Ride Free Motorcycle Tour Diary – May 2012 Kicks on Route 66 and Grand Canyon Tour with Monument Valley and Zion

by wil on May 12, 2012

This is a self drive guided motorcycle tour that was recently done by our friends Shai and Ilan.  I am putting their information up as they post it.

www.ridefree.com  Ride Free Harley Davidson Motorcycle Tours and Rentals

Self Guided Kicks on Route 66 plus Monument Valley and Zion  added,  then a day down the coast at the end through Ventura and Malibu.

To our friends on the road:

Shai and Ilan. You don’t know how much I am enjoying your experience.
You guys get it.
The Ride Free experience!  This is what we want to share, and the purpose of Ride Free Motorcycle Tours.
Ride Free my Brothers!
Wow. Well, first day on the road. Leaving the hotel at 6:00 am and reaching Barstow by 8:00 am. Leaving LA was easier than expected, and I got used to the Harley quite fast. A powerful beast. I forgive him for it’s unsuitable colour. It is still, literally, a Road King. That said, I must admit, the first couple of miles it scared the s&@% out of me.
What every true biker know, bikes can be identified by sex and personality like a human. You can’t know it in advance. You have to ride it and feel it. My sissy white bike certainly asserted his. It is certainly a male. If it was human, it would have been strong, fat and hairy, yet flexible and versatile. Kinda like its present rider, come to think of it.
Covering that aspect, the ride today covered route 66. Amazing piece of history. Most of it was so neglected it was barely rideable.  Full of potholes. Difficult at parts to even call it a road. Some ghost towns on the way, tumbleweed, and strange and unique gas stations, diners, and characters. An experience!
Have you seen Bagdad Cafe (1987-8, something like that) Remember the theme song? ‘a desert road, from Vegas to nowhere, some place better than where you’ve been…. A coffee machine, that need some fixing, in a little cafe just around the bend’…. Well, that the road we actually traveled and we’ve passed the actual titled cafe.
The landscape is mostly red, yellow, and black mountains, desert, trucks, trains and SPACE. You are absolutely nowhere, surrounded by vast space. The sight of the size of it is at times breathtaking.
Arriving in Laughlin. A tiny town in the middle of nowhere and our ‘place of rest’ for the night. You just come down from the mountain and it is like Mos Aisley (the nerds among you will get the reference). Couple of squares in the middle of nowhere, a river in the middle, and lots of casinos on the river banks. Our hotel/casino, I’m proud to say, looks like a riverboat!
We arrived at 5:00 pm, after 300 plus miles, sweaty and tired. While my riding partner is settling down in our room, I’m sitting in front of the river, drinking a cold beer, and sharing the day…

