While I like twisty mountain roads as well as any other biker, I’ll confess that I enjoy interstate riding, too. It’s the only place I can (legally & with relative safety) use all 1200 cc’s, and it’s a great way to cover the miles to get to interesting locations.
And home from interesting locations.
Following a speaking engagement in Long Beach, CA, I had four days left before I had to get back to the office on Monday morning. I-40 was the most direct route – 600 to 700 miles a day would get me there.
Piece of cake:
- Day 1 – Gallup, NM
- Day 2 – Oklahoma City, OK
- Day 3 – Nashville, TN
- Day 4 – home.
Interstate the whole way. Here are some highlights from day 1.
I hit I-40 in Barstow, CA. Unfortunately, I passed this sign before it registered in my head how cool it would be to have a photo. I took the next exit, filled up the tank and doubled back.
(I made a mental note to go to Wilmington and see if there was a complementary sign at the other end. There is and here it is.)
The desert was unfamiliar territory for me, so the ride held my interest. I noticed a unique aroma all through the desert. It was somewhat pleasant and always present. I kept hoping to see a cactus that looked like it was from the Roadrunner cartoons. Never did.
When I opened my helmet, it felt like I was aiming a high-wattage hair dryer at high heat and full speed directly at my face. All vents were open in my Olympia jacket. The bike registered 110 degrees. This kind of heat made me question the wisdom of ATGATT. (Just for a moment. I would rather sweat than not be protected in a crash.)
Just before entering Arizona, I saw a sign for Needles. Snoopy fans will recognize this as Spike’s home. I stopped for gas and had an ice-cold Coke.
Just the break I needed and I was back on the road in ten minutes.
Even though it cooled off a little as I rode through Arizona, I was looking forward to reaching Gallup, NM and settling in early. The heat was really zapping my energy. Watching the towns from the iconic song Route 66 tick off, I stopped for gas in Flagstaff. Pulling back on the interstate, I saw a sign for Winslow, AZ and it was time to keep a promise to my 16 year-old self.
Look at my big-ride playlist and you’ll see that The Eagles is still one of my favorite bands. I know it’s a cliché, but ever since high school, I decided that if I was ever in Arizona, I would take a photo of myself standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.
This sign reminded me of my vow and I had 60 miles to formulate a plan. Step 1, select The Eagles playlist.
It was late afternoon and I still had 200 miles to Gallup, so I decided to keep it simple. I would ride through town, find a corner with a business that clearly had Winslow in the title, then take a photo of my strategically placed bike.
Winslow is a small town. I wasn’t expecting that and I couldn’t find a corner that would work for my photo. As I began devising Plan B, I was pleasantly surprised to find – Standin on a corner park.
It turns out, I’m not the only one who wanted that photo. This park was created in 1999 for all the tourists who needed to find that special corner. It was never crowded while I was there, but there was a steady stream of fans getting their own photo. No problem finding someone willing to be my photographer.
And here I am trying to look cool standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. My 16 year-old self is giving me a mental high-five. Another tick on the bucket list.
I made it to Gallup just as it was getting dark. Earlier in the morning, I had decided to stay at an old-school motel on Route 66. When I drove into the parking lot … well … let’s just say I’m glad I didn’t make a prepaid reservation and I quickly found a Quality Inn. Enough time to gas up, a quick load of laundry and plan the next day’s ride.
Just for kicks, I asked Google how far it was to Luckenbach, Texas. Maybe I could see Waylon and Willie and the boys?
Nah. That’s just too cliché.
Further reading …
This post references Route 66, Standin’ on the Corner Park, Luckenbach, Texas.