"It's Better to be Lucky Than Good" the story of an Airhead on the CDR
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Airhead and ADV community for everything you've provided to me...
I'm a new member and figured I'd just lay low, attend a few regional tech days, and grow out my ZZ Top Airhead wisdom beard. Ease into this community, slow and steady, like my R80ST. I had no idea how handy my new ABC directory would soon be...
Last summer, I had an opportunity to ride the Continental Divide Trail on my trusty steed-an 83 R80ST that I bought from Larry Stoner. Great dude, great bike. I spent months prepping the airhead for this journey. Enduralast charging system, r100gs front end (that had been down to Tierra del Fuego and back-thanks AW!), r100gs fuel tank, Baja Designs headlight, Acewell computer, pro taper bar, and Highway Dirtbike handguards. I took apart, cleaned and lubed every electrical connection on the bike, changed fluids and filters. I fitted Enduristan soft panniers, aerostitch tank panniers, strapped a set of DOT knobbies on the passenger seat, and hit the road.
I left my home in Oakland,CA on Friday, August 18, 2012 and made my way towards my rendezvous with the two compadres that I'd be riding the trail with. We were due to meet up at the US/Mexico border in Antelope Wells, NM at high noon on Monday the 21st.
I made my way across the waistband of California and rode through Yosemite.
I ended the night in Mammoth Mountain. Pizza and beer was like manna from heaven.
The next morning, I got a late start and set out to meet some friends in Vegas for the weekend. I fueled up, and gathered some supplies.
After donning my ATTGAT, I idled through Mammoth, feeling triumphant. The trip I had planned for so long had finally begun. Just before the freeway onramp, I noticed my bike seemed louder than normal and sounded like it was shifting clunkily. Great. I quickly analyzed the sounds and tried to diagnose-while being simultaneously bummed out that i hadn't even been gone 24 hours and the problems had already begun. I did a quick check of the bike and realized my issue right away. At some point, whilst loading the bike with water and sundries, I hung my fancy pants NOISE canceling earphones on my handlebars and hit the road. Son-of-a! I sped back to the drugstore and lo and behold-there were my earphones hanging on a nail on a post, right next to my parking space. An old man sat nearby and said "I saw them new fangled ear speakers fall off your bike as you sped away. I picked 'em up and hung them there so no one would run 'em over. Figured you'd be back." I smiled, thanked the old man, and felt dumb for feeling like I had everything under control. "Better to be lucky than good!" I thought as I left Mammoth for the second time that morning.
Hwy 395 was deserted except for me and the parade of Baja trophy trucks headed back from the running of the Vegas to Reno race. Lotsa honks and thumbs ups. I hung a left just past Bishop and grinned from ear to ear on the roller coaster ribbon of road that is Hwy 168.
I stopped at some point and enjoyed the leftover pizza that had been warming up all morning nestled inside my knobbies.
Desolation makes a wonderful appetizer.
Somewhere just past the middle of nowhere (death valley) the Beemer coughed, sputtered, then died. I was on a stretch of hwy 95 that was two lanes, no shoulder, speed limit 70mph and a head wind just this side of gale force. Semi trucks had already been passing me at Mach 4.5 when I was pushing 75mph. I quickly switched to reserve, and brought it down to 55mph. A sign up ahead told me the next town was 28 miles away. Limping along, I found myself thinking of that scene in Zoolander where they have a "water fight" at the fuel pump...dicks.
Back to reality. Reality is that the bike just died. Completely flat, nowhere to coast to, I made a quick decision and rode the bike down an 8' high 45 degree embankment into a sand pit. Awesome.
11:30am, 90* plus, no fuel. I checked my smartphone (smart, huh? why didn't you tell me there was no fuel station out here!) and it told me Beatty, NV was 18 miles in a straight line. Huh. I looked down at my motocross boots, and thought about walking a mile in those things. There's not enough moleskin in Nevada to get me to Beatty in those things. I opened up my side bag and started to dig for my flip flops. This could end up being a helluva day.
