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Thread: 4 Days Starting in Santa Cruz - 3/3-3/6

  1. #1
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    4 Days Starting in Santa Cruz - 3/3-3/6

    I have four days available to spend on my bike in a couple of weeks starting in Santa Cruz.

    My plan is Pacific Coast Highway, then take 58 in to Taft where I'll stay for the night.
    Then day 2 I'll head to Death Valley continuing on 58 and heading north on 14 to Panamint Springs. On day 3+4 I'll head back the way I came.

    Am I missing any other great riding opportunities this time of year departing from Santa Cruz?
    Does anyone know if Walker Pass/Rte 178 by Lake Isabella is passable this time of year since that's usually how I prefer to go, but I have a feeling it will not be friendly on the moto this time of year.

    Thanks for any ideas, help and guidance!
    2016 R1200GS
    My Adventure Blog

  2. #2
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    I believe 511.org will have information about pass closures.

    In all honesty, I'd go north. PCH gets all the press, but in all honesty, it's kind of a moderate motorcycle road. Lots of traffic. The road isn't all that challenging.

    I'd fly into SCruz and head north, over the Golden Gate and up the coast on the Shoreline Highway, CA1 north of SF. The riding is better, there's less traffic and you won't have to cross the central valley.

    Something to consider. As a Californian that has spent lots of time on 1, north of SF is way better motorcycling.
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  3. #3
    Mehrten
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    drveto,

    I agree with Dave, PCH below Monterey can be a mess.

    Riding up PCH, south to north, tends to be a better ride in my experience. Heading south the congestion at Monterey and Carmel could hold you up for an hour.

    Hwy 58 from the coast is a good ride. At Bakersfield it turns into a freeway.

    Note: Hwy 58 is now a freeway all the way to Barstow. You don't have to stop at the light in Kramer Junction any more.

    The Caliente-Bodfish Rd leading up to Lake Isabella off of Hwy 58 is quite the ride. Not sure of the road condition, its been awhile since Wanda and I rode down/up it.

    We've come through Walker Pass in January and not had a problem. Do check the California Road web site to make sure though.

    We'll be doing some of those rods in May when we ride to Los Oso for the BMW MOA Getaway.

    Have a good ride!

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the tips.
    I live in Santa Cruz and the destination of Death Valley tops my desire to head north.
    I dislike riding through San Francisco a lot more than I dislike getting through Monterey and Carmel.
    PCH is just what I'm considering instead of 101, I5 or 99 since those are a serious bore.

    Seems everyone else also struggles with a fun route to Death Valley from this area (except in October when you can go through Yosemite and DV isn't so hot), but I just love riding there so I'll suffer through it. I'll head north from here when it's a little later in the season.

    Thanks for the tip on 511.org - It looks like Walker Pass/178 by Lake Isabella is open. I've ridden it twice already and enjoy it a ton. I remember it being pretty cold last May so I'll be prepared with gear for the cold.
    Last edited by droveto; 02-22-2020 at 06:29 PM.
    2016 R1200GS
    My Adventure Blog

  5. #5
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Long-time Santa Cruz resident here. Since the early 80s, I've ridden to Death Valley and back just about every spring.

    The coast highway below Carmel is often congested and full of pokey tourists, but the scenery is gorgeous and worth seeing.

    How about choosing different roads on the return? Leaving DV, go west over 190 into the Panamint Valley, then south on Panamint Valley Road, over the little pass, through Trona, then west to Ridgecrest, Inyokern, and back to 395. Go a few miles south on 395, then take 155 west again up to Walker Pass. Before reaching Isabella Lake, turn right onto Sierra Way and ride around the north side of the lake through Kernville to Wofford Heights. The north side is far less developed, and you'll see different and pretty views.

    At Wofford Heights, turn right onto 155, ride over Greenhorn Pass, and down into Glennville, then (eventually) to Highway 99. This segment of 155 is small and twisty and usually empty of traffic. Once you're into the San Joaquin Valley, you can find your way back to 58 or 46 to get back north. 101 is far prettier than 5, and 198 from Coalinga to San Lucas is lovely.

    If you're fat for time, you could go north on 25 from 198 (a great ride up to Hollister), or take Nacimiento-Fergusson Road from Jolon Road to Lucia through the Hunter Liggett Military Reservation - have insurance, reg, and ID with you, they sometimes check - or even do the length of Carmel Valley Road from Greenfield back to Carmel.

    You can check California road conditions online here: https://roads.dot.ca.gov. Given the recent weather, Walker Pass should be completely free of snow. Watch out for gravel and sand, 'though.

    For stimulus, here's descending Nacimiento-Fergusson Road: narrow, poor pavement, no centerline, with Highway 1 far below.

    coast.jpeg

    Have fun!
    Last edited by dbrick; 02-23-2020 at 03:44 PM.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  6. #6
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    Thanks dbrick - I'm keen on most of those roads around Lake Isabella. They are fun. I'm heading down rte 25 to Peach Tree Lane tomorrow to see if that's my favorite way north/south through the Valley. I agree with you that 101 is superior to the others, I just don't love it and I always seem to hit tons of traffic.
    Nacimiento-Ferguson is on my radar but I've avoided it because I generally dislike super narrow roads with cliffs because cars coming the opposite way just frighten me on roads like that. I live on a road like that and it's always an adventure coming in and out. It looks gorgeous though so I should make it happen. Maybe I'll do it in the next two days.

    I've done the PCH a few times, always on a weekday and it's a nice ride. I'm never out there trying to break speed records so a little congestion doesn't bother me too much. I never do it on a weekend though.

    I do my yearly DV ride in October when I can cross through Yosemite and DV isn't so hot. Just trying to find an alternate way to DV since I end up making that trip or to Vegas a few times/year.

    Thanks for those pointers. They're good for sure. It seems I know many of the ins and outs already and I'm just not going to find a route to DV that's nearly as enjoyable as heading through Yosemite.
    At least I'm lucky to have decent weather and have more options than normal in February/March.
    2016 R1200GS
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  7. #7
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    Just wanted to report back that I did rte 25 to Peach Tree Rd. and this is my new way to get north/south through the central CA valley. Of course it's more time consuming than 101, but it's actually fun so that makes up for it.
    2016 R1200GS
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  8. #8
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by droveto View Post
    Just wanted to report back that I did rte 25 to Peach Tree Rd. and this is my new way to get north/south through the central CA valley. Of course it's more time consuming than 101, but it's actually fun so that makes up for it.
    Doesn't it? Dbrick and some other Idiots turned me onto it 20 years ago.
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

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