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Old 05-11-2013, 01:00 PM   #106
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Joined: Oct 2007
Location: tucson, AZ, It's a dry hate.
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Originally Posted by klaviator View Post
your last installment didn't need no skinkin pics. Your story was quite interesting without them

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Old 05-11-2013, 01:04 PM   #107
TucsonStan OP
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Oddometer: 49 Helix

The Real Cannonball.....Day 2

As a very early riser, I head to the motel's free breakfast right at 6am. I've had so many free breakfasts over the last 30 days that this one doesn't stand out as anything out of the ordinary or worthy of remembering. Afterwards, I head back to the room to load up and hit the road.

The best thing about Sunday morning? It's not raining! I'm on the road by 6:30am.

I spoke too soon. Five miles down the road, the rain starts. The storm is headed east and I'm riding west so I hope I can lessen my ride in the rain. It will continue for the next 5 hours. I ride through a lite rain, south towards Knoxville on I-78, looking for I-40 West.

On I-40, west of Knoxville, the scooter sputters a few times and quits. I pull to the shoulder. As I'd just passed an overpass as it quit, I slowly roll the Helix, backwards, down a slight grade till I'm under the overpass and out of the rain. Now what do I do? I run things through my head. I have two roadside assistance plans. Do I call AAA or do I call Good Sam Club? Do I get it towed forward, where I know of nothing? Or, get towed back to Knoxville? It's Sunday, nothing open. Tomorrow's Monday, most motorcycle shops are closed. On a lark, I turn the key and push the button. It fires up. Hey, what the hell! I guess it's not as serious as I first envisioned. I idle it for a bit. Then I twist the grip and head west again.

As I ride along, I try to run the "quit on the side of the road" scenarios over in my head. What I finally decide is that the Helix doesn't do water well. Now, as I ride west, I try to stay out of the water pools. I hate to ride in the center of the road because that always where the oil is. Now, I don't want to ride where the car and truck tires go because that's usually the lowest part of the road and therefore has the most water. This is turning into a tough ride. I ride on.

Somewhere around Nashville, the rain starts to peter out. Finally, it quits and I ride west towards Memphis.

It was just early evening when I ride into Hazen, Arkansas. First, I pull into a gas station to fill up. An older Lincoln Town Car pulls up behind me and I notice it has antique plates. I wonder how old a car has to be to qualify for antique plates here in Arkansas. I figure that I'll ask the driver when he/she gets out. When he does finally get out, the car shrinks a bit. This guy has to be the tallest person I've ever seen....and he's wearing Army fatigues! I look at him, he looks at me and I say, "I was going to ask you about the plates on the car but now I've got to ask, 'How tall are you?' ".
He says 7'.
"They let people in the army as tall as you?"
"I just barely squeeked in."
"How come you're in the Army and not the NBA?"
"Believe it or not, I'm not very good at basketball and the Army offers more security."
"Makes sense to me."

We chat a bit and go our separate ways. About 100 yards away, across a recently plowed field, is a motel. I'd stopped early today because I needed to change the oil in the Helix. Earlier, I'd bought a quart of oil and a gallon of water. I dump the water out, cut the plastic jug in half to catch the oil. I then fill the crankcase and use the empty quart bottle to hold the old oil. I tried to recycle it at several auto parts stores, with no luck. The next day, Monday, I ride west with the old oil safely stored in the topcase.

Monday morning, after another free breakfast, it's back on I-40. Now, get a clear picture, if you've ever ridden an interstate, you've pretty much ridden them all. All I do today is ride, stop for gas, take a pee break and then repeat, then repeat again, and again.

My father used to say that if you're not the lead dog, the view never changes. Riding the interstate, that adage is pretty much true, the view never changes.

Riding west out of Arkansas, I repeat yesterday's ride sequence....ride, gas, pee, ride, gas, pee. Every now and then, just for a change, I buy a Coke to go with my Clif Bar, then it's back to ride, gas, pee, ride, gas, pee......

Around dark, I start looking for a motel. I had planned to ride to Amarillo but it's getting late so.... Apparently, nobody stays east of Amarillo because I can't find squat. I wind up riding into the rain!

