Where Do We Go from Here? 3

Conejo Valley via Electric Bike

My interest in electric bikes was piqued by my son who raved about his experience with the bikes during a visit to Schliersee, Germany.

The electric, or e-bike, is equipped with an electric motor that assists a rider when going up hills. The e-bike may seem like a new technology, but, in fact, it is nearly 120 years old and has enjoyed numerous improvements through the years.

Today’s e-bikes offer energy-saving abilities that are just what the environmentally friendly world is seeking. Experts say that for every 500 miles an electric bike is used instead of a car, a great deal of pollution is prevented. This translates into 3.42 pounds of hydrocarbons, 25.28 pounds of carbon monoxide and 1.77 pounds of nitrogen oxide.

The e-bike is suitable for commuters, delivery business owners, recreational and mountain bike enthusiasts and senior citizens. I recently had the opportunity to join a small group of travel writers on an electric bike tour of the Santa Monica Mountains, sponsored by Conejo Valley Tourism and Pedego 101 Electric Bike Shop. Conejo Valley’s excellent location and well-maintained bike lanes, beautiful parks, historic movie locations and great dining options provided the perfect setting for my e-bike introduction.

The Journey Begins

At Whizin’s Market Square in Agoura Hills, owners of Pedego 101 Linda Coburn and John Tajiri provided a brief lesson. My bike was a 24-inch Pedego Interceptor. Anyone who can ride a bike can ride an e-bike. The only new thing to learn is how to use the handlebar-mounted throttle, which accelerates the pedaling speed, pedaling force or both. The e-bikes can reach speeds of 20 miles per hour, but that’s not something I would recommend when traveling on the local hills and valleys.

From our starting point, Linda led the way to Paramount Ranch where we were met by Brian Rooney, our guide and local historian and author of Three Magical Miles. Brian shared the long history of the Paramount Ranch, beginning in 1927 when Paramount Studios bought 2,700 acres of grasslands with rivers and canyons. There, a set was built to resemble an old western town. The natural lighting was perfect for shooting silent movies, and even today, an occasional movie is filmed at the location. Paramount Ranch is a great place to walk, hike, bike and picnic, and a western-themed wedding was even taking place on the day of our visit.

The Old Place

From the ranch, we followed Brian on our e-bikes to “The Old Place” for lunch. Founded in the late 30s, The Old Place has had a long and varied history. In 1948, it was a general store and post office. In 1970, Tom Runyon purchased and converted the store into an old western-style saloon. Today, the saloon, run by Tom’s son, Morgan, has been transformed into a highly sought-after place to have breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. The signature dishes of steamed clams and oak-grilled sirloin steak are 45-year-old traditions, and the brunch was simply delicious.

The interior of the saloon is a mixture of old wood, photos and western artifacts with a 30-foot-long antique bar running down the center. The bar also serves as a giant dining table with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

Malibou Lake

At this point, I had built up enough confidence in the e-bike to travel up and down the hills of Mulholland Highway. Our next stop was Malibou Lake, located just south of the highway. This small historic lake, surrounded by the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, was created in 1922 by the damming of two small streams and has been the site of over 100 Hollywood movies since the silent film era. Our historian and storyteller pointed out where a very famous scene from the original 1931 movie “Frankenstein” was filmed. We were standing on the exact spot where Frankenstein, played by Boris Karloff, drowned a little girl in the lake.

The “Three Magical Miles” written about in Brian’s book were completed on the bike tour, but it was only a glimpse of the area’s rich and amazing history.

Carole Herdegen is a travel writer specializing in adventure travel. She has resided in Europe (London, Berne, Frankfurt and Dublin) for 18 years and has traveled to 65 countries and all seven continents.