View Full Version : Cross country ride

07-23-2013, 5:47 PM
1st installment of this by now legendary tale.

Five years ago my wife planned a move to N. Ca. from S. Fl. for the whole family. She says to me "why don't you buy a motorcycle like (brother in law) Richard and ride out ahead, get everything set up. I hadn't ridden in 35 yrs. (at the ripe old age of 15, a Honda CL100 at that) so I replied " I haven't ridden in 35 yrs. are you trying to get rid of me"? Now mind you she had refused my requests of motorcycle ownership for 30 yrs. do to safety reasons. So you can imagine this new turn of events surprised me quite a bit.

But the more I thought about it the crazier it sounded, so what the hell I'll do it. Purchased my 1999 Honda VT1100 Shadow A.C.E. bobber on e-bay and 4 days later (April fool’s day) was on my way. If you’re familiar with the bobber style you know I went without baggage of any sort.

Having never taken a ride of this magnitude before I was ill prepared and thought it would be a good idea to stay off the major hwys. I left a little late in the day so I figured I would make up time by riding into the night (bad idea). On the second night of riding about midnight, rounding a bend with an oncoming semi's lights in my eyes I didn't see the Deer carcass until too late.

This was a fresh kill so pretty substantial in size, blood and guts everywhere. I didn't think it would be a good idea to swerve so I just hung on for the ride. Everything seemed to be in slow motion, I remember seeing ribs sticking out as I went air born. Chunks of meat flew up from my unfendered front and rear tires pelting me in the face, chest, back, oh it was a real meat grinder out there. I landed about 15 or 20 feet down the road, Evel Knievel would have been proud.

The bike and I were a bloody mess but safe and upright. Needless to say this ended the midnight rides for a while.

This was an 8000 mile journey so more events to follow.

The bike looks different now, re-customized myself.


07-23-2013, 6:30 PM
8000 miles? Are you making it a round trip?

07-23-2013, 6:54 PM
8000 miles? Are you making it a round trip?

As it turned out, but not planned as such. Even ended up costing me a non refundable plane ticket home.

07-23-2013, 8:55 PM
OK, second installment as promised.

On the morning of the third day, approximately 20 miles south/east of Shreveport La. I was traveling north/west on hwy 71/84. Being this was my first long distance ride, I foolishly (April first departure remember) neglected to check for upcoming weather reports. It rains every day at this time of the year in Fl. so who checks?

If I had, I would have known there was this major storm sweeping across the whole country from west-east. Whether this knowledge would have delayed my departure, your guess is as good as mine. Looking back now, I don't believe so (but it should have).

I was about 10 miles between nothing and nowhere when the skies started clouding over with those ominously deep black ones. The winds were also beginning to pick up too. I didn't have much choice but to continue as there wasn't a tree or building in sight to seek shelter under (tree? lightning you fool!).

Within a few minutes the rain started with a slight mixture of hail. And I don't mean that light kind of rain either, this was the torrential kind we experience in Fl. My bike was a bobber at the time so any kind of rain is akin to having a garden hose in the face (half helm and goggles). My bars are very wide so leaning to the side is out of the question.

The roads quickly began to flood and I was now slogging through about 3" of water. This forced me to slow way down (10-15mph) so I pulled over into the shoulder out of fear of being steamrolled by a semi from behind. As it turned out this was the least of my fears. Unknown to me this storm was spawning tornados in the area and I was soon being blown around by 60mph plus wind gusts.

Even though the storm was approaching from the west the winds were most severe from the east. At times so bad I was dragging the right peg attempting to stay in my own lane (shoulder) but still blown clear across to the other side. By now the hail was large (concussion balls my wife likes to call them) and I was pretty desperate. Still no cover in sight.

Thankfully about 15 minutes later I saw a small diner coming up on the left (in these situations there are no atheists and I thanked the lord) and pulled in to salvation. For the life of me I don't remember its name but they sure had that great southern hospitality on display. Now as I said, I was traveling light (no baggage=no change of clothes) and I really wasn't prepared. Hell, I didn't even have a proper leather jacket. I was wearing my suede high school letterman’s jacket and it now weighed about 50lbs soaked with water.

I was seated at a table shivering with a rapidly growing puddle of water surrounding me. The waitress approached and I quickly apologized through chattering teeth and asked for coffee. Before she could return with my order the mop up crew was busy for 6' around, (this was repeated several times during my stay).

