do you do when there are two rallies you want to go to on back to
back weekends but only have a limited number of days off. Add the
fact that the rallies are over 2000 miles away. I figured it was
going to involve a little roadkill!
left for work Thursday morning on July 19th and said, “Adios,”
to Ken Hand and Peg Tillery who were camping in my backyard. I was
finished at work by 11:00 A.M. and headed out with 131,725 miles on
the clock of my beloved raT-3. I cashed my check and was enroute by
11:15. I knew then my mission was going to be to break my longest
ride of 1760 miles back in 1998 when I rode to Alaska. I know a lot
of people "prep" for burns like this and pack power
drinks, power bars etc. I do pack salted peanuts, Tabasco flavored
Slim Jims, water, and a pouch to hold a soda. All can be reached
from the saddle.
took a few country roads and U.S. Highway 14 to Janesville,
Wisconsin. I got on I-90 to Madison and then I-94 which was going to
be the only number I would need to remember for quite a while.
little north of Madison, I passed a truck at about 80 mph. As I got
back into the right lane I smelled oil burning. I looked in the
mirror and could see the oil smoke pouring out of the mufflers. I
backed down to 70 mph and it stopped. I was a bit nervous and wasn't
sure whether I should abort the trip but I continued. I passed
another vehicle at 80 mph and again, as I swerved back into the
right lane, the smoke would start up. I figured worn valve seals
(original untouched cylinder heads) so I quit worrying about it. I
tried to keep it under 75 mph from there on.
hit Minneapolis/St Paul at around 5:00 P.M. or so and traffic was
heavy. I figured it cost me about 15 minutes. It was perfect sunny
weather the whole day and I was getting into it. I was gassing up in
less than 4 minutes paying at the pump. I'm glad paying at the pump
is almost standard now.
had my dinner of salted peanuts while hauling down the freeway. The
sun was down as I entered North Dakota. I started getting tired, so
I bit off a chunk of the Slim Jim. The mild burning sensation of the
Tabasco did a nice job of getting my one good eye back open as it
turned into Friday.
was a beautiful starry night and I could feel myself start to nod
off a bit so I pulled over in a rest area and laid on the gas tank.
About ten minutes later I heard a rumble. I looked up and saw
lightning. I threw the rain suit on and took off. Within 10 miles it
started to pour. Lightning everywhere. I could barely see, so I
focused on the dimly lit white line on the shoulder. Miles City was
the nearest town and about 20 miles ahead. I stuck with it while it
kept coming down. The lightning and thunder were in sync so I knew
it was close. I got to the exit and pulled into a gas station. An
elderly couple pulled in behind and the woman said, "We were
following you and thought for sure you were hit by the lightning
back there". I thought geez, must of been closer than I
realized. I headed back out and about five minutes later the stars
were shining again.
say the darkest hour is right before the dawn. I sure agreed as I
kept waiting for first light to shake off the sleepiness! The mind
can play tricks on you when you fight sleep like I had been doing. I
did make it and the sunlight felt great. Somewhere past Butte, I hit
the 24 hour point of my ride at 1470 indicated miles. Not bad and I
was feeling pretty good yet.
was finally off the freeway in Missoula on U.S. 12. It seemed like I
was in Montana forever, and it felt good to enter into Idaho. I was
just one state away. I was yawning like crazy. I do find it much
easier to stay awake on two lane roads vs the freeway. There was a
lot of construction and backed up traffic, but I managed to pass
most of the slower vehicles one after another. The scenery was
simply great. It was quite warm in Lewiston, 95 degrees (F) and felt
hotter with the sun beating down.
took Washington Highway 124 at Waitsburg, sort of a short cut over
to Pasco. I picked up U.S. 12/I-82 up to Yakima where U.S. 12 split
off on its own. Then sun was still bright and it looked like I was
going to make it to the Washington Guzzi rally near Randle by
nightfall, or so I thought!
did make it to Randle in 36 hours and before sunset - 2200 miles and
I was beat. I pulled the map out and saw where the campground was
suppose to be. I didn't see any Guzzi signs at all. I tried a couple
of different forest roads and saw nothing. One camp area looked
right but had a gate with restricted access. It was dark now and I
was really out of it. I rode through another campground twice and
didn't see any motorcycles. It was late so I rode through a third
time and decided just to camp there because of how late it was. The
manager told me the Guzzis were all in the restricted area and to
just open the gate and go in! I wish I would have known that an hour
and 40 miles ago!
