East Bay ride on the black XT

My other fun news from last weekend was that I took the black XT on a nice 180-mile ride through the East Bay. I was curious to compare it with the white XT, given the mods I’ve done on the latter to prep for the Seattle trip.

After a great breakfast at the Sunol Cafe, I headed east on Patterson Pass Road.

The Altamont Wind Farm is one of the oldest in the world and holds the world’s largest concentration of wind turbines (about 7000). Wind power makes up about 1% of California’s energy.

I headed north to Byron on the Byron Highway (go figure) — a mostly-straight, dry, hot, flat road that passes farm after farm after cow after farm. The Byron Highway is where I first saw farms with palm trees; a sight that jars my Wisconsin-bred mind to this day.

Old and new transportation options in Byron:

On my way north out of Byron, I found a very happy looking sign and decided to investigate the little dirt road:

Unfortunately, it ended less than a quarter-mile later. Damn!

Continuing vaguely north, there were some great views of Mount Diablo. I stopped by the remains of the Marsh House, built in 1856 by John Marsh, the first American settler in what would become Contra Costa county. Despite being added to the state park system, the house and its land is currently unaccessible to the public and the 3-story, 14-room mansion is falling into disrepair. Almost five years ago, SFGate.com published an article claiming that it would be open soon, but….not so much.

View of Mt Diablo from Marsh Creek Road:

Marsh House:

Next up: food.

The Brentwood area is full of family farms and produce stands. I stopped at Tachella Family Farms for a couple of pluots and peaches. They have a nice little shaded area to sit and enjoy the fruit (and the views of the black XT against a walnut tree background). I also picked up a Harvest Time brochure/map for the next time I’m in the area.

Sadly, it was time to head back.

I wound my way back to Sunol and continued south on Calaveras Road. The reservoir by the same name was low, but had more water than I expected given the area draught this summer.

All in all, a very fun ride. For the faster sections (all paved), I felt that the black XT’s new Kenda knobbies were a bit too aggressive; the bike didn’t feel very stable above 60mph (the white XT is good up to 70mph). I’m also convinced that the larger footpegs that we put on the white XT are a brilliant idea. I’m ordering a pair for the black XT.

Trip stats:
176 miles
Max speed: 66 mph

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4 Responses to East Bay ride on the black XT

  1. Linda says:

    Kewl. I got to know that area a bit better through researching my FZ ride.
    Have you done Alpine, leading off Calaveras? That gives *amazing* views.

  2. Bob Maurer says:

    Could you let me know what tires you have on the Black XT, and how the are on and off road?

  3. carolyn says:

    Hi Bob —
    They’re Kenda Trackmaster 760 tires (80/100-21 front and 100/100-18 rear).
    On-road, they’re a little squirrely at high speeds (an indicate 60mph and above). Below that speed, though, they’re just fine and don’t feel tippy or unstable.
    Off-road, they’re fantastic. I haven’t gone through sand or water with them, but they’re stable and comfortable in mud, dirt, gravel, ruts, and washboards.
    I feel a little guilty that most of my riding on the Kendas has been on-road; I may find a more street-oriented tire for normal use and keep the knobby Kendas in good shape to put on specifically for dirt trips.

  4. Rob says:

    Great ride! What is the range of the XT225? On my ktm640 I spend most of the time hunting for gas stations.

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