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Old 03-03-2007, 05:35 PM   #1
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Out of Words

twenty-four days and ten thousand miles - coast-to-coast-to-coast and THEN some.

welcome to "Out of Words."

this ride report was originally posted in 2004 on www.badweatherbikers.com - aka BADWEB - a Buell motorcycle-related website i had a small hand in creating back in 1998.

i still lived in California at the time this ride took place.

i've touched up the narrative here and there, gently, nothing major, and it remains true to its humble origins.

i hope riding for you is as spiritual as it is for me.

ride to lean,
Fast Ferris
Blue Ridge Parkway > SW Virginia > USA

---------------------------------------------------

PROLOGUE

what follows is the ride of my lifetime - so far, anyway - in words and photos.

well, words as best as i could do at the time in my journal, and now at the keyboard from notes and from memory.

many times during this grand adventure the sheer joy and magnitude of this sojourn overpowered my meager capacity to absorb and process and comprehend, and i'd literally run out of words.

hence the title of this thread.

this ride was originally planned as a trip to California by Jim Bantz - JB2 to regulars here on BADWEB - and his Dad, Big Jim Bantz. JB2 and his Dad were the best of friends, and long-time riding partners (as in something like 40 years). their ride to Cali had been in the planning stages for several years, maps marked, routes picked, anticipation at max.

i considered it an honor to play a small part in the planning of their ride, as i would head outbound, probably east to Colorado, meet them on their way in, and act, at least in part, as a guide as we traversed the wonder and splendor of the Golden State.

i had met Big Jim in 1999 during the BRATPAC Rally in North Carolina, and he was basically an older version of JB2, which is to say simple, honest, genuinely friendly, and absolutely passionate about the road.




in May 2002, while riding back from Deal's Gap to their motel in Franklin, NC, with JB2 several minutes ahead running point, Big Jim was struck head-on by a reckless kid in a car. he was killed instantly.

neither father nor son got a chance to say good-bye to each other, to their best friend.




i'll not speak on JB2's behalf, but the last two years have been very hard for him. i'll leave it at that.




last year JB2 made plans to do the California ride anyway, but this time instead of WITH his Dad it would be in MEMORY of his Dad. as before, i was honored to be involved, and looking forward to the adventure of the road, and, perhaps, helping JB2 with the healing process.

at the last moment, JB2 had to beg off, for several personal reasons. i was disappointed, but also relieved, as i was going thru some personal turmoil of my own at the time and it was looking doubtful that i could pull the trip off either.

NEXT year, we both said with conviction.

plans were hatched anew for the first three weeks in September, 2004, and via e-mails and phone calls we formulated a loose plan, an epic ride between two brothers in arms, riding for life, love, passion, adventure, and camaraderie.

and riding to heal.




a couple of months ago i got an e-mail from an emotional JB2. again, i'll not speak for him, but as push came to shove he was only able to get two weeks away from work, not enough to do his ride, and was, thru tears it seemed on the computer screen at the time, begging off again.

and true to his character, he was more concerned with the impact of his decision on ME, and deeply, profoundly apologetic that after all our planning and scheming, another year (at least) would pass.

i called him immediately. "Dude, this ride IS happening - if you can't come to see ME, then I'm coming to see YOU!"

and so it happened that on Friday September 3rd, 2004, JB2 departed Hartford City, Indiana to the west, and i departed Wofford Heights, California to the east, with plans to hook-up with each other in Grand Junction, Colorado two days later.

we would spend several days riding the Colorado Plateau, then aim southeast towards Deal's Gap and the legendary Dragon, taking on the country in the way that means the most to each of us, on the back of a motorcycle.

Neil Peart, in his most excellent book Ghost Rider, calls it "The Healing Road."

it is indeed.

i hope you enjoy the ride. -- Ferris Bueller, 9/28/2004

Fast Ferris screwed with this post 03-10-2007 at 11:17 AM
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Old 03-03-2007, 05:42 PM   #2
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Unibear12r, aka Glenn Dolph, rode up from Bakersfield to the ThunderDome the night before the launch to help us celebrate.
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Old 03-03-2007, 05:44 PM   #3
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Dino, aka Dave Hoffman, rode in from Porterville to help celebrate as well. better yet, he pulled rank at work (being the boss has its privileges) and would be riding east with me the first day.

somehow, all the crap that you see pictured on the dining room table (with the obvious exception of my helmet) has to fit into my tankbag. slamming Negra Modelo into the wee hours did not make the job any easier.
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Old 03-03-2007, 05:46 PM   #4
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later, down in the garage, Dino tries on Denise's new SV650 for size.
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Old 03-03-2007, 05:48 PM   #5
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DAY ONE: FRIDAY 9/3/04
dawn at the 'Dome, the VFR loaded for bear.
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Old 03-03-2007, 05:50 PM   #6
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another fine SoCal sunrise.
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Old 03-03-2007, 05:53 PM   #7
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Dino opted for his Beemer, leaving his Katana and FZ1 at home.
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Old 03-03-2007, 05:56 PM   #8
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30 minutes out, heading due east, up and over Sherman Pass. time to switch over to dark shields. the sign signals westbound travelers their arrival to the North Fork of the Kern River.
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Old 03-03-2007, 05:59 PM   #9
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Day One: Friday 9/3/04

the elevation at Sherman Pass. with some determination, one could reach this summit in about an hour's ride from the ThunderDome.
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Old 03-03-2007, 06:01 PM   #10
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Day One: Friday 9/3/04

the view from the summit. the air is crisp enough to sting your nose, and smells of green, living things. it had been a relentless climb, on a dirty, often cobby road, but worth every mile of the effort.

we stopped on the way up and admired a small family of deer.

the ambient air temp gauge on the VFR indicated it was 50 degrees at the pass, but it felt much colder. the sun was trying valiantly to dig in and provide warmth, but it was going to be a long battle.

in the distance we could see two helicopters, air-logging some of the McNalley Burn area of several years ago. the thud-thud-thud from their rotors carried with little impedence thru the thin, alpine air.
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Old 03-03-2007, 06:03 PM   #11
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Day One: Friday 9/3/04

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Old 03-03-2007, 06:05 PM   #12
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Day One: Friday 9/3/04

a water truck being refilled at a small stream, used to keep the dust down on the logging roads. we had passed at least a dozen or so fully-loaded logging trucks as we gained the summit this morning.

this man is from Salem, Oregon, and works all over the country, wherever there has been a major wildfire and there is timber to be salvaged. it had been a long season, and he was very much looking forward to going home.
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Old 03-03-2007, 06:07 PM   #13
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Day One: Friday 9/3/04

looking east down Nine Mile Canyon, approaching the Owens Valley and Highway 395 near Pearsonville, CA.

this road rocks.
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Old 03-03-2007, 06:09 PM   #14
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Day One: Friday 9/3/04

a one-lane cut thru the White Mountains on Highway 168 east of Big Pine, CA.

a riding friend of mine, who has ridden enough to speak with some authority, calls 168 "The best sportbike road currently available to the public."

as i have not yet ridden every sportbike road currently available to the public i'll not go THAT far, but it IS a ripper, and shouldn't be missed if you're in the area.
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Old 03-03-2007, 06:11 PM   #15
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Day One: Friday 9/3/04

the first of many "Welcome to..." signs on this trip, this one pronouncing our arrival into Nevada. that's the good news.

the bad news is the weather building in the distance...
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