· · May 4 at 9:05pm near Laughlin, NV·

36 hrs without phone or internet connection, so late posting on the second day of May 5.
Well, 2nd day on the road and what a day it was!
Two guys, on a Road King and a Soft Tail Heritage.
Crossed the river and we were over to Arizona and started riding next to the river, than cutting toward The mountains and Oatman. A deserted small road. Eagles in the sky. Sharp, edgy mountains on the side. You are absolutely on the road to nowhere. BUT, it’s not nowhere where you get to. It’s Asstown/Donkeyville or just Oatman. A wild west type of main road with shops selling mostly knifes(?) and route 66 T-shirts. And lots but lots of donkeys (or as they are referred to locally: burros) walking about, stopping the traffic and walking up to people expecting food and affection (like a typical man…). It looks like an old mining town and I guess this is what it actually was.
Had a cool drink, climbed on the bikes and carried on  back on Route 66. Amazing road. Again. Lots of curves, beautiful views, climbing and than going down the mountains, opening towards breathtaking plateau full of rock formations. Coming from a sport bike, this is the day the ‘beast’ and I became friends. The Harley easily accepted my riding style and told me ‘I got more baby !’.
We’ve reached  our next stop and… the road was closed! No worries. It was a special Saturday for vintage and classic cars enthusiasts. Cars were coming from all over Arizona and the surrounding States. The main street was closed in order to allow them to exhibit the cars. There were hundreds of them (no kidding!) and more kept coming in to town. We were unsure about our timing so we’ve decided to skip event and continue riding (a huge mistake). We found our way around the event and back to route 66 on the other side of town. We were staying on 66 all the way to Selligman. This part of the route I rode helmet free, wild and open to the road for about 30 miles. First time experience (legal over here), and what an experience it is!!! Fun fun fun. Open road, wind blowing around you, the engine clearly talking to you, the machine and you truly become one, surrounded by nature and vast prairies with cliffs on the distance. Hundreds of great looking, shiny, renovated beautiful cars driving on the other lane. From a Ford model T to Corvettes, Thunderbirds, customised Dragsters, and lots more. A great ride!
Than reaching Selligman and a great lunch spot for a  quick bite. If you ever get there, I highly recommend the lemonade (pink and coming in a glass jag like moonshine) and the buffalo wings. Excellent spicy, and very hot sauce.
From here we were on our way to go back on the interstate towards Williams, stopping for 15 min on our way out of town at Angel barber shop to get some Route 66 memorabilia. A corky little place with sweet and friendly staff and lots of items to browse through. The interstate was interesting. Again vast space all around you. Mostly prairies, bushes and small trees. We’re starting to depart the desert and it starting to get green. We’ve actually saw some wildlife: squirrels or other rodent type creatures, deers, a coyote …. The deers were the only ones that weren’t roadkill and still moving about… No kidding. This road is like an animal killing machine. There are corpses (parts and full) all over.
Off at Williams, filling up on gas and up on 64 toward Grand Canyon south rim. Now this were ‘troubles’ started. A strange orange light came up on the dashboard of my new white Harley, and persistently stayed on. Panic rose! A mile or two more and I’ve decided to stop. What can it be? It’s my first time in a Harley and unfamiliar with its nibs and nubs. It was a symbol I’ve never encountered before. A round clock like with an arrow pointing. ‘Can it be oil pressure (naaa, that’s red and easily recognisable)? Maybe the engine overheating?’ Unlikely.
We were in the middle of nowhere. No telephone reception. Very little traffic. Well, decided to try and drive a bit further till the light will go off (I’m big on clinging to hopeless miracles….) or getting a telephone reception to call for help. Whatever come first. Found a gas station about 25 miles away from the Grand Canyon and stopped. Climbed off the bike and looked at it. Wondering what can it be. My riding partner was int meantime walking around trying to get reception on his iPhone.
I thought ‘maybe one of the lights brokedown and shorting the electricity?’ Of course that wasn’t the answer. Started to get worried. Now the all trip will get ruin. Panic panic panic. Managed to get a reception and called Easy Rider. Obviously, when things go wrong they GO WRONG, and Eagle Rider were closed/not picking the phone. BUT we’ve tried our friend and saviour- Wil Sakowski. AND… He wasn’t reachable either. Left a message. Started to get desperate. We absolutely wanted to reach the Canyon rim before sunset. Was about to cry… And than…. Wil called !!! Cheerful as always he was checking how we’re doing, wondering about the panicked message. He listened to us patiently rumbling about the problem. Than he like ‘guys, is the cruise control on?’
Cross control?! I actually forgot about the existence of this option on an Harley. I’ve looked, and guess what?
Yeah, you got it. I’m a miserable git. An absolute idiot. Yeap, that’s me. Probably shifted it on with my thumb unnoticeably when turning left from Williams to the 64. Oh boy. I was so embarrassed. I’m sure my riding companion will not let me forget it for the next 10 years.
Well, we were on our way. The surrounding changed. Lots of pine trees and green green green. Some deers again. We’ve entered the park, found our lodging easily, registered, found the room, unpacked our gear, and off we were again on the bikes to our destination to catch the sunset over the canyon.
We got there.
I kid you not.
It took my breath away.
No matter how many times you’ve seen the canyon in photos, TV, or the movies, there is nothing that can prepare you for the real thing.
It is AMAZING. We stayed there for about two hours or more. Well into darkness. Catching the sunset, and the canyon changing colours. We took loads of photos, than just sat down, legs dangling over the cliff, and just stared.
Later, i just put Pink Floyd on the headphone (Wish you were here album was perfect for this surrealistic occasion) managed to get a cigarette from a nice lady (my wife have to forgive me on this one), and watched the moon rise.
What a moment and what an ending to a perfect day!!!
· ·

Ride-Free Tours Sakowski-Motors Glad you guys are having such a great trip! Ride Free!

