…projects. I look around my barn nowadays and all I see are projects. Not just the simple “I’d better get this place organized someday” project, but real projects. The ones like, finish rebuilding the front forks and rear brake on my Triumph, the head gasket on The Mighty 350, put the parts back on my sons CB350 that I pirated to make my 350 run, paint the fairing on the BMW, start my SL Cafe bike build and put a new mandrel on my lawn tractor. Not to mention the brakes on my 1963 Fairlane sitting out front up on jack stands…my wife loves that??!
Oh sure, there are little projects too…like; organize the recycling, clean all the garden tools, put all my extra tools in the other tool box, put my wife’s tools back in her tool box and get rid of yard and shop chemicals that went bad 20 years ago. Small things, all of them really, but when I see the big projects…my ‘A.D.D’ kicks in. I start putting old tools away and then I get to wondering what bike this one tool will fit that maybe I don’t have in my regular tool box? So, I go around to all the motorcycles looking for what this particular odd looking spanner fits. The next thing you know, I’ve put down that tool, picked up the one lying next to the spare 350 engine on the work bench…two hours have gone by and I’m being called in for supper?!. A few weeks later I will remember that the tool I started carrying around fits the chrome muffler bearings in the Fairlane.
So, while I’m standing in the open barn door looking in, I wonder which of my friends I could call to come over and help me with getting this place workable. The type of friends I have are cheap labor. …some free beer, maybe a bucket of fried chicken…I took lessons from Tom Sawyer. Then I got to thinking, always a bad thing in my case…Jeff’s shop is worse than mine, Eric’s is full of too many misguided car projects and a couple of old race bikes stashed away somewhere, Jay’s shop…well, he’s a professional, so occasionally you can see the floor between all the Alfa parts and Suzuki RGV bits, and then there’s Ken’s…well, if you could slide a Honda Trail 50 in there, I would be surprised. Not a group of good organizers in that lot. I need someone to help that knows about a neat and tidy work shop, the type of shop that you could eat off the floor…Craig! Craig is even cheaper to hire than the other guys! A simple sandwich and a sixer of Coors Light, we’re working…but, he’s got too many projects of his own. Craig’s out, looks like I’m on my own.
So, back to the original problem, I have too many projects and, another one just landed in my driveway. A 1970’s something Benelli 250 2C. Great. This is a gift (?) from my friend David. He has had this bike hanging around his house for probably 20 years, outside.It was years ago he told me he had this old bike (didn’t know what it was… he never could remember the name Benelli) in great condition just hanging about and wondered if I wanted it. Sure, I said.
Twenty some years later it finally shows up. So what do I do with it? it’s a very cool little old bike, it doesn’t qualify for the MotoGiro but will still be a great ride around the local canyons. Do I do the full restoration? Make it new again? Knowing myself and my banker…probably not. How about just get it running, put on some new tires, make sure the brakes work, duct tape the seat together and, maybe clean the rust out of the gas tank. I think I’m going to need a repair manual. My new ‘gift’ has only 620 miles on the clock, the tires look new (old, but original), there are a few parts missing (nothing important…one side cover badge and the compression release cable…who needs a compression release on a 2 cylinder 250cc 2 stroke??…maybe I need to hold off on that judgement until I try to start it…!!), all in all not a bad ‘gift’.
Now, as some of you may know, I love Cafe Racers…and this little Benelli is a perfect candidate or maybe a vintage road racer. The more I look at this motorcycle, the more I’m intrigued by what it is and what it can be. It does have a reputation as a good handling motorcycle, it is fast for it’s size, and it is unique..it’s not something you will see every Sunday on your local twisty road.
I can see it now, a hot rod little two stroke hustling up Decker Canyon leaving Ducati 1098’s in a cloud of two-stroke smoke…until the road straightens out, and then well, arevaerdecci…
Pull into the Rock Store, find a place to park, casually pull off my helmet and walk away from my little Benelli. Before I can get a cup of tea, there are at least four guys standing around my little 250…”you ever seen one of these?”, “nope”, “I heard these were a piece of junk”… etc,etc,etc,…I’m very sure that there won’t be another Benelli in that parking lot on that Sunday and to have my ‘piece of junk’ gather a small crowd…well worth the price of admission.
I was riding up Decker Canyon pushing my old BMW as hard as I could, having a great time and then the feeling came upon me…I needed a restroom. Not because I scared myself on that one particular uphill blind right hander with a Cadillac Escalade coming down the hill in my lane, it was my second cup of coffee taking its effect. Next stop,The Rock Store.
Ed and Verns place was a gas station along Mulholland Highway in the middle of nowhere many lifetimes ago. Now it’s a restaurant, convenience store and on every Sunday, a So.Cal bike show. Well known riders, custom bike builders, and everyday riders like you and I show up there.
