Vegas 06' page 2: Shake-Out ride in preparation for an epic 2 year motorcycle adventure.
Ride Report Cont: Coming off of the high elevation I could feel the heat rise. I'm riding through the valley of fire and I felt like I was on fire. I had about a hundred miles before Vegas, on track to make it in town by around 4:00PM. I'm drinking a lot of fluids but the heat was getting to me. I finally called uncle and pulled off to a recreation area to wait out the heat. Under a shade shelter I waited for the sun to start going down and the temperatures to cool. About 5:30 I hit the road again, I think it was hotter. The heat is exhausting. I'm daydreaming of an oasis with a swimming pool and cocktails, Vegas here I come. I get to town just around dusk, perfect. I cruise up the strip but it quickly became apparent I needed to replenish my fluids now.
The Harley Davidson Cafe, The only place on the strip that I know of where you can park your bike right there and walk away. A bunch of sport bikers were hanging out parked across the driveway from me. I don't know what that was all about, last time all the bikes were congregated around where I'm parked. Like always I act like I know what I'm doing and grab a table on the street. I order a tall fruity cocktail and a huge ice water. Vida es bueno (life is good).
I feel like I'm at home again. I know right where the Motel 6 is, just a few blocks off the strip on Tropicana Blvd., $41 for the night. The pool is calling, yes.
Heidi will be flying in early tomorrow morning. We plan to meet at the Hard Rock Casino and ride the strip until our room is ready later. I thought I timed it right. I was in the parking lot trying to take a bike photo with the Hard Rock guitar when a bell hop comes up to me and says "I think there's someone waiting for you" The flight was 45 minutes early, super! Here we go
Heidi looks prepared, her t-shirt reads “Good girls go to Heaven. Bad girls go to VEGAS” All right!
We unload all our gear and put it on a bell cart. We remember the attendant from last time, he pretends like he remembers us, how nice.
Ready to hit the strip. Just as I'm telling Heidi to be careful mounting the bike she snags her big toe on an aluminum corner and gashes her new pedicure. I'm telling her that she must develop a system and become one with the bike. That's didn't help any. We laugh at the drama. This IS Vegas!
It was way too hot again today to be riding around. We decide to just park it and walk.
We find a great outside spot on the strip for breakfast, people watching and hydrating.
We like the heat and we got it. This fan blew some type of mist. It was a popular stop for all the passers by.
Time to get into our room and hit the pool.
The Hard Rock casino's swimming pool was rated #1 pool in the world by some travel magazine. It's hard to describe, great quality rock and roll played everywhere in a Gilligan's island type lagoon paradise setting with beautiful women everywhere in bikinis spilling tall cocktails on themselves. This is not a place for kids or old at heart people, just a lot of adult fun.
We have a cabana boy get us a couple of lawn chairs and an umbrella near the pool. Cocktails in hand we are ready to go to work (We call hanging out in the sun work, it's not easy ya know).
Lately girls have been looking a lot younger to me. There's a group of four young babes next to us, four hot but all different body styles, I can't believe two of them are of drinking age. They are all ordering and drinking tall fourteen dollar drinks. Then the food comes out, the girls are whipping out fifty dollar bills left and right. It was fun watching all the guys come around and try to hit on them. Sometimes they would get a not so buff guy being the up front man doing all the talking. His good looking shy buddy just standing in the pool in front of them saying nothing but just flexing around. Other times they would get one brave guy going over solo while his buddies watch in envy from across the pool. We get the idea the girls where local. An older couple came over and said hi to them. The older couple were dressed in lose white cotton long sleeve and long pants; panama outfits, they acted bombed. Later, off to the side a verbal fight broke out with one of the girls and the older couple. We think the older couple owned a club they all worked at. I think it was all about dancing schedule or pole time or something like that. This is fun, we enjoy chit chatting with new people when we travel.
View from the room:
Heidi enjoying a $14 cocktail, or not? To drink all day at that price you have to be a rock star or rich or something. Heidi and I just play rock star when we come here. So to do that all day I just keep refilling our tiki head cocktail glasses at the bar we have set up in the room (don't tell anybody!)
Vegas gets better every time we come. We will never run out of things to do. The rates for the Hard Rock casino go up $100 a night on Thursday and another $100 on Friday and Saturday. Aggh (clear throat) We do our last night in town at the Motel 6, $47 a night, right in the heart of Vegas. Good enough.
