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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Ride to East - Day 11

Greenville, SC to Alexandria, VA (490 miles)

There's nothing like a little engine problem to put a damper on your day after riding 2,500 miles out of 3,000.  Yesterday was a big riding day and I was determined not to let it go to waste.  Focused on the finish line, I woke up early and was on the road by 8 am.  I only had 7 hours to go, the finish line was in sight.

On my first fuel stop, I got the bad news.  An engine hose had broken on the Ducati, and oil was now spraying the top of my engine.  Luckily, I never leave home without zip ties.  I did my best to zip tie the hose to the engine.  I rode on for a few miles, nervously hoping the engine would continue to run.  I pulled into the first rest stop to survey my quick fix.  Not great, but the idea seemed solid, so I pulled off my gear and went to work on improving it.

After a little more sweat and burnt fingers (motorcycle engines get hot, so does oil), I finally had a better zip tie fix.  I rode for another 50 miles, before pulling over to check that the zip ties were holding.  It looked surprisingly solid, I could get on with my ride.  I didn't stop until lunch and kept my lunch short.  By the time I had less than an hour to go, I was so exhausted I had to pull into a Starbucks for some ice coffee and to cool down.

Naturally, I ran into traffic on my sprint the the finish, but nothing could stop me now.  I was so close, I could coast to the finish line.  Around 6 pm, I rolled into my brother's driveway, just in time to surprise my nephew for his birthday.  Mission accomplished!

Petter on his Ducati Multistrada 1100S

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Ride to East - Day 10

More miles
New Orleans, LA to Greenville, SC (619 miles)

I started the day determined to put some miles behind me and make it as far as Atlanta.  Didn't help that I got a late start.  It was 10:30 by the time I got on the highway.  But, I was fully charged with a "continental" breakfast (possibly the worst I've ever had ironically in a city famous for food) so I quickly put in a few hours of riding before needing more coffee.  As I crossed into Alabama, I got Siri to play me the Lynyrd Skynyrd.  As he sings "where the skies are so blue" I notice they are not all blue and I could feel the impending rain as the air gets colder.   Yet again I get lucky, as I receive just a few drops of rain, before blasting past it.  It seems I left New Orleans in the nick of time.

Later in the day, I stopped for a Five Guys burger, one of my favorites.  I made the mistake of having a whopper two days ago and won't be making that mistake again.  I was only a few hours from Atlanta and might just be able to make it before sunset, but when I entered the route on my phone, my arrival time was an hour off.  Damn, Atlanta is in another time zone.  While I'm getting some fuel, a quick inspection shows that my tail light is broken, so I'm off to the closest auto parts store to get a replacement.

It's almost 10 pm by the time I make it to Atlanta, but I'm on a roll.  Might as well put another 100 miles in.  I finally call it a night just after midnight and 619 miles. A new best leaving me with less than 500 miles to the finish line.

Petter on his Ducati Multistrada 1100S

Friday, September 9, 2016

Ride to East - Day 9

Alexandria, LA to New Orleans (214 miles)

The ride to New Orleans was short and easy.  Once I got to Baton Rouge it was also one of the most interesting in terms of scenery (at least for a while), riding on bridges crossing rivers, swamps and lakes.  I arrived around noon with lots of time for some R&R.

I headed straight for Cafe du Monde.  They're famous for their beignets.  I had 6. Later I checked in at a quintessential French Quarter hotel, where I immediately took the opportunity to cool off I the pool. Then it was off to party at the famous Bourbon Street.  It was just a Thursday, but Bourbon Street was a happening place, I can't even imagine what this place would be like during Mardi Gras.  Live music, streets crawling with people and lots and lots of alcohol. This place is more dangerous than Las Vegas.  Rain and thunderstorms are forecasted for the weekend, so tomorrow I'm pointing back north.  With my detour here, I've now got 1,100 miles to go.  Time to cover some miles.

Petter on his Ducati Multistrada 1100S

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ride to East - Day 8

Dallas, TX to Alexandria, LA (299 miles)

No, this is not my final destination.  Alexandria, VA is, not Alexandria, LA.  Wouldn't be the first time a name has been reused in the US.  I passed through Santa Rosa, New Mexico, but I'm more familiar with Santa Rosa, California.  And I think there's a second Las Vegas in New Mexico as well.  If your GPS took you to that one instead, I'm thinking you might be a little bit disappointed.  In any case, fitting that I'm in Alexandria, now that I have exactly 1000 miles to go after covering about 2000.

