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Canyonlands with Iain, Sep 2017

I took my bags to work, then after lunch headed to the tube at Blackfriars, with a swift leap across the platforms at Barons Court onto the Piccadilly Line, well that was the plan. It was at Park Royal that I realised the train was not going to Heathrow, so it involved a hot and sweaty bump of my luggage up and down the footbridge and then back two stops. The Heathrow service came through swiftly and then promptly stopped for 20 min due to a signal failure, thankfully I had plenty of time in hand, but I was getting nervous.

The rest of the trip went well, Terminal 3 seemed deserted and so different from when I worked there. The flight was delayed an hour, but we seemed to arrive only 5 mins late into Las Vegas. The flight was probably 3/4 full and I had three seats on the window to myself so managed a good 4 hours of sleep laying out, probably to the disgust of those around me, a great start. There was a group of 6 girls who sat nearby and for much of the 10 hours, discussed the outfits they brought, what they planned to do with their hair, and how much hair spray they brought, all at an increasingly high enthusiasm and volume. At the point when one realised that Vegas was not in the EU and how this would affect her data roaming, I then slipped in my ear plugs. A funny demographic of passengers, there were lots of groups, glitzy couples and then me. The luck continued as I was not stopped by immigration, which is the usual case when on my own, as my passport was cloned 20 years ago. I usually go into the pen with Mexicans and wait for so one to review my history and then be allowed to go after an hour or two.

I had a brief walk along the Strip as I needed to eat something. The Las Vegas on previous trips had lots of big space between casinos, but now it feels quite penned in with huge TV billboards and the sidewalks seem smaller. The outfits on the strip are outrageous, I am clearly getting old as a large number of women look like strippers as the amount of cloth was so minimal. There are shirtless Chippendales types in camo uniforms posing for photos and plenty of dominatrices too, most with dimply bottoms I note. Outside my hotel on sentry was a pair of girls, both in fishnets and a G string, with black stuck-on nipple stars, one with a sound of music Nun’s headgear the other a blooming great snake. I naturally aimed towards the Maria look-a-like, as I HATE snakes.

Went to the hotel’s coffee shop and had a horrible and massive all-day breakfast, it was a plate of slop in a rather too Mexicana style for me, ate my eggs only.

Woken at 6 after a good sleep, back in the UK my Harley pannier liners had already been packed with my kit for this portion of the trip, so I was now ready for the first part leg, meeting with Iain and seeing the new to me National Parks on the way to Moab in Utah. The Las Vegas Strip was a different land at 7:30 am, nice and cool, but with fewer weirdos. I noted a large poster for Menopause the Musical that has just opened, I wonder what the target audience is? I had a hearty Denney’s breakfast and called Eagle Rider for a transfer to their depot, then went down to reception. Thankfully the automated check-out booth was easy enough for me to use without my daughter Katy’s help which meant I side-lined a massive check-out queue at reception. These casino hotels are designed to discourage you to leave and finding the bus pick-up area should have gotten me a Duke of Edinburgh’s Silver award, it took me 20 mins. I had to keep passing the same two older women at a poker table who were screaming at the top of their voices in a ‘look at me’ sort of way, clearly having been at it all night.

I arrived behind schedule to pick up the bike but was even later as I was kept hanging around after check-in for the bike’s ‘walk around’ and hand-over. Not untypical at Eagle Rider. They had moved since my last visit and are now in a vast palace to all things black, leather and Harley, so I was kept amused. I was interested in some hydration vests which I had read about, you soak them in the bucket of water provided, they trap the water and its evaporation keeps you cool, I had read in a UK magazine how well they worked. Despite it being around 104 degrees (in old money) a bearded chap with a thick hoody and woolly hat gave me the briefing, the important bit like the start sequence I promptly forgot, as usual, I was preoccupied with how to load it all up. In the past I have always been impressed with the Harley Davidson Street Glides having a CD player and this time was finally armed with an eclectic selection to keep me company. Sod’s law they now only have a radio, grrrr! The previous solid panniers had a despicable locking system, but this bike was new and they seemed much improved. So too is a new semi-liquid cooled twin cam engine, a whopping great 1700 cc now, how cool I thought, but was soon to be proved wrong. My stylist Remowa alloy wheelie case and my Seattle clothes fitted nicely in my huge North Face wheelie bag used for skiing. Eagle Rider have a racked-out storage room lined with a hundred or more suitcases and bags, so I added mine to the rack.

