The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) from Southern California to Northern California is one of the most scenic stretches in the US. When taking it on a proper rig like a ’10 Victory Cross Roads, it’s substantially better than driving in a stuffy car.
I was assigned to cover a very cool antique bike show put on by the Fort Sutter Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America (AMCA) in Dixon, California, about 20 miles southwest of Sacramento. The AMCA is comprised of a group of dedicated antique motorcycle enthusiasts that spans the US and beyond with more than 11,000 members through its 54 affiliated chapters. The club focuses on the preservation, restoration, and operation of old-time motorcycles at least 35 years old. To join you don’t even need to own an antique bike, but simply have an interest for old iron.
The goal: hit the Fort Sutter meet, but take a leisurely pace getting there and take in as many sights possible along the way. Since the wife had never been on a bike for more than four hours, I decided to bring her with me. Sounded good to me.
Day One: Riverside to Cambria
Loaded up the Cross Roads’ luggage rack with a T-Bags Dakota bag with enough gear for both of us for five days. The camera gear and Harley rain suits, along with some other necessities, went into the Cross Roads’ lockable, large21 gallons to be exactsaddlebags. Hooked up the Airhawk Seat Pads to the rider and passenger seats for a little extra cushion and departed Riverside to Santa Barbara via the 60 West, 101 North.
The Cross Roads performed extremely well with the added weight, and because of the torquey 106ci Freedom V-twin the bike accelerated with ease. Traversed through traffic for a few hours, stopped for gas in Calabasas, stretched the legs and ailing back, had a smoke, sipped a soda, back on the bike, off we went.
Next leg from Calabasas to the Ventura coast via the 101 (where the 101 and 1 meet) the vacation mindset took hold. It’s freeing. Arrived in Santa Barbara famished. Refueling the bike and our bellies was top priority. Found a great lunch spot, ordered two monstrous burgers, ate, had a smoke, walked State Street for a bit, gassed the bike, off we went. California’s Central Coast is peaceful, calming. Solvang is a great spot to have a snack or pull off for gas. Its Danish feel with windmill-adorned lodges and Ebelskivers bakeries (small Danish pancake filled with either chocolate, jam, or cheese) are worth a walkabout. Stopped there for a bit then ventured on to Cambria.
Cambria is majestically scenic, eerily quiet, but very peaceful. Checked into the Burton Inn located on Burton Drive, Cambria’s main drag, and took a quick snooze in the suite. The Burton Inn is quiet, cozy, and pleasant; really gives you the chance to relax. Woke up from the snooze, got dressed, hit the streets and ended up at the Sow’s Ear for dinner. Had a wonderful feast of local fare, hit a local pub for a pint after dinner, then back to the Burton Inn for a nightcap. Day one complete.
Day Two: Cambria to Sausalito
Woke up for breakfast, included with our stay at the Burton Inn, had an interestingly weird chat with the Inn’s owner about conspiracy theories, the cosmos, and meditation for almost two hours. Loaded up the bike and hit the road toward Sausalito via Hwy 1, my favorite trek in all of California. Cambria to Monterey is incredibly picturesque.
Not far from Cambria is San Simeon, which features Hearst Castle, previous home to publishing magnate and inspiration for Orson Wells’ Citizen Kane, William Randolph Hearst. Hearst’s multi-million-dollar estate was transformed into a California State Park providing multiple tours each day of the palace grounds, its rare antiquities, extravagant architecture, and lush gardens. It’s definitely worth a look.
After our San Simeon excursion, we headed toward Big Sur for a bite to eat. Once in close proximity to Big Sur, the Cross Roads’ performed very well in this section of PCH’s incredibly sharp corners, ascending and descending hairpins, and oh yeah, sheer cliffs where one would surely plummet to an impending doom if not careful.
The Cross Roads’ frontend features inverted telescopic 43mm fork tubes with 5.1 inches of travel. But more importantly, the rear monoshock features 4.7 inches of travel, but is air adjustable, which can be fine-tuned by a Schraeder valve (hidden underneath the left-side cover) for weight adjustments and riding conditions. After loading the bike back home, we were definitely bogged down, but never once bottomed out after some PSI was added to the shock. For quick halts before the tight turns, dual 300mm floating discs and four-piston stoppers up front, and a single 300mm floating disc with two-piston stopper in back do the trick, especially with the added weight.
After about an hour traversing the ber-scenic stretch of PCH, we’d arrived in Big Sur. Lunch time. The Burton Inn concierge recommended Nepenthe restaurant for its organic gourmet menu and incredible views of Monterey Valley and Pacific coastline. The concierge got one thing right: the views were spectacular. The grub? Not so much. Living up to its namesake, Nepenthe is a magical potion to quell all sorrows with forgetfulness taken from Homer’s Odyssey. Its positive, stress-relieving aura overcame my senses (maybe they spike the water with Peyote) and my unsatisfied belly could be satisfied later. Time to hit the road. Had a quick smoke, jumped on the Cross Roads, hauled ass to Monterey to catch a glimpse of Pebble Beach before dusk. No such luck. Since the fog was rolling in, we kept moving in order to keep our Hotel Sausalito reservation. No worry; I’ve done Monterey plenty of times with the folks since they lived there when my pops was in the army. Monterey and Carmel are beautiful and worth at least a night or two if you have some time.
