Have you ever relocated for work, for pleasure, for retirement? I’ve recently relocated from the beachside location of Santa Cruz County (80 miles south of San Francisco) to Silicon Valley.
Relocation involves all the familiar players involved in moving, including sore backs, aching arms, an array of cardboard boxes, and getting to know your new, or as in my case renewed, city’s roads and byways.
For motorcyclists, although we can can ride on any highway or city street, there might be some we’d rather avoid. I’ve been in Silicon Valley for only a few days but already encountered some local roads I’ll most likely avoid in the future.
But there are far more interesting roads to ride that offer vistas of the Bay Area from the Diablo Mountains, roads that run through and around regional parks in the East Bay, North Bay, Northern California, and of course, eastward toward Yosemite Valley.
Some Rides for the Future
Using MotorcycleRoads.com’s California tab, I’ve highlighted a few local rides to target first. The narrative is from the site contributors except where noted.
South Bay Rides
Mt. Hamilton Loop – Scenery is fantastic! The route goes up a mountain then back down the other side, so you have an array of different landscapes you travel through: Meadows, forested areas, a bit of farmland, and the views as you ascend just keep getting better and better until you reach the top where you have a panoramic, 360 degree view of the surrounding area. Breath-taking! [Barry’s Note: Home to the James Lick Observatory, Mt. Hamilton rises 4,100 feet to offer spectacular views of the Southbay. The loop is a narrow two-lane road that offer riders the chance to hone skills on mountainous twisties and two landmarks in the Lick Observatory and The Junction Bar & Grill in Livermore. There are no fuel stations along the way, so riders are urged to fill up for the 100 mile ride.]
Uvas Reservoir – Beautiful rolling hills between San Jose and Morgan Hill. When the Uvas Reservoir is full it is a nice view to see. This is a pretty easy ride with no severe turns. [Barry’s Note: Though not describes a loop on the linked site, it could easily be made one. The highlighted ride is just 14 miles, but a simple loop that would involve Old Monterey Highway could extend the off-highway ride to about 50 miles.]
East Bay Rides
Mt. Diablo Summit Run – The Mount Diablo Summit is a beautiful view that takes you up ~3800 feet and offers an astonishing view of the San Francisco Bay Area and central valley. On a clear day you can see the Sierras to the east and the Golden Gate Bridge to the West. As you ride up will quickly pass through small hills to a quick climb up short technical turns through light trees and golden grass.
Castro Valley to Berkeley – Take Redwood Rd. exit on I-580 in Castro Valley and head north. Follow Redwood rd. for 10 miles until you reach Pinehurst Rd., take a right on Pinehurst rd and follow Pinehurst for another 7 miles, at which point Pinehurst turns into Skyline Blvd. Ride on Skyline for 2 miles until you reach Grizzly Peak Blvd., make a right onto Grizzly Peak. Ride on Grizzly Peak for about 5 miles until you reach Centennial Drive, where you can park. Route has lots of turns and twisties, as well as elevation changes. Road surface can be bad in some areas, but OK overall. Gravel/oil rarely seen, but always keep an eye out.
North Bay Rides
Napa to Lake Berryessa – This is the hills of the Napa Valley. Windy roads with plenty of places to pull off and suck in the view. Then you travel about 15 magnificent miles as the road that hugs the shore of wonderful Lake Berryessa. From Napa simply head east on route 121 until it T’s into Route 128. You then want to take a left on to Route 128 and take it north/northeast for about 4.5 miles until you see Berryessa Knoxville Rd on the right. Take a right onto Berryessa Knoxville Rd and now enjoy the ride along the lake for about 15 beautiful miles. That’s what I call the end point but actually you could continue on the road and it would take you all the way up to Clear Lake. If you decide to go all the way to Clear Lake, Berryessa turns into Co Rd 140 (Morgan Valley Rd.). Take a left on Hwy. 50, going North and this will drop you into Clear Lake.
Skaggs Spring Road – This starts on the Pacific Coast Hwy and goes over the Coastal Range for about 40 miles. It’s gorgeous hilly country with curvy roads – actually more fun than CA 36 (“Twisty Roads 140 miles” – Red Bluff to Eureka.) The first 4 miles or so are a glorified driveway going through forests with sharp turns, then the road opens up to 36 miles of mostly sweeping curves on very good roads. Some far off lake vistas. Stewart Point (south of Ft. Bragg, CA) to Geyserville, CA. This is 43 miles of curvy and twisty roads. Starting in Stewarts Point go inland on Skaggs Spring Rd. There is no street sign I could see. It looks like a driveway across from the only gas station in this 50 person town. Stay on this road for 37 miles, then turn right on Dry Creek Rd for 3 miles. Turn left on Canyon Rd which takes you under I -101 to Geyserville and if you want on to Calistoga on CA 128.
Hwy 120 – Tioga Pass Rd. – Please click the link for a truly great description of the annual ride through Somite Valley. [Barry’s Note: I gotta do this one. 🙂 ]