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98 months ago

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A Ride Through Wine Country on the Victory Octane

Distance: 103.6 Km / 64.5 Mi Duration: 01:58:50

An Octane in Wine Country

An Octane in Wine Country

By Andrew Kohn

I feel pretty lucky. I live in a quiet part of California that doesn’t have a lot of traffic and has some amazing motorcycle roads just outside my doorstep. As I posted earlier this week, Victory Motorcycles is letting me ride a 2017 Octane for about 10 days. I figured there’s no better way to test a bike than to take it on some of my favorite local roads.

I fired up the EatSleepRIDE app (app.eatsleepride.com) in Vandenberg Village and started my ride. Vandenberg Village is a small bedroom community outside of Lompoc, CA and offers a great jumping off point from California Highway 1 to hit some great twisty roads.

I left the Village and headed south on Highway 1 where I turned off onto Santa Rosa Road. This road is a lovely two laner that winds its way through the wine country between Lompoc and Buellton. The road is in mostly good condition, though is a little bumpy in places, and highlights the beautiful hills and wineries of this region. The Octane provided a speedy, yet relaxed platform from which to view this road.

Santa Rosa Road

Santa Rosa Road

As I reached Buellton, I noticed it was time for lunch and stopped at the Firestone Taproom for a bite to eat. The small towns of the Central Coast of California have embraced tourism as an industry and Buellton is no exception. For a small town, it has lots of good eateries from which to choose, but Firestone is one of my favorites. After a great Bratwurst sandwich, but no beer since I was on two wheels (I’ll have to come back for a Growler of their locally produced brew), I headed out in search of more twisty roads.

I then headed east towards Solvang, a Danish themed tourist town, but I decided to avoid the crowds and take a spin on Ballard Canyon Road instead. Ballard Canyon has lots of elevation changes and is pretty narrow. The scenery is beautiful, though you have to watch out for inattentive tourists who spend more time gawking at the scenery than paying attention to the road. Ballard Canyon twists its way from Buellton to the wine tasting town of Los Olivos.

Originally famous for being the town closest to Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, Los Olivos is now a mecca for wine tasters who come here to get away from the city and try some of our local wines. The business district of the town is only about three blocks by three blocks, but the area is packed with restaurants and wine tasting rooms. As the temperatures were in the upper 80s on the day I rode, I stopped at Corner House Coffee for a cool drink and a rest in the shade.

Corner House Coffee

Corner House Coffee

After my break, it was time to hit the road again search of more fun. I decided to cross Highway 154 from Los Olivos and rode onto Foxen Canyon Road. Foxen Canyon is where many of the local vineyards are located including Fess Parker’s winery. Fess Parker was a movie actor in the 50s and 60s best known for his portrayal of Davey Crocket and Daniel Boone. After acting, Parker invested his time and money in his 1,500 acre vineyard which is really beautiful. It’s a great place to have a picnic and enjoy the warm California sun. Though the Octane looked pretty industrial in this bucolic setting, it still seemed to fit right in and received a couple of thumbs up from other visitors.

The top of Foxen Canyon Road

The top of Foxen Canyon Road

Fess Parker's Winery

Fess Parker's Winery

I continued up Foxen Canyon as it snaked its way to Dominion Road and then to Clark Avenue. The golden hills with row upon row of grape vines provided a relaxing backdrop to the ride. As I headed back into the town of Orcutt, I stopped to take a few pictures at Presqu’ile winery. Presqu’ile is situated on top of a hill and provides a spectacular view of the surrounding valleys, and on a clear day, you can see out to the Pacific Ocean. It’s a truly lovely setting, but alas, I had to keep riding.

Lovely Views at Presqu'ile Winery

Lovely Views at Presqu'ile Winery

After heading west through Orcutt, I turned onto Black Road and headed towards the tiny town of Casmalia. The valley opens up here with lots of cattle grazing in the distance and the sleepy town of Casmalia sitting on the edge of the ranches.

I continued up the hills past Casmalia through the public roads that bisect Vandenberg Air Force Base and then turned onto San Antonio Rd. This is a favorite backroad near my house. When I don’t have much time and just need to get out for a quick ride, this is one of my mainstays. Though I really enjoy this road, I also knew it meant that I was getting close to home and the end of the day’s ride.

To finish off the ride, I took Harris Grade Road back to Vandenberg Village. I previously posted the ride along Harris Grade here:

It’s always a fun way to end a great day of riding!

The Octane was a very willing and fun partner for this ride and I’ll provide a lot more details about the bike when I post the full road test towards the middle of June.

I’ll take another ride up the coast next weekend on Victory’s performance cruiser and will post the details here. Gotta love California weekends!

Links to places in the article:

Buellton, CA: http://www.visitbuellton.com/

Firestone Taproom. http://www.firestonebeer.com/visit/buellton.php

Solvang, CA. http://www.virtualsolvang.com/

Los Olivos, CA. http://www.losolivosca.com/

Corner House Coffee. https://www.facebook.com/cornerhousecoffee

Fess Parker Winery. https://www.fessparker.com/

Presqu’ile Winery. http://www.presquilewine.com/

Orcutt, CA. http://www.oldtownorcutt.org/

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