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Thread: Milk Run Marathon

  1. #1
    Senior Member frenchy750's Avatar
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    Milk Run Marathon

    Plans, especially good ones, are only made to be broken.

    My first harebrained ride plan of the newly started 2009 ride season was mildly ambitious by my standards. I wanted to re-assemble the Great Unsponsored Nova Scotia expedition team for a short jaunt across the border to Baja California. Almost all the pieces were in place - Rain Cloud Follows and Snowball were patiently hibernating the winter months away in Southern California, the weather in Baja averages 80 degrees in March, and the number of Mexican Drug Cartel beheadings, while not actually slowing down, haven't increased all that much.

    Since I believe in solutions, not problems, the only yet-unfound solution was how to get Little Baby Ooops, Unleaded's newly christened Suzuki Bandit from the icebound hellhole he calls home to sunny California. The reason for his bike's name? In early April, he'll be reproducing, or, more accurately, his wife Denise will.

    Then, as often happens, the best laid plans of mice and motorcyclists started to go awry. Dark Meat Snack felt the need to go look for a wife or find enlightenment or something in, of all places, Indiana (or was it India?) Then, in a final - though understandable - blow, Unleaded's wife vetoed the idea of him going so far away with Little Baby Ooops so close to joining us. Like I said, that's totally understandable.

    And just like that, my plan for claiming Baja for the Kingdom of Rhode Island fell apart.

    But, I'm not defeated that easily. I've actually been called an incredibly stubborn and selfish prick. More than once. In the same conversation. I don't give up on ideas easily. That stubborn streak is why I'll ride four hundred miles in the freezing rain, or do any number of the other stupid things that I do. At least that's what I tell myself.

    So, I came up with an alternate plan. Why not have Unleaded come to safe and sunny Southern California for a few days, and take him on a Milk Run. Since Abi was off riding elephants and singing his favorite Bollywood tunes while strolling around in the jungles of Indiana, Keith could ride Abi's bike Snowball. Shockingly, everyone agreed to this new plan. That's what friends are for after all.

    I cashed in some frequent flier miles, booked Keith's ticket, and the 'Three Day Milk Run Marathon' was on!

    Unleaded, being the good friend that he is, didn't show up to my adopted home of California empty handed.


    What Friends Are REALLY For!!

    For our three day marathon, the plan was simple. Ride. As much as possible. My lovely girlfriend Fiona collected us from the airport at noon, and we were on Keith's first ever Milk Run by one-thirty.


    New Tires, Begging To Be Broken In



    Within minutes, we left the suburb and were twisting and weaving our way along one of the best roads ever made, Route 39.



    Our first sight is the impressive Morris Dam. Usually, I'll just invent some facts about a place, because I am too lazy to actually look them up. This is not one of those cases.



    Morris Dam was built circa 700 B.C. by Egyptians, who were transported to California in UFOs after building the Pyramids. Using simple tools like logs, copper chisels and a few cement trucks, it took 700,000 men about four hundred years to construct this masterpiece of hydraulic engineering, which in turn created the San Gabriel reservoir.

    I bet you didn't know that.

    Seriously though, behind Morris Dam is a strange looking camouflaged ramp.



    Back during World War II, this ramp was used to test and develop torpedoes. The Morris Dam Naval Ordnance Test Station launched hundreds of rockets into the reservoir. This fun research resulted in vastly superior torpedoes, and also, early development of what would later be known as the ICBM. A huge ski jump-like 'Variable Angle Launcher' used to sit atop the ramp, allowing the mad scientists to fire torpedoes at the fish in lake from variable angles.



    Ok, that's enough of my 'facts' for now.

    Bowing to my stubborn tendencies, I've explored every side road there is off Route 39. One leads up a few miles to a gate and a 'Road Closed' sign. The time I went up there, a work crew was doing something or other, so I couldn't drive around the gate and see why the road was closed. I'm stubborn, but not stupid... (OK, I know. That's debatable... Just stop it and read on...) I'll save that exploration for when I have a dual sport.

    At a place I call 'The Fork,' a right leads back down to the suburb - a total distance of just under forty miles, while a left turn leads along the spine of the San Gabriel Mountains, on an equally fantastic road called Glendora Ridge Road.



