Bryan Moody's Coast to Coast to Coast Ride Part 1
© Bryan W. Moody 1998
I had been planning a 50cc to do in November for some time, but due to various reasons I did not think I was going to be able to pull it off as planned. When my business got a little slack time after completing some projects, I dusted off the plans again and prepared for my assault.
First was my wife. She knew something was up and has always been very supportive of my riding, but she was apprehensive about this ride. She really doesn't like the Iron Butt Hotel thing too much, although she has done it herself more than once, and since I would be making the trip alone, was really concerned that I wouldn't have anyone as a backup in unfamiliar territory while asleep on the side of the road. After promising that I would get sleep in a real motel, she agreed to the plan.
Next was me. I do a lot of unplanned all night service work so I knew the schedule wouldn't be a real problem. My riding apparel needed to be upgraded, so I ordered some new Darien pants from Aerostich and got everything else together.
Finally it was the bike. After the Feast I was up against my valves and oil maintenance interval, so that had to be done, new tires mounted and so on. My gas mileage never has been very good on the Connie and I knew it was jetted fat so I rejetted it to the high altitude specs (122.5 vs 125) and hoped that would help.
On the Saturday before I was to leave, I went to try out my carb changes. Riding down I-85, I came up behind a guy on a GSXR and we hooked up nice draft, me leading. We came up to a pack of cars that refused to move so I did a quick downshift and went around them at a pretty elevated pace. Went to shift back up and found the shifter laying against the fairing. Uh,oh! Coasted to a stop and found that the shifter ball had broken off flush with the shift lever that attaches to the shift rod coming out of the transmission. Seeing that I really couldn't do anything about it, I got back on the bike, thanked the Gixxer rider for stopping to check (what?, you're going to ride it that way?) , and rode back up the interstate forty miles to home in 3rd gear. Went to the local dealer on Monday, and as expected they didn't have the part and wouldn't have it until the next week. I looked at my wife's 250 Ninja, saw that the part was close to the same as mine, and swiped it. I had probably cracked mine when I dropped my bike at the Feast, I am glad it waited until I was close to home to finally come apart.
I had planned to leave for Jax on Wednesday Nov. 4 but when my pants came in on Tuesday they were way big, so big in fact, that I looked skinny in them. Called Aerostich and they immediately shipped out a smaller size UPS red. They arrived on Wednesday and my wife and I got the rest of my stuff packed up for my Thursday departure.
Thursday, I got up and checked the weather, not so good. They were calling for wind around Ft. Stockton, Texas, rain and cold everywhere. Oh well, you gotta do what you gotta do, and besides I've got electrics right? The ride to Jacksonville was uneventful, a nice 500 mile ride, did it in about 6:45, one stop for gas, I guess the rejetting did some good, after all. The only problem was my vest didn't work, but I found a bad fuse when I got there, pulled one out of my spares and everything tested SAT. Rode to beach, found the gas station, the police station, then rode to the hotel and went to bed.
The meanie wakes me up at 0310 Friday, jump into the shower, get dressed and see Sgt. Dealey at the Jacksonville Beach Police Dept. to get my witness form signed, head down to the Gate gas station, get my receipt for 0353 then I ride back down to Beach Drive to see the ocean. Yep, there is water there, time to go.
After hitting I-10 I begin to notice something, my arms are cold and the vest isn't working again. Pull into the rest area to put on my jacket liner, and go out again. At the next rest area, I am stopping to put on my Widder gloves, instead of my unlined ones. Can't wait for the sun to come out, and warm things up a bit. Can't stop anymore, don't have anything else to put on.
Arriving in Tallahassee for my first gas stop, the pump won't read my Visa card, says to come inside to see attendant. Screw that, I went across the street and got gas instead. I didn't have another problem with my card the entire trip.
Pensacola, my favorite place to be other than home, is my next stop. I went to school here at Corry Station in the early 80's while in the Navy, and have come back to visit often. I can't spend any time here now though and watch it recede in the mirrors as I continue my quest.
I hook up with two older women in a new Buick hauling through Alabama and Louisiana, they were making really great time, so much that I missed my turn on I-12 and am instead going into downtown New Orleans, my planned gas stop was on I-12 in Hammond, so I had to make an unplanned one in New Orleans itself. No problem, get gas and go, a little stop and go around some construction, but no real delays. Riding across the numerous long bridges there was pretty neat, not many places for a trooper to hide!
