One of Southern California’s most legendary motorcycle roads, Angeles Crest Highway has been closed due to fire damage since last January. Today at 10:00am, it will reopen.
The front side of Angeles Crest Highway is an amazing road and easily one of my all-time favorites. I have fond memories going back as far as ’89 or so of riding in my dad’s Mercury Capri canyon car, feeling G-forces and tires scrabbling for traction, listening to the 5.0 V8 and ogling motorcycles at Newcomb’s Ranch.
I remember staring at the 3-spoked rear wheel of a motorcycle, hanging in space on a single-sided swing-arm under the tail section and pipes of a red bike, it’s owner claiming that it would do 130 mph wheelies. The year was 1994 and though he was almost certainly lying about his 916′s power and speed, it was the first bike I ever lusted after. I was probably one of the only first-graders who day-dreamed about what it might be like to control a machine with enough power to loft the front wheel at speed. Hell, my legs were pretty strong and I had a hard enough time at 8 mph on my bicycle.
Back in those days, my dad was racing sail planes out of Crystalaire and California City. The 61.5 mile journey from our house in San Gabriel was a 57-minute affair (yes, he timed it) and incorporated the front side of Angeles Crest Highway, Angeles Forest Highway and Mt. Emma road, usually with Boston’s first album playing over the then hi-tech CD player. It could be something as simple as familiarity, but I’m not sure there’s another road that is so easy and smooth, yet technical and challenging at the same time.
Red highlights the detour riders have been using for the past year and a half. Yellow denotes the portion of Angeles Crest Highway set to reopen. I don’t have anything bad to say about 9-mile or Angeles Forest Highway, but ACH is much more fun and easy to ride at a relaxed pace. Usually, if I were describing a road, I’d go through corner by corner and point out all the really good stuff, the dangerous stuff and the bad stuff. ACH is different though. All you need to do is be careful of the handful of turn-outs where police are likely to be hiding and the intersections where you’ll likely find confused German tourists in RVs and minivans packed full of families making U-turns.
The new road surface will likely need some time to get fully broken in and it hasn’t been confirmed that the road is even open yet, but it should be just as amazing as it always was in a few weeks. Like the other popular roads, beware on weekends. There will be a lot of people, many of them in way over their heads and plenty of others oblivious to everything but their A/C and radio controls. There are police, just like anywhere else, too. Check out the gallery for full-sized maps with tips.
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