Coast to Coast in 50 Hours – Day 11 (IBA 50CC Part 2)

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Day 11 – October 28th, 2018 – Sonora, Texas to Santa Monica, California: ~1,200 miles

Did you miss Day 10 (Part 1)? – October 27th, 2018 – Atlantic Beach, Florida to Sonora, Texas: ~1,290 miles.

8:00 AM (CST) – Falling asleep last night (or should I say five hours ago) was easy. Waking up today, not so much. Nathan and I are slow to start, but we get breakfast in the hotel, get the cameras ready, and get the motorcycles packed up. Though I needed some recovery time, the Kawasaki is ready to go for more. Our plan is to leave at 9, giving us 22 hours to cover the remaining ~1,200 miles before we can step on the sand of Santa Monica State Beach.

9:21 AM (CST) – So much for our plan. It’s a nippy 54 degrees when we hit the road for all of 2 blocks to get some fuel (our 9th gas stop of the trip). That temperature won’t stop these riders from enjoying the open road without wind protection – look at the rider’s balaclava/sunglasses combo!

11:14 AM (CST) – At our 10th gas stop, I discover that Baby Jack apparently has his own shop/station. Too bad he won’t let us fill up for free.

12:47 PM (CST) – Texas is big. Almost a third of this adventure (830 out of 2500 miles) will be spent in the state, and it’s not like Nathan and I are seeking out fun roads. In some areas we are able to see a mile ahead of us, and when there’s no police presence I sometimes play with the supercharger. This engine is tremendous, and the power delivery is effortless. Kawasaki has an “ECO” indicator on the dash that lights up when you’re barely on the throttle and being efficient. On the H2 SX SE, I can start at 80 miles per hour, just nudge the throttle open, and even though the ECO indicator remains on, the supercharged engine makes enough power to slowly accelerate up to 105. As I mentioned in Day 2 of this trip, “cruising at 70 mph on this bike just feels like a waste of its time. It’s much happier at 90 and above.” Frankly, it’s too much for the street, and I love it for that.

While I break up the tedium of Texas with occasional blasts of speed, Nathan mixes things up by seeing how far he can ride the Wing without touching the bars. He’d set the cruise control and just use his weight to follow the road. During this process I learn something unexpected – my fancy Kawasaki, with one of the most powerful and dynamic engines in a motorcycle in recent memory, is speed-limited to 85 miles per hour when using cruise control. Nathan’s “old man” Gold Wing (not a reputation that the new model deserves, but still) will let him go up to at least 99 mph, so the Honda is faster than the Kawasaki in one category.

By the way – Nathan ends up going 57 miles before he has to put his hands on the bars again. The only reason the number isn’t bigger is because the H2 SX SE needs gas.

2:01 PM (MST) – We cross another time zone so we “gain” another hour. Seeing as we left at 6:00 AM EST yesterday, we have to arrive in Santa Monica by 5:00 AM PST tomorrow morning to complete the challenge in time.

I love New Mexico’s old state sign, a simple yellow affair with “The Land of Enchantment” and some chiles. It was arguably too simple, but I thought it was charming and I liked how different it was from every other state – here’s an example from my Moto Guzzi V85 trip:

I don’t care for the new one at all – “New Mexico True” means nothing and the picture looks like it could represent 5 different states in the Southwest. Still, this means that we’re done with Texas, which feels like a huge accomplishment on the mental checklist. Now we’ve just got 3 reasonably-sized states to knock out!

3:08 PM (MST) – My weird luck with bees on this trip continues on this trip. This little guy managed to meet my fist traveling at highway speeds and got lodged in the space between the thermoplastic rubber guards of my Velomacchi gloves.

4:41 PM (MST) – The Grand Canyon State welcomes us, but at this point I feel more like a robot than a human. Traffic is minimal, so we’re just riding, stopping for gas, riding, and stopping for state signs. Nathan and I chat every once in a while, but mostly I’ve just got tunes going as I keep the rhythm of the road.

5:35 PM (MST) – The sun sets on us near Benson, Arizona – if all goes well, we’ll be done before it comes back up.

