Doc Wong Ride Topics:
Muddy Conditions, 22 February 1998

by Charles Petrie

"The DocWong Road Closed Survey Ride"
22 Feb 98

The latest DocWong ride, over the usual route, was more like one of Cal BMW's dual sport shop rides: lots of water and mud. It turned out to be a survey of roads closed in the Santa Cruz mountains. We went through three "closed" signs.

The first was going down Tunitas creek from Skyline. The ride was at a fine pace though a bit tentative because we never knew what was around the corner. It had just finished pouring and water and mud was still flowing. Actually, it was quite wonderful because the sun was breaking through the redwoods at the same time the water was flowing along the road beside us.

Finally we found the cause of the road closure: a eucalyptus tree had fallen across the road. But the top of the tree just covered the edge of the road on the ravine side. So we just rode across. I rode right through the branches—it's great to ride a tractor (BMW R80ST). But even the sportbikes (with good riders) could cross. Then we stopped and broke branches by hand and cleared out about a 20 foot "motorcycle highway" through the obstruction. The road was now open for the groups behind us.

On the way down, we passed several trucks who were coming up to open the road. They stopped and let us pass, and we went on through modest patches of mud and eroded asphalt.

At the morning session, we had talked about keeping our weight off the handlebars, weighting the outside peg, and generally balancing even in slides. We had lots of occasions to practice the rest of the ride. Everyone one got to slide on this ride.

Stage Road had some minor mud but was essentially clear. Cloverdale highway had some stretches of mud, one serious. One sportbike did a 180 and slide just ahead of me. I believe this happened partially because of slick tires and partially because of insufficient speed. My own approach to the mud stretches was to go fast. This usually works. :) The next road closed sign was at Gazos creek.

Before we got to this sign, there was another short stretch of mud and some water and erosion, but nothing serious. But Gazos Creek Road is probably closed for months.

Just after the sign, a creek is flowing across the road. Much of the road has fallen into Gazos Creek and there is a lot of mud covering the asphalt. One dual sport, my ST, and a sportbike crossed for fun and to see what was on the other side. Further down, the road was broken up, as if from an earthquake and covered with rocks, but still passable. Further on though, there is a serious landslide not passable by anything any of us are licensed to operate. We had to turn back.

OK, so we went back to Pescadero and down 84 towards the coast. Just before the Bean Hollow cutoff, 84 was flooded. It was a real lake, with the deepest water on the North side. But we all went through. And got soaked.

On the other side, I explored Bean Hollow road. No one else did, possibly because they were wet and tired of mud and obstacles. One of my cylinders was missing at low speeds due to the water—must have been electrical. But Bean Hollow was a blast! There were spots of erosion and a very little mud. Mostly it was its same old fun road. I came out on one just as the lead group was coming up Hwy 1 and joined them.

We stopped at the other end of Gazos Creek Road and Let Harry play with a loaned dirt bike, and then we went on to the standard lunch at Davenport.

After lunch, Bonny Doon was fine, with just a little stuff on the road at the low points. Smith Grade had several one lane points because of erosion, but it was open. There were some dramatic sections though—one could easily see where the pickup truck in the newspaper might have gone off.

Empire Grade was also fairly clear, with just a little water and some debris in places. We expected Jameson Creek to be closed. Jeff Copp had come up it in the morning to meet us at Davenport and reported bad conditions, including a boulder in the road. But by the afternoon, the road crews must have cleared it because it was no worse than usual. That is, there were the usual small rocks in the road. It was fine.

At lunch, we had heard that Hwy 9 was closed, so Harry said he would officially end the ride at Boulder Creek, but personally would go up the hill. Almost everybody followed him rather than take the Bear Creek detour.

Outside Boulder Creek, the sign said Hwy 9 was closed 4.7 miles further up the hill. But when we got to that point, there just a sign saying the surface was rough because the asphalt was patched. The road crews were doing a great job Sunday! There were, again, the usual small streams of water and rocks, especially near the 15mph hairpin, but the water and previous traffic actually made for a good clean surface.

This was one of the most fun DocWong rides ever. Harry promised sun with broken clouds and, against all odds (it was raining early in the morning), he was right again. It was perfect conditions for exploring the roads. It was sunny and warm but the water was still gushing over the roads and dripping from the trees and the mud was good and fresh. :)

The coast was absolutely beautiful and even the sportbikes got muddy. What more can you ask?


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