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Author Topic: I'm riding to California in April. Route suggestions, please?  (Read 3123 times)

Offline vespadaddy

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I'm planning to ride to Corning, CA for a training class, leaving Tues, April 19th.  I need to be in Corning, CA on Sunday, April 24th.  Corning is about 115 miles North of Sacramento, CA.

Because I have a hard deadline for arrival in Corning, my plan is to pile on a lot of miles the first 2 days, in hopes of having the time to take the fun, twisty routes as I approach the mountains.

I would love to hear suggestions on general routes, and on specific roads I should seek out along the way.  Google maps suggests 3 main options:

1) MN west across North Dakota, Across Montana to Bozeman, then cutting across the SouthWest corner of Idaho, then South through Nevada until Wells, where routes #1 and #2 converge.

2) MN to the SouthWestern corner of the state, across South Dakota, then through Wyoming toward Salt Lake City, then across the remainder of Utah, into Nevada, until Wells, where the routes converge.

3)South to Des Moines, then West to Omaha, West all the way across Nebraska, until the route converges with route option # 2 above, at Rawlins, Wyoming. The rest follows route #2 above.

Here is a link to the Google Maps routes I am referencing:  https://www.google.com/maps/dir/100+Melbourne+Avenue+Southeast,+Minneapolis,+MN+55414-3516,+USA/Corning,+CA+96021/@41.1038795,-105.2195826,5.5z/data=!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x52b32cda475cb875:0xd874aa2807cfeb7a!2m2!1d-93.2130466!2d44.9657731!1m5!1m1!1s0x8082f29c136ae2f5:0x103342cc7d25c3f3!2m2!1d-122.1791556!2d39.9276572

If that link is wonky, it is just the routes that pop up when I ask Google Maps to calculate a route from Mpls to Corning, CA.

It is about a 2,000 mile trip, according to GMaps, and I have given myself 6 days to get there, which should be more than enough time, especially if I try hard to make miles on the first 2 days. (I'm aware that this is just over a 2 day ride for some of you Iron Butt types).

Should I be concerned about getting snowed out of any routes through the mountains in late April?  If so, perhaps I would be wise to pick the southernmost route, in case I need to detour South around the mountains?

I would love suggestions on both the best of the 3 approaches listed above (routes 1, 2 or 3), as well as specific roads or sights I should see along the way.  Similarly, if none of the general routes suggested by Google are the best, please chime in with your suggestions.

Thanks so much in advance for sharing your wisdom.  I'm really looking forward to this ride (and the ride back home 1 month later).
Vespadaddy Dan

EDITS:
I'll be riding my FJ-09, loaded up with sidecases, trunk, and a tiny tank ring bag.  I have a heated jacket liner, and heated grips.

Interstate riding isn't my fave, but I have helmet speakers fed via bluetooth from my phone, so I should be good for 600-800 miles in a day, I hope.  I can doo 600 no problem if it is twisty, but the slab gets boring.

Reason for the ride: I'm taking a class at Rainbow Aviation to get certified as a light sport airplane maintenance mechanic.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2016, 02:39:51 PM by vespadaddy »

Offline beedawg

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Re: I'm riding to California in April. Route suggestions, please?
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2016, 02:05:34 PM »
Dan,

First, three questions:

1. What bike are you riding?

2. You have a good heated jacket liner, right?

3. How's your tolerance for interstate highways?

I'm curious what the training is, and whether it's motorcycle training.

Your plan to allow six days is a good one.

Here's a route I might take if I was going in April, but I'd keep an eye on the weather and modify it as necessary.

https://goo.gl/maps/oNCisPKipMA2

My biggest concern would probably be Donner Pass, and I'd monitor it with something like this:

http://www.magnifeye.com/chains.php#map

I rode to Aspen once in early April. It was the early 1980s, when I was pretty much invincible. Made it to Boulder the first day, Aspen the second. No electrics, was way too cold for way too long. Wore heavy snowmobile mittens, a snowmobile suit, and a Nava (anyone remember those?) full-face helmet. I hit snow coming out of the Eisenhower Tunnel, and it froze on my visor, which blinded me. I couldn't open the visor with my big fat mittens, so I braked gently, hoping that if I crashed, it'd be in the median. I lucked out and stayed on the road and didn't get hit from behind.

