Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Giving credit where credit is due

Just a short final entry to let family and friends know we're back in the US safe and sound. It was a wonderful trip and speaking to security concerns for just a minute - there weren't any. Motorcycle trips are kind of like flying: uneventful is often a very good thing, and on this trip such was the case. We saw very little in the way of a police or military presence and there was nothing at all that gave us any cause for concern.

But I have to give credit where credit is due. For those of you that ride I think you'll agree; there's no better way to travel but riding is a lot of things but the one thing it isn't, is easy. Especially long distance travel on a VStrom. It's a great bike and nothing is better for some of the roads we covered but after a few long back-to-back days a Gold Wing starts to look good. (Shhh.... don't tell her I said that!)

But the credit that's due isn't for my bike, it's for my wonderful, hard-working and oh, so patient wife. We covered some hard miles on this trip and she was a real trooper, especially through Chihuahua rush-hour traffic but nothing compared to what she endured today. And endured is the only way I can describe it. There was no joy in today's ride. No adventure to be had, no scenery to be seen - no, today was just that; a test of stamina, will and endurance and she came through with flying colours.

Last night in Chihuahua all the news reports from El Paso Texas were full of warnings and advisories telling motorists to stay off the roads and to avoid all unnecessary travel. WIND WARNING, CODE RED, STAY OFF THE ROADS were just a few of the flashing red warnings that scrolled across the screen. What we didn't count on or even consider was even though we were 200 klm southwest, the storm they were warning of was actually blowing west to east and was originating - and blowing through - the path we were taking. And blow it did - hard! - all day. Sustained winds of 25-45 miles per hour with gusts to 55 miles per hour - all freak'n day! And with the wind comes the dust...... and the tumbleweeds......

And please believe me when I say it's not hyperbole; this was honestly one of the hardest rides I've ever endured. I've ridden through snow storms on the Hope-Princeton, torrential rain on more occasions than I can count, temperatures that were both frigid and brutally hot, but never, not ever, have I ridden for eight hours with a non-stop white knuckle death grip on the bars like I did today. For most of it we were both hunched over the tank as low as we could get to give as low a profile as possible, all the while praying that the Semi's coming at us didn't blow into our lane or at the very least, gave us some warning before they did so we could try to keep out of the way.  And lets not forget the few kilometers through the mountains where hundreds of tumble weeds all of a sudden blew onto a long stretch of highway and I couldn't avoid them because of their speed and ferocity. Nothing puckers the ol sphincter like a series of tumbleweeds literally exploding against your windscreen and fairing while you pray they're all as flimsy as they look.

And finally, one other little tidbit that makes it so exciting - for most of the last half of the trip there was no shoulder on the road to speak of, paved or otherwise - so "pulling over" was never an option.

We arrived in Douglas five hours ago dog tired, hot, dusty and weary and more than a little shaken from the experience and it may be a while before Rosi agrees to go on another ride. But no matter if or when she rides again she can hold her head up today with the best of them.

Signing off for the last time (on this trip anyway) from Douglas AZ

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