Its not over until the fat lady sings they say, or at least until Team Berg can hear the music – any music – this trip ain’t over! Quite to the contrary, since there was Big Sur to be conquered before riding into LA. Big Sur is a sparsely populated region of the Central Coast of California where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. The name “Big Sur” is derived from the original Spanish-language “el sur grande”, meaning “the big south” – or in motorcycle terms: “Heaps of Twisties”!!!
The stunning infamous California Highway 1 did not disappoint. The long corners swept around the parched windswept coastal slopes allowing us to truly relax and enjoy the stunning blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. We stopped every so often to admire the view and pinch ourselves – we were really here, fulfilling a that motorcycling dream of riding the Big Sur! And just then a group of bright red and yellow Ferrari’s came screaming around the corner – a gentle reminder of our retirement dream!
In order to make up for some lost time we pushed on to Morro Bay – a sleepy Californian town on the Pacific coast. What the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, and the Statue of Liberty to New York, Morro Bay has some derelict smoke stacks from a retired coal power station which can be seen for miles! Needless to say there was a bit of mumbling and complaining to be heard over the intercom in anxious anticipation of what to come – but it was not so bad in the end. Our hotel room , however, must have won the first prize in some homemaker competition for grandmother themed rooms, complete with a coin operated vibrating bed. DB being DB had to give it a go…it was the worst five minutes and we ended up pulling the power-plug as another ten minutes would have been unbearble.
The next morning we stopped for breakfast at the only decent cafe in town and to our UTTER surprise they made espresso style coffee like we have in Australia/NZ with proper creamy froth and not the weird foam we found a lot of cafes dollop. DB was so excited that she had to post her finding on TripAdvisor immediately lest she forget.
After loading and fueling up the bikes it was an easy ride to Santa Barbara. Somehow had DB caught a fancy of all towns starting with ‘Santa’ and wanted to visit as many as she could, sadly the results of some were disappointing (Santa Rosa) but there was an exception where she was spot on – Santa Barbara. Our ride from Moro Bay to Santa Barbara was quicker than we expected and our hotel room wasn’t ready. So we left one bike at the hotel, dumped the panniers at the foot of the receptionist and went 2-up into the nearby mountains along Highway 33. It was during this wee detour that our tag line to “Team Berg” came very apparent “over confident under prepared”. Firstly, we didn’t realise that we had to drive towards LA to veer on to Highway 33. Traffic was slow and heavy but California lane splitting is not only allowed it is a must because riding a bike between first gear, second gear and the brakes isn’t fun. Lane splitting however is not for the faint-hearted, DB was crouched in the back with her eyes squeezed shut and muffled screams from her helmet as we weaved in and out and in between car, SUVs and trucks.
We finally made it to Highway 33 and CB carefully listened to the instructions to head towards Santa Paula, our lunch destination. However CB being CB got a little carried away with the prospect of some canyon carving and after some spirited cornering we found ourselves in deep in the hot dry desert, the reserve light came on and we ran out of water. At one point we stopped on the side of the road to read the GPS better and lick the last drops of water from our camel-backs – a black Porsche screamed past us – but due to dehydration we were too slow to flag it down. In the end we made it to Ojai powered by gasoline fumes and sheer determination to quench our thirst. At the station we fueled up but due to a lack of food options, we purchased a petrol-station-sandwich which was probably 4 days fresh, needless to say we both regretted bitterly afterwards.
Back in Santa Barbara, we enjoyed the rest of the eventing with a nice walk along the beach and out to the famous pier (Stearns Warf, which burnt down a number of times in the past), had some nice cocktails and a fabulous Italian dinner in one of the town’s best restaurants – Toma.
The next day was the moment of truth – riding into LA! How bad could it be? DB had horror visions of 16 lane highways and traffic jams – in the end it was a cake walk. We followed the Highway 1 all the way to Santa Monica past Malibu and the surprisingly sweet, sweet smell of vast strawberry fields, then past the famous Mulholland Drive we enjoyed so much last year, onto the Interstate and 10 minutes later were were rolling into the driveway of our hotel right in the middle of Beverly Hills and LAX. DB had nothing to fear except fear itself – Yoda says over the Bluetooth intercoms.
So with our arrival into LA, we had a couple of days spare to mothball our bikes and fly home – well not quite! It wouldn’t be a Team Berg adventure without one last ridiculous blowout! We could have gone to Disneyland or Universal Studio but we thought “nah” and booked two nights in Vegas including an appropriately matching mode of transportation (see next blog).
The 2-wheeled part of the journey was sadly over. 5,000km in about a month covering two Provinces and three States and countless small towns and big cities which means that Team Berg has now closed the Big Loop. We have ridden ALL AROUND the USA. Now that is one epically awesome story for the grandkids!