Tag Archives: motorcycle travel

The Chumash and Sespe Wilderness

One of my favorite rides is right here in my back yard. Click my Alpinestars together three times and I’m on my way. From either Nor Cal or So Cal get yourself on Hwy. 101 and make the transition onto Hwy. 33 in Ventura. Through Casitas Springs and Oakview pay attention to the speed limits as the county loves making money there. As you enter Ojai, Hwy. 33 makes a left turn so be on the look out. However, if you continue going straight you’ll end up in downtown Ojai. Ending up in downtown Ojai isn’t all that bad, there a couple of good restaurants and the Ojai Coffee Company where you can look at your map and figure out how to get back on the route.

Whether you made the correct turn or you had to make a U-Turn, now is where Hwy. 33 gets fun…really fun. Your ride takes you up the Wheeler Gorge and to the top of the Dry Lakes Ridge. At the top of the ridge is a great overlook. From this vantage point you can see the fantastic road you have just ridden up and if it’s a clear day…as in no fog…you can see the ocean and the Channel Islands. I hope you brought your camera or your photographic memory.

From here the road heads down the back side of the Topa Topa Mountains into the Los Padres National Forrest and the Sespe Gorge. The road here is fast, free-flowing and what I call “The Church of Speed”. There are times you can let your bike stretch it’s legs a bit and times a corner sneaks up on you, all in all a wonderful stretch of road.

Near the top of the mountain is a popular stopping point, Wolf’s Place. Years back,Tom Wolf used to host biker events with big barbecues, music and a place to pitch a tent. Breakfast and lunch were served on weekends, this was not the place to have breakfast if you were in a hurry. The restaurant opened whenever Tom and his wife got up in the morning and each meal was cooked one at a time at a relaxed pace, fortunately the coffee was good while you waited. Wolf’s has been closed quite a while now, but Tom is back down from Oregon working on the place in hopes of reopening soon. It’s good place to stop and wait for friends who may be riding a bit slower, or if you’re the slow one, to catch up with your faster riding buddies. This is the point where you decide to turn and head back down ( the game is going to be on in an hour ) or keep going. Keep going.

Further up Hwy. 33 is another crest at Pine Mountain and this is a bad one. Why is it bad you ask? As you’re going around a nice sweeping right hander all of a sudden the view to your left is spectacular and all you want to do is slow down and look…or worse, you blow the corner completely and the edge of the mountain is coming up way too quickly. The road down into the Cuyama Valley is steep, tight and fun. Just past the Forrest Service station is the turn off to Lockwood Valley, road # FR7N11. Turn east.

Before you get too far along the road, it’s time for breakfast. The Reyes Creek Bar and Grill at Camp Scheideck is the perfect spot. It’s 5 miles down the road and the sign for the turn off to the restaurant is small, low and on your right…it’s easy to miss so pay attention. The restaurant is a short ride off the road past mountain cabins to a lodge next to a stream. On a cold morning the wood burning stove is almost more important than a hot cup of coffee. Breakfast is great but it’s time to get back on the road.

Lockwood Valley Road is a road that commands respect, it’s a lot of fun to ride but you really do have to pay attention. Some of those 10 MPH corners really are 10 MPH corners!? The road is like a big kiddie roller coaster with ups and downs, dips and turns, that can catch you by surprise if you’re looking at the scenery instead of the road. In some of those dips are washouts and, if it has been raining in the recent past be aware of running water in the bottom of those dips. And wouldn’t you know it, those dips are always in the middle of a curve too.

The road from Highway 33 to Frazier Park is a little over 30 miles of fun riding cutting through the Chumash and Sespe Wilderness areas. There are a number of good off-road trails in the area as well, so if you’re riding a dual sport, this is the perfect area to do some exploring.

At the end of Lockwood Valley Road is the ‘T’ intersection of Cuddy Valley Road and Frazier Park Road. A right turn will take you into Frazier PArk proper and Interstate 5, a left turn will take you to Pine Mountain Club and onto Cerro Noroeste Road. If you have the time and want to make a great loop ride out of this, take the left turn…I’ll tell you all about that ride next time. Note here…before you take the west road, turn right at the ‘T’ and stop in Frazier Park for gas because it will be very long walk when you run out of gas down on Hwy. 166. I

This isn’t a long ride but if you’re looking for some fun riding and a diversion from I5 , you’ll love this route. If your trip is taking you north, south or east from here you can pickup I5 there in Frazier Park and be on your merry way. That is if you consider riding on the Interstate merry.

States I’ve visited on two wheels

While thinking about a friends upcoming road trip, I pulled out some maps of rides that I have taken over the years thinking I could give him some ideas. But knowing my friend as I do, I know he likes to plan his trips with nobody’s help, these are his own adventures.

