La Porte Road, Plumas County, California


I should have called this trip a day of road construction as before I was able to reach La Porte Rd. near Quincy, California, I had already waited about thirty minutes in two construction zones on State Route 70. Once through the construction and on La Porte Rd., traffic was light until I reached the foothills west of this small town.

Traveling solo has advantages, and one of them is how quick and easy it is to stop for photos. The only person you’re delaying is yourself, no need to communicate the desire to stop, just stop. Ready to go, GO, so simple.


Slowly I rolled through La Porte, population twenty-six, and continued west, twisting downward into the great Central Valley of California. In the small community of Challenge, California, I got behind a small funeral procession of three cars, a hearse and two other vehicles. Though I don’t usually like to follow cars, particularly on twisty roads, I was not in a hurry to pass. I just slowed my pace to that of the procession and several miles later we all reached a small, rural cemetery beside the highway.

The two cars pulled off the road to park, while the old hearse stopped and waited to turn left into the cemetery gates. I was stopped directly behind the hearse, a flag-draped coffin lay inside, and on the right shoulder an elderly foreign war veteran exited his car, putting on his VFW hat. I was amongst a couple of our greatest generation; I was thankful.

Continuing southwest I came to the four-way intersection of La Porte Rd. and Oroville Bangor Highway, and almost met my third road construction delay of the day. As I was rolling up to the stop sign the construction flagger had just let his stopped cars proceed and he let me go too, pointing to my right and left as my only options. I turned right, north on the Oroville Bangor Highway, heading for Oroville, California.

Just a couple blocks into the east side of Oroville looking for a place to eat I stumbled upon a Dutch Bros. Coffee. Dutch Bros. is big in the northwest and my wife and I usually get our Dutch Bros fix when we are in Oregon, but there are more Northern California locations all the time. A double iced americano would help energize the motorcycle bunny that is Redline, while I asked for a local lunch spot recommendation. Nothing special was suggested so I grabbed a cheap, quick foot-long sub sandwich, filled Big Bird with premium and headed east on Hwy 162, also knows as the Oroville-Quincy Highway.

Copyright © 2011 James Langan

Back On Two Wheels


Plumas National Forest

After a few years of very sporadic use, and exactly zero miles over the past twelve months after changing the oils last July, it was time for Big Bird to fly again. Big Bird is my 2001 R1150GS, which I also sometimes refer to as the No BS GS. This bike has covered about 38,000 miles since new, but far too few have been logged recently. With all the high mountain backroad passes open after a long, wet winter, there was no valid excuse to not go for a day trip.

In a rush to get going, I almost left without checking my tire pressures, a cardinal sin in my book. Once underway I was a bit cool traveling seventy miles-per-hour in 65-degree weather with only a T-shirt and a textile moto jacket, forgoing my liner, as soon it would be warm.

As much as I have been modifying, using, and writing about 4×4 trucks in recent years, travel powered by two wheels is really my first love. Typically all on-road, but my preferred terrain and style is not what many street motorcyclists would find pleasurable. The narrow, tight, twisty, and sometimes rough back roads are my favorites, and often the pavement is in less than perfect condition, making an adventure-touring bike a good choice.

Compared to early riding-season trips in prior years, La Porte Road was very clean. However, the sandy debris in the right wheel-track in the photo above is a nice reminder that surface appraisal is critical. Even if you ride briskly it’s very important to stay below your personal maximum speed and skill level so you can artfully avoid hazards.

Fun stuff. Anyone can ride straight, turning and stopping is where the fun and challenge is.

Copyright © 2011 James Langan