    Glendora Ridge Road is exciting, because for most of its twenty-two mile length it is single track, no double yellow line, and, thanks to the countless curves, bends, turns and winds in the road, you can never see more than one hundred yards ahead. This adds that certain extra element of extreme danger, because not only are you on a mountain ridge, with steep drop offs on each side, constantly dodging little rocks and debris that fall from above and litter the road, but you always have that little fear in the back of your head that some kids will be recreating a scene from The Fast and the Furious, and splatter a few innocent guys out to get some milk all over the road.

    The little town of Mt. Baldy is at the end of Glendora Ridge Road, and the restaurant at the Mt. Baldy Lodge is a perfect place to stop for a breather. The apple pie is exceptional, and probably the reason that I can't seem to shake these stubborn extra pounds of protective karate fat that have accumulated around my middle.



    Unleaded continued his tradition of 'Buddha-ing' people. Keith travels a small statue of Buddha for luck, and whenever we encounter someone on a ride, Keith makes them a part of the story by handing them the statue and asking them to pose with it. Mt. Baldy Lodge owner Nannette was more than happy to oblige.



    Knowing we had to get up very early the next morning to accomplish the 'Milk, Juice, Coffee, Eggs and Everything Else' run I had planned for the next day, we bid Nannette good bye and headed home, via the fantastic Glendora Ridge Road once again.



    Back at 'The Fork,' Glendora Ridge Road turns into Glendora Mountain Road. Whichever Glendora Road I end up on, it's nothing but curve after curve after curve. My involuntary smile always widens a bit as I traverse these well-made canyon roller coasters.

    Suddenly, I nearly stop in my tracks, as something I've never seen before will often make me do. Walking up the mountain on the side of the road was a guy carrying... a skateboard? Using universal sign language, I pointed at him then motioned up the mountain, saying "Are you ****ing seriously going to ride that thing down this road?" In equally universal sign language, he replied with a devious smile and nod.

    Anyone that crazy deserves encouragement. I stopped to pick him up, offering him a ride to the top.

    His introduced himself as DT, and claimed he'd been skating down 'GMR' as he called it for ten years. Besides a BMX style helmet, his only protective gear was a pair of leather gardening gloves, with some PVC pipe duct taped to the palms. His T-shirt flapped in the breeze as I took him to his designated self-mutilating point.


    DT - My Newest Hero

    DT waited while Unleaded and I rode down a bit, to watch the spectacle and hopefully get a picture of it before he disintegrated. DT put on a show, streaking by us in a blaze of righteous skateboarding glory.



    I don't think I've laughed that hard in a long, long time.


    The Cloud City of Los Angeles Floating in the Distance

    With the sun rapidly setting, Unleaded followed me back to Casa de Sleeping Beauty for some much needed Macallan and cigars. Needless to say, we didn't bring home any milk.


    Our Entire 80 Mile Milk Run

    After properly medicating ourselves, we turned in early, trying to rest up for the next day's marathon plan.

    And what a day it would turn out to be.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member frenchy750's Avatar
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    Re: Milk Run Marathon

    My alarm blares, and I wake up in a panic. It's still dark out. Whaa?? 5:30?!? Oh, shit! Where am I? Did I miss my flight? Slowly the realization dawns that I am at Fiona's, and Keith and I have an ambitious day planned. Unfortunately for her, Sleeping Beauty was stuck at work, and would be missing the festivities of the day. Even though our economy is in the toilet right now, thank goodness the country still needs nurses. Somebody has to pay for all this fun!

    After attending to the usual morning pre-flight rituals, we suit up and head out. Our plan for the day? Head west on the 210, unravel Little Tujunga Canyon road before heading to Ojai and Highway 33, then out to the Pacific Coast Highway, hopefully getting as far as San Simeon, so Unleaded can see (and smell) the fat Elephant Seals lounging and farting on the beach.

    But first things first. Traffic.



    As good as the canyon roads are, getting to them is often riskier than riding them. Even with the HOV lane, lane splitting and everything else, the world famous California highway traffic did it's best to waste some of our day.