For those of you who've been around since way back when, you might remember that, prior to the start of the race, I'd only ridden in the rain one time. It was way back in Calhoun, Texas one afternoon, 30 days ago! In the last 4 days, it's rained on me every single day.

Shortly after the rain started this time, as I tried to avoid "deep" water, I'd hit a series of small potholes, all filled with water. Sure enough, 100 yards up the road, the Helix sputtered and stalled out. This time I just waited a bit. I didn't even turn the key off. I pushed the button and she fired up but she wasn't enthusiastic about it. After a bit of idling, I was off again.

In Amarillo, it's back to Super 8. After I get registered, the desk clerk guy takes me outside and shows me where I can park the Helix on the sidewalk, where it will be out of the rain.

Three days down. I had been hoping to finish the race by late Tuesday. I now know that that won't happen. If I can make Kingman tomorrow (Tuesday), I'll be in Redondo Beach by sometime Wednesday afternoon late.

Right here, I want to go back and tell you that every evening, after riding hard all day, I'd send a note to Alan. I want to see how he was doing and where he was. After day one, when I'd ridden in the rain into Greeneville, TN., Alan had stopped in Wytheville, VA. According to MapQuest, that put me about 125 ahead.

After day two, I was in Hazen, AR. Alan, apparently, is not a rain rider. After riding from Wytheville, VA. to Knoxville in the pouring rain, he was soaked through. He decided that he'd had enough for that day and got a motel room to dry out his stuff. Again, according to MapQuest, I was now around 500 miles out in front.

Day three found me in Amarillo and Alan in Ft. Smith, AR. I think he'd cut into my lead by about 50 miles. No where near enough to catch up before we reached the coast. Now my fear was that he'd ride all night and catch up. He had a bit of an advangtage if he wanted to ride late into the night as he had a chase vehicle. If he'd put the chase vehicle out front, he wouldn't have to worry about hitting hunks of tire rubber as they'd be able to spot them first. I don't think that happened as we seemed to maintain the same distance between us.

In the next ride report, I ride in snow!
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Old 05-11-2013, 06:12 PM   #108
Joined: Mar 2007
Location: Atlanta
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Great Stuff Stan- keep it coming!
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:36 AM   #109
TucsonStan OP
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Oddometer: 49 Helix

The Real Cannonball.....Day 4

The dawn of the fourth day of The Real Cannonball finds me at another free breakfast at the Super 8 in Amarillo, Texas. I'd been up since around 5am. Everything was packed up and sitting, out in the hallway, on one of those luggage carts that they use for people who go on trips with everything they own. I, on the other hand, could have run this race with what someone could carry in a reasonably sized tank bag. The clothes that I was wearing were the exact same clothes that I'd started the race in last Saturday, except for the socks. I've got to have clean socks everyday, other than that, who cares. Since it had been pretty cold for the whole race, what I was wearing didn't smell too bad.

Breakfast at the Super 8 in Amarillo, Texas was just another motel free continental breakfast but, if you're a biscuits and gravy person, avoid this place at all costs. I'm not a biscuits and gravy guy but thought that, for a change from cold cereal or Belgian waffles, I'd try some biscuits and gravy. The biscuits were ok but the gravy tasted like, as they were making the it, they tried to add a little salt and the top fell off the salt shaker. Describing the taste as tasting like brine does not do the taste justice. I told the young lady who was working there about it. I asked if they got it out of some package or made it fresh? She said they made it fresh everyday and that she'd made that batch that very morning. I put some on a plate just so she could try it. As I was leaving the room to load the scooter, I saw her adding milk to the gravy, I guess to thin out the brine taste. If she added the milk contents of several cows she couldn't make THAT gravy eatable.

With the scooter loaded up and the skies clearing, I head back out on I-40 for my everyday routine, which you already know about.

Now, I've been through Amarillo several times so I thought I'd get a picture of Cadillac Ranch as I rode west out of Amarillo. Never saw it. I know where it is because I've been there but this time I never saw it. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation thing I mentioned. Maybe it was just brain fade. Maybe it was my trying to move the finish line closer telepathically. Anyway, now that I think about it, since there's no picture, maybe that part of the trip never happened.

