We met at the Guard base near the Fresno Air Terminal. There ended up only being four of us. We were quite a different looking bunch. I was on my ST and Chuck was on his dual-sportish VStrom. The other two were on dedicated sport bikes although one was a 2007 and the other a 1990. No matter - they all worked - and we headed towards the hills. through Clovis, up State Route 168. Sample Road got us to Humphrey's Station for breakfast. From Humphrey's Station in Tollhouse, we were planning on heading toward Auberry. The original plan was to take Lodge Road, but I suggested we take Tollhouse Road to the top of the Four-Lane on SR168 and cross over to Auberry Road to decend into Auberry. Both routes end up in Auberry, but the high road is much more scenic.
Between Clovis and Humphrey's, I was between the sportbikes. I was able to hold onto them, and the ST liked to run, but I was right at the edge of my comfort zone. I prefered things just a bit slower. I kept watching Chuck get farther and farther off the back until I didn't seen him anymore. When we left Humphrey's, I got in the back, behind Chuck. The others took off.
When we got to the turn in Tollhouse, Chuck turned right up Tollhouse Grade and I followed. We enjoyed the scenery and the pace on the way up and were met at the top of the hill by about 15 cyclists. I immdiately thought I'd brought the wrong bike. I needed my Vitus, not the ST. Among all the cyclists, we expected to see the others we were riding with, but they weren't there. Chuck and I looked at each other and figured they'd headed down Lodge road when we turned up Tollhouse Grade. No matter; we'd catch back up in Auberry.
Down to Auberry through Alder Springs and still no sign of them. After a quick trip to Mom & Dad's, we headed down Powerhouse road to complete the chosen route. Toward Northfork to road 200, then toward O'Neals. That road had a surprise for us: new pavement. Construction was still in progress and the new asphalt was silky smooth... until it ended. Then there was no pavement. The road became a pot-hole marked, hard-packed dirt and gravel travelway for about 3 miles. Chuck's VStrom was the perfect bike for the road. The ST, not so much. But we made it through to O'Neals.
Road 200 took us to the remnants of the community of Foothill and from there went to Four Corners and the north end of State Route 145. After a quick stop in North Madera for a drink, we headed home.
151 miles total. It was good for both of us to get out.
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