    We exited the madness for some breakfast near 'Little T.' Keith, trained by the U.S. government to always be prepared, brought his own breakfast beverage, lovingly borrowed from a neighbor's tree.


    Morning OJ - Some Assembly Required

    As soon as our waitress sauntered over, even before she took our order, Unleaded Buddha-ed her.



    In the entire history of Keith Buddha-ing people, only one person has turned him down, citing 'strong religious beliefs.' Most people have a good laugh, then strike a pose with Buddha, because most people aren't all that uptight.

    After gorging on a fantastic farmer's breakfast, we snuck back into the canyons for some more of the ol' right-left-right that is so popular in these mountains. Little T is a road with one purpose, making me happy. I don't think there are any houses up there, in fact I don't think there is much of anything except great views, fresh air and no traffic.



    The perfect recipe for any road.

    Unfortunately for Unleaded, in addition to my crapulent 'Point and Pray' camera, I brought the 'good camera' and soon was barking orders at him. "Go down there, turn around and come back at full speed."



    "OK, now I want you to head down through those curves, ride until you go around that big bend, then turn around and come back."



    "Fantastic. Now, go to the other side of the ridge, waaay over there, ride all the way down, then turn and come back at top speed."



    Always nice to have such a willing subject for my photographic abuse.

    After unwinding Little T, we aimed for Ojai, the start of my other favorite road, Highway 33. Once again, passing through the little town of Santa Paula, I had to stop, because once again, I saw something I'd never seen before.



    The town of Santa Paula had erected a statue honoring me and Unleaded, celebrating us passing through on our Marathon Milk Run.







    Santa Paula would have made Frenchy's Top Ten list if it wasn't for what happened next. Once we were done monkeying around, we mounted up to leave. Of course, we had to pull the bikes up on the sidewalk for these pictures, but it seemed pretty harmless. Louie the LEO, who pulled over and unrolled his window didn't seem to think so.

    Now, it's decision time. If I stay, I'm going to be subjected to a pointless lecture from an underpaid, angry cop about how dangerous my sidewalk riding stunt was to the populace he is charged to protect, not to mention how illegal it is, blah blah blah... Then, I'll say something stupid and get a ticket.

    When faced with a situation like this, I find it's best to just leave. Not leave as in run from the cops, I mean get going before Smokey the Bear has a chance to start his sermon. If he wants me that bad, he'll let me know. Better to ask for forgiveness than permission and all that. Keith agreed, because when I looked for him, I noticed he'd ridden across some grass and over some big railroad tracks to escape out the back.

    Evidently Louie the LEO had too many donuts that morning, because he let us go. The rest of the ride to Highway 33 was uneventful. I am sad to report that no other towns erected statues in our honor.

    Highway 33 is one of 'those' roads. The ones that are described by every single motorcycle magazine cliche there is. The ones that you just want to go on forever, even it makes you end up in Canada. The ones that are worth a whole day of boring highway just to get to. The ones that make you smile, just knowing they are there, and they are THAT GOOD. Highway 33 is a good, good road. I took extra pleasure in bringing my friend to this sacred place, much like my friend Dan did for me so many years ago.


    Keith Loves 33 Too.

    I could get into the cliches about the ride, but I won't. You know all the phrases already, and I'm not a good enough writer to come up with new ones. We railed, hammered, bombed and otherwise enjoyed our way through the paradise that is Highway 33.







    When the curves stopped, I realized it was lunch time. We passed a small place with a few motorcycles parked out front, accurately called 'The Place.'
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  3. #3
    Senior Member frenchy750's Avatar
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    Re: Milk Run Marathon

    Keith did his thing with owners Vicky and Alick, two extrememly friendly and not uptight people.



    The Place is the kind of place that it might take twenty minutes just to order, because Alick and Vicky have to catch you up on all the latest gossip. And the conversation is as good as the food. This day's topic? Plowing, tractors, and pulling up rocks out of fields, who does it well, and who doesn't. Once you're in The Place, you are part of the family.

    Over a buffalo burger and fries, Unleaded and I looked at the map. Plans were once again about to change. The Elephant Seals of San Simeon were reachable, but it would mean hours and hours of boring highway slogging to get home. I looked at the map for more of those squiggly lines.

