By Dave Edinger | Texas
In mid-November, when most of the country was suffering under a harsh and early winter, my wife, Missy, was working within walking distance of the beach in Southern California. So, I looked at the weather and the map and left Austin, Texas on my Ducati ST3S and headed west. Normally we all avoid long trips on the highway, but I-10 has a speed limit of 80 mph and very little traffic to negotiate. The long wide roads allow the rider (yours truly) to enjoy the gradual unfolding of the landscape from the highs and lows of the Texas Hill Country to the relatively flat but subtle differences in terrain of the deserts of New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Two days after departing Texas, I rolled into the Los Angeles area, after dark on a Friday evening. I was given a typical LA welcome; five lanes of gridlock and blinking brake lights for the remaining miles. As everyone knows, splitting lanes is legal in California. I’ve had my fair share of practice ‘splitting’ while living and riding in southern Europe. Still, for me, it’s always a bit nerve wracking, especially with saddlebags. Consequently, we did our share of ‘splitting’ in California but when local riders approached from behind, I moved back into my lane to let them whiz by and then returned to straddle the narrow passageway.
That weekend Missy and I took the first of three rides in the area to the infamous Rock Store in the foothills north of LA. It didn’t disappoint. The bikes at the meeting spot just west of it were impressive. These guys were not lacking in confidence. Missy and I, moving at a reasonable pace, took the curve-filled road to the top of the hill, parked the bike and perched on a rock watching the sport bike riders make repeated descents and ascents on the curvaceous road.
After enjoying biking as a spectator sport for a while, we headed down to Hwy 1 for lunch at a popular motorcycle hangout called Neptune’s. We grabbed a couple of baskets of fried seafood and sat roadside appreciating the view of both the bikes and the beach. After lunch, we meandered back down Hwy 1 south to Redondo Beach where Missy was staying.
Thanksgiving weekend had us riding further north on Hwy 1 to the quaint fishing village of Morrow Bay. We woke up on Thanksgiving Day to sunny skies and warm temps. After the wife’s morning run and a glance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, we began the return ride back, stopping in an unusually quiet Santa Barbara to have lunch and watch my football team lose.
On our third trip, we went south from Torrance along the coast. Our destination was Encinitas, about a two hour ride away. There we met a friend for a rewarding Italian meal at one of the many restaurants strung along the water. We took advantage of the large fire pit on the roof of our lodge to stare at the stars and catch up on news. The following day we rented bikes (the ones with pedals instead of pegs) to enjoy the shoreline at a pace determined by people power rather than horse power.
After three weeks of enjoying picture perfect riding weather in the middle of winter, I could see California was about to get hit by a historic rain storm – my sign to start the journey back to Austin. The California sun stayed with me for most of the ride home though I did encounter a desert storm in New Mexico. Total trip miles: a dreamy 4000+