This was my fourth visit to Northern California with the 2013 Ducati Multistrada Pikes Peak. There is no question to me, this type of travel, this type of motorcycle, having it loaded with travel gear and all, riding it on the nice roads we find in Northern California, that is sport-touring and is perhaps what the Multistrada is all about. Much more than urban, and I should not even mention enduro, this motorcycle is about sport touring. Emphasis on sport or not, it does very well on touring duty.
We could leave the urban and enduro modes of this motorcycle as a function of its upright riding position, which I actually like and is what makes this motorcycle look they way it does, unique when it was launched in 2010.
Now that Ducati has developed the Multistrada Enduro, perhaps we can free ourselves from interpreting the Multistrada as a four-mode machine. I’m on my fourth year of ownership of this bike and I never used the “enduro” mode, even when I’ve taken this motorcycle off-pavement. And I only use “urban” in the very few instances when I get stuck on traffic and want the bike lower for a better reach to the ground from my 30 inch inseam. I can confirm, after three and a half years of ownership, this bike is a sport tourer.
In Touring or sport mode, my rides to Northern California, or anywhere requiring 500 mile days, with a good section of twisties, from tight to long sweeping curves, are the ideal environment for this motorcycle. It is where I get the most satisfaction from riding it, it is where this motorcycle makes the most sense to me. In my opinion, the Multistrada did set the bar higher for motorcycle travel offering a great combination of performance, comfort, and capacity to carry gear. Very few motorcycles offer this combination without compromising much one or the other functions. On top of that, since 2013 the Multistrada has the option of semi-active suspension, besides ABS, traction control and other electronic aids.
As an Italian citizen, I’m amazed my compatriots have conceptualized and delivered such a machine, and even more, have created a new segment for touring motorcycles. This bike is no longer unique in its configuration for several years already, and this field is growing each year with new bikes such as the KTM 1290 GT, the BMW S1000XR, just to mention a couple when we know there are so many other great sport-tourers, bikes with great and powerful motors built on travel-ready frames with comfortable adventure style ergonomics, and packed with a suite of high tech riding aids.
The Multistrada remains such a great product, it has been the leader of this segment, and since the 2015 model, with its DVT version, it has raised the sport touring bar. We, the consumers, benefit from such improvements as these bikes have brought to the market riding modes, motorcycle stability control (cornering ABS), semi-active suspension, traction control and of course, more power… When time comes to upgrade my Multistrada, there are these other options out there, but for now the Pikes Peak DVT is at the top of my short list. For now, though, I’m really happy with what I have. And the report on this trip describes why.
As I was saying at the beginning of this post, before I got distracted declaring my respect to this type of motorcycle and in particular to the Ducati Multistrada Pikes Peak, this was my fourth trip to Northern California with this bike. These gatherings are organized by a group of Ducati riders who participate in the Ducati.ms forum. Locations are chosen with the goal being to provide riders with a great selection of fun roads. This gives me a chance to talk about the Butler motorcycle maps.
There are a few books describing great riding roads, and like those books, these series of maps rate roads based on a motorcycling criteria. I would have color-coded them differently, going from yellow to orange to red as a gradient. Instead, they rate yellow at the highest level, then red and last orange. Bottom line, yellow, red and orange roads are expected to be fun riding roads.
Although not using Butler maps in specific, we decide the location for these meetings using a similar criteria to what Butler maps provide. On my first two years attending these meetings the get together was in Graeagle. And the last two years have been in Weaverville.
For next year, there has been talks about Topaz Lake close to the border with Nevada and not too far from Yosemite. Who knows, these decisions are not final until the winter, but I like the idea of changing locations every two years or so and exploring new areas. I’ve never been to Yosemite.
Back to 2016, this year’s ride from Eugene to Weaverville was rather eventful. I was supposed to leave early in the morning with a plan to go to Crater Lake and from there to Klamath Falls and then Weed (now in California) and from Weed take SR3 to Weaverville. Since I didn’t leave until 10 in the morning, I by-passed Crater Lake on this trip.
