Monday, September 26, 2011

Lucas Valley Road to Tomales, Point Reyes, and Mt. Tamalpais

This weekend seven of us rallied for a ride along the Marin coastline and nearby hills. Rain had threatened to cancel our ride at the last minute, but we took the plunge and hoped's "30% chance of precipitation" would convert into a few light mistings at worst. Our gamble paid off and the reward was much lighter traffic than usual for this time of year and area.

One of our many group stops for the day to get our bearings and pick the route forward.

I'm a little torn on the *best* way to run these rides. The romantic part of me favors the trip over the destination and letting adventure win over perfect planning and a Garmin to guide your every turn. But, I want to value everyones time and possible frustrations over a few wrong turns or delays. So far we've been pretty lucky and the unintentional pivots have turned out well.
Our morning ride consisted of heading west on Lucas Valley Road, through Nicasio, then Samuel P. Taylor Park, up Highway 1, and then a big arc consisting of Tomales/Petaluma Road, Chilleno Valley Road, and then Petaluma/Point Reyes Road we land in Point Reyes Station for lunch.

Some locals pointed us to the Pine Cone Cafe where we enjoyed a good old-fashioned American lunch. If you're trying to lower your cholesterol level or counting calories this is not the place for you. But if you want some great comfort food while sitting on outside benches soaking in the sun then you can't beat this place.

After lunch we continued south on Highway 1 to the Bolinas Lagoon where we jumped on the Bolinas Fairfax Road towards Mount Tamalpais. The first few miles we had to punch through the marine layer which was rolling in. Once out of the fog we found ourselves in a surreal environment: Ridgecrest road runs literally along the ridge gaining altitude quickly over a series of whoop-de-dos while the view off to the right has a sea of white clouds swirling along under a clear blue sky. My only regret for the day was not taking a picture.
Our group ride ended at the road up to the top of Mount Tamalpais. From here we all rolled down into Mill Valley and went our respective ways. The ride turned out great and I look forward to the next one in this area.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mt. Hamilton to Mines Rd, Livermore, and back through Sunol

Two words: The smells. This is one of the descriptions Gary's wife, Andrea, used to depict the ride and she meant it in the best of ways. We passed through miles of golden yellow fields of grassland, forests of bay trees and oaks, and miles of curvy roads and straight-aways with virtually no traffic. And the weather was a nearly perfect: 70 degrees with blue skys. What's amazing is that all this is right next to San Jose, a city of a million or more people in a metropolitan area of another 5 million. In fact the last leg of the journey for me was surreal; Miles of open rolling hills which dropped me in the course of five minutes into the middle of suburbia.

We started in Alum Rock in San Jose at Starbucks, but the venue quickly changed as we realized it's a Sunday, we weren't in a rush and there was a cafe across the street serving pancakes. After a quick and light breakfast we headed up the hill to Lick Observatory at the top of Mount Hamilton. From there we headed down to Mines Road and out to Livermore for lunch. After Livermore Gary and Andrea headed north to their home, and I went down through Sunol to Calaveras Road, and then another loop up Felter onto Sierra and down into San Jose.

The crew: Gary, Andrea, and myself at the top of Mount Hamilton looking back down onto San Jose.

At Lick Observatory the bikes shelter in the shade from the rising temperatures. We met some really nice Ducati riders on a 1100 Hypermotard and a 900 Monster - some very beautiful bikes. They ended up following us down the hill to The Junction Bar and Grill.

An oasis in the middle of nowhere. Seriously. The Junction Bar and Grill was packed with bikes and their riders lounging in the shade. There was also an interesting family that was camping out literally in the middle of the cafe entrance driveway watching the bikes come in. We had to veer almost off the driveway to avoid the ones seated in the middle of the road. I guess this is what you do on a Sunday in these parts.

This is characteristic of the whole day. I spent five minutes walking around in the middle of the road taking pictures from various angles and there were no cars to be seen. What's amazing is that I was on a hill overlooking all of San Jose and from this spot it was only five minutes until I was back into stop lights, tract homes, and malls.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Upcoming ride: Mount Hamilton and Miners Road, Sunday July 31

Here is the proposed route for this coming weekend:

View Larger Map

We will meet at the Starbucks at 3107 Alum Rock, San Jose, at 9am and KSU is 9:30 sharp. There will be three 40 minute segments before brunch in Livermore and then a 1 hour ride through Sunol to get back to Milpitas. Some SF riders may want to head back from Livermore which would make this a quick and easy Sunday morning ride.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Retracing a pedal bike trip to SLO

Last weekend I tagged along with some friends who were riding from SF down to San Luis Obispo to retrace a bicycle ride they had taken years earlier. I was short on time so I only joined the group for the Highway 1 trip south and then I cut inland over Nacimiento-Fergusson and made my way back up to the Bay Area.

We warmed up by taking Old Santa Cruz Highway from Los Gatos over the Soquel, and then slabbed Highway 1 down through Carmel. Although the weather forecast had called for clouds and 62 degrees, the day turned out great with a lot of sun and higher temps.

We stopped for lunch in Big Sur and our stomachs did the talking which ended up with an order for $17 nachos along with an entree for each of us. $17 nachos?! The waitress said, "Enough to serve 4". Ok, let's give it a try. Sure enough we were paying tourist prices and should have asked for the "locals" menu.

Highway 1 south from Carmel was fantastic as normal. Traffic wasn't too bad and the views were incredible. A few times I saw the other riders coming into corners too hot as I'm sure they were distracted by the scenery.

Just past Limekiln I separated from the group to take Nacimiento-Fergussen road over to Fort Hunter Ligget and the highways that would take me north again. I had never taken this road past the summit and didn't know what to expect, nor if the guards at the base entrance would let me pass through.

