(You can click any picture below to
The Where should I ride? Tour started
a discussion over on F650.com. I had several days of
vacation left, so I decided to ask about places to go. I got
lots of ideas, and ultimately settled upon going to Big Bend
National Park, the Davis Mountains, El Paso, Las Cruses, Phoenix,
then do a Saddle-Sore 1000 (SS1000 - 1000 miles in 24 hours) from
Phoenix back to Houston.
If you are interested,
there's the same version of this story over on F650, but in
addition, there are pictures from other people who were on the trip.
You can click here:
this version has all the pictures in full size...
Day 1 - Tuesday, December
I woke up at the crack of dawn pretty
excited to get underway. I loaded the motorcycle the previous
evening with everything I could possibly need for my journey...
including my laptop so I can update this report as I progress
through the trip.
Loaded and ready to go...
JetGorilla, AKA Chris,
bought a Dakar a few days ago so he could come along on the trip.
He and JetWife, AKA Laura, loaded the new Dakar in their trailer and
drove with me out to Big Bend (I rode; they drove). RevJVegas,
AKA John, and Dolomiti, AKA Clint, decided to come along for part of
the adventure as well. Since we all came from different
directions, we met at McDonalds in Castroville, TX and headed out
The ride to McDs from the farm was nice
until I got about 30 miles outside of San Antonio... FOG. It
was more like riding through a rain cloud. It sucked--low
visibility and soaking wet. It cleared about 3 miles before I
got to the McDs.
Breakfast of Champions...
As usual, there was a Wal-Mart stop
Capitalism at its finest...
But eventually we got underway...
Rollin' rollin' rollin'...
Lunch at Chili's...
Dang, we eat a lot...
And finally... this time we really did get moving. We stopped
for several pictures along highway 90. These were of a bridge
over the Pecos River. Unfortunately the pictures do not really
do the scenery justice...
A bridge being repainted on highway 90 towards
Is diving really a problem at this bridge?
A picture of another nice bridge along
Chugga chugga chugga...
We stopped in Dryden to take a few more pictures of what's left of
What's left of Dryden, TX...
This little fellow was curious as to what we were doing...
Where's my apple?
We decided to try and take a shortcut from 90 down to 385 via a dirt
road, but apparently the ranchers decided that they didn't want
people taking this dirt road anymore, because they put up a locked
gate about 30 miles down the road. We got turn around and head
back to 90...
Heading down 385, I nearly took out a herd of deer. Now that
will wake you up...
We finally arrived in Big Bend around 8:00 in the evening, set up
camp, ate, and went to sleep.
I had a bit of a cold when I left, and somewhere during the evening,
it decided to turn into some sort of serious sickness. My nose
was draining, my ears hurt so bad I couldn't hear or sleep.
Pretty horrible to be sick in a tent when it's freezing outside... O
Mileage = 572.
Day 2 - Wednesday, December 28th, 2005:
Having been awake since about 3:00AM hacking and coughing, I finally
emerged from the tent at 7:00. Twas a nice sunrise, but it was
pretty darn cold...
We spotted this truck at the campsite... they're apparently doing
some sort of around-the-world trip.
Mine's bigger than yours...
We headed out to the trails around 9:00. The first road we
took was Old Ore Road. All four of us set out...
Sure, we stopped to take some scenery photos...
The first lesson of the day was not to ride 40mph around corners
when you don't know what's on the other side...
Uhh... say mister, can you
help me pick this up?
Seeing what I had done, Clint decided he needed to try it too--he
was more successful...
That's gonna leave a mark...
Clint was a little shaken after this spill, so he took it much more
cautiously for the remainder of the road. Chris and I would
ride ahead, stop and wait for Clint and John, then take off like
bats out of hell again.
Chris and I arrived at this sign and waited again...
While waiting, eating beef jerky and drinking water, I took the
obligatory motorcycle photos...
About 30 minutes later, John shows up, but no Clint.
Twas getting warm...
How could it have been 25 degrees only a few hours
We waited about 15 more minutes, and Chris and I headed back down
the trail to make sure Clint was OK. He wasn't.
