Epic Ride 2010 Recap: Part 1

So I’ve been thinking about how I want to chronicle my little adventure I like to call Epic Ride 2010; My ride all the way across the United States and back. What I’d like to do is just give you a feeling for what it’s like to get off the couch and do something that sounds kind of crazy. There’s so many interesting people out there, and so many things to see. There’s a real world out there and in so many ways it’s different than the world we live in here in Fresno CA, or wherever you are. There’s millions of lives out there interacting with each other and living various lifestyles. There’s hundreds of years of American history to experience. There’s a multitude of different terrains to cross. There’s a real world out there folks and it’s so different than what the talking heads on TV would have you believe. In fact, after being out on the road for 16 days I wonder of the boobs on the idiot box even live in our world at all.

This is an account of our trip.

To briefly recap, I decided in 2006 that I wanted to ride my motorcycle across the entire United States. I wanted to see America. I knew I could not stop at every little hole in the wall and tourist spot because the most time I could take off work would be two weeks and America is WIDE! But I figured it would still be awesome, even if I just rode straight across and straight back.

Over the next few years I would have to postpone the trip for various reasons. Some personal, some financial. But this year everything fell into place. I had the money, I had the time, and I had a buddy who wanted to ride with me. So we put it on the calendar and on July 3rd 2010, we set off on our bikes to see what America looked like up close and personal.

Our first night was to be spent in a little town in Arizona called Kingman. There’s really nothing in Kingman, it just happened to be the right distance away. It’s an interesting place though because it sits right on the old Route 66, so they play that up quite a bit. There’s a lot of desert riding on the way from Fresno to Kingman. Personally I like the desert. It’s a hot, somewhat hostile environment, but at the same time, it’s peaceful and actually quite pretty in very subtle ways. It reminds me of watching westerns with my pops as a kid and I do my best thinking while sailing through the beautiful desolation of the desert. It’s interesting because the desert is one of the few places where you will encounter literally nothing but dirt and cactus for hundreds of miles and every so often you’ll see a trailer out there by itself. I always wonder what possesses those people to live in a trailer out in the middle of the desert and how they even survive?

Anyway, we got there in good time and the lady at the hotel was a sweetheart. She directed us to some places to eat and told us about a car show that was going on. We ended up hitting a rib joint downtown and talking a bit with a nice old lady who I think was the owner. She wanted to know where we were going and what we were doing out on the road. That’s one neat thing about being on a motorcycle, everyone wants to know where you’re headed. When you tell them you’re heading across the country, they are always amazed and you can tell they would love to do something like that, but then there’s that something that keeps them from really considering it.

After dinner we headed out to hang with the locals at the car show. It was quite interesting to say the least. In this tiny town of Kingman, hundreds of people had come out to listen to some bands, drink beer, and watch cars do burn outs. Yes that’s right. They had a burn out contest. What happens in a burn out contest is that anyone can bring any car and do a burn out. You pull into this blocked off area and they chock your front wheels so the car can’t go anywhere. The back wheels are on thick metal plates and watered down with a hose. Then they tell you to punch it and you hit the gas. if your car is powerful enough the back wheels start to spin and smoke starts pouring from the wheel wells. It’s quite a sight to see and hear. The crowd got a huge kick out of it and was cheering like crazy the bigger the smoke cloud got. One guy had special tires that put out colored smoke! Yes, these people take their burnouts seriously.

The next morning we ate breakfast and had a nice conversation with the lady at the front desk. Turns out she had been planning to move to Texas and has land out there but came to Kingman to take care of her sick mom. After her mom died, she got ripped off when she was trying to sell the estate and had to stay because she was broke. Now she’s working two jobs and just trying to save enough money to someday move to Texas. A sad story, but she was so upbeat and positive about her situation. She’s a survivor.

In the parking lot I started talking to another gentleman who was in Kingman looking to buy a house. He was an older guy from California who had gotten a settlement on a workers comp claim and was looking to relocate. An interesting old codger that’s for sure. Said his wife was always taking off for weeks at a time and he wasn’t sure if he wanted her to move with him. Wow.

A few other interesting notes about life outside of California. First, we would discover that none of the states in our southern route would require you to wear a helmet on a motorcycle, and so nobody does (except us). Also, in Arizona it’s pretty common for folks to be carrying guns. Gas prices drop by 50 cents as soon as you cross the California state line and the highway speed limit goes up to 75mph. Lastly, a LOT of Arizona along I-40 is made up of forests, is very cool, and is quite beautiful. Not the oppressively hot environment you hear about from people who live in Phoenix.

So that was our time spent in Arizona. From there we headed East to our next stop which would be Albuquerque, New Mexico.