The next motorbike tenting journey story was a part of Rider‘s adventure-themed November 2022 situation, which additionally included tales on the TransAmerica Path, Trans Canada Journey Path, and the Trans Euro Path.
Buried deep in my iPhone is a textual content message I despatched to my driving buddies on Feb. 29, 2008 (fortunate leap day, because it seems):
I acquired the job!! I’m Rider’s new Highway Check Editor! Woohoo!
I had simply returned from my second interview with Mark Tuttle, Rider’s former editor-in-chief. We had met up for a bike journey, and through lunch at a beachside cafe, he provided me the job.
Working full-time at a bike journal actually has been a dream come true. It’s been an honor and a privilege to journey a whole lot of recent bikes and journey all around the world. However one of the vital rewarding elements of my job has been attending to know fellow motorbike fans who work within the trade – passionate, clever, proficient people who’ve develop into not solely trusted colleagues however true pals.
A type of pals is Kevin Wing. He’s among the best motorbike photographers within the enterprise, and his work has been featured in Rider, Motorcyclist, Sport Rider, Cycle World, and different main publications because the ’90s. Wing is accountable for numerous inspiring covers and vivid pictures that deliver this journal to life, and he deserves far more credit score for his contributions than we may ever give him.
Wing was the photographer on my first Rider photoshoot. A month into my new job, Tuttle requested me to photograph mannequin on the Buell XB12XT for the June 2008 cowl function. Wing was affected person with my inexperience, teaching me on learn how to journey 2 ft off the again bumper of a minivan for monitoring photographs.
Wing can also be a perfectionist. He’ll name for as many photograph passes because it takes – typically dozens of them in a single nook – to get the lighting, focus, angle, and different particulars excellent. On the Buell shoot, I struggled to do repeated U-turns on a steep, slender street for the quilt shot. Once I blew it one time and ended up within the weeds, he snagged a number of embarrassing frames of me attempting to extricate myself.
If I’m sincere, I’ve by no means felt just like the “expertise.” I’m a rider with middling expertise who’s all the time attempting to compensate for a lifelong behavior of cocking my head to the left, inspiring a number of driving buddies to nickname me “iLean.” The true expertise is the man behind the digital camera.
One other trade veteran I’m proud to name my pal is Kevin Duke. He began out at Motorcyclist within the late ’90s and was an editor at Roadracing World and Motorbike Shopper Information earlier than taking the helm as editor-in-chief at Motorbike-USA.com after which Motorbike.com. When the EIC place opened up at our sibling publication, Thunder Press (which grew to become American Rider final Might), I used to be stoked when Duke landed the job.
Over time, I’ve attended dozens of press launches around the globe with Duke. He was at my first press launch in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, within the spring of 2008, one that can perpetually reside in infamy after one man crashed (me), almost each different journalist acquired a ticket, and one unfortunate soul was hauled off in handcuffs. However that’s an extended story greatest instructed over a few beers…
In January 2013, Duke and I attended the worldwide launch of the BMW R 1200 GS “water” Boxer in South Africa, an occasion that acquired lower brief on the primary day after a British motojournalist crashed and finally succumbed to his accidents.
Following the deadly incident, the temper on the launch was somber. We had a free day earlier than our flight house, and Duke and I made a decision we would have liked to do one thing life-affirming. So we borrowed a BMW X1 and drove to Bloukrans Bridge, which, at 700 ft above the Bloukrans River, is the location of the world’s highest industrial bungee leap.
I used to be nervous throughout your complete two-hour drive there, hoping Duke would hen out so I may do the identical. However he by no means did, and we went by way of with it. The leap was two seconds of sheer terror adopted by one of the vital exhilarating experiences of my life.
The Motorbike Tenting Plan
Duke and I oversee a small editorial group as we work collaboratively on Rider and American Rider. Duke is a former racer and might wheelie something on two wheels, however now that he runs an American V-Twin publication, his alternatives to journey bikes not made by Harley or Indian are restricted.
“Hey Duke, we’re engaged on this journey situation for Rider. How about you’re taking the practice up right here to Ventura, and we’ll go for a journey? Carry your tent and sleeping bag.”
We each spend means an excessive amount of time driving a desk chair, so he didn’t hesitate to simply accept my invitation. We had a pair of journey bikes – a Honda CB500X and a Husqvarna Norden 901 – within the Rider storage, and we’d be joined by Wing on our Yamaha Tracer 9 GT long-termer.
You realize what they are saying in regards to the best-laid plans. Duke missed his 6 a.m. practice, pushing our departure again by two hours. Deadlines, a bum knee, and aftereffects of a Covid booster slowed down my last-minute packing, so by the point we hit the street it was midday.