Brent
« Last Edit: March 26, 2016, 02:26:40 PM by beedawg »

Offline vespadaddy

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Re: I'm riding to California in April. Route suggestions, please?
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2016, 02:40:45 PM »
Awesome.  Thanks for the intel.  I edited the OP with answers at the end.

Offline Ray916MN

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Re: I'm riding to California in April. Route suggestions, please?
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2016, 02:45:03 PM »
Given your schedule, I'm not sure it is a good idea to attempt this. The Rockies represent a high desert range which can receive large amounts of snow in very short periods of time up through Memorial Day. When I lived in Boulder I had to cancel a Memorial Day ride because we got hit with 18" of snow in Boulder. In April you need to think about getting as far south as possible to reduce the risk of getting stuck by weather.

I'd suggest looking for a route to Denver with an option of going across 50 to SLC  if the weather is good. A  back up route would be coming across the south of Colorado on 160 and out of the southwest corner of the state (Cortez) which sets you up to use 12 across the southern Utah.

Offline vespadaddy

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Re: I'm riding to California in April. Route suggestions, please?
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2016, 08:48:04 PM »
Ugh, and, thanks.  This is the sort of intel I was hoping for, as I can check the forecast before I go, and enroute, and adjust as necessary.  Thanks!

Offline vespadaddy

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Re: I'm riding to California in April. Route suggestions, please?
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2016, 03:49:13 PM »
Given your schedule, I'm not sure it is a good idea to attempt this.

Yeah, but good idea or not, this is what I'm going to do.  I figure the worst case scenario would see me renting a uhaul truck for a 1-way trip over the mountains. 
I'll need my bike for ground transportation back and forth to class in Corning, and for weekend fun, too.  I'm fully committed to riding there.

Offline vince

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Re: I'm riding to California in April. Route suggestions, please?
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2016, 08:40:39 PM »
Everything Rays said. I would go though Denver and stay South. I have made this trip many times in mid May. I can tell you that most 2 lane roads are still closed by the 1st of June. I would take the interstate all the way out and just get there in time for your class. Put your riding days on the return trip.
I can tell you that in June one year the road to Bozeman just opened up the day before. I was so cold that day that I rode up to a house and knocked on the door and asked if I could stand in their doorway to warm up. They were really nice. They even made me hot chocolate and I was on my way.
Good luck and have fun.

Offline beedawg

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Re: I'm riding to California in April. Route suggestions, please?
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2016, 06:51:11 AM »
There's a slight chance you could be snowed on in the high elevations, so you should avoid high elevations. The southern Wyoming route does this. If it goes over 7000 feet anywhere, it's not for long. Colorado's another story. US 50 takes you over Monarch Pass, which is at least 11,000 feet. Even 160 takes gets close to 11,000 feet at Wolf Creek Pass. I would NOT go through Denver unless I was going south on I-25 to Albuquerque.

When it snows at altitude, it's not like what we usually see in Minnesota. I've ridden in very heavy snow in the mountains several times, and the worst problem I've had is the lack of visibility. Well, that and being cold. The snow is almost always much drier than what we're used to here, and it evaporates pretty quickly. I'm not saying it can't be a problem, but with your attitude of maybe needing to rent a U-Haul one way through the mountains (although it might be a challenge to find one when you need it), I think you'll be fine.

I tweaked my route a little

https://goo.gl/maps/dwpeirgQjk52

mostly to get off I-90 in South Dakota. The only time I don't prefer two-lanes is when I'm in a big hurry. You might prefer I-90, but I'd avoid the Black Hills unless it's relatively warm.

