It’s riding season, and it couldn’t have come soon enough. My buddy Jeff and I decided to take off yesterday and head to Monterey on the bikes. Of course it wouldn’t be any fun if you just took the highway, so we cut straight across the valley, through Firebaugh, then over to Little Panoche pass to cross the mountains.
Little Panoche pass is a cool little two laner than runs up over the foothills and then turns into (big?) Panoche Pass which drops you just south of Hollister. These little passes are the best roads in the world for riding. They always suck in terms of smoothness; this road looks like it had never been repaved since they laid it. They just keep patching it and so it’s a rough one. But the scenery is amazing; rolling hills carpeted in emerald green and spotted with the orange and yellow of spring wildflowers. Once you get further up you become totally isolated as the mountains rise to either side and the vegetation encloses the tiny two lane road. It’s absolutely amazing.
The road runs through Mercey Springs which is a tiny little “resort” where you can go and… well… sit in hot springs I guess. But the real gem is the Panoche Inn, a little hotel / bar with the nicest owners in the world. We stopped in shivering from the cold morning ride, and they kindly made us some coffee and let us warm our hands on the wood burning stove. After that we took off and finished the trek over the mountains, through Hollister, and pulled off in San Juan Batista for gas and a beer.
Part of the draw of biking is stopping in odd places and just checking out the people. We pulled into a little bar and hung out with some locals and talked bikes for a bit. Jeff rides a Triumph and so every where we go, people want to talk about it. Nice bike. We finished our beers, gassed up and then head over to Monterey.
Monterey was beautiful. A little cool and overcast, but not uncomfortable. We stopped into the London Bridge Pub and enjoyed some hot clam chowder, fish and chips, and of course some Guinness and Boddington’s. A perfect finish to a fantastic ride.
I can’t wait to see where else the bike takes me this year. It’s gonna be a great year of riding. I’ve posted pictures in my picture section. Enjoy!