My friend Wes and I headed out of Berkeley, CA at 10:30 AM on Sunday. Our destination was Lake Berryessa in Napa County. Wes had been up there several times before and offered to guide us to Knoxville Recreation Area, which provided us with many miles of dry and rocky trails. I was looking forward to this opportunity to ride the BMW HP2 Enduro in the dirt.
We made our way past Lake Berryessa, in which the water level was very low due to the drought. What I imagine used to be tiny peaks standing out of water now looked like small islands.
There were several water crossings as we traveled north past the lake. The concrete bridges dip low so the creek can run over it when the water level is high enough. I rode my motorcycle on the LA River once and recall the concrete being very slippery with the algae that grows on top of it. We made sure to hit each water crossing straight on and not too fast in hopes of not losing traction.
We arrived at the trailhead and climbed to the top of the hill. Once at the top, we stopped and let some air out of our tires before continuing on. I hadn’t ever done this before when off-roading and it made it easier to go over the rough terrain. Wes gave me some tips, and was completely prepared with a full tire patch kit, digital pressure gauge and electric air compressor. These are all tools I need to make sure to bring with me next time. We pressed on and encountered several nice climbs up rocky and rutted terrain. The HP2 Enduro is much lighter and more nimble than the R1200GS, giving me a lot more confidence.
We stopped at a turnout where there were some picnic tables and 4×4 vehicles being loaded onto a truck. One in particular was a custom Toyota FJ, which looked very impressive and capable. We continued on with a few more climbs, ascending high into the hills only to come back down several miles later on the main road.
We headed to the nearest gas station to get gas and add air to the tires to get back to the proper psi. The HP2 has a range of about 120 miles, though the fuel light comes on early – sometimes after only 60 miles. This is something I have to worry about often with its small fuel capacity. Today, off-road and on back country twisty roads, it seemed to have gotten great gas mileage.
The ride back to San Francisco was long but scenic. We twisted through wine country and slowly ran into more and more traffic as we made it to Napa. Once back to Berkeley, I headed on to the Bay Bridge and split traffic beside people in vehicles who were at a standstill. It was nice to be home after a great day of exploring Northern California on two wheels.