I had hoped to make Kingman, Arizona by dark. Didn't happen. Since we were riding west, as soon as I hit a new state, I started checking out the mile markers. Mile markers run west to east, with #1 being on the west side of the state. As soon as I saw the first one in a state, I'd know how far I had to ride before hitting the next state. I think it was over 100 miles from Amarillo to the New Mexico line. New Mexico is around 335 miles across, with Arizona being about the same. Riding to Kingman would have made for at least a 700 mile day and I knew that just wasn't going to happen.

The weather is clear and the ride good....until Flagstaff. It's getting dark and colder. I'm thinking that, if I slow the ride down, maybe I can creep my way into Kingman, making tomorrows ride to the coast, a shorter day. My arriving in Flagstaff brings another night of riding into a town in the rain. Greeneville, TN., Amarillo, TX., and now Flagstaff, AZ.. The only town that I'd ridden into around dark where it didn't rain on me, was Hazen, AR., but then, on that day, I'd already ridden 6 hours in the rain.

Somewhere in New Mexico, there had been a really big storm front directly ahead of me. I was a huge dark cloud where you can actually see the rain falling. I was headed west, it was moving north. I was hoping that I might be able to slide by on the south side. As I started seeing drops on the windshield, I stopped under an overpass and got out all the raingear that I wasn't already wearing to fend off the cold. Have you ever tried putting on raingear in a hurricane, with a steady stream of big rigs cruising by just a few feet away? With the wind blowing to beat the band, I manage to get all bundled up. I ride on west.

Now, 9 times out of 10, when I put on raingear, it's a signal to the Universal Powers that be to make it quit raining so I ride along in the dry, sweating death with humidity. This wasn't quite that bad, but close. I think I hit about 37 more drops of before the rain quit. As it was pretty cold, there was no sweating.

As it gets darker on my ride into Flagstaff, it starts to rain. Nothing serious but rain none the less. Since it's not heavy, I decide to push on. As I ride, the rain seems to be getting heavier. Riding at 60 on a scooter, a sprinkle can seem like a downpour. And, it's getting colder, much colder.

By now, I'm getting cold. I can feel my arms shivering because I can feel that I'm twitching the handlebars back and forth. And it's still pouring. I decide that discretion is the better part of valor and start looking for a motel. All of a sudden, the rain that had been hitting the wind screen on the helmet is sticking in slushy drops. It's snowing! One of those heavy, wet, very slushy types of snow. Now, it's heavier. And it's sticking more. The scooter windshield is covered. The helmet windscreen is almost covered. Big Rigs are rumbling by, just to my left, at 80 mph or so. I'm having trouble seeing the road. The headlight looks like it's looking into a fog. More trucks rumble by. I'm afraid to take my hands off the handlebars to wipe off the windscreen so I can see. I grip the handlebars tighter, trying not to shiver and shake things too much.'s all gone. For about 1/2 mile, I must have ridden through a really cold spot where the rain turned to snow. After that 1/2 mile, I rode into a warmer spot, by at least a few degrees anyway, because the snow melted even faster than it had stuck to everything. In all my concern about how bad it would get, part of me wanted it to continue till I got somewhere to be able to take a picture. The scooter, and me, all covered in snow was a picture that I really wanted to be able to post. Here is where I say, maybe next time, but I'm really hoping that there is no next time.

With it still raining pretty good, I ride into Williams, Arizona. Williams is the southern terminus of the Grand Canyon Railroad, which I have ridden to the canyon. Once again, I find a Super 8. I wonder if these guys have a discount card? Somebody pulls out just as I drive up and I'm able to park right in front of the office. There's no covered parking here.

In the morning, this is what I find....

I had no idea how cold it had gotten there but I hadn't seen frost that thick in many, many years. I tried scraping/wiping it off but decided to just wait for the sun to peek over the trees. I didn't take a picture of it thawing out but, as it did, I kept having to rotate it because the side to the sun would thaw, leaving everything else covered in frost. It was kind of like I was barbequing the Helix I had to turn it so many times.

Another free breakfast, minus the gravy, and I was away.

