Ride Report #49: Sierra Foothills Ride

This was the second long ride I did in between jobs (Velodyne → Waymo)… a long day trip into the Sierra foothills. The 2019 winter was turning out to be a very wet winter, the snowpack was very tall (the fifth ever recorded since 1941) and hills very were green.

We started the day early from Fremont and took Tesla Rd through Livermore out of the Bay Area. We crossed the central valley a little north of Turlock, on Keyes Road. This road goes through the heart of farm country, there were all sorts of farms on both sides of the road and lots of heavy truck and farm equipment traffic. Keyes Rd joins Hwy 59 which soon turns into J16 and then it starts to get interesting. We turned right over a bridge over the Merced river and then followed Hornitos Road through the small town of Hornitos. It was my first time exploring this area and I loved the roads here. There was very little traffic. We split off J16/Hornitos towards Hwy 49 on Old Toll Road, which was a small goaty trail with a single lane and very rough pavement.

We got to the vista point at the top of the Hwy 49 grade (“little dragon”) at which point Akshay realized that he had lost his rear seat and some tools. We back tracked our way, down the bumpy old toll road and back on J16. A few miles later I spotted the seat on the side of the road and we resume our trip. We then took Bear Valley Road (also a fine road) to Hwy 49, down the little dragon and to lunch in Coulterville.

There is no gas in Coulterville, so we pressed on. We rode up Greeley Hill Road for a short distance and then took Priest Coulterville Road to the top of the Priest grade. This was easily my favorite road of the day. Short and sweet, not overly taxing on a Busa, still winding, goaty and fun. The scenery was great, the traffic was very less and we got to Priest grade easily.

We then rode down Old Priest Grade and enjoyed the very steep grade! We then continued to Hwy 120 to Chinese Camp and rode Red Hill Road and La Grange Road back to Hwy 132. At this point Akshay was running very low on fuel and there was no gas station in La Grange. We asked a store owner and she mentioned the nearest gas was towards Coulterville. When we arrived at the gas station, 15 miles later, Akshay’s bike was almost out of gas, showing an available range of zero miles.

We gassed up at Don Pedros Market on Hwy 132 and made the long and boring journey back home. We took the freeway all the way back as I had to get back on time and coach Anushka’s basketball team that evening. No laws were broken, but we did see triple digit speeds for a little bit on I5.

I really enjoyed this ride and I have a new appreciation for the roads in the Sierra foothills.


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