At this point I remembered all the trophy truck caravans I had seen, they've gotta have some fuel they'd be willing to part with, right? I scrambled back up the hill. Not a car as far as I could see. I could see far, by the way. I decided to give begging for fuel a shot for a half hour before hoofing it to the metropolis of Beatty, NV. Back down the sand bank.
I'd need a sign that passersby could read at 146mph. AhHa! I pulled out my Airhead Beemer Club directory and the back cover is wide open, ready for the word "GAS" to be written in sharpie. Man, so glad I joined that club! I made my sign, and scrambled back up sand mountain. I held up the sign as my first rescuer sped by. No brake lights, nothing. Next car, same thing. Huh, this could be harder than I thought. Wait..what is that? It's a Harley! He looked me straight in the eye as he passed me. He saw the sign and gave me a little wink. BRAKE LIGHTS! He pulled over about a half mile past my location. He was talking to a minivan that was following him and was motioning in my direction. He made a U turn and headed back towards me!
When he arrived, I was all smiles.
He asked- "need fuel?"
I laughed, embarrassed "uh, you guessed it."
He looked back down the road to the minivan and waved at them. They quickly made a U turn, and headed our way. I smiled, thinking that it only took 3 minutes to find a way out of this situation. I was literally holding that sign for 180 seconds. Crazy.
The minivan flipped a u turn in the middle of the freeway, and opened the side sliding door.
At this point I should mention that I don't have a lot of regrets in my life. I try to do my best to listen to that little voice in my head that says "if you don't ..... ...... you'll regret it". I hate regret. It absolutely eats my insides.
I mention all of this because I didn't FUCKING TAKE ANY PICTURES OF THIS PART OF MY ADVENTURE. I can only describe the occupants of the minivan, my Harley hero, and his 70 year old Japanese female passenger who couldn't even come close to reaching the passenger foot pegs on the bike. I should mention that not a single one of these folks had sleeves. Not the Harley dude, the geisha grandma, or the 4 meth'd out folks in the 1987 ford Aerostar minivan. It's interesting what you notice when sizing up a situation. No sleeves, funny that.
Two older men, two women in the minivan all motioned for me to get in the van. I looked around, wondered what an astronaut thinks about before entering a rocket before take off..is this safe? Am I making the right decision right now? F- it, I figured..this is definitely an adventure, and these folks seem umm..nice enough.
I grabbed all the necessities from my bike, and hopped into the van. Before I could close the side door, I was offered some kind of jungle juice in a red party cup. This is awesome. I graciously refused repeatedly, explaining that I was trying to make it to Vegas that night, and I'd need to be able to ride later (if they didn't kill me). They all laughed that no-teeth-having-I-smoke-20-packs a day-since-I-was-8 laugh. I settled in for the ride to Beatty and made the most of my situation. They were just returning from a morning at Goldfield, a nearby mining town that was having a town fair, and seemed to be really enjoying the drive home. They peppered me with a million questions, and were actually nice folks. The two phillies in the van kept trying to convince me that Vegas was waaaay too far away and I'd have to spend the night with them. (It should be noted that Beatty,NV and Las Vegas, NV are approx 120 miles apart..)
When we arrived in Beatty, I motioned at the only gas station in town and said I'd like to stop and buy a gas can. They just laughed at me and kept driving. We entered the "neighborhoods" of Beatty and stopped in front a nice double wide. They explained that they had a gas can for me to use. I figured that I'd just buy a fuel can and hoof it/hitch it back to my bike. It was at this point that Harley dude introduced himself and explained that he'd be taking me back to my bike in his truck. Wait, what? Back to my bike? Wow, I couldn't refuse their offer, the thought of walking what was actually almost 30 miles seemed unbearable.
