Having recently quit my job, I took two weeks off before starting the new one. Leaving promptly on my last day, we drove down to LA for a long weekend. Olivia was to fly back Monday, and I decided to stay a few extra days to visit friends and eat food.When heading down to LA, there are the usual suspects: bomb down I-5, cruise down 101 (if you're heading to SLO/Santa Barbara/Ventura), or the classic 1. For the outbound, we choose option A (making it from San Mateo to Westwood in 5:30 - with gnarly traffic in the bay area thank you). Easy, but perhaps not quite... engaging. Before we continue, if you're not into driving for driving's sake, leave now. If you don't find California countryside entrancing, move along, the rest will bore you to tears.
For the return ride, I decided to go a little non-traditional. When I used to ride a motorcycle, I was turned on to this amazing web site pashnit.com. Both a forum and a write up on over 600 roades in CA, it was and is the Bible for rides. Although I'm a cager now, I still use the site for road suggestions all the time (shh, don't tell anyone on the board!) Pashnit came through again. I came across the ultimate backroads ride: From Ojai, take 33 north to 58. 101N for ~9 miles, then G14 -> San Lucas Road -> 198 -> 25 which dumps you in Hollister. For the hardcore you can do the Santa Cruz mountain thing too.
I left at 8am from Westwood, hitting some gnarly traffic getting to Ojai. I gassed up and proceeded up 33. And discovered god, or at least the atheist, spiritually devoid version of god. The pavement was perfect. The twisties were ~30mph - 60mph, variable, constant, sweeping, tight, loose, and spaced like the flying spaghetti driving instructor himself had placed them. Traffic? None. I passed 7 cars (yes I counted) in the opposite direction, and not a soul in mine. The driving was SO good, I was literally stopping and shouting out loud, cackling to myself like a deranged malibu grand prix rider let free into the real world. To take the pictures, I would just stand in the middle of the road. Or crouch. Or whatever. No cars.Eventually you reach a 5,000' summit, with views I would NEVER have expected. I took some pictures, but as is often the case they don't even come close to doing the scene justice. Continue on down the back side, for more of the same. Eventually there's a left to turn onto 58, before the town of Mckittrick, and after Derby Acres. According to the map that is. There are no towns here. It's 50+ miles of total emptiness.58 is tighter, more wildflowers, starting to show some green. Roller coaster humps that had me whooping out loud. And more fun. It passes through Taft and a ton of oil pumps. Scene straight out of the movies, but I was having too much fun to document it. 58 hits 101, but if you're looking for more about 3 miles before 101 there's a right turn onto 229, which takes you through Creston and dumps you directly into Paso Robles.The 33->58 combo is THE BEST DRIVING I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED. I honestly can't even begin to explain how amazing, fantastic, fun, beautiful, and rewarding it is. From a driver experience, this is as good as it gets. Perfect road. Perfect corners. Beautiful. No traffic.
G14 out of Paso Robles is great. The problem is, after the 33/58 combo punch, it felt downright boring. Maybe I was lagging, but it just didn't leave any impression on me. As I crossed back under 101 (for the 3rd time I think), I turned on 198, and then 25. 25 IS the quintessential central California backroad. It's got the pavement, it's got the twisties, it's got straights, it's got dips. Add on green hills and wildflowers for a knock out punch.
Overall, I'd say that 33 is a MUST do. Find the time, and just go. 58 is very close behind. Just do the two together, north or south, and rediscover how good driving can be. If you've got the chance, 25 is totally worthwhile as well. The scenery alone merits it, especially the wildflowers right now. G14, I'm afraid I'm just going to say thank, and move along.Check out both a static and interactive map of the drive. Color represents speed in MPH.