Today was all about the Mulholland Highway, although there should be a special mention for military aircraft on sticks and insane LA traffic.
We woke early to a cool, grey sky which meant warm layers. We left the hotel and cruised through the street of Ojai to have a good look, we’d only explored it in the evening so it was great to see this pretty town during the day. The clouds cleared as we were riding so we were able to appreciate the Spanish architecture against the mountains to the north.
Once we had taken it in, we left the town and headed towards Ventura and then onto the freeway to Oxynard, retracing some of our journey from yesterday.
Just after Oxynard we found the Point Mugu Navy Air Station which has a static display of missiles and aircraft (including an F-4 Phantom, an F-14 Tomcat and a freaking Polaris nuclear missile!) called the Missile Park. We chatted to a group of three cyclists on a four day trip to the Mexican border. We’ve met so many lovely people on our trip, the motorbikes are such a good way to get a conversation started and many people are interested in our trip.
After taking in the Missile Park, we continued south on the Pacific Highway. Just inside the Malibu city limits, we took a left turn up into the Santa Monica Mountains and onto the Mulholland Highway and climbing another beautiful winding road, providing us with glorious views of the ocean. Time to strip off, it was getting hot, very hot.
As we cruised along the Mulholland Highway, the road curved and swept up allowing me to dig into the corners and enjoy views across the valleys, not that my eyes spent much time on the views, I was concentrating hard on remembering some of the cornering lessons I have had over the previous 18 months.
We soon arrived at the top of a stretch of the Mullholland Highway which looked over a large valley and a part of the road known as The Snake. As the name suggests, this road snakes down the side of the valley and is another motorcyclist’s dream road. This ladyonmotorbike tentatively made her way down the road, appreciating it for what it was, but still very wary of the tight downhill turns. The presence of the highway patrol both at the top and bottom of the mountain are a solid reminder of the popularity of this route for motorcyclists and some of the stupid riding that has lead to serious accidents, the police were there to try to temper the over enthusiasm these roads inevitably brought.
At the bottom of the mountain we stopped at the Rock Store, an uber cool rough-looking pub cum diner which is the place to be seen with a motorbike in the area. Today there were only a few bikes parked outside and the tables were quiet but the weekend would bring many.
Gary spotted a California Highway Patrol motorcyclist parked up chatting to people at the store so insisted I had my photo taken with him, it was a slightly embarrassing but, being a huge fan of CHiPs when I was younger, also quite exciting. He was very obliging.
(OK, technically he’s a sheriff but it worked for me)
We ordered lunch and watched bikes arrive and leave at the start or end of their awesome ride through The Snake.
After lunch we started chatting to Phil, a local and regular of the Rock Store. He told us about how the police had cracked down recently on the Snake, evidenced by the fact that we had spotted Highway Patrol at the top and bottom of the mountain. He told us about the celebrities that often visited and insisted that we introduce ourselves to the elegant old lady (Vern) who owns the store, which I did and she was lovely.
We were planning on going back up the mountain and back down again but Phil advised us to get on as the traffic around Los Angeles would be very heavy. We heeded his advice and left around 2pm by continuing along Mulholland Highway, and then onto the 101 freeway.
We were heading for Chino Hills to stay with my cousin for the weekend, a journey that should have taken less than two hours but with the traffic, mandatory fuel stop, Gary’s phone overheating so losing directions and having to stop occasionally just to cool down, it took us almost most three.
We were glad to arrive to large glasses of cold water and family. The heat was quite extraordinary but the ability to lane filter and use the car pool lanes on the freeways helped manage it, quite the contrast to the beginning of the day and a taste of what is to come when we start off again on Sunday and skirt Death Valley up towards Yosemite.