After politely refusing the beer offered to me 6 times in the 5 minutes we were in the mobile home, Harley guy and I were off to the gas station in his air conditioned pickup. (I'm big on not refusing drinks offered by a gracious host, but even bigger on not driving drunk.) He brought one of the guys from the minivan with him just in case I needed help pushing my bike back up the embankment! We stopped at the gas station, filled up the fuel can (1 gallon) and headed back out onto the surface of the sun towards my thirsty steed. After refueling and reloading, I told Harley guy that I'd fuel up, and refill his can, then meet him back at his house. He smiled and said "Do your best to get outta this sand trap, then we will talk about gas." Ugh. No real dirt experience, a sandy embankment, and a fully loaded airhead. I did my best to moto up the sandy embankment on my bald street tires. Made it up first try and sped off with Harley dude and sidekick in tow. As I approached Beaty I couldn't help but notice that I was rapidly approaching 30 miles since refueling. Now 35. 36. 37. Shit. I was gonna run out of fuel again! As the bike began to stumble, I coasted into the gas station in Beatty. Phew.
I filled the R100GS fuel tank to the very top, and proceeded to burp/spill fuel all over my tank bags. Maybe that Zoolander scene wasn't too far off. I filled the fuel can and went into the mini mart in search of supplies. I wanted to buy a 1 gallon fuel can and bungee it to the rear rack on the airhead to avoid a repeat of the day's festivities. Not a fuel can to be purchased anywhere in that store. Grrr. I don't walk out empty handed however..
When I was in Harley dude's house I made a mental note of what kind of beer was being consumed (very quickly, I might add) and bought a 24 pack of "Lite". I headed off to deliver cold suds and warm thanks for all the Beatty gang had done for me that day.
You got me.
Good read so far.:wink:
Pulling into the hotel that a friend had recommended (7 hours later than I had planned) I took off my drenched riding gear and stumbled into the lobby-delirious from the heat and lack of food. The nice lady at the front desk promptly informed me that they were full. The perfect storm of multiple insurance conventions and hotels remodeling was taking place around me. I was crushed. The thought of putting all my gear back on and setting out to find a hotel seemed too daunting of a task.
I stumbled off to the corner of the lobby and weighed my options, dejected. In my exhaustion induced haze I looked across the lobby and noticed the hundreds of convention goers that had filled up my destination's amazingly inviting pool. They were cannon balling and can opener-ing just to spite me. I put my head in my hands.
Just then a guy from behind the desk asks me if I need any help. I look up and tell him I need a pool and a bed, or I'm going to die. He laughs and says "gimme a sec." He returns exactly one minute later and hands me a card with a room number and an address. Tells me that the hotel one block away has a room reserved for me, with his "hotel employee" rate. I smile, and move in to give the guy a friendly handshake and hug. He takes a half step back upon smelling me and settles for the handshake.
Better to be lucky than good.
I miss out on the day's people watching by the pool where my friends have a cabana rented for the day, but make up for it by going full throttle that evening, into the wee hours of the morning. Ahhh Vegas.
Hell yeah, I'm in! :clap
I like yer style! :clap
I'm in on this one.
I'm in :freaky
Oh sweet. This already off to a good start. :clap :ear
I wake up at the crack of... 9am...only 3 hours later than I planned on waking up. Not bad considering the damage I did to Vegas' bourbon supply the night before...ughhh.
The only downside to my lovely hotel room was that it was on the second floor, middle of the building. The only parking space that I could find was quite a ways away. While this hotel parking lot was well lit, I didn't feel comfortable leaving my knobbies strapped to the bike overnight. I quickly realized that I would be spending a significant portion of my trip unloading, unpacking, repacking, and loading. It was to become a morning and evening ritual for the better part of the next three weeks.
I bid Vegas adieu, and hit the road. The streets that border the Vegas strip are surprisingly less "glamorous" and I found myself thinking about old west movie sets where the buildings look great from the front, but are nothing more than 2D illusions. I guess $20 Manhattans buy better movie sets....
Since it took me FOREVER to load my bike, and don my gear, I was now traveling in the middle of the desert heat in August. I had one of those cooling vests, and it worked pretty well. I was wearing Klim traverse pants, Gaerne SG10s, an Acerbis psi suit, and a Darien light jacket w/o pads. I had every vent open and it honestly wasn't that bad while moving. Fuel stops were torturous and shade was a godsend. At some point on the first day I figured out that my Kriega backpack was really hampering my airflow through my back vent, and I searched for a place to stash it..inside the tires on the passenger seat? That would make it tough to get to the drinking tube.
