Adventurous SS2000

So I’ve never written up a ride report, but this SS2000 from last year was quite different from the others, covering varied environmental conditions. Others who don’t share our long distance sickness stated; “I guess you’ll never do that again!”. To which I could only respond; “Are you kidding? If someone tells you they went for a sweet ride, the weather was perfect, and there were no issues, it wouldn’t be a memorable or entertaining story to tell! It was great!” I have ten IBA certificates on my wall (2 of them were nested because I like the paper, so this was actually just my eighth verified ride).

I started in the world famous Napa Valley wine country and shot straight down to the Mexican border, following along it through Arizona until I reached my hotel in Lordsburg, NM. Sure, the weather did start out pleasant for an hour or so, then it got hot, then it got damn hot. The last 11 hours of the day it fluctuated between 108 and 112 degrees. Of course you spend most of your time in those conditions paying attention to your body to make sure you suffer no signs of heat exhaustion or worse. When I hit New Mexico and the sun dipped, I was struck how wonderfully cool it had become. Consulting the bikes thermometer, I discover the temps had plummeted to 104 degrees.

The last 15 miles or so, I saw the sign warning of severe sand storms, a sign I have never before witnessed. Then I passed the electric sign reiterating it saying “in case of sandstorm” then the electric sign saying, “pull off the road” then “engine off” then “foot off the brake”. I passed this same array of electric signs probably 5 more times leading into my gas / hotel stop. I asked the gas attendants about the signs and they informed me of a pileup of vehicles a few years back that killed 7 people, sand blasted the paint off cars, and etched their windshields. I told them I was on a motorcycle, and asked if I would just be screwed. They thought for a moment, then responded; “Yeah. You’re screwed”.

Next day I headed north, straight up interstate 25 all the way to my destination in Gillette, WY. Leaving at 6 AM the weather was beautiful although still although still unreasonably warm. I didn’t know I would be near the other extreme by the time I arrived… It cooled down eventually and was pleasant riding weather at least up through Colorado, which had big delays since every damn road in the state was under construction, setting me back a little on my desired timeline.

Once I poked my head over the Wyoming border into Cheyenne for gas, I was already concerned about the threatening skies in the distance directly ahead of me. While I was pumping (gas) I received a text from my friend already at the rally I was pointed towards, asking me where I was. I told him, then he worriedly informed me they were in the middle of a huge electrical storm. I’m thinking, okay, I’ve ridden in just about every condition, this may slow me down a bit. But the blustery breezes quickly became harsher winds supporting the storm, even with 4 hours to go. Another hour or two riding and I see the signs warning that it is a high wind area, as if I wasn't bucking winds already, and that antelope are going to be trying to ram me off the bike through this section of highway… I noticed at this point also that I’m out in the open with no cover anywhere, homes, overpasses, rock outcroppings, nothing.

One more gas stop on the cusp of the storm and 100 miles to go, I notice the last text from my friend. “hailstones the size of golf balls”. At least I was getting into an area heavily treed so I figured it was still better than being stuck in the open possibly getting sandblasted the previous night! I left that morning around 100 degrees at 6 AM, now I’m riding in a heavy rain at 45 degrees with a threat of an ice pummeling. I needn’t have worried though. The hailstones stopped falling a half mile away from me. I slipped into my hotel near midnight drenched and cold, but hey, that just makes you appreciate shelter and a warm bed more! I took the shorter more direct route home, a jaunt just over 1200 miles with nothing noteworthy to speak of. You know, nice weather, good food and hotel, unmemorable.