Ortega Highway Ride (and road) Report 7-29-07 - MVAgusta.net
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-29-2007, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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Ortega Highway Ride (and road) Report 7-29-07

Sometimes I get a little grief for owning a few too many motorcycles...Whatever, some people collect stamps, each to his own.

In addition to the expense of keeping 9 street legal bikes (and one dirtbike) licensed, insured, and in running condition, there is literally the task of making sure they each get ridden regularly. I know, seems like an easy chore and it is one I enjoy, but I adhere to a regular rotation schedule trying to ride a minimum of two bikes per weekend. Sometimes, if I am not too busy, I can ride three or even four...My record is seven in a two-day period. The bugger is that on some mornings, the bikes that are up to be ridden might not be the ones I am in the mood to ride. Rather than blow my rotation, I change my mood and set my mind to enjoy the bikes that are due. I have found that this allows me to attack gripes while they are small, keeping maintenance to a minimum...But there is always something to be fixed or adjusted, or an oil change to be done and that is an entirley different issue that takes alot of time as well.

Most mornings, I am pretty excited to go riding, and I like my motorcycles...But on magical mornings like today, the bike up is exactly the bike I want to ride.

I lifted the rear of the red track stand with my left hand, as my right hand steadied the outside of the rear tire like so many times before. With an easy heave the machine rolled forward and I gently settled the bike down on the sidestand, allowing the bike to roll back an inch, to set the bike firmly on the set-back sidestand. I pulled the track stand out and away, and rolled the Tamburini out into the morning sun. I am not sure for how many hours I have stared at this bike over the past two years, between just staring at it in person, and the thousands of pictures I have taken of it, yet it's beauty continues to move me.

I suited up, opting for knee/shin protection, race boots, icon jeans, back protector, leather jacket, gloves and a helmet instead of full leathers, I was planning for an easy sport-touring pace this morning. It was early, the sun just cresting the roof across the street, temperature was warming but not too bad, and the Southern California sky beckoned me to move.

I thumbed the starter and #211 growled to life, and settled to a nice idle. I snapped a quick pic as the fluids made their way to warmth, closed the garage and jumped on. A quick check of the controls and I was rolling. The clear air felt good on my face, and the bike sounded great. I roared down the parkway to the bottom of my hill, quickly splashed some fuel, and I was on my way. I entered the CA15 fwy south from Corona, and headed towards Elsinore. The freeway entrance is a banked 270 degree sweeper, and I got on it pretty good, with respect to my still cool tires. I merged into a deserted freeway and ran her quickly up through the gears. As 1XXmph rolled past quickly, I settled down and coasted back to a moderate freeway pace. The bike was humming, running 187 degrees and smooth as silk.

I exited Old Temescal Canyon and rolled past Tom's Farms...No bikes there yet, too early for the Harley boys. The next 10 or so miles of winding backroad offered me clear lanes and clean asphalt, and the Tamburini was devouring miles with a grin. backed it down again as I rolled into Elsinore, and wound my way calmly down to the entrance to CA74, the Ortega Highway.

You never know what this storied route will throw at you. It isn't a safe stretch of road, and I have seen it ruin many a biker's mornings. It is flat out dangerous, heavily patrolled, frequently trafficky, and generally quickly ridden, and has been under heavy construction for the past several months. Still, it remains one of my favorite places to be on a weekend morning. My pulse quickened with anticipation as I chose my pace and banked her into the first L hand sweeper.

The Lake Elsinore side is my favorite. It is a steep and curvy climb out of the small lake town towards the summit of the Ortega Mountains. The turns are tight and blind on this side, and there are two foreverlong 270 degree sweepers, disheartingly lined with steel and wood guardrail, which appears to be an even worse option than just sailing off of the cliff and taking your chances with the slope below...Neither is an offering that I soon plan on accepting.

The Tambo and I were working well together, making good time at a brisk pace. I wasn't going for the record, or anything, just letting this amazing bike do what it does so well. The tires felt good, the brakes were working (including the rear...FYI), and the limitless motor was pulling hard when asked, the song from the RG3's banging off the canyon walls. There was no traffic, and I only saw a couple bikes coming down, giving me the no-cop hand signals to my delight. I did pass a couple cages on the straight in front of the Overlook restaurant near the top, but I could see well ahead, and I wasn't in the other lane for long at all, I assure you.