Hmmm..maybe..yup, that would work! The shoulder straps fit perfectly over my tank panniers and it now became an impromptu tank bag. Drinking hose in a perfect position for one handed access on the road, and back vent fully open! Hellllloooo airflow! Now it only feels like 130*F. Sweet.
Throughout the entire trip I would look down and smile, love it when something works better than you thought, or a bit of imagination/creativity makes the day better.
My goal for the day was to make it from Vegas to Lordsburg,NM. That's quite a haul, IF you get an early start. Leaving at 11am- it's just plain dumb.
Hi, I'm dumb.
It's about 570 miles, and I HAD to make it to Lordsburg. I needed to make it to a hotel room that night (it was Sunday) and change over to knobbies first thing in the am. I was supposed to meet my two cohorts at the Mexican border in Antelope Wells at high noon on Monday. The last thing I wanted was to hold anyone up because I couldn't make it to the start point of the trip due to poor planning on my part.
With Vegas in the rear view mirrors, I charged (as much as an airhead can charge) ahead across the desert. Motored by Lake Mead, rode across the Pat Tillman memorial bridge. I would have liked to stop to see the Hoover Dam, but not enough time on this trip.
At some fuel stop, I decided it would be a great idea to leave my chest pocket open so my ATM card would be able to fly out at freeway speed. Solid move.
Hey look- there's a big locomotive in Kingman, AZ.
(There's a train in the background, too)
I stopped at a wallyworld and finally purchased a one gallon fuel can, and some other sundries I needed for the trip. Back on the bike.
I passed through Phoenix around 5pm and glanced up at a roadway thermometer and laughed as it flashed "5:07pm 106*F". I glanced around and thought about how F-in hot it was, and then I noticed that people in vehicles in the lanes on either side were laughing and pointing at me. They all had their windows rolled up, AC blasting.
As I continued my pilgrimage across the surface of the sun I noticed some darkening clouds way off in the distance. I was heading towards Tucson, and the weather ahead looked...interesting. Lightning cloud on the left, check. Lightning cloud on the right, check. Ribbon of freeway laid out in front of me, check. Sigh, what could happen?
The next 20 miles provided me with the most intense lightning show I have ever seen. I had to stay focused on the road with nature's laser light show all around me.
As I entered the Tucson city limits, the rain-no-the DELUGE started. Raindrops the size of cannonballs were being fired at me from a thousand pirate ships in the clouds. It was actually really difficult to see the road in front of me. On some level though, I was enjoying the rain, the adversity. The temp had finally reached a manageable level (94*f) and it felt good to ride in the rain. I pushed on.
At a fuel stop somewhere past Tucson I noticed a group of Harley riders huddled under an overhang cowering like soaked kittens. They all turned and watched me ride up to the closest fuel pump. I smiled under my helmet as I noticed their chrome clad steeds sitting out in the rainy parking lot. I took my helmet off, and started to fuel up the Beemer. Their eyes were burning a hole in my back.
"So-that some kinda fancy enduro bike?"
My airhead is fancy!
"Something like that." I replied.
"This rain is pretty serious, huh? We had to stop cause our bikes just aren't made to handle that kinda pounding. Hell, we don't even have jackets!"
"Yeah, seriously fun! It's been quite an adventure so far! Well, ride safely. I've got a long way to go, and a short time to get there. I'm eastbound, just watch ol' bandit run."
The look on their faces...classic.
I motored away and settled in for the last 130 miles of the day. I don't remember much about it, just focused on the prize and did everything I could to stay alert enough to keep the bike upright and headed east. The day (and previous night) were catching up to me.
I pulled into the (insert national motel chain name here) motel around 0130 and found the lobby. The nice man seemed amused at my "state" and quickly sent me on my way to my room. He mentioned that the storm I just rode through provided the greater Tucson area with something like the second highest rainfall totals since they've been recording weather. Well, that's something, I thought.
Parked the bike, unloaded my shit, collapsed on the bed, and enjoyed 5 hours of the best sleep of my life.
Covered a very small part of the CDR in Sept. (parts of Co and Wy) from what I covered, I'm interested in riding it all..
Looking forward to the rest..:clap
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