Shamrock Tour® - Bakersfield, California

Text: Christian Neuhauser • Photography: Christian Neuhauser

Arriving at John Wayne Orange County Airport, the "Neuhauser Motorcycle Gang" is excited to begin their explorations in yet another area of Central California. In the next few days we'll roam over four loops in the Bakersfield area and our base, the Four Points Sheraton, is in the perfect place strategically, with all major routes out of the city easily accessible.

Why Bakersfield? The city isn't very appealing to Californians even. To the north and the west in the Kern County metropolis one is surrounded by oil rigs and to the south and east huge expanses of land are consumed by agribusiness in the form of vegetable plantations and fruit orchards. Endless tracts of uniform farmland and grimy industry - where's the attraction?

Well, for one, from the many impressions we gathered, the inhabitants of Bakersfield (pop. 267,000) are very friendly. No one seems to be in a hurry and the folks we met showed a genuine interest in us and our touring. We found a good variety of excellent restaurants close by and, undoubtedly, we could have frequented a number of good bars and clubs had time allowed. Frankly, we were too exhausted by our incredible tours to explore any of the Bakersfield nightlife. Ah, but none of us were complaining about any of that after the days we had in the surrounding area. That's where you'll find the overwhelming attraction of spending your nights in the San Joaquin Valley.

Poring over the maps before our adventures, I could see that the altitude of Bakersfield is only 408 feet, but in short order, in three directions, the mountains reach elevations ranging from the 2,635 feet of the Pozo Summit in the west to Pine Mountain, at 7,510 feet in the south, and Sherman Peak, soaring 9,909 feet in the east. If true to form, twisty roads normally accompany such altitude changes, and the Neuhausers had arrived to keep the mapmakers honest.

Loop One
The morning starts out great. I guide my crew out of the city and as soon as we pass the city limits I wave them by. Christa takes the lead, followed by our sons Florian and Manuel. I follow like a wary sheepdog and admire the play of colors, the vivid contrast of their colorful helmets skimming across a screen of bright blue sky. Christa smoothly circles her yellow Honda 599 through the wide sweepers along the Kern River. Florian, also on a four-cylinder, the FZ6 from Yamaha, and Manuel on the Triumph Speed Four chase their mother towards Lake Isabella. I ride my Suzuki SV 650. Along the way, Hwy 178 treats us to 30 miles of outrageous asphalt and grand vistas encompassing the crystal clear water of the Kern River, apple orchards, and the Greenhorn Mountains.

(End of preview text.)

For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the March/April 2005 back issue.