While looking over the maps and picturing some of the roads, the sights and of course, the eateries, I got to thinking about all the states I have visited on two wheels. After that came all the states that I haven’t seen from behind the handlebars yet. I spent some time reading other riding friends blog stories about their travels and started planning my next adventure. While reading Marilyn Elmore’s escapades at www.chessiestales.blogspot.com I came upon a neat little program that let’s you map out the states you have visited. Go to http://douweosinga.com/projects/visited?region=usa it’s pretty cool looking at the whole of the country and seeing just how much of it you have seen..or at least the twisty road parts of it. It turns out I have ridden motorcycles around 15 states, just 15!!? How in the world did I put over half a million miles on a motorcycle riding in just 15 states?? I guess I had a long commute to work for a few years and always chose to take the long way home. And, all those one week trips around the west…I took the long way home from those too.

visited 15 states (30%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

A perfect afternoon ride

Over my years and thousands of miles of riding, I have made friends all across the U.S, Canada and India too. Most of them have a ‘riding season’ and that season is all too short. This time of year I get e-mails from the friends bemoaning their weather and wanting to come visit. I wish they would.

Here in Southern California we are blessed with year round riding and great roads to ride. So for those of you stuck in the snow, read on and picture yourself on this New Years Day ride.

One of my favorite loops starts not too far north of Los Angeles up near Castaic Lake. Starting in the LA area head north on Interstate 5…a few miles past Magic Mountain amusement park will be the turn off for Castaic Lake, Lake Hughes Road. You have a couple of choices here depending on what time of day it is and how hungry you are. A side note here, I am a card carrying member of the ‘Ride to Eat…Eat to Ride Society’ and every
trip has to have good food stops. If it’s breakfast time, Cafe Mike is as good as it gets along this stretch of road. Classic truck stop diner fare and good service. When you get off the freeway, take your first right turn and Mike’s is about 1/4 mile down the road…you won’t be disappointed. However, if you’re not hungry yet and it’s getting closer to lunch time…ride on.

Lake Hughes Road is one of the great unknown roads…well, I guess I just spoiled it. It’s a good fifteen plus miles of smooth flowing turns, blind deceasing radius turns, great scenery and good fun. The road takes you through a beautiful canyon of California chapparral, creeks, campgrounds and church retreats. Oh, and there is a ‘correctional’ facility thrown just for good measure, visiting day is Sunday.

At the end of Lake Hughes road is a ‘T’ intersection and you have a choice. A left turn takes you down to Hwy 138 and the Antelope Valley…if you want to head north it’s a good choice and in spring it will take you down to the California Poppy Reserve. But, if you want an entertaining loop and a good lunch, turn right onto Elizabeth Lake Road.

In Lake Hughes is a fine lunch stop, The Rock Inn (www.historicrockinn.com), a classic place with sports on big screen TV’s, live music occasionally, good food and a fine beer selection. The Rock Inn is also a real Inn…they have rooms upstairs…get your mind out the old Western movie gutter here. It’s a great stop. A side note here…the first date with my now wife was this ride, and it’s also where I proposed to her( well, not on our first date a couple years later)…in the parking lot amidst a bunch of motorcycles, how romantic huh???…she was foolish enough to say yes.

After a good lunch you have a couple of choices, head back the same route, this side of the road can get a little iffy so be careful. Or…you can continue on the loop. If you have decided to continue on ‘the loop’ good for you, you’re going to love it. Continue east on Elizabeth Lake Road (N2 ) for a few miles…5 or 6 maybe, to the turn off for Green Valley / San Francisquito Canyon Road. About a mile down will be the left turn for Bouquet Canyon Road. Once on Bouquet Canyon just have fun.The road goes past the Bouquet Reservoir, into the canyon with creeks, California oak trees, houses perched up on the hillsides and rock walls that would hurt if you’re not paying attention to your riding. There is generally not much traffic but people do live in this canyon so you have to keep an eye out for drivers coming out of nowhere. A popular stopping point part way down the canyon is The Big Oaks. Good pizza, cold beverages and on Sundays a good crowd of motorcyclists up from the local area. Mostly the cruiser group with a few sportbikes here and there. It’s well worth the stop, just to enjoy the canyon.

Twelve miles or so down Bouquet Canyon Rd. is the turn off to Vasquez Canyon Rd., hang a left. Three and a half fun miles brings you to Soledad Canyon Rd, a right turn will take you over to Hwy 14 and from there you can head back to wherever you started from easily.

There are many more fun roads in this area and how many of them you would like to ride depends on how much time you have and how far your fanny will go. If you would like to know about more about the roads in this area, grab yourself a Los Angeles and vicinity map from your local AAA office or feel free to e-mail me, paul@themotoworld.com

This is a great way to spend a morning and afternoon with your motorcycle. My wish for you all is that the New Year brings you all that you want and mostly a lot of wonderful rides. Thank you for sharing this one with me.