Look in the Blog Archive in the box to the right for past ride reports going back to 2006. New material posted as rides or other motorcycle news occurs. Thanks for reading. Comments always welcome, be sure to log in below. Comments will be reviewed. Please note the disclaimer below.

About Me

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Motorcycling has been a life changing experience. I hope sharing the info and pictures on the Blog gives you some idea how impressed I am with the experience, travel and the people I have met. Made new friends especially among Riders here in Orange County. Special recognition to Johney (Wrench)-helps with all the maintenance stuff+rides, plus other great riding friends: Ken Y., Luis V. & Minita, Chuck & Patty, John R., Joe, Carolyn, Gregg, Charlie & Carol, Rick, Stan P., Ed & Susan P., Barry, plus Terry, Bob B., Brian H., Glenn, William & Daveta Jo, Bob (Concho) and others. ************* DISCLAIMER: This is my personal write-up (Blog) of motorcycling news, rides and events that I am involved with in some way and not affiliated with any group, organization or club that might be mentioned herein. There should be no confusion regarding the fact these are my personal comments and not those of any other entity.

Amazing scenery, great ride, wonderful time.

Amazing scenery, great ride, wonderful time.
Monument Valley, Utah-9/2011 photo by Johney Harper!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

It's not always the destination- it's the RIDE...Las Vegas & STAR

It's not my longest ride, not a new destination, not the coldest ride, but it was THE WINDIEST RIDE EVER!

I SURVIVE THE ENTIRE EXPERIENCE! Can't begin to tell you what was going through my mind as we hit unbelievable wind after leaving Baker, CA but picturing the possibility of a crash is on the list. Nice to know I have on all the gear including knee and shin guards.

This trip to Las Vegas is for an annual STAR-B-QUE meeting. Sort of a regional convention of members from various STAR chapters in the Western U.S and a great opportunity to connect with long time friends and make new ones. Getting there means 340 miles up and about 250 back plus dealing with changing weather on the route. There was a lot of planning involving the various weather conditions possible along the way and what to wear. The biggest problem is the darn motorcycle does not have climate control like the Lexus so it means taking the right gear and clothes aboard a very storage space challenged vehicle. Not a lot of room for extras or just in case stuff.

ALL THE PREPARATION PAYS OFF! I decided to take a summer mesh jacket (First Gear-MeshTex II) with liner, a sweater and a rain jacket as an outer wind breaker, instead of a heavy winter jacket in case it gets warm in Las Vegas. The combo works and I stay warm the entire cold and windy trip up plus on the tour and return trip as well. Turns out I probably could have taken the Tourmaster winter jacket and it would have worked as well.
Wearing the Yellow and black rain jacket, STAR vest on top of that, my mesh jacket underneath and everything else except the chaps.

Wore a pair of chaps (on the way up only), Draggin' Jeans AND a base liner of long underwear like underarmour gear. I was not going to get cold or overheated and everything worked. My Tourmaster winter gloves were perfect on the ride up to Shoshone where I had frozen on the Death Valley return ride a few months ago. Not going to repeat that disaster.

Thursday morning 6 am we head for Coco's in Brea, at least I meet Ken and then a few others show up including Jerry our former president stopping by for breakfast. There is Terry our ride leader on a Harley, Ken on his V-Star 1300, Me on the Road Star, Scott on a Gold Wing and Jerry-Scott's friend on a 1990 Goldwing and off we go. What is it about motorcycle people being so friendly, helpful and accepting of others, it just amazes me, and this group including ALL of STAR fits that description.
Our first stop on the 15 Freeeway at 138. Gas up ready to head up to Baker.


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We arrive in Baker,

it's warmed up a few degrees and everything is good so far. Taking off from Baker we head north on Route 127 to Shosone and then on to Pahrump. That's the junction just up ahead where we turn left into the desert.

At Shosone some 55 miles north we turn right and WHAM we get hit with the fiercest side wind you can imagine. Estimates of 50-60 mph would not surprise me. Nearly tore my helmet off or so it felt, and suddenly had to lean to the left to keep from being blown over or off the road. Words really cannot describe what the next 40 miles to Pahrump and then on to Las Vegas felt like. I now know the reaction a soldier in combat feels after a fierce firefight. If you weren't there you can't understand it.

We arrive in Pahrump for lunch at a Mexican restaurant and then get back on the road. The wind continues with no let up. On the left is Ken with a big burrito.

Riding into wind from the left side like that, you lean into it by pulling up on the right handlebar and pushing down on the left handlebar grip, only it's not consistent or steady and we get buffeted from all sides including a few head-on gusts that actually slow the motorcycle down. finally we come to the turn off for Red Rock Canyon a scenic canyon of red rock formations worth taking a side trip just west of Las Vegas, but the wind, still blowing, forces us to press on. Suddenly at the end of the side road we hit condo's and we are in Las Vegas, next stop the Eastside Cannery Hotel. We are the first group from Chapter 230 with Dan bringing another contingent up on Friday with Stan, Ed, Greg, Jim, Rick, Taz, Bob and Tony and others.