Heidi has a late flight so we just hang out at the Motel 6 pool all day. We finally get some reading in.
Heidi's limo arrives and she is off. We kiss passionately, hug and wave goodbye. I am one lucky dude. :)
4:00 PM I'm back on the road, its hotter then hell. The Valley of Fire usually is hotter then Vegas and that's my exit route, Ouch! The predictions are for 108 Deg. I'm afraid to run fast thinking that if a tire is going to fail it's going to fail at 108 deg. I know I only have about a hundred and sixty miles before I go up in elevation so I just try to tough it out. One hundred miles and I feel like I'm dying. I keep thinking, what if I had a breakdown out in the desert like this, not fun. I felt like I was crawling to reach a park rec. area I know of that has an air conditioned bathroom and running water. I make it there. I'm showing physical symptoms of heat stress, runny noise, headache, a feeling like my body is burnt toast. I stagger into the bathroom and begin to soak my entire body and everything I was wearing. It was cooler outside so I just hang out in the shade and suck fluids.
I get off the freeway and head into the foot hills, relief from the heat finally. I plan to ride the state roads that parallel I15 on the east side. This is all great biking country. I see a lot of Deer Xing signs along the road. I pull into a small village around dusk. The woman in the mini-mart says "watch for deer in the canyon" Hitting a deer at night has always been a fear of mine. I ask about camping, the woman points to a park about a half a block away. I'm on it.
Utah, Colorado, Wyoming. I pick the most scenic path I can think of. I'm constantly looking at the map and re-evaluating my route.
I constantly look for places like this to chill rather than a public wayside.
Some small town in Wyoming I think, nice
I pick a road that's called Snowy Range Pass in southeastern Wyoming. Nothing much on this long stretch of road except wilderness and mountain pass, sounds good. It's getting late and I start looking for a place to camp. After a couple of dirt roads I rejected I finally go down a dirt track that dead ends at a downed tree. The spot overlooked a valley, super. The path leading in had huge ruts. I needed to ride the middle hump. I don't think anyone will be coming down here.
The camping was great in the forest, the air smelled so fresh. In the morning the temperatures were cool. I figure I must be in high altitude.
I have everything packed up, ready to roll and the bike is not starting. S-----! After Vegas I noticed the starter wasn't spinning over with its usual zest. I'm thinking maybe the battery bolts are loose. I tried everything, scraped the battery posts, took off the air cleaner. The battery just died way too fast. Maybe the heat of Vegas took its toil.
I'm in woods at least a quarter mile with a slight up hill slope. It was just too much to push the bike loaded up so I unload all the gear and proceeded to push the beast out. At times like these I'm glade I still lift weights and compete in cross country ski marathons. You must develop a pace that allows you to maintain your breathing and not build up too much lactic acid in your muscles. Like, walk slow and rest a lot.
Whosh!. I try push starting the bike on the road but the pavement was just too flat. I just needed a little slope but I had none. I push the bike back into the woods where it's hidden. I portage all the gear out and hide it in the woods not too near to the bike. I've hitch hiked so much in my younger days that it still feels natural. I put on my sneakers and brown Jimmy Hendrix T-shirt turned inside out, I take out my earrings. I grab my helmet in hope to use it as a show of a break down and need of assistance. I start hiking down the road looking for a long stretch where I can be seen for a long way in both directions. I stand well off the pavement and stick my thumb out. I'm looking for any vehicle to take me in any direction. First a bunch of touring/sport looking bikers just blow by me. The first cage vehicle pulls over and stops. I tell the dudes I just need to get to a phone to call my towing service for a jump. They say "all you need is a jump, we can do that" I tell them I can push the bike out but they said they have been down worse roads than this.
These guys were super nice, sticking around until I brought the bike out of choke to make sure I stayed running.
I keep it idling while I packed all the gear back on. Fifteen minutes later I'm ready to mount back up and head out. I don't see my helmet or sunglasses. Haaaaa! O well, I hope one of those guys at least can use the sunglasses if not the helmet.