He was climbing a hill and lost it. His motorcycle was on its
side, but it was facing downhill. One person picking it up
just wasn't going to happen. We got it back on its wheels and
had a difficult time getting it in a position where it could be
ridden up the hill. We got it though.
Apparently this particular wreck damaged his radiator; it was
leaking, and the temperature light kept coming on.
By this point, Clint had had enough. I think John was getting
sick of it too--he dumped his in the sand as well.
I was still having one hell-of-a-good time... sick or not, it was a
damned fun trail.
We took it a bit more slowly for the remainder of the trail helping
Clint get off the trail.
I still stopped for lots o' fotos...
We finally got off the trail around 1:30. And headed back to
the base camp for some lunch.
Clint decided he would go ahead and head home. His radiator
was shot; he was shot...
... can't blame you Clint... hope you made it back OK.
John made a new friend...
It was getting later in the afternoon, and I was not through riding.
John had had enough of the trails as well, so Chris and I set off
for more adventure. We took River Road to Glenn Springs
Then on to Black Gap Road.
Lesson #2 - just because you want to take the more difficult line
doesn't mean your motorcycle has the clearance to do so.
Look Ma' no kickstand...
Chris helped me lift it off the hill and we pressed on... to Black
We didn't take many pictures on Black Gap Road because we were too
focused on staying upright. I rode it last year, but it's
amazing what happens to an unmaintained road over the course of a
year. Old Ore Road was a mere walk in the park compared to
Black Gap also got Chris. He got smacked in the face by a
branch right in some deep sand. Down he went. I turned
around to snap the picture, but seeing me coming, he immediately
uprighted his scoot and saved himself from the camera...
This next shot was taken on our way back to the motorcycles after we
checked on the rabbit that Chris ran over (he didn't make it--the
rabbit, not Chris).
Death by motorcycle
Once we got off of Black Gap, we took River Road back to the camp,
but we stopped at Mariscal Mine. Unfortunately it was getting
too dark to take any good pictures...
We hauled ass back to camp. I had to lock up the ass end a
couple of times to make the tight curves... what an absolute riot!
Mileage = 129 (about 100 off-road), total so far = 701 miles.
Damage = Leaky oil pressure switch (but it has leaked before)
and one broken-off PIAA driving light... both things easily fixable.
Day 3 - Thursday, December 29th, 2005:
Since it was so cold outside, we decided to sleep in the back of
I politely woke up John with a flash in the face...
Then I had a little breakfast before beginning my day...
Breakfast of Champions #2
Today we took 118 into Terlingua and took a few pictures...
Then continued to Presidio via 170. This road my friends...
... let me just say this:
If you are thinking about coming to Big Bend in March to Darren's
little deal, but are a bit nervous or whatever because you think it
will only be dirt riding... well let me tell you... highway 170 is
one of the best roads I have ridden in my life. So, instead of
me telling you about it, have a look for yourself!
I did pull over a few times for some non-motorcycle shots...
This one I call "Love Hurts"...
There are also many old buildings and houses along 170...
This particular place had an old piece of machinery in it. I'm
not sure what it was, maybe you know and can tell me?
After all the riding, I stopped for some water and drugs.
Lunch of Champions...
Here are a couple more shots of the roads...
We'd been with Chris and Laura... they in the truck and trailer, and
John and I either following or leading. I went to pass Chris
one time on 67 on the way to Marfa, and he told me to stay behind
him, because he thought he was going to run out of gas. He
pulled into Marfa on fumes. Check this out... this is the fuel
gauge with the truck running...
There was one restaurant in Marfa--Dairy Queen. So Dairy Queen
Ma'am... is there supposed to be a piece missing?
Since it was getting late, Laura wanted to hang around Marfa and see
the "Marfa Lights". I needed to be in Phoenix by Friday night,
so John and I pressed on for Las Cruces.
Things to do to keep you awake at 80mph...
At some point, John and I crossed into New Mexico...
Our plan was to stay at Pig's, AKA Josh's, house (not Dr. Josh,
another Josh). Josh was not in town, but his house sitter was
aware we were coming and Josh was very kind to offer us a place to
stay. I called aforementioned house sitter the other day to
tell him we'd be there... he said he knew... looked forward to
seeing us... yada, yada.
