Day 6 – Lake Tahoe to Stinson Beach

Distance: 378 miles / 608 kilometres
Ride time: 8:00 am – 7:30 pm
Low temp. 14 Celcius (Carson Pass) / High 34 Celcius (Del Puerto Canyon)

Each day has featured unbelievable roads to ride. Every time I come to California I find even better and more challenging roads. Today had more twists and turns than any riding day I’ve ever had.

Started out at a civil hour of 8am from Lake Tahoe. Quick fuel up and out of town with little or no traffic after a few miles from Lake Tahoe.

The Carson Pass is not the most scenic but it is one of the higher passes and the road is well-maintained sweepers. A short delay for construction but overall a fun and quick route to the other side of the mountains.

Highway 26 through Wilseyville is an excellent road that winds tightly through forested narrow roads. They were just finishing the paving so this will be like a raceway for motorcycles.

Stopped for lunch early in West Point, a tiny little village. When getting gas a lot of small American businesses do not use a PIN for credit transactions which is odd. They ask “are you the owner of the card ” or ask for ID. When asked I answered that I believed I was the owner of the card unless on the day’s journey I’d had an out of body experience or been taken by aliens. That seemed to be lost on the attendant and she had a unsettled look after. Had a good chat with a small restaurant owner about their nearly annual trips to Hyder, Alaska. About how Canadians are weird for not wanting to pay for extra health services and their general lack of understanding about any Canadian geography. Very friendly and down to earth folk and a lunch that grandma would make for you for. Less than $10.

Followed the highway right to Stockton through all of the agricultural land. It’s quite a treat to ride through all of the orchards, plantations and farms and whiff the scents of the flowers, fruit and vegetation. The farms are lined with fragrant flowers as a sound barrier from the highway but are beautiful for passersby.

A bit of freeway riding to get from Stockton to. Patterson and pick up the Del Puerto Canyon Road. The Destination Highways books have been an invaluable resource for scouting great places to ride. This road is no exception. Challenging, twisty and largely vacant roads that are some of the best I’ve ridden. A hot and vacant canyon ride that is a variation of really tight technical turns with some higher speed stretches in between. The closer it got to the Lick Observatory the quicker the change in altitude and tremendous views.

The route descends after the Observatory into San Jose into Quimby Road which has incredibly steep cambered corners that literally wind back and forth every fifty feet. There are some potentially precipitous drops if one were to fail to negotiate any of the bends. The roads combined are over 70 miles of continuos corners and switchbacks that left me grinning from ear to ear the whole way.

The not so great part is the return North on the 101 freeway. From San Jose to Stinson added 2.5 hours to what would have been a relatively shorter day compared with previous day’s rides.

I do like the Black Diamond commuter lane which helped speed things up. Motorcycles are allowed in the commuter lane. But. Soon that was mired in the same backlog of traffic. Then… Whoosh. A motorcycle came whipping by beside me filtering through traffic. It’s legal to “lane share” in California which means motorcycles can ride between the slow moving cars to move through the traffic. After about a half hour of sitting behind cars in heat with full gear I decided to give it a try. As long as your are alert and other drivers see you it works quite well and cut off at least an extra hour in traffic. Good drivers also pull left in their lane to allow motorcyclists to safely do this. It works surprisingly well and I can see how riders with a daily commute would save a lot of time getting where they need to go.

After finally weeding through traffic and out of San Francisco was a favorite part of my ride the bit of Highway 1 from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach. A road I’ve done a few times and it is a blast to ride. 15 or so miles of weaving tight twisty bits with ups and downs mixed in. This was the perfect way to end a perfect day of riding. Now to chill with my family at the beach for a week before completing the ride home.