Sierras like a snake. Ultra tight twists through medium sweeps make you work for your ride. Crisp, clean, cool air scented with pine and "mountain" smell. And almost no traffic, almost.

The only down side is any traffic. Since it's only a lane and a half, the cagers coming at you tend to drive dead center middle of the road. We encouraged all riders to ride in "their lane" - stay on the right half. Coming around a tight turn and facing the grill of a raised Dodge Ram can be fairly unnerving. And nearly all oncoming traffic feels like a "close call". By starting in the right half, you make it easy for the cagers to get "mostly" on their side in time.

An experience unique to this Hwy 4 ride, was the polite lead cow. Much of the high Sierras are used for range cattle, so they just wander around up there and you almost never see them. But this particular day, some cowboys on horseback must have been rounding up their cattle. I was following right behind the lead, Magniac, shooting some video and pulled to the side of the road. I then heard a cow bell and saw a huge cow standing off the side of the road. I motioned to the upcoming riders to slow as they passed (most never even noticed this cow, as I hadn't while moving). The cow patiently waited, watching the road, for all the riders to pass. When the last group went by, she look at me, seemed to shrug and walked out onto the road hugging the right shoulder. Followed by the rest of the herd. They stayed to the right and traveled up Hwy 4. Finally a couple of cowboys showed up, waved, and followed the cows. I slowly cruised past on the left. The cows followed better rules of the road than most cagers did.

Hwy 4 finally untwisted a little and widened up. And we soon transitioned to Hwy 89, Monitor Pass. Monitor is very high and consists mainly of sweeps. It offers impressive views of the high Sierras - the mountains and its high elevation valleys. Once over the pass, it loses elevation at an astonishing rate as it drops down to Hwy 395 at Topaz Lake.

We finished the ride day, by shooting up the 395 until we could cross the Kingsbury Pass into the Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe and ride past the casinos to our lodging on the CA side.

The Fire. Once we were in South Lake Tahoe, there were fire fighters everywhere. Fire engines and trucks of all shapes and sizes. Signs galore, some professionally made while some were spray painted onto white bedsheets all saying, "Thank you fire fighters". What there wasn't was, smoke. You couldn't really see any smoke; no big columns, no black skies, not even haze. You couldn't really smell smoke either. Other than huge roving bands of fire fighters (and the otherwise mostly empty town), you wouldn't know there was a fire. Kinda weird.

That night we ate at a BBQ place. It was just 14 of us and 4 fire fighters. The employees said usually, it would be packed with a wait to get in. Our tired bunch split up going separate ways. A few hung out to talk and drink a little (and 1 person drank a lot :-)

Day 4

We gathered up (minus one regretful excessive drinker) for the Tahoe Loop. We even gained one Shaadow rider that day. He lived in South Lake Tahoe. His home was only yards from the fires path a day or so before. His whole neighbor hood was spared. And now he got to ride with us. His luck was good.

Because of the fire, the west side (Hwy 89) was closed, so we headed north up the east side (Hwy 28) of Lake Tahoe. Man it's one pretty lake. Ton of traffic though, since everybody was being routed to a single road. Other than missing the west shoreline, the ride route proceeded as planned.

This was a day of misadventures. #1) we planned on connecting up with a WCM member and his son at the 80 & 89 junction. We were running about 10 minutes late because of the east shoreline detour, and they thought we got ahead of them. So they cruised ahead trying to "catch" us, but we were behind them. Unfortunately they were riding to a week old version of the route and headed for Loyalton, which was no longer on our route. After some cell phone voicemails we stopped in
Sierraville and waited to see if we could get synced-up. After about 30 minutes and no more voicemails or cell tag, we had to go on with the ride.

We switched from the sedate 89 to the more rowdy Hwy 49. Fun twisties & sweeps where we could open up a bit. We even got a little video. After a short run on 49, we came to Gold Lake Rd.

Gold Lake Rd. turned out to be more sedate ride event though it was a smaller, less traveled piece of asphalt than Hwy 49. Misadventure #2) the road sign said three miles to Gold Lake - turns out the turn off was only 1 mile up the road. We passed it. We preformed the snake of Magnas U-turn and went back.

Gold Lake [photos here]. Another very pretty alpine lake in the high Sierras. The common elements; clear cool water, fresh crisp air, pine trees and few people. It was a nice place of a break and some picture taking. Back to Gold Lake Rd. to 89.

