This winter, I ventured from Detroit out to LA in hopes of riding motorcycles and doing absolutely nothing for four days. I had intended to borrow a friend's trusty but tired old Triumph and cruise around with no agenda. Then, of course, I got to Google'ing and found I could get myself an absolutely terrifying beast of a machine: The Ducati Multistrada.
Now, I ride old bikes. I have a CL350 cafe bike that's got about as much power as a pack of really minty gum. It has cable brakes. It has a cable clutch. It gives very little of a damn about anything. Now, the Multistrada, like all fine Italian exports, gives very much of a damn. 150HP worth. Now, all this juice is supposed to be kept in check by some very fancy traction and stability control systems, but those decided to error out and I was freeballing on a rocket ship. I'm an okay rider, not a great one, so I was very gingerly on the throttle for those first few hours.
I found my way out to the desert heading towards Palm Springs. Now, I knew it got cold in the desert, but 90MPH in 40 degree air will pierce through any sort of protective clothing you may have thought you had on. Even in the day time - even though it was at high noon - it was super cold anywhere I went. Eventually, the temperature picked up to a more LA-like 70 degrees. I survived, so far.
Under the cover of night, I made my way out to a ridiculously straight moonlit piece of pavement --- Oh, I mean I was totally on a closed course race track with ambulance and sanctioning body and safety barriers, yeah -- found my way into the upper reaches of the speedometer and achieved motorhead transcendence.
Returning to the city, I realized quickly that urban LA wasn't designed for relaxation but immediate frustration. If I was unable to split lanes (like in a car) I would've had a tiny personal meltdown. Thankfully, I was able to find my way back through some backstreets and - despite being late for my return time - I was able to return the bike because the dudes at the shop stayed late and got other stuff done waiting for me. I traded in the bike for a Honda Insight Zipcar that we used to get back to the airport, which I won't even dignify with a photo besides the space-age whammy dashboard. The Insight is firmly the reigning antithesis to the Ducati: It's slow, cramped, heavy and nearly silent.
If you find yourself in LA or most any other big SoCal city, I suggest spending a few bucks and renting your own monster from rentaducati.com
(seriously) and the helpful dudes at Beach Moto (they stayed behind when they didn't have to).
Then, once properly equipped, get the hell out of town.