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Old 12-30-2006, 02:43 PM   #1
NeverSayDie
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Neversaydie survives a trip to Vegas

Hi BARF,
I return from a long tour out to Las Vegas on a metric cruiser I picked up a month ago. My girlfriend bravely (or stupidly?) decided to join me on a ride to Vegas and back over the xmas vacation. We loaded the old Virago 1100 with saddle bags, a sissy bar bag, and a tank bag and set out in the morning to make it to Vegas in about 9 hours.

The trip started out well....until we hit the outer bay area and met the coldest temperatures I had yet to feel on a motorcycle. We agreed that the temperature sucked and broke out the glove warmers for our feet and hands...a true lifesaver, I won't elaborate. We set out and by the time we hit I-5, the temperature bumped back up to livable and we did a solid three hours of putting along at 70mph. At this point, I realized the bike we had was inadequate for this tour - with the two of us and luggage, it was working very hard indeed to crack the speed limit. Should have taken the 1100xx and packed light...oh well.

And then we hit the mountains of Tehachapi and were introduced to a new level of cold. Absolutely freezing, the tips of my fingers were totally numb. The girlfriend is beyond pissed, she's tired, legs hurt, and is completely freezing after 5 hours of seat time. I'm going out of my mind trying to keep my limbs from cramping and going numb. Just as it seems we can't go any further, the reserve light goes on. Oh shit.

We hit the next exit, where there's a sign noting gas available. A quick stop into the tiny town in the Mojave desert yields nothing. I'm freaking out, there's only reserve gas left, she's saying she can't go any farther but she sure as hell doesn't want me to stop until we get to our room in Vegas. We pull into the only open business, a motel. The lady claims there's no gas station in town, the closest is six miles back on 58.

Oh shit.

Back on 58, I'm keeping this bitch at 55mph just to save gas, wondering where's the gas station. Ten miles later we take the next exit and coast into the gas station. She's freaking out, I"m beside myself with relief and fill up the tank and down the third red bull of the day. This is not going well but at least we're alive.

The next three hours of riding are indescribably painful. It's night time, it's cold, we're both tired but are hyped up on energy drinks and a candy bar, and Vegas isn't even close. Trying to keep the bike at 75mph makes it too cold to even think straight, bringing it down to 65 makes it only slightly less horrible but means we are going to endure it for a longer time.

Then we hit traffic...dead stop for at least a mile that I can see, she hops off and stretches, I"m freaking out because I think we're in Nevada and I can't lanesplit past the traffic. A guy gets out of his car behind us, he's totally bored and tells me he's done this route before and we're still in California. Thanks brotha...we get back on the bike and lane share for at least a mile and a half past big trucks, SUVs and RVs and pass a major three car accident.

From that point on, it's just 75mph the whole way to Vegas with one more stop for gas. Every ounce of my person is telling me we can't make it, I'm going to fall off this bike and we're both going to die out in the middle of nowhere, frozen. My girlfriend is beyond upset and is barely holding back tears...hell I'm holding back tears. The feeling of fear and pain has gripped us. The sight of lights in Nevada brings new hope...oh my god, we made it to Vegas...when I read the sign a mile later that says Vegas is 51 miles farther than the lights I thought were the city, it's a new level of insanity. We push on and finally see the neon of the strip. A handful of Japanese tourists standing in the middle of the street nearly get run over by a Virago tire as I rev the shit out of the bike and pull into the Ballys entrance.

HOLY SHIT that was a ride. For a day and a half we vacationed in Vegas.
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Old 12-30-2006, 02:54 PM   #2
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Man, and i thought DRIVING to vegas was bad. Holy shit man! Respect!
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Old 12-30-2006, 02:59 PM   #3
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Man, and i thought DRIVING to vegas was bad. Holy shit man! Respect!
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Old 12-30-2006, 02:59 PM   #4
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Man, and i thought DRIVING to vegas was bad. Holy shit man! Respect!
I agree that for times like that, a cage is very nice. I've done 900+ miles in a day in the cage though, mostly on state routes, so its very possible to do incredibly long trips in cars and have it not too horrible. i would hate to do that ride though, just down to SLO is bad enough (and there are fairly fun roads for a lot of the way, but even 250 miles can be a long way on a bike like mine)
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Old 12-30-2006, 03:01 PM   #5
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Return trip.

