Minneapolis to Las Vegas Baby
Las Vegas Baby
Minneapolis to Las Vegas, did Vegas two and a half years ago zigzagging and camping there and back for three weeks...Fab! A restructuring at work a couple month later, did 5 weeks Mexico & Belize (formerly belizebiker). Unreal, I’m hooked. Heidi and I always talk about doing Las Vegas again, we really like the Hard Rock Casino and think of it as a resort. Broke the pig and booked her a flight. I’m giving myself 6 days to go out, plenty of time to explore and get into trouble.............. Took off a week and a half ago Thursday. It was raining steady all morning and temperatures in the mid thirties. The plan was to take off at 2:00 PM with two buddies of mine that would go half way. Looking at the radar loop from work it looked like the rain should pass by around noon, cool. But cool is right, the temperature at 11:00 AM was 39 Degrees. My buddies canceled and I knew they would, neither had touring equipment for cool temperatures. So I booked, I wasn’t going to wait for 2:00 PM for the temperature to drop. Booking from Minneapolis on I35, wanting to fly south down the freeway to warmer weather in Iowa and Kansas. I just put on two new tires, Metsler ME880’s. What a difference from the dual sport nobbies I had been running, my Sporty doesn’t vibrate (ha ha) any more and corning is a dream. If I’m going on mostly a road trip I should have road tires, and I’m sure the Metslers will do just fine off road. ...... The clouds were gray and heavy with winds at about 25 out of the north. 85 to 95, I’m making good time stopping just long enough to gas and stretch. Coming into De Moines the clouds are looking a lot darker ahead. So far I had zero rain and it was still cold, I didn’t want to get wet. The radar I looked at before shoving off showed a lot of activity near Kansas city, just where I was planning on heading. This is where I feel like cavebiker meets the Jetsons, I call up my buddy in Minneapolis and ask him to take a look at the NOAA regional radar loop for Kansas city and for Omaha, my two possible routs, South or West. Cool!, rain and heavy activity near Kansas city and only thin fingers of rain near Omaha. West I Go. …………. Had a little bike trouble the first day, my battery post bolt came loose and she wouldn’t start unless I pressed on the post. I always pack a lot of tools. This job calls for loosening the battery and moving it so you can stick a long screwdriver through the bike frame to the battery. Ya gotsta have a steady hand and not slip. I waited for the last minute and did it just before it started getting dark. It would have been stupid to try to do it in the dark. http://cavebiker.smugmug.com/photos/4510271-L.jpg
I made it as far as Omaha till I hit my first light rain. It’s been dark for about an hour so took the first exit about two miles up and pulled her into a Motel 8. Nice little bar across the street, “Leisure Lounge” recommended. ............... Next morning I had a clear sky and calm seas, super! Singing South down Kansas doing 90, 100,
The state highways are great here, they don’t ‘T’ they swoop with the merging highway ramping on. Nobody around but me, liken life. Cruised Hwy. 83 south to Hwy. 50 West and into Colorado. I crossed the border just about dusk and pulled into the first rest stop. I couldn’t believe it, a dirt service road twisting back behind numerous sand mounds. Perfect primitive camping where no one will ever see me or know I’m there. The sand was deep and tough going but I got back behind a big mound in tall grass, paradise. The night was clear with a billion stars and best of all, WARM.
Woke up to about 60 Degrees, clear sky and calm. I’m packing light this trip so no stove. For my coffee fix I carry a bottle of cold coffee, I’m lucky I like it cold. Food I do nuts, dried fruit and a protein bar. When I’m cruising all I want to do is cruise or hike or swim, eating ranks way low but I recognize the need for proper nutrition and hydration for safe riding. A breakfast like this is perfect for slamming down, packing up the tent and hitting the road for some serious cruising when I’m the freshest. I shudder at the thought for the need to find a restaurant first thing in the morning to fill your gut instead of getting on the road and doing what your out here to do, cruise. But everyone is different, I know sitting down to eat is a big part of it for a lot of bikers. ........ I’m still trying to make good time wanting to spend most of my exploration time in south western Colorado and Utah. Blasting across south eastern Colorado, vast desert and open road with the snow covered mountain peaks in the distance.