The road was 15 minutes of curviness up with great views, and another 20 min down the other side and into the base. This is the southern most area of the Los Padres National Forest that burned extensively a few years back. Here you can see my Dakar in front of a Redwood tree that is recovering from the fire. Note the new sprouts covering the entire tree making it look like a bush or shrub.

Coming onto the base I wasn't greeted by armed guards, but instead a small sign saying "don't use cell phones except for emergencies" and an empty guard station. So much for base security.

The roads on the base are great; empty valleys and smooth sweeping curves with an occasional shoot house or abandoned tank to remind you of the lands purpose.

I took a detour to visit Mission San Antonio de Padua which is located on the base. The only person there was an old guy relaxing on a bench in a cause way. Upon approaching we exchanged greetings and he told me the place was closed for the day. I said I'd hoped to see the inside courtyard and he ended up giving me a full tour of the place. Cool.

Here's my bike in front of the Mission.

The inside of the church. This is the site of the first marriage ever in California!

Once back on the road I was running out of daylight so I headed north on 101 instead of doing my original route which included Highway 25. Several lessons were learned during my 2 hours coming up the Salinas Valley in the afternoon. First, it gets windy and I was heading straight into it. Maybe a heavy touring bike with good fairings might have made the trip better but my mini-fairing on the F650 Dakar did little to protect me. At times the cross winds were so strong I felt the bike trying to come out from under me sideways and my HJC CL-16 helmet was letting a lot of wind noise in. Not a very fun way to end what was otherwise an awesome day ride.

The other silver lining was the Dakar's gas mileage. My fill-up in Big Sur was enough to last me the next 200 miles home and I snuck into my garage with the fuel gauge on "reserve".

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Save the Hammers and Johnson Valley

The Marines want to expand the Twenty Nine Palms Training base. They have several options including going east, but their preferred option is to go west. This will close 188,000 acres of BLM OHV area! You may not have visited Johnson Valley, but I can tell you it is a great place with something for everyone. There are dry lake beds, dunes, and mild to extreme rock canyons known as the Hammers. Most of the area is accessible to 2wd vehicles.

Please take some time to send in a comment

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement is available online

You can get more information by checking out the Johnson Valley Page on Pirate 4x4

Thanks for your time and support!

Monday, April 4, 2011

One good turn deserves another

The day at Hollister was a lot of fun, but not without a few suprises. Spencer broke a shock mount so Matt fired up the Lincoln to weld it back up.

At the same time Matt was welding, a Toyota decides to help Mike's 90 Series out of the frame-twister.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The before pictures

What started as a broken passenger door lock turned into the restoration of the door completely... new felts, rubber, lock, epoxy primer and paint inside, dynamat, new exterior door upholstery and on and on.

The bad part however was that this was just the beginning of what turned out to be a virtual restoration of the whole truck. I call these the before pictures because I am afraid of what it will look like after a trip through the Rubicon.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Warm Feet

Matt's Jeep with a Dana 60 and 36" tires works hard during the summer, so he decided to give his Jeep a little extra love for the winter. Not only does it get an enclosed garage, but also heated floors to keep its feet warm!

What have you done for your Jeep lately?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Feb 27th ride from Alice's to Zelda's on the beach, and back to Los Gatos

Despite a week of rain and 1" of snow on Skyline the day before, Raj Singh and Johnson Jardiniano joined me at Alice's for a ride to Zelda's and then back to Los Gatos.

Tony Guntharp had already braved 45 minutes of ice and snow on the way to meet us, so after a quick breakfast he headed back to Half Moon Bay while the rest of us headed down Skyline to Big Basin.

View Alice's to Zelda's to Los Gatos in a larger map
The weather turned out to be fantastic with blue skies and temperatures just a little on the cold side. With very few cars and bikes on Skyline, and crystal clear skies presenting 100 mile views to both the sea and east bay, the ride to 9 went quickly.

Once on 9 it was a handful of miles to Hwy 236, and then into Big Basin. Finishing the curvy 236 loop dropped us into Boulder Creek to gas up.

We then used Alba Road to cross over into Bonny Doon, then down to Hwy 1, and then south to Capitola for a lunch at Zelda's. With full stomachs we decided to simply hop over the Santa Cruz mountains via Old Santa Cruz Road which dropped us off at Lexington Reservoir.

Mike and Johnson flash the "cells angels" sign in Capitola
Despite some snow on the ground and clouds threatening to crest the ridge at the beginning of the ride, the skies opened up and provided us with blue for a great day. It was a fun set of roads and I hope to run them again in warmer weather.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sierra Traffic

Who says things don't slow to a crawl?


Here are some of our Jeeps trying to get into calendars.

This last one wins the "Shiny Award".

Pick your line

Some shots from past runs into the Sierras. Anyone care to name the obstacles?

Looking back

Last December I asked for pictures for our blog background and received a ton of great ones. They are too big to fit in one post so here are a few collections. First up are the people of PLR!

(PS: Let me know where each picture was taken and I'll edit this blog entry)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Feb 6 ride on Tunitas Creek and Skyline

This was a quick and fun ride starting from Alice's, down to San Gregorio via 84 and then back up Tunitas Creek to Skyline. Our group then split with Raj, Aashir, and myself heading south to Highway 9 for a short distance, and then ducking onto Redwood Gulch Rd for a backwoods way into Cupertino.

Our group for this ride consisted of Raj Singh, Mike Prince, Daniel Pifko, Aashir Shroff, and Tim Rosenblatt.

View Tunitas Creek and Skyline in a larger map