When I first got into adventure riding, I began with looking up GS riders on Instagram. I was still living in Los Angeles at the time, but started following David G. Hall (@davidghall). He posted great photos of his R1200GS Adventure in the middle of nowhere and made me wish I was out doing the same. After moving up to the Bay Area (where David lives), I had the pleasure of meeting him and since then, we’ve been on many rides together. David has helped lead the RIDE & WANDER night rides since he’s such an expert at getting around in San Francisco and its surrounding areas, as well as where to find all the best roads. David and I took a ride down the coast and I asked him some questions to find out more about why he loves to ride, and how he knows of all the great places to ride up here. Here’s his story.
RIDE & WANDER: How long have you been riding?
David G. Hall: I’ve been riding for almost 12 years, but I’ve only really been riding for the last 4 years or so – ever since I bought this 2006 GSA, I’ve wanted nothing more than a dirt road and a whole lot of scenery.
RW: What got you interested in adventure riding?
DH: Well, I’ve always had this yearning to know and see what’s around the proverbial corner, to see and experience a landscape, and I’ve always been an outdoorsy type of guy. I really love nature, and I blame the West Coast for this adventure riding addiction. Ever since my purchase of El Burro (I named the my moto El Burro, just seemed appropriate), the beast just lugs me around every bend and up and over many a mountain pass (whether paved or not) and most of the time without incident. Just give er’ gas and a little pat on the tank. Without being too cliche, riding has really opened my eyes and “freed my soul”.
RW: What does adventure riding mean to you?
DH: Well, adv riding pulls me out of my daily and sets new goals of skill and enjoyment for me. Each and every time I ride, I’m always learning and adjusting to my environment. Whether it’s on the 101 or on some dirt road. Honestly, sometimes, I just have to stop and look around when I’m out in the middle of nowhere – it’s times like these that I just find myself so relaxed and at ease and ready for what’s next. In these past 3+ years since purchasing El Burro, I’ve seen so much beauty in and around California; places many have never heard of. I can’t wait for more and where this two-wheeled wonder will take me.
RW: You seem to know a lot about the Bay Area and Northern California, why do you love it here?
DH: Ha! Well, to answer the latter, I love it here for a several reasons:
1) The weather! I grew up outside of Boston, MA. Now, I’ve never ridden there – and I know there are some great roads and trails, anytime I go back I’m looking at small cart roads and wondering. But riding out here is an almost 365-day-a-year experience. In the summer, if it’s in the 90’s, I’ll go coastal. Lots of fun twisties, and sometimes even a dirt road surprise! In the spring, when the hills are a verdant green, I love the east side of the Mendocino NF or Monterey County. Autumn, well, autumn was created for the Eastern Sierras. Jaw-dropping beauty. Winter is winter, but here in the Bay Area, it sometimes means rain… and hopefully we get the rain this year, because we are in desperate need.
2) The beauty! Having lived in North Carolina and in Portland, Oregon, each of which have their own very specific accolades, the Bay Area provides so much natural beauty set within the backdrop of ocean, mountains, and urban settings. The drawback on this has to be the traffic. I’ve learned to be a fairly good urban rider. Even with the size of El Burro, I’m still able to split lanes and move to the front of the line.
3) Last but not least, the people. I’ve met some really amazing Adventure folks from the Bay Area, each with his or her own story and skill level, always friendly. For the most part, if they have a day off – boom! Off we go. On the road, with as much peace and solitude that there is riding alone, with two or three other riders is an even better experience.
Now, as far as “knowing” a lot about NorCal, I would like to think I do (and maybe I do), but there are so many great roads. I know I’m missing some, but point me in that direction. I think I dedicate at least an hour almost every night to looking at Google Earth and Google Maps. If I know an area that I want to explore, there I am online, checking it out. My schedule most of the time allows me to hop on El Burro and go. So, in the 3+ years of riding around NorCal, I’ve logged in some pretty remarkable places; some well-traveled and some not so much.
RW: What is the most memorable ride you’ve been on?
DH: There are so many, just so many. I will have to say, that for my novice skill level at the time, probably my first ride up to Portland, Oregon. I left early in the morning around 5 AM – now, keep in mind I’d only had El Burro for a month or two, still dropping it, learning how to pick it up and getting acquainted with my new mode of transport. Anyways, I mapped out this route. Dirt, twisties, camping, etc. and I’ve got these tires on the bike (I believe they were Conti Trail Attacks 80/20’s) so again, I’m off. Riding east of Yreka between the I-5 and Hwy 97 on the backroads, I asked a farmer about a certain road that I had “discovered” and had very limited information about. I figured, who would know better than this guy? He told me that with my tires, I was better off taking another road. OK!
I turned around and headed for a road named Ager Beswick. Great road, twisty and a lot of fun. Then the almighty “Pavement Ends” sign appears. Now I love me a Pavement Ends sign, in fact, I want a Pavement Ends sign… anyone have an extra laying around? Then the adventure begins. Not so bad; double-track gravel hugging both the Klamath River and Oregon and California, then several miles in… BAM! The road turned from this meandering gravely two track to a heinous ascending rock and boulder 4×4 trail that hugs the mountain on the right and shear drops to the Klamath to the left. There was nowhere to go but forward. I was not in my element at the time, but I figured it out real quick. I was constantly telling myself not to drop the beast and what I like to call “billy-goating” my way up and over this rocky ass trail. But as you know, slow and steady wins the race, so I made it up, and I made it out. I was hooked from that day forward! I eventually made it to Portland in about 15 hours. It was a long day but highly rewarding.
RW: Where do you hope to ride to in the future?
DH: There’s so many places to choose! I do love me the Northwest, so I’ll just go ahead and say there. I still haven’t ridden to Arizona, Utah, New Mexico… and well there’s Mexico too. I guess wherever El Burro takes me…
Give David a follow on instagram @davidghall