What a blast, taking the cafe racer position and scrapping the kick stand on left turns. I can see the thrill you guys on Crotch Rockets must have and wonder what it would be like to be driving one now, cool. .... From La Junta Co. I took Hwy. 10 west to Walsenburg then on to Hwy. 160. The atlas shows 160 is scenic route. I plan to stay on that all the way across Colorado to Cortez. I tool into Alamosa and hit some planed roadway surface in town at about 35 MPH. After a couple of blocks something feels squirrelly. I pull into the first gas station. F-ing rear Flat, it was all the way flat. I’m feeling around for the nail, I do the whole tire and don’t feel a thing so I start looking real close. I couldn’t believe what I see, the flipping thing was split wide open right down the center of the tire for about 5 inches. I just touch the rubber and the split opened wide, I could see right down to the cords. Well I guess I can’t save this tire. My options are limited: New Tire. My mind is racing with thoughts of all the fast cruising I’ve been doing and I’ve been in the middle of nowhere. I’m thanking God for my good fortune and at the same time cursing Metsler ME880’s. I had less then 20 miles on this tire before starting the trip, 1200 miles it splits! ME880’s SUCK! Us bikers depend our life on our tires, we can’t have new tires split! I had about 70 lb. of gear and I go about a buck eighty, 33lbs in the tire-> No Way was I over loaded. Any way, I asked for a phone book at the gas station and call up the only bike shop in town, Mark’s Outdoor Sports. Mark had a Maxims something tire in my size. He sent over his truck with trailer to pick me up and in less then an hour and a half I was back on the road. Thank you God and Mark from Alamosa! ........ The scenery is really getting great now and I’m getting into a more of a exploration cruise mode, stopping at rest stops more, scenic over looks and cruising secondary out of the way side roads. Somewhere north of Mancos CO. I pulled into a state park camp area just to relax and chill for a bit. I was chillen and the guy came to ask me to pay for the night. I looked at the great spot I had, over looking a valley, tons of trees hiking all around. Gave the Man $12 and set up the tent. A key to successful cycle camping is getting food and hydration supplies before you stop and pitch tent. The camp is set, I lay back in a nest of pine needles over looking the valley and crack a beer (hydration supplies), Ya!
........ Next morning the weather was great again. Clear sky and the smell of pine. I took a fast hike around the mountain for about an hour. Feels good to get the heart pumping and the leg muscles working after 3 days of cruising. When I’m on a cruise it’s ALL about ME. I stop when I want, I eat when I want, I swim and I hike when I want. My goal is to end my cruise in better shape then when I started. Hey, what ever works. For me if I can make something positive come out of my cruising I’ll want to do it more and I’ll feel healthier when I’m doing it , PLUS I think it makes the beer taste better :).
..... Down Hwy. 666 into Utah then south on 191 to west on 95 to 24 west to Hwy. 12 south, then in and out of Bryce canyon, then to Hwy. 89 south to 9 west into Zion national park. Wow wow wow wow wow! When we finally climatize Mars this is what I imagine driving around the planet will be like. I’m sure you southwestern people do it all the time and it’s no big deal but for the rest of us, if you haven’t done southern Utah, Do It.
....... western Colorado and Utah I was starting to see a lot more bikers. Just getting into Utah I came up behind 4 sport bikers. Cool, sometimes I like riding with other bikers I’m not traveling with (no coordination necessary) but these guys where going 65 in a 65, I was in the 75, 80 in a 65 mode. I slowed this mode down a lot still knowing I had a Metsler on the front. But anyway we were all having fun with continuos twisties but I couldn’t pass and do my 80 thing. We were cruising for what seemed a long time when some autos starting coming up on us. I even wanted more then ever to do a blast pass and get rolling but it was that twisty and 4 bikes ahead of me made a long thing to pass. No way would I pass and end up in the middle of a pack of 4 bikes traveling together here, it’s way unsafe! The cars came up behind me and Holy grap, the one directly behind me was a highway patrol. Wow, what have I been doing right lately? (I - Do - Believe - In - Karma) Now it went from OK to sad, we were going 60, wtf. I saw a sign for Boat Ramp and peeled off, what a find. When I saw THIS I immediately thought this could be the winner in the “Great water crossings” thread. What kind of bike would you need to cross this, for sure some sort of ski system along side the front tire and maybe just some huge knobbies?
Super clear water and all my own except for a water skier in the middle. A long swim, a little laundry and a 30 minute nap in the sun, perfect!
I was talking to some other bikers and I mentioned water. One of then said “Lake Powel, 75 miles up”, cool. 75 miles I see a lake powel sign, 3 miles up a dirt road. I wait for a closer spot. The next, same thing, so I head up the 3 mile dirt road. 3 miles later It started getting real rough. I meet a jacked 4WD pickup with the back filled with blow up rafts, coolers, fishing stuff and a bunch of kids. We pull up along side and I ask the intelligent question, “Is there any water down there?” (da!) he says “ya, if you can get to it” so I say “What, is it that tough?” he looks at me “Naa, you can do it, there’s two trucks, no, now just one truck back there” “OK, thanks” we all wave good bye.
Wah! the tough stuff was OK, I know to keep momentum in deep sand and keep your feet on the pegs like your ridding a dirt bike
but the scary part, no shot of that coz I wasn’t going to stop. Two tracks one about a foot and a half higher and both are angled steep to a no shoulder steep ledge.
