The Chumash and Sespe Wilderness
One of my favorite rides is right here in my back yard. Click my Alpinestars together three times and I’m on my way. From either Nor Cal or So Cal get yourself on Hwy. 101 and make the transition onto Hwy. 33 in Ventura. Through Casitas Springs and Oakview pay attention to the speed limits as the county loves making money there. As you enter Ojai, Hwy. 33 makes a left turn so be on the look out. However, if you continue going straight you’ll end up in downtown Ojai. Ending up in downtown Ojai isn’t all that bad, there a couple of good restaurants and the Ojai Coffee Company where you can look at your map and figure out how to get back on the route.
Whether you made the correct turn or you had to make a U-Turn, now is where Hwy. 33 gets fun…really fun. Your ride takes you up the Wheeler Gorge and to the top of the Dry Lakes Ridge. At the top of the ridge is a great overlook. From this vantage point you can see the fantastic road you have just ridden up and if it’s a clear day…as in no fog…you can see the ocean and the Channel Islands. I hope you brought your camera or your photographic memory.
From here the road heads down the back side of the Topa Topa Mountains into the Los Padres National Forrest and the Sespe Gorge. The road here is fast, free-flowing and what I call “The Church of Speed”. There are times you can let your bike stretch it’s legs a bit and times a corner sneaks up on you, all in all a wonderful stretch of road.
Near the top of the mountain is a popular stopping point, Wolf’s Place. Years back,Tom Wolf used to host biker events with big barbecues, music and a place to pitch a tent. Breakfast and lunch were served on weekends, this was not the place to have breakfast if you were in a hurry. The restaurant opened whenever Tom and his wife got up in the morning and each meal was cooked one at a time at a relaxed pace, fortunately the coffee was good while you waited. Wolf’s has been closed quite a while now, but Tom is back down from Oregon working on the place in hopes of reopening soon. It’s good place to stop and wait for friends who may be riding a bit slower, or if you’re the slow one, to catch up with your faster riding buddies. This is the point where you decide to turn and head back down ( the game is going to be on in an hour ) or keep going. Keep going.
Further up Hwy. 33 is another crest at Pine Mountain and this is a bad one. Why is it bad you ask? As you’re going around a nice sweeping right hander all of a sudden the view to your left is spectacular and all you want to do is slow down and look…or worse, you blow the corner completely and the edge of the mountain is coming up way too quickly. The road down into the Cuyama Valley is steep, tight and fun. Just past the Forrest Service station is the turn off to Lockwood Valley, road # FR7N11. Turn east.
Before you get too far along the road, it’s time for breakfast. The Reyes Creek Bar and Grill at Camp Scheideck is the perfect spot. It’s 5 miles down the road and the sign for the turn off to the restaurant is small, low and on your right…it’s easy to miss so pay attention. The restaurant is a short ride off the road past mountain cabins to a lodge next to a stream. On a cold morning the wood burning stove is almost more important than a hot cup of coffee. Breakfast is great but it’s time to get back on the road.
Lockwood Valley Road is a road that commands respect, it’s a lot of fun to ride but you really do have to pay attention. Some of those 10 MPH corners really are 10 MPH corners!? The road is like a big kiddie roller coaster with ups and downs, dips and turns, that can catch you by surprise if you’re looking at the scenery instead of the road. In some of those dips are washouts and, if it has been raining in the recent past be aware of running water in the bottom of those dips. And wouldn’t you know it, those dips are always in the middle of a curve too.
The road from Highway 33 to Frazier Park is a little over 30 miles of fun riding cutting through the Chumash and Sespe Wilderness areas. There are a number of good off-road trails in the area as well, so if you’re riding a dual sport, this is the perfect area to do some exploring.
At the end of Lockwood Valley Road is the ‘T’ intersection of Cuddy Valley Road and Frazier Park Road. A right turn will take you into Frazier PArk proper and Interstate 5, a left turn will take you to Pine Mountain Club and onto Cerro Noroeste Road. If you have the time and want to make a great loop ride out of this, take the left turn…I’ll tell you all about that ride next time. Note here…before you take the west road, turn right at the ‘T’ and stop in Frazier Park for gas because it will be very long walk when you run out of gas down on Hwy. 166. I
This isn’t a long ride but if you’re looking for some fun riding and a diversion from I5 , you’ll love this route. If your trip is taking you north, south or east from here you can pickup I5 there in Frazier Park and be on your merry way. That is if you consider riding on the Interstate merry.