Taking the Ducati Multistrada to Northern California

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.

2013 Multistrada Pikes Peak - All packed and ready to go!

2013 Multistrada Pikes Peak – All packed and ready to go for another trip to Northern California!

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.

I basically only ride it on Touring or Sort modes.

I basically only ride it on Touring or Sort modes.

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.

Raring to go!

Raring to go!

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.

The Multistrada with Mt Shasta on the background

The Multistrada with Mt Shasta on the background

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.

KTM 1290 GT

KTM 1290 GT

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.

The Multistrada Pikes Peak entering California for the fourth time.

The Multistrada Pikes Peak entering California for the fourth time.

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.

Butler Motorcycle Maps

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.

Wouldn't you change the colors to from yellow to orange to red or vice-versa?

Wouldn’t you change the colors to from yellow to orange to red or vice-versa?

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.

Weaverville, surrounded by G1 (yellow), G2 (red) and G3 (orange) roads.

Weaverville, surrounded by G1 (yellow), G2 (red) and G3 (orange) roads.

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.

Next year, Topaz Lake?

Next year, Topaz Lake?

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.

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And lots of rain for good portions of the trip, including hail!

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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.

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And even one elk.  That thing was tall!

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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.

Downtown Weaverville

Downtown Weaverville, June 2016

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!

The bike in the porch of my hotel cabin, protected from torrential rains

The bike in the porch of my hotel cabin, protected from torrential rains

That’s sheets of water…

Sheets of water, literally.

Sheets of water, literally.

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.

Shooting the sh!t and bench racing under the porch

Shooting the sh!t and bench racing under the porch

And that’s how things stayed until the caterers showed up with dinner.

Portable barbecue

Portable barbecue

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.

Packing the bike, ready to ride back to Eugene, first stopping at Eureka.

Packing the bike, ready to ride back to Eugene, first stopping at Eureka.

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).

Getting ready to leave towards Eureka

Getting ready to leave towards Eureka

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.

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We made it to Eureka just at the right time for lunch.

Exclusive motorcycle parking in front of the Black Lightening Cafe

Exclusive motorcycle parking in front of the Black Lightening Cafe

All settled for lunch!

Motorcycle only parking!

Motorcycle-only parking!

Great food, great conversations.  The Black Lightening Cafe also sells riding gear, by the way.

Black Lightning Cafe, Eureka, California

Black Lightning Cafe, Eureka, California

From there I said my goodbyes to the gang and started my ride back home via 101, enjoying the coast.

Somewhere on 101 already in Oregon

Somewhere on 101 already in Oregon

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.

Made it back home just before it got dark

Made it back home just before it got 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.

An amazing motorcycle

An amazing motorcycle

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!

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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!

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4 Responses to Taking the Ducati Multistrada to Northern California

  1. Rick Pannemann says:

    Nice ride! I went the opposite direction over the Fourth of July weekend: North Cascades, via 2 and Leavenworth, for a 4-ish day stay in Winthrop, WA. Even took the hard-pack gravel fire road across to Conconully (I’m not experienced in dirt or dirt-like substances), which the Duc handled without a worry. Rode Hwy 20 through the mountains on the way home (in some rain, of course).

    • cesardagord says:

      Great to hear from you Rick.

      I’ve taken my Multistrada two times on gravel roads, just because I did not have much of a choice on both cases. It does very well on gravel. I just fear grave hitting the horizontal cylinder head and rear shock. Too much bling on this bike… Now, the Mutistrada Enduro, that could be a good option. But I’m not going there, this is my sport bike.

      Glad you had fun on your trip! It reminds me of places I need to visit, I have not ridden much in the state of Washington. My CB500X would be perfect for the WA Back Country Discovery Route going along the Cascades. And I’m yet to hit the plenty of nice paved roads in WA, besides my short rides on 14 along the Columbia gorge.

  2. Sean says:

    I like your post and blog.
    There are not much information or opinion here in Korea.
    That’s because the launched models are very small so many riders just riding within limited category.
    I hope I will see good news from you.
    Thanks!!

  3. Good chap. Sounds like a good run. Following the good riders is always worth while. The road craft can always be improved. Some day I’ll make it way out west.

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