First, the Trip
From my home, I can hit California Route 33 with a rock. It peels off U.S. Route 101 close to the seashore, and after winding by way of small hamlets like Casitas Springs and Oak View, Route 33 passes a biker hangout referred to as the Deer Lodge and turns into among the best motorcycling roads in Southern California, coming into the wide-open areas of Los Padres Nationwide Forest. I even wrote in regards to the 33 in my cowl letter once I utilized to Rider again in 2008:
A motorcycling treasure sits in Rider’s yard. The triple-crown of the Jacinto Reyes Scenic Byway (Route 33), Lockwood Valley Highway, and Cerro Noroeste Highway has all of it: breathtaking vistas, peg-scraping switchbacks, quick sweepers, and top-gear straights.
Even higher, these roads have minimal visitors, particularly on a Tuesday. “The Kevins” and I’ve ridden collectively many instances, and we get pleasure from a brisk tempo. We pushed our bikes onerous and gnawed the hen strips all the way down to gristle. After which, out of nowhere, we acquired an sudden reward.
Masking about 25 desolate miles from its junction with Route 33 to the small group of Lake of the Woods, Lockwood Valley Highway has suffered a protracted historical past of neglect. It was in tough form once I first rode it 15 years in the past, and through the years, it has solely deteriorated additional. One difficult part is a tangled knot of first-gear corners that undergo slender desert canyons and washes. On one in every of my first take a look at rides by way of Lockwood Valley, I dumped a $20,000 BMW R 1200 HP2 Megamoto in a patch of sand that caught me off-guard, cracking one of many magnesium cylinder heads and almost placing my dream job in danger.
Because the Kevins and I turned onto Lockwood Valley Highway, we noticed that the highest layer of pavement had been scraped off. A couple of miles later, we stumbled on the paving crew. After which … nirvana!
All of the twists and turns that have been such a problem when the pavement was cracked, patched, potholed, and strewn with sand and rock-slide particles grew to become a jet black, eerily easy curler coaster like these plastic Sizzling Wheels tracks you can twist into acrobatic shapes and loops. We have been gobsmacked.
The Precise Motorbike Tenting
A military marches on its abdomen, and so does a crew on a photoshoot journey. We’re all distant staff nowadays, so rides like these give us an opportunity to see one another face-to-face and have some laughs. Whereas we sat round a picnic desk and scarfed down an XL mixture pie at Mike’s Pizza, Duke revealed that Wing had additionally been the photographer on his first shoot – 25 years in the past to the month. We commiserated in regards to the latest warmth wave, inquired about Duke’s and Wing’s youngsters, and mentioned the size of my beard. By December, I must be eligible for a part-time gig as Santa.
We waddled out to the bikes rubbing our distended bellies, saddled up, and made our means by way of the alpine group of Pine Mountain Membership earlier than spiraling our means up Cerro Noroeste Highway to the highest of its namesake mountain. Cerro Noroeste is surrounded by the Chumash Wilderness, and sprawled throughout its 8,300-foot summit underneath the shade of monumental Jeffrey pines is Campo Alto Campground.
When my brother and I first camped at Campo Alto again in ’06, we had embraced our Tennessee heritage, bringing little greater than a field of fried hen, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, and mattress rolls tossed within the mattress of my F-150. We’ve taken Rider workers tenting journeys to Campo Alto, so it appeared a becoming location for our most up-to-date escape. Every week after Labor Day on a Tuesday, it was abandoned.
Because the Kevins arrange camp, I rode all the way down to the overall retailer in Pine Mountain Membership and stocked up on beer, chips, sandwich fixin’s, and firewood. We quickly had a toasty blaze going and chilly cans of IPA in our fingers. Heavy rains had spun off from Cyclone Kay and soaked the mountains solely a day or two earlier than, and the petrichor combined with the scent of pine and wooden smoke.
“Arduous to imagine we’re so near house,” Wing stated. “Looks like we’re 1,000,000 miles away.”
We had ridden lower than 100 miles since leaving Ventura, and it was in all probability half that to the campground because the crow flies. However we have been on the highest of a mountain surrounded by wilderness, and there was nobody round however us.
After the solar went down, it dropped into the 40s, so we huddled near the fireplace, sipped some 10-year-old Henry McKenna bourbon, and instructed struggle tales about press launches, photoshoots, shut calls, and embarrassing moments. (Sure, I instructed the Gatlinburg story.)
Ours was an journey with a bit of “a.” We didn’t do a lot preparation or planning, nothing went fallacious, and we have been again house in lower than 36 hours. However we slept in tents underneath the celebs, had enjoyable, and requested, “Why don’t we do that extra usually?” Even a quick escape with good pals does wonders for the soul.