Monday, July 29, 2013

CA-2 - The Mighty Angeles Crest Highway

©2013 Story and Pictures by Jim Foreman
(L-R) Daniel Rice, Walt Schonauer and Jim Foreman
What's better than waking up Sunday morning and meeting some good friends for some awesome riding?  I'll tell you....  Meeting some good friends for some awesome riding on Irv Seaver BMW's Demo R 1200 GS (Waterhead)!

Destination: Angeles Crest Highway (and surrounding area)
Round Trip Mileage: 237 Miles
Best time to go: Spring, Summer, Fall
Fun Factor: 10+
Passenger Fun Factor: 10+ (Estimated)
Cops seen: 4
Highest Speed Attained: "I didn't know it went that fast"
Map Link:

One of the coolest things about being a motorcyclist is all the amazing and diverse friends one gets as a result.  Among these great friends are Walt Schonauer of Lone Wolf Rolls Royce Bentley, Ben Crisologo and Daniel Rice who is 16 and spending his summer in SoCal before returning to school in Shanghai, China.

I started and ended this ride at Irv Seaver Motorcycles in Orange, CA.  Of course, you can start your ride from anywhere.

The four of us met at the Shell Station near the 210/2 Freeway and Angeles Crest Highway.  This is a very popular meeting and gassing point for riding the 'Crest'.  Most riders seem to start there and ride until Newcomb's Ranch and return.  There's so much more than that!  Also, police patrols are most present on that stretch of road as it seems to inspire more outrageous driving and riding than in other parts of ACH.  As a result we actually started our ride elsewhere.

One we all met up, gassed up, and got caught up with everyone's lives, we hopped on our bikes and headed west on the 210 freeway a couple miles to exit on Sunland Blvd.  Hang a right and proceed a couple blocks up Foothill Blvd until you reach Oro Vista Avenue and make a left.  There'll be a 7-Eleven at the corner.
Setting up the GoPro
This is a good place to pull over and setup whatever electronics you have for the ride.  We set up two GoPro Cameras and a SPOT to track the ride.  I also use an iPhone app called MCN Ride Logger. It's $6.99 and worth every penny.  Check it out for yourself and see if you don't agree.  Pirelli makes a similar app called Pirelli Diablo Superbike for free, but it seems to crash constantly for me.  Your experience may be different. Android users have expressed delight with Speed Logger.  Using apps like this can be a real benefit to keeping track of your ride, speed, acceleration and deceleration as well as the time and your location on a map.
Big Tujunga Canyon Road
 All Set up and we actually begin our ACH trek on Big Tujunga Canyon Road.  It becomes Angeles Forest Highway.  Be on the lookout for Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road.  You'll need to make a right turn onto Upper Big Tujunga Road.
You'd think between Little Tujunga Canyon Road, Big Tujunga Canyon Road and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, someone could have come up with unique names.  C'est la vie.
Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road deposits you on to Angeles Crest Highway(ACH).  We went left towards Newcomb's Ranch.  This route was chosen for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, these roads have considerably less traffic.  The road condition is very good and the corners are exceedingly fun and challenging.  If you're one to push it a little bit, these roads are also far less patrolled by Law Enforcement.  Generally, they are pretty cool up there.  Unless one is being a complete arse, you're usually not hassled.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of arschloche on the stretch between Newcomb's and the base of ACH.
Angeles Forest Highway and Upper Big Tujunga Highway Road