Wednesday. Day 5 of The Real Cannonball.

Hopefully, today is the day that I ride into the Portofino Inn, in Redondo Beach, California. I think I'm still around 300 miles ahead of Alan but I'm not sure. He didn't post anything last night so he might be ahead of me.

My regular routine continues, as I ride out of the cold of Williams, Arizona. Everywhere headed west from Williams is warmer. By the time I pass Kingman, it's really getting warm and I have to pull over to start peeling off some of the layers of raingear and clothing that I'm still wearing.

On across the deserts of California, I'm dreaming of the finish line and not having to ride for a day or two. Since I don't have a chase vehicle, I do have to ride home to Tucson but at a much more leisurely pace than I've ridden over the past 5 days. If it rains on my way home, I'll stop, not feeling like I have to push on.

I've ridden about 5 hours when......

After riding 2,760 miles, I'm dead in the water......

The drive belt failed. As I pulled over on the shoulder, the engine was still running. A turn of the throttle revved the engine but no go. Also the engine had a funny sound to it. I think that when the engine over-revved as the belt died, it might have done some damage to the valves.

As I sat on the side of the road, waiting the good folks from Barstow Towing, I noticed that the muffler was cracked. I think the vibration of the exhaust manifold had vibrated the cracks in the muffler. Way back in Texas, the guys at Greathouse Motorsports hadn't wanted to replace the exhaust manifold gaskets as they couldn't get one of the header bolts/nuts off. They'd told me about it and I was ok with it. I'd already been there 12 days and didn't want to be delayed any longer.

So, since way back when in Texas, I'd basically been riding on the Titanic. It wasn't so much as to if it was going to fail, but when.

Up there, just 240 miles away is Redondo Beach and finish line. Just 240 miles away. Hell, I can practically smell the salt air from here!

So close.....yet so far!

It's ok, I'll get'em next year.

Tomorrow....the "In Conclusion" ride report to " Helix"..
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:43 AM   #110
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Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Houston, TX/Breckenridge, CO
Oddometer: 1,139
Stan, my hat is off to you. I can see that you have the true spirit of adventure riding. From what other reports I've seen you are #1 in my book for the way you have approached this challenge not to mention how you have shared both your journey out and your experiences on the road making the best out of even the most trying of circumstances from mechanical issues to days of riding in the rain something that few people are really prepared to do for hours much less days on end.
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Old 05-13-2013, 04:41 AM   #111
TucsonStan OP
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Oddometer: 49
Originally Posted by cdwise View Post
Stan, my hat is off to you. I can see that you have the true spirit of adventure riding. From what other reports I've seen you are #1 in my book for the way you have approached this challenge not to mention how you have shared both your journey out and your experiences on the road making the best out of even the most trying of circumstances from mechanical issues to days of riding in the rain something that few people are really prepared to do for hours much less days on end.
CD......Thanks for the kind words. Looking back, even in the trying times, I tried to see something good in it all. There were a few times when I asked myself if I was having fun and would I do it again. The answer is a resounding YES! If there's ever another long distance scooter race anywhere, you can pretty much count on me being there.....
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Old 05-13-2013, 05:19 AM   #112
TucsonStan OP
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Oddometer: 49 Helix

In conclusion.......

Back in March, as I was preparing for the trip and trying to decide if I wanted to blog about it, one of the things I wanted to do was to keep track of every expense on the trip. I thought that people who were planning their own trips to wherever might want to have an idea of my expenses.

March 31st, 2013 Tucson to Las Cruces, N.M.

Gas $24.21
Drinks $3.01
Motel $47.51

And that was pretty much it.
Sorry everyone, but keeping track of every expense every time I had one quickly became a new job and I wasn't on this trip to take on another job.

The things that I did keep track of were the the big things.......
The trip took me 39 days. In those 39 days, I covered 7,602 miles.....on two wheels. There were a few more on the back of two different tow trucks but those miles don't count. In all those miles, I hit 21 states, not counting the ones I hit twice.

Since I got home, I managed to get the Helix taken apart enough to see the problems. I think I said before that I one great big equipment failure and was in the process of having another.

The failure of the drive belt is what caused me to drop out of The Real Cannonball........

This is a picture of a ticking bomb. If the belt would have made it, I think that the muffler wouldn't have......

So, to wrap it up....I wouldn't trade a minute of the ride for anything.

From here......

to here.....

to here......

It was all good!

And I thank you all for tagging along....

Up the road, if you come across an old coot riding a Helix, tap him on the shoulder and say hi, it might just be.......TucsonStan

P.S. Even though I didn't finish The Real Cannonball, since I rode 50 miles further than any other scooter in the race, does that mean I won?
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:20 AM   #113
I'll ride anything..
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Joined: Apr 2013
Location: East Texas
Oddometer: 21
You are a winner!!!

I have followed your ride report from the beginning and looked forward to each update. Even shivered a bit when reading about riding in the snow.
I do hope to see you and your Helix in future ride reports.

Thanks againn for sharing your experience.

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Old 05-13-2013, 07:35 AM   #114
Beastly Adventurer
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Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Houston, TX/Breckenridge, CO
Oddometer: 1,139
Originally Posted by TucsonStan View Post
CD......Thanks for the kind words. Looking back, even in the trying times, I tried to see something good in it all. There were a few times when I asked myself if I was having fun and would I do it again. The answer is a resounding YES! If there's ever another long distance scooter race anywhere, you can pretty much count on me being there.....
Stan maybe I'll see on you on the 2014 Scooter Cannonball. I'm seriously considering it on my GTS 250 to show that I've fully recovered from my recent accident which left me with a tibia plateau facture on my right leg and a broken ankle on my left. One month in on the recovery with probably 2-3 more before I can get back on a scoot.

Anyway, I admire the spirit in which you have done this challenge. It shows sportsmanship and class. You are the winner in my book.
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:27 AM   #115
long distance rider
Joined: Nov 2004
Location: Kingman, AZ
Oddometer: 33
Well Done!!!

Thanks for a great ride report. I really appreciate a guy that doesn't have to load up a $20K BMW or Goldwing with thousands of dollars of electronic gear and mapping software, multiple GPS's an such to enjoy a multi-thousand mile ride around the country. Like you, I don't camp much anymore, I really need a bed, a shower, FOX News, a little internet time, and a place to plug in my CPAP machine. But those needs seem to come with age, the ride is what's important, and you, my friend, have done the ride.

You've has given me much to think about. Being a seasoned (old) and long time touring rider (45 years and almost 400,000 miles) and much like you a paper map guy, I'm re-thinking the whole big bike thing. My DL1000 is getting to the point that if she decides to take a nap it's a real struggle to get her back on her feet. (or perhaps at 67 I'm just not as capable of picking her up as I used to be) I'm thinking a Helix or something similar might be the answer, light, reliable, and capable.

Thanks again, Mike
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Old 05-13-2013, 12:54 PM   #116
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Joined: May 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Oddometer: 6,730
Great report, I really enjoyed following along.

Stan, you did a great job documenting this ride. I hope you post your next big ride so I can follow along on that one too.
I ride, Therefore I Am.

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Old 05-13-2013, 02:05 PM   #117
Studly Adventurer
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Southeast Lower Carolina
Oddometer: 733
Sir, I suspect you have tested yourself and tasted life in many differing and challenging ways on your path to the present. Your numerical status at the finish of this Cannonball race pales in comparison to your status in the competition to live life with the spirit you exhibit. Winner does not describe you adequately in my opinion.
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Old 05-14-2013, 12:03 PM   #118
Just a good 'ole boy
Joined: May 2008
Location: Bowling Green, Kentucky
Oddometer: 444
Thank you for your ride report. Read every word of it. You are a good writer, something I envy others. As a past Helix owner, your trip had special meaning to me as well.
Nothing remains as constant as change
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Old 05-14-2013, 04:39 PM   #119
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Joined: Jul 2011
Location: Southeast Ga.
Oddometer: 347
Awesome report, Stan! As others have said, you are THE winner in my book. Congrats on a fine accomplishment.
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:29 PM   #120
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Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Salt spring Island the Hawaii of Canada
Oddometer: 204
You go Stan !
Great trip, and ride report . Paul
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