Today's ride was rather uneventful.  I was exhausted from yesterday, and slept in until 10 am, didn't get on the road until noon.  That required some catching up, so I rode the rest of the day with only a single break for coffee and was able to cover 300 miles in 6 hours.  I actually made it to my destination before sunset.  I even had time for a quick jump in the pool, which was much needed as Louisiana is both hot and humid. I'm definitively in the southern states now.  Tomorrow, I'll hopefully get an early start and make it to New Orleans for some famous beignets, before turning back north.

Petter on his Ducati Multistrada 1100S

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ride to East - Day 7

Amarillo, TX to Dallas, TX (362 miles)

I was expecting oil fields, but instead I got cows, green fields and windmills.  At first glance, Texas looks greener than Oregon.  Since I was so close to Oklahoma, I took the opportunity to swing by on a detour.  Just as green. Ran by a town that had more empty run down buildings than occupied ones.  Looked like a ghost town, except someone lived there. I was hoping the next town over would have some coffee. The only thing I could find was a McDonalds.  Yikes. Well, 15 minutes later, I was out of Oklahoma and back on the road to Dallas.

On the way, I stoped in Wichita Falls. Thought I would look for a good place to eat, but it turned out to be difficult and it's a big enough city that I didn't want to waste my afternoon riding around in the heat.  Instead I did a quick cool down at a Starbucks (you only find these rare shops in the cities), and hoped to find a place down the road.  Yelp sent me to a place that was closed (second time, thanks Yelp), but on that same detour I ran by the Armadillo Grill. They had burgers. What else can a man want, when in the middle of nowhere.

After that, it was time for Dallas. My butt was tired of sitting and I was eager to get there. So was every Texan on the road. Holy crap, these guys aren't afraid to step on it. I was in a race with pickup trucks and trailers.  Anyway, I went from simple country roads to full fledged metropolis in a blink of an eye.  I checked into a place Hotel Tonight ranks as "hip". And hip it is.  It's like I'm back in San Francisco. They even have a pool on the roof with a view of downtown.  Dallas looks like the Las Vegas of the East. :)

Petter on his Ducati Multistrada 1100S

Ride to East - Day 6

Winslow, AZ to Amarillo, TX (574 miles)

Today was all about the miles. Without my passenger, the bike was now lighter and I even "stole" my wife's pillow for a cushion.  No excuses. I left around 9 in the morning and headed for Albuquerque.  With only a short stop for a cup of coffee, I was there mid day around 4.  I was starving and also needed some new gear and lube for the bike.  I got myself a juicy California burger before heading for Cycle Gear.  I wasted a good hour, before needing coffee, so I think I wasted another hour charging myself and my helmet at Starbucks (the last one on I-40, I have yet to see another).

Albuquerque could have been my final stop for the day, but with thunderstorms forecasted for tomorrow in Amarillo, I was determined to get ahead of the weather.  I wasn't sure if I could make it all the way, but I could at least make it to Santa Rosa.  I had right to be concerned about the weather. On my way to Santa Rosa, I barely missed two or three thunderstorms. I could see them tracking North, but I only got a few drops, literarily, as I passed between two of them.  Santa Rosa was quite green and pretty. Daylight was fading and my taillight wasn't working, so at my refuel stop I had to waste even more time changing the bulb. Luckily I had a spare.

I needed another recharge, so I got dinner and some black tar that passed for coffee, while researching my options using the restaurant's wifi (haven't had proper cell coverage, since Oakland).  Lots of cheap hotels in Santa Rosa, it was tempting to stay. But, only two and a half hours to Amarillo.  If I could make it, I will have a shot at making it to Dallas next and maybe even New Orleans before the weekend (weather looks good Wed-Fri).  I decided to go for it.  I'd be there before 11 pm.

Riding at night wasn't so bad, had it not been for the winds. It required me to stop and gear up with everything I had, but the coffee and some music kept me focused. I finally arrived half an hour after midnight. Wait, what? Oh right, I just crossed two time zones in a single day of riding.  Wow!  No wonder time was slipping away from me.  I put down 574 miles today, a new record.

