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5 Passes Ride

Mark Mayo

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5 Passes in the Sierras


A friend of mine, Dan Burtt, organized this ride for both SCMA and South Coast BMW Riders Club and it was patterned after an original ride from Bill Allen.



The point is to rapidly traverse five passes (about 800 miles) in two days. The ride started at Zingo's Cafe in Bakersfield with about 12 riders at the start. We headed to our first fun task of the very peppy Granite Road followed by 155 through Lake Isabella. Walker Pass - check


A slice of 155 from Spot



Highway 178 and a trudge up 395 was next. If you have not tried the first two, you need to rectify that and you will be a fan. A word of warning about 155; there are right hand curves that trucks and cagers cut and thus drag dirt and gravel onto the trailing edge. It can ruin your day if you take one of these at speed and cut them tightly. Move out toward oncoming traffic (shock) to be safe. If it is hot the tar snakes can also be an issue and make your rear tire slip. We had no issues and we're all smiles about this section of the ride. Most of us opted to use cruise control at just over legal on 395; we watched several people pass us with abandon only to be rewarded by the CHP further up the road. We did get to fuel up and eat at Whoa Nelly Deli and it did not disappoint.



A pre-ride run through the entire route convinced Dan to eliminate Tioga pass (slow, crowded and long) and Ebbet's Pass (dangerous single lane sections). A couple of riders opted to do all seven passes and enjoyed it. Sonora pass (108) was one of my favorites. The temperature was very comfortable and it kept the tar snakes from fluidity. The road was almost completely open with many cars kindly selecting to encourage us to pass them. We gladly moved on and they never needed to see again us after the next turn. There are tons of excellent sweeps and a few nice tight twisties. The vistas are superb!





The sweeps said ride me and we did; they erased the 395 memories very quickly. I am fortunate to ride with Dan Burtt and he is an excellent ride leader. On Sonora Pass he kept the throttle open and nicely reduced my chicken strips as I followed his lead. My suggestion to everyone is to ride with someone better than you as often as you can and get better at riding as a result. By the time we reached Sonora we we more than ready for an adult beverage and some tasty Mexican food. The other riders filtered in a bit late, but all had great stories and seemed happy with their day. A trio of riders from Arizona showed up after a trip through of of Death Valley's dirt- these guys are the real deal. This was not a "group" ride with a line of 12 motorcycles all staggered correctly. This was a do it alone or in a real small group and ride your ride kind of thing. I find this method safer and more fun, but your mileage may vary.


The second day was pleasantly chilly and we both selected our MotoPort liners and warm gloves - good call. We managed Carson Pass, Luther Pass before needing some gas and coffee in Markleeville.



If you like to ride, I mean ride, these will scratch any itch you have perfectly. Somehow we did not agree with some of the posted suggestions for speed and our choice worked for us. If you can do it before it gets hot and brown, do it. A final ride over Monitor Pass brought a weather change as the skies began to darken toward rain.



We made it to Bridgeport for a stop at the Jolly Kone for a fairly good burger. (No massage this time)



We chatted with one of the other riders who cruised in a Slingshot "bat mobile". They departed to continue on a four corners ride covering the entire country and we headed for Bishop. I had asked Dan to skip 395 and select 120-Benton/ highway 6. Usually that is a great road, but this time it was raining and they had refinished the road and it was covered with lots of loose gravel. We still enjoyed it, but it required additional care to be safe. We dined with a portion of the group at the Back Alley and all seemed very pleased with their rides and food. The stories flowed...


If you have a couple of free days give these passes a try, I'll be back early next summer or late spring.

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Seems like you had all the components in place to make it an awesome ride! :thumbsup:

Bikes :-) Food :-) Altitude :-) Curves :-) Friends :-) :clap:





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While I headed home in the dark and rain today, the late birds were rewarded with this glorious sky in Bishop.



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