These trips happen in the later part of June, which usually is already settled for summer at these parts of the world, meaning chances for rain are very small. Not the case for 2016. My choice of roads turned adventuresome as I got low temperatures at the Cascades.
And lots of rain for good portions of the trip, including hail!
And then all sorts of deer… can you see this one right in the middle of the road? Well, deer is not the result of my choice of roads, but I had never seen these many deer crossing roads like on this trip.
And even one elk. That thing was tall!
From these two pictures it looks as if the deer and the elk are far away, but remember, this is taken with the GoPro camera on its widest angle. In other words, they were not too far from me. And this is just a sample of the more than seven deer I encountered on this trip. The ones that I saw, that is, because they crossed the road in front of me, I would guess there were plenty more. Be careful out there!
I made it into Weaverville by 6pm under a good amount of rain. I got settled at the hotel, I was the first to arrive, so I went on a walk to “downtown” Weaverville for dinner.
By the time I was back from dinner others had arrived. The plan was to go decide which way to go on the next day, chose a set of the many nice roads in the area. Instead, it rained, it rained a lot!
That’s sheets of water…
A few guys ventured out of town and got a good day of riding, as the rain was mostly circumscript to Weaverville, after all. I joined the lazy bastards crew.
And that’s how things stayed until the caterers showed up with dinner.
On the next day, Saturday, my last day on this trip, we woke up to a sunny day, no indication it had ever rained in that area.
The plan was to go to Eureka and have lunch at the Black Lightening Cafe, an establishment owned by a rider and which has become a hangout for local motorcyclists or any rider traveling on 101. Because Eureka is on my way back home I decided to travel north from Eureka in the direction of home. Everyone got ready in time and we were off towards Eureka, traveling on SR3 and then SR36, two great, highly recommended roads (check the map photo above, plenty of yellow, red and orange rated segments on these roads).
I have some video of the ride on SR3, but it is taking me a long time to get it ready, editing video is not my strongest suite (yet) but I promise I will put something together for your enjoyment. Video is a lot better in telling how fun these roads are, much better than any words I could use to describe what it is to ride on these roads. We stopped a couple of times along the way.
We made it to Eureka just at the right time for lunch.
All settled for lunch!
Great food, great conversations. The Black Lightening Cafe also sells riding gear, by the way.
From there I said my goodbyes to the gang and started my ride back home via 101, enjoying the coast.
I thought about spending the night at some place along the way but in the end, as I continued north, I realized I could make it home before dark.
Despite the rain on the way down to California, despite the heavy rain on the day I had scheduled to ride in the area without the travel load on the motorcycle, I can’t complain. It was fun riding to California in the rain, it was a small adventure, made it more interesting, and it was fun riding on the way down from Weaverville to Eureka, even with the bike loaded, trying to keep up with the faster riders. After all, this is what this bike is all about. 500 mile-days is nothing for this bike, traveling with it loaded, not a big deal, even when things get one or two notches up toward the sport side of things.
Sunday morning I washed the bike, checked all fluids, cleaned and lubed the chain, it was ready for the next adventure. What an amazing machine.
Also, I want to make a note, this is a great group of riders and I really enjoy this annual event, I’m already looking forward to next year’s meeting, be it in Topaz Lake or not. People from several riding backgrounds show up, some don’t even ride a Ducati (they perhaps once had a Ducati motorcycle, maybe not). There is a great sense of camaraderie within the group and to me, in particular, these events are part of my road riding school. Among this group of riders there are some excellent riders and following them on the road has been a lesson on fast but safe road riding every time. Thank you Jessica and Chip! And I want to include a special thank you to Scott and Jessica who organize these events!
What’s next for this site? I still have several reports to draft and publish: The CB500X Adventure and its maiden ride in the Death Valley; riding the XDiavel, riding the BMW R nineT (again!), and talking about motorcycle GPS. And videos to edit to complement the stories! Stay tuned!