San Juan Capistrano & Lake Elsinore

Discussion in 'Road Trips/Touring' started by leeanders, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. leeanders

    leeanders Member

    The year 1969 – my first GROUP motorcycle ride. I remember it well. You LA area guys may recognize the locations. At the time I was living in San Gabriel, just short of Pasadena. I had recently sold my custom Bultaco dirt bike, and ‘moved up’ to a new 1969 Honda CB 350 motorcycle. Honda had recently released the new 1969 Honda four cylinder 750 – what a bike that was. One of the Smothers Brothers, Dick, I believe, had bought one and had been bragging about it on their TV show. (OK, if you didn’t already know – I’m older than dirt) The 750 was definitely out of my league, heck I think they wanted about $1300. for that thing – the CB350 was out the door for about $800. serious money for me at the time. By today’s standards, that 350 was quite basic – straight flat seat, footpegs, and drum brakes, but for me, it was moving on up!

    There were five of us, most living in Pasadena. One had bought himself a Honda 450 – he was an interesting fellow, probably not more than 30. He sang country music on the weekends in local Pasadena bars – reminded me somewhat of Tom T. Hall. He was the only one wearing a helmet on the ride, and on it he had glued two large white rubber ears, like ‘spock’ ears. We chose him as the ride leader, as he had the ‘biggest’ bike!

    Most of the other bikes were small displacement Kawasaki’s, 2 stroke Suzuki’s, and maybe another 350 Honda, similar to mine. None of us had fairings, He’d be easy to follow with those big ears. He rode that 450 like it was a big Harley. I’m sure I tried to look cool too, but it was difficult to do on a little 350.

    I was still pretty much of an old country boy, hadn’t been in southern California long. Never ridden in a group before, and had never been to the places we were planning to ride. It would be an adventure. We left a Pasadena Taco Bell, and started the road trip down Rosemead Blvd, toward Seal Beach, to pick up Hwy 1. Once on Hwy 1, we headed down the coast through Newport Beach and Corona Del Mar – finally arriving at the mission at San Juan Capistrano. Such a beautiful place with a long history. The story began in 1775, when Mission San Juan Capistrano was first founded. We’d also just crossed over into Orange County, the home of our new ‘President Nixon’.

    After an hour or so at the Mission, we readied for the next leg of the trip. By now we were beginning to feel the miles from those small bikes, wind burned, and getting saddle sore. Without helmets, our heads were getting quite red too! At least we had had sense enough to wear sun glasses. We started inland on Hwy 74, through Cleveland National Forest, toward Lake Elsinore. That is, or at least was, beautiful country – haven’t seen it in about 45 years. When we reached the overlook at Lake Elsinore, we stopped for a spell. It was a site to behold from that elevation on a pretty sunny southern California afternoon. From the lake we worked our way on to the little town of Perris, then to Riverside, and on to Pomona. We were pretty well shot by Pomona. After resting up, we passed through Covina, El Monte, and made our way back up to Pasadena. No road incidents for anyone throughout the entire trip – even the guy’s big rubber ears survived the trip well!

    The group never got together again after that, for a group ride, but occasionally we’d run into one or the other and enjoyed remembering the day. For me, it probably was the one experience that cemented what was to be a long enjoyment with motorcycling. It’s good to have memories; I’ll bet there are many stories out there just waiting to be shared. Thanks for sharing mine.

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  2. Harttoo

    Harttoo Senior Member

    Great story! Reminds Me of owning a 65 Sportster back in 69. There were 13 of Us that had Sportsters and rode together.Most of the time some one would have a part fall off or something would crack from the vibration.Couldn't keep a sissy bar on any one of them, vibration would crack them.The cops would stop Us and hassle Us for no reason.Motorcycle gang???
    My roommate had a Sportster and We decide to ride from Milwaukee to Newcastle Indiana,250 miles.We took a weekend and arrived there without any problems,beyond vibrations.When You looked in the mirrors at night, lights looked like figure eights.Visited with My cousin and on Sunday when it was time to return,My roommates' Sportster blew a head gasket.Thinking that it would be hopeless to find a head gasket in a dinky town with no Harley dealer.We were stunned to find that My cousin knew a Guy who had one in His garage.
    After 250 mile ride back,We were totally "burned out" and missed a day of work Monday to recuperate.Wo says the "good old days "were better?:dknow
  3. leeanders

    leeanders Member

    I can just imagine what you bunch of guys must have had to contend with. Though I wasn't yet in Harley territory, I'd see a few around Pasadena, hanging around the burger places. Things always were leaking oil, and didn't always smell the best - but even then - they were Harleys and they did get attention. It's good to remember the past!
  4. fin_676

    fin_676 Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    I had a slightly later version of the CB250 and travelled many miles on it often with a passenger
    We always got to our destination but usually cold and weary

  5. 03fxsti

    03fxsti Active Member

    Great story. I've been out at the lookout over Lake Elsinor many times, usually on the way out to Trobaco Canyon and Cooks Corner and have often wondered about what it would have been like riding these roads during the 60's and 70's.
  6. hellboy7

    hellboy7 Member

    Very good story! I'm actually somewhat familiar with a lot of that area you're talking about. It's quite the scenic ride... I can imagine that back then it wasn't that developed yet. Crazy to think about how much has changed