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  1. #11
    Forum Leader BigLew55's Avatar
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    Thanks. I was going with traffic mostly. You don't make good time sitting on the side of the road talking to LEO!


    I made the 50CC in 44:15, including an 8 hour layover for sleep in Van Horn, TX. I did the BBG1500 in 22:47. On the last day, I did the SS1000 in 16:24. None of those were blazing speeds. They weren't even what I would call super efficient, so I have some work to do to get better. I am very pleased with the trip anyway. From Saturday 5/6 through Friday 5/12, I did 5600 miles and had very few issues.


    It did get rather foggy and rainy going through the mountains into and out of San Diego. On the way in, I tucked in between a few semis, hoping to not get run over. On the way out, I was in the middle of a line of cars, so I again had blockers on each end. Other than that, most of the stress was over my fuel range, but I had most of that pretty well planned out.


    I'm glad that I could also provide a bit of entertain for others "playing along at home".
    __________________________________________________ __

    2018 FLHTK
    1965 FLHFB
    2016.5 XL1200CX (Buh Bye)
    2015 FLHTK (C Ya)
    2011 FLHTK (Gonzo)
    2009 FLHX (gone)
    2004 FLHTCUI (gonner)
    2003 FLTRI/FLHTCI (farther gone)
    1999 FLHR (long gone)
    1981 FXE (gonnest)

    A wife, three daughters, and even my GPS tells me what to do!

  2. #12
    Forum Leader BigLew55's Avatar
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    Ride Report

    BigLew55ís 50CC

    May 8/9, 2017


    I donít remember when I decided when to schedule this ride. Iíve planned it a hundred times in Basecamp and Google maps. Iíve read several othersí ride reports on the IBA forum. I felt I was ready to commit. So I found a week to go. I cleared it with my wife and her schedule. This was probably around Thanksgiving 2016. I wanted to wait until after April so that the odds of cold weather were a bit more in my favor. I knew that later in May, it would be very busy with the kids wrapping up last concerts and other things related to the school year ending. So May 6 would be my launch date. I already had an engagement scheduled on Friday the 5th, but I felt that working around that would be acceptable.


    I spent most of the winter working on different variations of the plan. How far should I try to stretch my fuel range? What would it look like if I invested in an auxiliary fuel tank? If I did get one, how big should I go? In the end, I chose to use what mother Harley had given me, but I also made arrangements to borrow my friendís Reda gas container. It is a 1 gallon gas jug shaped to fit neatly into the Harley slanted saddlebags. This seemed like a good compromise. I really hoped it was just for insurance.


    As the winter weather waned, I decided I would abstain from alcohol until after my trip. I also decided to reduce my caffeine intake too. I hadnít had any booze since February, and beginning in April, I steadily reduced my coffee down each week, to three cups, two cups, one cup, and none for the last week. No soda or tea either, thank you. In hindsight, I think taking it to one normal size cup of coffee per day would have been sufficient, but I wanted a good baseline.


    The weekend prior to departure, I pulled all of my gear to make sure it was all where I expected it to be. I always wear my old FXRG textile coat. Itís waterproof, vented well, and has a great removable quilted liner. Iíve tried to replace it a few times over the last 5 years, but this one just keeps working better. I use a value-priced helmet. I have used this Z1R Ace in silver for several years. I require a 3xl helmet, and that dramatically reduces my options. I replace this one with the same model about every 3 years. I keep a tinted and clear visor, with a few rows of electrical tape across the inside top of the tinted visor to reduce glare. I also use the HD wired headset. Iím trying a new set of sunglasses with a bifocal element. Iíve used them for about a month in the truck, but have limited miles of saddle time using them. I carry a spare pair of my old trusty ones, just in case. I carry 2 pairs of gloves, but mostly use my vented ones unless itís too chilly.


    I ride a 2015 FLHTK. Iím pretty comfortable on it. I have it set up with a hammock seat, adjustable backrest, Long Ride Shields 11Ē recurve windshield and HD bagger bars. This will be my first IB ride on her, but I did about 900 miles one day last year with less than optimal time management and prep. I feel pretty confident this steed will be adequate.


    The bike has a built-in GPS unit, but I am not a fan of some of its routing choices. After trying to acclimate myself to it for the first 9 months, I decided to mount my Road Tech Garmin. I later upgraded to the z590 branded as Harley. It has the advantage of sending a tone that the head unit on the Harley will recognize and use to let the commands pause any other audio. I load all of the routes into the zumo and the HD Boom head unit. I use the zumo as my primary navigation and audio commands and use it in the ďPortraitĒ orientation with ďTrack upĒ. I also keep the route loaded on the HD unit and leave it zoomed out with ďNorth UpĒ. This works great as an overview map. I have used this for a few years and it works quite well for me.


