1984, at age 23, I bought my first motorcycle – a 1980 Honda CX500 Deluxe with 4,000 miles for $1,500. Since then, my goal has always been to ride cross-country. In May 2015, I sought to achieve my goal. Though I still own my Honda CX500, my trip would be on my 2010 Gold Wing.
Prior to my trip, I researched, studied and planned for months. My most read resources that provided me with a wealth of information ranging from safety, checklists and long-distance riding tips were: Proficient Motorcycling and Street Strategies by David Hough, Going the Extra Mile by Ron Ayres, The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Travel by Dale Coyner and tips from www.ironbutt.com.
There is, of course, one resource I used that should not be overlooked. To gain some advanced weather information in the areas I was traveling, I thumbed through the Gold Book. I can’t say enough about how easy it was to pick up the phone and simply call the people in the book to ask for information and receive helpful, friendly advice and encouragement.
Because I still work and getting extended time off is at a premium, riding the super slab was going to be the quickest and most efficient course of travel. Living just south of Watertown, New York, my route was simple: I-81 south to Knoxville, Tennessee, then west on I-40 where I would catch the road that would take me over the Hoover Dam to Las Vegas to spend a few days with my family. But, alas, the weather did not cooperate. May is traditionally tornado season in the plains states, and it struck my route with a vengeance. Not wanting to be deterred from achieving my goal, my route was changed to I-80 west to Utah then I-15 to Vegas.
On May 15, at 5:30 in the morning and a chilly 38 degrees, my wife kissed me goodbye and my solo journey to Vegas began. Other than some wet, gusty winds through Nebraska and Wyoming and some sleet in Utah, my trip was routine and uneventful.
Logging an average of 750 miles a day, I was able to arrive at my mother’s condo in Las Vegas at 12:30 in the afternoon on May 18. I was halfway to achieving my goal. After taking a couple of days getting caught up with my family, I hopped back on the bike and saw some sights with my sister and her friend. We spent one day riding out to Hoover Dam and the next having lunch at the Crowbar Cafe and Saloon in Death Valley, California.
Sights seen, it was now time to head back home. I left Vegas on May 24, at 4 a.m. in the morning at a comfortable 70 degrees. Determined to get a glimpse of the Grand Canyon and explore at least a portion of Historic Route 66, I made my way east on I-40. I made good time on my first day, covering 725 miles and getting a selfie with the Grand Canyon.
My second day on the road east, provided a little excitement. Heading through Texas on I-40 at a good clip, I encountered crosswinds so severe that I exited at Shamrock, Texas. With crosswinds howling over 25 mph, I didn’t feel comfortable fighting the wind for hours while traveling the super slab. However, at 12:30 in the afternoon, it was still too early to shut down and call it quits. After scrutinizing my map, I decided to tack the wind and approached the storm by riding north for about 60 miles then heading east. It worked! I logged another 250 miles and avoided a severe thunderstorm that hit southeast of my motel in Pond Creek, Oklahoma.
The next morning, with clear skies and dry roads, I continued my trek north and east by following I-44 through Springfield and St. Louis, Missouri, then, hopping on I-70 to Greenfield, Indiana, shutting down for the evening after riding for 14 hours and 796 miles in the saddle.
My last day on the road took me on I-70 through Columbus, Ohio, then catching I-90 through Buffalo, New York, and I-81 north from Syracuse, returning home on May 27 without incident and completing another 700-mile-plus day.
This was the perfect trip. I experienced absolutely no physical, mechanical or weather problems. I achieved my longtime goal of riding cross-country. I rode solo over 5,900 miles, covering 17 states on the nation’s super highways and enjoyed every mile of it. The scenery was awesome, the people were friendly and encouraging, and my steel horse with gold wings was flawless. This was truly an experience of a lifetime lending credence to the adage, “The journey is the destination.”
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