Riding An Old Road Under A New Moon

By Neil Shirley/ Photos Troy Templin

Somewhere around Swede’s Cut, which comes midway through the 13-mile stretch of the Old Ridge Route that’s now closed to cars, I started imagining what it must have been like to drive this section in a Model T back when it first opened in 1915. As 11 of us rode along we created a bubble of light, cutting through the dark shadows cast from the glow of the full moon in an area absent of any other sign of human life. I realized our group probably had more combined lumens than what any of the cars of that era had. And it was a good thing too considering the mostly forgotten, partially paved, single lane road is strewn with rocks, dirt and other debris that has accrued over the last decade.

The completion of Old Ridge Route 102 years ago is credited with helping keep California as a single state after talks of a Southern and Northern split were considered in Sacramento. Essentially, Old Ridge Route connected the textile rich Los Angeles basin with the farms of the San Joaquin Valley by creating a path over the Tejon Pass during a time when workers were flooding from the East looking for work.

Over the past few years I’ve probably ridden the Old Ridge Route at least a dozen times, often stopping to take in the views and the little that’s left of the filling stations, restaurants, and motels that once served the travelers. Other than the stone arch from Tumble Inn, foundations of these buildings are all that remain. It’s easily my favorite stretch of road I’ve found anywhere and riding it during daylight can be challenging enough, but doing it after dark is an entirely different animal.

On the Harvest Moon, October 5th, we tackled the Old Ridge Route loop that would consist of 90 miles and nearly 9,000 feet of climbing under the full moon. Enjoy the photo gallery from our Old Ridge Route Harvest Moon Ride.