Day 3

May 6, to monument valley here we go….
Unfortunately woke up late and wasted the extra hour planned for additional time at the grand canyon. But, I’ll come here again for sure, so no time for worries. Still no internet nor telephone connection. So, no posting yet.
The weather was a bit grey and slightly cold when we started our way east down the mountain from the grand canyon toward the I 89. Still driving through forest on a nice curvy road. Managed to run over a snake. Well, it should had cross at the zebra crossing…
Slightly the forest receded and the landscape opened up to a vast prairie, with small canyons running through. Colours are kinda off on the verge of reddish, yellowish, slightly tinted. Every few miles there are Indians trading posts selling jewellery and handcraft. The view become a bit more desert like as we go up to the 160. Passing small Indian villages, very poor looking. A bit like the Bedouin villages in the middle east just without the camels.
Kids walking around aimlessly and stray dogs staring at the passers by.
The vast landscape start to become very reddish as we’re nearing the exit to the 163. Up we go and 14 miles later we stop and stare in amazement. We’ve reached the first pillars. AMAZING.
It takes us 1.5 hrs to ride the 20 odd miles to our hotel as we just got to stop and take more and more photos!
No words to describe it so I won’t bother. Everybody should experience it for themselves.
We’ve reached the turn to our hotel but decided to continue the ride to the Mexican hat and than turn back.
Landscape look out of this world. Reached the hotel again, went in, registered and to our room. Went to the room terrace and… You gotta been kidding me…. We’re just in front of enormous plateau with three pillars just in front of us. We’ve run outside, took some non-alcoholic beers (no alcohol inside the Navajo reservation), sat down and enjoyed the view and sunset till darkness.
Allow me to repeat: AMAZING.
Another great day and tomorrow off to Zion park.

Day 4

May 7, Monument Valley to Zion Park.

It’s my youngest son 8th birthday today, which unfortunately I’m missing. I call him just before he’s off to school and direct him to his hidden birthday gift i’ve stashed in advance. Well, at least I’ve got him happy. The rest of the day on the bike, I keep thinking about my kids, wife, the family. Non-bikers don’t realise or even understand it but riding a bike is zen. You are outside exposed to the world, the elements, nature. Your concentration is intense, but the rhythm if riding is like meditation. And soon enough you’re reaching the “zone”, where thoughts about anything and everything are firing through your mind, and your consciousness picking up on this and that and your evaluating anything with no particular order. From the best burger you ever had and where, to your girlfriend at the age of 12 and what she’s doing now, to the project you’re handling at work, to how much you love your wife and kids and what can you do to ensure their happiness, to pondering the existence of god. And all of these you’re doing while absorbing the landscape around you, and concentrating on the right line to take the next curb perfectly. And this is what we biker mean when we say we’re taking a ride. We meditate.

Anyway, we’ve started our 4th day on the road and it was yet another great day of riding. Left Monument valley, heading for Zion. While the area was amazing in natural beauty, the poverty of the local native Indian population is upsetting.
But, back on the road the day started beautifully. The main aspects of this day was the changes in colours. The reddish yellowish tones changed to colder colours. The minute we dropped into the next road, while the soil was still red, there were more trees, and some kind of a grey-blueish bushes, giving the whole landscape a blueish greenish hue.
We’ve reached Page, A town green and lushes surrounded by bare rocky land. We’ve turned down an amazing road and literally went down the cliff into this vast panoramic mesa. When reaching the bottom we’ve turned  toward Marble canyon. At this point the weather started shifting and some clouds moved in and the wind was picking up.
The landscape over here was wide with colourful reddish cliffs on both sides and some rock formation. We drove all the way to the Colorado river and stopped to admire the Navajo bridge. We’ve passed the Vermillion cliffs, still driving inside this enormous open range, and swallowing in all this beautiful land. Just before we’ve started climbing the cliff toward Kaibab, the wind intensified quite badly. We’re talking strong enough to tilt the bike dramatically, and making the climb and the curves on the way up a nice test to your nerves and riding skills. Reaching the top the landscape changed again to green forest and the sun came out again. We’ve made our way to the gas station, filling up on gas for the bike, coffee for us, some good quality but cheap pocket knifes (yes, he also sell rifles and lotto too), and some nice photos for the soul. By the way, we saw some nice dust devils as well on the way. Oh yeah, and if you’re coming this way in the near future, keep in mind there some roadwork going and quite a few police cars about.
From here we carried on to Zion park. On the way the surrounding seem to change to ranches, and ee’ce even caught up with some buffaloes, I kid you not. We’ve reached Zion Park. Whatever you’ve heard about it, forget it. An amazing drive of about 13 miles till we’ve reached our accommodation in the park.  Tall cliffs and curved mountains m where the weather sculpted tthe stone through centuries into amazing rock formations. You have to see it to believe it. We’ve reached our accommodation, unpacked the bikes, and went to have dinner at a diner in a converted gas station. It was a surrealistic day!
We’re staying here two nights, tomorrow passing again through Zion park to take photos peacefully, and to ride over to Bryce Canyon.
Excited and looking forward!!!

