Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ride Report: Just one of those days...

Location: Venice, California, to Top of Topanga Overlook, Topanga, California and back
Miles: 36
Duration: Two hours, including a stop for gas and a stop at the overlook
Accommodations: None

The only way through Topanga Canyon, California, is a nice twisty ride up from the PCH. It is also a gateway ride to Mulholland Highway, one of California's most notable and fun two-wheeled rides. I rode up and down Topanga Canyon for a month on my first bike, a Honda Rebel, before I took that left turn onto Mullholland and went over. I rode up and down Topanga for another month on my next bike, the CB350, before I turned left. This is the second time up and back on the Ducati, which in retrospect, makes the CB350 feel like I took my house slippers out for a walk up the canyon. This new wisdom is half of what made yesterday a perfect ride.

The days everyone tells you are coming your way as a new rider are the days you will panic swerve to miss a left-turn driver, or the day the bike dies in traffic in the number three lane, or when it rains and the bike won't start for two days. Or the accident. Those are easier to talk about than the good days, perhaps because they allow ego-inflating "I'll ride anyway" machismo to infuse the tales. Fewer riders mention the days that contain inexplicable soul-cleansing rides, the ones where the teller has to get mushy to talk about them. Days when ideal temperature, wind and sun conditions, the bike running on its best behavior, and a series of good human decisions become the platform for the feelings you have when you drop into a curve in the road at exactly the right time, with the perfect lean, completed by that beautiful slingshot exit, heavy on your chest but in the best possible way. It becomes the perfect ride when that happens not once, but over and over again on the same trip, like Groundhog Day for lottery winners. Your mind goes to a happy place that you could mistake for a dream - oh sh*t, you are daydreaming - and you snap back to the road and continue having an amazing ride.

It was an incredible ride on the way up.

The twisties on Topanga relax towards the top of the canyon, where we stopped at the Top of Topanga overlook. As an aside, when you leave the overlook to return to Topanga Canyon road, the paint on the pavement directs you to only turn right, and head, gasp, into The Valley. Which is fine if you're proceeding down the back side of the hill to catch the left onto Mulholland. Otherwise, do what you must to return back down the canyon and back to the oceanside. I've heard stories about The Valley.
Top of Topanga Overlook. That's the San Fernando Valley. (Such a perfect ride, I wasn't thinking about framing up a shot.)
I didn't jinx it. It was an incredible ride on the way down, too. I think I'm ready to go over Mulholland Highway on the next ride.

Ride notes from Topanga:

The PCH from its start (Santa Monica) north to Topanga Canyon road, about five miles, is a busy section of the highway. Watch out for tourist u-turns to claim a parking spot, sports cars with something to prove, and a whole lot of cyclists and foot traffic. Once in the canyon, watch out for two congested areas, with a couple of blind spots, within about two miles of each other, starting about five miles up the canyon. You'll see them coming because it starts to get populated, and the posted speed limit slows from 45mph to 35. Many of the turns' posted speeds are 25.

Ducati and the house slippers

Until I figure out how to manage helmet hair, I'm putting a ridiculous filter over every picture of me on the road.

1 comment:

  1. oh my, I thought it was bicycling! and was wondering how you made that ride in 2 hours. None the less, what joy in the ride!


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