I think you'll be fine. Long-distance riding is so much easier than it used to be. If you get cold, you're rarely more than an hour away from a warm place where you can stay as long as you want. Your bike should be reliable. It's not like you're running the Iditarod or riding to the North Pole.

Good luck, be safe, and have fun!

Brent

Offline vespadaddy

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Re: I'm riding to California in April. Route suggestions, please?
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2016, 06:18:50 PM »
Fantastic intel, everyone.  Much thanks.

It makes sense to avoid the higher altitudes, so I'm inclined to take your suggestions, Brent.

Given that I intend to pack the miles on during what I assume will be the more boring, first half of the trip, and will likely follow the general route Brent suggested, I would love to hear about any fun and gorgeous 2 lane roads that I could substitute instead of the slab on the latter half of the trip.

Thanks again to everyone for the tips.

Offline Jvs

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Re: I'm riding to California in April. Route suggestions, please?
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2016, 06:41:00 AM »
Have a fun and safe trip!

Hope to see lots of pics. Bet you will either grow to love or hate the new bike.
"you thought you had it bad, try staring at his butt crack the last 50 miles"

Offline vespadaddy

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Re: I'm riding to California in April. Route suggestions, please?
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2016, 06:11:52 PM »
After a year and 4500 miles, I can confidently say this is a fantastic motorcycle.  Plenty of power, a great aftermarket electronic cruise control, comfy seating and the most fun motor I have ever owned.  For me, this bike is a keeper.

I'll be interested to see how much of the slab I can take in a day.  I find the freeway riding to be more tiring than the twisty riding.

I'll be taking Brent's route on the way out there, and I leave Tuesday.  There will be pics.

Offline pkpk

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Re: I'm riding to California in April. Route suggestions, please?
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2016, 06:14:17 PM »
They were really nice. They even made me hot chocolate and I was on my way.

"Just feed him something sweet Martha, don't look him directly in the eye and he will be on his way."

Offline vespadaddy

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Re: I'm riding to California in April. Route suggestions, please?
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2016, 08:09:02 PM »
Is it still black magic to convert a google maps route:  https://goo.gl/maps/dwpeirgQjk52  to a file I can export to my Garmin?

I've been monkeying with it for about 90 minutes and my brain hurts.  I can always just use the phone for Navi, but it would be nice to have the additional features of the Garmnin while underway.

Offline beedawg

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Re: I'm riding to California in April. Route suggestions, please?
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2016, 06:21:30 AM »

Here's the route as a track:
http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/download/convert/20160419045513-73062-data.gpx

You should download the track, open it in Basecamp, (which has the same maps installed as your GPS, right?), convert the track to a route, and then send the route to your GPS.

You can call me if any of this doesn't work or doesn't make sense. I'll be around for a while this morning.


====================================================


I wrote the rest of this earlier, before deciding to just do the conversion to GPX for you.

I use GPS Visualizer to convert my Google route to a track and then, depending on the GPS, I either load the track directly, or convert it to a route in Basecamp and load it to the GPS through Basecamp.

The link to the GPS Visualizer page is http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/convert_input?convert_format=gpx

Enter the URL of the Google map on the page referenced above, where it says "Or provide the URL of a file on the Web:" and you'll get a link to a GPX file. Basecamp can convert that track to a route, if that's what you need. (Although that can cause much confusion if the maps on your GPS don't match your maps in Basecamp!)

I use prehistoric GPSes: GPSMap60CSx for dirt and StreetPilot 2610 for street. I don't know whether either of these methods work with modern GPSes.

Good luck on your ride. Have fun, be safe!


Brent

Offline vespadaddy

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Re: I'm riding to California in April. Route suggestions, please?
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2016, 06:28:59 AM »
Thanks, Brent!
I'll give this a whirl before I head out this am.  Much obliged!
Dan