Day 5

May 8, Zion park to Bryce park and back.

Wow, wow, wow, and wow once more.
Wil Sakowski, if you were here I would kiss you. Many thanks for insisting we will add the extra day at Zion and drive to Bryce.
Started the day round 9:00 and drove back through Zion park. Almost hit a doe when coming out of a turn. That woke me up…
Anyway, unlike yesterday when we just rode through the park, this time we were taking our time and taking lots of photos. Took us over 1.5 hrs to cross 13 miles. What an amazing place. The rock formations, the cliffs, mountains. All carved through in lines like layer cakes, different symmetrical shapes and colours, all caused by thousands of years of harsh blowing winds and water. Just grand. Like some giant decided to play around with the landscape as if it was play-doe.
But the best was yet to come…
Out of the park and we were riding back east to Mount Carmel junction and than back to Zion. I was actually born on Mt. Carmel but on a different mountain in a different part of the world all together. Yet, although the thousands of miles apart, surprisingly, I found quite a lot of similarities in the mountainous green landscape, with it’s short trees and sparsely spread shrubbery. Well, we continued on.  The weather was perfect for a motorcycle ride, with a pleasant warm sunshine, yet a slightly cold breeze. We’ve entered the beautiful red canyon, which like its name, was presenting us with extremely red hills, again carrying some beautiful rock formations, and some miles further we took to Bryce canyon.
Now Bryce park is different than other parks. Here you don’t drive through the park to appreciate it but rather you’re actually riding on the top of the cliff (a fact which you do not realise), which is very green and woody, and to enjoy it you need to stop at the different view points spread through the 18 miles of the park (’bout 13 of them), get of the bike and walk to the east side. It is than you realize, that while the west side is just forest going as far as you can see, the east side is a cliff opening up to this beautiful enormous plateau, with further mountains out at the distance. But as amazing as this is, this is not the attraction of Bryce park. What is truly, in doubtfully one of the most amazing thing you’ll ever see, is the east wall of the cliff itself. The weather, running through the plateau, has carved the rocks into natural bridges and stone statutes. It looks like a fairytale landscape, completely out of this world. Think about it as when you were a kid at the beach, and built sand castles from wet sand dripping through your fingers, drop by drop to form a structure. It is the best description I can give you, and if you enjoyed childhood by the sea, you’ll understand my meaning when you see the photos.
We went all the up the 18 miles, than turnaround and headed back to Zion, not forgetting to stop at a great coffeshop/resto/lodge for their spectacular pies.
Before entering Zion, we stopped to admire the buffaloes again, than back to the hotel to park the bikes and off to finish the day with an excellent meatloaf for Ilan and a tasty burger for me at the western themed restaurant next door.
You know what? … It was yet another great day :)))

Day  Zion  to Vegas

Well, most of our day today was to be on the quick route via the highway to Vegas so we were in no rush to leave Zion park. Had a good cup of coffee in front of the mountain ridge, enjoying the silence and the view. And off we went on our hogs down the nice and slightly curvy road towards Vegas. The landscape wad getting brown and yellow the further we went, taking us toward the desert and Vegas. The highway was surprisingly fun. Empty and curvy, riding at least part of the way between mountains and cliffs, and being a highway, we could drive it fast. About 20 miles before reaching Vegas, we went off the highway toward the Valley of Fire to be followed by another park. It was basically driving through the desert. And the view and the hot temperature (while it was still before 11:00 am) was familiar to us. The view was reddish yellowish with spots of brown and black. Very little vegetation, mainly small bushes here and there. Interestingly, there were lots of warning asking to pay attention to bee hives, and to report them to the rangers if spotted. Apparently, they have lots of African bees that settle in the area, and the rangers are trying to eliminate them. African bees are very aggressive and swarm on the slightest provocation, making them dangerous to humans as well, and likely to kill you. Well, don’t we love a sense of adventure?
The road through the park toward Vegas is pleasant and curvy, and there seems to be lots of bikers riding through, mostly on sport bikes. I guess it is a local favourite due to the curves, but I have to say it is not too technical. We’ve reached Vegas quite early ’round noon, and found our way to the Harley Davidson cafe, to have a beer and small lunch. Being the only bikers there among the touristy crowd, we’ve at least got some attention : )….
From there we had a short drive down the strip and off to the Excalibur hotel with lots of time on our hand. It was too hot to woke around (well into the high 30’s c•) so I just went for a swim and my buddy stayed in the room reading. With the sunset, we went out on the strip. Vegas is like Disneyland for adults. Lots of attractions, lights and loud music. None of us is a gambler, so we’ve just walked around, amused by the sights and the people. Had a wonderful tasty steak dinner at the MGM hotel, took a ride on the monorail, and off to bed we went.
An easy day. Tomorrow, we’re into the Death Valley and the over 40 •c temperature of the desert.


