Saturday, March 27, 2010

Our Hero Journeys to Las Vegas, Land of Virtue

When we last heard from our hero, he had sought shelter from a raging blizzard under the friendly overhang of a Texaco. His goal for the day, to reach the promised land of Las Vegas, Nevada, seemed to be in great peril. Anxiously waiting for the storm to pass, he thought about the task that lay before him. 600 miles from Albuquerque to Las Vegas. Can it be done in one day? Can the task be completed, even in the face of such insurmountable odds as were remaining after the devastation wrought by the fury of Mother Nature? Follow him on his journey as he tears across the American Southwest, land of freedom and promise, with only his wits (those being in perpetual short supply) and his trusty steed.

Day 10

Miles Today: 645 Total Miles: 3,162

The day started in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I left the motel about 9:00 am, hoping to put in some good miles ahead of a storm that was supposed to be coming in around 11 to Albuquerque. I got within about 15 miles of Albuquerque and it hit: terrible cold front, driving winds and snow. I tried to keep going for a few miles, but then the snow got too heavy and I was worried about ice on the roads, so I pulled off. I just wanted a place with covered parking, and a gas station looked pretty good. I was figuring the storm would pass quickly, because there was only light snow forecasted, and it was supposed to warm up quickly after the system moved through. Turns out this one was here to stay a while. I pulled in to the gas station around 10 and couldn't leave until noon.

I had started the day thinking that if everything went just right, I might be able to make it to Vegas (640 miles) in a day. When I got sidetracked by that storm, I knew that was out the window. I got back on the road and made a quick stop into and REI to look for some hand warmers or something that would keep my hands warm. Riding into Santa Fe, the low temperatures combined with the altitude made for temperatures in the high 30's or so. At that point, my hands weren't working very well and I had to do something. I walked out with a pair of insulating glove liners and a package of hand warmers, which you just shake for a few seconds and they emit heat for 6-8 hours. So putting those two together made a big difference in how far I could go in cold weather.

I decided to just take 40 in the interest of speed, because there was just no way I could make it that fast if I didn't. The road was a little intimidating because the speed limit was 75 for almost the whole way. The bike doesn't do really high speeds all that well to begin with, and when you combine that with 20 mph sustained winds and hills, it can be tough to keep up with traffic in spots. There were times when I was holding the throttle wide open going up hills just to make 65 mph.

So I left at 9 am and arrived at midnight, with 13 hours of actual road time and did 645 miles on Thursday. I'm pretty sure I've never done that much in a car before. I got in to the hotel, and half of me wanted to just run to the nearest casino and start losing money, and the other half wanted to crash. Of course, the latter half won out, which was probably a good thing.

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