    Friday, May 5
    Day-3
    Iowa pre-departure


    Friday is not necessarily part of my ride schedule, but it bears mentioning anyway. I have a training session for work scheduled an hour west of home. I also have tickets to see Alton Brownís tour this evening. These tickets were bought over 6 months ago and I really like AB. Did I mention that I had to come home to pick up my wife and go back to the show which was about 15 minutes from where my conference was? She had planned on driving over, but time allowed me to make the trip to pick her up after work, and she hates to drive at night. I shall not forego the show, but Iím not happy once the clock strikes about 21:30. Letís go Alton. I donít want to start this ride with a sleep deficit. Itís about midnight by the time the show is over and we drive the hour home.


    Saturday May 6
    Day -2
    Bettendorf, Iowa to Marietta, GA
    Start Time: 07:39 CDT
    End Time: 19:35 CDT
    Day Miles = 781


    Finally, I get to ride! My wife has to work, so her alarm is set for 06:00. I get up and enjoy my breakfast and catch some weather forecast. The bike was packed on Thursday night. I wait for her to leave for work and jump on the bike. I head southeast at approximately 08:00. I could make it to Jacksonville in one day, but my focus is on the 50CC and hopefully getting a BBG1500 for the first leg. Therefore, I chose to get to the Atlanta area and pack it in for the night.


    The ride goes well, and I make good time. I hit some rain in Tennessee, which isnít the best scenario for mountainous interstate driving, but itís not the end of the world. Several fuel stops go by, with me getting better at using the picture method via Spotwalla.


    Sunday, May 7
    Day -1
    Marietta, GA to Jacksonville Beach, FL
    Start Time: 06:56 EDT
    End Time: 12:45 EDT
    Day Miles: 392
    Trip Miles: 1173


    I sleep a bit longer than expected, but I hadnít set an alarm. I grab some breakfast at the hotel. I prefer this option most of the time, as it saves time and is pretty convenient.


    Today is a short day. A quick blast down the slab, make a left and find the hotel. Fuel stops continue to go well, sort of. At the first one, I get no receipt from the pump. So, I try my new method. I have brought along a small notepad. I write down all of the fuel up information and the city and state. I figure this information, as well as the Spotwalla pin from BubblerGPS should suffice in all but start/end situations as long as it doesnít become a habit. Today, Iím not on the clock, so itís just practice. Train like you fight, Iíve heard in the past. This seems to work ok for recording the event. I certainly donít want to make a habit out of it though.


    I have also reached out to a few people in the Jacksonville area. I end up having a nice lunch with an old buddy of mine from back in my early Air Force days. We served together in Turkey back in 91/92. Itís always nice to reconnect in person.


    After he drops me off at the hotel, I figure out my plan for my beach sample. I use Google to find the tide will be highest around 19:00 and that will be a nice final task before bed. It goes well, with most of the crowd dissipating as I arrive. It takes me about 2 minutes to park the bike, get the sample, and get back on the bike.


    I stop at a convenience store on the way back for a few bottles of water. I like to carry one on the bike for emergencies, and hadnít packed one at the house. I also have a cup holder on the handlebars for hydration while underway. For this I grab a smaller bottle. Back in the room, I make sure everything is packed or organized for packing in the morning. I always wash my helmet visors and glasses each night, so I do that too. I enjoy a nice shower and set the alarm for 04:00. Time for some rest. Itís about 20:30.


    Monday, May 8
    Day 1
    Jacksonville Beach, FL to Van Horn, TX
    Start Time: 01:54 EDT (02:22 EDT for Gas Receipt Start Time)
    End Time: 00:16 CDT (00:08 CDT for Gas Receipt to End BBG)
    Day Miles: 1538 (BBG1500)
    Trip Miles: 2711
    BBG Elapsed Time: 22 Hr., 47 min.


    I only sleep until about 01:15. I give myself a few minutes to fall back asleep, but my mind has already engaged itself on todayís challenge. Up and at Ďem it is.


    Pack everything and check the room. Damn, thereís yesterdayís shirt. Oh well, itís not a favorite, so into the trash it goes. I do this a lot (throw away clothes on trips). I tend to save old socks, t-shirts and undies. I take them on vacation and chuck them at the end of the day. Several birds conquered with one stone.


    I throw the items into the saddlebag, and head up the street to the Waffle House. I know this is wake time, but Iím not on the clock yet, and I think a decent meal (relatively speaking) is a good investment. I go in and order while being seated. I have a single cup of coffee and some water. I order eggs, sausage and hash browns. I hand the waiter my credit card when he delivers my food so that itís all taken care of by the time Iím done eating. Iím in and out in 16 minutes. Time well spent, in my opinion. On to Gate to fuel up.