was greeted warmly by Dick and Gayle Guthrie who hosted the rally. I
wasn't that surprised to see Karl Werth there, he was with his
nephew that lives in Washington. It was good to see Guzzette editor,
Gary Jenkins of Portland, Oregon again. I had help setting up my
tent and was later fed some leftovers. My first real meal since the
start of the trip. This was a very basic campground with only a
chemical toilet and one water spout but with a beautiful rippling
stream going through the forest. I crashed easily but woke up later
freezing! I didn't bring a sleeping bag trying to travel light and
ended up sleeping with my riding gear on.
morning came and I felt revived. I could tell I wasn’t one hundred
percent, but I was in much better shape than the day before. Greg
Field rode in from Seattle and made it in time for breakfast. He had
some ideas on some roads he wanted to check out, and I decided to
tag along. We had a blast! The dirt roads through the Cascade range
were a little rough and pretty dusty because I was following. Things
got better over by Trout lake. We ended up on Washington 141, and
headed to the Columbia river with metal scraping the whole way on
all the twisty roads. The Columbia was packed with wind surfers. I'm
told a regular event because of the strong winds that constantly
hurl through there. We stopped in Carson for something to drink and
took a few more forest roads heading back. Greg wanted to get back
in time to help prepare the salmon for the dinner later on, so I
split off and went up Mount St. Helens.
I got back, Greg and a few others were laying the salmon out on
slats laced through a stick and then placed them around the
campfire. After an hour or so the salmon was done and what a feast
it was! I must have eaten at least two pounds of it. Greg was
heading back home to Seattle and said I could crash there so I
packed up, said my good byes and followed him out. I don't remember
all the different back roads Greg took me down, but I knew we were
east of the freeway, and I could see Mount Rainer in the near
were a few deer along the way but no close calls. The Seattle
waterfront looked pretty cool lit up on a Saturday night as we made
our way through the city. We rolled in around 10:00 P.M., met Greg's
girlfriend, Jennifer, and crashed shortly afterwards.
morning, Greg had elk and eggs cooking. After a great breakfast, I
thanked Greg and Jennifer for putting me up and headed out to catch
the ferry to Bremerton to meet another friend, Jim Whipple.
was a foggy, misty, and wet morning, but not too bad. Jim was there
waiting at the dock, and I followed him over to his digs. I unpacked
the voltage regulator I had for his SR 500 and handed it over. Good
enough reason for me to ride to Bremerton!
and his wife had a nice house on a bluff with a view of the Pugent
Sound. He even had a small pool/pond set up on his porch stocked
with assorted fish. Like an oversized aquarium. Jim was in the mood
for a ride, I guess he was used to the dreary weather so we headed
north to the top of the Hood Canal and down U.S. 101 along the other
side. We split up a little south of Hoodsport, so I could continue
on my journey. I ended up on Washington 102 back to U.S. 12 again,
but cut off on Washington 107 to bypass Aberdeen and over to U.S.
101. I crossed the Columbia as I rode into historic Astoria, Oregon.
continued on down the Pacific Coast Highway catching bits of the
Pacific ocean through the occasional clearing of the forests. There
was light rain most of the day, but not too unpleasant. I found a
nice and cheap motel in Newport, a mere $27 for a room, so I
unpacked. I ate at a local place called Moby Dick's and had a
seafood platter of scallops, oysters, shrimp, and clams, not to
mention a few drinks. It felt good to relax.
I was out on U.S. 101 early and rode the coast down to Florence. I
took Oregon Highway 126 to Eugene and then Oregon 58 into the
Williamette N.F. Just past Oakridge there was a small road on the
map that went along the Hills Creek Reservoir and Middle Fork Creek,
so I took it. There was a small dirt road on the map that should
have taken me to Toketee Falls, but I took the wrong dirt road. I
was about 8 miles on this dirt road and then it dead ended. I turned
around and found a different road that I thought would lead me out.
