Saturday, July 28, 2012

Born Free 2012 - Fear and Loathing in Los Angeles

My college friend Kyle and I decided to go to the Born Free show this year in southern California. It was on June 30 outside Irvine. I really enjoyed the show and the other 5 days we spent there riding around. After considering several options of riding our own bikes, hauling our bikes and just jumping on a Southwest flight we decided to fly out and rent some garbage wagons from Eagle Rider near LAX. It allowed us to see a lot more of California in our limited vacation days. I would recommend Eagle Rider to anyone that is going out there. They took good care of us and their bikes were well-maintained.

We were kind of timid when we rode away from the rental place into LA traffic. Traffic there is just as bad as everyone said it would be, however there were some things that I didn't expect.
  • People there generally look out for bikes. They are not offended by lane splitting and it is very common.
  • If you turn on your signal, people will usually let you over a lane or into traffic. Many cities I have ridden in (especially Dallas) see a turn signal as a sign of weakness. In LA people worked with you for the most part.
  • At the stoplights in Hollywood we rode right up front of the cars and took off ahead of everyone like in Europe.
The Born Free show kicked ass. It was just one day, but it was a fantastic show. It was well run and there were cool bikes everywhere. We saw some out of this world stuff including a twin engine Triumph, a water-cooled Knucklehead and choppers with knobby tires. I think the knobby style tire must be the latest trend in SoCal (which means it will be here in KC next year).

We got a couple thousand miles in riding all around and up the coast to Monterey. It was a beautiful ride with lots of curves and wonderful views.

We learned that Buck Owen's Crystal Palace is not open on Mondays. That was a big detour for nothing. Heck that was supposed to be a highlight of my trip. Actually the Crystal Palace was not the old-time country joint I expected. It was more of a Cracker Barrel kind of place so we just chalked it up to experience. I can now say I have walked the streets of Bakersfield when I sit and judge Dwight Yoakam (which is never because I love all his work).

It was a good trip for a 41 year old boring Midwestern guy like me. I got to see a lot of crazy things, especially in Hollywood. That place was so nuts we stayed an extra night there to see more.

By the last day Kyle and I were over our timidness and we flew through the LA traffic like pros, jumped over two gang bangers and did a big power slide back into the parking lot at Eagle Rider. It is a crazy place that I would not want to live in, but you can acclimate to it. I would say Los Angeles and Southern California is an acquired taste!

Kyle was one tired 99%er on the flight home. That was a sign of a good time indeed!