    I pull into the gas station and grab my gas. I have a bit of anxiety waiting to see the first receipt. I check the time against my GPS clock, 02:22 EDT, and good to go. Take the picture of the receipt with the speedometer/odometer (twice) and submit it. Letís get this show on the road!


    At 2:30 in the morning, traffic isnít an issue. I get out of Jacksonville without any issues and hit the cruise control. The temperature is comfortable. I ride past I-75 where I had come down from Atlanta. There were a few patches of fog that caused me some concern. The one deer I would see for the Quest waits in the wide ditch for me to pass.


    Time for my first fuel stop, and to void the bladder. I pull off the interstate at my prescribed exit and hang a left. Itís awfully dark down here. The gas station and their awning have no lights, but the pumps are powered. I jump off and biological priorities prevail. I see nobody around, so I find the nearest fence to conceal my task. I consciously look around for gators. Nope, Iím not from around here. Mission complete, now letís see if we have fuel; run the card, nothing. Try again with same results. OK, letís try a different pump. Same there. The electric ďOpenĒ marquee sign in the dark window is obviously a falsehood. OK, GPS, find me a gas station along my route. Itís about 10 miles away, and my built-in range estimator on the bike confirms that I should be able to make it. Ride on! In a few miles I see my exit. My range has changed from numbers to ďLoRngeĒ and I slowed my pace to the speed limit. I fuel up, take my picture and send all the info via BubblerGPS. Saddle up and repeat. I do this every 150 miles or so allÖdayÖ.longÖ.


    Alabama, Mississippi, LouisianaÖ Thereís a tall bridge around Mobile, I think, that causes me some pause. I donít care for heights, and get grief often about it when riding with my friends in the mountains. This one comes and goes like so many other sights today.


    Texas. Did that sign just say 878? Really?! Everyone talks about how big Texas is, but seeing a sign for Exit 878 really brings it home. Am I really ready for this? OK, I guess this is how we find out.


    Weíre hitting Houston around 14:30. This is going well. I aim straight for the heart of town. Folks on the interwebs have clued me in to the usefulness of the ďKaty LanesĒ. Follow the signs and the GPS through downtown and there they are. The traffic isnít too thick, so I skip the first opportunity to jump on the HOV lane. At the second chance, I jump in. Traffic is still light, but the lanes are segregated and there are almost no other vehicles over there. Itís almost like having a private lane to get out of the city. I can handle this. I have another fuel stop in Katy, which is on the west end of the metro. I hit it, and take a few extra minutes to inhale one of the bags of trail mix I have stuffed in the tour pak. OK, back at it. A minute wasted here is a minute longer before your head gets to hit the pillow.


    Thereís no reason to dwell on the time. Iíve planned this trip so many times and know that there is ample cushion as long as nothing major happens. Nothing has, and everything seems to be going well. I press on.


    I know San Antonio is coming. I stop for fuel near Seguin and see a Subway. A sandwich with green stuff. Perfect! I take about 25 minutes to fuel and eat. Itís the only meal Iíll have while underway.


    The GPS says I have to take an exit in 400 feet, but Iíve not been paying attention and am in the left lane. Hey look! Weíre going to try downtown San Antonio at, whoa, look 16:30. This should be fun.


    OK, downtown isnít that bad. I only put my feet down once or twice. I also only try to turn into a hood ornament once or twice. These folks obviously arenít used to having motorcycles in their way during rush hour. Iím big and give them dirty looks, but it doesnít seem to help. But, in the end, I survive, and the traffic on each end of the loop that I missed seems to be just as bad, if not worse. Next stop, Junction!


    Junction, TX is my contingency overnight stop. I havenít booked my hotel in Van Horn yet, because I know that if anything goes sideways today, it will be difficult to make it there. As I pull into Junction, though, everything has gone very well today, and Iím still riding in daylight. I fuel up and try to book my room in Van Horn using Hotels.com. This isnít going well. The internet connection to my phone is very slow. OK, thereís a phone it in option for them. I hit the call button and wait for the hold music. It is remarkably short, and I hear a voice offering assistance. I book the room and get the confirmation that quells some small bit of anxiety in the back of my mind. Next item to conquer, the remote fuel stop.


    I only called ahead for a few of my stops. Most of them I planned and executed in areas with more than one option, and even options if the exit were closed for some reason. Bakersfield, TX offered almost none of those options and I knew it would be late in the evening when I got there.


