Sierra ride report
Wednesday night after work, "R" (Flat black F3), "G" (Red 5th gen VFR), "E" (Street Triple), & I (Flat black 6th gen VFR) all met at my house for some Costco pizza and then headed South for the Motel 6 in Paso Robles. The trip did not start out well - 20 miles in, RC comes up beside me pointing down. I look down and see the shift lever on his bike dangling! We take the next exit and luckily discover the bolt is still in the lever.. and I had the right size hex key in my VFR's tool kit. We were back on the road within 10 minutes. We gassed up in King City where the temps were in the mid 50s and continued on to the Motel 6. Checked in at 9:20 and we were asleep shortly thereafter.
Thursday morning we checked out, filled up at Shell, and had breakfast at Denny's. Turns out that "building your own" Grand Slam allows you to "make" most menu items for several dollars cheaper. Good to know!
We rode through Paso Robles to Highway 229. What a frickin rollercoaster that road is! One lane but great new pavement (some gravel here and there) and no traffic. 229 took us down to 58 which we took East. 58 had some high speed sweepers, nothing I'd call fun. It's more of a transit road for sporty bikes. We turned south on Soda Lake Rd which is approx 15 miles of pavement, 15 miles of dirt, and 15 miles of pavement. As Tim/Pashnit described, the dirt stretch was about as good as you could hope for - I was able to sustain 60mph on the dirt!
E in foreground, G in background.
Ready for dirt?
E and I took our "Adventure bikes" up a hill while waiting for G & R to catch up.
From the end of Soda Lake, we turned left on 166 to gas up in Maricopa. Better safe than sorry. We then backtracked west on 166 and took Hwy 33 south. Didn't snap any pictures, but Hwy 33 to Ojai was absolutely incredible! New pavement, very clean, very technical. While zipping up my Aerostich pants, the zipper failed! One of the two zippers popped off and some plastic teeth fell right off. Well, that zipper has lasted about 8 or 9 years... I unzipped the pants out of the jacket (for the second time in those 8 years, should'a got a 1 piece to begin with) and continued to Ojai. I asked a drycleaner that had an "alterations/repairs" sign in their window if they happened to have a replacement zipper. They pointed me to a guy named "Dr. Shoe" in town. He didn't have one, but suggested Joe @ Ventura Leather Shop in Ventura. E had a previous engagement in Ventura and could only come on this part of the ride with us anyway - so we all rode the ~15 miles to downtown Ventura. The temperature dropped from 93 degrees to 77 degrees... so once we got there, we decided to stay there!
The original plan was to ride Little Tujunga Cyn, stay the night in La Crescenta, then ride Angeles Crest Hwy on Friday morning. With the closure of Angeles Crest, staying the night in Ventura only removed one road from our "awesome road list".... and Ventura is a great town.
I stopped in and saw Joe - what are the chances he'd have a 26" zipper in stock? He had two! Two hours later I had a new zipper in my suit - better and stronger than new. I highly recommend Ventura Leather @ 353 E Main St for your suit repair needs!
We stayed at the La Quinta that night and awoke early Friday morning and had our continental breakfast.
We then slabbed it down 126 & I-5 across the grapevine to Wheeler Ridge Rd then to 223 East. This took us to Bena Rd and then to the beginning of the famous Caliente-Bodfish Rd. Definitely one of my new favorites! One lane most of the way.. Over a range into a large valley and then back up over another range into Bodfish/Lake Isabella. We gassed up and ate at Burger King... enjoying the air conditioning as it was in the upper 80s already.
We took 155 to Sierra Way (in Kernville) and headed north along the Kern River. I've driven this before - we rented a cabin in Alta Sierra last Thanksgiving. Just north of Sherman Pass Rd I pulled onto this "foot bridge" and snapped some pictures. There were stairs leading down to the river where we saw some people swimming.
I'm semi-obsessed with taking pictures of my bike on any bridge that has obstructions that prevents cars from pulling onto them :).
R pondering something
Women in bikinis swimming in the river :). They looked cuter before I zoomed in...
One of these things is not like the other...
At the top of Sierra Way, we took a left on Mountain Road 50... As you turn the corner you enter Sequoia National Forest. It cools down, you start riding through the shade... you smell the trees... this is my happy place!
Of course, I had to take a left on 23S02 and then 23S16! We didn't continue all the way to the top (gas/time limited) but went about 10 miles... the road was dirty but the views were out-frickin-standing.
I'll definitely have to return and explore further. We continued to Hwy 190, which had the first real traffic we've seen on the whole trip. We descended into the valley (with the temp rising to about 100) and stayed at the Super 8 in Lindsay.
The woman at the front desk told us that we could store our bikes in the pool area overnight for safety. It gets locked up at night. Luckily we got the bikes out without dropping them in the water, I wonder how that conversation with the insurance adjuster would go...
On Saturday morning we continued up Hwy 65 to Road 196 to Milwood Rd to Hwy 245. This was quite the surprise - I didn't expect a road this good! Good pavement, clean, the morning sunshine, temps in the mid 60s... a great ride!
