Les' Odyssey, California to Texas
This is long. May not be for those with ADD.
As some of you know, I bought a new (to me) bike a few weeks ago in Oakland California. Fortunately, Oakland is close to my Mother-In-Law's house in Lodi where I was able to store the bike until I could work out the logistics of getting it home. The basic choice was ship it or ride it home. Big choice right? There was really no choice at all. After tracking the weather reports along the route, daily, I decided on this past weekend for the trek.
First the bike; It's an 02 champagne LTE. It had 14, 600 miles when I picked it up. It has 2K more now.
The weather report called for scattered showers around the immediate Lodi area Friday morning, (20%), and clear the rest of the trip. It was sprinkling when I left Lodi in the dark at 7:00 AM. I spent the next 100 miles in the rain. The LT's air flow around the rider is phenominal! I was hardly wet at all. Cruising down I-5 (after the rain) at the posted speed limit (70) +9 on cruise control with the super green foothills on my right and the valley on the left with extremely blue sky and scattered clouds was a good beginning.
My destination for the first day was I-10, (the southern route) at Blythe, CA. A last minute decision, to avoid the Los Angeles freeway system, led me to depart I-5 at Bakersfield and cut through the Tehachapi Pass via, Mojave, Barstow and Needles to Blythe. The view up the Tehachapi grade was spectacular, again, brilliant sunshine and emerald green hills that reached all the way into scattered clouds. Fortunately, the road didn't take me diretly through any of the clouds so, the visibility was always good. While I really like a lot of things about the LT, I discovered one thing I don't like quite by surprise - the pucker factor went waaaay up. Coming down out of the Tehacjapi pass into the high desert before Mojave, I got hit by a cross wind that literally moved me from one side of the lane to the other (about 6 to 10 feet) in one blast. Needless to say, this was a big surprise, especially since the LT weighs in at over 800 lbs. It obviously does not handle cross winds very well. I guess it's the large side area of all that beautiful fairing (tupperware). I stopped for gas in Mojave, right near the airport where Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites is located (home of the recent sucessful private space shot). I stopped for gas again in Needles at about 4:30 (575 total miles on the clock). I asked the gas station attendant how far it was to Blythe and was informed that it was 100 miles. In the last minute change of plans, I failed to check the milage on those two points, assuming about 50 miles. I was also surprised to learn that it gets dark in Needles at around 5:00 PM. Another lesson learned; it is in the far eastern edge to the Pacific Time Zone so, the sunlight leaves there considerably earlier than in the Sacramento area (my starting point). Since the route from Needles to Blythe was an unknown, I decided (wisely) to spend the night in Needles and get an early start the next morning.
Since the unplanned 100 miles to Blythe had put a hitch in my schedule, I went back to the gas station and asked the operator if there was a quicker way to get to I-10 in the Phoenix area than going all the way to Blythe. He advised to go south on Hwy 95, toward Blythe for about 40 miles and turn left at Vidal Junction and work my way to across the Colorado River to Hwy 72 which cut diagonally across and hooks up with I-10 near Vicksburg. This made up some of my lost milage. The stretch of Hwy 95 between Needles and Vidal Junction was great. The first 20 miles consisted of some great twisties. It was a blast running through the 50 MPH sweepers at 75+. After the twisties ran out, much of the road was straight as an arrow but like a roller coaster. I'm sure most everyone has seen a movie scene where a car, or old truck, comes into view and disappears, again and again, over a rollercoaster like road. It had to be filmed here. The roller coaster wasn't as much fun as the twisties but, I did get enough negative Gs a couple of times that caused the CD player to skip. There is not much interesting to say about the I-10 trek through Arizona and new Mexico except, the traffic in Phoenix and Tucson was really heavy. Fortunately, it was moving well and it didn't take long to get through it. It re-affirmed what I learned the day before on I-5. The LT loves to run. Set the cruise control on posted speed plus 9 (in this case 84), sit back, listen to tunes and let the miles flow by. It was 45 minutes past dark when I made it to El Paso and 700 Miles on the clock. I was ready for bed.
I woke up at 3:30 AM and couldn't get back to sleep so, I was on the road by 5:30. I was 41 degrees in El Paso when I left, but, it went down hill from there. About 50 miles out, it was down to 26. Someone please figure out the wind chill at 26 degrees and 80 MPH. Fortunately, the airflow with the adjustable windshield, the heated seat and heated grips made it bearable. Still, when I stopped for gas and breakfast at about 100 miles out from El Paso, it was really good to get warm. After breakfast, the sky was getting much lighter and I began the climb into a mountain range (not sure which one). Near the summit, I had another "pucker factor" incident. Coming around a sweeping curve, perhaps 50 yards behind an 18 wheeler in the right lane, I was completely blinded by the brightest sun I have ever seen. Even with the tinted visor, I could barely see anything. I eased into the right lane, by looking at the lane marker stripes and slowed to what I guessed the truck's speed to be. There were cars behind me and I didn't want to slow enough for them to run over me while they were also blinded. After a couple of minutes, which seemed like a lifetime, my eyes adjusted enough to pick up the pace again. Not too long after this, when I began down the other side of the mountain, my experience with the side winds was refreshed in my mind. For the next 100 miles, as the hwy twisted and turned, I had strong cross winds first on one side and then the other. When I finally turned off I-10 on I-20 toward Dallas/Fort Worth, the ever changing cross winds became a welcome tail wind. I stopped in Odessa for gas and a short but pleasant chat with a member of this group, Lynn (Tumbleweeds) who is in search of an LT to buy. Lynn and I had corresponded with on the group and PMs before the trip began. I didn't have much time to talk, as my wife and some friends were meeting me in Abilene to ride the last 175 miles home with me and, I had forgotten about the hour I was losing because of crossing the time zone. Fortunately, the group was running a little late and I arrived in Abilene only about 15 minutes behind them. After a reunion with some riding friends I hadn't seen in a while and a pleasant lunch, we made our way back to Justin just at dark.
Total time in the saddle, 34 hours. Total miles traveled, 1950. Average speed, 71.6 mph. Average gas milage 46.9 (it went up significatly on the leg after Abilene where my speed was a more sedate 70 instead of the 85 I had been running a lot of the way). Highs, riding the LT, great scenery, running along with an absolutely beautiful black 1958 Chevy Impala for about 50 miles in Arizona, meeting my wonderful wife (and riding partner) and friends in Abilene - did I mention "riding the LT". Lows, cross wind surpises, $3.39 per gallon gas in Needles.
Since my LT is Champagne in color, I think I'll name it Korbel. I can't wait to give it a serious bath and take it to work to show it off!
This could definately go in the "Why we appreciate the LT" thread.
Ride safe and enjoy!