    Itís almost 22:00 when I pull off the interstate. There are technically two options for fuel here, one on the North side and one on the South side of the highway. I had called the station on the North side (which would be most efficient) to confirm that they would have fuel available. The young lady did say that they had 24 hour pay-at-the-pump, but she didnít sound very confident about the offerings of their establishment. As I pull to the stop sign at the end of the off ramp, the station looks pretty dark, and the sign for the Exxon on the other side seems to be fairly bright. I call an audible and decide to explore the option on the other side of the fence. As I pull in, there is trash all over the lot, being sorted out by about two dozen cats. This could be interesting.


    I pull around the pumps so that the bike stops pointed back to the road and dismount. I pull my credit card out of my wallet and do a little prayer before seeing if it will activate the pump. It gives me the ďBegin FuelingĒ command. Here we go! Öand we go, but ever so slowly. This is just a trickle. I stop and check to make sure that itís actually gasoline. Smells like a duck, so I continue. I think Iíve fueled my truck in less time. Do I bail on this one and cross back over the highway to the other station? Ö2 gallonsÖ I give it another sniff to make sure itís still gas. 3 gallons. OK, weíre almost there. I wonder if this thing will give me a receipt. Öand Full! I made it. I sure hope this thing will run. I have serious doubts about the quality of the fuel now. And the receipt comes out. No location information, but Iím using Spotwalla and the occasional vague receipt shouldnít be a concern as I have a ton of other supporting documentation. Letís get back on the road. Even with the slow pump, this is only an 11 minute stop, ramp to ramp. Now letís see if the bike will run.


    West Texas has a bit of a wind issue! It was mostly tolerable, and I could usually maintain my lane in the gusts, but as the sun drops and the ďheadlight tunnelĒ develops, distractions are magnified. If this breeze hits me head-on, can I maintain my fuel range? I have considered this when planning and made most of my fuel legs between 150 and 160. This leaves me a cushion of about a heavy gallon, so I know itís not an issue unless two or three things go wrong. I also have the gallon in my saddlebag, but thatís only to keep me from pushing. The wind doesnít worsen, so I continue.


    The last leg of the day always feels eternal. Every long ride ends with me relieved that that last part is done. Tonight is no exception. I see a fuel station before Van horn, but I also see the lights of my destination in the night sky. I have clicked over 1500 miles for my BBG, with a few to spare. Do I stop and ďlock-inĒ the time for this leg? I run the scenario, and it would work. The next fuel leg should be fine, and I would have the hotel receipt for my Van Horn stay. But, I press on with plan A. I ride Iron Butt rides because I donít like to stop, yet here I am considering the merits of adding an unplanned stop just for a little bit of reassurance even though my destination is clearly within sight. ďPress on, youíll be fineĒ I tell myself.


    Finally, the dim glow turns into discernible signs and the exit markers count down closer to the one called out on the GPS screen. I see the exit and kill the cruise control. I pull off and head to the fuel station. The pumps are well lit but the station is dark. Please let this thing spit out a receipt. I go through my fuel up routine. Itís pretty much second nature at this point. Itís all Iíve done all day long.


    And yet, I still need to make sure I donít miss a step. Cap, card, nozzle, fuel grade, see if it asks if I want a receipt, pump, top, burp the tank 3 times, nozzle, see if it asks if I want a receipt, grab receipt, cap, switch odometer to main readout, tour pak, clipboard, marker, write mileage on receipt, add extra pen to bottom of clipboard to hold down other end, make sure odometer readout is showing on the speedometer, take picture, check picture to make sure receipt can be read, add Fuelly notes to Bubbler, double check that notes and picture are ready, hit send on Bubbler, return to tour pak, remove receipt and add to pouch with others, plug phone back in, close tour pak, prepare to mount.


    Most stops are 5 or 6 minutes going through this. But I did make a few small errors on my trip. I donít think they will be show stoppers, but I havenít been confirmed as of this writing.


    The pump spits out the desired receipt. I check the time and date. It seems close enough, 5/9/14 at 00:08. Iím in under 23 hours for my BBG pace. That works fine for me.


    I change my attention to procuring some sustenance. I have only had a Subway sandwich and bits of beef jerky and trail mix since my Waffle House breakfast almost a day ago. The gas station is closed, as is the McDonaldís next door. Maybe the hotel will have some fruit for a weary traveler?


    I head up the street to the hotel. The lady who checks me in is nice, and offers to let me leave the bike under the covered area in plain sight of her perch for the evening. I convey my appreciation and inquire about some fruit or other snacks that might be around. She rustles (hey, Iím in TexasÖ) up a few bananas and I head for the room after grabbing my bags and locking up the bike.


    I indulge myself with a quick shower before lights out, but I donít waste much time. I set my alarm for 7 hours, but I rarely sleep until an alarm wakes me. I nod off knowing that todayís sacrifices will lead to tomorrowís comfortable pace. But tomorrow is already today.