We took a left on Dunlap Rd which descended us from about 3700' to a few hundred feet, where it met Hwy 180. I took a right on Silver Ln, which looked to be a shortcut to Elwood Rd, only to discover it was half dirt, half crappy potholed pavement. Oh well, it's only a mile long. After turning right on Elwood we were once again rewarded with new clean pavement on a great twisty road. Came around a corner to discover a cow square in my lane. It stood there for about 30 seconds... and didn't move until I went to pull out my camera. d'oh.
Elwood took us to N Piedra to Trimmer Springs Rd.
From the bridge overlooking the Kings River
We took a right on Trimmer Springs Rd which follows the Pine Flat Reservoir. I have run out of adjectives to describe good roads! This one lets you see through corners enough to get some serious lean angle.
From there we took a left on Maxon, right on Watts Valley (which turns into Burrough Valley) to Tollhouse Rd to Lodge to SJ&E to Powerhouse/Auberry Rd. Whew! Lots of very technical roads. By the time we arrived in North Fork for gas & lunch, we had ridden only ~100 miles but it was a very intense 100 miles! R & I ordered a wet chicken burrito with cheese at the La Cabaņa restaurant - delicious and cheap!
From North Fork, there's only one direction to go - north on Mammoth Pool/Minarets, one of Pashnit's top 5 roads in the state. I absolutely see why. This road is beyond belief! Almost 50 miles of non-stop top-o-2nd-gear-leaned-way-over twisties. I've never put a knee down but if I had leathers, I definitely could have - I had to be careful not to touch down my Aerostich (I enjoy leaning off).
G, R, & I
Top of Minarets
Headed down, I took it easy and practiced some while-riding photography:
A little off-road excursion - a small trail off the road that had rocks to keep cars from going down there :)
We took a right on NF-6S01 as labeled on the Garmin GPS, but it was not paved.. so we continued down Mammoth Pool a few miles and took a right on NF-6S71, which is paved, and becomes into 6S01 after a few miles. This forest road has tons of large bumps running across the road - makes it easy to catch air! I came around a corner and noticed G wasn't behind me. I turned around and found him with a flat tire. Bummer!
I pulled out my Leatherman and yanked what can only be described as a huge chunk of wood out of his nearly bald tire. I got out my Stop-N-Go tire plug kit (with CO2 cartridges), but the hole was just about too big for the mushroom plugs. It was leaking air but was full enough that G could ride to the Jones Store (near the corner of 6S01 & Beasore Rd) and use an air compressor to fill to a decent pressure.
Me doing the patching
After airing up at the Jones Store, we successfully made it to Oakhurst only to find Oakhurst "Tire & Cycle" had closed at Noon on Saturday. We stopped by Kragen and picked up a bottle of Slime - with the plug in there, the Slime should sufficiently stop the leak.
We checked into our hotel at the Oakhurst Lodge and G and I rode across the street to Chevron in our shorts & flip-flops to put the Slime in the tire and air it up. While there, a CHP officer pulled in and came up to us - "riding in sandals?" We assured him we were ATGATT (or would that be ATG99.9%OTT?) and just rode from across the street.
Since G's tire had no life left in it and no tire shop open on Sunday, he decided to slab it home while R and I continued my planned route. "and then there were two..."
We continued up Hwy 49 to the Little Dragon!
Somehow I thought that I had at least driven this stretch before.. but once we headed down, it was obvious I hadn't - there's no way I would have forgotten this road! Epic.
From Coulterville we turned right on Main St/Greeley Hill Rd. Greeley Hill was a great cool-down from Hwy 49 - also a great road. In Greeley Hill, we topped up the gas tanks at the Shell station since I knew it'd be awhile before we saw more gas.
I took a left on Buck Meadows Rd, which on the map looks like it's an easy way to get to 120. Of course, after a mile of pavement, it turned to dirt! Oh well, only 5 miles long. No problems.
R doing a .. dirt burnout?
We took a right on 120 and then left on Cherry Lake Rd. This is similar to Elwood - Great new pavement, 1 1/2 lane wide... this one is faster, though, and takes you through forest, meadows, my kind of road. It then dumps you down a descent to the Tuolumne River.
Of course, what goes down must go back up.. we climbed back up the other side of the canyon (from ~2200' up to over 5000') and 24 miles from 120, you reach Cherry Lake. There were less than half a dozen people there, so quiet and serene.
From Cherry Lake, the road turns into Cottonwood, another one of Tim/Pashnit's Top 5 (and once again, I definitely see why)! The road was definitely best closest to the top - the pavement seemed to degrade slightly as we descended.
From Cottonwood, we made our way down to Wards Ferry Rd. Holy crap! This road reminds me a lot of Salmon River Rd off of Hwy 96 way up in Northern California - I think the aisles at my local Safeway are wider than this road... and guardrail? psh... there isn't even a shoulder! Make a mistake and you will plummet hundreds of feet into the river below.
After only a mile or two but an eternity at 5mph, you once again cross the Toulumne River on the "graffiti bridge."
We continued to 120 and then slabbed it home after gas & lunch in Oakdale. ~1200 miles, a moving average of 48.3mph according to my Zumo (at the speed limit the entire time, officer!), a top speed of...xxx on Thursday on a straight stretch of Hwy 58 on Thurs... the best ride of the year so far by a long shot!
Great writeup - thanks! I miss California - and apparently missed many of the roads you guys were riding. Sensational!
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