Day 9
June 21st, 2005
Phoenix, Arizona

Loading was simple and fast this morning.  I'm pursuing another crack of dawn start.  Because I was on the west side of the city, I didn't have to worry about the commute, but I wanted to get across the desert before the heat builds.  

California.  I'd been on the road 8 days and not there yet?  Well, like I said, no records this trip for time and distance.  But I've been on back roads almost exclusively, and many of the last 3,000 miles have been in the mountains.  Look at it this way, Jacksonville to San Diego on I-10 is less than 2300 miles.  I'm well over 3k already, and I started from Alabama, not Jacksonsille.

I've been zig zagging all over the central U.S. working my way to Southern California, and what a treat it has been. 

A Chevron station was across the street from the motel so I went there to top off.  I was last on this portion of I-10 in 2001.  That day I was riding west to east.  

Gas tank full, I came down the ramp and set my sights on California.  I had a wedding to be at in a few days, and my friends were waiting for me.  Quickly, I was on 95 mph and with the flow.   I felt the 1300 wiggle just a little, and dismissed it to the road surface.  

5:30 am, things start early in Phoenix to beat the desert heat.  I was surprised to see so much traffic out this time of day.

When I left the valley a few clouds appeared overhead and cooled the temps, and I could even see rain failing from them.  The clouds were very high, and the moisture had no chance of ever reaching the ground.  The droplets evaporated in the dry desert heat.  Oh well, it tried.

Across the bleakness of the desert I rode west.  An hour after sunrise, and the temp was in the 90s.  All along the shores of I-10 I could see the debris of those who did not make it.  Recaps, abandoned cars, and empty gas cans.  

The morning passed quickly, and soon I was in Quartzsite eating peanut butter and jelly at a con's store empty window view table.  I was at the intersection of I-10 and U.S. 95.  I called Chief Gann back at the fire department, for no other reason, than to just see what was going on.  We had a long talk, and he quizzed me about my ride so far.  Not going to lie, I miss the fire department.  My time there will always be special.  I called Debbie and Chris and put a few notes in the Axim.  

"you will make California today?"  My wife asked.

"yeah baby, I gotta meet Jerrol this evening."

A young couple pulled to the parking lot with Iowa plates.  Their car needed washing badly.  It looked dusty inside and out.  They had the windows down, no air conditioning?  They came in and picked out a sausage biscuit from the heat lamps.  I felt sorry them, because I know those things were at least 2 days old.  
After a long break I went out and finished the last few miles of I-10 and went into California. 
I was waved through the agricultural inspection, and in California at last.  Well folks, HERE I AM, where is everyone?  

I left I-10 for SR 78.  The route was green the first few miles, because irrigation had brought life to the fields.  You don't think about it much, but when you ride California, you see how important agricultural is to the state.  I'd like to know how much fruit and vegetables the state sends out to the rest of the country.

A few miles from I-10 the highway is just a whole lot of nothing.  Empty desert, and arid land.  It is one of the least hospitable places I'd ever seen.  Temp ranged from 102 to 108.

I passed a few cars, but I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere, and brought the 1300 over 90.

A long RV was on the shoulder, listing to the drivers side.  The front tire was flat. I stopped to look around, but no one was in sight.  Out here, you don't ride by someone that might need help.  Assuming the folks had been rescued, I continued on.

The Osborne Sand Dunes were pretty neat.  I saw several off road vehicles trying their luck on the hills.  A campground was near by, but I had no desire to pitch my tent there. 
​The Osborne Sand Dunes
Brawley, California is one of the towns on the edge of the desert and mountains.  It was a busy place.  I was hot waiting out the city's traffic lights.  

I found a gas station in the business district and came in for fancy water.  I was the only Anglo out of 7 patrons.  I went back outside to drink my water and a muchacho followed me and asked something in broken English.  I know a little Spanish, but just  enough to know what's going on.

"motocicleta hombre adelante? (motorcycle man ahead?)  I tried to get him to slow down.  "Motocicleta man, they went way,"  As he pointed south down a side street.

I gathered enough he was trying to tell me motorcycles went ahead of me. 

I asked, "a la derecha?" (to the right?)

" Si, si,"

" Cuantos?"  (How many?)  He held up 5 fingers.


"Si, si,"  And he started describing the motorcycles with his hands.  He was making motions to describe sport bikes.  His dad came out and said about 4 sport bikes had just left prior to my arrival.  He went on to say his son loved motocicletas and dreamed of owning one someday.  He apologized if he had been a nuisance.  "He's fine." I said with a grin.

