Saturday, September 26, 2009

Motorcycle Trip 9

I found this trip on

This is one of our favorite shop rides for dualsport riding, and although it takes a whole day, it never brings you more than a few hours from the bay Area. These are some of the last true dualsport routes open to the public, and it is by no means certain that these will remain open much longer.

The basic route is from Mountain View to Hollister, via either 101 (fast) or Uvas/Mckean Roads, past the reservoirs, paralleling 101 (slower) and rejoining 101 in Gilroy. Take Route 25 into Hollister and be sure to stop for gas, because you are going to need it before the day is over!

From Hollister you head south on 25 as far as Paicines, where you turn left on J 1. The sign is marked New Idria, and that is where you are headed. J 1 is a lovely paved road that takes you to the Panoche Bar, near the turn-off for Little Panoche, which is the continuation of J 1. I recommend stopping at the Panoche Bar for a Coke and a quick look around at one of the nicest old country bars in the area. This is also the only real bathroom stop on the whole route, so be advised.

After leaving the Panoche Bar you want to go straight ahead, (don't turn left on J 1) always bearing right, (southwest) on the New Idria Road. This road is the road that takes you over the mountains to Clear Creek. When you approach the mostly deserted town of New Idria the road gets rough and turns to dirt.

You need to be at least an intermediate rider to have fun on this road, it is a little challenging for a pure beginner. This road climbs to a three-way intersection. Going left takes you to the top of San Benito Peak, but you have to backtrack to this intersection. Going right, up the hill, takes you to the top of Clear Creek and onto the Clear Creek Road that leads down the mountain and back to the Coalinga/San Benito Road. Be careful on this road, there is often dirtbike traffic on it. There is a gate at the top and bottom of this road on the New Idria side. We have often ridden around the gate, but if you are riding around the gate you are definitely on your own on that section of road, and it is not recommended if you are by yourself.

A caution: If it is wet, this road is nearly impassible unless you have knobby tires. The clay turns to a slippery mud. The best time to take the New Idria/Clear Creek Road is a couple of weeks after it has stopped raining so the road can dry out and the mudholes disappear. Then regular dualsport tires are OK for traction.

After riding down the west side of the mountain and across the San Benito River ford at the entrance to Clear Creek, you turn right on the Old Coalinga Road and follow it to a right turn marked Old Hernandez Road. This road is about half dirt and half paved, with one river ford which can be challenging after a rainstorm, otherwise it is no problem. Follow it to its end and turn left, go a short distance and turn right, you are back on Highway 25 heading north. Follow 25 north past the Pinnacles and the twisties, and watch carefully for a gate on the left, with a dirt road marked La Gloria Road. You are only 6 or 7 miles past Pinnacles when this road comes up, so watch for it!

Gloria Road is all dirt, is used by farm trucks and equipment, so watch carefully and don't go too fast. Stop at Chalone Road, the summit, and take a little break. You've been riding several hours by now; pace yourself so you don't get too tired. Gloria Road takes you back to Highway 101 north, and you have the choice of staying on 101 and heading straight back to the Bay Area, or taking Old Stage Road into San Juan Bautista for an early dinner before heading back.

I guarantee you will be tired if you ride this whole route, but you will have a great feeling of accomplishment as well. All the roads I've mentioned are shown on AAA maps, (San Benito County) and I have available copies of my own marked maps at the shop for anyone who wants one.

Allow a whole day for this ride, get started by 9:00 am and you will be home around dinnertime, having accomplished one of the nicest Dualsport rides in the Bay Area.

We must remind you that you are responsible for your own safety on these rides, and that conditions can change rapidly. If you have any doubts about your ability to master the terrain, the depth of the fords, or any other risks, turn back! Your safety is paramount and we don't want you to put yourself at risk unnecessarily.

Feel free to e-mail me for any details or questions.

Best regards,
Reinhold Schmitz

Length: 320km / 200mi
Duration: 1day
Difficulty: Intermediate/Experienced

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