May 10, Vegas to Death Valley

Got up at 5:00 am and started the day early to avoid the high-noon sun in the desert (I’ve had 3.5 hrs of sleep, for which I was punished later on on the way). Got easily out of Vegas and west toward Death Valley.  Then in the mountains, where we had our breakfast at  a unique and colourful place in the middle of nowhere. Literally.
And off we went deeper into the desert. It was about 10:00 am and already getting way way WAY too hot. It felt like getting roasted in an oven with the sun’s heat hitting you from above and the Harley’s engine from the bottom. I’ve actually managed to burn the bottom of my riding pants.
Well, it wasn’t our first desert drive, and the road to hell is what we expected. We were driving toward the salt lakes, stopping from time to time for photos and a drink of water. The landscape was cruel and harsh. Desolated and rocky with very little vegetation, that soon fully disappeared, leaving us driving inside a yellowish-brownish emptiness. With very little traffic, it was not a place to get stuck on your bike. The road itself was pretty straight. Two “funny”things about the road, at times the road in front of you just disappeared, dropping down suddenly in a sharp angle, litterally like a roller-coaster. If I was driving my sport bike in high speed over such sections I would have taken off flying. Quite dangerous, but not for the heavy beast I was now riding. On other sections, especially the three miles after the jubilee pass more or less, I’ve experienced for the first time seasickness in the middle of a desert. The road was going in small waves, up and down up and down up and down up and down up and down up and down up and down up and down up and down and UP AND DOWN once more. IsN’t that fun?!
In order to avoid the touristy crowd, we’ve stopped just before the normal stop, to check out the salt lakes. An amazing big sea of whiteness between the mountains, which only adds cruelty to this harsh environment, thinking about the people crossing this desert 150 or more years ago, finally finding waters, that are… undrinkable. We’ve reached a lunch stop oasis in the desert  (passing the Devil Golf Course, that’s a real location I kid you not), and stopped for a while to cool down, have a cold drink and let the bikes rest a bit in the small resort they had there, which was full of French tourists vacationing there. Go figure.
And off we went again towards our remote location Ride Free set up for us. We’ve finally crossed on the way some dunes, and road signs asking not to sand board?! Who would want to do that in this heat?! The road was not too exciting at this point, the sun really becoming over bearing (about 43•c), and the blinding glare and dust/sand in the air, forced you to squint your eyes. This combination plus my lack of sleep the night before, was really getting difficult and I’ve started struggling not to fall a sleep on the bike. It was becoming dangerous. But, we had only a couple of miles left to our destination, and w’ve made it just a little before 1:00 pm.
Our destination is a wonderful place and I could easily stayed there for couple of additional days.
There’s nothing there. Nothing. Nada. Zilt……..
You’re in the middle of the desert. Only a tiny gas station with a tiny half empty general store (albeit selling tires for dirt bikes), a cafe/restaurant, and couple of cabins, for lodging guests. There are lots of cactuses around and some low desert shrubbery, and couple of RVs spread around. You are absolutely out of the world. We dropped our gear in our cabin, found a shady place to park the bikes, and went for a beer. We met a German rider (well into his 60’s), travelling a cross the USA for six months, and shared a drink and some stories while watching the desert and enjoying the silence and nature. There is very little moving around, and certainly no rush to do anything except breathing, cleaning your head…. In out in out in oouuuutttttt……
Went back to the cabin for a nap, and at 7:00 we were back to the restaurant for dinner. Good food and interesting company. Lots of interesting and colourful characters were popping out almost literally from around tie bushes and dunes. I guess some of them actually living around (yes, here in the desert), some visiting like us. We had some nice wine, good conversation and went a bit away from the lights of the lodge, to enjoy the night sky, which were almost white as they were FULL of stars!!!!
While my riding partner went to bed, i’ve stayed out sitting in darkness in front of our cabin, legs on the table, head bend backwards, staring up. For hours. The stars, the silence (absolutely no sound around!), the warm desert air, I was tripping… Was very difficult to drag myself into the cabin and bed, which finally, after couple of hours I’ve forced myself to do.
Tomorrow we’re off to the Sequoia Park.