I slipped the muchacho a handful of Twizzlers and he smiled broadly.  I made a mental note to brush up on my Spanish.  A couple of years ago I self tutored myself, and was doing ok when I lost interest.  In this part of the country it pays to know a little of the language.

West out of Brawley, the highway began to rise, curving around the mountains, but the 1300 was unusually hard to hold in line.  It was drifting all over the place.  I set it aside as rider fatigue.  I'd been leaning so much lately, my concentration must be off I thought.  The bike was wallowing, something a 1300 never does.

The riding on 78 was very good.  This was my first experience this far south in California.  Past years I tended to avoid this area of the state because I didn't want to get too close to LA.  But now I wonder what took me so long.  

All along the highway long drop offs were on display, they discouraged any fast riding.  The temps were cooling off as I left the desert behind.

A swarm of sport bikes shot by, on their way down from Mount Palomar.  All of them waved.

I had a good time on the ride into Julian.  When I arrived in town I saw 3 bikes in front of the Rongbranch, so stopped there for lunch.  A V Storm, GS, and a sport bike.  I went in and saw the 3 riders at a table.  I tried to match rider with bike, but didn't watch them mount up, so I never found out if I was right or not.

Lunch was a bowl of soup and some toast.  I planned on running later on, and didn't want to be weighted down.
I called Jerrol and announced my whereabouts.  He advised the rendezvous point was not far.  "I'll meet you at I-15, I won't be hard to find."

When I walked out of the Rongbranch I spotted the 1300.  I knew something was wrong.  She was sitting too low.  Riders are intimate with their bikes, if the slightest thing is wrong whether it concerns looks or how it runs, we quickly notice it.  Right away I knew the 13 was too low on the rear.  

I pulled out my gauge and checked it.  About 15 psi.  I quickly mounted up and rode back to a gas station I saw on the way into town.  I went to the air hose, and snatched the 1300 to the center stand so I could rotate the tire.  I was about half way when I found it, and small nail. 

Now I know why the 13 was wiggling earlier; it was low on air.  I'm pretty sure I picked up the nail in Phoenix, when I shot up the shoulder around the construction zone.  Looks like they had the last laugh.

The station was the old fashioned type and not a con store.

My first flat in 200k miles, like a speeding ticket, I'm over due. I called Jerrol and advised the situation, I told him to set tight and I'd get back with him.  

I have all the necessary stuff to repair a flat in the field, but never used any of it.  I had plugs and a compressor, that was not going to be necessary because the station had plenty of air.  I moistened my finger and ran it over the nail.  I could feel air, and estimated to be losing a few psi pounds per hour.   I called Freetstyle Cotez.

"Look here Free, I gotta nail in the rear, got all the stuff, but never did a plug before."

"alright, first thing you do is pull the nail out.  Have you got plenty of air?"


He was talking to me then asked, "Is the attendant close by?"  "Yeah."  "Well hell, just go get him, then call me back."  I guess he thought I was hopeless. 

I showed the attendant my plug kit, and he said, "Let me get ya a real plug."  I pointed out the puncture, and he stuck the string in, pulled out, and aired up.  Took about 15 minutes.  Just so happened he use to be an old dirt rider.  Now I had to decide on what to do next.   Ride indefinitely with this plug?  Or line up a new tire?
​Back in business.  Plug in, time to air up
I called Jerrol back.  He said a dealer had a 205 on the rack not far from his house, but it would be sometime tomorrow before they could get to it.

  "What do you want me to do?

"  "I dunno, let me call Free." 

I punched up Free on the speed dial. 

"Look I can have a tire by Friday, I have a mounting machine, and balancer.  We can fix you up when you get here.  The worst that is going to happen it goes flat again.  You have plenty of support close by now, so that is not a problem."  What he said made sense. 

"Ok, I'm on my way to meet Jerrol."  I put in one last call to him-

"Start working your way south on 76, that way if this plug fails, you'll find me."

I'd never been on a plugged tire, so started off slow.  I went 10 miles, stopped at another station to check the psi. Still good.  I topped off the gas tank and proceeded on.  Each mile that went by I grew more confident in the fix and increased my speed.  Soon, I was back up to cruising "altitude" and leaning hard in the Palomar twisties.  

