DUAL SPORT RIDE: New Idria/Clear Creek SVRA
This ride is the advanced seminar for all who attended our Dirt Riding Clinics and for any who are comfortable on easy dirt roads and beginner-level single-track trails. This route is about 75% street pavement riding and 25% dirt roads or jeep trails. (It will seem like more...) The offroad trail section is optional, you can do the San Benito Peak route described below without leaving the dirt road.
You can anticipate beautiful views of the Sierras, fall colors on the trees, and of course the fragrant, dusky vapor of two-stroke oil while we are in the Clear Creek SVRA itself. The fall rains should have damped down the dust, and riding conditions should be ideal.
If you have any questions or concerns, I am available by e-mail pretty much all the time. If you are uncertain about your ability, you can do the first New Idria dirt road section, and turn back on the "EASY BUT LONGER" route described below.
The ride starts at shop, then to Hollister via 101 to 25 to J1 to Panoche Inn (all paved roads) to New Idria/Clear Creek (all dirt roads and trails) /Old Hernandez Road & back to Hwy 25 north and return to Hollister. The pace will be suitable for an informal, easy DualSport ride. The route is paved to Panoche and most of the way to New Idria. From New Idria, there is a graded dirt road leading back towards Hwy. 25 over the Clear Creek.
The road on the west side of New Idria is ALL DIRT. Watch out for 4WD trucks, dirt bikes, hunters, etc. There are campgrounds along the lower elevations on both sides of the mountain. Adventuresome riders can join me at the top of San Benito Mountain for lunch, and then take an easy single track route that leads back to the main Clear Creek/New Idria Road. After we cross over the the new Idria-Clear Creek Road we'll return to Hollister via the Old Coalinga Road and Hwy 25. A dualsport bike is not absolutely necessary for this ride, but it is easier on a GS or an F650 than on a Cruiser, for example.
We typically leave at 9:00 am from the shop, going south on 101 to 25 to Hollister. Stop at Chevron station at south end of Hollister and gas up & regroup (approx. 60 miles, 1 hr. riding time). BE SURE TO GAS UP HERE! This is the only gas until we get back to Hollister unless you borrow some on the way! we'll leave Hollister south on 25 at 10:15.
Take 25 south towards Paicines (next hamlet after Tres Pinos), where we will turn left on J 1. This road is a beautiful, two-lane country road that follows the east side of the mountain chain that holds the Clear Creek Off-Road riding area. We'll stop at the Panoche Inn (831-628-3538), which is about 30 miles from the turn-off to J 1. You can break for an early lunch here or continue on and have lunch at the top of San Benito Mountain.
There are three possible route options:
- Easiest & Short: No dirt here! Just turn around at Panoche Inn and ride back down J 1 and return to Hollister the same way we came. No dirt riding at all if you do this. Return to the Pennisula via Uvas & McKean Reservoir Roads instead of 101 to avoid the traffic, and stop in Hollister for coffee.
- Easy but Longer: Still no dirt! Turn left just after the Panoche Inn on Little Panoche Road. It is about 20 miles to I-5 north, and about 24 miles north to 152/Pacheco Pass, and another 35 miles back to Gilroy. This route is all paved, mostly straight highway or freeway.
- Challengin Dualsport (but not too hard): Continue with us along the New Idria Road to New Idria (you can't stop in the village) and follow the dirt road to the summit ridge and back down the west side to Old Coalinga Road and Hwy 25. There is an exciting "road route" up to San Benito Peak, which cuts off to the left (marked San Benito Peak/Mexican Lake Road) about a mile below the summit on the east side, and returns to the main road via an easy single-track trail. The whole route is visible from the summit and this is a great introduction to "real single-track" offroad riding. This is a good dirt-road/trail riding practice for the "not-quite-ready-for offroad-riding" folks, and one which Gail & I will be taking.
- Warning: The Clear Creek/New Idria dirt road is heavily travelled by dirt bikes and four-wheelers, so be very cautious on blind curves. Be especially careful on the east side of the mountains, as the road is not well maintained and there may be washouts. During the lunch break at the summit see if you can see the Sierras to the East. Watch out for dust and ruts when descending from the summit. There is a posted 3-way intersection at the bottom of the mountain, you should bear left to Clear Creek.
- Gas & Food: There are very limited services available once we get into the Clear Creek portion of this ride, so plan to be self-contained - bring water, lunch stuff, spare gas if your range is less than 100 miles, binocs and camera, and don't forget your tire repair kit & tool kit; it is a long way to call for a tow truck and very expensive.
- The Best Lunch: Bring a traditional dirtbiker's lunch for the top of the mountain; plenty of cheeses, salami, Schinkenspeck, maybe some Landjaegers, bread, crackers, coffee, etc. etc. plus whatever your favorite food might be. The lunch spot has 360 degree panoramic views from the Coast Range all the way to the Sierra Nevada! I always bring binocs.
- Return Routes: On the way home, the Clear Creek/New Idria Road joins the Coalinga/Los Gatos Road, which continues north to rejoin Hwy 25 about 10 miles before the Pinnacles turn-off. You can, if you are energetic, take Old Hernandez Road to the San Benito Lateral, which rejoins Hwy 25 just four miles before the Pinnacles. This little ranch road goes through a very pretty valley, lots of horse ranches and hunting camps, with one nice river crossing to keep you on your toes. I usually add this in for one last ride in the dirt. Conditions are very easy on this road, and it is good for practicing sliding.
If you still want more dirt, watch for Gloria Road, a few miles north of the Pinnacles. This road leads over the mountain and joins 101 at Gonzales. This is an easy dirt road, nice for sliding....
All in all, this is a ride with a good component of adventure touring practice. This is probably the easiest "real" dualsport ride you will ever get to go on! The river crossings are dry, the single track is totally optional, and there are plenty of bail-out points if you get tired.
Please buddy up, and keep an eye out for the rider behind you. We will not want to spend time backtracking to look for someone who has bailed out and headed home without telling anyone. There will be riders of widely varying ability on this ride. If you have questions about riding in the dirt, don't be shy about asking for advice. Ride at your own pace, and do not ride beyond your ability. Safety and enjoyment first! Safe speed: The safe speed for road conditions will differ from rider to rider. Pick a pace that is within your ability. Do not ride beyond your limits! I am happy to give you tips and advice on the dirt riding sections, and those who attended Sunday's Clinic and the evening clinics should be well prepared.
Riding in a group: Do not follow too closely! Ride in staggered files on the freeway, and leave a safe distance between you and the next rider, especially on the trails. Highway 25 is getting more heavily patrolled, so please, no banzai charges at 130 mph! You could end up in the ditch like the unnamed rider last month...