Ride the earthquake capital of the world
Highlighted Roads: Highway 9 • Highway 25 • Los Gatos Creek Rd • Coalinga Rd • Highway 198 • Peach Tree Indian Valley Rd • Vineyard Canyon Rd • Bitterwater Rd • Highway 58 • Huer Huero Rd • Las Palitas Rd • Highway 229 Rossi's • Santa Rosa Creek Rd • Peachy Canyon Rd • Adelaida Rd • Chimney Rock Rd • San Marcos Rd • Highway 1 Big Sur
We've been riding the Central Coast for many years, nearly 20, but surprise! We've got even more roads to explore with this brand-new tour focused on the inland Central Coast range. While the routes have changed and evolved through the years, Monterey & San Luis Obispo County are the focus of this ride. If you want to see the ocean, sign up for our Central Coast ride.
South Bay to Parkfield...
We'll meet at the Big Basin Cafe in Saratoga, which is located at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains (in the southwest corner of the San Francisco Bay Area). The twisties are only a moment away. Riders will arrive at 7:00 AM, but plan to arrive no later than 7:30 for the safety brief. We like to get an early start to avoid the traffic, and spend the majority of our time riding! Your tour guides will plan to arrive at around 7:00.
We'll leave Saratoga and ride up into the Santa Cruz Mountains on Big Basin Way, aka Highway 9. This ride forms the backbone of the Santa Cruz Mountain range through Boulder Creek and Felton, a much-loved twisty road for making our way south out of the Bay Area to Santa Cruz. Loved by locals, Hwy 9 starts the day the way you've always envisioned it should be. Curves ahead, the feel of the bike beneath you, leaning into one curve, then another.
Southeast of Santa Cruz is an agricultural region that grows much of the produce you eat. We'll make our way quickly through the Watsonville area and head for Hwy 25, aka as the Airline Highway. Highway 25 was planned out in 1934 as a leg in the 375-mile journey to Los Angeles. The route approximated the north-south route of the airplanes in the skies above as they flew San Francisco to Los Angeles, and the name stuck.
Highway 25 Airline Highway...
There are green ridgelines that line the route on either side, framing the scene. Adorned in wildflowers in the spring during our ride, these green hills are stunning to view. Even better to ride through.
Highway 25 also flows directly over the top of the San Andreas Fault and rides past Pinnacles National Monument. Running parallel to the Gabilan Range and Diablo Range, Highway 25 passes through the farming communities of Paicines and Tres Pinos before stretching off into a remote region of the Coast Range.
Pinnacles National Monument holds the eroded leftovers of the western half of an extinct volcano that has moved 200 miles (320 km) from its original location on the San Andreas Fault, Pinnacles was originally established as a national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt and is a hikers delight.
There are many places to stop and much to see. It's a photographer's paradise along this stretch of highway. We'll be stopping at several vistas to take a break and also to regroup, as the tour will get spread out at times. There is no hurry or rush, so you can just take it at a pace you're comfortable with.
Day 1 is a combination of fast highways and back country ranch roads like Indian Valley Peachtree Rd.
Signs appear: Next Services: 100 Miles. This region can be very remote, and we'll be mindful to ask you about your fuel range of your bike. There's lots of variety in today's ride, and in the company of like-minded riders as passionate as you, it'll be a very memorable day of riding together.
Your face will hurt...
Day Two is a marathon of mile wide grins from ear to ear. Your face is going to hurt- from smiling so much. The day starts with a ride on Bitterwater Rd, in spring this deserted ranch road can be beautiful, adorned in rolling hills of green grass that blanket the hillsides. Every few years, California has a Super Bloom, an event caused when ample spring rains cause wildflowers to bloom as an extreme event. It's not only green, but these rolling treeless hillsides are covered in flowers.
The fantastic Highway 58 which I've often called one of the best motorcycle roads in the entire state is a leg in our ride this morning- and the pavement is brand new- but the real fun is the Holy Grail Triad loop of Huer Huero, Las Pilitas & Highway 229, better known to local riders as Rossi's Driveway.
If Valentino Rossi had a driveway, his house would be at the end of this 5-mile length of road. Through the years, tour participants have often turned right around and ridden it all over again the opposite direction. If once was not enough, turning around a allows us to ride this stretch of road 3 times. It's that fun!
Rossi's Driveway - Highway 229...
Highway 229 is a single lane (sort of) road that clings to a ridgeline and bumps over a low rise. Its tight corners and roller coaster terrain are a true pleasure to ride. Can you imagine yourself whooping and hollering? Your face is going to hurt from smiling so much.
Portions of the road were only recently repaved, and any other vehicle will be rare. A rider once stopped right in the middle of this portion and exclaimed, "It's like a smooth ribbon of chocolate!"
