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Weekend in San Diego

USA4 min read

March 26 - 28, 2010

Getting closer to the Mexican border, my friend Ruben in San Diego invited me to come over and ride Palomar Mountain, a heavenly road for sport bike riders. He moved out from Chicago a few years ago and while there he founded DRILL (Ducati Riders of Illinois) and got invited a few times by Ducati to their headquarters for club presidents' meetings and got to ride beautiful Italian sportbikes through the twisty roads there. He then moved onto vintage Honda motorcycles and currently has a '65 CB160 and a '74 CB200, which is his wife Barabara's daily rider. We planned to take the bikes out for a day ride to Palomar Mountain. His primary bike is a Honda XL650.

Getting some good eat at Pokez, a popular Mexican eatery.

I tried to find a spare rear sprocket for the DR and we went around to a few dealerships but no one had it in stock. This is at Fun Bike Center and a handsome looking Suzuki GSX-R race bike.

The grand daddy of all modern repli-race sport bikes, the Suzuki GSX-R750.

A cute little Honda Coupe from the 70's for sale at the dealership. Was going for \$4500. Why are cars so huge these days? :p

Ruben and Barbara's loft in downtown San Diego. A very cool living space. The building was originally used for trucks exchanging cargo back in the day.

They adopted this adorable doberman, simply called D.

D and Barbara. He was so well behaved (actually Ruben was holding a treat on top of the camera).

It's nice meeting all these supposedly aggressive types of dogs (from media impressions) who turn out to be such soft-hearted puppies. The fact that they (pit bulls, dobermans, etc) are so loyal and smart can be used by malicious owners to make aggressive dogs, but owners with good intentions can let out the true happy nature of these dogs.

Barbara on her Honda CB200, warming her up for the day's ride. She usually rides with all the proper safety gear when she commutes. Ruben got the bike for \$200 at a county fair and she required only a bit of work to be up and running.

Ruben and I setting off for Palomar Mountain Road with me riding the CB160. Check out the sweet scrabmler pipes. The gas tanks are only 2 gallons on these little gals.

We met up with Silvano, Ruben's riding friend from Chicago who's from San Diego, riding a recently acquired Ducati 996 superbike. I was riding the CB160 for all she was worth on the highway (probably 70 mph) and then lost about half my power. As with most vintage bikes, they need a bit of care and can be expected to break down.

We first saw a cut in the fuel line leading into one of the carbs. The vinyl lines looked aged and it cracked at a stress point. Ruben said he would change over to modern rubber hoses.

But that didn't seem to fix it and she was still running on half power. We opened the float bowl and saw one of the main jets had worked itself lose.

Dumping the fuel back in.

A cool little tool box on CB160 and kick starter.

Ruben buttoned things up and we were soon on our way to Palomar. The Ducati was like big brother bringing up the rear and looking out for the two little bikes.

At the top of Palomar Mountain. Silvano is also into vintage bikes and let me ride his Ducati all day long as he wanted to play around on the CB160. One of my dream bikes and getting to rail with it on one of my dream roads. Perfect.

Taking a break at Mother's Kitchen at the top. The CB160 attracted a lot of attention from all the other riders there.

Lots of sport bikes were there and lots of Ducatis too. This is a 1098S and check out clutch cover delete.

A unique exhaust on another 1098S.

The two Hondas powering up the hill to the observatory.

Silvano rejoicing in making it to the top. I think the bike produced about 16 hp, but handled pretty good.

The Palomar Observatory housing the Hale Telescope, built in the 1940s was the largest telescope at the time and is the reason the twisty road was built up and over this little mountain for us to enjoy today. Edwin Hubble was given the honor of being the first astronomer to use the telescope and subsequently discoveries were made of quasars, stars in distant galaxies and asteroids close to home.

A scale model of the primary mirror, a single glass cast of 200" in diameter.

A scale model of the telescope. The pieces were built in New York and the large tube had be transported through the Panama Canal.

Getting a glimpse of the actual telescope. The mirror is in the bottom kitted out with adaptive optics to produce even sharper images of space.

We were at 5,500 ft of elevation and it was quite chilly. Since astronomers primarily do their telescope work at night (dark skies), it can get quite cold and in the early days they used to wear this rudimentary heated suit that military pilots used to wear. Now they have heated rooms.

A beautiful cloud-less day to be out riding.

A view of the south grade of Palomar Mountain Road.

The classics zipping by.

What a joy to ride this wonderful motorcycle on just the kind of roads it was designed for. It was a torture rack on the straight sections but felt just right hanging off in the corners.

And contrasted with these two little run-abouts - racers in their hey days.

I thoroughly enjoyed Palomar Mountain and happy to finally have ridden it. Thanks Silvano for letting me ride the wonderful Ducati 996.

Heading back to San Diego.

Making it back to the city. Ruben was happy both bikes rode well all day as this was their first long day. The CB160 is having a resurgence as a great vintage racer with a race series in Los Angeles. It might only have 16 hp, but once it gets going, it actually feels pretty good and handles well too.

The CB160 in comparison to my DR650.

The roof top at Ruben's place.

Enjoying a Dunkelweizen beer under the full moon.

Ruben and Barbara grilling out on the roof. Thanks for being such gracious hosts. You made my last few nights in the US really special.

Mmmm, steak and asparagus.

Now that's a meal after a good day's ride. Looking forward to the steaks in Argentina...

Playing with D one last time. Thanks for the wonderful stay Ruben and Barbara. Hope you guys find a nice place with a garage and a companion for D :)

Leaving San Diego, heading east into Arizona to cross into mainland Mexico.

I'm currently in Ajo, Arizona, planning to cross into Mexico tomorrow.

Next: Small Town Charm in Ajo, Arizona

Previous: California Coast


Jammin thru the Global South was the 3+ year, 100,000+ km ride Jay did from the US to India via Latin America, Europe and Africa. Explore the photojournals at the Journey Posts tab.

Jammin Global Adventures is a tour company run by Jay Kannaiyan. He organizes small group, premium motorcycle adventures in Peru, Kenya, Mongolia, India and more.

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