Escape From LA

There are too many rats in this cage we call Los Angeles—nearly 4 million at last count. Sure, this place is a sprawling metropolis, but if you time the traffic right, you can be in another world in under an hour.

Take a look at a map and it's clear that one's best bet for escape would be a route heading north. Such was the course Associate Editor Zack Courts and I took during a recent dual-sport adventure, catalyzed by an invitation from Navitat, a zip-line facility that was recently strung up in the conifers above Wrightwood on the northern slope of the San Gabriel Mountains.

The Navitat expedition promised to be a proper adventure, so we chose two suitably adventurous bikes for the trip: Honda’s new CRF250L and Husqvanra’s TE 511 dual-sports. The ride from El Segundo to the base of the Angeles Forest Highway in La Canada Flintridge was only 15 miles, but proved to be the most challenging part of the trip, due in part to the Husqvarna’s short final gearing and the fact that it was delivered to us with just 0.3 miles on the odometer, necessitating varied engine speeds to assist with break-in. Despite having half the horsepower, taller gearing and more street-worthy tires made the CRF more fun on Highway 2 through the Angeles National Forest. Just 45 miles into our trip, we were already in another world, one devoid of buildings, crowds or traffic. Instead, we found ourselves surrounded by towering ponderosas, wildlife, exposed granite boulders, and even a little snow.

We arrived in Wrightwood in time for a mid-day zip-line tour, which included 10 zips (one measuring 1410 feet!), four suspension bridges and three rappels. It made for the perfect climax to a terrific trip, and a wonderful way to experience the outdoors while still fulfilling that need for speed and exhilaration that all of us motorcyclists crave.

With several hours of daylight remaining after our tour, we continued north, descending out of the forest and onto the floor of the Mojave Desert. The cool mountain air gave way to a hot desert breeze while the tall trees made way for shorter, spikier flora. Most roads in the Mojave turn to dirt shortly after leaving the highway, and we were glad to sink our knobbies into something more appropriate to our two dual-sports steeds. We rode miles of fire roads and single track, exploring a section of OHV area suggested by a fellow rider we met during lunch at Newcomb’s Ranch.

In the dirt, the Husky proved far superior to the underpowered and softly sprung CRF, but both bikes worked to transport us exactly where we wanted to go: Away from it all.