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The Hi-Mountain Dual Sport Penguin Ride | ADV Riders

Penguin Ride

Adventure Ride With The Penguins

When you get a chance to hit up the hills of the Central Coast of California on an Adventure bike, you just do it.  Our friend Will Drummond did just that. Along with his wife, they spend their weekend together supporting a good cause while riding. Check out his adventure below as he takes us on the Cal Polly Penguin’s Hi Mountain Dual Sport Ride!

Penguin Ride
Bikes are loaded up and ready for the ride!

The Adventure Starts

May 7th 6:30 am -Location: San Luis Obispo, CA – Cal Poly Campus, Conditions 50 degrees with steady rain fall. We are here for the Hi Mountain Dual sport ride put on by the Cal Poly Penguins. The Hi Mountain Dual sport was originally a race, between the race and dual sport ride the event has been going on for half a century. This is my fifth year doing the ride.

The big difference this year is my amazing wife is doing the ride with me. This is her  first dual sport event. My wife is riding her Suzuki DR 350 SE, with a Big Gun pipe, Acerbis 4.3 gallon tank and a Kouba lowering link.

I’m riding a Honda XR650L  with a Big Gun, Acerbis 6 gallon tank and KC high lights flex custom headlight. Yes these are old tech bikes, but they are very affordable and cheap and easy to maintain. Dual sport riding doesn’t need to break the bank.

The Riders Meeting and inspection before the ride.

As you arrive in the parking lot your bike goes through tech inspection. Tech inspection is checking the dual sport motorcycle is street legal and has a spark arrestor.  When you pass tech inspection, the tech inspector gives you a sticker to place on the front of your bike. This is to show the ranger when entering Pozo you are compliant with a street legal bike and have a spark arrestor. We unload our bikes and get our gear ready., tying not to get to wet in the process.

You go through registration, this is where you get your event T-shirt and roll chart / GPS tracks. This year was great because if you pre-registered they sent out the GPS tracks early. Giving you time to load your GPS instead of rushing in the morning while getting ready for the ride.

Once you get your bike and gear ready you look around and talk with other rides getting ready. Making new friends because you have a great common interest, you ride dual sport. If you start riding dual sport events regularly, you will have friends you will only see each year at the event.

8:30am – Riders meeting. At the riders meeting they explain some of the dangers of the route. You do need to pay attention during the meeting, this is where they will inform you of any course deviations or hazards that may have arose overnight that will not be on the GPS or roll chart. This year the route was different from previous years, as Hi Mountain road was closed. The Cal Poly Penguin’s then do a raffle with great prizes donated by different motorcycle company’s.

Penguin Ride Countryside
The ride takes you through beautiful Central California countryside.

The Penguin Ride Begins!

9:00am – We start the ride leaving the Cal Poly Campus following the roll chart or GPS. We head to the 101 North bound up the Questa grade to Santa Margarita, then into Pozo. The rain stopped as we rode into Pozo.  In Pozo you enter the Turkey Flats Off Highway Vehicle Park.

This is the first dirt section. The Cal Poly Penguins do an awesome job marking the dirt sections with big orange arrows, they don’t have the dirt sections on the roll charts or GPS only the pavement sections. You ride about 1.5 miles into the park, you come to a fork in the road where the route splits into an easy route or a hard rout.

The easy route is a single lane dirt fire road with elevation changes, random cross ruts and chatter bumps in the corners. The hard route is an amazing trail, the trail is a wide single track with water bars, banked corners and quick hill climbs.

At the top of this trail there are a couple of rock ledges called the steps and a aggressive down hill after. We took the easy route this year, being my wife first dual sport event I wanted to make sure she had fun and didn’t feel over her head. I lead the way and we keep a steady pace on the trail.

The dirt was epic the sandy loam soil was just right, tons of traction and no dust. The route ends at highway 58 where you need to reset your odometer to sync with the roll chart.

Riding along a private ranch is special.

10:15am – My wife and I make are way down the sweeping two lane highway to the next dirt section, which is a private ranch. When we get to the entrance of the ranch there are Cal Poly Penguin volunteers directing you into the ranch entrance and the direction of the trail.

This is where you get to ride on land you will never get to ride on unless you ride the Cal Poly Penguin Hi Mountain Dual Sport Ride. The trails are unbelievable, rolling grass hills weaving in and out of oak tree groves on single track cow trails.

With it just raining this route was epic this year. I let my wife lead knowing there are some descent little hill climbs. My wife is a champ and conquers them all with out a single bobble. I am a very proud husband. Half way through the ranch, you come to an oasis in the middle of this giant ranch, The fuel and lunch stop,

Penguin Ride
Will’s wife took the trails for this year’s Penguin ride!

The Lunch Rally

11:00am  – As you pull through the gates of the you are directed to the fueling station. The Cal Poly penguins will give you a gallon of fuel, which is included in your entry this extra fuel is enough to complete the ride.

Then you park your bike,and make your way to the BBQ. The lunch is barbecue tri-tip, salad, chili beans and garlic bread. Sitting down you find a spot next to some strangers and make new friend. When you are done with lunch you head on out back on to the ranch and ride more of the most epic private trails.

Penguin ride
What would a ride be without a great lunch!

The trails after lunch have some fun technical rocky sections. The trail winds its way through the ranch back to the entrance. Jumping back on the highway to the next ranch.

The next ranch is where the famous teeter totter is. This is another place you will never get to ride unless you do the Cal Poly Penguin High Mountain Dual Sport Ride. The trails on the ranch are wide single track with flowing corners and quick steep hill climbs. After the hill climb there is a loose and steep down hill.

Leading you to the world famous teeter totter, yes a teeter totter you ride your dual sport over a  flowing river. Many people make it with a few going for a swim. After the teeter totter you make your way up a fun winding up hill out of the valley back to the pavement.

Heading back to Santa Margarita. In Santa Margarita you will see a small watering hole  where you will find most of the riders getting a drink and swapping war stories of the amazing ride they just completed.

No matter what bike you have, get out and ride!

Hope to see you at next years ride! – Will Drummond

About the Cal Poly Penguins:

Cal Poly’s official Motorcycle Club. Starting in 1947, the original members were deemed “The Penguins” because of their white shirts and black leather jackets. Since then the club has continued to be a group of both street and dirt riders of all skill levels who love to get out and ride. Club activities include dirt and street rides, bimonthly meetings, trips to riding spots such as Jawbone and Ocotillo Wells, non-riding trips such as Vegas and Anaheim Supercross, and social events. Essentially, we are a group of motorcycle enthusiasts who like to ride and have as much fun as possible.  You don’t have to be a Cal Poly student to join the club. We invite all Cuesta students or anyone who wants to ride.

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ChrisW
Social Media Editor at BTO Sports
Known as the "Doc", Chris has been an expert in the motorcycle and mtb industry for over 15 years. When not writing articles of excellence, he can be found riding his CRF450R at the many Southern California motocross tracks and local MTB trails. Twisting the throttle is what Chris lives for!
  • Todd Shelton

    Nice write up, it was my first dual sport ride as well. my brother has done it the last 4 or 5 years and talked so much about it i had to do it. The rain at first was miserable especially on the highway sections but once you crested the north end the skies opened up and it was a beautiful day with awesome traction. The single tracks on the ranches and the high top ridge were without the best part of the day other than the awesome barbecue on the ranch.

    • doc

      it is a great write up and made me want to do it next year!