When she returned she asked (with a beautiful southern drawl) "would I like to try their ham steak special". This consisted of home fries, three eggs, a biscuit with sausage gravy, and a bone in ham steak you wouldn't believe. She said it was large so I decided to bite.

This thing was a 1/2" thick, came on its own plate and hung over the sides all the way around (by a lot), I mean it was enormous. All for $6.99, I mean, my god how could they do this. I've never sat down to eat a meal like this in my life. My friends could tell you, I can really eat, and that would be a huge understatement. But this thing was awe inspiring.

Needless to say I was so ravenous they really didn't need to clean my plates (three in all). The waitress mentioned there was a small marina in back with some cabins to rent so I decided to call it a day. A warm shower and a good meal and I felt like a new man.

If you are ever passing that way and my memory is correct it was near the Jimmie Davis hwy on the Red River. This is definitely worth a stop even if you can't handle this much food. You will get a chance to see southern hospitality at its finest.

Installment 3 includes an encounter with some aggressive dogs so stay tuned.

07-23-2013, 10:21 PM
gonna be the longest thread on here , how many miles are we up to outa the 8000

07-23-2013, 10:42 PM
gonna be the longest thread on here , how many miles are we up to outa the 8000

As I was avoiding using the superslabs as much as possible, around 1200-1300 miles. Used the El Camino East-West hwy aka hwy 84. It's an old 2 and 4 lane trucker route that passes through some really old towns and beautiful countryside. The speed limit varied but for the most part 65-70mph outside of the small towns.


07-23-2013, 10:43 PM
Trips are useless without pictures.

07-23-2013, 10:49 PM
Trips are useless without pictures.

I apologize but this wasn't a pleasure trip as stated. I was on a mission and the destination not the ride was all important. But not to worry, there are pics upcoming of my stay in California and some of the roads this trip took me on.


Here are a few teaser pics if you insist. First one is of the bike but the paint is changed from what it was for the trip, plus a few other mods. Second and third pics show some of the roads and scenery in Ca. Much more interesting pics of Kings Canyon National Forest, home of the great Sequoias to come.

http://i920.photobucket.com/albums/ad46/Kingshead/bobberpics017.jpg (http://s920.photobucket.com/user/Kingshead/media/bobberpics017.jpg.html)

http://i920.photobucket.com/albums/ad46/Kingshead/helmetgoggles122a.jpg (http://s920.photobucket.com/user/Kingshead/media/helmetgoggles122a.jpg.html)

http://i920.photobucket.com/albums/ad46/Kingshead/helmetgoggles127a.jpg (http://s920.photobucket.com/user/Kingshead/media/helmetgoggles127a.jpg.html)

07-23-2013, 11:05 PM
Trips are useless without pictures.

Not always... sometimes sketchy directions and stories about good times are enough to get folks to go to that magical place they call...."outside". Its kinda like Narnia, but... no bullshit. Ive seen it.

lol... the ham steak sounds worth a trip

07-23-2013, 11:16 PM
OK Third installment:

Around noon of the fourth day, I was riding west on route 380 just east of Throckmorton, Texas. My hands were a little buzzy and the derriere quite sore, so it seemed like a good time for a breather. Rounding a bend I see a nice shady little spot by the entrance for a residential community.

While rolling to a stop I notice a couple of utility workers and their truck near an electric pole, watching me. Being an electrician I was curious what they were doing so my attention was diverted. I shut off the bike and began to swing my right foot over when my peripheral vision noticed movement to my right.

I swung my head around to get a better look and saw two dogs hell bent on taking a chunk out of my ass. Being an avid cyclist all my life old instincts kicked in and I attempted to keep the bike between us. It didn't take long to realize this wasn't going to work with two dogs; one was trying to outflank me.

So I started the bike and (what happened after this is a little blurry) apparently released the clutch before getting on. The rear tire started spinning and throwing a rooster tail of grass, dirt, and gravel. I'm holding the bars with the bike leaning slightly to the left so it begins running around in circles with me chasing.

When the bike pulled around it caused me to twist the throttle even more and began spinning faster. So I'm running these tight little circles while it's spinning wildly round and round and I can't let go, because if I do the bike will be damaged. I can't pull in the clutch either or I'll have to loosen my grip. Apparently all this commotion was keeping the dogs at bay; I was too busy to notice.

I'm not quite sure how but I manage to throw my right leg over the seat and get on. The bike is twisting side to side; my legs are dangling and still sort of running as I pull back onto the roadway. As I hit the pavement I notice the utility workers were running over to try and help, I guess with the dogs. I manage to get the bike stabilized and tear off waving thanks for the thought.