Trip Report cont. Back on the road and in the mountains heading toward Snowy Range pass, I have no helmet. I wasn't expecting to be riding through snow on this trip but I picked the road. What a beautiful area. There are little snow lined ponds everywhere with park and hiking trails all over. This is great but I'm freezing my ears off. I feel like a bonehead driving in the snow without a helmet. I try wrapping my long scarf around my head. I see about three groups of bikers with most of the riders wearing nothing on their heads, WTF.
It was Sunday and I wondered if I was going to find a bike shop open. I talked to some riders along the road and one guy assured me that Laramie would have a shop open. Super, Laramie here I come. I pull into town and right away I pull into a parking lot with two bike shops attached. I first head to the Suzuki, Yamaha shop thinking the prices are cheaper then the Harley shop. Whoa!, I wanted a new helmet anyway but I wasn't prepared for the cost, $300 to $400. I say the heck with it and just try on all the top helmets in both shops and buy the one that fits and feels the best. I close my eyes and hand over the credit card. I tell myself, like I do with tires "this is a small price to pay for the insurance".
Everything is cool, the bike seems to be starting fine. It must have been the lose connection. I'm zooming along heading north through Wyoming. I have nothing to do except enjoy the ride home as much as possible. I try to stay off the freeways and ride roads I haven't ridden before. This is the kind of road cruising I like, I get out the map every new highway and make sure of my route which I constantly re-evaluate. My only real plan for the day was to get to the Bad Lands area and camp. I missed the Bad Lands on my way out because of my bracket mishap so I wanted to do it now.
It's starting to get late. I'm in southwestern South Dakota and at the fringe of the Bad Lands area. I pull into the little village, Buffalo Gap. There is nothing here except one plain building with a hand written sign saying â€œBarâ€�. Nothing parked out front or anywhere near the place but I could tell there were at least a few people inside. I have three choices, Go way south into Pine Ridge then go north into the Bad Lands. Been there, done that. Go north into Rapid City then to the Bad Lands, bor.....ing. Or go straight east through the Bad Lands Park and camp near Interior, the heart of the Bad Lands. Yes, this sounds good and is by far the shortest route. I just need to contend with about forty miles of dirt road, no problem.
About ten miles down the dirt road the gravel started to get deep. There are thee distinct tracks dug into the gravel and I needed to stay in one of them. Nothing on this stretch except fenced in scrub pasture and some signs of bad lands. The sun is slowly going down behind me into the Black Hills and giving off a nice purple glow. I was running late and running out of light, I decided to not even take time for one shot. I don't want to be caught out on a deep gravel dirt road in the dark. I'm going a little fast. At one point the gravel got super deep and I was cruising about forty five MPH. I went into a side slide, tapped a foot down and thought I was going down. I manhandled the handlebars and pulled it out, HS. I finally make it to the half way portion of the dirt road, paved highway 41. I still have the exact same options I had in Buffalo Gap. I think I'm nuts but I check out the dirt section heading east again. It is newly paved! Sweeet!. I'm on it. I should make it to Interior just around dark. There is camping all around Interior. I'm motoring down the newly paved road and about two miles later it's back to deep gravel. It's worse then before with wash boards and the periodic woop-dee. I had to stand on the pegs for much of the washboards and all of the woop-dees. It Is Getting Dark and the road is lasting forever. At one point I started coming into traffic. When a car passes it throws up such a cloud of dust I had to stop and wait. I don't know what the deal was with all the traffic. I was hoping the paved road was near but no.... I was going as slow as possible and almost went down a couple more times. I was tense. Fighting the handlebars all the way and standing on the pegs. Finely I hit pavement and it is dark. I still have about thirty miles of riding, no problem. It's getting cold so I bundle up. I wish I had a cigarette, I don't even smoke. I hope there's beer at Interior.
Here's to making it to Interior. It's after 11:00 PM and this little bar is hopping. I do a quick shot and a beer then go set up my tent.
I was wired and the bar is just up the street, one more sounds good. The bar was fluctuating between full and about a dozen core people. This is reservation country. A lot of locals were dressed in cowboy hats and others were in more native dress. I asked one guy with a long ponytail if I could read the back of his jacket, it looked new. He just won it at a pow-wow last weekend for traditional dance. He was super proud. Another huge local in a tank top had an interesting tattoo I was going ask to look at but when the guy next to me immediately slid his bar stool way over when this guy approached the bar, I decided to just leave it alone. The bar was full on both sides of me. Iâ€™m having fun chit chatting. One sweet young girl with big cheeks and unique looking eyes who was with a guy, looks at my shot and says "what's that?" I say "Tequila" The girl "can I try it?" I hand her the shot, she gently sips some down. This is all fun but the girl is getting real friendly. Later she says "How about you getting another shot so weez can split it" while smiling sweetly. I see this as my cue to get the H out of there and call it a good night. Fun.