It took forever and the lake wasn’t much but some great riding and scenery. http://cavebiker.smugmug.com/photos/4512693-L.jpg
.......... This country is full of primitive camping opportunities, I found a great one over looking this canyon.
...... I’ve herd a lot about Bryce canyon so I pad the $10 to drive down the 15 mile road. Well worth the bucks.
I checked out a couple of the hiking trails, the first one and the one at the end of the road. Way, way cool. you don’t need to go vary far from the head to get to some great stuff.
Of course I went way down and was blown away. It was tough going coming back up but the temps were perfect for hiking and I got some great shots.
..... OK this is a bike trip report so, this is at the end of the road going into Byrce canyon. Few tourists, nice. This may be a drag during peak season.
.... Talked with some other bikers at a rest stop and one said “you got to do Zion National Park” I’m glad I paid the $10 to do Zion, I didn’t allot time for any hiking but some great scenery from the road.
...... OK “Las Vegas” I got here at about 7:00 PM, a day early just as planned, my wife fly’s in tomorrow. Immediately I go to the Harley Davidson Calf at the south end of the strip and have a beer. Great people watching spot, but hey, this is Vegas, where on the strip isn’t great people watching? http://cavebiker.smugmug.com/photos/4516465-M.jpg
After the beer I go a few block off strip just down from the Tropicana Casino to the Motel 6, $36 for the night, three pools and a 24 hour store, sweeet! Unpack the bike and take a nice swim. This is good. I attempted to scrape some of the bugs off my leather pants getting ready to do the strip. I cruise up and down the strip, fun.
I can’t believe the billions of people walking everywhere. I end the tour back at the Harley Calf, a bunch of local bikers were hanging out. I joined them for a beer and some interesting conversation.
I get the bike back to the Moter 6 and walk over to the Tropicana Casino. It’s fun to have a cocktail and watch the local girls work the bar. This time I got worked. I noticed a girl go to the bar for a water. Nice face but I didn’t guess she was working based on how she was dressed, mini skirt but puffy? I guess that’s in? Any ways a half hour later the stools on bath sides of me open up. In no time the same girl is back two spots away on my right, then the introducer (or what ever you want to call her) moves in right next to me and says she would like to introduce us. She was tall with butch black hair, big boobs, a striped red and black jump suite and a kind a goofy look on her face. I said “No, this is fine just like this!” but she was gone as fast as she arrives leaving me and the one in the puffy mini shirt. I make a little small talk, slam my cocktail and take off for the night. Good time. ..... I get to the Hard Rock by about 11:00AM, Heidi should be here at around Noon.
I unload all my gear to the bell hop and checked in. Score, the room is ready now, I get all my stuff up to the room and have a StarBucks Expresso looking out the patio doors over the pool. I was waiting for the elevator to go down to the lobby and Heidi pops out. Sweet! Let the party begin.
..... Vegas Vegas, our best trip ever, the pool was a lot more lively then the previous times in Fall. We love the pool. It’s like being at a Caribbean beach Resort with nothing but tons of gorgeous women in bikinis jumping in and out of the pool with cocktails spilling all over.
Travel Channel rates this as the best pool in the world. We are the only people I know who go to Vegas for the Pool. To me it’s more fun then losing money and less money then flying to the Caribbean, plus I can drive my motorcycle!
OK Heidi is waiting for her airport Limo and I’m packed for the cruise home. http://cavebiker.smugmug.com/photos/4517915-L.jpg
I was on the road by around 2:00PM, weather beautiful. I planned on getting some serious miles in my first night, just cruising the freeways. I15 north to I70 east.
Almost made it to Colorado before dark, great scenery! Around 2:00 AM I could feel the air start to cool and figured I was starting to climb into the Colorado mountains. Not wanting to miss the scenery I took the first exit with a ‘Camping’ sign. Super spot with this rushing stream 10 feet from my tent.
..... Next morning got on the road by about 9:30 and cruised. I like to stop often but not for long, just long enough to shake off the kinks and muscle stings. I get this stinging in my Trapezoid and middle back muscles that make me need to stop, but just a short stop and I’m ready to go.
