Slab’n it to Tail Of The Dragon

Ok I spent a week getting to the Mid West, and a week meandering all over the place. After yesterday’s off-road technically challenging (read: WFT was I thinking?!) ride, I promised myself, if my arms don’t fall off in the morning, I’m going to do the Tail Of The Dragon.

I slept in today, and stopped at Chili Hills in Moriarity for the requisite yummy breakfast (brunch?).

Hitting the road for the next few days to get to Deals Gap in North Carolina to do the notorious Tail Of The Dragon.

This video should scare the crap out of mere mortals:

Tail of the Dragon – The most intense, epic, nauseating video you will see in the next 12 minutes!

I’m not a tourist, and so not into souvenirs. However I might make an exception if the shop has these posters for sale. 🙂

Hopefully I’ll survive. If not I made arrangements so those who have been good to me over the years (unfortunately that does NOT include members of my dysfunctional family) will get all my shit including life insurance. LOL

I’ll be taking Interstate 40 to get there. With luck and no mechanicals (other than getting my rear tire replaced along the way), I’ll be posting pictures and any weird stuff I may encounter.

I heard there were a number of Big Foot sightings over at Tail Of The Dragon, not sure I’ll be able to post any pics.

And off I go!

Short Day But Technically Challenging

With checkout at Noon, I had a chance to wash the week’s worth of clothing. During the wash and dry cycles, I made a few calls to see if any local shops carry the Michelin Commander 2 rear tire (160/70 17B), even though it should make it back to Florida. No luck, so I’ll have to check the next town I’m passing through.

I knew this would be a short day so I looked for a shorter but challenging ride. Found Sandia Mountains, specifically Sandia Crest, which is a paved road that snakes its way up to 10,679′. Lots of challenging turns, but it didn’t really feel like I got a good technical day in. That’s when I took a closer look at the map and found there is an attached road that is much more technical, but its a gravel road. I’m fine with gravel. So I went ahead and rode through it.

Well, let me tell you, 165 looked like your run of the mill gravel road. But after a few miles, it looked like a WWII bombed road. It got really challenging, and stayed that way for miles. At times I felt like getting off and carrying the bike…wait…its a Harley. I thought for sure the bike was going to go down, at SEVERAL spots along that gravel road. But I was able to negotiate all the rough parts, got back to the main road with sore arms. I wonder how the bottom of the bike looks, since I bottomed out a couple dozen times.

Red is all paved. Blue started as paved, until I went on to 165.

The view from the top of Sandia Crest was pretty amazing. Even if the valley itself is already 4,000′ above sea level.

The view was even nicer along 165, although you couldn’t really stop, for fear of having a hard time getting started again.

Tomorrow my destination is likely a place that has the Michelin Commander 2 tire. 🙂

Route:

Thu & Fri: Maintenance, Laundry, and Rest

I’m combining Thursday and Friday, since I needed to catch up on some stuff.

Early Thursday I went to Grand Canyon Harley-Davidson. The picture at the top of this blog post shows they’ve got a very clever sculpture outside, made of a piece of rusting steel (the tree trunk), and what is quite likely stock pipes that never made it to the dumpster. Very impressive!

First, the new highway peg mounts and pegs I installed needed to be aligned properly. After 15 minutes the techs at the dealer had the highway pets in the perfect location for those long stretches of slab. Position is everything.

Next is my fucking clutch. I’ve been tolerating the issue (can’t shift into Neutral when stopped) since I had the apes installed. This time I asked them to adjust it *and* show me how to do it if I’m on the road and have issues later. Turned out to me easier than I thought, simply turn the collar at the clutch cable where it enters the clutch handle body.

Next was a trip to REI for supplies.

First, I needed to replace my new Goal Zero Venture 70 Recharger, as it turned out the one I bought was from a bad batch and wouldn’t hold a charge after a couple days. REI told me when I bought it, and said I can go to any REI if it fails, to get it swapped it no questions asked. Their word is gold, I was in and out in 10 minutes.

I actually would have been out in 5 minutes, but while I was there I bought a 40 oz Hydro Flask Wide-Mouth Vacuum Water Bottle. This will replace the cheap plastic water bottles that keep getting crushed when I attach them to sissy bar bag (basically I slide them through the nets and bungee cords).

I kicked off Friday with a great breakfast at a local diner, mmmmm….

