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Old 04-28-2012, 03:57 PM   #1
Mifune OP
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Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Berkeley, CA
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Park Hill, Black Mountain, Santa Rosa Creek, Nacimiento, and Carmel Valley Roads

This is the second in what will probably be a series of reports on short weekend trips within striking distance of the SF Bay Area. I frequently travel to San Jose on business for a couple of weeks at a time and usually end up with a free weekend. So I keep my eye open for short little adventures I can squeeze in on a rental bike between a Friday evening and a Monday morning. You can find the previous trip report from last August here:

This time I'd originally planned to ride out to the Western side of Yosemite to check out the area around Cherry Lake. But the weather in mid-April didn't look promising, so I put this alternative itinerary together at the last minute with the help of suggestions from (an awesome resource, by the way).

My plan was to take off from work on Friday afternoon, ride as far south on 101 as I could reasonably get, then find a way to hit the following roads:

- Park Hill Road
- Black Mountain Road
- Santa Rosa Creek Road
- Nacimiento Road
- Carmel Valley Road

Here's the route I followed:

Although I started out a bit glum that this wasn't going to be the trip I'd hoped for, it turned out to be an absolutely awesome weekend. On my last trip, I'd rented an 800GS from Dubbelju Motorcycle Rentals in San Francisco. That was a great experience as well, but I didn't want to spend the extra two hours getting the bike back up to the city, so sought out an agency in Silicon Valley. California Motorcycle Adventures in Mountain View seemed like a reasonable choice. Their passion is clearly oriented towards American cruisers, but they have a good selection of BMWs, from which I selected a 2011 1200GS. After having fallen for a KTM 640 Adventure last year, the 1200GS seemed a lot shorter than I'd remembered. Most of the trip could easily have been done on any sportbike, but I did enjoy the versatility of the 1200GS. At the risk of drawing fire, I'll say that the 1200GS is an easy bike to like if you don't have to own one. Here she is near the top of the Black Mountain Road:

The whole point of this series will be to serve as a reference for others who may find themselves with a couple of free days in the Bay Area, so I'll give a lot of detail about the route and representative photos of the roads for you to decide whether you'd like to go their yourself.

I made it as far as Paso Robles on Friday night. This town served my basic needs. It was far enough into the heart of my destination that I could jump right in on Saturday morning, motels (surprisingly expensive) are open late, fuel is readily available, and there's a McDonald's so I can get my breakfast of choice when on the road in America. I expect everyone who can find the a freeway entrance to HWY 101 can find their way to Paso Robles, so I won't provide a detailed map of Friday's route. But finding the right way out of Paso Robles to 229 was a bit tricky. You want to find Charolais Road at the South end of town, this becomes Creston Road. When Creston Road meets 41, you want to turn right and then take an almost immediate left onto 229; then repeat, right onto 58 and take your first left onto Park Hill Road. If you have a GPS receiver in view, none of this should be a problem. But my rental bike lacked a mount, so I could only get directions by stopping to fish mine out of my jacket pocket. Here's a detailed map of Saturday's route:

Route 229 and Park Hill Road are both gently rolling, well-paved roads wtih no centerline. Almost no traffic here -- as throughout this route -- but a lot of residential driveways, so be careful of cars, pets and children. Here's a first impression near the begining of this road:

The roads I find on this trip spanned a wide spectrum, but they all had this in common: They seemed far too short. Had I not been on a schedule, I would gladly have ridden back and forth over all of them several times. Here's a view back over my shoulder a few miles later on 229, when I'm thinking about doing exaclty that:

On Park Hill Road, I get my first glimpse of the FAA radar station at the top of Black Mountain. The radar station is the only reason Black Mountain Road exists and I was a bit nervous about what sort of road it would turn out to be:

Here's a detailed view of my track up the mountain. It's all paved, but quite narrow in places, minimally maintained, and frequently washed out with steep drop-offs. Like the rest of the roads I encountered this weekend, it could certainly have been done on a sportbike; but it was certainly a lot easier standing upright on the GS. For those with a proper dual-sport bike and nothing in their rental agreement prohibiting offroad riding, there are some very interesting looking trails branching off from this road:

If you are coming from the South on Park Hill Road, the turnout to Black Mountain is well sign-posted (below), but you'll need to be alert for it if you are coming from the North/West, as I was.

I'll leave you for now with a series of photos, all from Black Mountain Road. Another installment on the next great road on this trip will follow shortly.

2013 Ducati 1199 R
2012 KTM 500 EXC
2005 KTM 640 Adventure

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Mifune screwed with this post 05-20-2012 at 06:56 AM
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