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.