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My buddy and I are wanting to do a 3-4 days ride out West next spring. Has anybody had any experience with a guided or self-guided tours of Cal. or even Nevada. There are several companies offering tours but we don't have any idea of good versus bad. We both live in Tennessee so we will need to rent bikes too. Any experiences or advice would be appreciated. Neither one of us have been to California so we don't know where to begin.
 

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I can't speak for any of the tours, but I can say you won't see a whole lot of California in only 3 or 4 days. Assuming you have to drop the bikes back off where you picked it up you will almost have to do a one day out, one day back trip, with a bit of sightseeing along the way.
One possibility is to pick up the bikes in San Francisco and head south on CA 1, through the Big Sur area to an overnight in San Luis Obispo or Morro Bay. Hearst Castle is on the way, reservations required. The trip back north is either going to be on the same road or on US 101 which is a four lane freeway.
Or you could head east to the Sierra Nevada mountains, there are a ton of 2 lane highways there. Take your pick. In any case Freeways are going to be in the plan. Flying into Fresno, Sacramento or even Reno might be better for this option.
Or head north into the redwoods. CA 1 or US 101 are both good that way, 101 is six then four lanes for quite a while though.
Starting in LA requires 2-3 hours of 6 lanes in one direction just to get out of the city.
Expect lots of RVs during the summer. I know you said spring, that won't be so bad. Check the weather and be prepared to change plans. It may still be raining along the north coast, or snowing in the Sierras.
Check the HD website for dealers that rent.
www.mapquest.com for rough ideas.
Have fun.
 

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Get map...Fly into Reno, rent the bikes and head to Tahoe. From there go south on 89 to 395 to 108. Take 108 west to Jamestown H-D, they have a nice place to stay, if you can get it. From there you can go thru Yosemite and up 120 east to Tuolumne Meadows. There is a good steak at the lodge and "tent" cabins, if you can get in. From there going east to Lee Vining & Mono Lake. Reno is up 395 or you can go into Nevada via 120 or 168.
Hwy4 is Ok, 49 is twisty and crowded, as is Yosemite.
 

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jims said:
My buddy and I are wanting to do a 3-4 days ride out West next spring. Has anybody had any experience with a guided or self-guided tours of Cal. or even Nevada. There are several companies offering tours but we don't have any idea of good versus bad. We both live in Tennessee so we will need to rent bikes too. Any experiences or advice would be appreciated. Neither one of us have been to California so we don't know where to begin.

Fukk the guided tour thingy ;)

Ya'll want a trip to remember?

Ride your scooters from TN to San Francisco.

Pick any route you want. But plan of 3-4 days each way.

My advice is stay the night before CA in Reno, run hard for the Golden Gate, snap some pics and hot ass it back to Reno. The reason is a cheap hotel in SF will be at least a C note if you stay down in the financial district, anywhere else will be double. If you're phat, I recommend the Fairmont, about $350 a night for a plain jane room (better than any other room you've EVER stayed in) + about $50 a night for parking. Versus Reno, where you can stay at a casino for about $26 bucks (and they'll let you park you scooter in fron of the lobby).

Anywho, each way is a three day trip (providing that ya'll are serious riders).

If yer candy asses, do the fly and ride thing.

Yer HOG bros will never know the difference.

wyo
 

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Check out this site. They do tours plus there is alot of good info
on roads etc.
http://pashnit.com/

Reno HD has rentals as well as Eaglerider.

I live in the Reno area and have ridden all the roads that Fourcats
suggested and they are great. Some of the elevations are pretty high
and Spring snow is not uncommon. The later in May you can do it is
pretty safe but do it before kids get out of school. Especially if you want to see Yosemite. There's plenty of accomodations, especially all along
49 but you should do a little planning.
If you decide to come this way I could suggest other rides.
 

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Seasonably Uncool
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Hi!

