So I get home from a four-day motorcycle ride yesterday and no one’s home but the dogs, who are delighted to see me (as am I to see them). I have a quick errand to do, so I take Mr. B with me in the truck. Bicyclists ride up and down Catalina Highway all the time, us included. At the corner two miles south of our house, riders returning from Mount Lemon have to turn left across five lanes to get back into the shopping center lot where they park their cars. Local drivers know to slow for them. So when a solo bicyclist started to turn left up ahead, I slowed down. Rather than riding into the center turn lane, though, he suddenly stopped in my lane and I had to do a panic stop to avoid hitting him from behind. If it hadn’t been for anti-lock brakes I would have. Poor Mr. B was pressed up against the dashboard. The guy on the bike must have heard death approaching from six o’clock, but he never even glanced back. I can’t imagine why he stopped right in the middle of a traffic lane when the left turn lane he was going for was right there and open. It was almost as if he wanted to be hit. I’m glad I didn’t hit him, but I wish he’d have given the least little hint he knew how close he came to a trip to the emergency room.
The past four days I’ve been riding in Arizona, Southern California, and Nevada with my friend and motorcycle maintenance guru Ed and his brother-in-law Steve, the same crew I rode with in November 2015. That run, like the one just finished, included a ride through Death Valley, but the route we took was different. On that trip we overnighted in Calexico, Lone Pine, and Lake Havasu; this time the points of our triangle were Palm Desert, Beatty, and Yuma.
My son Gregory rode up to meet us in Beatty on day two, then rode south with us on day three to a tiny desert airstrip and casino 70 miles past Las Vegas on Highway 95 (wouldn’t you know it’s called Cal-Nev-Ari?) before peeling off and heading back to Vegas and work. It was really great to hook up with him, and I think Ed and Steve enjoyed talking with him.
That’s the four of us, and if you click to see the original on Flickr you might be able to make out the Stay Off the Runway sign in the background (if you want to see them, there are more pix in a Flickr album titled Gypsy Tour January 2018).
When Gregory was a boy, I wondered what kind of man he’d grow up to be. I sure like the man he’s become. His career is quite different from mine, and he has gifts I never had, and to see him talking about work and Las Vegas and his family with Ed and Steve, I see not just my son but a man among men, and I am so proud.
I have to include this, my favorite photo of the whole trip, taken on my way to meet Ed & Steve just before sunrise on the first day.
I will add for the record that before the trip Ed and I installed a Bluetooth headset and intercom system in my helmet. I couldn’t get it to work, but knowing Greg had a similar system in his helmet, figured that with his help I’d crack the code when we met in Beatty. Despite our best efforts, that didn’t happen. I’m now thinking I have a defective unit and am sending it back to Amazon. That was the only motorcycle-related glitch of the whole ride, if you don’t count the side panel that blew off at 85 mph on the last day, gone and lost forever. Would you believe the same panel blew off on the November 2015 trip? And again on a ride in November 2016? I’m starting to consider the cost of replacing the damn things an annual good times toll.
It was good times this trip, but I confess these long days in the saddle … the third day, Beatty to Yuma, was a solid eight hours … are getting harder on my legs, which stiffen up quicker than they used to. Still, I’m refreshed and reinvigorated; at the same time happy to be home again with Donna and the doggies.
© 2018, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.