Big sur Pacific coastline
Highlighted Roads: Mt Umunhum Loma Prieta Rd • Uvas Rd • Highway 25 • Peach Tree Indian Valley Rd • Hwy 229 Rossi's Driveway • Highway 58 • Huer Huero Rd • Las Palitas Rd • Foxen Canyon Rd • Tepusquet Rd • Figueroa Mountain Rd • Happy Canyon Rd • South Alisal Rd • Santa Rosa Rd • Jalama Beach Rd
There's a certain Eureka! moment when a tour route comes together. Spending hours with the mapping program figuring out a balance of curves, elevation change and timing. The right tour plan has a perfect balance of curves, straights, scenery, even the right time-out break at just the right vista.
Prepare yourself for an all new tour designed for the 2020 season. Got your attention yet?
It begins in Morgan Hill...
For several years, my buddy Mark has been telling me about this brand-new ride up to Mount Umunhum. If you can’t pronounce it, neither can we, so we’ll call it Mount Um for short. When I tried to look it up, every map I had claimed the road didn’t exist.
Now you have my attention.
Thankfully, we have satellites in the sky to guide our road curiosities and low and behold, there it was in 3-D glory. Angels and cherubs sang as google zoomed in, zoomed out, panned and rotated around this glorious sight. It doesn’t exist on any map because it was only in late 2017, the road to the summit of Mount Umunhum was completed and opened to the public.
The Fourth Sister...
Mount Um is one of the sisters, likely we should call it the fourth sister, a ring of the tallest peaks surrounding the Bay Area with accessible paved roads to the summits. Mount Tamalpais overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Diablo, Mount Hamilton, (better known as Lick Observatory), and now the newly paved road that flows up to Mount Umunhum overlooking the South Bay.
The 3486 ft peak was a tool in the Cold War of the 1960s when radar towers were installed on the tallest peaks ever in search of hostile aircraft headed for the United States. An event I was convinced could happen ever since I saw Red Dawn as a kid- truly the scariest movie ever made from the perspective of a 12 yr old.
An 85 ft tall radar tower was built in 1958 and operated through 1980. The tower contained long range search radar, so powerful, it put a buzz in all the local TVs in the South Bay when it rotated. Originally part of the Almaden Air Force Station, today the radar dish has been dismantled and a Doppler weather radar has been installed nearby. The Cube, as it is called, remains and was saved from demolition after the county designated the 8-story concrete cube a historic building.
Highway 25 has long been revered by local motorcyclists, original conceived as the Airline Highway in the mid-1930s, the route mimicking the path the airlines of the time used between the Bay Area and Los Angeles in the skies above. While there are several long straights on Highway 25, the middle section hugs the wall of this gentle north-south valley, adhering to the contours of the land. The result for the motorcyclist is a complete orgy of curve, endlessly twisty road in the steady flow south.
We’ll stare skyward at the sky highway above to see if any planes are in pursuit. Little Panoche and Coalinga Road will have to wait for another day as we make southward past Hwy 198 and onto Peachtree Indian Valley Rd. This 40-mile remote stretch of remote ranch land pavement leads to San Miguel for a much-needed gas stop.
Nearby is a road that likely will go down in the annuals as one of the most beloved roads in the region, that local riders simply call Rossi’s Driveway. If Valentino Rossi had a driveway, this would be it. We ride this every chance we get, and today is one of those chances.
One lane, recent repaving, a mere five miles and unknown to most, it shouldn’t be missed.
Santa Barbara County...
Santa Barbara County is a corner of California best known for the Sierra Madre and San Rafael Ranges. These parallel east-west mountain ranges span about 25 miles long and are known for vast stretches of roadless wilderness with low peaks only reaching 6000 feet with the highest peak, Big Pine Mountain, at 6820 feet. Little rain at lower elevations provides a scrub terrain of Chaparral and Oak Woodlands overlooking the Pacific Ocean. No paved roads mean our choices are limited, but we’ll enjoy exploring Tepusquet Road, a fun canyon ride recently paved and leading into the Cuyama Valley.
If you enjoyed the ride to Mt Um on Day 1, what better task than to ride to another local peak Cerro Noroeste Mountain, meaning Northwest Peak, at 8286 ft, this is a remote peak, later named as Mount Abel, in the Los Padres National Forest that must be checked out in person. An 8-mile road was built in the late 1930s during the Works Progress Administration era. Cerro Noroeste Road was opened in July 1940 providing expansive views of the Carrizo Plain National Monument to the north and Sespe Range to the south.
The other day, I asked in a public forum if anyone had ever ridden up to the top of Cerro Noroeste Peak. Crickets. And therein lies the mission statement of Pashnit.com and the nexus of Pashnit Motorcycle Tours. You have to see this road I found.
The word 'wilderness' keeps coming up every time we talk about this region. Lockwood Valley at 4839 feet lies on the southern edge of the Chumash Wilderness and includes most of the higher elevations in Ventura County. Few roads were ever built, which resulted in minimal development. Wilderness stayed wilderness, and Lockwood Valley Road bisects this dry region. Even bridges were a bother and instead, Lockwood Valley Rd traverses several dry washes that have several inches of water in spring, but generally are dry most of the year.
The goal is to reach Pine Mountain Pass, better known as Highway 33. A local favorite, Highway 33, leads up and over the Pine Mountain Summit at a low 5080 feet. What Highway 33 is best known for is the view overlooking Wheeler Gorge. Poised atop the summit before dropping in elevation, a broad viewpoint offers up an iconic photo of the road as it flows down a mountainous finger, switches sides to the other half of the gorge and then continues the sinuous affair down to Wheeler Springs and through two mountain tunnels bored through solid rock.
Highway 33 drops down the range and reaches Lake Casitas a few miles later. Santa Barbara County may offer up a dry Southern California terrain and fewer roads to choose from than we’re used to, but like always, the roads are endlessly twisty, the camaraderie of your tour mates is a constant, the views are vast and jaw dropping, smiles for miles, lean angles for hours and friendships that last years. Just how I want to spend my weekend.
Join us for the last tour of the ride season.
Tour: Friday, October 20, 2023
Meet: 19062 Taylor Ave, Morgan Hill
Arrive: 7:00 AM, Safety Brief 7:30, Depart 8:00 AM
Cost: $460 per rider, $119 Passenger
This tour includes narrow steep single lane paved mountain roads. Mountain passes include steep grades and negotiating hair-pin corners. All roads on this tour are paved.
EXPERIENCE RIDERS ONLY:
This mountain 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. 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 all-new rider for 2020. Check with us to see if any available spots are open. Some of our rides have waiting lists to be able to join the group.