The Rock Store is a famous biker hangout a little north of LA. On any given weekend it is the destination of hundreds of bikes. One of the reasons is that it is on Mulholland Highway, which is a sort of miniature Deal’s Gap. It has nothing but curves and hairpins on flowing perfect tarmac for several miles. Like Deal’s Gap, enterprising photographers have set up shop around a few of the more notorious curves to catch you dragging a knee….. for a fee. Mastering the curves is a badge of honor, and for some it is a kind of martial art which requires continuous practice. but which can never be fully mastered in one lifetime. Of course, a road like this is also a favorite for cars and bicycles, and the local Porsche club wnet streaming (and squealing) by for a few minutes. It’s a little strange because it is undoubtedly a great piece of road, but there are fantastic canyon roads all over the region.
Which brings us to the second reason. The Rock Store itself. Years ago, when I visited, I never even went inside, so this was my first look at the place. Like many great bike destinations, the place itself is not very impressive. Inside, it is a small diner that has been expanded over time for more seating. No impressive memorabilia, no store brand merchandise for sale, it is (and I mean this is in the fondest sense of the word) a true hole-in-the-wall coffee shop diner. It doesn’t even have a great big impressive sign. You would drive by it if you weren’t specifically looking for it, and you missed the couple hundred bikes in the parking lot. It does have a nice little deck/patio area shaded by trees, so in nice weather (which they have a lot of), you can have breakfast or lunch outside. I only had coffee, and this is not a food blog, so I can’t comment on the cuisine. If you love Diner’s (and I do), then it is a nice little place, but then there are plenty of good Diners in LA (eg: Bob’s Big Boy, Cora’s Coffee shop, etc).
Which brings us to the third reason. The bikes. On any given weekend there are usually a couple of hundred bikes in the parking area. I was there early in the morning, on what SoCal folks call a cold day. It was 55 degrees and the sun was rapidly burning off the canyon mist. I had just left 20 degrees, 2 weeks of grey skies, and 3 feet of snow in my driveway. Everything is relative. As a result of the abominable weather, there were only about 50 or so bikes there at 8am, growing to about 80 an hour later. The reason I love gatherings like this as opposed to shows is the variety. Every modern brand is represented, and many ancient ones as well. There were bone stock 80s japanese bikes, a Ducati where I think even the ignition key was carbon fiber, a Vincent Rapide, a nice Triumph Speed Triple, a pristine Brough Superior, and on and on. There were a lot of interesting dual sport creations on hand. BMWs were surprisingly among the most prominent marques present. The F650s were plentiful along with the GS variants from 800 to 1200. My favorite was the showroom condition R1150GS seen in the accompanying picture. Pampered hollywood starlet you say? No, this bike has 32K miles on it and not easy miles after talking to the owner. He would not reveal his secret to keeping it this nice, and several of his buddies laughed when I asked the question, knowing that it is akin to asking for the KFC recipe. Several RTs were present, and a nice K1200R. Among the surprisingly few Harleys present was a very nice flat black example. To have an informal bike show like this in your area every weekend must be nice. And they all get to ride the HOV lane or split lanes as they choose !!
Where there are bikes, there are the people that ride them, and this is reason number four. Despite being a place known to be frequented by Jay Leno, Brad Pitt, and other celebrities, most of those who show up are regular motorcycle enthusiasts. I’m not sure at what age you become a crusty veteran, but I know them when I see them, and a few were present. For others, they came to prove that a ride in sub 60 degree temps to the Rock Store teaches perseverance and builds character. Mostly, however, there were a bunch of really cool guys out riding and stopping for coffee at the local bike hangout. The discussions that morning centered around heated grips and thermal liners. Due to my knowledge and the fact that I hailed from the snow kingdom, I became a minor Diety, and they almost carried me on their shoulders to sit atop the throne on the deck and have my choice of eligible wives. Except, they were cold and shivering, and the throne was actually a picnic bench, and there were no wives to be had. Bummer.