I slowed again for the small town at the summit, caught a couple warning signs from some oncoming bikes up top, and rolled past the obligitory CHP officer parked on the shoulder...I was in such a good mood, I waved at him, which I hope he wasn't reading as a taunt...

I held the pace down long after the LEO, allowing two Ducati's to suprisingly roll up on me. I was cruising, and they were hauling, so I let them pass. It was a Paul Smart 1000, and a red Sport 1000, and they were moving. With them acting as drones ahead of me, I fell into formation behind them through the woodlined bends that define the sections leading down from the Candy Store. The three of us were at a pace I usually don't ride, but it was clear to me they knew what they were doing, and I was comfortable and warmed up, so I stayed with them despite the fact I usually don't move this quick without leathers, as if that would matter on this road. The three of us played follow the leader, unobstructed, for the better part of the long curving haul downhill towards the Orange County line.

Now, Ortega has been under recent surgery and were were ripping through some pretty fresh scars. The road is now rougher than it used to be, with many patches that tried to launch me out of the seat, and more loose gravel than I care for. The Ducs' twin Ohlins coil overs and those couch like seats were soaking up jumps that had me squeezing the tank to stay planted. These guys were moving very fast.

There is only one new short section of asphalt, and I hope they repave this entire beloved ribbon one day. Basically, the closer you get to the OC side, the rougher it gets. About one mile above the Ranger Station that marks the beginning of "The Flats" that lead out to the Polo fields, it is shut down to one lane, and traffic is still controlled. I had a few minutes to chat with the Duc riders while the other side traffic came through the single lane, cool guys with appearently nothing to live for! We had a laugh about our chase down the hill, said our niceties, and re-fired when the lane was opened up to us. We rode slowly through the one-lane construction site, and then we were released near the Ranger Station. Although I thought the chase was going to be right back on, the Ducs had appearently had enough, and slowed to a crawl. The flats is a great place to get a speeding ticket, maybe that is why, but I know most of the tricks, so I drove past waving a salute with my right foot off of the peg.

I completed Ortega without incident, and banked right on to Antonio Parkway, and began my route to Cook's Corner in Trabuco Canyon, a notorious Harley stop on my route back to Corona. Except for the old man in the Camry that tried to kill me (I had the right-of-way, Gramps, you pulled out right in front of me!!! ), the ride to Cook's was an uneventful cool-down. 73 miles after leaving my driveway, I rolled to a stop and parked amongst the chrome anchors that favor this place.

As usual, the way out of place Tambo drew the onlookers as I ate a delicious ham and cheese breakfast burrito, washing it own with a big glass of cold OJ.

I rested, digested, and departed for home by way of Santiago Canyon to the 241 Tollroad, back to CA91 east, and catching the CA15 fwy south back to my house.

The construction on Ortega is not yet complete, and unfortunately, the lower OC side is a mess, bring your Supermotard, or your dual-sport...It is rough. Maybe it will all get a fresh topcoat when they are all done, but for now, I will see you on the Elsinore side.

Once again, my investment was MORE than justified...#211 is a screamer!

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-29-2007, 08:17 PM
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Excellent post man! Almost as if I were riding with you.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-31-2007, 01:35 PM
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Great. A joy to read.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-31-2007, 02:02 PM
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Thanks for the writeup- although it doesn't make up for me not being on Ortega for quite awhile, it brings me damn close to feeling it again!
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-03-2007, 01:43 AM
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Although I do not even ride motorcycles, nor own a license, I just had to register to commend you on your writing skills. I was doing a search on Ortega because I am planning on making a trip on Sunday morning with my WRX and you're thread came up in the google search.

What are these "no cop" handsignals and "cop present" warning signals you speak of? I would like to have these in my arsenal of knowledge before I tackle the road. It was heart-warming to read the fellow comraderie you bikers show for each other. Oh and I'd also like to know what times and days you'd recommend to run Ortega? I know that it is closed everyday from 8:30pm ato 4:30am.

You're bike is beautiful by the way, and reading your topic inspired me so that I have the urge to ride even more.


Last edited by eldesperado; 08-03-2007 at 01:50 AM.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-03-2007, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the kind words...The riding inspires the writing...

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