I’m getting close to Denver where I was planning on taking I76 east to I80 to De Moines. I was in clear sky’s but a huge wall of clouds line the east just past Denver. The cloud directly in my line of travel has a huge anvil shape head that’s probably reaching 20,000 feet. My sailboat cruising experience says this is Not Good. This is big sky country and I could see that to the north looks clear. I changed my planes, go north into Cheyenne than play it by ear from there. That morning I went 8 miles on back roads to go from my camp site to the freeway. Once on the freeway I went to put my feet up on the highway pegs and NO left highway peg. Crap, the bolt sheered clean off. So any way I pulled into a Harley shop just off the freeway in Fort Collins to get a new highway peg. One nice thing about Sportsters is there’s Harley shops all over and if you have the money they have the part. Flip, $160 later I have new highway pegs and I did an oil change. An hour later back on the road. I didn’t even get to the end of the service road and noticed that my clear route north to Cheyenne has been closed shut, huge black cloud racing in from the north west. The big wall cloud to the east was starting to break up so I’m back to trying to head east, Hwy. 14 east from Fort Collins. All was good for a while but then it turned noticeably colder with a huge wind from the North. Then every once and a while the road would be wet, then spots of snow or pilled up hail an inch thick, the patches were only a 100 yards wide at most but this is weird. I hit the freeway I76, I pulled into the first rest stop in Nebraska. The sigh said it had weather information. Sweet, just what I need. I walked up to the main building and two people were standing there talking. I asked if they were drivers and they said, “Yes” and showed me their rigs. The guy told me a stories of a something knuckle head he had and one winter he had a fight with his wife. He drove the bike right through the trailer home front door and down the road in -40 Deg weather. Said he was fine coz the hard snow at that temperature but ran into trouble the first intersection where there was black ice (northern people know what I’m talking about here) His bike slid out into the intersection and the front wheel got munched. He still has the bike and hopes to someday restore it. The Female trucker also had a story but not as good. Anyway I asked them if they know what the weather is doing from here to Omaha. “Bad” The guy said “And the hail got so bad I tucked under an underpass and then a tornado passed by”. wow. The rest stop had a monitor set up that flashed a map with the counties that had flood warnings, ones that had tornado warnings and ones that had thunderstorm warnings, plus they showed the current radar, unreal! I could see for sure I wasn’t going to continue east on I80. They all suggested to get the first motel, I said “What fun would that be?” I studied the radar for a while and decided heading north again would be the best option. It just turned dark so I wasn’t going to travel far. Got to Ogallala and took Hwy. 61 north. About 10 mile up I saw a Miller sigh and pulled in, I knew there was a state camp site near. The place just got a liquor license so I ordered a Jack on the rocks and directions to the camp site. I had four people around me with maps to show me the site that was literally just across the street, Sweet! Camped on the shores of lake McConaughy, $4 per night. Next morning I continued north to SD, then east on I90.
Once in Minnesota I head north on 169 toward Minneapolis (That was last night). Around St Peter about 70 miles from Minneapolis I started hitting wet roads and the sky looked dark. It was just starting to turn dark and I didn’t want to quit now so I downed a hot chocolate and put on my rain gear for the first time this trip and headed out. By now the sky is started to break up and the roads were all dried. With the rain suit on I was nice and warm. Drove it straight down to my local biker bar “The Joint” to have a shot of tequila and a glass of beer. Sweet, I’m home. Good cruise!
Hitt'n the road on a scoot, is there anything better? :thumb
Cool ride report :thumb . Someday I'm gonna get myself a cruiser and do the whole laid back touring thing. Is that a HD Sportster?
Great report! Well done! :thumb thanks for posting it! :clap
When are you FF's going to stop telling everyone how great it is around this part of the country? We want to keep this area a secret so we have it all to ourselves...
Nice ride report and great pics! :thumb
What size ME880? I've got about 4k on my 160/70-17 with no problems.
Like your riding philosophy and making it a romantic adventure is the icing on top. Your report is inspiration for a Mpls-Reno rendezvous, hopefully the right circumstances will come together as they did for you.
TERRIFIC RIDE AND REPORT !!!!!
As always, GREAT report. How much fuel does that thing carry? I always get a bit nervous when exploring dirt and I don't recall any of those sportsters having that much range.
I put a 3.4 gal tank on when I went to Belize. If I travel 55 to 65 MPH I can get 150 to 170 miles before hitting reserve but this trip when cruising 80 to 95 MPH I once hit reserve at 107 miles. I always need to stay aware of where I am, how much gas I have and where the next fill station is. To me this kind of adds to the adventure, what fun is having a big cruiser tank where you don't even have to think about it (Yes, I know I'm warped).
Cave boy. Good name, you gotta be CroMag to ride a 90's Sportster that far. Hats off, thats a real adventure ride all right. :lol3 :thumb
Total OLD SCHOOL road trip! No GPS, no GSAdv size tank, no hard cases....niiiiiiice. :nod
Man...if more guys rode their hogs that much instead of trailerin' them 'round the country... :thumb
Ja ! :nod
Hey and thanks for your comments and everyone else’s. It inspires me to continue adventure riding. Life is so short and there are so many places I still want to check out. We all need to MAKE the circumstances come together, not hope it happens (O wow, that's kind of Zen like).
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