There are two times to show up at the Rock Store on a Sunday – really early (the sportbike crowd), or if you are a “I had a really good Saturday night” type (the cruiser crowd), a little later. Either time requires good parking skills. I think a new YouTube video should be watching someone trying to park their bike in the middle of 250 other motorcycles before they have had the second cup of coffee of the morning.
If you’re riding Mulholland Highway on a Sunday morning, you share the road with a number of black and white cars or motorcycles with red and blue lights along with your “enjoying a beautiful Sunday morning on a motorcycle” brethren – a small fact of life but it’s still fun. Saturday is a little different.
I thought for a Saturday I’d pretty much have the road to myself. I was wrong. I was hustling along (well, as fast as you can hustle a 34 year old BMW) and all of a sudden (literally) in my rearview mirror was a group of riders that went by me as if I was anchored to the Malibu pier. My first thought, I need a faster bike. Second thought, I have one…it just needs new fork seals, rear brake master cylinder rebuild (yes, some of us do use the rear brake), and a current registration…all minor details which I’m sure I’ll get around to eventually.
When I got to the Rock Store I was surprised at how many motorcycles were there. It wasn’t a large number, but certainly more than I thought would be there. As I walked around I met Roy on a beautiful old BMW R27, Tashi on Royal Enfield Bullet 500, and Bill on a KZ1000 ELR, each of them enjoying the day (the weather was perfect) and the ride. The common thread among them was the enjoyment of less traffic, less law enforcement…which, can and does allow for a more spirited ride, and once at the Rock Store, easier parking.
I met a young journalist from Japan wandering through the bikes. He was working on a story about the Rock Store for a magazine back home. He thought that there would be more bikes there. I told him Sunday was the day for large numbers of all kinds of bikes. “Ah, Sunday…what day is today?” he got off the plane from Japan just a few hours earlier. It was Sunday on his body clock. The young journalist took pictures, talked with riders, shared his own stories, and for those of us that got a chance to meet him, made the day more interesting.
I headed up over the mountains to the coast to keep my appointment in Venice. I wasn’t in too much of a hurry that I still couldn’t enjoy a fast blast over a couple more canyon roads before cruising the coast south, so I put the BMW, and myself through our paces. But then…I caught up with the Black Sheep Scooters.
I didn’t need gas, but there at the Chevron station in Malibu was a gaggle of scooters, the Black Sheep Scooter Club. I had to stop. This is a loosely knit group, and I mean that in more than one way, heading off on a two day camping and riding adventure. Scooter pilots from all over Southern California somehow managed to get together, go ride, and have a great weekend. Except for this one poor guy whose Lambretta decided it had had enough fun for one day. I made my way down to Venice, hung out with the guys at Black Kat Motorwerks, checked out all the cool old vintage stuff at The Garage Company, and then spent some time with my old friend and racing partner Ted Toki at his shop in West L.A, talking about our kids, hot rods, and his latest (old) Triumph.
The ride home that evening was wonderful. A perfect late summer night over the canyons, the R90’s headlight was just bright enough to guide me over roads I can probably ride blindfolded, and all was well with the world.
We all look forward to the Sunday ride but, I found that a Saturday ride might be just as entertaining, if not a bit more.
The Hallmark Card company, your local jewelry store and an over priced restaurant all have great ideas…spend a ton of money and she will love you forever. However, I have a much better idea.
Valentine’s Day here in Southern California was absolutely perfect, clear blue skies, 75 degrees, you couldn’t possibly ask for a better day to go motorcycle riding. So, instead of breakfast in bed, I dressed up my wife in her finest motorcycle riding apparel, fired up the old BMW and away we went. Luckily for me I have a wife who loves motorcycle rides. If you, on the other hand, aren’t quite so lucky remember this…”I’m a trained professional, don’t try this at home”.
We had made plans to meet some friends at the ‘Rock Store’, a famous, or infamous, motorcycle gathering point in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Rock Store is an every Sunday motorcycle show; Vintage bikes, dual sport bikes, classic cafe racers, modern sport bikes and cruisers. From Harley’s to Ducati’s, classic BSA’s to KTM Adventure’s, Vespa Scooter’s to Gold Wings…wherever your taste in motorcycling takes you, you’ll find something in common with someone at the ‘Rock Store’.
The ride from our home to the Rock Store to meet our friends was wonderful, the hillsides through the canyons were a beautiful green (that’s what eight inches of rain in the past month will get you), the roads are in great shape and not too much traffic…what more could you ask for? Oh, and did I say it was 75 degrees and perfect?
Once we arrived at the meeting place, we realized everybody was thinking just like us…what a perfect day for a ride. Apparently other riders have wives that would rather ride than have breakfast in bed. Now, before any of the fairer sex get offended, there were plenty of women on their own bikes that opted not to give their loved one breakfast in bed. Good for them.