My next stop was to be in Orange, TX. I had hit reserve some time before getting there and was starting to get nervous but I made it with a ½ gallon to spare, got my fuel, got a tuna sub at the Subway next door, called my wife, and got back on the road to Columbus, TX.
Columbus was a fast stop, didn't get off the bike, just pumped it in and left quickly.
Houston was next. I arrived at rush hour, something I should have planned better but, hey it can't be that bad right? WRONG! I passed a sign for the HOV lane, that's funny, it doesn't say motorcycles are allowed on it, OK, just keep going. I go about another mile and, of course, all of the lanes are stopped, after I stopped the Connie cooling fan cuts on, trying to roast me alive, I look left and there goes a bike in the HOV lane, he's looking at me like I'm an idiot, which of course, I am completely willing to agree with at this point. Houston is funny, most of the HOV lanes I have seen in other cities, are just painted on the road, in Houston, they are separated by a concrete barrier from normal traffic, and there is only one entrance to it. I, of course, missed that entrance and thus had to wait, slowly cooking aboard my Kawasaki, wrapped in my own king sized Aerostich roasting bag. Finally I get out of town, get some air flowing, and return to normal temperature, now assisted by rain falling from the heavens upon me.
I stop in Boerne, TX to put on my other gloves and rain covers, after I remembered that my Widder gloves had not been treated with Camp-Dri. They weren't wet yet but didn't want to take the chance. Got gas while I was there and headed to Junction.
Got to Junction at 2308 after covering 1254 miles and found that all of the hotels were full! I was pretty chilled by now, the vest still didn't work and cold mixed with water really takes it out of you. I finally went to the Comfort Inn and got the last room at $62.00 for a single (ouch). It turns out that tomorrow was the opening of deer season and all of the hunters took the rooms. Kill Bambi all you want boys, but leave me a room. Went in, called Debbie, set the meanie and went to sleep.
I woke up before the meanie went off, jumped into the shower, went down to the continental breakfast and removed all of the bananas, drank a cup of milk, wished all of the hunters good luck and left town. It was still misting a bit and fog had set in.
Once the sun came up and the fog started to burn off, I was amazed at the scenery and lack of traffic. For an southeastern boy such as myself, the lack of trees was a strange sight. The lack of any traffic was too, but I soon learned to live with it. As Dale Wilson would say, WHAAACK! Connie is real stable up to around 7200 rpm in sixth (around 120) , then gets a slight weave that goes away if you stay in it. Damn, you can cover a lot of ground this way. You can watch the fuel gauge drop like a rock too, so I decide to keep to around 90-95. After stopping for a few photo ops, I figure how to take pictures on the fly and make tracks for Fort Stockton.
Arriving in Fort Stockton at the Comanche Springs Truckstop, I decide to fix the vest, went inside, bought a switch, and an automatic reset circuit breaker, pulled the fuse which was blown again, and replaced it with the circuit breaker. Plugged the vest back into the controller, no heat, plugged the vest into the passenger vest connection, nice heat. Put the circuit breaker into the passenger side, cut my extension cord and put the switch in it, now I had a simple on/off heat controller. Time to make tracks to El Paso.
Ran towards El Paso at a steady 90-100mph, weather was warming up, sun was out, all was well, gas consumption was a little bit up so when I saw the station at Fabens, TX I decided to stop. Rolling into the station, I hear a creak, creak, creaking sound, coming from my front end. Put on the front brakes at low speed but it still makes the noise. Oh crap, "front wheel bearings are bad" I think, so I get fuel and limp into El Paso. Stopping on the outskirts of El Paso I get directions to the local Kawasaki dealer, Grand Prix Kawasaki. When I get there they look at the bike and say nothing is wrong with the bearings, it is the speedo drive, but they don't have anyone available there to pull it apart. No problem, I yank the front wheel in record time, look at the speedo drive, don't find anything wrong, look at the cable, the bottom of the cable is crimped and bent, how that happened I don't know, but I keep an extra speedo cable in my saddlebag for all IBA events. Replace the cable, noise goes away, I'm off again. After I get back on I-10 westbound a Triumph comes blowing by on my left, I look on the back and I see the elusive IBA license plate frame. I run with him for awhile but after he decides to put some killer passes on traffic, I let him go.
On into New Mexico, everything is starting to look the same now. Some may argue, but to me, desert is desert, if the road is straight and level I'm bored. Got to Deming, needed to drain myself, got some gas, and back out. Deming looks like a nice town, maybe I'll be back when I have some more time.