Nathan and I continue our odd trend of eating at fast food joints that I normally would never visit – this time it’s a 20 minute stop at Dairy Queen and a refuel right next door.

7:25 PM (MST) – We stop for gas in Casa Grande, Arizona, and I notice a discrepancy between the Kawasaki’s trip odometer and the mileage on my GPS tracker – I double check the latter (a free iPhone app called Bluelane) and realize that I forgot to turn it back on in Tucson. Oops. Hope that doesn’t come back to bite me when we’re submitting our paperwork…

9:49 PM (PST) – Finally back in our home state, and we’ve gained another hour. At least now the time calculations are simple – we have just over 7 hours to cross California. Our confidence is high!

10:14 PM (PST) – The next half hour or so is brutal. I get tired and fall victim to a little bit of highway hypnosis as I ride through miles of freeway in the dark without remembering them. Once I finally realize what’s going on, I ping Nathan on the headset just to give my brain something to focus on. His response is to the point: “Yeah, you sound super fucking tired.” He’s a bit of a workout fanatic (I’m pretty sure that this is his favorite shirt), which may be why he tells me not to think of the remaining distance in miles but rather in “reps.” Ride for a tankful, fill the bike up with gas, and repeat. I figure we’ve just got two reps left to go.

12:17 AM (PST) – We’re 2,264 miles in, and it’s time for our last gas stop. If the state welcome sign didn’t make it clear a couple of hours ago, the $4.00+/gallon gas is proof that we’re back home in California.

Nathan’s pump doesn’t want to give him his receipt. I find this highly amusing and tease him by saying that he won’t be able to get the ride certified, even if we could easily just go inside and get a new receipt printed. Nathan is nothing if not determined:

This actually happened on the first day of the trip, but our buddy Boggytown created a comic of Nathan and me on our trip. I always know I’ve done something out of the ordinary when Boggy creates a cartoon about it. He even included Baby Jack on the back – nice touch.

Seeing as he included some beer on the back of the bike, we pay him tribute by strapping a 6-pack of a California beer – Firestone Walker – down to the back of the H2 to match. We plan on cracking one open in celebration once we finish!

2:47 AM (PST) – WE’RE DONE! Sort of. Just like when we were in Florida, we need a witness. We want to find someone close to the coast but we don’t expect to find anyone there (or at least anyone we want to interact with) at this time of night. The closest police station is closed, so we stop at Mel’s Diner in Santa Monica instead – might as well get a snack! Two waiters kindly sign our witness form, but it’s clear they think we’re crazy. At the moment, I feel that’s fair.

3:30 AM (PST) – The clock has stopped for the purposes of our challenge, but we obviously still have to get our scoop of sand from the beach and film a conclusion to the video. Just as we did when we started this trip, we park as close as we legally can to the sand.

Exhausted, I offer up a particularly uninspiring conclusion to the camera. But I don’t care, because we’re not just done with the ride, we’re done with filming!

All in all, we end up covering 2,504 miles in 48 hours – here’s the GPS tracker link, if you’re interested (the timing and final distance are off because of the error in Arizona). If we weren’t filming video, I suspect that we could have comfortably completed the task in 45 hours.

Even though we bought the Firestone Walker to celebrate with, Nathan and I quickly realize that the last thing we want to do is spend more time with each other after 2,500+ miles together. We say goodbye and head to our respective homes. I feel relieved that I live close to Santa Monica, as I wonder how I’d feel if I lived in New Mexico and would have to add on another day of riding just to backtrack all the way home. Back at my place, I do the bare minimum to get ready for bed – but there’s one thing I want to take the time for: placing my new bottles of sand from both sides of the country on the mantle. The end.

Well, sort of.

It takes me a few days but I finally get around to organizing the paperwork. The IBA has good instructions on how one is supposed to prove that they completed the ride. Still, it’s a little nerve-wracking – what if I screwed something up or lost a receipt on the way and they reject the application? Verification takes about 3-4 months to complete, so I just have to submit the documentation and hope all is well.

3 to 4 months later…I get a package from the Iron Butt Association. All is indeed well, and I’ve officially checked this ride off my bucket list. Time to figure out what the next challenge will be!

Thanks for reading.

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