Motorcyclists from around the world choose EagleRider for domestic rentals and tours, so it was no surprise when the Chinese Harley Owners Group comes to America EagleRider is their first stop. The Shanghai HOGs picked up two-dozen Harleys at the EagleRider Corporate headquarters near LAX. Flying theirs Shanghai Harley HOG patches proudly the HOG members represent a new affluent class of Chinese businessmen and anxious travelers. With only 10 Harley-Davidson dealerships throughout China these riders love Harleys, and H-D loves exporting American Iron. The Chinese dealerships sell all they can get their hands on.
Girlfriend and I saddled up a 2012 Electra Glide Ultra Classic, and it’s easy to see why this is the ultimate touring Harley. They get everything right; it sets the standard for convenient, cross-country touring. For 2012 a 103 cubic inch Twin Cam engine is standard, which includes Electronic Port Fuel Injection and Electronic Throttle Control. The big twin engine produces 100 ft. lbs. of torque at 3250, rpm making molehills out of mountains.
The first night party in Long Beach included dinner at the Forbidden City Restaurant. A welcome gala hosted by the owners and the LBQA, Long Beach Qingdao Association. The city of Long Beach is sister city to Qingdao, also known as Tsing Tao, where the beer of the same name originated.
The next day we rode to Santa Barbara. There are Missions, museums, wineries, restaurants and shopping galore. The Shanghai HOGS were amazed and in no hurry, so staying overnight made sense.
Stearns Wharf has numerous shops and restaurants accommodating millions of visitors each year, making it Santa Barbara's # 1 tourist attraction. There are only a few California piers you can actually drive onto, and the fee was only two dollars for cars, but motorcycles were allowed to rumble over wooden planks for free, plus we had our own designated parking area.
We didn’t miss a visit to Deep Sea Central Coast Wines. It’s hidden in back of a second floor shop called Coastal Treasures (with the Seaman and Shark on the second floor). It opened recently and Manager Haley told us the vast Conway Family history in the wine industry. The rich wines were comforting and the views spectacular. We could relax and enjoy, or order food to go with a bottle of Chardonnay.
We lunched at Long Boards; the second story outdoor patio offers the best view of the wharf and ocean. The same great clam chowder is offered in both Long Boards and The Harbor restaurant below. That evening the Shanghai HOGs commandeered the pier for dinner at The Harbor and planned next day’s trip north.
We all stayed at the Harbor View Inn. It literally overlooks the harbor and wharf and the accommodations were exceptional. It’s a full-on 5-star, ritzy resort with all the amenities including a spa, but still the rates were extremely reasonable. Go to the website and sign up for their special promotions and coupons. In addition, they offered secure covered parking for our motorcycles. Amazingly quiet Harbor View was comfortable and serene with an adjacent stream, surrounded in a park like setting.
My favorite place for breakfast was Sambos a block away on Cabrillo Blvd. This historic location housed the very first Sambos and now the only remaining restaurant in the chain. It opened in 1957 and by 1970 there were 1200 outlets but controversy over the name (associate with the Story of Little Black Sambo) ultimately caused its demise. This first location is the only one left and owned by the founder’s grandson. I used to eat at Sambos regularly and their food was always terrific. My breakfast included blueberry mini-muffins, two eggs any style, fresh fruit or hash browns and pancakes for only $5.95.
We all headed to Solvang and immediately to the Solvang Motorcycle museum, The Shanghai Hogs were in hog heaven. Virgil Elings, owner of the Museum, co-founded Digital Instruments, which became the world’s leader in the design and manufacture of Scanning Probe Microscopes, the first scientific instrument to actually ‘see’ individual atoms. Virgil has been collecting motorcycles for two decades, and his museum is downright amazing. Open from 11-5pm Saturday and Sunday they house over 130 beautifully restored motorcycles of all makes. Every time your eyes move an inch to the right or the left, another astounding, perfectly restored artifact of motorcycle history dazzles you.
That evening we all kicked back at the Cambria Pines Lodge nestled on 25 wooded acres, just minutes from Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Accommodations range from rustic cabins to elegant hotel room suites with an excellent restaurant featuring local wines, and the Fireside Lounge with nightly live entertainment. With a heated pool and Jacuzzi all surrounded by world-class gardens providing homegrown organic produce to the restaurant. They offered a very affordable romantic dinner package, including your own cabin with fireplace, two dinner entrees, bottle of wine and breakfast the next morning. They were exceedingly motorcycle friendly and welcome large groups of riders.
The third day the Shanghai HOG’s headed to Hurst castle, I’ve been there done that and said my goodbyes. They were having the ride of their lifetime and continuing onto Lake Tahoe then San Francisco. The group planned to drop off their EagleRider rentals in Frisco and fly home across the Pacific. EagleRider is an international corporation with franchise locations and affiliates in 18 countries. Their newest facilities are in New Zealand and Australia. They are the world’s largest motorcycle rental and tour Company. There is almost nothing they can’t accommodate.
I had lunch at Sebastian’s near San Simeon pier at the base of Hearst Castle before heading back to Los Angeles and it turned out to be a most surprising meal. Sebastian’s is off the charts; the ten-dollar salad was so massive and delicious it fed both of us and we actually took some home.
I always rent my favorite touring motorcycle, the Harley Electra Glide Ultra Classic for long hauls. The four-speaker, 80-watt Harmon/Kardon Advanced Audio System sounded great at speed. The one-piece, two-up Electra Glide seat with passenger backrest was plush and comfy for both riders. Adjustable fairing-mounted air deflectors were amazing; it’s astounding what a difference they make in the cockpit aerodynamics. The Tour-Pak carrier and injection-molded hard saddlebags hold ample gear for a long haul and a trunk rack for more gear. Electronic cruise control is standard and I used it constantly. But whatever your choice, Harley, Honda, Victory Triumph, even Can Am Trikes, EagleRider has it.
Forbidden City: http://www.forbiddencityrestaurant.net/ (6380-A East Pacific Coast Highway Long Beach, CA 90803)
Harbor View Inn Santa Barbara: harborviewinnsb.com 28 West Cabrillo Boulevard, Santa Barbara, CA 93101(805) 963-0780
Solvang Motorcycle Museum: http://www.motosolvang.com/
Cambria Pines Lodge: http://www.cambriapineslodge.com/
Special thanks to the Shanghai Harley Owner Group and its Road Captain James Rice