Thanksgiving Ride Report – Death Valley, Vegas and the Hoover Dam

11/27/2007
Morning Tripometer: 1411
Evening Tripometer: 1826

Death Valley was surprisingly cool. Hot enough to sweat under my leathers when off the bike, but cool enough to require my windproof liner when moving. The space was immense and occasionally a pass would pop up in the middle of it all. While descending you could really get a better sense of how much nothing there was. The roads through the valleys were straight as an arrow and I opened her up more than I usually had in the past six months. Traveling at these kinds of speeds used to be normal for me back in my reckless and youthful riding days, and now I find them to be stupid. Not stupid as in, “Going that fast is reckless and stupid” but rather “Geez man what you doing to your gas efficiency?!?!” Nowadays I care about traveling farther, not faster. Besides the groin kick to my MPG at these speeds I simply don’t enjoy them anymore. “Whack open the throttle and hang on.” What’s the fun in that? I have more fun on a breakneck switchback at 30 MPH.

The roads were still straight but large dips and hills started to form. I would give it some gas right before the apex of the hill and was thrilled at the momentary weightlessness I experienced. I was on a pogo-stick for 17 bouncy miles. I stopped at one of the few places that offered a designated viewing areas. These large ridges were very impressive. This view laid atop a steep (25 degrees?) and winding path. Already a little tired from a bad nights sleep I say “Screw it” and start riding my bike up the walk. Half way up a ranger who I hadn’t noticed starts yelling at me and I begin the shameful and awkward task of turning my bike around on such steep ground. That would have been a sweet shot with my bike up there too…stupid ranger.

This is the scene where I talked my way out of a ticket. Speed limit was 45, then changed to 35 when passing through this town. Four cars were staggered and going the limit as I zig zagged through them at 40-45. A cop up ahead saw this and pulled me over immediately. I tried to convince the cop that I thought the limit was 45 and that’s why I passed the cars since they were going, what I thought to be, slow. He asks me, “Why is it that every time I see one of you guys on these things you are zipping around like hell?” I replied, “Sir, I understand that sport bike riders have a stigma attached to them, but I would like to try and convince you that it does not apply to me. I am a long distance rider who has traveled 1500 miles over the past 3 days from Phoenix, to LA, to San Francisco and now here. I tour across the country for the sights, not the speed.” He took a long look at my license, and parted while telling me to “watch myself.” WHEW! 😯

I spent that night in Vegas. I saw Jim Gaffigan perform at the Pearl Theater. He was hilarious as usual and had a lot of new material. Too tired to gamble I walk around and…well the rest stays in Vegas 😆

The next morning I headed back to Phoenix. I thought it was going to be an uneventful ride, but I ended up crossing over the Hoover Dam. I almost dropped my camera when trying to film my crossing, but made a good save. You can see so for yourself in the video. I arrived in Phoenix exhausted. It’s funny to think that this whole trip was conceived only days before I started. I stealth camped for the first time, road up the beautiful California coast, visited Google, San Francisco, Death Valley, Vegas and the Hoover Dam. 2100 miles in four and a half days. Not bad for a long weekend.

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