By Bill Harr
We have so many great motorcycle roads here in California. Southern California has the Mulholland Snake and many other canyons to ride. Highway One on the coast ranks up there as one of the classic rides in the world. Highway 9 and 35 in the Santa Cruz Mountains has Alice’s Restaurant. In the summer the Sierra Nevadas deliver Alpine Passes and elevations just short of 10,000 feet. All of the above roads are well know and come with lots of traffic, including riders and drivers who, at times, go beyond their limits. As much as I like the views from Highway One I do not care for all the people the views draw.
South of Livermore, CA is one of California’s special motorcycle roads. Mines Road starts at Tesla Road and winds its way up to “the Junction” of Del Puerto Canyon and San Antonio Valley Road. 28 miles of pure motorcycle heaven, but no big, high-speed sweepers here. This is a road that some would call technical. Tight turns and steep drop-offs keep the traffic low on the weekends and all but nonexistent on weekdays. Mines Road rewards the riders who are smooth with a ride they will remember for a long time. No need to blast above the speed limit and slow for the turns, do this and you miss the charm of Mines Road. Learn the road and the 55 MPH limit delivers perfect turns linked together that will remove any chicken strips your tires may have.
When you reach the end of Mines Road and the start of San Antonio Road you will find The Junction restaurant. No, it is not the Rock Store or Alice’s restaurant but good food and nice people. The Junction has been around since the late 1890s mining days. The Junction has been open on and off for many years. It is still a residence that opens their doors to travelers who need a drink or something to eat. Motorcyclists, bicycle riders, and sports cars can all be found here on the weekends. If you are riding by The Junction be sure to stop and support their business. I recommend the Backyard Bird Dressed Up, great chicken sandwich.
After lunch at The Junction, you have to make the hard choice of where to ride next. Back down Mines Road is a different ride than coming up the road. The hills on the right will drop dirt and rocks on the road and you need to stay alert. You can ride up San Antonio Road nice sweepers in the lower section. Tight steep turns climbing up to Lick Observatory and an elevation 4,265 feet. You will be rewarded with a great view of San Jose and the Silicon Valley. Del Puerto Canyon is another technical road dropping into the great Central Valley. So many choices, you will certainly enjoy the ride.