I wake up in the heart of the Bad Lands and perfect weather. After sleeping late I have the bike all loaded up. I fire on the starter, I get a click, click, click, click then it turns over but doesn't start. S.... I wait 5 minutes then try it again, same thing but this time it starts. Well I guess that says it all, it's not my battery connection that was bad, it's my battery.
I'm off on a big days ride and am enjoying the whole scene. The Bad Lands are so cool to drive through. The battery seems to be holding up and I'm hoping I can make it back to Wisconsin without needing a new one.
I jump on the freeway for about forty miles. I see wave after wave of bikers. This is the fast way out west for most.
I had to take this photo just to contrast the different modes of bike travel people do. I think that white thing is a pop-up camper, (styling).
South Dakota back roads are nothing but good biking roads. I see this guy and think, that would make a good set of handlebars.:huh
I look for a camp spot on the river that divides South Dakota and Minnesota. I find a super spot right on the water at an almost deserted state camp ground.
For sure! Packed up and ready to go and the bike will not start. Do I feel stupid.
I was on the bottom of a big hill so push starting was out of the question (what was I thinking?) I march up looking for a phone. I ask a ranger if he knows where one is, I say "I need to call my towing service for a jump" He says "I can jump you if you can wait about ten minute" Super!
OK, first bike shop, new battery.
Not done yet!
A new battery and I’m on my way. I should be in Minneapolis hours before Heidi gets off of work. OK, The Joint / Cabooze, Whisky Junction. This is one of the biggest and arguably best biker bar areas in the world. Any night of the week you can find some of Minneapolis’s best live music and great food served inside or out. It’s just a good time. The bike only parking lot holds over a hundred bikes and they make room for about two hundred more on Thursday through Saturday. It’s fun any night of the week to order a beer and walk amongst all the bikes. Heidi and I like pointing out and saying “Yeah! That’s the bike I like!” I’m afraid to drive into the main cycle parking circle because of my wide aluminum bags. There are thirty thousand dollar choppers parked here on a regular basis and the area gets tight. The street is good…
Cruising through our hood I pass Bob’s Java Hut, a European bike coffee shop. I have an espresso coffee and a look at the Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly. This is the middle of the afternoon and everything is quiet
Heidi gets home from work to our apartment in Minneapolis. Minneapolis is where we work to make money for the next adventure. The place is small but close to work for both of us and is on the city lakes trail system. @#Did we really just do this?@#
I work for two days then July forth weekend, four days, nice. I need to make it six days because Heidi has it off. I hope my boss understands…. Something is wrong with the bikes charging system! I had to take out the headlight fuse and push start it the last two stops. I fly home to our place near Hayward. !!The bike is back where it started, alright! Ride complete…. Obviously the grass has not been the priority.
The ride is not totally complete until I implement all the modifications I’ve been designing in my head. I charge the battery and ride to Hayward to the hardware store. I get all the aluminum pieces and bolts at the first place. I feel hungry and thirsty.
The first modification is to move the panniers brackets up one inch. I saw evidence of the brackets hitting the springs and the belt guard. This will also be good for ground clearance and the increase vertical support moment arm. ----------------------
Now strap both sides together to prevent the flopping dog ear effect. I put a scab piece of aluminum inside both bags and tap four holes. I can’t wait to try it. HC will you check out that tire! If I didn’t have a new one in the shed I would have gotten one on the road.
If I’m going to have confidence that I can change a rear tire on the road I have to practice it. The bike falls off the lift. OK here I go…
This is my third tire in the last month. It’s so easy when you do it right.
New tire and stripped. This is the way the bike will stay until we get it ready to ride down to panama. It must have been a dream but I thought for sure I saw someone from Europe post that this was the most beautiful Harley they have ever seen. I like that kind of talk, me to! Shot: New rear tire and ready for a new stator coil and clutch plates.
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