My old lady and I just completed a run up to the Reno Street Vibrations Biker Rally this past weekend.
It was around a 450 mile run each way from our home, and sure was an exercise in extreme weather riding for us Southern Californians, who are used to mild temperatures.
The route we took was from the 14 freeway to Highway 395 to the 80, and to our hotel in Reno.
The day we rode up to Reno, Friday, September 23, 2011, started out to be a mild day. The weather was calm at 5:30am when we left our home, around 75 degrees.
As we started riding north, the weather got hotter and hotter, cooled off, and then got hot again as the day went on.
You see highway 395 took us through the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, past Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in North America, up around 8,000 feet and higher, then through Carson City (Lake Tahoe is just above Carson City), and then to Reno which is basically in the Nevada Desert.
I usually wear a light long sleeve type of t-shirt on hot days to protect my skin from the sun, and blue jeans. I know I should wear an armored fabric type of jacket, and I am in the process of trying to find a good one.
My old lady also wears long sleeves, and usually always wears chaps as well.
On Friday, due to traffic conditions, an accident in a bad spot where a biker went down due to a defective road under construction, the heat, and the extreme traffic in Reno again due to construction and the fact that lane splitting is illegal in Nevada, Liz and I were totally spent by the time we got to Reno.
My new Electra Glide Ultra got so hot that it almost cooked that day.
We tried as best as we could to hydrate along the way, but I think that we over did it on Friday. We both almost suffered severe heat stroke by the time we got to Reno. We were both dizzy and sick upon arrival.
I was in such a rush to get to Reno; I ignored my basic riding principals!
In the future, I will make sure we take more breaks, hydrate more, and give ourselves more time to get to a long destination.
450 miles in one day riding two up, is a very long ride under any circumstances. In heat it can be tough.
On the way back from Reno, it was warm when we left, but soon, when we got up into the mountains, we suffered severe weather. There was lighting storms, rain, hail, and cold. Imagine going from warm to very cold in just a few miles.
I let Liz use my chaps since she left hers with a friend by mistake, I put a sweatshirt on, my leather jacket, my gauntlet gloves, and we proceeded through the severe weather.
Upon reaching Lone Pine, we stopped to get some food at the Mt. Whitney Restaurant. (A great local restaurant with damn good food.)
Lone Pine is a tourist town along the 395 which caters to people on their way to see Mt. Whitney and Yosemite.
When we walked into the restaurant to eat, we were all bundled up in leathers and more, all of the locals were in t-shirts and shorts. I took my jacket off and sure enough it was at least 80 degrees outside.
We went from warm in Reno when we left, to cold lighting storms, back to warm again, all within a 300 mile stretch.
I proceeded to take my leather jacket and gauntlet’s off again, and switch to light gloves, and then we got on the road again.
There was a 30 mile stretch after Lone Pine, just before Mohave and the 14, where I never was so afraid in my life while riding a motorcycle.
Out of no-where we hit cold, and 60-70 mile per hour wind gusts or more that literally almost knocked my bike over while we were riding.
The wind was hitting us from the side going north to south. When a gust would hit us it caused my head to jerk hard to the left. It also caused the bike to jerk violently, and I have a very heavy bike.
Liz and I had our intercom hooked up, and she was freaking out. I had to tell her to be quiet and not panic. The wind was so bad that I knew if I slowed down and tried to pull over there would be no way I could hold the bike up. I knew the wind would knock us over.
I knew the forward energy and centrifugal force of the tires turning made it safer for us to keep riding than trying to stop.
I was genuinely afraid like I have never been before in my life while riding. It was a horrible experience, especially in the pitch dark of the Mohave Desert.
When we got to a 76 truck stop in Mohave where the 14 hits the 395 we pulled over to get our bearings back. It was then that another couple pulled in on a motorcycle in a panicked state.
They were on a Harley Davidson Road Glide, they each had beanie helmets on with clear glasses on for eye protection, and they were even more panicked than we were.
The women got off of the back of her old man’s bike and literally hugged him and would not let go.
We discussed the fact that it was by the grace of god that we all made it through unscathed.
I put my leather jacket and gauntlet’s back on and we rode off watching the woman from the other bike hugging her old man like there was no tomorrow.
Moral to the story; when riding a motorcycle, be prepared for any weather.
I can’t wait for next year 🙂
Keep Both Wheels on the Road!