We decided to stop earlier in the route to get food in Portola. We needed to get from 89 to 70 east. Misadventure #3) turns out the entrance to Hwy 70 is on the other side of the tracks and you can't get there through Blairsville. Another long snake of Magnas turn around (but this one wasn't as pretty).

Misadventure #4) We pulled into Portola looking for a place for sit down food (we were behind at this point because of misadventure #1. We traveled from one edge of Portola to the other looking for the "right" sit-down service food place. Nothing. So we went back down Hwy 70 a couple of miles back to a place called the "Cheese Burger Restaurant". Turns our to be the corporate headquarters for the "Cheese Burger Restaurant", ONLY the corporate headquarters. So, back into Portolla we tired the "Log Cabin" (which looked to expensive the first time). Check the door, says open 11 to 9. Yea. Go inside, nothing seems ready for use. Couple of ladies just stare at us. "We're not open" they say. "Sign says 11 to 9" I say. "Really, it says that?" she says. "Nevermind" Says I. The group chose between Subway and Frosties and ate at the outside seating of their choosing.

Hwy 70 to Hwy 395 to Reno. Kind of a yawn.

Traffic on 395 through Reno. At the exit to NV's Hwy 341 to Virgina City we experience misadventure #5. We were pretty strung out after the freeway riding and Magniac was pre-occupied with trying to gather his flock after exiting 395 - and we blew right past our turn to historic Virginia City. So after a 5 or 6 miles we did another Magna Snake U-turn and headed back tour our turn - the Comstock Highway. It's a fun road with straights, sweeps, twists, hills, cliffs and cool desert views.

Virginia City [photos]. Combination real town, historic city, tourist trap. The group wandered a street of old fashioned stuff and pubs. EZRydar was putting some coin into the old fashioned slot machines in one of the old style casinos. About the same payoff as a parking meter. So then Magniac comes out of "Grandma's Fudge and Ice Cream" place with this huge cone of Ice Cream. Grinning he says, "two scoops". So I go in to get a small piece of fancy fudge (dark chocolate with Almonds) and a bottled water. When I see the cute young lady working behind the counter, I see how the idea for two scoops popped into Magniacs head.

We backtracked over Comstock Highway, heading to Mount Rose (Hwy 431) and Lake Tahoe. Nice road, with sweeps and views - first of Nevada/Reno and then of the Sierras and Lake Tahoe. Pulling into Incline Village, we wanted to find a place to get some good photos of Lake Tahoe [photos].

Misadventure #6) Our local Shadow rider took the lead to show us a nice photo spot and show us some of the rich peoples homes. Unfortunately, traffic separated us, a lot. And the back section didn't know what the front section decided to do. (the CB's failed us at this point too.) The result, some riders got photos, and some just rode on back to the hotel.

Misadventure #7) Dinners seemed to be the tough meals for us. After some discussion, and many destination changes, we finally gathered at Chevy's for dinner - minus a few gamblers and our local Shadow rider that had a Survivors Party in their S. L. Tahoe neighborhood.

It was a good, yet frustrating day. People were still smiling.

Day 5

We got started a little earlier, cause many people were bailing for home straight from South Lake Tahoe. A lot of handshaking and goodbyes later, there were three start groups. Raiderboy and David took the 50 into Sacramento to visit family. EZRydar, Brettsmag, Doug01Mag and SteveHD left to catch to the Kingsbury Grade to 395 and on to LA. And the rest continued on the planned ride over the 88 back to the Cali side of the Sierras.

Kirwan9 bailed at the junction of 88 & 89 wanting to ride Monitor Pass again and then 395 to San Diego. The rest continued on the 88 (frickin' convoy of frickin' trucks) to the 26. Hwy 26 is a fun, lightly traveled collection of twisties, sweeps and switchbacks rolling its way through the oak strewn foothills. If you can ride the 26 sometime, do it.

Lunch at the diner Mel's in Jackson was a good meal and nice final group stop. From there Bones750 and Rod (1100 Shadow) bailed for home. But Twodawgzz friend, Carl joined us on his HD.

We headed down Hwy 49 and then just before jumping onto Pool Station Road, Roger from S.L. Tahoe headed home (via Hwy4) on his Shadow.

