Southern California - Reader Ride

Text: Dennis Lint • Photography: Pamela Lint, Dennis Lint

Where else could one ride less than 200 miles and experience the Pacific Ocean, the mountains, and the desert, but in Southern California? Take into account that it's virtually always sunny, rains less than 45 days a year, and temperatures generally hover between 60F - 85F. Throw in some great pavement and challenging curves - some of which rival those in the French Alps - and you have a great day of riding in store.

Where else could one ride less than 200 miles and experience the Pacific Ocean, the mountains, and the desert, but in Southern California? Take into account that it's virtually always sunny, rains less than 45 days a year, and temperatures generally hover between 60F and 85F. Throw in some great pavement and challenging curves - some of which rival those in the French Alps - and you have a great day of riding in store.

Coastal Beginnings

Such were our intentions when my wife and I mounted our 2005 Suzuki V-Strom 650 and headed to Oceanside, CA, a coastal town that's approximately 40 miles north of downtown San Diego. Once in Oceanside, we ride directly to one of the longest wooden structures on the west coast; the Oceanside Municipal Pier spans 1,942 feet. You can walk the distance and literally be surrounded by ocean, listening to the roar of waves crashing, gulls calling out overhead, and watching surfers sway across the swells. Here, with the smell of salt heavy in the air, we begin our day trip across Southern California, eager for our next stop: Palomar Mountain.

Palomar Mountain

Approximately 40 miles inland, we come to the base of Palomar Mountain. The mountaintop is over 6,000 feet above sea level and at the end, has more than 20 hairpin turns in a distance of less than 8 miles. Because the ride up has great pavement and tight challenging curves, it's especially popular with the sportbike crowd on the weekends. A professional photographer often sets up to capture photos of everyone flying around curves, which he then posts on his website. If you want an action shot of yourself carving out a corner, the weekend is the time to make your trip. But if you appreciate less traffic and no crowd, a weekday is the ticket. Today being a day where crowds won't be in attendance, we plan to ride up the East Grade and down the West Grade, which promises a loop of outstanding riding.

At the top of the mountain sits the Palomar Observatory, which contains a 200-inch telescope available for public use. Photographs of deep space line the walls leading to the dome, where the telescope is housed. It's an amazing view and well worth the stop - particularly since there's no charge for the visit.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the May/June 2010 back issue.