Day 13 – Newport Beach, CA to Paso Robles, CA

Distance: 355 miles (571 kilometers)
Temp. Low: 13 (Newport)
Temp high: 24 celcius (Santa Barbara)
Time on the bike: 8:00 – 5:30

Another fantastic day of riding. He roads in Malibu are the type of roads that every motorcycle rider dreams of riding.

Relatively late start today at 8am. I can’t believe I slept so well with the freeway right outside of the hotel. Goes to show how important a good mattress is – I slept like a baby. The weather was mild and relatively warm with a touch of fog hanging off the coastline.

The quick way to Malibu would have been to take the freeways but I was curious to see what soe of the other beach communities were like. Huntington Beach, Surf City USA, is incredibly long and a bunch of people were already out enjoying themselves in the early hours. Lots of surfers, cyclists and runners. It’d be a great pathway to run or rollerblade since it’s about 20 miles of uninterrupted pavement.

How odd that some of these most famous beaches are directly across from industrial land or wasteland as it were. The juxtaposition of oil derricks and refineries right next to pristine beaches. How strange.

Long Beach and the Los Angeles port is the stuff of apocalyptic movies. I’ve never seen such industrial development. Refineries and factories belching out filth into the air. The air was completely laden with smog and pollution. So much so that you could actually feel and smell it in the air. Unfortunately this area also seems to be struggling economically and you could see the signs of poverty.

Moving northward through Palos Verdes, Redondo, Marina Del Ray and Santa Monica you can see the wealth build. What a difference from one community to the next especially compared to the largely Hispanic and Black areas around Long Beach – quite staggering.

It is s shame I couldn’t find accommodation in Santa Monica. It’s absolutely beautiful. Lovely beaches and pathways. Thousands were out on their Saturday morning running the treelined and lushly lawned boulevards. Both Venice and Santa Monica look like places you could spend lots of time exploring. Interest shops, quirky venues and lots of places for exercise and enjoying the outdoors.

A quick spin through Bel Air and Brentwood. Wow. Unbelievable affluence. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like a movie set – everything was perfectly groomed and manicured. Fancy shops, really fancy cars and people that with a single look exude wealth.

It is interesting to put together your mental picture of what you think some of these well known places look like with reality. To be honest, they are pretty similar. This is the height of demonstrable wealth just as I’d imagined..

I toured back down Sunset Boulevard for no other reason than to see what it was. It’s a lovely road winding through these rich suburbs over to the Malibu Hills aka the Santa Monica Mountains.

I absolutely loved riding through the parks and canyons. There is little traffic and the huge mansions are far away from prying eyes. It is basically a huge playground for motorcycle riders and people with sports cars.

I ventured up the Topanga canyon then over the Old Topanga road, up Stunt road, Piuma road and over to Mulholland Drive. Holy shit. I’ve never seen such well-connected technical riding roads anywhere. You could spend every weekend following the links of racetrack like roads through these canyons.

I stopped after the first few roads for lunch on Mulholland at the Rock Store. A little mom and pop place for burgers and such right in the middle of nowhere on the highway. Good food, nice patio and I even sat beside the owners, and older couple in their 70s, watching their business run. No celebrities today (apparently Jay Leno is frequently there on weekends).

At the end of Mulholland is the ‘snake’. The best few miles of road you could want to ride or drive. The twistiest of twisty roads with decreasing radius turns, huge sweeping turns that come back on themselves and great views from the top. I had so much fun on this part I did it three times.

Time was ticking on so I decided I better get a move on and work my way back to the Pacific Coast Highway. One last canyon ride – Latigo Canyon. Another holy shit ride. What fun. Zero traffic. I caught up with a few new riders and stopped to let them get ahead only to catch up with them a few miles down the road (who says us flatlanders can’t ride). This was a perfect sendoff to my long journey north. I will have to cow back here and spend a few days just exploring these canyons.

The rest of the journey was relatively uneventful. Beautiful ocean views and lots of traffic. Weekend traffic is ridiculous in California. All the major roadways are jammed with vehicles. Some of the stretches of the highway ground to a halt roughly every 20 miles. The only eventful things s an accident. A couple on a Harley in the middle of the highway being attended to by paramedics and firemen. Why people don’t wear protective gear and a real helmet is beyond me. Some nasty injuries in this case for both the passenger and rider that could have easily been prevented.

I pushed up the coast and headed inland as it was the only place I could find a hotel room. And so the day ends with a final push on highway 101 and a warm meal at Denny’s. An enjoyable day parts of which I hope to repeat in the future.

Tomorrow is another long day as I push up highway 1 to Fort Bragg. This will be followed by an all-day interstate push to get back to meet the folks in Oregon.


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