Dave’s American diary – Pismo to Los Angeles

Sunset Boulevard sign

After more than 1,400 miles, 20-hours in the saddle and some of the most famous sights in the States, my road trip has come to an end.

I’m writing this from my hotel in Los Angeles after probably the most stressful day of riding on the whole tour.

And that’s because traffic in LA is a nightmare, even on a Sunday, but more about that later.

I left Pismo – which is a brilliant seaside town – in the freezing cold before thick fog descended on to the road but by about 10am, the fog had cleared and the sun was up.

En route to LA I struggled to keep my eyes on the road because I was travelling all along the coast.

There really were some stunning views and, being a photographer, I was making lots of stops to get more snaps.

One thing that is worth noting is that anything with a brown sign, whether that’s for a beach, a tourist attraction or lake, means two things:

  1. You’ll want to go.
  2. It will cost you money.

North of Las Vegas is Santa Barbara, or the American Riviera as it’s sometimes referred to.

It’s a lovely part of the world and there’s plenty of money but the best bit for me was meeting a group of elderly gents who were polishing their Classic Fords on the beach front.

Classic Ford on the road in Santa Barbara

From Santa Barbara I got back on the Harley for the last time and set off for LA, where I’d be making stops at all the major landmarks.

I was excited about this, as you’d expect, but the traffic made LA quite difficult to enjoy. It really was nose to tail traffic from one side of the city to the other, unsurprising really but I thought I’d get away with it on a Sunday!

An alternative view of the Hollywood sign

Still, I took in lots of the major sights and landmarks, including a ride down Sunset Boulevard, a road that is absolutely massive. It takes you from the north of the city right down to the beach but it twists and turns much more than I thought it would.

I of course made a stop off in Hollywood, essentially for a nose at the posh houses, but with the traffic as it was and a deadline to return my bike to Eagle Rider, mine was a bit of a slapdash tour of California’s major city.

What should have been a 20-minute ride to Eagle Rider HQ actually took an hour and a half but after refilling the tank for just $13, I handed the keys back to the guys at Eagle Rider.

One thing that was sprung on me was the GoPro pad removal charge ($25). This is something that will catch out a lot of riders but fortunately, I’ve taken the GoPro sticky pads off before, saving me $100.

Being an expert rider, there were no scrapes, scratches or bumps on the Harley, so there were no extra charges but as anyone who’s ever hired a vehicle will tell you, it’s always a little nervy when the inspection takes place!

So after 1,449 miles I handed the keys back for my Harley. She’s been a great bike for this tour and it was only in LA and San Fran when traffic was heavy that she ever complained.

Bugsplat after 1400 miles across the West Coast of the States

The States is a great place to ride through. Not only is there no language barrier (once you slow down a bit) but the variation in landscape means you can see mountains, beaches and desert in little over a week.

I did that and I only really rode through one state, with a brief start in Nevada.

One thing I have found surprising is the lack of bikes and bikers on the road. I’ve seen a couple but based on the quality of road and the views on offer, I thought there would be a lot more.

All in all, the trip has been superb and I’d thoroughly recommend a jaunt across the West Coast by bike for anyone who asks.

I’d also recommend Eagle Rider. They provide you with as much attention as you need on a road trip and really just let you get on with it. Exactly how you want it.

Harley Davidson outside Eagle Rider in LA


You can see all of Dave’s images in Los Angeles here.

Next page: Our American road trip - Los Angeles and home