Motorbiking in California

I arrived in LA yesterday, Thursday 21st August, and chilled out. Today I decided to do some of the sights, Hollywood Blvd etc. It was a welcome relief to get out of the heat of the city streets and onto the freeway south to Long Beach. This is probably the southernmost point of the trip.

Queen Mary, LA
VFR 800 beside The Queen Mary, Long Beach, California.

T-shirt, gloves and no suncreen is uncool.
It took me nearly two hours to remember to stop at a drug store for sunscreen, too late!

On way back to Redondo Beach I stopped briefly for a photo-opportunity.

Torrance City Hall
My bro’ lives in Torrance, Scotland.

The next day I got the hell out of LA. First was the the Santa Monica Mountains and the Malibu Canyons. These are awesome biking roads!

santamonicamts.jpg
Viewpoint looking North at the Santa Monica Mountains.

This pic shows the extent of the luggage required in California. I had jandals, shorts, t-shirt, smalls and a camera in the tank-bag and a map on top. That and a credit card makes for easy travelling.

Next stop, the Rock Store, via the Malibu Canyons and the Mulholland Highway. Saturday is quiet with only a couple of hundred bikes. Sunday is the day, but I couldn’t hang around that long. Jay Leno pitches up with his latest toys and state governor, Arnie, show up most Sundays.

rockstore.jpg
The VFR parked at Rock Store Cafe.

I stopped in Santa Barbara first night out. Accommodation here is either expensive or basic, or if you are late into town and unlucky, both! In the morning I headed inland to the Santa Ynes valley and then back to the coast. I stumbled across a pelican rookery at Pismo Beach as I stayed off the 101 Freeway and kept to the old Highway 1 as much as possible.

pismopelicans.jpg
Pelican rookery at Pismo Beach.

It had been quite chilly driving up the coast, so it was pleasant for a while to head inland. But, as soon as you cross the first mountain range it gets seriously hot. It was 105F, or about 40C when I arrived in Paso Robles that evening. The ‘Melody Ranch’ motel was without doubt the best of the trip. $50 for the night, and it has been maintained, but not changed, since it was built in the fifties, or earlier.

motel.jpg
Classic motel in Paso Robles.

From Paso Robles I crossed the central plains to the Sierra Nevada mountains and the respite of cooler temperatures at altitude. After climbing to over 8000ft, I dropped down the Kern River to the quaint huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ town of Kernville.

The next day curiosity got the better of me and I headed out to the Mojave Desert and Death Valley beyond. I got as far as the edge of the Death Valley National Park and turned back. It was already 120F or nearly 50C, too hot for me and it would only get hotter in Death Valley. The Trona Pinnacles in the next photo are well over 100ft tall. I stopped short as the track was not designed for road motorbikes. The heat-haze is quite obvious.

tronapinnacles.jpg
The Trona Pinnacles.

On the way back to Kernville I travelled this amazingly straight road. This was at least 30 miles of straight blacktop.

straightroad.jpg

From Kernville, with a hangover, I headed back to the coast and stayed in Carpinteria. A great restaurant that night and a great diner for breakfast.

After one last night in a motel in Malibu, I dropped the bike off back in Redondo Beach and began phase two of the trip…

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