Friday 31 October 2014:
It turns out that our breakfast meeting time was not so unreasonable. I slept well, but was awake by just after 5am and it was clear that sleep was no longer an option.
We met up with the others for breakfast as planned, then accidentally managed to be in the lobby at the right time for a briefing from Nigel, which was useful. We then set out to make good use of the hire car.
Sunny California was not so sunny. The forecast was for showers all day, which thankfully didn’t materialise, but it was slightly overcast with the odd ominous looking cloud.
First stop was Venice beach. It was brilliant to wander along the iconic beach: Baywatch was filmed here, but there was a notable absence of the famous red swimsuits whilst we were there. Surfers were out in force a little way down toward Long Beach, however, and we all did that British thing of rolling up trouser legs and going for a paddle. Feet wet in the Pacific, we will do the same in the Atlantic when we get to the other side.
We wandered past muscle beach, although there wasn’t much working out going on this early on a late October morning.
Walking back along the top of the beach was very interesting – a very bohemian place, full of skaters, hippies, artists, street vendors and apparently homeless people, all seemingly very relaxed and chilled in a way that suggests drugs are never far from their lives. There was also a very large man walking a very small dog whilst wearing a very scary mask. Whether this was because of Halloween or just his normal look was hard to say.
Returning to the car, we drove a little further on to Santa Monica Pier…
…followed by a drive down Santa Monica Boulevard – a certain Sheryl Crow song playing on loop in my head the whole time. We passed through Beverley Hills, past the police station that provided the setting for Beverley Hills Cop, heading for Hollywood to see the iconic sign.
Sadly, in preparation for a huge Halloween party later, a major road was closed causing traffic chaos even by Los Angeles’ high standards, so we had to abort. Instead we took some back roads past some truly spectacular homes, many extravagantly decorated with ghouls, ghosts, pumpkins and spider webs, and headed back toward Venice and Deus Ex Machina.
Deus Ex Machina are custom bike builders in the Hipster style, making superb cafe racers. We couldn’t afford one of those, so instead we bought some lunch and T-shirts. That was expensive enough!
We had an excellent day and our view of LA improved significantly. Time was running out, however, so we raced back to the hotel arriving only just in time for a quick change into bike gear and catch the 3:30pm mini bus laid on to take all the Hadrian V-Twin group to Eagle Rider to pick up our bikes. Very exciting.
On arrival all bikes were laid out ready and waiting for us. I had selected a Fat Boy, as had Andy. Jane went for a Super Glide and Paul and Kate took the more sensible option of an Electra Glide Ultra, with full fairing, copious luggage space, sound system and, much to my relief, a SatNav.
However, one look at the size of the panniers on my chosen Harley Davidson Fat Boy and I was back in the shop seeking to swap it for a Heritage Softail. This caused some hassle and delay, but ultimately it was sorted. Andy, Jane and I all chose to have the windscreens removed – they look much cooler that way!
Eventually we were off for our inaugural two-wheel baptism of fire in LA traffic, where attempted homicide of motorcyclists seems to be a major pastime.
Nonetheless, we all survived and made it back to the hotel intact.
Time for a quick shower and change before heading off to Manhattan Beach for dinner. It is a big night in the US calendar tonight, with Halloween costumes in evidence everywhere. However, we have a big day tomorrow, so we had to forego the festivities: we were back at the hotel for some route planning by 9pm before an early night.
You can see Andy’s alternative version of events here