Day  Death Valley to Sequoias

May 11, Panamint Spring to Kernville.

Today we’ve left the desert and climbed the edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains ridge toward the Sequoia Park, the greenery, forest, and cooler air. Actually saw snow at the top (we didn’t reach it).
This day can be cut to three parts. First, the drive out of the desert on the 190 toward the mountains. A very pleasant drive starting up Jill toward the plain and than on the plains, next to more salt lakes toward the freeway. The mountain road is a beautiful road full of cactuses and good down view toward the desert. Saw some fighter planes from Nellis base I guess, practicing below us. Driving south west with the Sierra Nevada in from of us with their snowy white tops.
Second part, we’ve got on the VERY boring freeway but soon enough we cut west on an amazing little road all the way to Kernville, which was a blast of a road. Beautiful green scenery, farm land, free range, lots of open space and green. Great for the eyes after days of deserts across three states.
Reached Isabella lake (look like the place where they’ve filmed Piranha 3D but I could be wrong). It is the weekend and the area seems to be full of vacationers, mostly in their early 20’s. You could do anything here: kayaking, white water rafting, biking, tracking, fishing, hunting, and of course swimming.
We’ve reached Kernville a bit up the road, found our hotel, registered, and dropped our gear in our cabin. It was about 2:00 pm, so we were planning to climb up the mountain and deeper into the Sequoia Park.
Third part, we climbed the road up to a small town, planning to ask rangers at the top whether it’s safe enough to continue (the road can be icy and even closed at any time of the year!). We stopped just before to take some photos, and while I was kneeling at the middle of the road (which was empty with very little to none traffic) a sheriff car stopped behind me. But no worries. The jolly and friendly sheriff was just worried I fell of the bike. With a smile he assured us the road is open all the way and wished an enjoyable ride in the sunny weather. We’ve continued on deeper into the forest, climbing up and than toward the other side of the mountain range.  And at this point we started to see the famous giant sequoia trees. They are amazing. No matter how many times you see them in photos or TV, you just can’t feel their size till you see them. We took some photos, and if you see them, check the bottom corner of the photo. You’ll an ant size one of us leaning on the tree….
Anyway, we’ve carried on till the famous  sequoia spot, where we parked and walked into the forest. It was here where we’ve met the big brothers of the giant trees we’ve seen earlier. We actually stood inside one of them, and there was enough space for 30 more persons. They are ENORMOUS!!! And we’re told that there are even bigger ones up north. Unbelievable!!!!
From here we’ve decide to backtrack a bit and then drive down the mountain, and than come back  to Kernville from the west. We’ve reached a good stopping point,  and than when we’ve checked the roadmap, we’ve noticed a shortcut , which was supposed to save us bout 15miles if instead of the original route.
Oh boy. That was one of those decisions that end up in your death or as a great adventure story.
I’ll expand. You see, this nice shortcut road  turned up to be not a road at all… After about 2 miles into the forest, the road… Stopped.
From this moment on, there was gravel, sand, dirt, rocks, broken branches, holes, huge cracks and chasms caused by running water, at times all of the above at the same time, and lots if cows in the middle of the road, but no cement what so ever. It will be injustice to even call this road a goat path. It was the epitome of what is truly and literally off-road. How such road end up in a map of the scale we had is beyond me.
Like the beginnig of any bad horror film, it was too late for to turn back, so we’ve decided to carry on and risk it… Than the hillbillies with their chainsaws showed up!!!!
Just kidding.
We were sure we were on the right road, so we were not worried of getting lost, but terrified of getting a punctured tire or even a broken bike.
So we pushed the Harleys through the road, slowly but in regular speed, trying to avoid any sharp objects.
We’re both experienced drivers so our rhythm was cautious but stable.
As the leading driver, my main problem was getting the cows of the track in time because on that surface, and especially when we were on the downside, it was just to tricky or even dangerous to stop. So I just yelled and used the horn a lot.
I’ve certainly managed to get some of those cows running!!! It was an amusing sight!!!
There were lots of squirrels as well crossing the road every couple of meters. We were absolutely in the middle of nowhere….
The sun was blinding us every time we went into a curb taking us away from the forest, and the sudden move from darkness to full light was blinding. The concentration was so high, it was physically very tiring, and than just when we thought it will never end…. It did. And we were in the middle of a little town. Actually we’ve discovered from the locals, it is called something else. But the map states only , so someone can sue Michelin…
We kissed the PAVED road (metaphorically), and started  on the road to Kernville. And what a road it is! Lots and lots and lots of curbs. Right, left, right, left, right, left. Almost no straights at all!
And the landscape, beautiful! Blue skies, fields, trees, the lake…. Great great great great!!! So much fun!!! With the adrenalin from the “off road” experience earlier, we were just dropping the bikes quite fast into the turns, both us keep scratching screaming metal on pavement, with sparkles running out of our pedals as they kept reaching the road. These Harleys are do versatile, they were amazing!
We’ve reached Kernville, parked the bikes and ran next door to the Brewery to have well deserved beers, and lots of them!!!
Tomorrow to Ventura. The trip is almost over. I’ll cry soon :((((

