First person

September 28, 2017

Sue McCrostie, Edmonton, Alberta

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My husband Don and I flew to Palm Springs, California, this April for a week of fun and relaxation, eagerly anticipating yet another adventure. We were staying with our friends Mark and Ginette at a magnificent house they rent every year. Besides golfing, we rented motorcycles again from EagleRider at the J.W. Marriot Desert Springs Hotel. We mapped out a day trip from Rancho Mirage to Temecula. My cousin, Andre (adventuresome and affable), rode down from Los Angeles on his 1975 R90 BMW and joined us again. He is a competent rider, and we welcomed his knowledge of the area, as well as his photography skills. We also invited two other friends who were there vacationing. Don and George rented Indian Chieftain bikes, while his wife Cheryl and I rented Indian Scouts, windshields and saddlebags included. Departing on Monday morning, we registered, then jumped on our motorcycles on a gorgeous, windless day and headed towards Palms to Pines Highway.

Our route took us up the curvy, scenic smooth asphalt lanes of Highway 74 to the first vista point. We stopped to revel in the breathtaking views, taking pictures with cell phones and cameras, capturing the morning glory of panoramic perfection. The view overlooking the valley was like looking at a postcard, except the five of us were in the shot. We continued on riding via Ribbonwood to Hemet which was bustling with traffic, so we opted to ride straight to Temecula for lunch. Taking a more scenic route, (R3), we headed south riding by endless green vineyards and beautiful roadside wineries with little traffic obstructing our route of highway bliss. We continued past the town of Sage and finally found downtown Temecula. We quickly found a parking spot where all five bikes could fit side by side.

My husband started to move his bike to make room for us, pushing it forward with the sidestand down, when the sidestand caught the pavement on the slight incline and retracted. I was on the sidewalk behind him when I heard my name, “Sue, help!” as his bike started going down. I sprang into action and grabbed the back of this massive bike and helped bring it upright. Not catching it in time would have caused a domino effect and all four bikes would have gone down. Lesson learned, be sitting on your bike when parking it! Now at the Yard House, we relaxed outside on their spacious shaded patio in instant relief from the Temecula breeze of oven-hot air. Beautiful royal blue sunny sky surrounded us. Well-rested now and ready to return home, we mounted our bikes, ready to fly down the open road. No potholes, construction lanes, cloud-filled skies or cold temperatures to contend with here.

About 40 minutes from Palm Springs, we stopped at the Paradise Valley Cafe for one last break. Coming off the highway, you turn right into a gravel-lined parking lot. It is a bit of a turn to manoeuvre and there was a small, unanticipated pothole. Three of us were already parked in front of the cafe when we noticed a couple of guys running past us. Our friend’s tire didn't find the hole friendly, and while struggling to hold most of the weight of the bike, she ended up dropping it carefully, so no damage was done. Without hesitation, these friendly strangers had rushed to help upright her bike. The only thing hurt, she said, was her pride. Another lesson learned: when riding at an angle or encountering a pothole, be careful or the tire can come out from under you.

It was ironic that at that moment, Peter, the EagleRider staff employee who registered us all this same morning, came riding in behind us. He was coming back from Temecula as a couple of riders had experienced a problem (minor) with one of their rental bikes. Basking in the patio ambience, we were reviewing our day’s adventure, when two gentlemen next to us sparked a conversation asking whose old BMW that was. Surprisingly, he was from Calgary. We were all from Edmonton. My cousin had a nice chat comparing bike notes and then we continued on our journey.

After riding approximately 300 kilometres, we arrived home at 6 p.m. Darkness falls at about 7:25 now. My husband and I have only been riding for seven years (this our fourth time renting here), and Cheryl only got her license two years ago.If you want a release from shopping, casinos, and golfing, consider renting a motorcycle from EagleRider and enjoy the fresh air with no doors! Ride to Joshua Tree National Park and see a desert filled with an endless blanket of cholla cacti or marvel at the wicked, evil-looking Joshua trees that entice the sight of every camera . Breeze over to the Salton Sea and walk on its crunchy salt-encrusted white beaches filled with fishbones. Visit Borrego Springs for some awesome small-town Mexican cuisine at Carmelita's. Taste one of the many local apples grown in Julian. Or wind your way to Temecula and experience southern California's wine country. No mirages in this desert. Having ridden to all of these towns, I can attest that the scenery is stunning.

The attached picture shows, left to right, my cousin Andre, my husband Don, me, George, and his wife Cheryl at the vista point on Palms to Pines highway this past April. My cousin is in his mid forties and the rest of us are in our fifties, and we ride all the time.