Ride!

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Wow, what a beautiful day it was yesterday. Warm sun, clear skies, smooth road, it just doesn’t get much better than that. I had originally planned to go hiking, but my hiking buddy bailed and so I just figured I’d spend the day on the bike. I’m glad I did.

I took off about 8:30 in the morning and it was a little chilly, especially when you get out in the middle of farm country. I always seem to underestimate how cold it will be on the bike. Anyway, I took off westward across the valley riding through mile after mile of perfectly flat, groomed, farmland. It’s amazing how much food we grow here. You don’t really understand until you’re out in the middle of the valley and all there is, for as far as the eye can see in any direction, is perfect squares of crops. All kinds of crops. Stuff I didn’t even know we grew here. Amazing. Beautiful.

I got the west side of the valley and picked up a road called Little Panoche Road. Just a tiny little road that runs through the foothills. It’s only a few miles long but I took a boatload of pictures on that little road. The wildflowers are in full bloom right now and the hills are emerald green. It looks as if a giant just splashed yellow, purple and orange paint all over them.

Little Panoche Road runs into Panoche Pass which cuts over the mountains and this was an interesting road as well. Not as many camera opportunities since the road is very narrow, one lane in many spots, but it is very fun to ride, though a little bumpy in spots. It drops you out near Hollister on Hwy 25, and that was a suprising road.

IMG_5633.JPGHwy 25 is smooth as silk, full of long sweepers and runs through a narrow valley filled with nothing but what looks like grazing land to me. There’s absolutley nothing on this road, so make sure you have gas before you take it, but that’s the real draw here… I think I only passed a few cars and a half dozen bikes on the whole road. Awesome. Right now the scenery could not be any more beautiful either, this shot of a field of orange flowers should attest to that.

Hwy 25 then runs into 198 which heads East back into the valley. Unfortunately, I was low on gas and hungry so I took it West instead and ended up in King City. I filled up the tank, grabbed a great Tri-Tip at a diner and then headed back to 198 and toward home. 198 runs straight through Coalinga, which I had never been to, and I was surprised to find it a nice little town. There’s a lot of oil derricks there and a pretty good sized museum showing the history of the area. I didn’t have time to take the tour, but I did stop at the restored gas station they have there which looks like it’s from the 40’s or 50’s. Very cool.

After that, it was a beeline home through the valley floor. All in all, it was an outstanding day of riding. Click here for all the pictures and a some great panorama shots.