We’ve been visiting piers along the coast and they’re a perfect destination or great stop before or after the ride. Malibu Pier epitomizes a great ride because it hugs the incredible motorcycling roads of the Santa Monica Mountains home to the famous Rock Store, Paramount Ranch and Malibu Lake. The pier was built to support the operations of Frederick Hastings Rindge’s Malibu Rancho. The Rindge private railroad moved building materials, hides, grains, fruit and other Rancho necessities arriving at the pier. Built in 1905 the pier juts 700 feet into Keller’s Shelter, a small bay named for Don Mateo Keller a pioneering California winemaker.
This pier has been the scene of TV and movie’s from The Rockford Files to Gidget’s Beach Blanket Bingo. Also home of Alice’s Restaurant (inspired by the Arlo Guthrie song) it served its famous B-52 cocktail to droves of visitors. A series of severe winter storms damaged the pier and it was closed to the public in 1995. In recent years, it has seen limited use by fishermen but in June 2008 restaurants and visitors returned to the weathered boards and the two wood-sided white buildings with royal blue trim. The Beachcomber Cafe (formerly Alice’s), a bar and restaurant features seafood with a mid-1940s atmosphere and the Malibu Pier Club, which opened in 2008 serves cocktails and lighter fare from a small indoor bar and an outdoor deck. Inside the Malibu Pier Club the wood of the bar practically glows, and its tile installations recall the heyday of Malibu Potteries, once one of California’s leading art tile makers. The Pier Club doesn’t reach back that far in Malibu’s past but its simple and unpretentiously beachy in attitude and mood and with an expanded bar menu. There’s patio seating that lets you catch a bit of warm California sun and look up the length of the pier and down toward kayakers in the cove.
There is a Ruby’s at the end of the pier in one if the two structures. Six Ruby’s can be found at the end of Southern California piers and is famous for it 1940s diner concept. This Ruby’s is special though because its rooftop houses a small dining hall and outdoor patio that can be rented out for special occasions. I was told many a quiet celebrity birthday party or social event are held there.
You never know whom you’ll bump into here. Dean McDermott was hanging out at the Beachcomber and I sat down for a chat. Dean started riding motorcycles at the age of 16 but his first wife got testy and hit the kill switch at 30. And there was a moment he gave up motorcycling because it was stressing out Tori Spelling but he’s back riding. Instead of the track, today it’s the Santa Monica Mountains he loves to ride, like everyone else that gets a chance to ride there.
We rode north on PCH to the famous Neptune’s Net and the twisties of Yerba Buena Road, some of which are strictly 10 mph turns. Connecting to Little Sycamore Canyon Road spectacular views of the ocean and mountains abound. It’s hard to believe you’re only 30 minutes away from the smog and congestion of the big city and of the San Fernando Valley. Speeds pick up here and riders need to respect the road, one small mistake and you’ll have a long time to think about it. Making a quick stop at Circle X Ranch I reflected on how well the Victory Vision handles and its aggressive lean angles. The smell of pine filled the air and the peaceful serenity here was truly inspiring. Sycamore Canyon Road connects to Mulholland Drive and soon we’re at the infamous Rock Store. Made entirely out of volcanic rock it was a stagecoach stop in the early 1900s. Ed and Vern purchased this building in 1961 and created a small town grocery store then restaurant. We bumped into Jay Leno who is regularly found hanging out there on weekends.
Skirting Malibu Lake then to Cornell Road we headed to Paramount Ranch. Back when westerns were popular the studios had to pay the union workers extra if they worked farther than 35 miles from Hollywood and these studio ranches were within that magic circle—only a few have survived. Gunfight at the OK Corral, Gunsmoke and Dr Quinn’s Medicine Woman are but a few of the hundreds of films and TV shows shot there. Hopping back on Mulholland Highway to Malibu Canyon Road and you’re soon back where you started, Malibu Pier.
The Victory Vision offers riders an endless array of options like FM, XM or an iPod, and an electrically controlled windshield that can be raised and lowered with the push of a thumb. A variety of possible leg positions are possible with the long, cleverly designed floorboards. I wonder if I should activate the heated seat and grips to stave off the evening’s chill. Having ridden all flavors of American touring motorcycles, only the Victory Vision offers such choices. Aerodynamically faultless and visually stunning it’s shocking how well a motorcycle this size actually handles. The torque and power of the Freedom 106 powerplant was truly appreciated riding some of the best twisty mountain roads in the United States. Completely at ease in the most sinuous twisties or 85 miles an hour the Victory Vision is exhilarating.
Road conditions are generally excellent with the biggest dangers coming from overzealous, speeding riders passing across double yellow lines or from skill-challenged riders going wide and crossing into your lane. Sand, decreasing radius blind turns, and occasionally bicyclists are other things to be aware of. Weekdays are best, as the weekends can be a bit tense with thousands of motorcyclists flocking to the area. Weekends also have a much higher police presence trying to keep everyone safe. Because of the quality of these roads there are a lot of racer types wearing full racesuits and piloting the latest and fastest in the sportbike world. It helps to keep an eye on your mirrors as bikes can sometimes come up really fast from behind.
Malibu, California boasts 27 miles of coastline and the further north you travel Pacific Coast Highway the more rural and empty the roads become. It is amazing how much solitude a rider can find within this metropolis of 11 million people. The Santa Monica Mountains that shade Malibu from the east are a rider’s playground with dozens of curvy, mountainous loops that can keep a rider focused if not exhilarated. Hiking trails and numerous mountain lookouts abound throughout the area. It’s a great place for an impromptu picnic or lunch after a nice spirited ride. Most of the mountain area is undeveloped and even the houses that are present tend to blend into the rustic surroundings or are off the road. To borrow from Arlo here, as a motorcyclist, “you can get anything you want,” in Malibu. B