​"Soon, I was back up to cruising "altitude" and leaning hard in the Palomar twisties."  
I saw the sign pointing to a road to take me up the mountain.  Suddenly the riding became very technical, and intense.  I was concentrating hard going up.  Two sport bikes appeared in the mirrors, I slowed and waved them around me.  They sped around, and with someone to follow, I tried to keep up.  "Damn those guys are good."  Despite my best efforts I had to let them go.  They quickly disappeared up the mountain.  I only went halfway.  I didn't want to miss Jerrol back down on 76, so cut it off early.  Besides, there were plenty of curves on 76 to lean.  

Traffic prevented the 1300 from doing much on 76.  It was thick, I relaxed and looked for Jerrol.  A short ride later a red 1300 with PIAA fog lights blazing came at me.  No doubt about it "that's HIM."

We made our greetings and got back underway.  It was good to have some company after all these miles.  We took a break at a con store at I-15.  I had a muffin and Mountain Dew and Jerrol had fancy water.  Jerrol's a great guy and a lot of fun to be around.  He's a hard riding ex marine, now under contract at a job on Pendleton.  He packs a lot of miles every year.  He also has a 2001 1100 with over 100k.  He'll ride to Phoenix to see his kids, like most go to the movies.

I miss the camaraderie of the fire department, and hanging out with the guys.  Something about sharing common dangers that foster a brotherhood.  I thrived on that feeling in the fire department, and now that I don't have it, I find long riding taking its place.  I know when I'm on a long tour, a dozen guys have my back.  That's a good thing.  A couple of phone calls and I'm covered.  It is one of the great things about riding.  

​My good friend and brother Long Rider, Jerrol Olson
"Man watcha been doin besides ridin and chasin women?  Some folks have it made yanno."  "Yeah, I'm doin alright."

From the con store it was a short ride back to Oceanside and Jerrol's house.  The garage door came up and the 2-1300s pulled in.  I took a closer look at his Honda.  It was meticulous.  It was set up just the way he liked it.  Not a speck of grime was anywhere.  I'd been needing some things on my bike, but didn't want anyone but Jerrol playing with my bikes electrical system.  When we get to Free's we're going to add lights, outlets, relay box, and heated grips.  

I put a 417 mile day in the books.

He lives in a great place with 2 room mates.  It was the neatest bachelors pad I'd ever come across.  I couldn't tell anyone even lived in the house.  

After settling in, I went back to the garage and cleaned the screen of the 1300, and waxed the fairing.  I felt bad after seeing Jerrol's 1300 and bathroom, both were spotless, and figured I better tidy up. The Marines taught him well.

I put my GPS watch on and went for a 4 mile run.  A good thing about California, there is always a nice bike lane.  

When I got back I took a shower and we took off in Jerrol's car for Outback.  We had a great time.  The place looked like a shiek's harem.  All the waitresses and hostess were young and attractive. 

"Dam bro ya didn't tell me about all this." 

Our waitress was a young lady named Christine.  I told her, "look here baby, see this man right here, he thinks everyone around here is kind uppiity."

" Ain't it the truth, bunch of hippies."

I busted out laughing.  "Baby what do YOU know bout hippies??  When were you born? 1983?  About 10 years after the last one went mainstream." 

"Well, I still know what they are."  

Christine was from Oklahoma, and came out here several years ago.  I had my fire department t shirt on.  "You are from Prattville?"


" I know where that is."

  I was familiar with Prattville, Oklahoma and told her it was the one in Alabama.

  "Ohhhhhhh, I didn't think the place in Oklahoma was big enough to have a full time fire department, so I was wunderin."

She kept coming back to our table to speak to us.  I think she liked the fact we were not from California.  She said she had a paramedic boyfriend, that was trying to "get on with the fire department."  I told her not to wish for something to hard, because she just might get it.

We left Outback and stopped at Rite Aid.  I needed ear plugs and a Mountain Dew.  On the drive back home Jerrol told me one of his room mates was a "peckerhead."  He advised me, "look, that joker doesn't talk to anybody, he just grunts, so don't even try to speak to him.  He just stays in his room with the door closed."

Back at the house we went upstairs and watched "Blackhawk Down."  One of the all time great flicks.  I checked email, and got ready for bed.  I did some journaling and said good night.  We are shooting up the coast in the morning to San Luis Obispo to meet Don "Freestyle" Cortez and his wife Joyce, Alan T, and Martin B.  They're riding in from the Bay Area, and the next day we go north up that glorious piece of road known as the Pacific Coast Highway.  I'd never leaned the highway south-north so was looking forward to it.

I told Jerrol good night and hit the sack.