So we get to Casa Hamling...
No house sitter. Just this big mean son of a bitch!
I called the house sitter. Turns out the dood had to work, so
here we were with no place to stay, it's getting cold, and Kujo the
warrior-dog-from-hell has no intention of letting us in.
We decided to simply find a hotel. After 50 more miles to
Deming and stops at three different places, we finally found a room
at La Quinta. And here I sit on the bed pounding out this
report while my motorcycle sits downstairs waiting for tomorrow's
Lessons from today:
Lesson #3: ALWAYS have a backup plan.
And more importantly...
Lesson #4: When you are sick as a dog, avoid sneezing in your helmet
at all costs!
Mileage = 496, total so far = 1,197 miles.
Day 4 - Friday, December 30th, 2005:
Today John and I got underway around 10:00 after riding so late into
the evening last night. We slabbed it from to Deming, NM to
Tucson, AZ and stopped at the Pima Air and Space Museum.
There's a lot of old one-of-a-kind aircraft and other military
vehicles out there...
Then we drove around the airplane graveyard, but we couldn't get in
there. I did get a couple of shots through the fence though...
While in Tucson, I decided to have SW Moto switch out the rear
tire... I was tired of lugging the heavy thing around anyway.
Besides, it was only $11.
In my next life, I will buy
my own tire changer...
The final stop in Tucson was at CVS. My "crud" had turned into
something extremely unpleasant. Me ears hurt so bad from the
pressure... nose draining into my helmet... fever... just horrible.
Dr. Josh called in a prescription of Azithromycin--"a full course
of antibiotic therapy in 5 daily doses." Needless to say,
I sucked down the first two pills at the water fountain in CVS.
Back on the road to Phoenix...
We finally arrived at beem_dubya's (AKA Bill P.'s) house in Phoenix
around 7:30ish. After unloading the gear from our motorcycles,
we helped Beem changed his tires.
Front = 20 minutes.
Rear = 2.5 hours. Son of a bitch!
Did I mention the tire changer yet?
As soon as we got the rear tire on (around midnight), I hit the
shower and hit the bed. Two Tylenol PM, and I was out like a
Lesson #5: $11 is a small price to pay to have your tire changed and
Mileage = 339, total so far = 1,536 miles.
Day 5 - Saturday, December 31st, 2005:
Today's plan was to meet Dr. Josh (AKA Dr. Josh), Codeweenie (AKA
Jim), and Two_Volts (AKA Jerry) for the ride. Dr. Josh and
Codeweenie showed up 7:00AM, and we were off at 7:30 to the Waffle
Do you know what has 6 breasts and 9 teeth?
... night shift at the Waffle House.
Then we took off on our ride. We rode Apache Trail to Tortilla
We made a couple of scenery stops...
The Superstition Saloon was an interesting place. They had
money stapled to the wall throughout the entire place. The
lady told me there was about $90,000 on the walls. I think I
may go back there later tonight... with a crowbar.
Here are some more shots from the day...
Then we round a corner and see this...
Steaks and milk anyone?
Then we stopped at the Roosevelt Dam. When it was originally
built in 1911, it was the largest stone dam ever built. It has
since been raised and redone to its current state...
Then we saw and got to cross this bridge...
We stopped for lunch at the Butcher Hook. John ordered the
Louie Burger... a 16-oz burger!
... check out these roads...
These were from the 4-peaks trail. "28 dusty miles of fun!"
More pictures of the trails and roads...
We climbed up to 5,640 feet. Awesome!
Then this... again...
... son of a bitch!
That's going to do more than
leave a mark...
The difference between this little get off and the previous one was
that this one hurt...
I was coming down the trail about 25-30mph or so and pressed the
rear break to slide the ass end around like I had been doing all day
to make the corner. This time, the rear really slid, so I
turned into the slide... just like I had been doing all day, and
then the front washed out in the sand...
I landed on my left hip. It decided to go ahead and start
hurting right away instead of waiting until the following day.
I even landed on the armor... but it still hurt. So now I'm
not only sick, I have a bruised hip. Stupid sand.
broken radiator (leaking slightly)
left front turn signal snapped off
left mirror mount snapped off
bent clutch lever
snapped off the other PIAA
broken RAM mount
O well. Continuing on...