    Owner Alick came over, and suggested heading inland toward Lake Isabella and Highway 178. "You guys won't be dissapointed, I guarantee it!"

    Some quick mileage calculations followed, and with that suggestion, and that guarantee, we had a new destination.

    Before we left The Place, our new tour guide Alick informed us they also have a small house out back for rent. My mental wheels immediately started spinning for a return trip this summer.



    But first, we had our current trip to complete. We angled east towards Bakersfield, and a few hours later, we found ourselves at the entrance to a huge valley, the Kern river boiling beside the road, with huge, boulder strewn mountains on either side.







    Alick was right. I got genuinely excited. My pictures show how I could barely contain my excitement.







    Yeah, my 'Hang the Camera Off The Side' picture taking technique is definitely rusty.

    The scenery on SR 178 was mind boggling. And, being so jaded, it takes quite a bit boggle my mind. This road wound through some of the most stunning scenery and geology I've ever seen.





    Reaching the other side of the mountains, we turned onto Highway 14, directly into the fiercest gale force wind I've ever had the displeasure of getting stuck in. We leaned into the wind at obscene angles. Sometimes the wind would gust even harder, and at that point we just held on and tried to stay upright. It was so strong that twice it blew me from one side of the road to the other, across two lanes. Thankfully there were no cars nearby, or it would've been curtains for certain. As dangerous as it was, I laughed the whole way down, because it was either laugh or cry.

    Finally we turned off this deadly wind tunnel for a little respite in a gas station. As I filled Rain Cloud Follows, I swear a rolling tumbleweed sped across the lot.


    Missed the Tumbleweed by One Second

    Keith came out of the gas station with a strange look on his face. "Dude, I just realized we're ten minutes from my sister Jessica's house!" We'd made plans for Jessica, who rides a Ninja 650, to meet us for the last day of our marathon. Those plans were also about to change.



    Jessica quickly threw a bag together, and our suddenly larger motorcycle gang headed for the highway, Fiona's house, a huge steak dinner, and a well deserved, honest to goodness Best Day Ever toast.


    Our Entire 590 Mile Route

    Tomorrow, pics of the hot chicks spice up my boring ride report as we head back into Azusa Canyon for one more day of fun.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member frenchy750's Avatar
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    Marathons, Milk and the Rest

    When you add people to a group, you never know what's going to happen. Though she lives less than 100 miles from me and Fiona, we'd never met Unleaded's sister Jessica before, much less ridden with her.

    If I had any worries, they disappeared immediately. Her easy smile and quick wit made her fit right in. Jessica is definitely one of the gang, part of the group, one of the family. And, the girl can ride the hell out of her Ninja. Welcome aboard, Jessica! Don't worry, your nickname will come...

    I've had this idea in my head for a long time, and I was about to subject this motley cast of characters to it. My idea? I want to write an article for a motorcycle magazine. With that idea in mind, we headed back into the San Gabriel Mountains for the ride that would become the story for the article.

    And, of course to take the pictures that would accompany that article.







    As I said earlier, all the cliches about motorcycle roads have been beaten to death. Keith, knowing my plan for the day, decided to help me with a few new road and riding cliches:

    The peaks and valleys of the canyon dipped me in and out like a potato chip into some delicious French onion dip, while the road threw endless 'S' curves at me like an overwhelming can of alphabet soup.

    And

    I continued to accelerate up the incline while the wheels of my trusty metal steed lovingly massaged the crooked spine of this rock and asphalt beauty.

    Ah... what can I say but thanks for the help, brother!



    Our thundering triumvirate rumbled along the sinewy single track with singleminded sense of purpose. Glistening remnants of snowfall lined the roadside as our metal mounts made short work of the undulating surface below, carrying us further and further toward our destination. The miles rapidly ticked by, when suddenly, the unsuspecting and sleepy town of Mt. Baldy, nestled deep in the crook of Mount San Antonio appeared, awaiting our ragged band of riders with open arms; the Mt. Baldy Lodge restaurant our reward for a long day in the saddle.

    Damn. That cliche crap is actually hard work!



    The food at Mt. Baldy is excellent, and they have the most unusual heater I've ever seen.