Arrived in Sausalito, a quaint little town just across the Golden Gate Bridge, around 8:30 p.m. Checked into Hotel Sausalito, a cozy boutique hotel loaded with charm and character, unloaded the bike, had a smoke, took a shower, hit the town for dinner. Went to two different restaurants that literally stopped serving the second we walked in. I knew it was a sleepy town, but what’s one more table? I was disappointed. Made lemonade out of lemons since 7-11 was open. Loaded up with hot dogs, a six-pack of beer, and other munchies and headed back to our hotel room.
Day Three: Sausalito to San Francisco to Dixon and Back
Woke up refreshed from a good night’s sleep at the Hotel Sausalito. It’s a small boutique hotel that’s cozy and soothing to the soul. Was ready to start the day since I had to get to Dixon for the Fort Sutter meet and peep cool bikes. Also had to check in to Kensington Park in San Francisco’s Union Square, so we grabbed some coffee and a pastry from a cool little caf next door to the hotel, watched the boats in the bay, loaded up the bike, had a smoke, and headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge. Crossed the bridge, took some video doing so, and arrived in Kensington Park. It was too early to check in so we checked our gear with the front desk.
The wife went shopping; I went to Dixon, about a 60-mile ride from San Fran, but a pleasant ride at that. It’s mostly highway riding, so I put the 106ci engine to the test, sans the gear and the passenger. Before heading out, I adjusted the rear shock to appease the adjusted weight. The bike is fast. Like, really fast. You wouldn’t guess it by looking at it, but she’s a sleeper as they say. It’s also nimble, very nimble. I threw it around like a sport bike. Cruise control would have been nice on the ’10, which Victory addressed with the ’11s. Also addressed in 2011 is the Fourth and Sixth gear whine on the ’10 transmission. It’s a little annoying but I wear earplugs so it didn’t bother me too much.
Arrived at the Dixon Fairgrounds for the show, and was blown away by the original vintage iron on hand. The AMCA members track down, barter for, or sell a kid or two to get the original bolts for their Knucklehead or Panhead engine cases. These are true restorers in the purest sense. I found a ’41 Knuck that blew my mind, and had to shoot it for the mag (see Feb. 2011 issue and hotbikeweb.com). I also talked to a bunch of great people that I’d definitely like to visit with again. The Fort Sutter meet is great. Make it a to-do on the old list, and you won’t be disappointed.
Headed back to San Fran for a quick rinse at the hotel and a good bite in the city. San Francisco is magical. I will live there at one point in my life. Mark my words. Until then, my wife and I go there every year for vacation and that will have to do. There’s too much to do in the city to list, and space is limited, so I won’t try.
Day Four: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
Woke up groggy from an all-night city stroll. But I’d be sitting on the Cross Roads’ already comfortable seat coupled with the Airhawk Seat Pad. Time to start our descent back to the Inland Empire. We’d take some time doing so and the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo (SLO) has always been on our list.
Took the 101 Freeway back to save time without having to take the 5 Freeway. The 5 is quick and boring, two things not on the agenda. Plus the 101 travels alongside some pretty cool towns like Palo Alto (Stanford University), Gilroy (garlic capital of the world), and Paso Robles (numerous Central California coastal wineries). We didn’t stop at the latter two, but we did stop in Palo Alto for a bite to eat at a cool little grocery with great sandwiches and homemade salads and soups, close to Stanford. Took our food to go, headed to the campus to see what the rich kids were up to, had lunch in the quad, chatted for a bit, had a smoke, and back on the road we went.
Hauled ass to SLO and checked in to the famed Madonna Inn. Created by Alex Madonna in 1958, each room is uniquely designed and themed. After we arrived we unpacked the bike for the last time (thank God) and climbed the stairs to our room. The theme of our room was the California poppy flower: everything from the wallpaper, the carpet coloring, the bedding, and the bathroom walls was decked out in full poppy motif. It wasn’t the most exciting dcor but then again, I don’t think I’ve ever been excited about dcor. But at least now I could cross the Madonna Inn off the bucket list.
Dropped the bags, took a shower, went to the Inn’s restaurant for an extremely overpriced and not very satisfying dinner; too tired to care at that point. Once dinner was over, we went back to the room and again, watched a good movie, fell asleep in the middle of said movie.
Day Five: San Luis Obispo to Riverside
Woke up, rinsed off, packed the gear, loaded the bike, headed to the Apple Farm for breakfast. The Apple Farm is a quaint Inn, restaurant, bakery, and gift shop in San Luis Obispo. Your gal will love you for taking her there. After Breakfast I loaded up on toffee chips cookies from the bakery to bring home, had a smoke, hit the gas station, had another cookie, and headed home. The road home is always bittersweet. Tyou miss the luxuries of home, but you're in no hurry to get there. But it's trips like these that you look forward to as soon as you get home. Until next time.. HB
Antique Motorcycle Club of America (AMCA)
(866) 427-7583 | antiquemotorcycle.org
(800) 572-7442 | burtoninn.com
(888) 442-0700 | hotelsausalito.com
Kensington Park Hotel
(800) 553-1900 | kensingtonparkhotel.com
(800) 543-9666 | madonnainn.com
(831) 667-2345 | nepenthebigsur.com
Contact your local dealer | polarisindustries.com