Escape From LA – Aether Moto’s Urban Adventure

Despite the fact that I grew up in Anaheim and lived in SoCal for 23 years, I had hardly taken the time to explore Los Angeles. It was hard to get beyond the endless cars, congested freeways and the layer of "brown stuff" hanging above the skyline. To me, LA seemed like a city built on an idea, a fantasy, rather than a sustainable reality (You guys know where you get your water from, right?).

Photos by the author and Samuel Bendall

Recently, I won tickets to Aether Moto’s Urban Adventure; a day of fun, sun and motorcycles near the heart of the city. It was as good a time as any to ride a motorcycle through some of LA’s most famous streets.

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Courtesy of: Samuel Bendall Photography

The Plan:

• Scenic route through LA
• Urban training by RawHyde
• Warehouse obstacle course
• Test Ride a BMW 1200GS

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Photos by: Aakash Desai

The Route:
Aether’s Michael van Vliet did a fantastic job developing our route for the day. It was twisty, scenic and planed in a way that motorcycle riders would get the most out of it. My favorite bit was the Fargo Street hill. In a post-apocalyptic LA, I would setup my bird’s nest up there to snipe on the zombie-civilian horde. Who knows, the walking dead might not even have the ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to actually make it to the top because even my bike was struggling in second gear.

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Sam having second thoughts at the top of the Fargo Street hill.
Photo by: Aakash Desai

Following the ride, Aether teamed-up with RawHyde to set up a cone obstacle course and indoor urban debris-field in a warehouse location at the finish point. They also had a handful BMW R1200GS for participants to try out. Trying to navigate a R1200GS and even my own bike through the obstacle courses revealed the vast differences between my humble Bonneville and the posh BMW; turns out that the turning radius on my Bonneville is barge-like and my suspension is about as sophisticated as an oxcart in comparison. I was impressed with how well RawHyde did in managing a 100+ group of motorcycle riders with different skill-levels and experience and helping them all feel comfortable and accomplished.

The Adventure:
As always, an adventure is about the completely unplanned things that you either learn to enjoy or deal with. So no matter how well-planned and executed the event was going to be, it’s these little moments that really made me smile:

1. Frantically backtracking from the Hollywood sign to the Mulholland lookout to retrieve my lost Kriega R15 backpack (successfully.)

2. Sam getting the celebrity treatment in the Griffith Observatory parking lot:

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Photo by: Aakash Desai

3. An impromptu beer-stop at the finish line of the Moustache Dache.

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Courtesy of: Samuel Bendall Photography

4. Nearly dropping an R1200GS a couple times and realizing how poor my low-speed maneuvering skills are.

5. Meeting cool and interesting people like Samuel Bendall (photographer), Josh Baltaxe and his friend Barry and Jon Alain Guzik who do amazing and useful things, everyday.

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So after riding a motorcycle through some of the prettier and bleaker parts of Los Angeles, I kind of get it. It’s an interesting place, filled with little nooks and crannies that are made all the more interesting by puttering around on two wheels. A motorcycle makes the traffic less aggravating, the sights less superficial and the little pockets of hills and twisty roads infinitely more enjoyable.

Finally, thank you RideApart for hooking me up with the free tickets, and Aether, please do more moto-related events. It was a really good day.

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