Thursday, July 5, 2012

Up Hwy 39 to Crystal Lake

And, all I have to show for it is a nice helmet-pressure knob on my forehead.  Which is great, considering all that could have gone wrong...
The Professor and his family came down to Long Beach for the 4th of July holiday.  He had ridden his bike down so that we three could head out for a ride on Wednesday morning.  Which is just exactly what we did. 
The weather could not have been more perfect.  It was actually so cool here when we set out at 9AM that I put on a long-sleeved t-shirt over my short-sleeved one at the last minute.  We expected the cloud cover to burn off by the time we got to the base of the mountains, but it remained cool until we stopped at the top, in the parking lot for Crustal Lake. 
The traffic both ways on the 605 was great.  So much better-- can I say that again, so much better-- than going to Azusa via city streets.  Which is how we got there last year, before The Male let me on the freeways. 
East on the 210 to Hwy 39 and then up the canyon, way past where we stopped on our first trip.  I felt so much more comfortable on the tight curves, it actually become enjoyable.  We still ride at a rather geriatric pace, being geriatric, so we pulled over at turn-outs often to let the crowd behind us pass.
We rode past the recreation area where there were literally hundreds of cars parked alongside the road on both sides.  So, take note: if you want to explore this recreation area, come early in the day or you will be scrambling for a parking spot. 
Once we got past the tight space through the day-use area, the road became much less crowded and more fun, too.  At about 5,600 ft. elevation, we arrived at the first of two parking lots for Crystal Lake. 

Take another note:  The second parking lot is quite a bit shadier.  It was HOT. 

The Professor and I walked over the hill to take a quick look at the lake, while The Male stayed with the bikes.  I was worried that we might get ticketed for not having a day pass.

We had a quick snack and drink of water before gearing up to head down the hill.  That's when I noticed that I had 59 miles on this tank of gas.  My tank's limit is about 80-90, which obviously wouldn't get me all the way home.

That's when my birthday present from The Professor and The Mommy came into play:  A bright red 1-gallon spare gas tank, that fits just perfectly in my saddlebag!  Yippee!  No more frantic searching in unknown parts for a gas station!  Thanks again, guys!

But, poor Male.... all suited up, in the hot, hot sun, with mean, biting flies buzzing around us, figuring out how to work the new can's nozzle...  He's a great guy. 
With my gas tank filled up, we made the loop through the perfectly lovely, shady little campground and began the ride downhill.  I rather enjoyed it! 
Then, on to the 210, the 605, and back to cool, still-cloudy Long Beach. 
It was a great way to spend the holiday. 
Love you guys!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Angeles Crest Highway with the Guys

A few weeks back, early in December, our son-in-law, The Pilot, was here for the weekend.  He was the management's representative on a Christmas party circuit for his company.  One of those stops was here in our town, and he worked out the schedule so he could stay the weekend.
He had decided to rent a bike while he was here, so that we could all go riding together.  He had shipped his gear and reserved a bike.
On Saturday morning, The Pilot and The Male geared up, and I drove my car, while The Pilot, who's 6'2" rode my bike to the motorcycle rental shop.  Poor guy; his knees were up around his ears.
Once there, he got his rental ST1300, I parked the car and the three of us, each on a bike, headed up the freeway to meet The Professor at the start of the Angeles Crest Highway.  On the way there, I only had one near-death experience, when I didn't see a truck in my blind spot and started to merge.  I caught myself before any damage or shrieking was done.
I so wish I could have taken my iPhone out of my pocket and taken a photograph as we made a transition from one freeway to another.  The transition road was a huge, high, beautiful, sweeping expanse of concrete.  From it I could see miles and miles across downtown LA.  It was gorgeous.
As we headed north toward Sunland, the freeway begins to pass in to quite a rural area; there were tall pines along the freeway and the air smelled thickly of their piney scent.
Once off the freeway in Sunland, we met up with The Professor, made a quick stop for gas, and headed up the road.
 It wasn't too long before The Pilot and The Professor passed us by (We told them they didn't have to go along at my stately and age-appropriate pace, and they didn't!).  The curves on this road will enchant even the most reluctant of bikers.  Our destination was Newcomb's Ranch, a biker hangout about 35 miles up the road.
The Male and I enjoyed the ride and the beautiful scenery.  I had never been through this part of Southern California, and LA seemed a world away.
It took us about an hour to get to Newcomb's Ranch, where we were surprised that the guys weren't there yet.  We thought that they might have continued up the road to Wrightwood.  But, no, they had taken a wrong turn and had headed back to civilization.  They turned around, we were soon enough having lunch together. 
By this time, the sun had gone behind the tallest mountains, casting deep shadows in the curves.  On the way down the road, I had trouble with my eyes adjusting and would experience a few brief moments of not being able to see anything upon entering the shadow.  That took a little fun out of the ride down the hills.
Once again, the younger set took off down the road, planning to meet us on a turnout before getting to the freeway.  From this stop, we could see over the LA basin, and this photo doesn't do the view justice.
Checking out the map for the ride home:
We had to make a stop to gas up my bike (tiny gas tank), and i had trouble making a sharp enough turn into the gas station.  So, I just went down the side road and turned around.
On the 605, our last stretch of freeway toward home, the traffic bunched up a bit.  The Male was in front, and The Pilot and The Professor were behind me.  And, I found that rather comforting.  I knew if I got into any trouble that they would be right there.  Fortunately, they weren't called to duty, but I knew that they would!  I love you guys.
We made it home all in one piece, 182 miles in all for the guys, and 162 for me (I drove up to the bike rental shop.).  It was a great day, and I'm gaining confidence with every successful outing and looking forward to the next one!