Skip to main content

Day Nine Recap: Death on a Stick!

70MPH on a white line. On the left side of the road, a mountain face. On the right side, a sheer drop. If I twitch six inches to the right, I'm falling... falling... falling... A left turn coming up, sharp. I can see it curving back around to the right, see a few hundred yards of road - it's clear. I back off the throttle, run a perfect apex through the turn, crossing the double yellow into the other side, spinning back to mine to make the right turn under full throttle, back off again for a blind left - gotta stay on my side, might be traffic coming... got six feet of leeway to work with between the yellow line and the white line, then six inches and the drop... The road straightens out for twenty yards, another turn coming up, hard on the throttle from 30 to 70, back off and roll into the turn again... watch out for that drop!

Part of me still wonders how I'm still alive - then again, I *was* really careful in general. We enthusiasts like to call it in degrees of tenths, I was generally pushing at about 4/10ths with some occasional knocks on 6/10ths coming OUT of turns only (never going in). Ironically, not careful enough when I wasn't moving though!

Dropping the bike was really really annoying. See, with all my gear on the back I can't swing my leg over and mount like normal - instead I have to kinda hop my right leg over and vault onto the bike. In this particular situation, I was on a very steep incline and I didn't realize how precariously balanced the bike was - when I hit the seat it just went right over, before my right leg even had a chance to hit the ground to try to catch the weight of it! In retrospect it could've been much worse though, if the bike had fallen over on the other side it would've fallen a few hundred feet down a mountain (yep was that close to the edge). And probably taken me with it!

So aside from that... wow! Lots of different highs and lows today, physical, geographical, and emotional. The Coronado Trail was obscene. Sick. Disgusting. Insane. Wicked. There were spots where I could literally see 10+ loops of road underneath me. I spent most of the time in 2nd or 3rd gear, usually between 3000 and 7000RPM (redline is 9000RPM for me). At 5000RPM my higher spec cam (aka "vboost") kicks in and the power comes on in force, so there was a ton of high throttle blasts from 30MPH to 75MPH in 2nd followed by engine braking for corners. Probably 15,000 times. Seriously. It never seemed to end.

The entire road for 90 miles I think there was a total of maybe five 100 yard stretches with a dotted line to pass - thankfully the road wasn't crowded! Whenever I got suck behind someone I would usually just pull over and chill. I passed the same silver Jeep three times on these streches due to all the chillin'. Hehe. They caught me when I was eating lunch and stopped to chat, was a nice old couple - let them get a big lead on me that time and never saw them again.

This feeling was really weird. I mean, seriously. I'm hurtling up towards a sharp turn (btw in AZ and NM when there is a sign that says "25MPH turn" they MEAN IT) after accelerating out of the last one. My bike is on the race cam at full power sounding mean as hell. I'm doing 75MPH coming up on a sign that says 25MPH turn. And I can see beyond the turn - FOREVER. If I don't slow down, I'll probably end up flying a few hundred yards through thin air while I'm dropping hundreds, in some places thousands, of feet - blaze of glory with no one but myself to see. The crazy bit? Probably at least a quarter of the time I'm tempted to shift into 3rd and keep the throttle wide open just to see how far I'll fly. How sick is that?

Regardless, I made it. As I started coming down into the straights at the end of the Devil's Highway, the temperature started to seriously drop. Mind you, the day started in the low 60's and I was prepared - two long johns, jeans, extra thick socks, undershirt, t-shirt, two thermal shirts, motorcycle jacket, ski gloves... Those lasted me fine until I was 8,000 feet up and the sun stopped shining (not a cloud in the sky - simply got too low and the mountains around me started blocking it). Then it started getting miserable.

