My First time Riding the PCH

By: Bob “Steel Cowboy” Lawson

I had arrived at LAX Airport Friday November 28th at around 4:30 pm.   By the time I got my luggage and caught the shuttle to La Quinta Inn, it was 5:45.  After checking in, I got the phone book and started calling bike shops for a rental bike.  The folks at Hog Feathers Motorcycle Rentals, 1928 Pacific Coast Highway (310.784.2453) had an unbeatable deal.  $99 a day with unlimited mileage!  I was not flying out of Los Angeles until Sunday morning at 12:40 am; I could ride until 7pm Saturday.  I just had to be at their shop and complete the paperwork by 7pm.  A quick run to the front desk got me a taxi and at 6:15 we were pulling out on West Century Blvd headed for I-405 to Lomita, CA.  I told the cab driver there was a good tip if he could get me there in 30 minutes- we made it with time to spare.

I got a 105th Anniversary FXDL Dyna Low Rider with road pegs, placed perfectly for me to stretch out as I rode the Pacific Coast Highway.  We finished the paperwork at 6:56pm.  I took the long way back to the hotel getting back at around 9:30.  I could not wait to get started the next day!

I kept my watch at Eastern Standard Time so I would not have to change it back.  So when I woke up at 6am our time Saturday morning, it was only 3am in LA.  After tossing and turning for the next hour I finally gave in got dressed and headed out.  I took Century Blvd. to Sepulveda Blvd. and Sepulveda to Lincoln Blvd.  After passing through Marina Del Ray I caught the Pacific Coast Highway at Venice Beach just in time to pass the “Hotel California.”  I did not see any of the Eagles however.  I rode the Pacific Coast Highway from there up through Malibu to Leo Carrillo State park in the predawn hours.  I found a Starbucks just opening and nursed a cup of espresso until the sun came up.

I hope the pictures do the scenery justice.  The air was crisp and clear. I was very comfortable in my thermal shirt and denim jacket.  It was a great morning to ride.  I could not believe how close the houses where built to the surf.    I’ve never seen houses that close on our South Carolina shores!  Surfrider Beach State Park had little activity this early.   I stopped and checked out the Getty Villa from the highway.  It is an awesome spectacle.   There were a few people at Will Rogers State Beach but it was only 8am their time!

It is time for breakfast so I slipped by the hotel to see if any of the other guys flying to Vietnam with me were up.  I passed them on Century Blvd headed to Denny’s (Pic. 014).  After breakfast I slipped by the motel for a quick shower and shave. When I realized it was just after Noon at home I turned the TV to ESPN at to my utmost delight there was the Carolina – Clemson game!  I watched in rapture as the Tigers once again took the Gamecocks to school.  I was confident that the second half would be much like the first , so with a smile on my face and the Tiger fight song in my heart I headed south on the Pacific Coast Highway once again.

I took I-405 until I picked up the Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Hwy 1, at Seal Beach.  To ride through Surfsideand Sunset beach on a Harley after seeing these places in TV and movies was a real rush!  I loved riding by Huntington Beach State Park.  I’ve now ridden through this State Park on both coasts!  Laguna Beach was the next landmark I came to.  Highway 1 rides right along the ocean in many spots through here.  I rode to where Hwy 1 merges into I-5 at San Clemente.  I stopped here for lunch and called home for the final score of the Clemson – Carolina game- this is going to be a perfect day!

I took I-5 to San Juan Capistrano and caught Hwy 74 known as the Ortega Highway.  This highway runs through Cleveland National Forest and Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park.  The twists and turns, narrow canyons and bridge crossings over enormous ravines kept my adrenaline flowing.  Once again I can only hope the shots I took give justice to the beauty of this ride.

Hells Kitchen, Ortega Hwy

Hell’s Kitchen  and Cook’s Corner are two well known stops on the Ortega Hwy.  You can see which one I checked out(Pic.024).  Coming from San Juan Capistrano it is on the left a little more than halfway between I-5 and I-15, the end of the wilderness ride.  The view as you come out of the mountains above Lake Elsinore is truly breathtaking.  I stayed here for sometime just marveling at the scenery and watching the reaction of other riders as the lake came into view.  The ride down the mountain, in view of the lake, is one of the most majestic sights on either coast.

The rest of my ride was anti-climatic.  I took I-15 to Hwy 91 so I could ride through Chino and Pomona.  I caught I-210 so I could ride through Pasadena, Burbank and of course Hollywood.  I was booking because I had to get the bike checked in before 7pm.  I stopped by the motel so one of my compadres (the other guys had rented a Charger and toured Hollywood) could follow me back to drop off the bike.  If you get to the west coast there are probably other great rides as well, but for me this was the perfect start on the adventure of a lifetime.  I did fly out of LAX, Sunday morning for Vietnam.  I hope to be able to share that ride with you soon.

Until then, remember to keep the shiny side up and hold it between the ditches.  The Steel Cowboy

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