Walking back to the bike, saw a ride I’ll never ever try. Its a “Zip Line” (not “Zip Tie” as I mentioned in the video).

Thanks to a biker buddy, while I passed through Winslow, AZ, I went ahead and stood on the corner. I saw a flat bed Ford, but didn’t see the girl.

On Friday I planned to go to Santa Fe. If I’m luck I might run into Holly Holm and get a selfie! Um, I’ll pass on the head kick though. Update: the team are on the road, didn’t get to meet any of them.

On Friday I also had a chance to stop at Petrified Forrest National Park. Been there before, so didn’t bother spending too much time there. If you’ve never been there, its quite a fascinating experience.

The entrance has an awesome piece of petrified wood. Not sure I’d ever notice it if I found it out in the woods. Pretty amazing.

Window Rock has some awesome scenery, unfortunately I was late so didn’t get to do much more than take a picture.

I really lucked out using the Hotels app on my iPhone. Since it was 8 PM, I looked for cheap hotels in Albuquerque, NM and found a $299 room for $60. As it turned out, the folks who booked weren’t able to make it. The hotel comped them half their cost, and charged me $60.

Lemme see…warm breakfast with a three hour window…laundry facilities…checkout is at Noon…what’s not to like?

No route to post unfortunately…I accidentally deleted it. I remember it was 355 miles. I reached out to the Relive folks, to strongly request a way to “undelete” an event, they’re still recovering from their Strava falling out.

Arizona I Am In You

Today was one of the highlights of my trip. I love traveling through the Mid West, especially through Navajo Nation. Never got a chance to meet their President Jonathan Nez but sent him a tweet to see if he is around as I pass through his area later today.

Thought I’d blog about choice of riding clothing in extremely hot weather. Its easy to get complacent and not realize the sun will fucking wreck your shit if given the chance. Here are two things you’ll need to protect yourself.

First, protect your arms. Sure you can wear a flannel shirt. Looks cool but it flaps all the time and your arms don’t get the feeling of the wind that makes motorcycling so awesome.

I always pack a pair of white Pearl Isumi Sun Sleeves. You’ll feel the air without catching all those dangerous rays (50 SPF), and your arms will feel cool even though its 100+ degrees. They take up almost no space, are easy to put on and take odd, so it’s a no brainer. Oh, they come in different colors, but if considering why we use these, I go with white.

Second, well, it only really applies to half and open face helmets (although full face would leave the back of your neck exposed). Get yourself a tube style bandana to keep the sun, bugs, and dirt off your face and neck. I’ve used Mato & Hash over the years but there are lots of options.

Some pictures from today’s ride:

Today’s route:

Threading the Needle, Take Two

Yesterday I did Needles Highway (SD-87) from North to South. I went to sleep frustrated because I took my GoPro HERO 7 Black with me but I wasn’t prepared for this last minute route.

So after a good night’s sleep, I decided to thread that needle again. This time I went from South to North, since I wanted to swing through Sturgis Harley-Davidson. Since my right highway peg disappeared, pretty sure someone swiped it. So things sort of fell into place.

This time I took some time to prepare. Now that the RAM Offset Reservoir Cover Ball Base is gone (see a previous post where it caused leaks), and I never bought the RAM Ball Adapter for GoPro Base (didn’t seem secure enough), I had to come up with a way to mount the GoPro.

I had to swap my iPhone for the GoPro, since both use RAM Mounts stuff. I had to move the GoPro Rail Base that I used to mount the iPhone (to the bottom of the ape hanger) to near the top of the ape hanger. I used my favorite RAM Composite Double Socket Swivel & Ratchet Arm, to position the GoPro.

I took a few minutes to level the GoPro, and to tweak the settings to get a decent 1080p by 60fps by 16:9 video resolution, enable SuperView, and enable HyperSmooth. I am powering the GoPro off of a Goal Zero Venture 70 Recharger (buddy recommended) using a X~PWR-H5 48″ All-Weather External Power Kit to make the kit weather proof.

The five videos total around 8gb, but for this blog I trimmed it down to three clips, one clip per tunnel.

Iron Creek Tunnel:

Needle’s Eye Tunnel:

Hood Tunnel:

To give you an idea how incredibly narrow these tunnels are, take a look at this video that showcases the talent of these bus drivers.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bBcsQcOyuIo

Today’s route: