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Old 08-20-2010, 04:59 PM   #1
JDK1962 OP
Returning Rider
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Oddometer: 12
Boulder, CO to Las Vegas, NV and Back Again

The plan: leave Wednesday afternoon, ride from Boulder to Las Vegas with as little interstate riding as possible, get back by Sunday.

Day 1: Boulder, CO to Ouray, CO (324 miles, riding 2:15PM to 8:00PM)

I wrap up work around 1:45PM, finish packing, and am off the driveway by 2:00PM.

My first stop is still in Boulder, at Mike's Motorcycle for a tire repair kit (better safe than sorry). On the way over, I realize how hot my Icon TiMax gloves are, and decide that a pair of summer weight gloves are in order. I buy the kit and the gloves, and am quickly on my way. The FirstGear gloves, mesh with leather palms, are a definite improvement.

I head down 93 to Morrison, and then onto 285 toward Fairplay. It's pretty, but I'm still trying to dump the last week or two of work from my brain, and to convince myself that I'm where I belong. It's a struggle. Listening to Boz Scaggs on the headphones helps, as does getting into the mountains, and getting some cloud cover.

In a short passing lane, a truck thinks he's fast and stays in the left lane after passing a car. I quickly pass him on the right, and the passing lane ends. Maybe he honked at me. Don't know, don't care. He's behind me, where he belongs.

285 is nice, but unremarkable, and the towns blur into one another. I have my first fill up just past the intersection of 285 and 50, right around 5:30PM. I send a text message to my lovely wife, and go inside to drink some water, have a candy bar, and clear the insects off my face shield. Back on the road, I head west on 50. I go over Monarch Pass. Riding past Blue Mesa Reservoir is pleasant, the only down side being that I'm heading due west, into the setting sun, and itís low enough to be an annoyance. But the landscape is finally inspiring me to stop and get out the camera.

Not sure why I like it so much, but I always feel better riding near water. Water and deserted roads.

I keep riding, and my next gas stop is Montrose. It's 7:45PM, the sun is still up, and it's 90 degrees. I decide to push on into the mountains, and head south on 550. Good decision. The road begins ascending, it gets cooler, and the views are better. But unfortunately, it's getting darker, and the last thing I want to meet is a grazing deer or elk around a blind corner. At 8:30, I decide to call it a night in Ouray, and find a room at the Ouray Chalet, trying my best to ignore the assonance. The room is expensive, but it's the mountains. I feel safe leaving the motorcycle in the full parking lot, since there are at least half a dozen Harley and Yamaha touring motorcycles there as well, each worth at least $10,000 more than my ride.

Dinner is an indifferent corned beef sandwich and a cup of Guinness beef stew at the town's Irish pub. TV till 11PM, then sleep.
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Old 08-20-2010, 05:28 PM   #2
JDK1962 OP
Returning Rider
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Oddometer: 12
Day 2: Ouray, CO to Las Vegas, NV (640 miles, riding 6:00AM to 6:30PM)

I am up at 5:30 without an alarm. I'm moving around getting organized, and at 5:45, the power goes off. It's still off when I leave the room at 6:00AM and drop the key in the "key drop" (an open mailbox). Once again, I'm eager to get moving.

Ouray's a nice little town...not much traffic at 6:00AM.

The road starts going up seriously at this point, and I'm glad I stopped last night. This doesn't seem to be a great road to do in the dark. Note the lack of guardrails.

I'm on the road to Red Mountain Pass. I'm pretty sure that's Red Mountain up ahead, the sun just hitting the top.

And here we are at the top. Note to self: 11,000 feet at around 7AM is a bit chilly, even in July.

Now there's the descent into Silverton, and the crossing of the Molas Divide, but it's not quite as dramatic, just pleasant early-morning riding over mountains and through forests. And the occasional construction delay. At Durango, I get on the 160 toward Cortez, and there I have breakfast at Denny's. Dennyís because (a) it's 9:30, (b) Iím hungry, and (c) I donít feel like searching Cortez for a good cafe. I refuel the bike before leaving town.

I follow the 160 west out of Cortez. The road is a bit of a slog, nothing special. Since I'm not quite sure how often the filling stations come out here, I refuel again in Kayenta. At the pump, Iím approached by two Native American men within a minute of each other. One trying to sell me tacky Navajo jewelry, the other also trying to sell me jewelry, but with the explanation that they are trying to raise money for gas to get back to the "RV" (reservation?). No doubt to restock supplies of tacky jewelry. When I decline to purchase anything from the second man, he asks if I could put a few dollars of gas in his tank. I decline again.

I had originally thought of taking 160 to 89, but taking 98 appears to be an option that would shave 50 miles off my trip. My main concern is that it might be a bad road, potholed blacktop or worse, but I decide to risk it. Good decision. Itís a beautiful and nearly deserted (no pun intended) road, the first 20 miles with fresh blacktop, and the remaining 40+ miles perfectly acceptable.

Highway 98 ends at Page, AZ, near Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border. I stop at a "trading post" (read: grotty convenience store) with 80's-style gas pumps out front, half of them out of order. The middle-aged woman clerking is text messaging when I put my things on the counter, and does not look up for another 30 seconds or so, till she has finished with her text. She rings me up without a word, and returns to her texting. I take my purchases--Gatorade, a Mounds bar, Eclipse gum--outside to a wobbly picnic table under an awning. The Gatorade is cold, but the Mounds bar is melted. On top of the ice machine, I see a clear plastic bag with a pair of jeans and a Safeway discount card showing, and wonder whether someone recently got out of jail and why they wouldnít want their pants.

I donít usually chew gum, but my mouth had been getting dry in the heat, and I thought gum might help. I chew two pieces riding through Page. Once I'm over the Glen Canyon Dam, the gum has lost its flavor and I'm ready to spit it out, but I'm wearing a full face helmet. I figure I'll spit it into my gloved hand, then toss it away. Unfortunately, what I spit into my hand has the consistency and stickiness of warm caramel sauce, and I stop by the side of the road to clean up my glove as best I can with paper towels and Kleenex. What a mess.

89 is seriously dull. Or maybe I'm missing its charm. The map says I'm cutting through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, but I think I'm at a dull bit (a thought later confirmed). I fill up with gas in Kanab around 3:30. Iím not as far as I thought Iíd be, but Iíll get an hour back when I cross into Nevada.

89 out of Kanab, on the other hand, is quite pleasant, and when I get onto 9 toward Zion National Park, there's even less traffic. I use my annual National Parks pass to avoid the $25 fee for driving through the park, and the ranger tells me "the road's a bit rough after the second tunnel." The park is (obviously) beautiful in that southwestern desert canyon way, but it's hot. I find myself stopped at an automated red light where the road narrows to a single lane, and it stays red for at least 10 minutes. And I am baking behind an Escalade, breathing exhaust. We come to the second tunnel, and there's another wait. The man in the car behind me comes up and offers me a cold bottle of water. I decline, since I have water in my pack, but in retrospect wish I hadn't, just as a way of acknowledging how kind the gesture was. We get moving again, through the second tunnel, this one longer, and when we come out, the road turns to loose gravel, and whatever that surface is when you remove the top layer of roadway. What is that again? Dirt? And it stays like that for the rest of the way through the park. Maybe the vistas were magnificent, but I'm looking at the roadway so I can keep the bike upright, and when I look up, I'm in a dust cloud. Meanwhile, it's Thursday afternoon, I see construction equipment, but not a single worker. You're telling me people pay $25 to drive on one of the worst roads I've ever been on? And you're not even TRYING to get it repaired?

Things donít improve after the park. In Springdale, I join a parade of cars carefully going the speed limit. At the head of the parade, a Utah state trooper. After several miles, he pulls off to set up a speed trap, and once he's out of sight, I pass the remaining cars as quickly as I can. But now I'm coming into Virgin, UT, and the signs are saying "Reduce Speed Ahead." Lots of virgin jokes are coming to mind, and none of them concern Richard Branson. Iím getting punchy, I think; the heat is becoming unbearable.

Expletives start coming more easily. 110 degrees and St. George is still 30 miles off? Merde. A ďReduce Speed AheadĒ the town fathers realize that moving and moving quickly is my only chance to get out of the Easy Bake oven they call a town, and maybe get a degree or two cooler? Schiesse. By Hurricane, Iím so miserable that I buy a McDonald's milk shake (though in my own defense, I did end up tossing the last third in the trash), and in the parking lot, I pour water on my t-shirt and over my head. I'm starting to get worried. I've still got over 100 miles to go, and it's all interstate through the desert. As Iím about to depart, a woman wearing scrubs from an assisted living and hospice facility asks how I'm doing. Turns out she moved down from Ogden to get away from the cold. Glad it worked out for her.

Hurricane to I-15 is multi-lane and unpleasant, cars all eager to get where they're going, driving fast and shifting lanes like people trying to find the fastest checkout line in a supermarket. I-15 is no better. The wind picks up, and it seems like every fifth vehicle is a semi, and passing means getting blown around by the unpredictable gusts of their slipstream. At 80 miles an hour, the only air coming into my helmet is overheated, and I feel like I'm in a convection oven.

My jacket is half-zipped, and the air pressure is pulling the jacket sleeves back, leaving a four centimeter gap between the bottom of my gloves and the jacket sleeves. I can feel the strips of skin on both arms burning. I've never ridden in heat so intense that riding fast offers no relief.

Not much shade through the Virgin River Gorge. The riverbed, from the little I can see, looks completely dry.

Mesquite, Nevada, is just over the Arizona-Nevada border, and is my last scheduled gas stop. I fill the tank at the Chevron, and leave the bike under the canopy while I go inside. I feel awful, overheated and nauseous. I buy Gatorade, 30 SPF sunscreen, and a Chapstick, and drink the Gatorade while staring out into the seriously overheated afternoon. When I've finished, I use the restroom, buy another bottle of water, apply the sunscreen and Chapstick, then go back outside. I pour more water on my shirt, drink the rest, and set off.

All I can do is watch the miles accumulate with agonizing slowness. I can feel my throat drying out and my lips parching. I try to stay with the traffic; everyone is driving at least 80, and many are at 90. All I can think is how hot it is. I tell myself I'll stop at the next gas station and buy another bottle of water, but the next gas station doesn't show up. A rest stop with a tree would be nice, but there are no rest stops, no trees, and no place to stop other than out in the open. There are no insects on my face shield now, only dust; I donít think insects can deal with these temperatures, either.

Iím not taking photographs in this portion of the trip. Iím not finding the desert photogenic, so the only purpose is to serve as reminders for later writing. But Iím feeling physically ill, and donít pull the camera out.

At 5PM, the afternoon sun is high enough to still be fierce, but low enough to catch me full in the face. Iím hoping that Feynman was right about UV rays not going through glass (he didn't mention Shoei face shields), because otherwise, my nose is going to be toast. I'm out of options at this point, and the only thing to do is to gut it out.

I'm headed toward Summerlin in western Las Vegas, and am trying a new route this time, taking the beltway (I-215) around to Lake Mead Blvd. As I quickly realize, this is a much longer way to my destination. Maybe a little less traffic than I-15 and 95, but probably 15-30 minutes longer. My throat is closing up, and I stop at the side of the road near an intersection, dig my emergency water out of my tank bag, and drink half of it. If I had a teabag, I could make tea, the water is that hot. But I'm thinking I might be in the beginning stages of heatstroke, and if so, I need to head it off long enough to get to my Mom's house.

And finally, the Lake Mead Blvd exit, and five minutes later I pull up on my mother's driveway. She's been waiting for me, and opens the garage door. I pull in and shut off the bike.

"You look like a Hell's Angel," she exclaims. I donít take it personally, since I know she has very limited experience with bikers. I probably just looked like hell, which was close enough.

"Ice water, please." I follow her into the house and lie down on the living room carpet. I have hiccups, I think from stress, and need to get prone to get rid of them.

The hiccups and nausea pass, we go to the pool and I soak for close to two hours, then spend 10 minutes in the hot tub, thinking it'll help my muscles. A light dinner, and I'm asleep by 10PM.
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Old 08-20-2010, 05:29 PM   #3
JDK1962 OP
Returning Rider
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Oddometer: 12
Day 3: Motorcycle sitting in garage

A rest day. My motherís hobby is gambling, so I accompany her to the Rampart. I play blackjack with a $100 stake for well over an hour and am up to $160 at one point. Then I take a break, and when I sit down again, a dealer on a hot streak wipes me out in 15 minutes. We have the lunch buffet at the Red Rock, visit Costco where my Mom buys a Blu-Ray player and a new TV...then I spend the rest of the afternoon hooking up electronics, and removing old devices, remotes, and cables from the clutches of mutant dust bunnies.

Another visit to the pool in the late afternoon, where I try to find the shady bits in the pool, make conversation with my mother's cronies, listen to oldies on the sound system, and think that this must be what itís like to be retired.

In the evening, I re-assemble my tank and tail bags and prepare for departure. The daytime temperatures here scare the hell out of me, so I've decided to leave at 5:00AM, to get out of Nevada before the sun even knows I'm gone.
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Old 08-20-2010, 05:49 PM   #4
JDK1962 OP
Returning Rider
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Oddometer: 12
Day 4: In Which I Recover From a Healthy Dose of Stupid

Day 4: Las Vegas, NV to Torrey, UT (426 miles, riding 11:30AM to 8:00PM)

I sleep badly, desperately wanting to back on the road, and out of Nevada. My alarm is set for 4:30AM, but I've forgotten to reset my Blackberry from Mountain to Pacific Time, so it's actually 3:30. At 4:15AM, I'm waking my mother to say goodbye. I load up, and notice the rear tire looking low. Really low. Oh well, don't want to worry my Mom. I'll carefully drive to the gas station a mile away and put some air in the tire.

I fill up the gas tank and start putting in air, and after I get to 15-20 PSI, I start hearing hissing. I have a puncture. I start looking for it and notice that my rear tire looks bad. Really bad. Like, no tread, and white threads showing in places. I can't believe I didn't check my tires after my nightmare ride of Day 2, but now I've got a major issue. I can't leave Las Vegas without replacing the tire. I run inside the gas station and check the phone book. Nothing's open until 9AM.

I fix the puncture and take it up to 35 PSI. I'm not hearing hissing, so that's good, but now I have to turn around and head back to my mother's place. The patch seems to be holding.

At 8:15, I set out for Carter Powersports. The most direct route is the beltway, I-215, from Lake Mead down to Decatur. Unfortunately, by the time I hit the Town Center Drive exit, I can feel the rear tire is going flat. At first, I think it’s the heavily grooved road, but as I slow, I can feel the rear wheel trying to overtake me. I get off the exit, hoping there's a service station, but there's nothing except a massive appliance store, R C Willey, with an empty parking lot, and some shade on the west side of the building. It's maybe 8:30 and already I need shade.

Cell phone reception is good, and my phone still has half its charge, so I get on the phone to try and fix things. I call AAA. My plan doesn't cover motorcycle towing, but after 20 minutes on hold, they sign me up for a plan that does for an extra $27, waiving the $275 fee for needing it on the same day since I've been a member for 20 years. Then they transfer me to AAA Nevada to arrange for a tow...and it turns out they don't do that. In Nevada, you arrange your own tow and file for reimbursement. Ok, well, thanks for nothing, AAA. 32 minutes, 16 seconds gone (I check my cell phone log after the fact to make sure that call was as long as I thought it was), and my patch of shade is getting smaller.

I call Carter Powersports, and talk to Tim, the service manager. He turns out to be an unusual combination of kind, sympathetic, and helpful. In less than 20 minutes, their pickup truck pulls into the parking lot, Kyle gets out, and hands me a cold bottle of water. We load up the bike and take it the 10 miles to the shop. No one gives me crap for being a noob who doesn't know how to take care of his bike, and for coming to Vegas on tires that, by all rights, should have left me stranded by the side of the interstate in the middle of the desert (assuming that I could manage to bring the bike to a controlled stop if the tire blew out at 80MPH). In 90 minutes or so, I'm out the door with new front and rear Michelin Pilot Powers, a chain lube, and a Cramp Buster. I’m feeling pretty good about this dealership as I roll out at around 11:30AM. Thanks, guys, you were terrific.

I go south on Decatur and pick up the I-215 to the I-15, taking the curves like they’re ice-covered while giving the tires a chance to wear in a little (luckily for me this morning, once on the I-15, you can’t really do anything except straight for the next 100 miles or so). My experience in Vegas is that the drivers are pretty bad, so I played it safe and used a cage driver doing a steady 65MPH in the middle lane as a blocker, till I got north of Speedway. It was hot and unpleasant, but it was bearable, maybe because I had just had a liter of water and half a liter of Gatorade. Or maybe it was because I am so incredibly happy to by on the road again, no longer worrying about my tires.

After another fill-up at the Chevron in Mesquite (and more Gatorade, more sunscreen for my wrists, and more water poured on my shirt), I continue out of Nevada, across the tiny corner of Arizona, and on past St. George. Toward Cedar City, it finally becomes bearable, and at a rest stop, I put the CrampBuster on my throttle.

At Cedar City, I get on Utah 14, and there my day begins to turn around. No more heat, and I'm riding through the Dixie National Forest. Finally, I’m relaxing again.

14 joins up with 89, and I fill up the tank again at the junction. 89 is pleasant but unexceptional. Perhaps I like this road a bit less because I’m getting rained on, am getting sprayed by the cars and trucks ahead of me, and am having a hard time finding passing opportunities. Finally, I fight my way past the pickups hauling travel and horse trailers, past the rain, and arrive at the junction for the Utah 12, which leads up to Bryce Canyon and beyond.

It's hard to explain how and why the 12 is so spectacular. Certainly the detail map above gives little indication of anything, other than of relative emptiness. It's marked as a Scenic Byway, but that undersells it. There are red rock canyons that you ride through, up close and personal. I skipped Bryce (one of my favorite national parks), but the surrounding forest and rock formations are similar and almost as beautiful. Then you're into Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Photographs fail to do it justice, because it's a landscape of what I think of as "50 mile vistas." There's no focal point for photographs, just these massive, awe-inspiring panoramas that go on forever. In photographs, they look insignificant. The only thing the photograph does is remind you how massive and huge the vista is when you’re in the middle of it.

Put another way, it’s like photographing Paris from the Eiffel Tower. The photographs show Sacrť-Cœur on a hilltop in the distance, a toy Arc de Triomphe, a tiny little őle de la Citť floating in the Seine with a tiny little Notre Dame, and so on. But when you’re there, in the moment, the effect is magical: I’m looking out over Paris from the Eiffel Tower!

If you look maybe an inch above the motorcycle seat in the picture below, you can see a ribbon of road down below in this amazing crenellated valley that goes on forever. Gives it a bit of scale.

I have this pullout to myself for five or ten minutes, but then others show up, including three older guys on motorcycles who want to talk. The oldest wants to tell me about a repair they just did to the gas line on his Honda 500 that was leaking fuel past the spark plug. They repaired it using J&B Weld, some sort on binary, epoxy-like compound. They show me the tubes. I excuse myself and get back on the road; typically, the fewer people I encounter on a ride, the happier I am. It's called Avoidant Personality Disorder, and due to the nature of the disorder, there are no support groups.

The road keeps changing. I leave the rock and scrub valley floor, to drive along the top of the canyon above the Escalante River.

More amazing roads that I have to myself, and views that go on to the horizon.

The road changes again, and I’m back in the Dixie National Forest.

And now, aspen groves, and pasture in between.

I ride over the summit at 9600 feet, and then the road descends through more twisty canyons. When the 12 meets the 24 at Torrey, I pull out my map, thinking I'll push on to Green River, still buzzing from the amazing ride. But I see it is nearly 8PM, and over 120 miles to Green River, so I decide to stop at the Days Inn in Torrey. I fill up the gas tank (thinking ahead to my early getaway tomorrow), and check in. The desk clerk tells me I may park under the portico, which seems like a good idea.

I bring dinner back from the Subway/convenience store next door, and am asleep by 9:30.

JDK1962 screwed with this post 08-22-2010 at 05:04 AM
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Old 08-20-2010, 05:58 PM   #5
JDK1962 OP
Returning Rider
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Oddometer: 12
Day 5: Torrey, UT to Boulder, CO (473 miles, riding 6:15AM to 4:00PM)

My alarm goes off at 5:30AM, and I am in the breakfast room when it opens at 6:00AM. I am eager to get going, so I get only an orange juice and a Nutrigrain bar and go outside to eat. Itís windy, but the temperature is perfect, perhaps mid-60s, and the sun is not yet up. I want to get on the road immediately, so I finish my breakfast, grab my stuff from the room, check out, and load up.

I turn on the ignition, press the starter and...nothing. Huh?

Lights are strong, so obviously the battery isn't dead. But there appears to be a new light glowing. The fuel injection light is solid red. This isn't good. I dig out the under-the-seat user manual, which says ominously that if the FI light is red, go cautiously and directly to the nearest Honda dealer. Well, it's Sunday morning in Torrey, Utah, and the nearest Honda dealer is probably in Grand Junction, 200+ miles away. Heís probably got the day off anyway.

Well, let's see if I can get this puppy moving. I try jumpstarting on the small incline out of the parking lot. No dice. Not even a hint of starting. Now I'm getting nervous. I decide to try again, pushing the bike halfway up the steeper driveway of the hotel next door, as far as I can before my meager energy gives out. It's hard to swing my leg over the tailbag while trying to balance the bike, but I manage without dumping everything. I start down the incline, get up some speed, let the clutch out with the bike in third gear...and nothing. Merde. I can't believe this, especially after yesterday. I'm now in the middle of nowhere with a non-functional bike. I guess I'll go back inside, get on the internet, see if I can figure out how to reset the FI computer, and hope that's the problem.

Before getting off, I do a final scan of the bike. Is there anything that could be causing this? Then I notice that the big orange "Engine Stop" button appears to be in the STOP position rather than the RUN position. I flick the switch to RUN, and to my amazement, the FI light goes out. I flip it back to STOP and the light goes back on. Back to RUN, I press the ignition button, and my faithful 919 fires right up. Since I never, ever use the engine stop button, I can only assume that someone, maybe one of the many kids staying at the motel, was checking out my motorcycle the previous evening and casually pressed one of the few buttons they could, and gave me 10 unpleasant minutes to get my day started. Oh well, lesson learned.

(That night back at home, I made a note in the under-the-seat manual as to what the FI lamp means: either (a) take it to the dealer to look at the FI computer, or (b) CHECK THE FREAKIN' ENGINE STOP SWITCH POSITION. Even simpler, remember the FINE acronym from the MSF Basic Course: FuelóIgnitionóNeutralóEngine Cutoff at RUN.)

And I'm off again. More deserted roads through canyons, the sun hitting the tops of the rocks.

The road begins to open up, and gets less interesting. Pleasant in shade, but that isn't going to last much longer.

And now the shade is gone, and it's just desert roads that go on forever.

Shery Crow is wrong. Not every day is a winding road.

And that is the last photo I take. Long straight roads to I-70, refueling in Green River, and the long, boring stretch from Green River to Grand Junction. The western slope is heating up, but I pass through before it gets too bad on its way to 100 degrees. I-70 has its scenic spots (especially Glenwood Canyon and Vail Pass), but plenty of boring sections. At each stop, I remove the dead bugs from my face shield. At the Grizzly Creek rest stop, I spend a while removing a bee-shaped splat the size of a quarter directly over my right eye.

After Dillon, where the climb begins to the Eisenhower Tunnel, everything slows. It is 10-15MPH all the way from Dillon to Idaho Springs. My last fuel stop is in Empire, and I go crawling back onto I-70, getting rained on intermittently until I can get off at Highway 6 for the ride into Golden. Iím moving, but caught behind Harleys, with no opportunities to pass; there are very few passing zones heading east on 6.

And finally: home via 93. I feel pretty scrambled by the end of it, but Iíve returned in one piece. The motorcycle stayed upright, and no performance awards from the police, so the trip is counted as a success. Or at least as an interesting learning experience.
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Old 08-20-2010, 06:02 PM   #6
JDK1962 OP
Returning Rider
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Oddometer: 12

Reflections on my first multi-day trip since returning to motorcycling last year.

Final tally: 1863 miles in total

What worked:
  • The motorcycle. Mechanically, the 919 was perfect. The glitches I experienced--the tires, the cutoff switch--were my fault, and take nothing away from the fact that the motorcycle performed beautifully throughout. For my chosen riding preference of deserted two lane blacktop, I'm pretty happy. With no fairing, it isn't the greatest for riding the interstates, but that's just more reason to avoid interstates. Not that I need more reasons. But that lack of a fairing makes it better for back roads, more open.
  • Luggage setup. The Wolfman tank bag and mini-beta tailbag worked out perfectly. Maybe some Ziplocs in the main tank bag compartment to keep it from becoming a grab bag, but the amount of space was perfect. Soft luggage is low security, so some accommodations need to be made, but no one molested my bag.
  • The CrampBuster. Although I bought this in Las Vegas, I didn't put it on till a rest stop near Cedar City, and by the time I hit Torrey, I was in love. Not having to grip with your right hand is a godsend. However, days after returning, I still have some numbness in my hands, perhaps from the first two days of the trip without the CrampBuster.
  • Windex. When a bee hits your faceshield at 90MPH, you need paper towels and Windex.

What didn't work:
  • Mileage. Too many hard miles in too few days. I've done Boulder to Las Vegas in 10-11 hours in a car on the interstate, and I failed to truly comprehend that (a) I was adding over 400 miles of backroads, (b) riding a motorcycle is more tiring than driving a car, and (c) riding 300+ miles through the desert in 110+ degree heat adds a real degree of difficulty. Next time, I head north or northwest, and try to plan no more than 300 miles / six hours of riding in a day. Check into a hotel at 2 or 3 PM and do something off the bike, where I'm not worried about whether the luggage is safe.
  • Helmet. The Shoei RF-800 needs a replacement face shield, but even with the shield down, it seems to let a lot of air in and whistles at high speeds. Going into the sun, which I was doing a fair bit, it's painful. A new helmet with easily interchangeable clear and dark face shields is needed before the next long trip.
  • Tunes. Maybe a better helmet will be quieter, but I don't want to turn my Zune's volume up to 20 to be able to hear the melody.

Anyway...thanks for reading.
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Old 08-20-2010, 07:27 PM   #7
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Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Socal near the great 33
Oddometer: 2,427
That's a great little report! And from one of my favorite areas, too. Torrey, Escalante, etc. has such great roads. From straight to curvy, to mountain, etc.

Plus, just enough drama to make it memorable.

Thanks for writing it up!
"Otherwise, its been a carnival of idiots, and Im the f*ckin ringmaster" - RTW Doug
Speed is your friend, it also why you see a bike up in a tree from time to time - WarLlama

2009 Alaska , 2010 Moab
2011 Calif Dreaming , 2013 Mexico
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:53 PM   #8
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Location: Fairfield, CA, USA
Oddometer: 628
Nicely done, thanks!
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