    Tuesday May 9
    Day 2
    Van Horn, TX to San Diego, CA
    Start Time: 08:16 CDT (Checkout time from the hotel)
    End Time: 20:00 (Check In time for the hotel)
    Day Miles: 865
    Trip Miles: 3576
    50CC Miles: 2400
    50CC Total Elapsed Time: 44 Hr., 18 min.

    As I predicted, the alarm was overkill. I wake about 6 Ĺ hours later. I am up and around in about 15 minutes. I head downstairs for a quick but free and available breakfast. Lots of protein and a single cup of coffee to help deal with the cobwebs in my head. I finish in about 10 minutes and head back to the room to collect my belongings. I had brought down my clothes and overnight bag on the first trip, so really, all that was left was my riding gear. I stop at the front desk to check out and to grab another receipt. I donít think itís actually needed, but obtaining any supporting documentation seems to be a good plan.


    And back on the road. The pace is set pretty well, but I use my cruise control to keep it steady. I plow through fuel stops one after another. Sometimes, I grab a packet of trail mix. Other times, itís a few pieces of jerky. When I do this, I also stick a few between my windshield and bag. They are easy to grab on the road, and jerky would take too long to fully enjoy while stopped. At some stops, thereís a bio-break, and if needed, I grab another bottle of water. The weather has not been too hot, so my water lasts several hours.


    Somewhere, shortly after entering Arizona, I decide that the weather looks a bit too threatening, so I pull over to don my rain gear. As I pull away, it starts to precipitate. I smile as I dodged that one. Itís an unscheduled stop, but it seems to be worth it, as Iím staying dry. The rain doesnít last long, but I retain my current configuration until my next fuel stop about an hour later.


    During this stop, I make one of my few errors in photo-logging. My app had retained a picture from a prior stop, and in trying to clear this to make sure I get the proper odometer/receipt photo, I also try to answer a quick text from a friend who is following my tracker. Somewhere in the mix, I had forgotten to send the fuel-up info, so it is lost. I did, however, take the photo, so it was saved for future reference. I donít discover this issue until my next stop, but knowing I have the info, and Spotwalla is the only real issue, I am comfortable that I still have a good paper trail for submissions.


    I have one of my fields on the GPS set to ďElevationĒ. I find it interesting to follow this on trips, if I donít need other info instead. I noticed for instance that most of the way across Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, the readout was around 40 to 50 ft. Seemed about right for the distance from the bridge to the surface of the water. However, across southeastern California, it made me chuckle to watch it descend quite a ways below sea level. For about 30 miles, Iím as much as 50 feet below sea level, but I keep plenty dry out here.


    As I see the mountains and windmills, I know that Iím getting close. The ride up into the range is nice. Thereís not much traffic, and I have no issues passing the few vehicles travelling in my direction. All is well until Iím about 30 minutes into the mountainous section. At this point, I run headlong into a cloud. Not an angry cloud, but I find it rather annoying to not see where Iím riding. I slow down substantially and after a few miles, I tuck in behind a semi at a safe distance. I know I only have a bit more than an hour left until I collect my beach sample, so I figure this pace is fine and itís nice to use his taillights as indicators to follow. If anyone is stopped in the road, I feel confident that he will clear the path with much more success than I would. I put on my hazard flashers and watch my mirrors with much more attention than I normally would. For a few miles, another car tucks in behind me, but their patience doesnít last.


    Finally, I can see the road before me again. Time to twist the wick and kill the flashers. I give an appreciative wave as I pass the truck, and head back down the mountain at a more normal pace. I watch the miles to turn and miles to destination click down on my GPS. Tuesday evening traffic coming into the metro area is not bad at all. I am able to maintain my pace or even better when I hang with the traffic flow. And thereís my exit.


    A few turns and I can see the Shell that everyone has recommended as my final stop. I pull in and put down the kickstand. I remind myself to pay attention to the steps. No need to rush now. It all falls into place and I get my final receipt. 5/9/17 at 19:40 PDT.


    My buddy tries to call, but I have to book a room and I still havenít made it to the beach. I end up on the phone with Hotels.com again, and they are helpful as always. I have a room at the hotel of choice and so now just pack things up and find the beach.


    I know itís only a few blocks down the street. I had scouted it via Google, and when I got there, the parking lot was mostly empty. I only takes a few minutes to get this sample, but I end up with more sand than water. Done. Now letís get to the hotel.


    I find the hotel without any drama and again park within view of the front desk. I check in and collect my luggage from the bike to head upstairs, grabbing another banana on the way by the breakfast nook. I take a quick shower and spend just a few minutes making sure everything looks right on Spotwalla. I send a few texts to convey my successful arrival in San Diego, and close my eyes wishing the Weather Channel still was. I guess Iíll check back in the morning. Iíve set no alarm this evening.