Finding a place to park your bike on a Sunday at the Rock Store can be a bit tricky or sometimes you just luck out and get an easy in/easy out spot, we on the other hand, parked across the street up the road a ways, oh well. The parking lot, and the street, were full of great bikes from a Honda NR750 (rare beyond belief) to a Royal Enfield Bullet 500 (built in India). We saw classic BMW’s, BSA’s, Triumphs, Harley’s and Ducati’s. There were more Harley’s with more chrome than every ’59 Cadillac Eldorado ever made, Japanese sportbikes with every go fast part available in every catalog and dirt bikes with no dirt on them (?) it’s a great bike show free to the public every Sunday. And one more thing you see along Mulholland Highway on a Sunday morning, our friends, the California Highway Patrol, yeah we riders do tend to ignore speed limit’s once in a while.
While wandering through all the bikes or maybe eating breakfast you get to watch the other show. The riders themselves. Owners of unique bikes proudly stand by their motorcycle and talk to anyone who is interested, friends that only see each other once in a while on a ride, guys that walk through the all the bikes critiquing every bike there (“yeah, I had one of those, it wasn’t all that great”)…or,the guy that rode in on a barely rideable bike drooling over all the really cool bikes saying to his buddy (“I wish I had one of these…hey, the guy left the key in it, think he’d mind if I took it for a ride?”). Occasionally a celebrity biker (Jay Leno) shows up and draws a crowd, sometimes for his bike but more often to get your picture taken with him, or her. And of course there are those that think doing a wheelie or a burnout while leaving the parking lot is cool…that is until the CHP officer sitting just right up the road around the bend informs you with a ticket that it’s not cool. All in all, an occasional trip to the Rock Store is well worth it.
We had spent enough time looking at bikes and listening to stories, it was now time for lunch. Back on the road we go. Mulholland Highway is always fun but a quick turn onto Stunt Road is even more fun. Riding along the ridge of the Santa Monica’s there are times that if you look one way you see the ocean, turn your head and there is the San Fernando Valley. It’s a fantastic vista…for the passenger..I still have to pay attention to the road. Down a couple more canyons to Pacific Coast Highway and…perfect weather Sunday afternoon traffic, great. We knew it was going to be like this so no getting upset, just a little lane splitting and lunch is soon on the table.
If you find yourself riding along PCH on any day and it’s lunch time, you will find no better seafood than ‘The Reel Inn’ at the corner of Topanga Canyon Blvd and PCH. I have said many times before, I am a member of the ‘Ride to Eat, Eat to Ride Society’ and The Reel Inn is definetly a great destination. Check them out on the web at www.reelinnmalibu.com
From lunch, the trip home was fast and fun. Up over Topanga Canyon back to Mulholland Hwy to Cornell Corners, a quick freeway jaunt, Grimes Canyon and home.
Off with the motorcycle gear, into shorts and a t-shirt (again my apologies to those of you that are snowbound), pour a nice refreshing beverage and look back on a perfect Valentine’s Day.
To see more pictures from our Valentines Day ride go the Photo Gallery page on the website www.themotoworld.com
The Sunday ride can take many forms and many routes. My Sunday rides started with desert races and enduro’s on a Bultaco Matador. Then, when I was old enough for a drivers license, I rode the same Matador all over the place…it was street legal…it had to be for enduro’s. The hills of the San Fernando and the Santa Clarita Valley’s were prime riding area’s. Jeep trails, single track trails, small hill climbs..it didn’t matter,,we got to ride any where we wanted. Well, kind of…Too much fun.
As time went on and population grew, off-road riding areas shrank. Fences, signs and the Sheriffs Dept took away a lot of the fun. Oh well, life goes on…so does riding.
Fast forward a bit, it’s off dirt bikes and on to streetbikes. Quite a change really, dirt bikes…lots of clean and prep work (Ok..repair the crash damage from last weekend..); streetbikes… check the air pressure in the tyres, check the oil, maybe wash it, fill up the gas tank and you’re on the road. Sometimes you have a destination in mind and other times it’s just wherever the road takes you.
On a Sunday ride a while back I saw a friend that I used to ride with every Sunday. We started reminiscing about days and rides gone by…hey, that’s what happens when you start to get older, you can’t help it…we talked about rides, friends and bikes.
For a number of years a group of us would meet early on Sunday mornings,(really early if there was a Formula One race on TV) have coffee, look over what each of us had done or not done on our bikes and plan our ride. The route was based on two things..first, where to eat and second, the most entertaining way to get there. The general rule was a tank of gas away and a tank of gas back. As you can imagine we had some very creative routes.
Over the years the group grew and shrank and the Sunday rides were a little farther apart…life seems to have a way of interferring with what is really important. Babies came along, some friends moved away, work got in the way, old bikes needed work and worst of all… the dreaded ‘Honey-Do List’.
Recently some riding friends have been getting together at a local bike night and plans of reviving the Sunday ride are in the works. Put the babies in the side car, pretend the lawn mower won’t start and put a new battery in that old Norton. Spring is here, lets go for a ride…where is the best breakfast about 100 miles from here???
See you Sunday.