We learned from the first leg of the trip and found a few things to be troubling. The saddlebag had a hole burned in it from where it touched too close to the mufflers, so all the clothes in that bag smelled like burned. Also, the bike burned oil on the way there, necessitating adding oil at the local Target. We agreed to split the return trip into two days and not to travel unless the sun was up to stay moderately warm.

The weather report looked grim....windy conditions with possible rainfall in the evening. But that's cool, we're not traveling at night, right? We'll do it, hell we made it this far.

So I had already mentioned that the Tehachapi summit is a cold place. I didn't know the name of the town on the way to Vegas, I only know it now because of the trip to SF.

As we rode and got closer to Mojave, the wind was unrelenting and pushed the whole bike over in the lane at least three feet. I could still sit upright, but the wind blast was taking all the fun out of it. As we got to the last exit in Mojave, we noticed a cop car blocking the exit. Oh shit.

About half a mile after we saw the cop, the scariest wind and rain storm I've ever experienced began to push the bike within inches of the edge of the lane. It was just a big woosh and I'd be on the edge of the lane right next to a truck. This is not cool. The wind is just pounding, it's a full on storm that people had been talking about. The two of us duck down into a full sportbike tuck to keep the bitch upright and continue for 12 miles bobbing and weaving until the next exit. As we hit the exit, the reserve light goes on (turns out you use a lot of gas going 45mph against 40mph winds). We pull into a motel parking lot and I scream for her to get inside out of the storm. She is surprisingly calm, I'm going apeshit from the shear terror I just fought against to get there. I have never before been so afraid, not for myself but for my girlfriend who so bravely came with me and endured so much suffering.

We get a hotel room as the sun is just going down and it starts snowing.

In the morning, the ground is covered in snow and I nearly kill my ass slipping on ice just walking out of the front door. There is no way I can ride us out of there, even if the highway has been cleared. We hear reports that the entire mountain pass was closed in the night, it snowed for a few miles in every direction, and it's icy. I take the bike, which is now completely covered in snow (no covered spots, fantastic!) and try and see if we can just putt along on the freeway at 25mph to get out of the icy area.

The key hole is frozen shut. A cup of hot water melts the ice and I start the bike. I start to ride the bike with my legs out as training wheels. It's just ice everywhere. Taking the turn out of the parking lot to an empty street, the bike feels unsteady. Then I lowside at 5mph, spinning the back wheel up with a tiny amount of throttle. We're totally f*cked, there's no way I can ride us out of there. I ride the bike to the gas station a hundred feet away to at least get it off reserve. And I bend the key in the gas cap, which is also frozen.

The bike's not damaged and I'm fine, so I take the spare key (never leave home without a spare is my new motto) and travel a mile down the road to the local Uhaul office (how convenient!!) and get the bitch into the back of a 14ft trailer. We load our stuff up and cage it back to SF with the bike secured in the bed. Never before have I appreciated big trucks.

And thus, we made it back home.
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Old 12-30-2006, 03:13 PM   #6
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13 hours thinking on the back of a cruiser bike

A few thoughts after the longest ride my girl and I have ever made.

The time on the bike leaves you with nothing but your mind, running through old songs, thoughts about one's loved ones, hopes and aspirations, dreams of warmth and comfort, beliefs in a higher power. But most importantly, the time shows you what your breaking point is, what your threshold of pain begins and ends at, and brings the rider a sense of purpose and blind determination. I've never before believed and doubted I could do something, all at the same time. It was scary not knowing if we would make it and what state of mind we'd be in when we arrived.

Fat: if you don't have fat on your gut and want to tour on your bike, start drinking beer now. If I didn't have a good layer of fat to insulate me, I'd have been much more unhappy. And I was pretty unhappy for a while during this trip.

