This afternoon I rode the FJR 253 miles in miserable heat from Las Vegas to Palm Springs. Most of the miles were north of 100 degrees, with 111 degrees for the last miles into the Coachella Valley. It was a sweaty end to an 11 day trip.
The 4874 mile trip included layovers at Torrey UT, Steamboat CO, Rapid City SD, Custer SD, Cheyenne WY, Steamboat (again), Gunnison CO, Durango CO, Moab UT and Las Vegas. So many sights...red rocks, bright fall foliage, Presidential heads carved into a mountain. I had to jumpstart my buddy's FJR twice with morning temps in the 20s and his old/weak battery. The wife rode along for 5 days/1650 miles. She's a good sport. She caught a flight out of Durango, and my riding buddy headed for home that same morning. I did the last three days solo.
I left Moab at sunrise Thursday morning with a plan to do 930-ish mile ride to get home late that night. I routed through the southern part of Canyonlands NP, Blanding, Hanksville, Torrey, Escalante, Panquitch, Cedar City, Gunlock, and planned for the Kelso/Amboy route through the desert that night. A bit before sunset coming down Gunlock Rd, the bike felt wiggly in the corners. I'd noticed that the rear Avon had plenty of center tread remaining, but the sides were worn almost smooth. I attributed the wiggles to the worn tread in the corners. Eventually I noticed it wiggling on the straight roads. I pulled over and checked the rear tire pressure...it was at 20 pounds! I headed towards St George and found a convenience store with compressed air. Well what do you know...a 1.5 inch nail was stuck in the tread. I plugged the hole with my repair kit and headed for I15 in the dark. I stopped in Mesquite to check the tire pressure and pump it up a few pounds. The plug seemed to hold pressure, and I figured I could get home around 1am. Then I was heading towards Las Vegas at 70 mph in the dark, I felt the bike wiggling again. Shit. After a few miles I found an exit with no services and no lighting whatsoever. Using my headlamp to see what I was doing, I pulled the first plug and tried another. Pumped up the tire with my compressor. I then rode from truck stop to truck stop towards Las Vegas pumping up the tire a bit each stop. There was no way this tire was making it home that night. I finally got into Vegas and found a hotel not far from a Yamaha dealer; I shut down at 11pm, roughly 17 hours after leaving Moab. Luckily there was a sports bar/brew pub across the road from the hotel that was still open. When life hands you lemons, you eat a burger and drink IPAs. I got the tire changed this morning ($270 for the tire, free installation, Michelin Road 5) and made the sweaty ride home.
Two lessons learned from this trip: 1)the headlamp is priceless. This is the first trip I've carried one, and I'll never travel without one again. There's no way I could have plugged the tire in the dark holding a flashlight in my teeth. 2) always check your tire plug kit for fresh/unopened rubber cement. I found an open tube in my repair kit, and it had dried up/evaporated. I'm so glad I checked the kit before the trip. In the future, I'll carry two unopened rubber cement tubes in my kit at all times.
I apologize for the length of this post and any grammatical errors...I seem to be on my fourth IPA as I type this. I love road trips, but it's good to be home.
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"I've got a fever...and the only prescription, is more cowbell" - Christopher Walken, SNL