Pool Station Road makes a nice alternative to the busy Hwy 49 from Jackson to Angels Camp (or even Sonora). It's lightly traveled, with good asphalt in it's twists and sweeps. We continued that route trough Copperopolis till we hit Hwy 108 and then breezed back into Sonora. Marvin and Carl bailed at this point and took off for their respective homes.

That left Magniac, Twodawgzz and PokeyV65. We decided to squeeze in one more ride. This time we headed in the opposite direction on the 120 and climbed New Priest Grade. It's at least as much fun going up. We continued on 120 until the Cherry Lake turnoff.

Cherry Lake Rd is 1 an ½ half lanes and no center line. It winds it's way down the side of the canyon towards the very hidden Cherry Lake. This road is just plain fun. It almost never goes in a straight line. Curves and turns to your hearts content. The couple of corners with sand & gravel and the close call bear sighting added some pucker factor. After a 1 minute viewing of the lake at the end of Cherry Lake Rd., we jumped onto Cottonwood Rd. and climbed the opposite side of the canyon back towards Sonora. This road is a real two full lanes, with a center line - but, the asphalt was not in near as good of shape. Had to make sure you missed some of the gaping holes in the road. Definitely don't miss these two roads if you have the chance to ride them.

The three of us finished up right where we started, Mike's Pizza. We decided to stop in for another helping of the tasty treat.

Thanks to everyone the attended, wanted to attend, attempted to attend, helped plan, helped execute, sponsored, assisted or just wished us well.

It was an excellent adventure.


From Magniac:

I would count the WCM Sierras Tour as a resounding success. We had a great group of people, everyone got along well with each other, and had many good times in the evenings together (with a little beer) to relax after fantastic days of riding spectacular roads. Too many superlatives, you say? Not so. It really was a super week.

Keith did an amazing job of planning and printing out itineraries for the week, including maps for everyone of the planned routes showing the roads, complete with gas and meal stops. He also took on the grueling job of riding drag (not to be confused with riding IN drag) so that no one would be left behind, and also so that he could take videos of the riders in front of him. His hardest work, however, was in the weeks and months beforehand: helping choose the hotels, planning the routes, figuring out gas and meal stops, making sure the roads and mountain passes would be open and clear, keeping the website updated, etc. “Thanks, Keith” seems to be totally inadequate. I got the easy job, ride leader, which just meant I got to ride in front.

We got a little bad news just before the event. Deb from Canada had an accident with her Magna, and broke her arm, so she and Ian couldn’t make it. Also, my wife, Val, slipped and badly sprained her left ankle, making shifting impossible, so she had to sit this one out also, although she was able to drive the car (automatic trans) up to Tahoe to spend Wednesday and Thursday nights with us, hobbling around the motel. Except for the two nights Val was with us, it was a “boys’ week out”.

We rode east over Sonora Pass, west over Tioga Pass, made a loop through Yosemite Nat’l Park, and saw the giant redwoods at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. We went east over Ebetts and Monitor passes, and west over Daggetts Pass (Kingsbury Grade), rode along the shore of Lake Tahoe, and finally saw some traffic as we came through Reno. We experienced elevation changes from under 2,000 ft to well over 9,000 ft.

There was only one accident to mar the ride. A Vulcan went down on a left-hander, getting into the dirt and low-siding, going down a 6-foot sloped embankment. The bike suffered some damage to the front fender, left side turn signal, highway bar, and saddlebag. Fortunately, the rider was not seriously injured, but had a really good bruise to his left hip. Both he and the bike were able to continue, and we finished the ride without further incident.

The big fire at Lake Tahoe was going full bore when we arrived. It was a major disaster, burning over 3,000 acres and hundreds of homes. We detoured to the other side of the lake for our Thursday ride through a little of Northern Cal, coming back by way of historic Virginia City, Nevada. One of the more fortunate locals, George, whose home was spared, rode with us Thursday and Friday.

We said our farewells to some riders on Friday morning who decided to head back to Southern Cal via hwy 395 instead of going to Jackson, on hwy 49. Probably a wise choice, as it knocked the better part of a day off their trip home. Joe left with them on his way back to Michigan. More people split after our lunch at Mel’s in Jackson, leaving the rest of us to ride back to our starting point in Sonora. More left from there, so Keith, Walt, and I had a relaxing pizza dinner and spent the night, making our separate ways home on Saturday.

It was a terrific week, and I would like to thank all the riders who attended for making it a positive and memorable event. I hope we can all get together again soon for another.


© 2007 WestCoastMagnas.com