Bike: 2013 Suzuki GSX-R750
Bag: Kriega R30
Gloves: Cortech Latigo RR
GPS: Garmin GPSMAP 62S
Roads ridden: HWY-2, Tuna Canyon, HWY-33, HWY-58, HWY-101, HWY-17, HWY-1
Number of flooded crossings: two
Number of turned-over cars: one
Taking the early flight from Boston allowed me to grab lunch with the rest of the RideApart guys before setting off on the bike.
The tires were new so I chose HWY-2, Angeles Crest Highway, to scrub them in a bit. Mission accomplished. Even though it is significantly warmer in LA than in Boston it was still rather frigid once I got a ways up. I decided to turn around and visit my brother before eventually turning in for the night.
Eight o’clock the next morning I started up the bike and headed from Calabasas to ride Tuna Canyon. I had first heard of this road in this RideApart video. I was considering cutting out the Santa Monica Mountains portion of my 500 mile ride up to Santa Clara, an I ever glad I didn’t. Within 15 minutes I was at the top, having ridden up a tremendous road, looking over the glorious California countryside.
Having reached Malibu via Tuna Canyon (worth the trip) I considered not doing the roads recommended in a recent Cycle World. In this second stretch of canyon roads my experience was rather mixed. I dreaded being on gravel covered broken pavement for over half an hour. Nothing like rough gravel covered pavement to make you question the two tiny patches of rubber keeping you upright.
After I had reached the emotional low I was rescued by a curious entry way and later by a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean. Worth it.
Reaching HWY-1 again meant it was time to shoot up to Ojai to ride HWY-33 and all of its inland glory. Enter Complication number one: time change. Since my body was off by two hours my appetite was thrown off more than was expected. That combined with the adrenaline of riding such a machine of such roads on such a long journey I could only muster eating some beef jerky and some water before enter the mouth of the HWY-33 dragon.
HWY-33 did not disappoint and was a tremendous road. At least the southern facing side was. The northern half was covered in mud from melting snow making for a measured ride down into petroleum country.
Prior to reaching the basin there were some fantastic roads, some flooded some not, where I could “safely” test the rev limiter in the upper gears. It works.
Enter Complication number two: The Land of Desolation. Being past hungry and surviving on adrenaline and beef jerky the one dive I saw in Taft offered me no mouth watering lust for what food lay inside. I confined on feeling totally depressed and a bit desperate as I rode past the lonely oil pumps raising and lowering their head to penetrate the silty earth.
Finally reaching HWY-58 my spirits were lifted slightly. I dramatically underestimated the distance to the next restaurant. Before I could reach King City I had to pull over a few times to both break my mental funk and relieve my leg cramps.
King City couldn’t have come soon enough. I forced myself to swallow some limp French dip sandwich and lettuce. After 30 minutes or so my body decided to accept the offering made and after an hour I felt much better.
With roughly 150 miles left to Santa Clara I planned to stop every 50 miles. After the first stop I felt fully recovered and was able to stretch the next to 70 miles. After the final 40 mile stretch I reached my hotel, completing my 12 hour 500 mile journey, and couldn’t have been happier.
During the week I had a few evenings with an hour gap in my schedule. This allowed me to quickly explore a wonderful road among the rolling cow fields just west of Santa Clara. Amazing hairpin after hairpin with near zero traffic less than 15 minutes from the city. It was the first venture to these cow fields where I came across a rolled over car. Fearing the worst I braced myself for finding someone unconscious, or worse, in the cab. To my pleasure it was abandoned and with the license plates removed.
The bike served as my commuter during the week to motivate me to and from my hotel and my seminar and dinner with friends and other such activities.
The ride home started at the same time as the last trip covered in the cool mist common to the Bay Area.
I made my way over the crazy highway 17 down into Santa Cruz. Motorists in California drive so fast and that is apparent both in LA and on Highway 17. Once reaching Santa Cruz I embarked on highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway also known as the PCH. It was my mission to ride as much of the PCH between Santa Cruze and Ventura as possible. This meant riding on parts of the PCH that were probably better skipped over.
The PCH has been in my bucket list and to ride it in such a beautiful day was a blessing. Despite the chilly air the whole way down there were several times where my breath escaped me due to the beauty that is the Pacific Ocean. Big Sur, Salinas, and San Luis Obispo county spring to mind.
The trip south was a much more relaxed ride as compared to the race up from LA. I covered a bit over 400 miles in around 10 hours. I was a bit more sore due to both the chill and the fact that I had been riding a super sport bike for over 1000 miles.
In the end, I continue to be amazed of the beauty which exists in such abundance in California. So many wonderful roads, beautiful mountains, and comfortable weather.