Never tour on a bike that's not powerful enough. Going the speed limit on I-5 sucks....you get passed nonstop for three hours by bigass trucks, driven by truckers on amphetamine who could give a shit about you.

Don't push your loved ones to embrace the sport you enjoy. If they want to love it, great. If not, don't plop them on the back of a bike and make them sit there for hours while you live out some kind of biker fantasty. Just let them stay home.

Only carry the gear you really need, but do not forget hand and foot warmers if you ride in the winter. Good lord it's worth it to have glove warmers. I still am getting the sensation back in my hands and toes from this trip. The first digit of all my right hand fingers felt alarmingly numb and tingly after the rides.

All in all, this was the stupidest thing I've ever done, but my girl says she wouldn't trade it for anything and is glad she had the experience. Me, I'm going to sell the Virago and stick to my nice overpowered sportbikes out in the boondocks, by myself, close enough to civilization to get a cup of coffee and not run out of gas before the next offramp.
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Old 12-30-2006, 03:27 PM   #7
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While I applaud your trip and your 'dramatic' story... you went to vegas, dude.. It's not like you rode down to central america like this crazy bastard

http://bayarearidersforum.com/forums...hreadid=153528

Last edited by stan23; 12-30-2006 at 03:32 PM..
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Old 12-30-2006, 03:30 PM   #8
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While I applaud your trip and your 'dramatic' story... you went to vegas, dude.. It's not like you road down to south america.
its close to 600 miles, and gets awfully cold.
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Old 12-30-2006, 03:34 PM   #9
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its close to 600 miles, and gets awfully cold.
yer right, i applaud his trip, and doing it near winter kinda sucks.

600 miles is all relative.
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Old 12-30-2006, 03:56 PM   #10
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Indeed, 600 miles isn't much all in all. But straight in one day was well beyond what I've experienced before.

Think about dudes who ride with a half helmet, no leathers, on a cruiser bike with no wind protection across america for the big rallies. That's f'n insane. I have so much more respect for cruiser bike riders now. Riding any bike for thousands of miles is quite a feat...definitely for the determined.

And every single biker I saw on the road (total of three) waved back.

After all this, I took out my blackbird for a ride out to 4 corners...boy do I appreciate being back in the bay area on an overpowered sport machine.

Hope y'all have a great new years BARF community!! Love, Al
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Old 12-30-2006, 04:09 PM   #11
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Re: 13 hours thinking on the back of a cruiser bike

HA HA! Glad to see there are still some lunatic bikers out there.
Kudos to you for making it there and back.
Make sure your girlfriend gets a very special NewYear's pressie for not shooting you and leaving yer ass out in the desert

Colm
~yes, you're right. A bigger bike makes all the difference on longer trips. Here to Vegas is relatively ok on the wing, altho' I've also done it on a Roadie (cruiser). The winds at Tehachapi really do suck and with this storm, I can only symphatise...
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Old 12-30-2006, 04:12 PM   #12
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Al, I liked your story. What with the wind, the wind chill, and the snow, I think you and your girlfriend are a couple of brave souls. That you decided to give into common sense and rent a truck deserves . And for not taking offense at Stan's wet blanket posts , I can only offer .
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Old 12-30-2006, 04:48 PM   #13
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Crazy. Props to you two for toughing it out. But, really, winter is not the time to experiment with long distance anything, or to push your mileage limits. When you are cold and uncomfortable, adding bad weather to the mix, things can get from bad to really, really ugly in no time.
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Old 12-30-2006, 04:53 PM   #14
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Re: 13 hours thinking on the back of a cruiser bike

[QUOTE]Originally posted by NeverSayDie
[

Fat: if you don't have fat on your gut and want to tour on your bike, start drinking beer now. If I didn't have a good layer of fat to insulate me, I'd have been much more unhappy. And I was pretty unhappy for a while during this trip.
]
.

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Old 12-30-2006, 09:33 PM   #15
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