May 12, Kernville to VenturaWhat a wonderful day! Green, warm and lots of bikers.
It was to be a short day in our standards. We started south, choosing to take the small country road, avoiding the highway and the cities. It was a beautiful road in a green agriculture farms country. Fields, trees, cows, a nice curvy road with great landscape, which was only getting better after we climbed the mountain and were going downhill. The road was small, with stones and sand, and you needed to pay close attention. Especially, since the cars coming our way around the band, were crossing into our lane quite often as well… Still, a fun ride and the view down the valley was worth it.
South of Bakersfield we’ve merged into the highway to LA, but only for a short while as we were planning on taking the “traditional” local motorcycles routes toward Ventura.
We cut towards the west, driving through orchards country. The smell of fruit trees was intoxicating. It was sunny and warm with a bit of a chilli wind… A wonderful day for a ride. We’ve reached Maricopa where we filled up the bikes and were approached by a group of teenaged girls who were offering to wash our bikes for cash donations as they were collecting money to help sponsor the funeral of a young girl who recently died. We passed on the offer but left them 10 bucks for the cause.
We carried out south towards the beach direction and entered wine yards country.
Now this was an awesome road!
Perfect for bikes!!! We had lots of fun ending it around noon time in the canyons at the (in?)famous restaurant, a known bikers place.
Now, that was a home as close as it can be called as such by a biker.
It was full of bikers, and full of bikes, LIVE music already playing in full blast, and a full BBQ rolling. Lots of bikers girls walking around, some obviously already well liquified…. I had a blond one giving me her whole life story in a speedy 5 min rant…. Exhausting.
We stayed there for well over two hours, enjoying the food and atmosphere. Than back on the bike and on the road to Ventura.
It was a short drive south, finding the Inn easily, getting to our room, unpacking and out for a nice walk, finishing the evening in a Thai BBQ place on main st.
Tomorrow is our last day, and we were starting to mourn the upcoming end…

May 13, Ventura to Eagle Rider, Los Angeles.

Our last day. This is the end of our 2012 journey. Today the hogs go back to the rental store.
We woke up in a somber mood into a grey and cloudy morning. Checked out, got on the bikes and drove the mile west, to the beach.
The salt air and the smell of the ocean was rejuvenating. I sat on the sand line enjoying the breeze and watching the surfers, attempting to surf a calm and almost flat sea. Well.. You gotta give them credit for trying….
We got back on the bikes and rode out of Ventura and onto the Pacific Highway toward L.A. Bit by bit the sky was clearing up, the sun was showing up, and the day was turning out perfect for riding.
We drove along side the ocean, enjoying the breeze, and early beach goers… Well, those California girls…you know what I mean. A lovely ride.
Stopped for a bit at our next destination, which we understand is a main local hangout for bikers and locals, due to its quick grilled sea food and terrace, but as much as the giants shrimps we’re tempting, we weren’t yet hungry, and the queues were just too big to justify queuing only for a drink, so we were back on the bikes searching for fuel (we were dangerously low, for the first time on this trip) and planning to go up into the canyons.
Found a Chevron in Malibu, filled up, and backtrack to drive up the hill in the famous  roads mapped out for us.
And what a GREAT road it was. Within minutes we were so high above Malibu and between the hills, feeling so desolated in the middle of nowhere, it was hard to believe we were stone through away from the hidden Malibu mansions and “civilization”. The road is not for beginner riders, especially on Harleys with full heavy gear. It is very curvy and very technical. Up and down the mountain. A bikers favorite it seems (dozens upon dozens of bikes going back and forth) and for all sorts, Japanese sport, American hogs and choppers, German engineered, all!!! New, vintage, old and prehistoric, lots of beautiful custom made as well!!! What a great site!!!
Besides the bikes, it seems to be a road used by the local “rich and famous” to show off their toys as well. We were passing Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Lotuses, Maseratis, etc. some new and some vintage going back to 50’s models.
Like everybody else (it seems) we’ve ended up at the incredible next stop, another famous bikers’ hang out, and the biggest one we’ve been to date, but not reaching there before we actually had to stop and assist on a road accident where a car driver just crashed and had his vintage BMW on it’s back. It is as mentioned earlier, a demanding road with sharp turns. The driver obviously did not go overly fast, and escaped with minor injuries. The paramedics arrived very quickly , and we were on our way to our stop  that was only 2 miles further down the road.