That dead ended too. A few more tries and 15 miles later I was
getting a bit nervous. I had already dodged numerous smaller
landslides and fallen trees and wasn't sure what to expect. Luckily
I had plenty of fuel so I didn't worry about that. Finally, I came
up on Steamboat Creek and saw tire tracks and some litter, so I knew
I was going to find my way out. Sure enough the dirt road led to a
paved road and eventually to the town of Steamboat on Oregon 138.
Sixteen miles later I went through Toketee Falls, oh well, I was
still glad I took the chance.
Highway 138 took me right to Crater Lake. Crater Lake was a bit
touristy, but worth seeing. The temperature dropped into the 50’s
at that altitude but the sun was shining bright. I stopped to take a
couple of pictures and took off down Oregon 62 to U.S. 97 and
stopped in Klamath Falls to gas up. It was around 5:00 P.M. and Reno
was about 250 miles away, so I decided to make a go for it.
Highway 39 turned into California Highway 139 at the California
border. It was a pretty scenic ride passing by lava beds and through
the Modoc National Forest. I stopped in Susanville for gas and a guy
in a pickup pulled up and asked me if I wanted a pair of chaps he
found on the side of the road a few miles back. I said, “Sure!”
and he gave them to me. They were lined and had to be worth $200 or
so. I left on U.S. 395 and was in Reno by 9:00 P.M. I stopped at a
couple of casinos, had dinner, and hit it for the night.
I left Reno on Nevada Highway 431 and had breakfast at a casino at
the border. It was Californian Highway 28 after that as I rode along
Lake Tahoe. It was a beautiful chilly morning. I headed up
California 89 through Truckee, crossed I-80, and continued up to
Sierraville. California 49 went through some plains up to California
70 which got very scenic as I entered the Plumas National Forest.
There were plenty of twisties and great mountain passes all the way
to Oroville. I then took a few back roads through Bangor and Brown's
Valley and ended up on California 20. I rode in to Grass Valley to
check out the rally site for later in the week. I then took
California 49 to I-80 into Sacramento to visit Lorrel who was out
from Illinois visiting her brother. He let me use the garage to
change oil and do a few minor things to the bike. My lower triple
clamp needed to be snugged up which was causing my caliper piston to
retract in the twisties earlier.
was an early start Wednesday morning heading out of Sacramento on
California 16, then California 49 to California 88 in Jackson. Off
of California 88 was a dirt road which led into upper and lower Blue
Lake. There was a four wheel drive trail heading back to Red Lake
which was much rougher than I expected. The one downhill was so
steep I had to shut the bike off in gear and use the clutch as a
rear brake so I could use both feet to waddle the bike down through
the rocks and gravel. It took almost an hour to go 10 miles between
the drop offs and massive washboards that were everywhere. There was
even snow on the mountainside in a few places. It was nice to be
back on California 88 after all of that.
Sierra Nevada range was so nice I dropped down on California 89 and
went through the range again on California Highway 4. California 4
is only about a lane wide at the summits with the pavement right up
to the tree bases. No mistakes allowed! I was becoming addicted to
passing slower cars even in the turns where you could see ahead
enough. Most of the locals will pull tight to the shoulder which
helped. It was my favorite road on this trip. It was California 49
to California 108 in Angel's Camp and yes, one more time across the
range on California 108!
Pass was cold!! It must of dropped into the 40’s. U.S. 395 was
rather flat and sedate after all of that and was almost like taking
a break. Nevada Highway 207 to South Lake Tahoe was another great
ride in itself. I was overtaking a car in a turn and had a little
trouble passing as quick as I'd like due to the grade and altitude.
The car was doing the normal shoulder thing so the oncoming car made
it by me without cutting it close. The fact that it was the Highway
Patrol woke me up! I was surprised he didn't come after me, but I
appreciated the fact. U.S. 50 was pleasant and California 89 along
the west side of Lake Tahoe was just spectacular with the blue water
and scenic roads. A casino/motel in Crystal Bay was the final
destination for the day.