Newcomb's Ranch on the left.
We decided to stop at Newcomb's Ranch for lunch.  I parked the GS and went inside to check something via their Wi-Fi.  Upon my return, I was told of a rider who dumped his cruiser less than 3 inches (as reported in detail) from the GS.   The rider and his passenger were OK, and the GS was untouched...  Thank Heaven!  At Newcomb's Ranch, I ran into Jim Bullen.  Jim was a guest on the SoCal BMW Motorrad Podcast.  It turns out, he is also a friend of Walt's.  I also ran into Irv Seaver's own supa-star Kevin Foster.
The clientele of Newcomb's is a vast cross section of riders, sportsmen and people up for a Sunday stroll.  It attracts all kinds.  Everyone seems to get along without too much bravado.  We caught a repeat of the MotoGP race at Laguna Seca followed by the 2013 Isle of Man TT.  We talked about the new GS and mentioned that it'd be cool if they would like to ride a leg of ACH on it.  Talk about a test-ride!
Road Work Ahead.  You'd smell it for sure.
Once fed and watered (with water, not alcoholic beverages) Ben eagerly decided he'd like to ride the Watercooled GS first.  I jumped on his 1996 K 1100 RS and looked over to see a massive grin on Ben's face.  Just before the tunnels to about 10 miles out of Wrightwood, the road surface had just been resurfaced by CalTrans.  It still smelled and was still slimey and slick.  we all backed off.  When we go to the end of the resurfacing (and the bad smell).  Walt, Daniel and I all commented on how 'greasy' the road felt.  Surprisingly, Ben, a great rider for many many years and riding the new GS did not seem to be bothered by the funky fresh surface.  At a good stopping point Walt and Ben traded bikes and Walt gave the new GS a go.  Walt owns several airheads, a MZ sportbike, an FJR and the glorious K 100 RS out today.  He and Ben were initially both expressing deep skepticism about the performance and capability of the new water-cooled Boxer engine.   After the ride, Ben couldn't stop commenting on how he was now sold on the bike.  He absolutely loved it.  He kept mumbling about torque, smoothness and the gearbox.  Walt rode the GS into our next stop.  The Grizzly Cafe in Wrightwood.
While enjoying our slices of Apple Pie, Walt commented that though the seating position wasn't quite his style, he really loved the new engine and can't wait to see the other bikes it ends up in.  Walt prefers a more aggressive seating position.
Over previously mentioned pie, Walt was discussing the next leg of the journey.  We'd backtrack a little bit and veer north on Big Pines Hwy and through Valyermo.  This also take you right past the "Devil's Punchbowl".  There were some nice switchbacks heading down in elevation at the start.  Also along this road, there's a nice stretch to test one's acceleration.  the BMW Motorcycle website lists the top speed of the new GS as "Over 125 MPH."  I may (or may not) be in a position to confirm that the top speed is, in fact, over 125 MPH.
Big Pines Road becomes Valyermo Road which becomes Fort Tejon Road.   Take a left at Mt Emma Road.  That will take you right back to Angeles Forest Road.
At Angeles Forest Hwy, make a left and Make a left back onto Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road.  This will drop you onto Angeles Crest Highway.  We went left previously to go to Newcomb's Ranch. As the warm sunny SoCal day was winding up, we elected to go right and down ACH and back to the Shell Station.

From there we wrapped up and went our separate ways.  I went back to Irv Seaver Motorcycles.

This ride is a challenging, fun and exciting ride that puts you on some great, less traveled roads.  We didn't run into a single slow unyielding car until we went on the final stretch of ACH down the hill.  If one is going 10 miles under the speed limit and has 4 or more vehicles following, one is obligated to pull over, when safe, and make way for the other drivers.  In lieu of this we passed when safe and felt sorry for the following car.  We also got lots of warning from other rider about cops.  We found a Sheriff's Deputy waiting at the base of the hill.  He paid us no mind.

If you have any comments, suggestions or favorite rides you'd love to share, please contact us at

I'm so glad to share this ride and to share future rides.  Keep a lookout here for a sports ride and an off-road ride in addition to an out-of-the-area ride.  We'll try to post one of each of these every month. 

Ride Well!

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Approaching a tunnel on Big Tujunga Canyon

GoPro Photo in a tunnel

Daniel Rice

Walt and Daniel parking their bikes at Newcomb's Ranch

Daniel doing the 'I'm Awesome and I Know It' strut.

Daniel and I walking to his bike.

Lots of awesome corners and fluffy clouds.

Awesome lean angles on the new GS

Beautiful scenery!

Approaching Wrightwood, CA

Walt offering Daniel some riding techniques.

All set and ready to ride.

Pay no mind to the speed on the speedometer.  It's probably wrong.
©2013 Jim Foreman


  1. Nice report and great pics!

    I would have LOVED to go on this one!

    Please put me on the list for ride notifications as I didn't know this one was going on or would have been there with bells on.


  2. This blog is great! I just moved to SoCal from Minneapolis and am already finding great weekend roads to go explore. Nice write up too!!