I have toured extensively in the southwest and west, and I have to agree- don't waste your money on a guided tour. The advantage of having a chase vehicle isn't as important on a 3-4 day trip as it would be on a longer trip and in case of a breakdown most rentals include some type of roadside assistance plan (if your not already covered otherwise). Besides planning the trip is half the fun, so why deprive yourself of the experience?

I second the recomendation of pashnit.com. They have pretty much ridden every worthwhile road in California and offer great descriptions and pics of most of them.

Another tip would be Mad Maps. They are geared towards motorcyclists and include info various routes, bikerfriendly establishments, sights along the way etc. There are several for California and actually one for your neck of the woods.

Get some regular gas station or AAA maps for the area your thinking of touring. The Mad Maps routings are often a little imprecise and the routes are hard to see in context. To get an overview and an idea of how you can combine the different stretches of recommended road you need a regular map. Also, the normal maps will have scenic stretches highlighted that the other sources may not have thought noteworthy, but that will still be a good option to connect between the different recommended pieces.

For accomodation, I'd get a tourist guide such as Lonely Planet for Cali or the Southwest. That will give you an idea of worthwhile towns and places to stay. It isn't hard to find motels at all, but I hate to come to a place at the end of a long riding day (and your days will be long, if you only have 3 or 4) only to find out that there is nothing or nothing nice around. Nothing is worse than being completely beat and ready to stop for the day and then having to continue for another 50 miles, while it's getting colder and darker by the minute... I usually plan my rides to end someplace with a little choice. I rarely book ahead, cause you never know whether or not you are going to make it (weather, fatigue etc.)

Rentals are easy to find. Go with EagleRider or a Dealership or do a search on the net. Be advised that most rentals will skin you during events so be sure to avoid the time of the Laughlin River Run and Arizona Bike Week (both sometime in April) unless you want to pay outrageous rental fees.

Where would I go if I had a couple of days?
It depends somwhat on exactly when the trip would take place. In March I think I would stay in the deserts of SoCal or Arizona. The mountains and any place north of Phoenix will be freezing cold. The rides aren't very challenging, but I love the desert and if your from Tennessee that might be just the exotic ticket you are looking for.
Later in the season you could try NorCal. North of San Francisco there are great, challenging twisty roads (pashnit has all of them covered) and the topography allows you to to adjust your itinerary acording to the weather. Fog on the coast? Head inland to the wine country for sun and 15 degree warmer weather.
You could try and get a one way rental (eaglerider sometimes has specials on this) and do the coast from L.A. to S.F. This is a superb ride to be sure, but if the weather sucks there aren't that many options. The inland valley will provide better weather but is boring as hell. Also with the water temps being really low in spring, it will be chilly along the coast even with the best of weather.
I wouldn't stay in L.A. and environs unless you want to cruise and bar hop only. Like the other guy said, you need forever on L.As murderous freeways to get out of town.

I'm a big fan of the desert southwest. If you don't have your mind set on California, consider starting your trip in Phoenix or maybe Las Vegas. In May it can still get really cold on the Colorado Plateau (anything north and northwest of Phoenix) but the low deserts are perfect and if your lucky it'll be balmy in the high deserts and mountains. I recommend Phoenix/ Scottsdale because it has dozens of bike rentals, a great biker scene with awesome bars like the Billet Bar in Scottsdale, great rides and sunny weather almost year round. It also gives you the flexibility to change your plans according to the weather. Cold spell? Ride south, check out the deserts, Tucson, Tombstone, Bisbee, Nogales, Organ Pipe National Park, Yuma, etc. etc. Heat Wave? Ride North and check out Prescott, cross Mingus Mountain, see Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, ride route 66 through Hackberry to Kingman and on to Oatman. See the Mogollon Rim, Indian Ruins, Meteorite Crater, the possibilities are endless.

Well anyway, I hope you have fun planning and have a great trip next spring!

Ride Safe
Sponk
 

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Spring...

We took the trip{s} in mid-late June, after the passes and Tuolumne Lodge open. The CHP and Caltrans can tell you what roads/passes are closed. :chopper:
 
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