morning was mostly I-80 back to Sacramento. After my laundry was
done, I packed it up and said good bye to Lorrel and headed to Grass
Valley. I already had a room booked in town so I rode in and
unloaded. I rode to the rally and there were a handful of people
there. I went to town, had lunch and came back. Greg Field showed up
with a busted driving light on his Eldo which came from a crash on
his ride from Washington. We soon discovered a fellow Guzziti who
used to be a metalworker and another who had with him the ball peen
hammer he made in high school. It didn't take long to have the
headlight housing back in shape. In fact it was done shortly after
Greg and I finished our demo rides on the new Guzzis brought in by
Mahnke (aka Cheesehead) of M G Cycle showed up and unloaded his CHP
Eldo, complete with original decals, siren, etc. Greg and I walked
over and Rick's girlfriend, Georgia served up some Wisconsin cheese
they had brought in. The four of us rode into town later to hit a
few bars and ate at a Thai restaurant. It was different going into
the California bars where there is no smoking allowed. Later we hung
out at Mark Etheridge's campsite and had a pretty good time. Mark
had a few of his well done Guzzi creations there and it was good to
meet him and Josh in person.
morning I was packed and ready to head toward home but decided to go
on one last ride with Greg, Rick, and Georgia. We stopped at
Peterson's, a small tavern the four of us know with an expletive in
the name, but that's an inside joke.
rode through the town of Rough And Ready and back to the rally. I
met a lot of new people but as usual, I can't remember many of the
names. Well, I did remember running into Ken Hand but we only talked
for a second. I started heading east around noon. I took California
20 to I-80 and made decent time to where Alt U.S. 50 breaks off east
of Reno. It was the Loneliest Highway, U.S. 50 across the Clan
Alpine and Shoshone Mountains. I soon remembered just how lonely
that road is! It started getting dark somewhere between the Pancake
and Little Antelope summits as I headed to Ely. I spent the night in
Ely and donated a few more coins to the Nevada casinos.
was up and at it early Saturday as I crossed the border into Utah on
U.S. 50/U.S. 6. It was sort of boring riding across the Confusion
Range but things picked up after I crossed I-15 south of Provo and
continued on to Soldier Summit. A little south of there I went up
U.S. 191 to Vernal and then U.S. 40 into Colorado. U.S. 40 was
beautiful as usual, and the sunny day only added to it. You'd think
I'd learn my lesson with dirt roads, but I thought I'd try one more
that went from Steamboat Springs on through Buffalo Pass.
wasn't as rough as the four wheel drive trail in California, but it
was still rougher than I wanted. I bottomed the shocks out a dozen
times. After eating a bunch of dust I got back on paved roads and
Colorado 14, another great road.
Pass was over 10,000 feet, and I could easily tell in the T-3’s
performance. Colorado 14 then started to follow the Cache La Pourde
River which was breathtaking. The turns were tight and it was like
riding through mile high slits in the mountains. The Poudre Park
area had lots of tourists slowing me down a bit, but I still made
decent time. I had planned to bunk in Fort Collins, but it looked
like I could still make Sterling before too late, so I kept on
Colorado 14 East. I made it there by 9:00 P.M., but the nearby
restaurants had already closed, so I picked up a deli sandwich from
a gas station.
morning and about 900 plus miles to home. I was on the slab and knew
it was going to be a hot day. I stayed focused and stayed right
around the 80 mph mark and just ignored the oil smoke that would
randomly pour out the exhaust pipes. I kept fuel stops under 4
minutes and bought a 32 oz. Gatorade each time and filled an empty
jug with water. It was over 100 degree (F) in Iowa as I made my way
through the heat. I was drinking the Gatorade and pouring the water
on my head and in my T-shirt to cool down.
looked like rain clouds as I headed in to Illinois and up I-88. I
couldn't catch a break! I wanted it to rain on me to cool off but it
wasn't about to happen.
were clouds on both sides of I-88, but none above me as the sun kept
beating down. It finally got cloudy around Rockford and the last 50
miles home. I was pleased that I did over 900 miles in 13 hours. 160
ounces of Gatorade and not once did I need to relieve myself. Geez,
it was nice to be done with that heat!
in all it was one of my better trips. It felt good to do the 2200
miles/36 hour burn and to cover 7140 miles in 11 days. Granted, more
freeway riding than I like, but it was still over 50% slabless. It
was also great to meet a few more of the Guzzi gang. Well, it's time
to yank those heads and see where that smoke is coming from!
Copyright ©1999-2012, John Boettcher, all rights reserved
Contact John at: email@example.com