Friday morning Ken and I take a tour with members from several other chapters. This is a sightseeing tour led by one of the Las Vegas Chapter members Chris, taking us through the Lake Mead Recreational area to the Valley of Fire and more picturesque scenery of the desert. Our first stop on the tour.

It's a bit breezy but not anything like Thursday. Little do we know what's in store for the 12 of us.
Circle tour around Lake Mead, about 135 miles...

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The road in the park leads through some curves and sweepers with lots of scenery and we stop a couple times for pictures.
Our Second stop and first sight of the red rock formations.

I am very happy with my road skill and handling of the Road Star and keep up with the leader with no problem. Hey, I'm actually getting good at this.

We turn off on to a side road leading to Echo Bay and lunch. All is far.
You have to walk a mile or more to get to the water, lake Mead is down over 100 feet.

After lunch we turn back on the main road and suddently see signs indicating construction. The words "Pavement Ends" is on at least one sign. This is not good, but it is hard pack dirt and gravel and not too terrible. At slow speed we traverse with no major concern. On ahead another "Pavement Ends" and again dirt but going down and up hill into some turns...NOT GOOD AT ALL but we travel slowly. The third patch looms after a few more miles and what's this-MUD. They are watering the road and we ride into slick MUD. Forget hard pack gravel and dirt it's wet and slippery. We push on and you can feel the back tire squirm and you can see it happening on the wheel in front of you. This is scary at least to me it was. We even have to stop on a grade behind some RV's waiting for traffic to clear. The tire grabs as I slowly let out the clutch and we proceed to move up the hill.

Yea, hurrah, we make it through, but pick up wads of mud under the fenders and on the radiators of water cooled engines that we will spot later on.

Arriving at the scenic road leading to the canyons and Valley of Fire we get to see the rocks and bright colors up close.

Look closely, that's the road we came up on.

The end of the road and more rocks

After going to the end of the scenic route we turn back to the main park road and head onto the "Arch" a somewhat overstated bit of geology.
We get there and the leader parks us on a gravel strip off the road with an uphill lie on large rocks and loose gravel.
There's the ARCH, it's small enough to put in your back yard and I think you can buy them at the gift shop.

Good Grief. I have some trouble exiting from the stop and get a bit flustered but we push on. It throws off my sense of timing and my road handling rapidly deteriorates to less than ideal, not terrible until I discover that the darn throttle rest has shifted and blocking my control of the throttle. It's not until we reach the gas station at the 15 freeway can I rectify the problem. Remember, never try and solve a gear problem while underway, it can get you killed. We head back south on the 15 Freeway and return to the hotel, another successful trip.
Some scenes down in the parking lot. I get a chance to demo ride a V-Star 1300 and it could work as a replacement if I get tired of the heavier Road Star. Been looking on Craigslist just in case, but waiting for a real deal.
This colorful motorcycle belongs to Charlene from Chapter 415.
Training wheels on a Honda, are those safe?
Motorcycle show with a couple entries.
Views from the room.

There is a buffet Dinner Saturday night for all the attendees, and would you believe there is actual Bar-B-Que in the form of pulled pork (I think), along with some very good food prepared by the hotel.
Rich sitting on my right and on the right in the picture, then Jerry, Scott, Jim and Kim.

Looking around at all the tables in the banquet room I wonder where all these people came from, it's a big group. My table with Ken on the left, then Stan, Greg, Dan and Kim.

Bob and Tony on the right at this table,
Tony's Raider took second place in the motorcycle show.
Terry, on the right, Keith and his wife, then Ed and Joseph on the far left.

One lady, Christine from Chapter 422 took a spill in the parking lot when she rode over a spot with too much gravity centered in one place, and broke a collar bone but showed up with an ice-pack and sling to make it through the dinner-a real trooper. Also at the table from Chapter 422 is Leonard, Marge (rides a V-Star 1100 and president) and husband Colin on the far left.

The night before (Friday) Ken and I ate in the Carvery a steak type restaurant in the hotel and we both had prime rib. While the overall experience was nicely done and we enjoyed(?), the $25 dinner (incl tip, drink and a salad) the prime rib was OK at best and tonight's dinner was far better in a lot of ways. What the heck happened to All the Prime Rib you can eat for $5.99?

At this point my picture taking ends and we get ready to wrap up our attendance at my second STAR-B-Que and return home via the 15 Fwy, where we encounter nearly the same winds as when we came up. All loaded and ready for the ride home.
Only this time we hit a lot of head wind and it really sucked up the gas plus making it very tiring to be 100% alert for shifting wind patterns that could easily throw you off the road if not careful. The stretch from Baker to Hwy 138 Silverwood exit at the bottom of the Cajon pass is 116 miles and I took on 3.66 gal of gas for an average 31 MPG instead of the normal 40 mpg, due to the heavy headwind slowing us down. Total trip including sightseeing and a ride to visit a client in Summerlin, was 803 miles. Arriving home I hosed off the underside of the fenders and lots of red mud and dirt came loose.

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