    I sleep pretty well. I think a bit of relief has been afforded by my assumed success. Iím fine with that.


    Wednesday, May 10
    Day +1
    San Diego, CA to Flagstaff, AZ
    Start Time: 08:07 PDT
    End Time: 18:18 MST
    Day Miles: 507
    Trip Miles: 4083

    I get up and go through my brief morning ritual. I head downstairs to enjoy my breakfast at a more leisurely pace than I had over the last few days. I really donít care for metropolitan areas and Iíve never been a fan of California with the exception of a trip to Disneyland when I was about 4. I know Iíll feel better when I get back into Arizona.


    I finish my breakfast and head back up to collect my belongings from the room. I get everything packed back into the bike and point it back east. I hope that the weather in the mountains has improved, but the overcast skies in San Diego are not very reassuring. Itís not long before I am again elbow deep in pea soup. I pull into a scenic overlook to don my rain gear. I continue through the clouds and light rain until Iím almost completely though the range, but it is completely clear and sunny for the wind farm. I pull over briefly to switch out my visor and glasses to tinted versions.


    Today will be a short day, only about 500 miles up to Flagstaff. I had added a bit of scenery by routing through Jerome and Sedona. I had been through both before, but I figured during the planning stage that I would have some time to slow down a bit. It proves enjoyable. Iím not a very good tourist. I donít stop and shop, and only eat at meal time. I donít consume nearly as many adult beverages as I did in years past, at least while on vacation. This is all to say, Iím not drawn to tourist traps. I tolerate them if they are in the way of my preferred routes and scenic byways or maybe just the most efficient route, but if I have to slow down for gawking pedestrians, or your township gets a lot of revenue from taxing artwork, then I probably donít want to stop there. Jerome and Sedona fall into this category today. I putt through Jerome, and note to myself that itís Wednesday and the tiny village on the side of the mountain is packed. Sedona is almost as bad, but I was more prepared for that. I had spent the night there with my family on vacation a few years ago. I had no reason to stop there, but on the other side of town, an orange sign gave me pause. It called out an issue on the byway between a few mile markers. Not being familiar with the area, I stop and plot a course to the interstate that runs parallel to the road that I would rather take. And here we go, back through downtown Sedona, with gawking pedestrians and art shops on either side giving ample distraction to those taking their stroll.


    I have to add here, that I really donít like traffic circles. I spent 5 years living in New Jersey in the 90ís and learned that they are best described as a giant game of chicken. And, Sedona has them every other block. And, I have to go back through them.


    Time to get moving. Even though itís interstate, itís welcome. Iíve become weary of the pace of tourist traffic. Time to hit the cruise control.


    Did I mention that I had donned my vented gloves and doffed my quilted liner several hours ago? Are you aware that Flagstaff is ďuphillĒ from Sedona, and that elevation usually brings lower temperatures? And that speed exacerbates that issue with this oft-called wind chill? And that Iím pretty suborn? Itís only about a half hour ride up the interstate from Sedona to Flagstaff, but the temperature dropped several degrees, down into the 50ís. I kept turning up the heated grips that came standard on this Ultra Limited, and doing math. You know the kind: Only twenty-five minutes, Iíll be fine. I can take another fifteen minutes, what kind of man am I anyway? If I go 5 mph faster, how much quicker will I get there?


    I survived. I pulled into the hotel of the chain I normally prefer. I open my app and try to book a room, but there is no listing for this one. I sense an issue, so I go inside and wait my turn to discuss it further with one of the nice ladies helping folks at the front desk. She is able to confirm my suspicion. They have no rooms available tonight. I thank her and go back to the bike to explore my other options.


    I re-open my app and find a nearby hotel with available rooms and a reasonable rate. Book it and done. I jump back in the saddle and putt the few blocks to their parking lot and proceed to check in. There is a storm brewing too. Not in the sky, but perhaps from an ill-thought-out menu selection at the Dennyís I stopped at for lunch. The timing could be worse, but this lady had better hurry. I have my key and move my bike closer to the room. I grab my bags, but at a pace that shows awareness of events yet to come. Up to the room, and I can tell that my seventh sense has kicked in. My bowels have sensed the porcelain presence. Close the door, drop the bags, gravity will sort them, hasten with the wardrobe tasks required to accommodate. HASTEN, I SAID!! And, made it. So glad my wife isnít here to witness and rate my event. I would have heard about it until the next time.


    OK, now that that is finished, what is the plan? I am approximately 1500 miles from home, and should be reasonable well rested by morning if I want to try another BBG1500. Letís see if the Weather Guessers have any input. A quick check on my app (because, again, the Weather Channel isnít). It doesnít look good. Thereís a front crossing the plains tomorrow with strong storms predicted. If I maintain my plan to Santa Rosa tomorrow, Friday looks more accommodating for a motorcyclist. And so it is.


