I spent some time thinking about the day I would pick up my first motorcycle and how I would get it home. Looking at bikes online I would consider the logistics of the pick up whether it was here in San Diego, or nearby Los Angeles. On Cycle Trader, found a hec of a deal on a 2012 Triumph Bonneville in Dallas, Texas.
The challenge was, do I pay to have it shipped to my door, or pick it up at the dealer and ride it 1500 miles back?A quick check of the weather for the next two weeks showed no rain or snow in the forecast with tempatures in the 60’s -70’s across the southwest. Perfect riding weather! I booked my one way ticket to Dallas on Spirit airlines for $69 done deal! With the money left over I could buy the appropriate touring gear which I needed anyways.
My only experience riding motorcycles was on a few rented Harley’s (Sportster, Dyna Street Bob, and a Fat Boy) that I would ride 250 miles on a typical rental day. I estimated I could easily do 300-400 miles a day for the Dallas to San Diego trip.
It was 36 degrees in Dallas, the morning I picked up my Bonneville! My final items to shop for were gloves, some tools for the road and apparently a hoodie for an extra layer to stay warm! With “rainstorm of the decade” forecasted to hit Southern California on the weekend, I stubbornly stuck to my plan of riding the more interesting northern route to San Diego via: Amarillo, Albuquerque and Flagstaff.
Heading out of Dallas, I ran out of gas on my first tank as I figured I should get at least 160 miles per tank not less then 100 miles! I was on a farm road on the 287 a few miles south of Claude, Texas and found myself walking the bike until a county road crew worker was kind enough to pull over and give me free gas “take as much as you like ‘cause gas is expensive ‘round these parts!” (really, it’s a $1.25 a gallon cheaper than California!) At the gas station, I duct taped a gatorade bottle of gas to my handrail for a reserve. I didn’t plan on the crosswinds that pushed the bottle sideways into the tire ripping a hole in the can leaving a small trail of gasoline in the wind behind me as I rode along.
Losing light in the late afternoon, my next challenge was the ice trails from the farm irrigation running horizontally across the road like speed bumps. I pulled over to switch to a clear visor and defrost my hands on the engine. The bike loaded down with gear, in the middle of nowhere, freezing cold, It felt like I was on a real adventure! Only 10 miles away to the next town but it sure looked and felt like a journey that first day.
I rolled into the first Motel 6 I could find in Wichita Falls, Texas and “valet” parked my new bike in the room. I only covered 127 miles in my first day with the multiple stops at “The Walmart” for tools, the moto store for rain gear & gloves. The weather now indicating not only a rainstorm for all of Southern California and Arizona, but also snow forecasted for Flagstaff,
So I changed course which meant cutting south all across New Mexico on the 25 to get to the I-10.
The weather was warming up, with high crosswinds determined to push me into the sides of a semi trucks at 75+mph. No worries though, it was like sailing a boat. At times, counter-steering a full turn to keep the bike in a straight line .
With Day 2 completed, the fear of rainstorm was starting to get real as my progress was slow at best stopping every 100 miles for gas and a deadline of having to catch a flight back east as soon as I get back to San Diego. I considered parking the bike in El Paso and finish the trip when there was no rush to get back. Then I realized that was just the fear of riding in the rain talking. After a good night’s rest, I woke up to overcast skies and no rain (yet) I was determined to make the push to Tucson.
As soon as I crossed the Arizona border, the dark storm clouds loomed on the horizon.
Within the hour, I was into the heavy rain with some impressive winds. It turned out to be my biggest mileage day of riding 490 miles into the night passing Tucson for my last overnight stay in Yuma, Arizona.
For the home stretch across Southern California, The rain storm picked up intensity as I rode through the mountain passes of the Cleveland National Forest
and then I finally made it down the hill to the clearing skies of San Diego merging in with the freeway traffic drivers, going along, just like any other day.