Well, it was certainly a bikers’ joint. Full (and I mean loads, dozens) of beautiful bikes which we spent an hour admiring before sitting down for a beer and light lunch. Got to admit, we were sticking out a bit with our heavy gear, as unlike the Deer Lodge, a high majority of the bikers here seems to be weekend riders, more concerned with their hairstyles than with bikes… Still it had a great vibe, with the usual bikers groupies and bike-culture admirers.

Time was running short (it was well after 3:00 pm and we were supposed to return the bikes by 4:00 pm) so we had to start heading toward LA and the rental store.
Unfortunately, we were hitting the heavy beach traffic, and a short ride of 20 miles was looking like it will likely turn to a few hours drive. We’ve decided to switch to full bikers driving mood (illegal in some countries), basically ignoring lanes, riding between cars, and cutting off cars while in speed: right, left, centre, left, right, any open space…
That got us moving fast a head to Santa Monica, leaving behind some shocked car drivers, which we surely scared the bejeebers out of…
We got to Santa Monica pier, took photos of the end of the old route 66, and cut out east to the highway toward our hotel (not much time saved as the highway was full of traffic as well). Got to the hotel, checked in, dropped the gear in the room, and off we were again to Eagle Rider.
It was a sad moment. We drove into their yard after 10 days on the road, 6 parks, and 4 states.
We got attached to our bikes. I remember the first day, driving away from the rental store. The beast scared the shit off me (the small and fat sports bike rider) with its size and weight. Now, the white beast was a part of me (which only the recent “traffic sowing” action so clearly indicated).
The bikes were check by personnel, which found them flawless (they’ve seemed to ignore the scratches to pedals, frames, and jack, as well as the pieces of my pants that were burned into the exhaust…), and left us alone to say goodbye to our bikes.
You non-bikers won’t understand it, but unlike cars, bikes are a living things. You develop a relationship with your bike, and it is hard to say goodbye…

It is time for thanks.
We start with our thanks to rental store for providing us with great (new!) bikes, friendly and supportive staff, and lots of smiles.

We thank each other- actually I’ll rephrase that- we CONGRATULATE each other for surviving 14 days without trying to kill the other guy or at least seriously maiming them. And yet really enjoying our time together, the roads, the rides, and another fantastic trip.

Personally, I will thank my wife for financing a big part of this wonderful journey as a 44th perfect birthday gift, and for giving me the time to take it.
I love you very much!

I will also thank Magi for releasing Ilan into my hands for our yearly moto adventure. I’m still amazed she trusts me…

And lastly, we would like very very VERY much to convey our thanks to Wil Sakowski and Ride Free.
Your personal help and sharp observations in planning the trip was irreplaceable. Your support all through the trip was impeachable. Your route planning and roads description was perfect.
You allowed us to concentrate on the ride, roads, and the surrounding landscape, which is for us as close as you can get to angelic assistance….
Wil, it will be impossible for us to convey how grateful we are to you, so I’ll just say it one more time: THANK YOU.

And quoting a famous Warner Brothers star:
“Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-… That’s all, folks.”·

Ilan Abiri Shai, I’ve enjoyed every moment of our mutual trip. It is our 3rd trip together on motorcycle and every time I have a great time.Thursday at 7:57

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