We left Seattle on Wed, 31 MAR, at about 7:30 after breakfast at the Hurricane Cafe. Mark (MarkRam) on his Thruxton, Pete (Curmez) on his Thruxton, Erik (DaViking) on his Bonnie, and Brad (Iron Butt Jack) on his V-Star. Plan was to hit Boise that night, where Adam (BoiseRat) had generously offered to put us up for the night. The first hurdle was Snoqualmie Pass, but it was wet and clear, no ice. Just cold. Here we are just on the other side.
Unfortunately, Brad came down with some kind of flu in the night, and decided to head back to Washington while he was still capable of operating a motorcycle. Tough break for him, especially since the whole trip was his idea! He made it ok, though.
Route planning for this trip became a big exercise in avoiding snow and ice, the weather went to shit throughout the west right when we had to be on the road. We were originally going to go from Boise to Vegas through Eastern Nevada, but snow and cold in the mountains there caused us to go through eastern Oregon and western Nevada instead. Probably a good choice, because it was a lot lower and was still plenty cold and nasty. Heres the bikes on a pass in Oregon. Its as cold as it looks!
Fallon to Las Vegas went smoothly today, no major problems. Both Marks Thruxton and DaVikings Bonnie were blowing oil out the crankcase vent tube, and Vikings back brakes got saturated, making stopping more interesting than usual. After checking into the Wild West Days Inn, Viking tore down the brakes to clean them, making them moderately functional and continuing the new tradition of wrenching on at least one bike each day of travel. And these are all Hinckley bikes, too.
Let me say right now that Chris (Ray Gun Riot) and the Vegas Clan went above and beyond the call of duty, by far, in taking great care of us. We really felt welcome, and the Vegas guys had so much for us to do that we wouldn't even have needed to go to Viva to stay busy. Viva was awesome, but hanging with the Vegas guys was the highlight of our stay there. Stand up guys, all of them, and I hope we can return the favor someday. Thanks!
Friday evening, Chris put together a dinner for all the BIR in town. In addition to the Rainier guys, there was Chad from Cape Fear and John from the LA Clan. Jake from Las Vegas got us all a great table at Firefly, in Fremont. This place is awesome, and couldn't have been better for meeting everybody. Good food, good people....
Next morning, we all met up at the hotel again for a ride around Lake Mead. After breakfast, we ran across a VW show. Quite a few neat old cars there, so we killed a little time before hitting the road. The roads around Lake Mead really cool, the desert is so much different than what we are used to in Washington.
That afternoon, we checked out the car show at Viva, where we saw the Chop Tops and the Diamond Betty's, followed by Chuck Berry. Good shows all around. Of course, Chuck is 84 now, so he is a little slower than he used to be. Funny guy, though, and it was really cool to see him in person. Not too many more chances to do that left!!
The next three days were really all about getting home. Pete was supposed to be at work Tuesday morning, and the plan was to head to I-5 via Bakersfield and bomb north to get home in two days. Mother Nature scoffed at that, though, and decided to close the passes at Redding with about 6 inches of snow. We ended up heading out to Hwy 101, spending the first night in Santa Rosa, after riding through some of the worst rain I have ever ridden in in San Francisco and Oakland. It was a long, cold, wet, miserable day, 612 miles of awful. It was made a little harder because both DaViking and Mark forgot to put their bikes on the trickle chargers in Vegas and both bikes went dead in the first hundred miles, needing to be push started after the first gas stop. We disconnected the headlights and found they would just barely charge enough to avoid push starting for the rest of the day. There are no pictures from this day......
It was apparent by now that we were not making it home in two days. Hwy 101 is a nice ride, but its not fast. Again, cold and wet was the order of the day. The mountains between Santa Rosa and Eureka were under about 2 inches of snow that had fallen last night, and there was still a lot of slush on the road. Cold, cold, cold!
The final day of the trip was pretty uneventful, we made good time through (comparatively) light rain and even some sunny bits. Hwy 101 is great riding when its not freezing. Erik had to stop once to tighten up a footpeg before it fell off, and Pete lost his headlight when a rock chip leaked water into the housing and blew the bulb. Mark didn't even try and run his headlight until the last leg, we were tired of pushing bikes around parking lots to start them. After cutting over to I-5 via Hwy 18, we had a pretty easy shot home. Good times, man good times.
Viva Las Vegas is a great event, maybe a little too big and crowded, but lots of fun. Even better was meeting new BIR members and hanging out with the Sawtooth and Vegas Clans. This Club is the real deal, great people watching out for each other and enjoying a good time together. We made around 3,000 miles of some of the hardest riding we have ever done, and will probably not be making an April road trip this extensive again. That said, it was great experience....Hard doesn't mean not worth doing! Great times.
Thanks again to Chris, Adam, Jake, and all the rest of the Sawtooth and Vegas Clans for putting us up and taking care of us on the road....We got your backs next time you are in our neck of the woods.
For more pictures, check out the gallery page here.