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.