High-fives and fist bumps as the emotions flow high. What an amazing ride, but we've only just begun. We've got another freshly paved road up our sleeve to show you, and the tour group will make our way over to the Pacific Ocean for lunch. You thought we'd come all this way and not include an ocean in our motorcycle tour?
The Pacific Ocean is over the hill; it makes a good lunch stop to enjoy the company and absorb the sound and sight of the crashing waves a few feet away. It's a chance to exhale during the ride, leave your world behind and, learn more about one another. The friends you make here often become friends for life. You'll find you have more in common with your fellow riders than you may have imagined.
We might even argue about tire pressure. Or engine oil.
From Cambria, we get to ride one of our favorite backroads, Santa Rosa Creek Rd, which as the name implies, clings to a creek bed before climbing steeply through several switchbacks out of a hidden valley. The eastern side of the Coast Range is home to wine producing regions, and we'll have to ride some freshly paved Paso Robles roads past numerous vineyards. Tree tunnels and delicious pavement cling to more creek beds. Our routes have varied over the years, but rest assured, there will be endless twisties.
The Cholame Valley...
Cholame is a Yokut Indian word meaning the Beautiful One. Parkfield, population 18, lies inside this valley and holds the V6 Ranch. The 20,000-acre ranch is owned by the Varian Family, which settled the region in 1961. The V6 Ranch is protected by a conservation easement that says "this land can never be divided into smaller parcels," meaning this land will remain a beautiful, open landscape forever, however long that is. It's our playground.
In 1991, the Varian Family decided a restaurant was needed & a log cabin was built. Originally lacking a kitchen, the food was simply cooked on open barbecue pits. The log cabin feel to the Parkfield Cafe is adorned with used items ranging from old metal junk to Mrs. Varian's ribbons from horse shows, to an endless array of branding irons from old friends and reclaimed building materials. The stools at the bar are topped with horse saddles. The walls are adorned with numerous historical photos to highlight the ranching history of the Cholame Valley. In previous visits, a roaring fire was burning in the fireplace, snapping and crackling as we munched on the most delicious food. When Pashnit Motorcycle Tours was first launched over 15 years ago, the Parkfield Cafe immediately became a well-loved lunch stop.
Motorcyclists and car clubs also love the destination and over time, across the street, a small 9-room lodge was built. Several yearly events were created to generate more interest in the remote town. In early May, the Parkfield Bluegrass Festival takes place, then the Artisan Fall Roundup Art Festival in October was added. The Parkfield Rodeo has been going on for more than 100 years, and numerous photos inside show off these events.
Since at least 1857, Parkfield has experienced a magnitude 6 or greater earthquakes about every 22 years. Parkfield is the most closely observed earthquake zone in the world. One year we visited, the USGS had even installed an earthquake machine in the middle of town. The machine was so sensitive, if you tapped your foot, the machine would move. The entire town is also moving, attributed to seismic creep where two fault lines are slipping past one another. The nearby bridge is noticeably bent.
Parkfield is set to be beachfront property in 31 million years, give or take a year or two. The town was originally named Russelsville, but when that name was rejected, the inhabitants chose Parkfield for the park-like setting of this ranching community. The paved road dead ends just outside of town. You can ride north out of town, but the road is 4.5 miles of dirt to the top of the ridge, passable by any bike riding carefully. After that it's pavement all the way to reach Highway 198 over a low range.
Parkfield is so small, our motorcycle tour group will almost double the population of the town. The town is merely composed of the newly built lodge, the restaurant, and a nearby portable building to house the town library.
Book early: You'll need to give notice you're interested at least 6-7 months prior to April each year. This tour involves two nights at the Parkfield Lodge. We are limited by the number of rooms at the Parkfield Inn - just 10 rooms, which means this tour will sell out as early as August each fall for the coming year and we'll then generate a waiting list for this ride once the tour books up and the beds are filled. Individual rooms are not likely, and we will pair the riders as best we can.
Tour: April 22, 2022
Meet: 14471 Big Basin Way, Saratoga
Arrive: 7:00 AM, Safety Brief 7:30, Depart 8:00 AM
Cost: $440 per rider, $109 Passenger
This tour includes narrow single lane paved roads. The ride includes steep grades to 26% and negotiating tight hair-pin corners. All roads on this tour are paved.
EXPERIENCED RIDERS ONLY:
This tour is not recommended for beginner riders or Very Large Motorcycles. Riders are expected to have at least several years of enthusiastic experience on their motorcycle riding remote challenging paved mountain backroads along with at least 5000+ miles of concurrent recent experience.
This tour is limited by the amount of rooms at our host lodging, just 10. We have booked rooms months in advance and our tours sell out by the end of January. Get on our mailing list to be the first to know about new rides. Tours are planned & announced in the late fall of each year.
Book early to ensure a spot on this new ride. Check with us to see if any available spots are open. Some of our rides may have waiting lists to be able to join the group.