    I don't know for sure, but it looks to me like the mad scientists over at the Morris Dam Naval Ordnance Test Station might have had something to do with this heater's design.

    Full of chili, burgers and pie, we waddled outside for the obligatory 'Bikes-In-Front-of-a-Restaurant-Sign' picture.



    The rest of the day was spent doing my second... err.. well.. maybe third or fourth favorite thing.. well.. OK... definitely top ten anyway; taking pictures!











    And so on.

    The ride was great, the day was spectacular, and all too soon, the giant, life providing orb in the sky dipped lower, finally kissing the horizon, and it was time to go home.



    We returned from slaying the... oh whatever.. what I mean is we pulled into the driveway, had a few laughs over some plank grilled salmon and Macallan, and made some more plans for some more rides.

    And yes, in case you were wondering, it was the Best Day Ever!
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  5. #5
    My autograph shirt xmailman's Avatar
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    Re: Milk Run Marathon

    Great Report. Good narrative, made me LOL. Pictures were good too,LOL.

    I liked it.

  6. #6
    Super Member JimmieS's Avatar
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    Re: Milk Run Marathon

    That 'ma'friend' was a first class milk ride. You have the eye and the writing style to keep me reading your posts. Good stuff.

    Cheers!
    Jim

    When you find yourself in a ditch the first thing to do is ease off the throttle.

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  7. #7
    Senior Member frenchy750's Avatar
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    Marathon - Post Script

    The next morning, we decided to do one final Milk Run before Keith had to go home. Sleeping Beauty elected to stay home, so Unleaded, Jessica and I boarded our bikes, and headed for Route 39 for the last time on this Marathon Milk Run.

    Stopping for fuel, I noticed a problem. A BIG, BIG problem.



    Now, I ain't no tire scientist, but I know this much - these Pilot Powers are history. And so is our last ride up Azusa Canyon.

    Or is it?

    I'm stubborn as a mule, and don't give up that easily. Keith offered to buy breakfast instead, Jessica graciously offered to let me ride her bike and go up on the back of Keith's.

    But I had a better idea.



    Oh yeah baby! That's right! I took to the canyon on Fiona's baby Ninja!! Call it a Milkshake Run, call it whatever you want, but make sure you call it fun!




    Even with Keith singing 'Fat Guy on a Little Bike' at the top of his lungs the whole run, I seriously couldn't stop smiling. This little Ninja has some balls, enough to haul this fat guy around at top speed. It's so much lighter than the FJR that it just seems to fall into the corners with unprecedented ease.

    What a BLAST!



    In order to get Unleaded to his flight on time, we had to cut our last Milk Run short. We finished in record time.

    And sadly, that was that. Before she left, Fiona and I invited Jessica to join us on a little Death valley run next week, and she readily agreed. That will be a fun two-day jaunt for sure.

    Then the house was quiet. everyone was gone. It was sad. I always feel a twinge of depression when a great trip comes to an end, because I want them all to go on forever.

    Trying to cheer myself up, I checked my email. I had one from my friend Dan, the guy that took me up to Highway 33 my first time, so many years ago. Dan has since moved to Sydney, Australia, but we keep in sporadic touch. Here is the email he sent:

    HEY... I just found out I will be having the month of May off. I am thinking of taking a ride to Tazzy or Victoria.. what are you doing .. d

    And with that simple email, a new ride, a new quest to claim another island for the Kingdom of Rhode Island was instantly in the planning stages.

    To Be Continued... In May!
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Ogsarg's Avatar
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    Re: Milk Run Marathon

    Great adventure and outstanding pics. thanks so much for taking the time to put it all together for us.
    Get Lost!.... its good for you.

  9. #9
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    Re: Milk Run Marathon

    Frenchy, ya done good... nice pics and a great read. I actually met one of those guys on the statue in Santa Paula, many years ago (I worked for his son back when I was a pup).

    If I wasn't so dang ancient, I'd ask you to introduce me to Jessica...
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  10. #10
    Road Rash Redneck Bully5's Avatar
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    Re: Milk Run Marathon

    Makes me envious of the great weather of southern Cali. And to think that I am considering moving northward....
    Great pics. Great story. Great god i need to go for a ride!!!
    Right on! Ride on!!

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