California Trip Report - Day 1



My brother Jim and I met in LA at the end of my conference. We picked up a BMW R1200RT and a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy from Eagle Rider



(Thursday - April 27, 2006):


Day 1



We arrived at the LA Eagle Rider near the airport at about 10:30 a.m. in order to avoid the LA rush hour. There was a tour group of Germans who had arrived just ahead of us. After waiting in line for over an hour, we discovered that they gave away the Heritage Softail that Jim had reserved and paid for four month earlier to the Germans. They went driving out with two Heritage’s and big smiles. The guy working the desk said Jim might have to take a Fat Boy with no windshield (on a 1500 mile trip!) We were finally able to get a windshield and saddlebags for the Fat Boy. I practiced riding the BMW up and down the street a few times in order to get used to it. I had always ridden cruisers, so the bike felt strange at first. Once we had our legs under us, we decided on a Baptism of fire…..….. into the hills above Malibu. We took it slowly north on 405, west on 10, and north on Highway 1 until we reached Topanga. I had scouted this road in my rental car a few days before, so I knew that we would have to watch ourselves. The road had numerous, tight; decreasing radius turns that needed to be ridden smartly. If the sign said 15 mph, believe it. We rode up through a strange hodgepodge of luxury housing and hippie leftovers from the 60’s. This area used to be one of the places to hang out during the Summer of Love. Now it was mostly Mercedes and Escalades. We made a left onto Old Topanga Canyon Road and followed this viciously twisty road to the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains. We then made a left onto Mulholland Highway and opened up the throttles to enjoy the sweepers.


Mulholland Highway





We were treated to some fine mountain views as we cruised along towards The Rock Store (LA’s most famous biker hangout/ diner/ BBQ/ store.) This place is known to attract Leno, Schwarzenegger, and other celebrities, as well as all types of folks who enjoy riding (and lying about it.) After about 8 miles we spotted the Rock Store on the left. Since the Rock Store is only open Friday through Sunday, we were unable to try the food. We did meet the owner and a few other bikers who had stopped to rest and shoot the breeze. It was funny seeing it so empty. When I scouted the place the Saturday before, it was mobbed with bikes


The Rock Store





We continued west along Mulholland and stopped at the famous “Squid spotting lookout.” This lookout is perched uphill from a big sweeping 180o turn. News crews set up here when they want some gore shots. Squids come racing around this turn trying to impress all the onlookers with their cornering, wheelie, and stoppie skills. Predictably, some freeze up under all the scrutiny (calamari anyone?)


Squid showoff lookout


We turned off Mulholland and followed Decker Canyon Road's tricky turns as it plunged to the Pacific. We turned right onto Highway 1 and followed it for about a mile to the famous biker restaurant Neptune's Net. Eating fish and chips while watching the surfers and the beach bunnies (sorry Debbie) was enlightening. After eating, we followed Highway 1 north to Ventura and the hopped on 101 north towards Santa Barbara and “Sideways” wine country. We turned northwest onto Highway 154 and followed its fast sweepers from the Santa Barbara coastline to the Santa Ynez Mountains. This road crests at San Marcos Pass and passes the beautiful Lake Cachuma. Near the pass, we decided to take a detour along stagecoach road to an old stage stop that is now a restaurant/ biker hangout. The road to the Cold Spring Tavern was steep and windy. I don’t know how the horses made it up here.



The Cold Spring Tavern


After some fortifying coffee, we continued along 154 and finally took a left onto Route 246. We gassed up (the Harley was on fumes) and took 246 into Solvang. Solvang is a “Danish” city established by homesick Danes. All the buildings are copies of those in Denmark …pretty neat. Solvang and the neighboring town of Buellton were the primary locations for the movie “Sideways.” After relaxing in Buellton, we hopped on the bikes and raced the setting sun on Highway 101. We arrived back in Ventura 1 hour after sunset. 233 miles….not bad for ½ day! We checked in and rode the bikes for a nice prime rib dinner and a glass of Cabernet. Life is good!

Continue to Day 2