We’ve finally set off on our journey South. After riding North to the Arctic last year, we’d been talking at lengths about riding South. And so it began. In late November, we packed up the bikes and rode out.
Day 1, we were joined by our friends Jason, Michael, Tristan, Jake, and Alex, as well as my girlfriend who would accompany us to our first campground in Big Sur. After day 1, my girlfriend would come down to Santa Barbara / Los Angeles and bus back while we continued on to Baja, Mexico.
We all gathered at Four Barrel coffee. Stu and I looked like serious spacemen with our new Rev’It suits, pristinely clean and attention-grabbing bright white/grey color scheme. They’d soon lose their pristine shine, fortunately.
A diverse ride out, much like our ride out last year: a Harley-Davidson, a Triumph, a V-Strom, a KLR 650 and Stu and I’s bikes completed the set. Jake and my girlfriend rode pillion.
I discovered pretty early that my kickstand is too long with the bike is all loaded up, letting me not kick it down when the bike is on an incline a certain way. It’s… still that way as of my writing this in La Paz, Mexico. I’ll see if I can find a welder on mainland Mexico. Stuart’s is a bit too short. We also forgot a few things but all in all, our planned departure time was only exceeded by about an hour or so.
Wasting no time, we rode 280 to the Pacific Coast Highway, following beautiful curves to some lunch in Santa Cruz. We stopped at Burger, a place off the highway where you can get a burger sandwiched between two grilled cheeses. Yup.
The bikes were holding up great. Load-wise, I think we were a bit lighter than last year, and I had no problem riding with my girlfriend on the back.
After an absolutely superb ride on the twisties of the highway, we stopped near the Bixby Bridge for some photos around sunset.
This is a great place to view a superb section of the Big Sur coastline.
It was getting dark quick — unlike last year, winter means shorter riding hours, and so we found a nearby campground where we drank, grilled and exchanged stories at our campfire huddled between towering redwoods.
We had a brief ride to the Esalen Institute the next day (to drop off Jake, who was hitching a ride with us to there) and said our goodbyes to our riding partners. We were on our own now.
We had an absolutely perfect ride down the coast that day. Some of the best riding in California is the Big Sur stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway (the ‘1’) when traffic is mild, and traffic was surprisingly mild for most of it.
Hitting Morro Bay, we pushed on until twilight when we pulled over to take off our sun-visors and sunglasses and find a route to Stu’s family in Santa Barbara.
We took the mountain pass there and arrived well into the night. It was a bit dicey on the curvy road and it’d been a long day riding, so we happily ate dinner and drank a few beers and slept in the next day.
Santa Barbara was a major stop for us — not just to spend Thanksgiving, but also to test our setup so far and fix some minor issues.
Stuart spent some time tearing down his bike and I mostly tweaked the loading setup, attempted to mount new locks to my side cases (unsuccessfully, I might add) and did other minor modifications.
(also, who knew there’s some great Nepalese food to be found there?)
Lovely town to be ‘stuck in’.
It also helped us plan the road ahead. I rode my girlfriend to LA and back — a nice test of the bike unloaded — and we left shortly after Thanksgiving.
We spent Thanksgiving with Stuart’s lovely sister Lena, basking in our last bit of California sun.
And we were off for San Diego! Had to stop for lunch at, where else:
A brief stop in San Diego and we caught up somewhat unexpectedly with Tristan, who’d previously accompanied us on the first day. He would ride through some of Baja with us.
I indulged in the local speciality, the California burrito (a burrito with french fries inside). Crazy American food! We’d miss it. Or would we?
The next morning, we spent some time adding some to the thumper bikes and mounting some new hand guards on my HP2 Enduro from a local Powersports store we headed to the border at Tecate… to México!