    While unpacking, I had noticed that there was some dampness near where I had stored my beach samples. Evidently, my specimen cups where not as reliable as I had hoped. I have lost most of the Pacific water, but luckily, there wasnít much to start with. Oh well. Small potatoes, in the realm of things that can go wrong on a motorcycle trip across the country.


    I find a local taco inspired franchise to dine at for the eveningís meal. I have found a place that will be added to my list of ďMaybe Somewhere Else InsteadĒ. Oh well, it filled me up and was cheap. Time to organize my stuff for tomorrow and get some shut eye.



    Thursday, May 11
    Day +2
    Flagstaff, AZ to Santa Rosa, NM
    Start Time: 07:36 MST
    End Time: 16:39 MDT
    Day Miles: 469
    Trip Miles: 4553


    Itís another chilly morning. I wake up, execute my brief routine and head down to the hotel breakfast nook. A few spoons of ďeggsĒ and whatever else they had with some fruit and a small cup of Joe to start my day. Back to the room to pack the bike and head out. Again, Iím in no particular hurry. I have about 500 miles to get to my next stop, and itís mostly highway. I grab gas across the street from the hotel and hit the interstate. Itís in the upper 40ís, but the sun is shining and Iím properly dressed for the temps.


    I will drop south at Holbrook to run the Petrified Forest South to North. Iíve been through the park a few times, but I have a National Parks Pass in my pocket leftover from last summerís trip, meaning that this excursion wonít cost me anything more except time. I donít stop much for museums or vistas, as Iíve been through them before. Itís not the experience Iím looking for today. And Iím sure Iíll be back. I canít pass on all of them though, and do take a few pictures.


    Other than that, the day is pretty noneventful. I grab some gas at the north entrance to the park before hitting the interstate again. I take a lunch break at one of the fuel up stops, and cruise into Santa Rosa, NM around 16:30 MDT.


    I have ample time to call my wife to discuss tomorrowís plan to be home and to ride a SS1000. We discuss a few other details associated with family life, and hang up. I double check the route, and leg length to make sure Iím aware of long or short tanks. Everything looks good.


    There is a local diner adjacent to the hotel parking lot. This seems like a good choice for dinner, as I donít want to fire up the bike until morning. I rolled into town with the fuel light on, and want to use the gas receipt as my start time. The restaurant staff are particularly nice and the food doesnít disappoint. I inquire as to their hours, wondering if theyíll be open for breakfast. They open at 08:00, so this wonít work for me.


    I retire to the room and prep everything for my departure tomorrow morning. I catch some actual weather on TV and it seems that my choice to hold out the extra day has been a solid decision. Iíll have great weather all day tomorrow. I set the alarm for 5 and kill the TV.



    Friday May 12
    Day +3
    Santa Rosa, NM to Bettendorf, IA
    Start Time: 04:58 MDT
    End Time: 22:21 CDT
    Day Miles: 1048 (SS1000)
    Trip Miles: 5602
    SS1000 Elapsed Time: 16 Hr., 24 Min.


    Again, the alarm is of no use. Iím awake around 04:15. I quickly breeze through my morning routine and grab my stuff. As I pass the front desk, I inquire about coffee. The first batch is just finishing. He also notes that breakfast will be ready in about an hour. I tell him that I wonít be lingering that long and ask if he has any muffins or fruit. He can oblige that request, so after stuffing my luggage into the bike and making sure everything is prepped, I spend about 10 minutes enjoying my morning coffee and partaking in a banana. It is adequate, and Iím sure Iíll have time to stop for food at todays anticipated pace.


    I fire up the bike and cross the street for my fill-up. The start receipt reads 04:56 MDT. I hit the road shortly thereafter. It is still dark, but I can just make out the purple ribbon of dawn on the horizon. There are a few other trucks on the road with me, but it is mostly wide open.


    About a half hour into the ride, I pass a ďroad gatorĒ at full pace. You know the discarded sections of tread that semis leave behind occasionally. This one gets my attention because I hadnít seen it in time to even cancel the cruise control, let alone brake for it. I decide to slow my pace a bit until I have more illumination from the giant orb.


    I pull off the interstate near Tucumcari and hit a 2-lane US highway that heads northeast all the way into Kansas. If I had put a ruler between my start and destination points, this road would have been a nearly perfect trace. Iím not too worried because I have driven this road on a family vacation a few years back. I also know that the speed limit out here remains 75 mph in most places. I have to pass the occasional semi, but the road is mostly mine. I hit a few small-town gas stations for my first few fill-ups. No issue with them, except for needing to go inside to procure a receipt at one. I use the opportunity to sneak in a bio-break and call it good.


