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My Big Red Couch

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Vegas Baby - Episode No.4 - (What's Left of) Mullholand Drive

Finally loaded up I'm ready to truely begin my ride. First destination Griffith Park Observatory. Back out onto Century Blvd I head East towards Vermont Avenue. About two blocks from the Econolodge is Hollywood Park race track. Had I known there was horse racing within staggering distance of the Econolodge I would have gone there last night. Oh well, the Wood was more colorful the way I went.


The best laid plans of me. Bike rental place to Mulholland Drive (paved and dirt; the bike can handle it), up the PCH to Solvang then over to the Valley (which valley I'm not exactly sure) then down to Palm Springs. It should be about a 350 mile day. Not too bad of a ride but I will be tired after not having ridden for nearly 6 months. Posted by Hello

I had scaled the distance from Century Blvd to Griffith Park to be about 12 miles. Had I taken the freeway it would have been about 15 minutes tops. Vermont Avenue was city traffic. Not "rush hour stand still" traffic but definately "taking it's time" traffic. About 2/3 of the way to Griffith park the "Hot Asian Chick" incident happened.

There was a silver BMW Z3 Roadster in the lane next to me. There was a hot Asian chick driving. She was showing a lot of leg from my vantage point. I was probably drooling (or close to it). We had been side by side for a few minutes. I was probably staring too. She gave me a little bit of a dirty look. You know the look. It's the "I know you're looking at me but I don't really want you looking at me" look. I had had a good night's sleep and had my wits about me.

I flipped my visor up and said, "when did BMW start making cars?" Her eyebrows raised and then she started to giggle. I MADE THE MILDLY PISSED OFF HOT ASIAN CHICK GIGGLE. One of the high points of the trip right there. And like a vision, within a couple of blocks she turned and was gone.

Pushing 1:30p I finally reached the lower slopes of the Hollywood hills. It took me more than 45 minutes to go 12 miles. Damned California. The lower slopes of Griffith Park are residential. I felt stressed when I loaded up the bike the in Econolodge parking lot so I had yet to mount up the GPS so I pulled into the first street at the bottom of the park and mounted up my GPS gear. The route I had planned would take me through Griffith Park to Baham Blvd and on to Mulholland Drive. I wanted the GPS to record the route.

Mulholland Drive is named for William Mulholland, the Engineer who designed the aquaduct that services Los Angeles. The road is featured in books and movies as the setting for all kinds of hijinx. Poe's song, Hey Pretty was my inspiration to give it a ride (ooh, ooh, I hadn't realized until just now it's a BMW Roadster he's talking about in the song and I just saw that hot Asian chick; damn I should have asked her for a ride).


Hey, Pretty! Won't you come and take a ride with me? In hindsight it was better not to ask for a ride and get my ass kicked by the Hot Asian Chick. Posted by Hello

I figured Mulholland Drive would be a fun ride and something to talk about when I was done. Not exactly tell your grandkids the story type of talk about but something to share with those that appreciate a good road.

Griffith Park's road got muddy and wet just past the residnences. I guess when nobody lives there it doesn't get cleaned up right away. One of Jamie's greatest fears for me on this trip was the weather. I don't mind the weather. You get what you get. According to John the helpful van driver it had started raining in el Eh the day after Christmas and it had stopped earlier the day I arrived (yesterday in the story timeline). El Eh was a mess. There were mud slides everywhere and unbeknownst to me the section of Baham Blvd in Griffith Park had a section 300 yards long that was wiped out from a slide. I wasn't going to do this ride exactly as I had planned. No biggie. I'm flexible.

I got to the top of the road and the Griffith Observatory, which has also been featured in a ton of movies, was closed for repairs. Not rain damage repairs but serious remodeling repairs. I did manage to snap a few pictures at the top of the road.


Aaaaah! Can't you just taste the air from here? Posted by Hello

So, it's back down through the muddy park and follow the bottom of the hills towards the Hollywood Bowl and up to Mulholland. Not the direct route but I would be riding Mulholland, damnit.

Without having to double back I found it on my first try. It looked promising because it was up and twisting and at least as good of a road surface as Eagle River Road. Actually, it was nearly identical to Eagle River Road, just with the Santa Monica Mountains on one side and nothing on the other. About a half mile up the road there was a turn-out / picture spot. That's what I was here for.


Happy to be riding. Happy to be alive. Happy to not have to live in the sprawl behind me. FYI: On the other side of the mountains that my body is pointed towards there is more of the same only no ocean to stop it. Posted by Hello

At the turn-out / picture spot there was a park-like ranger guy. I say park-like because he didn't really know what he was talking about, but I'll get to that. Based on the closure of Baham Blvd I asked about the rest of the road. He said that Mulholland was open to the other and it was clean and nice all the way to where the dirt part started. I asked him if the dirt part was passable and he said that it was also ok to ride. SCORE!!! I thanked him for his answers and headed back to my bike.

Wait a minute. From the "view" point there was just el Eh. Between where he was parked and I was parked there was a descent view of the Hollywood sign.


I know you've seen it a thousand times before but this is MY PICTURE, damnit. It's more impressive on the big screen than in person. Probably because they usually use a helicopter to film it. I'd have been directly below it had I gotten the ride I wanted in Griffith Park. Posted by Hello

Ok, back on the bike and up Mulholland. Overall I rate this road about a 5. Yeah, it's famous and it's twisty and it's got a view but there's other traffic, there are too many driveways coming onto it and there are too many stop signs/lights. The paved part was 12 miles end to end but Eklutna Lake Road completely kicks Mulholland Drive's ass. Remember a few lines ago when I said Mulholland Drive would at least be "something to share with those that appreciate a good road." It's not THAT GOOD. Unless you have a need to say you've done it then DON'T bother.

So, I get to the end of the pavement and the road just kinda peters out. There's a parking lot and a dirt road that runs up a ridgeline but there's a gate. A GATE. A gate I couldn't go around, over or through. Damned California.

I rolled down the valley side of the hill through a residential neighborhood (not a single window with bars on it in sight; Toto we're not in 'the Wood' anymore) and hooked around and back up the hill to Mulholland heading back to the East.

It was about 3pm and it was time I started heading to Palm Springs so I figured I would head to towards the ocean (the only chance I would get this trip to get close to the water) an work my way across, then out of town. At Mulholland Drive and the San Diego Freeway I headed down the hill. I wasn't ready for the Freeway yet so I stayed on the frontage road which was still the San Diego Freeway but unlike the Freeway overhead the frontage had no traffic; it was sitting still on the Freeway. Good call, Jon.

Watching my GPS screen I hooked a right on Santa Monica Blvd and headed to the sea. The closer to the beach I got the slower the traffic went. Go figure, the first sunny day in over a month, 3:30 in the afternoon on a Saturaday; who would be at the beach (other than everybody)? Not the wisest move but here is where I began my education in the fine art of lane splitting. It's an art rather than a science because I did it by feel, not really any calculating. I would hop ahead to whatever light traffic was stopped at then scoot forward when the light changed and repeat at the next light. I got to Venice that way but the streets there were pretty narrow until I was able to do it again on Venice Blvd. Then I hopped onto Lincoln Blvd (also the PCH but nowhere near the coast) and soon I was in Anchorage size traffic on a Freeway and back at the airport.


So it didn't go as planned but if it had it wouldn't have been half the adventure. Or would it have been twice the adventure? I rode and had fun. That's all the adventure I needed. Posted by Hello

Nearly full circle. Huh. Definately not what I had planned.

Coming soon, Episode No.5 - A Lack of Freedom on the Freeway.

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