Josh and I decided to rally-race like complete and total idiots the
rest of the way out. So for the next 18 miles, there were no
pictures taken. There was lots of sliding, lots of speed, lots
of passing people, lots of sweat (riding like that is one hell of
a work out)... what a complete blast!
I got to the highway first and noticed that the leak from the oil
leak pressure switch was really beginning to take shape.
The Red Devil thinks she's a Harley...
And that was that for the riding for the day... well, except the
ride back to Beem's place.
That's all folks! (for today anyway...)
One hell of a special thanks to Beem and Lori for: A) letting us
stay at their place, and B) taking us on some fantastic trails!
It was truly an awesome day!!! Thanks again Beem!
For dinner we went to the Salty Senorita...
Somewhere between sitting down for dinner and getting up to go back
to the car, my leg decided to go ahead and start REALLY hurting.
As I was limping back to the car, I thought of the next lesson...
Lesson #6: Stop falling down.
Mileage = 145, total so far = 1,681 miles.
Day 6 - Sunday, Jan 1st; & Day 7 - Monday, Jan 2nd, 2006:
Sunday and Monday kind of ran together. Since there was no
rest between the two days, I decided to make them one entry.
I woke up around 7:00 on Sunday morning and found Bill P. already
tinkering on my motorcycle. I had a spare clutch lever, but it
was bent. Bill P. had a new one, so he let me borrow it until
I got home. Anyway, he had already replaced the clutch lever
by the time I had made it into the garage.
Turns out I broke the clip that holds the master link on... not
lost, snapped into two pieces. Bill P. removed what was left
of the broken clip and replaced it with a spare he had. He was
applying the RTV when I stepped into the garage.
While he did that, I began my 24,000-mile service. I tore into
the motor and checked the shims. Fortunately all 4 were in
spec, so we buttoned it back up.
Somewhere in the middle of it, Bill P. noticed my throttle cable was
broken too. I had a spare, and we replaced it.
We changed the fork oil with 550ml of 10 wt. (550 because I have the
TT progressive springs, and it calls for 550 instead of 600).
Next, we tore into the rear end and lubed the swing-arm bearings and
all of the associated bearings in the linkage, etc.
Here's me... grease, a pinky finger, and 47 rolls of paper towels.
John snapped a few more pictures of the process...
Next it was on to repairing the PIAAs. Since John and I would
be riding at night, I wanted to get them fixed before heading out.
I simply cut off all of the rivets that had pulled out. I used
Bill P.'s vice to straighten the brackets, and with some stainless
steel #6-32 screws and nylon licking nuts we picked up from Napa, I
put everything back together and aimed the lights. ... just
like it never happened.
Somewhere in the middle of the 24K service we also replaced my spark
plug with a new iridium tip, changed the oil and oil filter, changed
the air filter and cleaned the oil out of the air filter box, etc.
Bill P. also took his mirror clamp off of his motorcycle and let me
borrow it to get home. I have a spare, but I forgot to pack
it. He also had a signal that had been in a spill, but it was
in better shape than mine--cracked instead of snapped in two.
John used some plastic weld and reinforced it. I'll send Bill
P. back his mirror clamp, clutch lever and signal later today.
Bill P. let me get on his computer to order all of the broken bits
and pieces. If you remember the damage from before...
broken radiator (leaking slightly)
left front turn signal snapped off
left mirror mount snapped off
bent clutch lever
snapped off the other PIAA
broken RAM mount
The new damage...
broken throttle cable
broken chain tensionser plate
broken master link clip
The prices broke down sorta like this:
turn signal: $15
mirror clamp: $11
clutch lever: $49
PIAAs: $3 (for screws and nuts)
RAM mount: $0 (warranty)
throttle cable: $11
tensioner plates: $30 (got the TT ones... the stock BMW ones
break too easily)
broken master clip link: $0 (Bill P. had a spare... if it breaks
again, it's getting a paper clip)
So for under $300 it'll be as good as new. Well, plus my
Lori made us lasagna for lunch!
Yummy yum yum!!!
Bill P.'s dog, Radar, wanted some lasagna too. He got a little
angry when I told him he could not have any...