When I rolled through Alpine to get gas it was in the upper 30's and I was having a really hard time with the cold. By the time I pushed through Springerville I almost stopped - but thought it wasn't that far to Show Low and I could make it! Ugh, bad call. 30 miles down the road I was seriously regretting it. Stopped on the side of the road to add two pairs of gloves under my ski gloves and run circles around my bike for 10minutes to warm up. After that I couldn't feel the controls but it was all straights for 20 miles - rolled into Show Low and found that I could barely control the throttle/clutch at the lights! Had to pull over and take off some gloves. Grabbed myself some Mexican, barely warmed up, then headed back to a motel (America's Value Inn or some such) and got a room. Grabbed some vodka at a nearby gas station and took a warm shower.

Yum, feel so much better now. :) I really did not realize how much of AZ and NM are mountains, ugh they are so cold! According to some wind chill calculators I found on Google, I was experiencing temps between 5 and 15 degrees at speed. No wonder it was so killer!

Random thoughts for day nine while I can still think:
  • Went the whole day without headphones/music. I love the sound my bike makes when it's on the cam over 5000RPM, and the mean musclecar blat of that V4 as it burbles back down off-throttle from 8000RPM... awesome.
  • The price of Red Bull varies more than the price of gas. So far this trip I've paid everywhere between $4 and $2 a can for a normal size can. So weird. At one place today the Sugar Free Red Bull cost over a dollar more than the same size normal Red Bull - first time I recall seeing that!
  • The first time I rolled up to a gas station that only had 86 octane and had an old fashioned machine I was a little weirded out. Now I'm used to it. Tell you what, those older machines are so much easier to control - they actually have progressive controls. Not like the FULL/NO flow on modern pumps. Lots easier to top off a motorcycle tank.
  • On the subject of gas, people repeatedly make fun of me when I put $5-7 of gas into my tank. "How far does that get ya?" is the most common question - 100+ miles darnit! Sorry I have a small tank!
  • Interesting thought today. Would it suck more to fly off a mountain side at 75MPH or fly into trees at 75MPH? I might *possibly* live through the latter, but it'd be a heck of a lot less fun than the former!
  • I haven't bothered to check the news. From text messages I've gotten, I gather that Obama won and Crichton died. Wonder how the economy is looking? I refuse to check. It's part of the charm of "vacation."
Okay, gonna read and crash out for a bit. Tomorrow I hit Petrified Forest National Park - after that, I still haven't decided for sure. Hehe.


Popular posts from this blog

Patagonia Beckons

Today I begin what may become one of the most difficult tests of long term mental and physical endurance and strength I have ever undertaken: for most of its remaining 2500km through Patagonia, Ruta 40 is considered one of the most desolate highways in the world. Over half of the remaining road is gravel, sand, and dirt. The number of towns listed on a map once I pass Perito Moreno can be counted on one hand, and there are many stretches of hundreds of miles without provisions, fuel, or places to stay.

Gear Review: Sea to Summit Big River Dry Sacks

In the past couple months on the road I think I’ve spent more time riding my scooter through rain than I have in the dry – this is clearly reflected in the fact that as time has gone by I’ve invested more and more money in things to keep my stuff dry, since wet gear sucks. One of my favorite purchases for this trip is the pair of Sea to Summit Big River Dry Sacks I picked up just before leaving, in 13L and 20L sizes. They cost me around $20 each and are one of the best pieces of gear I’ve purchased in years – extremely durable, effective, and simple to use.

5 Things that Suck about Traveling Solo

I find it telling that it seems a majority of the interesting travel blogs I run across are written by solo travelers, most often women. I think there’s a reason why we write more than people who travel with friends or in groups and that it’s pretty self evident: it’s an outlet for our loneliness. In the last year and a half, the vast majority of my time has been spent away from home, alone. As I write this, it’s been over a month since I’ve conversed with anyone in my native language, and I can remember every single conversation in English for the month before that. The truth is, I don’t think I could have done this without the internet – without a blog to share my thoughts, without Facebook to see what my friends are up to, without the occasional e-mail to provide a fa├žade of normalcy… without these things I’d likely have driven myself insane with my internal dialogue. Now, I grant, there’s a reason I travel alone and I do love it, but lately it seems all I run across in the blogosp