North of Santa Barbara lies a section of Los Padres National Forest that is so beautiful I can’t find the words to do it justice. After starting early at 730AM, and riding about an hour to the mouth of Maricopa Highway we found ourselves hemmed in by majestic mountains, dry lake beds and blooming flowers. The crisp morning air unusual this late in the season kept the masses at bay, and afforded us privacy to explore what may’ve been the best riding we saw all weekend. Ominous clouds loomed to the East, so we altered our route to follow 33 all the way south to the town of Ojai. And why not? This was the type of riding that you see pictures of in magazines.
We crossed the summit and life only got better as the weather warmed up and we discovered local sport riders out to play for the day. We stopped briefly to chat with the locals and snap a few photos. However, the best views were from roads with no shoulders or where Ryan was so far ahead that I couldn’t stop to exercise the shutterbug. I did manage to get a few good shots in. As we descended South towards Ojai, we passed through a few miles of wonderfully fragrant honey suckle in full bloom and through a series of tunnels on the valley floor.
Temps warmed in Ojai. We took the Highway to La Canada Flintridge, at the mouth of Angeles Crest. My good friend, Dave Lander, was there to meet us but unfortunately we were also greeted by a sign alerting us that Route 2–Angeles Crest was closed. It being well past lunch, we stopped to stuff our faces, then decided to proceed anyhow and see how far we could get.
Just two miles later, the road was really closed…and the clouds were rolling in fast. Angeles Crest is the crown jewel of LA riding, but alas, it was not meant to be that day. iPhone to the rescue though! I quickly put together another route . We got to see Little Tujunga Canyon, which was spectacular. Dave headed home, while Ryan and I headed out towards the Bosquet reservoir and Lake Elizabeth. Quite the consolation prize if I do say so myself.
We finished the day with an hour on the Five. The Five is one of my least favorite motorcycle roads, offering 4 lanes of traffic and more 18 wheelers than I can to recall. On this Saturday she offered me 20+MPH crosswinds. That isn’t the most enjoyable way to end a day, but if you can remember to relax and loosen your grip on the bars, everything turns out OK. Not a bad metaphor for life.
Returning to the Hotel after 10 hours on the road brought the two day total to 700 miles. Ryan was grinning ear to ear. A very Happy Birthday indeed. We walked over to dinner at Black Angus; an Outback Steakhouse sans Australian theme. The food was good enough, the waiters brought Ryan a complimentary desert and even sang to him! He’s had quite the year and I’m impressed that between getting engaged and buying a home, he still found time to buy and ride a new motorcycle. And he was able to tolerate riding with me for three days. Thanks, Dude.