Gimme some that damned lasagna!
After Lori's AWESOME lasagna, we backed up the motorcycles and
plotted a route back home. Bill P. showed us a much better way
to avoid a lot of I-10 and get us around Tucson. I scribbled
out everything on my rally paper (cash register paper) and loaded it
into the holder.
Once packed, we said our good-byes and headed out...
Does this make my rear end look fat?
Bill P. and Lori signed our paperwork for the SS1000, and we got
under way at 5:15PM Mountain time and stopped for our first
time-stamped receipt at the gas station around the corner from Bill
It did not take long for it to get dark...
Now I am sure a SS1000 would be a lot simpler had we rested first,
but what fun would that have been? I was able to overcome the
lack of sleep by eating healthy meals to keep me going...
Midnight snack of Champions!
I knew my steering head bearings were a tad loose, and that was one
of the things I had intended to fix as part of my 24K service, but
we ran out of time, so I let it slide. As a result, every time
I would get near 80mph, the front end would start to act as if
someone were using the handlebars as a paddle on a kayak, and the
entire front end would flip and flop back and forth. Cool!
So I had to stay below 80 for the entire trip home.
We made a few stops. At one stop around 4:00 my body decided
it was time to sleep. Unfortunately it decided to do this
while doing 79mph on the freeway. Obviously we pulled over at
the next gas station. I got yet another Red Bull (I think I
was up to about 15 at this point) and proceeded to arranged two
chairs into something that I could get my back and head into a
horizontal position for a few minutes. "30 minutes John...
I just need 30 minutes..."
29 minutes later I awoke to a bright flash from a camera in my face.
I guess paybacks really are hell.
And we continued on.
During the early morning hours in Texas (about 400 miles west of San
Antonio) it dropped to 27 degrees Fahrenheit. You know, it be
cold on a motorcycle when it's 27 degrees outside.
At some point we stopped for breakfast at McDonalds. I was
wiped out at this point... so much so, that I could only muster up
enough energy to lift half of my face into view of the camera...
... fortunately, we only had 8 more hours to go (that's a joke).
The rest of the ride back was similar--slab, gas, Red Bull, slab,
gas, Red Bull, and so on...
Then outside of San Antonio, John flags me to pull over. He
said his motorcycle was surging, and he couldn't keep it at speed.
Said it felt like it was "missing" or something.
Then I saw his chain...
... what a mess!
Not only was it a mess, it was extremely loose. So John went
to tightening it...
Then we reloaded the motorcycles and continued on...
I pulled into my driveway at 4:05PM Central time after being awake
for around 36 hours straight.
That was that. 1,136 miles according to the GPS... 1,154
according to the odometer... either way, enough for the
Up went the garage door and out these two came running. They said next time they are going with me. I told them there
was no where for them to sit. My daughter decided there was...
So that's it. The end of the trip... aside from tearing the
motorcycle down and repairing everything. And, most
importantly, washing it!
It was good to see my old friends and meet new friends. I must
also say, WAY TO GO JOHN! He hung with me the entire
time. Very impressive!
Trip length: 7 days (6 nights)
Total mileage: 2,817 miles
Total number of riders on some length of the journey: 8
Total number of riders through the entire journey: 2
My spills: 2
Other people's spills: 4
Total cost: <$175 (excluding parts)
Total cost of parts: $300
Total cost of labor to motorcycle: $11 (tire change)
Number of pictures taken: 401 (didn't post them all)
Number of nights camped: 2
Number of nights in a hotel: 1
Number of nights at friend's homes: 2
Number of nights with no sleep: 1
Maximum speed: 101.7mph (I remember this... on a dirt straight
Average speed over the 2,817 miles: 59.1mph
Time spent in the saddle over the 2,817 miles: 47 hours, 39 minutes
And finally, a special thanks to everyone, especially beem_dubya for
letting me crash at his place... and Lori... for letting Beem have
strange people over, and all of the Inmates on F650 for their words
O yeah, I am no longer sick... thanks Dr. Josh. And, my leg
seems to be OK too--ATGATT.
Lesson #7: Sleep before you take off on a 1,000-mile trip.
Thanks for coming along on my trip!