23 January 2011

Getting Dirty

Yesterday it got late and we postponed our motorcycle tour to today. We planned a longer ride, basically a full day, and started right after we did our weekly Skype / iChat / phone session with our parents.

Today was a first: some dirt roads were on the planned route. About 10 miles of an overall about 110 mile trip. Doesn't sound too much, I know, but we spent quite some time on those 10 miles. Going between 10 and 25 mph, really careful as I'm not very experienced with dirt roads and it was definitely the first time for Andrea.

Dirt roads on inadequate tires - still fun!

So, were did we go? We started, as always, in Sunnyvale, went our usual route to Highway 9, then instead of going up to Skyline Blvd. we turned left towards Saratoga and followed Highway 9 all the way to Los Gatos; went through Los Gatos through some backroads into the mountains there. Mainly Hicks Road towards Quicksilver Park, Almaden, then going South on Uvas Road and finally West into Mt. Madonna County Park.

First break of the trip (remember - you can click on each photo for a larger version):

Parking Lot near Sierra Azul Regional Open Space

Some nice residences along the way:

When we entered the Mt. Madonna area, we did so through Redwood Retreat and Mt. Madonna Road - which is  a dirt road going up pretty steep towards the Mt. Madonna Park Entrance:

Mt. Madonna Road

This road is  a well used dirt road, hard packed, so not too hard to ride there, but still. Potholes the size of small cars (at least they felt that deep), some loose stuff, tight corners and some oncoming traffic. The photo above is pretty bad unfortunately, it was dark in the wood, and I didn't want to stand there for too long as there were cars coming from time to time.

We made it up without incident and found this awesome tree there:

We continued on Summit Road North towards the Bay Area again. There was a short stretch of paved road and then it turned to dirt again. The beginning was hard packed dirt, some sandy patches, and some parts filled up with large pebbles (golf ball sized stones). They were about the worst to ride through. The R1200GS felt like the heavy pig she is in the beginning - I got used to it after a while with just letting it do its thing and staying on the gas. Was weird in the beginning but worked out fine.

Some more photos from this part of the trip:

Summit Road

Still Summit Road

It's a private road, but the gates were open, other people were going through, and we were of course interested in all the properties for sale in that area ...

Most of Summit Road is hard dirt mixed with sharp stones which was fairly easy to ride:

And here is the whole trip:

Overall 177km, 4h 06m riding time, 1h 52m stopped time, an overall average of 43km/h (moving average, not counting the stopped time). Not fast but considering that we did mostly tiny backroads and some dirt roads not too bad.

It was definitely a lot of fun, Andrea again had blast on her 200cc dirt bike that was probably way more fun on the dirt stretches than my R1200GS with fairly old Metzeler Tourance Dual Sport tires that are rather made for on-road touring and need a replacement in the not too far future. We definitely want to do similar trips again and need to find some more open dirt roads in the area.

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