07-23-2013, 11:17 PM
gonna be the longest thread on here , how many miles are we up to outa the 8000

07-23-2013, 11:29 PM
As stated in the first post, I was new to riding. Hell, I had only been riding four days when I started out and why I stayed off the major hwys. I had never been on any kind of forum and telling the story of my ride wasn't even a thought. I don't know about all of you but a trip full of milage reports, fuel used, hotel prices, etc is really boring shit. This tale of my trip was written over a two year period in dribbles and drabs for the members of another forum and as a busy life would allow. It also began 3yrs after the trip so some of the boring facts elude me.


07-24-2013, 1:58 AM
gonna be the longest thread on here , how many miles are we up to outa the 8000

So whos playing games , i posted this once 3 hrs ago:kill:

07-24-2013, 7:24 AM
Trips are useless without pictures.

Pics are always nice but I have to disagree. Love hearing a good story, especially about a motorcycle trip!

07-24-2013, 7:43 AM
This is some good stuff man. Like the writing style.

07-24-2013, 7:59 AM
[QUOTE=Kingshead;522816]I I was on a mission and the destination not the ride was all important.

Ha.. so whats the point then?.. its ALWAYS about the ride. More pics..

07-24-2013, 11:10 AM
I'm enjoying your learning to ride again; cross country adventure and mishaps.. who gives a flying fuckamajig if it's gonna be a long thread or few to no pictures? Damn whats next wanting a braille version?

Keep it coming I love cross country stories, been there done that a few times, it's not hard to picture what you're talking about from personal experience and your descriptive ability.

07-24-2013, 3:13 PM
Thanks all, I'll be posting pics with an upcoming stage of the ride. Once in California I rode the last leg of my journey many times with some friends I made there.


07-24-2013, 4:21 PM
OK, Installment 4:

First I must digress, stopped in a little diner on my way through Texas and saw a very peculiar sign on the front counter. It went like this "No Illegal Firearms Allowed", if any Texans reading this, is this a common sight there? Is there a big problem with people in restaurants with illegal firearms, and if so, next time I'm there should I be packin myself? Just askin.

It's approaching evening of the 5th day as I'm nearing the Arizona/California border and mountains are looming ahead. Now I'm a Florida boy and we don't see too many of these back there and what I've ridden through so far would be mere hills in comparison.

I guess it was about 30 miles west of Flagstaff on I-40 when starting my first ascent. It's early in April and in the 90's in Florida but as the altitude starts to climb and I near the summit the temperature starts to plummet. You previous readers will remember I came very well prepared (HA). I did have my suede jacket, 2 pairs of gloves (fingerless and a pair with little holes for venting all over), and hiking boots. This first mountain (I think it was the Juniper mnts) was maybe 5000-6000', boy was I in for a rude awakening.

I finally crest the summit and through chattering teeth and numb fingers sigh with relief, only to see more ahead, egad. I climb Cross mnt., then Snow mnt., I think I'm going to die. I can't feel my fingers or toes at all anymore. Oh wait that's not quite true, I can feel that "your on fire" feeling you get from freezing thing. I'm actually starting to consider pissing my pants just for warmth, but I know it won't last and it will just freeze into a yellow patch of ice anyways.

Little did I know but the worst was still to come. Nearing Kingman looms a really large mountain chain, Hualapai mnts, and 9,500 at the crest. About 7,000' I start seeing snow, now I spent my early childhood in northern Mass. so I've seen snow, but it's been 36 yrs... I start to realize cars are beginning to fly by so checking the speedo I'm now only doing 68 mph. So I twist the throttle and nothing happens, oh no what's wrong with the bike. This is not the time or the place for a break down. Climbing higher and higher I'm going slower and slower.

You have to picture this, freezing so bad I've got the chills and I'm shaking violently, bleary eyes from the ice cold wind coming through my goggles (that's right, skid lid only), frozen snot in my mustache, teeth chattering so hard I break off a cap (front tooth), I mean I'm wishing a truck would just end it for me right now. But like the stubborn fool I was born to be I continue on.

I'm not quite sure how I survived through this but I finally make it to Needles right on the border. I stay there for the night and in the morning still can't feel my fingers or toes. It was three weeks before the feeling started to return, guess I suffered a mild case of frostbite. Oh one more thing, the bike's power returned when I reached thicker air, never experienced this before. If my brain hadn't been so frozen I probably would have figured this out earlier.