Crossing into Arizona, I stop in Tucson for my next fuel stop. Creak, creak, creak, the front end is raising hell again. Screw it, if it breaks, it breaks, there isn't a thing I can do about it now, lets cover some more ground, and I'm off to Yuma. Seeing the sun set over the mountains outside of Yuma was a treat. Seeing the mountains so dark against the red sky will stay with me forever.
It's dark when I get to Yuma, I look for the Marine Corps sign there, to at least tell my wife I saw it. She lived here in the mid-sixties, when her dad (a Force Recon Marine, by God) was stationed here, she said it was desolate then, it looks pretty well developed now but the dark can make the smallest town look pretty large. I figure I will see it again tomorrow in the light and report back then. There was a guy at the gas station, who seeing my North Carolina tag, asks me how long I've been on the road, and where I'm going. When I tell him that I left Jax yesterday morning and will be in San Diego tonight he thought I was lying. When I showed him the logbook, he was astounded. He now is a believer in the "Worlds Toughest Riders" slogan. I bade him a good evening and set out on my final leg to San Diego.
Going across the Colorado River bridge into California, I feel that I am almost there, the night is fairly warm, traffic is light, and I'm feeling good. On my right I see what looks like fireflies going up and down, on and off. As I draw closer, I see that it is dune buggies out playing on the dunes. Cool! Connie is a little too piggy for any off road adventures so I keep it into the wind. Coming into the mountains between the desert and San Diego, the temperature starts to drop. I had passed a sign stating "SEA LEVEL" not long before, and now there was a 1000 foot sign, then a 2000 foot sign. The higher I go, the colder I get. Time to turn on the vest, no heat. Maybe I disconnected the plug from the vest itself. I stop to check it and the wires just come loose in my hand. Rather than fix it on the road, I decide to freeze if necessary, but I am going to get to San Diego. It is cold but I know that after I crest the mountains I will warm up again. After getting into town, I start looking for the Motel 6 on North Hotel Circle. Arriving there, the clerk informs me that Debbie has been calling trying to find me. I check in, and go to my room to make the call home.
Looking into the mirror I start to laugh. Before leaving Greensboro, I decided to try John Harrison's trick of cutting Power Bars into slivers and coating them with sugar so they wouldn't stick back together. I didn't know what sugar he used so I bought some of the 10X powdered kind, cut the bars up, coated them with sugar, put them into a zip lock bag and placed the packages in my tank bag. While riding down the road, I would pull the bag out, pull the bars apart, shove the piece into my mouth, and ride. The extra sugar in the bag must have gotten picked up in the wind and deposited on my jacket, face, glasses, everything. I didn't notice it, but at the Motel 6, I saw everyone giving a strange look and steering clear of me. I guess with my hair standing on end, some white powder all over me, particularly on my face and around my nose, plus my general crazed look they thought I was some kind of dope fiend. When I saw myself in the mirror I about died laughing.
After getting myself under control, I call Debbie and announce my arrival. She was worried because when I had called her from El Paso, I was only able to get her voice mail. I left the message that the bike had a problem, but was fixed, and of course she naturally assumed the worst. After assuring her that all was OK, I went to get my final 50cc receipt.
I got my receipt at Ocean Beach Mobil at 0007 Pacific Time, now to find a cop. I had pretty much memorized the way to the San Diego West Police Station, and rode there without much problem. When I got there, the door said open 8-5 Monday-Friday! I guess there isn't too much crime here!
Riding back toward the hotel I see a bunch of Marines leaving what looks like a convention center. Tonight must have been the Marine Corps Ball, because Marines plus their wives or dates were everywhere. I briefly entertain the thought of finding a Colonel or better to witness my arrival, but knowing what condition that I always left the Submarine Birthday Ball, I figured that if Mike Kneebone or Don Moses calls him to confirm that he signed my log he will probably have chalked it up to a bad dream.
Instead, I remember that the University of San Diego is right around here, and if it is like any other college I have been to, they will have an on-campus security force. Following the signs, I arrive at the dispatchers office. He quickly summons an officer, and soon I have both this 50cc finish and the next 50cc start witness forms signed. A special thanks to Sgt. Rigo Chavez for taking care of this for me.
I then head to the hotel to fix my vest, this time permanently, and to get a couple of hours sleep.