Petter on his Ducati Multistrada 1100S

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Ride to East - Day 5

Grand Canyon
Page, AZ to Winslow, AZ (272 miles)

Continuing from Lake Powell, we got an early start and headed straight for Grand Canyon National Park.  The road was nice and straight and on our way, we got some good short previews of what's to come.  We made good time and entered the park before noon.  We headed straight for the first point for a spectacular view of the canyon.  Next we headed over to Park Village for a slightly different spectacular view.

We had a schedule to follow, so we left the park and headed for Flagstaff.  On our way out, we noticed a rather long line of cars waiting to enter the park.  It seems we had timed our visit well and dodged a bullet.  Grand Canyon was both windy and chilly and the ride to Flagstaff was no different.  We had geared up with the clothes we had with, but we prepared for the desert, not the mountains.  Nothing to do but deal with the chill and turn on the heated handlebars for a little relief.

Flagstaff was luckily a bit warmer and it helped to get some warm food.  It's a very cute little town with lots of dining and bar options.  Also, famous Route 66 runs through here, so I picked up a sticker.  After food and some coffee it was time for Octavia to fly out.  She's heading back to California for work, but might join me later on the trip.  Flagstaff has a pretty small airport, making it pretty easy to drop her off on the bike and re-pack some of our gear.

After saying our goodbyes, I headed for Winslow.  Flagstaff hotels were fully booked for the Labor Day weekend and the closest I could find was an hour east.  Tomorrow, I continue straight east as I'm eager to put down some miles toward my target.  However, I'm keeping an eye on the weather.  Could, be trouble.

Petter on his Ducati Multistrada 1100S

Ride to East - Day 4

Las Vegas, NV to Page, AZ (281 miles)

After a surreal stay in Vegas (my lips are sealed) it was time to get back on the road again.  After leaving the strip, we headed North and found ourself in the familiar desert surroundings we arrived in.  Only a few hours into our ride, this changed drastically as we entered Utah and we got to enjoy some nice big canyons.

Soon after, we entered Zion National Park.  Zion had absolute amazing views and some sweet curvy roads, although a little busy on this Labor Day weekend.  Just as we got through the park, we ran into some rain.  We weren’t quite prepared for wetness, so we pulled into a a cafe by the road to have some warm pie to warm us up.  Utah rocks!

We got back on the road again, only to have even more rain soaking our new dry clothes, but we powered through it and eventually made it to Lake Powell.  We pulled into a vista to take in a spectacular view of the lake, a dam and surrounding mountains.  After dropping our bags at our hotel, we did a short hike to Horseshoe bend for yet another jaw-dropping view.  Today was all about spectacular views.  Tomorrow, we’ll get even more of this, as we head for the Grand Canyon.

Petter on his Ducati Multistrada 1100S

Friday, September 2, 2016

Ride to East - Day 3


What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Ride to East - Day 2

Death Valley
Mammoth Lakes, CA to Las Vegas, NV (314 miles)

Mammoth Lakes is at almost 8,000 feet elevation, so our ride started out a little chilly as we headed down highway 395.  It was absolutely beautiful with wide open plains surrounded by mountains.  Not at all what I expected from Death Valley.  We stopped at a bakery in Bishop, less than an hour into our ride to get coffee and shed some gear as the weather quickly got hotter as we descended down the valley.

Highway 395 was a double-lane straight road, but that quickly changed as we took CA-168 to cross over to Nevada and highway 95.  In 60 seconds, we went from wide roads to tiny canyon roads without a divider.  No service for 56 miles!  Turns out, there was no service at 56 miles either.  The scenery changed from canyon twisty desert roads to just straight desert road and scorching heat.  Finally, after 207 miles since our last refuel, we made it to Beatty just in time before the tank was empty.  207 miles is my longest one-tank ride on this bike ever.  My average miles per gallon was 48.4, also a new record (despite all the twisty roads and hill climbing early on).

In Beatty, we took a long and well deserved break and even got ice cream.  A big contrast from 100 miles earlier.  Even more of a contrast, later that day we arrived in Las Vegas.  A big city in the middle of the desert, where people come to play and bask in exuberance and excess.  Today has got to be one of the most interesting rides I’ve ever done.  We finished the day with drinks and a meal at the Harley Davidson Cafe on the Las Vegas strip.

Petter on his Ducati Multistrada 1100S