    I do enjoy another Subway sandwich near Wichita around 13:30. I could see the restaurant a few doors down from my gas stop. It is the only real food of the day for me. I get back on the road and the combined stop has cost me about 30 minutes. I donít mind, as a SS1000 pace allows plenty of time for this.


    I jump on the Kansas Turnpike on the other side of Wichita, and twist the wick to slightly faster than traffic. I know I have a short tank planned so fuel usage isnít a huge issue. And thatís a good thing! I am riding into a headwind and my range readout is dropping like a rock. I always keep the odometer set to ďDistance to EmptyĒ, a feature added to the Harley touring bikes around 2009. I compare this to my ďDistance to ViaĒ on my zumo 590 to make sure I have enough fuel to get to my planned stop. If they start to get close, I throttle down until I have a comfortable margin. Iíve made great use of this method on this trip. It is a bit of a game to keep my mind doing some simple math. After my short tank, I have to employ this method to make sure I make it through my next stops without issue. I slow my pace a bit, but again, I know I have plenty of time.


    Iíve found a bypass around Kansas City by crossing the Missouri River at Atchison. This takes me up through St. Joseph, MO. I donít know if itís faster than going through Kansas City, but it certainly is less stressful. I grab another tank of fuel right before getting onto I-35 in Cameron, MO. At this point, thereís only one more stop, Altoona, which is just past Des Moines, before I get home.


    I appreciate the ďWelcome to IowaĒ sign as I pass. The south route around Des Moines has a lower traffic count than the north route, which is I-35 and I-80. Before long, I pull into the Caseyís I had chosen for this stop. It is still light out when I leave there and set the cruise for my last leg of the trip. I did use the stop as an opportunity to change out to my clear visor and glasses, as dusk is rapidly approaching.


    I contemplate the options for my last receipt. I have a few near the house, but after some self-moderated internal debate, I decide on a relatively new station that shares a driveway with a McDonaldís. Now donít get me wrong, Iím not any particular fan of the Golden Arches, but Iíve not stopped at a single one on this trip, and it just seems like the right thing to finish out the trip. So itís set. I roll into the gas station to fuel up and stop the clock. 22:21 CDT is the time on the receipt.


    I head over to Mickey Dís to grab a cheeseburger. It takes more than 15 minutes to grab the sandwich to go. Iím not impressed, but my day is almost complete. I do finally get it and stuff it in the tour pak to ride the last few miles home.


    I pull into the garage and hit the kill switch. I breathe a sign of relief. As much as I enjoy riding, long trips do bring their own set of risks. Knowing that I have accomplished my goals while not allowing those risks to transform themselves into problems is yet another reason to be thankful. I also miss my family. I joke when I talk to them that it takes me a while, but I do miss them and the life that we share. Iím aware of how lucky I am in this regard, but I probably donít express it enough.


    I doff my helmet one last time and grab my phone for a final picture of the odometer. 20,297 on my bike now. I had started 7 days ago at 14,693. This has been a great trip. I go inside with my burger and sit at my kitchen table to enjoy it. One of my three daughters comes down to greet me, the rest are asleep, as is my wife. It is good to be home. I will unpack the bike tomorrow. Now, itís time to assimilate myself back into domestic life.


    And on to planning the next rideÖ
    BigLew55
    __________________________________________________ __

    2018 FLHTK
    1965 FLHFB
    2016.5 XL1200CX (Buh Bye)
    2015 FLHTK (C Ya)
    2011 FLHTK (Gonzo)
    2009 FLHX (gone)
    2004 FLHTCUI (gonner)
    2003 FLTRI/FLHTCI (farther gone)
    1999 FLHR (long gone)
    1981 FXE (gonnest)

    A wife, three daughters, and even my GPS tells me what to do!

  3. #13
    Forum Leader BigLew55's Avatar
    Tetris Champion!
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Quad Cities, Iowa
    Bike
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    Posts
    536
    __________________________________________________ __

    2018 FLHTK
    1965 FLHFB
    2016.5 XL1200CX (Buh Bye)
    2015 FLHTK (C Ya)
    2011 FLHTK (Gonzo)
    2009 FLHX (gone)
    2004 FLHTCUI (gonner)
    2003 FLTRI/FLHTCI (farther gone)
    1999 FLHR (long gone)
    1981 FXE (gonnest)

    A wife, three daughters, and even my GPS tells me what to do!

  4. #14
    Road Warrior Bob Loblaw's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Houston
    Bike
    2009 FLHTCUI Ultra Classic
    Posts
    3,517
    wow! what a story....thanks!
    Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose!

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