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Ever been out riding...
And come upon the ultimate combination of twists and turns, elevation change and scenery galore. All the while screaming inside your helmet, "I've got to tell someone about this road- this is a rip roarin' hoot!"

FOOTHILL GOLD

While we talk with reverence about the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in our backyard, what no one is telling you is at its base- a band of delightful roads stretch 400 miles from north to south. One after the other. These were roads cut into The Foothills by miners and ranchers 150 years ago- laid right over Indian foot paths and deer trails.

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Our brand new tour focuses on a particular style of road found throughout these foothills that push off the floor of the Central Valley to elevations of 4000 feet. At lower elevations, these are rolling hills. At the 1000 ft level, the scrub brush starts, then 2000 the deciduous leafy trees, then 3000 the coniferous pines. Temperatures drop as much as 10 degrees within this quick climb into the mid-section of the Sierra.

Rolling, Rolling ...

These are roads surrounded by numbered highways - backroads really. And we are going to connect them together for hundreds of miles.

Our tour begins in Oakdale- "The Cowboy Capital of the World". There's an inherant clue in that statement- it refers to ranchland. And our ride starts off through the heart of these treeless hills flowing past several reservoirs, New Hogan, Camanche & Pardee Reservoirs. It's the height of spring and the land is awash in a brilliant green.

Then the climb begins up Stony Creek Rd - what PashnitRoads.com once billed as part of the Holy Grail Triad.

Stony Creek is a hoot. You're screaming up the hill, your left foot is getting a workout, your left hand is fondling the clutch- it's happening so fast- you even shift a few times without the clutch by blipping the throttle. Your boot is rubbing against the pavement. You're tossing the bike back and forth, manhandling it, working it. It's a toy, a thing. An extension of your mind.

You sense the front tire biting, the fork absorbing the bumps; you pick your line a long way off and revel in the sensation of the churning motor transmitted through the handlebars. Yet it all takes place in a deliberate fluid motion with no sense of time. All that matters is the next curve. It's a pace. Smooth. With grace. Perfect.

The roar of the exhaust is a sweet, sweet song. The rush of wind against your chest and legs. The helmet pushes against your cheeks. Relaxing in straights, you watch the world go by as if it were a movie, and the seat is your theater chair. The next corner appears and into a full tuck you go, chest leaned into the tank.

This region is of course the heart of the Gold Rush days of 150 years ago and we'll roll into the tiny hamlet of Volcano, home to the landmark St George Hotel. At the end of the street rests a cannon, 'Old Abe, still at the ready lest any Civil War rebel sympathizers show up. The one time it was fired, it blew out all the windows on Main Street.

 

The Foothills...

Swan Lake, the Nutcracker... Ever watched in awe as the ballerinas flow in an effortless fluid motion during the performance? At times, they seem to boldly float on air in deference of gravity & logic. Every action of their bodies is deliberate. Nothing wasted or unnecessary. Only synergy, where every movement has meaning and purpose.

This is Highway 26.

You've wondered to yourself- just give me a fantastic curvy road with great pavement. No backroad stuff, nor bumpy or in the middle of nowhere. Ready to dance? Sequenced curved arcs that meld into the contours of the land. This enthusiastic ride leads right to Murphys, billed as the 'Queen of the Sierra'.

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Queen of the Sierra...

A break in our day allows a relaxed stroll down the tree-lined Main Street of Murphys transporting you back to the mid-1800s with buildings built of thick stone walls, fire-proof iron shutters and pastoral white picket fences.

John and Daniel Murphy who established the town in 1848 reportedly took two million dollars in gold ore from the Murphys Diggins in one year’s time, making them millionaires before the age of 25.

A nearby 4-acre parcel yielded 5 million dollars in gold during early days of the Gold Rush. It's a cute town and worth a stop for our riders to unwind from the morning's enthusiastic ride!

But the day has only begun and after assailing Big Hill Rd, we blaze a trail to Wards Ferry- one of the craziest narrow goat trails for miles. Barely one-lane wide and zero guard rails, it's a long down into the canyon below. And the bridge across the Tuolumne River - it's famous for being covered end-to-end in ruffian angst. Every square inch adorned in a coating of graphitti.

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Marshes Flat...

Old Priest Grade is one of the steepest roads in the foothills. It feels straight down! Brakes smoke, and large vehicles not allowed, its Priest to Moccasin in three blinks. And nearby if we have the time - sinuous Hwy 120 is a knee-drag ride on the opposing scrub-covered hill side.

We're not done yet though, and with intent to stay off the main roads, the group dodges open range cattle along Marshes Flat Rd. But! We've still got the afternoon to burn away making our way south into the Mariposa County foothills.

South of Mariposa is a region where the population begins to thin as we bear down on Fresno County. There's an area of The Foothills between Milllerton Lake & Pine Flat Lake that quietly conceals some of the funnest roads in the state. It's ranch land, no towns, no main roads, no reason for anyone to even be out here. But we are.

Ready to hogtie & conquer. Auberry, Lodge, Morgan Canyon, Tollhouse, Sample, Watts Valley. And oh the giddy new pavement on Elwood Rd.

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Tollhouse...

Our ride tops out at 4804 ft Bald Mountain as we merrily ride up and over Auberry Rd - one of our all-time favorites. The tantalizing view from the crest is straight out across our intended course.

You vile tease!! Satiate me. Oh, the hunger. Baptize me in The Church of Lean.

A succession of backroads including one of the best unknown gems of Dunlap Rd through tiny Miramonte leads us to Hwy 245.

But not before we take pause and slap high-fives, drunken love of tires ablaze in pent up heat garnered from debaucherous side-to-side motion. Lean left. Lean right.

Thank you sir, may I have another...

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Kern...

Sunday morning is the opportunity to explore a special region of the Southern Sierra Nevada Foothills. This is still ranching country. The real thing- of herding, of tending to docile animals that ply the ground with insatiable appetites for treeless expansive meadows. A land of cowboys and cattle, undulating hills and tiny ranching towns adorned with a dash of mud-slung pickups and wide-brimmed hats.

The final gasps of the Sierra poke from the ground in the form of massive granite boulders. As large as a car, a house, our trodden path is a welcome sight. But what no gps, map or guidebook will give disclosure to- is our road must weave about, dodging & evading these boulders. Envisioned it yet in your minds eye? It's quite simply massive great fun.

Three days of screaming inside your helmet, "I've got to tell someone about this road..."

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We've run out of pavement as we approach oil country and the 400-mile length of the Sierra Nevada Foothills draws to a close.

One more set of tires burned off. One more high five. Smiles that make your face hurt.

A rip-roarin' hoot..!!

 

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March 2017

17-19
 
Single Rider
$435
Passenger
$119
 
Motorcycle Rental
Click Here
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MEETING PLACE:

Starbucks Coffee
1342 East F Street
Oakdale, CA

Meet 7:00, Safety Brief 7:30,
Depart 8:00 AM

Arriving Early?
Riders may stay at the:
Best Western Inn
1450 East F Street, Oakdale, CA
(You must book your own room for Thursday.)

Contact Info:
Tim Mayhew : 530-391-1356


EXPERIENCED RIDERS ONLY:

This tour is not recommended for beginner riders, very large motorcycles or cruisers.
Riders are expected to have at least 5+ years of enthusiastic experience on their motorcycle riding remote challenging paved mountain backroads along with at least 5000+ miles of concurrent recent experience.

High Demand! This tour is limited to just 10 motorcycles and will fill up quickly. Book early to ensure a spot on this ride.

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Granite Rd

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