I've been up to Palomar Mountain before, but never on the bike. I had some free time today to make a solo run. I did take a little detour to Julian. I recommend to anyone heading up the mountain to make it our there; it's a small gold mining town with cool little shops and quite a bit of history.
Heres a picture from a different trip there, I didn't take one this time.
From Julian I headed back down to Santa Ysabel and headed towards Lake Henshaw. This will take you to the South Grade Road, which is not as twisty as East Grade Road. Going uphill was pretty easy, just letting off the throttle and letting the engine braking + uphill grade scrub some speed off if the corners get too "hot".
There is a restaurant near the top that usually has quite a few bikes outside, however on this Wednesday afternoon it was just mine. The fact that they were closed probably accounted for the emptiness. The temperature was probably mid-to-high 50s here (altitude is around 5000 feet).
A little farther up the road is the Mount Palomar Observatory. You can see a peek of it in this picture.
From there I took East Grade Road back down. This is a very technical road with many blind decreasing-radius turns… it was fun as hell but a little bit nerve-wracking.
There were quite a few sets of black skid marks, both car and motorcycle, indicating where others came in a little bit too hot for a corner. These were good "hints" for me to slow my entry speed as this was my first time down the hill on a bike.
I did stop at a vista point for another photo of the bike.
As far as the pace was concerned, I honestly had no time to look down at the speedometer for most of the ride up or down the hill. I would say that I rode at about 80% of my ability, and probably 65% of the bike's ability. I see photos of folks coming around the corners down the mountain with a knee down but to be honest I just don't know how they do it. Maybe they have someone up ahead of them making sure there isn't an RV broken down around the blind corner, or maybe they just don't care and have been lucky so far… it's a public road and you can't account for other people on the road.
I know there are other write-ups of this ride on here but I thought I'd add my two cents. I recommend making the trip if you are anywhere near here.