I left just before 1100 am and almost immediately was on the freeway, despite a reasonably steady speed, a cool sports T-shirt and my mesh jacket I was slowly getting hotter and hotter, before I was even out of the city, I felt my right calf was probably blistering (it wasn’t, just felt like it) admittedly I’d not been at this level of heat before but I’d also not felt such extreme engine heat either, it must be the new engine. My solution was to have my right foot on the pillion peg behind me. To the passing cars I no doubt looked a little like a Bonneville salt flats racer trying to lay flat, but I probably just looked like a plonker. The slog north out across the desert is an unpleasant hour and a half up the freeway, although it does have a cracking mountain section just before St George, with a 12-mile set of sweeping curves which you can thunder past the wheezing trucks chugging up the steep gradients. By this point I wished I had invested in a hydration vest, I had planned on a rest stop about here anyway, so rather than a gas station I went to the Harley Davidson Zion instead.

They are always welcoming to bikers with an ultra-cooled environment to stretch their shoulders, have a wee, fill up with chilled water, look at the new models and hopefully buy some overpriced, over macho, over logo’d nick-nacks. Their hydration vests looked rather like Luke Skywalker’s X-wing fighter vests, strangely high tech and out of sync with their usual old worldly heritage style, but with the usual blooming expensive price tag, more than double the Eagle Rider cost. However there was rather a yippie moment from me, when I found more normal looking ones at half price on the discontinued rack, just $10 more than the one back in Vegas, yippee! It seems that the inside is made up of wood fibre and therefore not only absorbs water well but holds it for a long time too. As usual, there’s always someone wanting to get in on the act and add an opinion, so the only other customer there, told me how his mate swore by his. I asked why he hadn’t, therefore, got one too? He mumbled something and swiftly wandered off, I am not sure if I unintentionally offended him or not. The young and predictably heavily tattooed assistant seemed delighted to be doing something and cheerfully went off and soaked the vest in the sink for me, while I re-filled my almost-a-CamelBack (Black’s cheap version). It was rather a shock putting it on first, really quite chill. Then, reminiscent of trying to wade out into the English Channel while the water is sub-trunk level, you get a secondary thrill as soon as you zip up the waste coat, a wave of ice-cold water then released into your crutch. I suspect everyone gives an involuntary yelp at that point too. Well, what a marvellous invention it is too, your core is kept cool, however parched and crispy your extremities become. Later I found that if it was well saturated and you move your arms and neck around it releases more water. Then with wind on your damp neck, it’s a delightful sensation. Most of the trip I had it on and it made the extreme over 100 temperatures bearable. This year’s top purchase.

Off I then went feeling happy and very comfortable, with a spring in my step and some twisty road to enjoy for the next hour. Just outside Zion National Park, I topped up the bike and myself with a Reeses Peanut Cup ice cream, damn that was good. Despite the bike’s rough 220-mile range, gas stations can be a long way apart, so the plan in the states is to top up as soon as I was less than half a tank.

I have been across Zion National Park three times before, but it was only a few years back that I realised I had always missed the best bit. In the summer months, there are shuttle buses that run north up the valley, with various bus stops and trails of differing lengths, so I was determined to do it this time. Harley’s are great bikes but are notorious for having uncooperative gearboxes and the chances of it actually being kind and giving you neutral are slim. The way to approach this problem is to keep clunking away at it, kick down to first gear and then as gently as possible, try to tickle it up a notch into neutral. Inevitably you fail, so slam it back down the bottom to first while swearing heavily at the god of all Milwaukee Tractors. Plan B (aka O bugger it!) is for use when parking up, basically you give up and just turn it off while still in gear, hoping to remember this when staring it up again later.

Neither approach to ‘Gearbox wrestling’ works when you arrive to buy your ticket at the park entrance, so a finely balanced one-handed juggle is required while still gripping on for near death to the clutch lever with your left hand and trying to extract a credit card from your inside pocket with your right. As you can probably gather, I am building up to an excuse. With so much mental and physical energy taken up with this and the relief of remembering to take the card back and get the wallet back in my pocket, I missed the sign for the shuttle immediately after the ticket booth and sailed on up into the park, it was only when I reached the tunnels that it occurred to me I’d gone past the shuttle station. The tight twisty roads meant I had no choice but to head through the tunnels and make a swift stop, where the ranger confirmed what a plonker I’d been. I trotted back to the bike, shot up the road until I found a pull-out in which I could do a U’ee and then headed back to the tunnel. Just my blinking luck, there was a wide RV, that had been stopped by a small line of cars, which I then joined. Unfortunately, the tunnels are too thin to accommodate to RV’s , so as soon as they see one, it is stopped, they then radio ahead to the other end of the tunnel and stop more traffic coming through, we then have to wait until the last vehicle come out before we can go onward. What a palaver this was. So with all this fussing around and the later start at Eagle Rider, it was now 3 pm when I finally parked. Knowing It was a two-hour round trip up the valley without doing any trails, plus another two hours through the park to my RVP with Iain on the other side of Bryce Canyon.

I stripped off into shorts, sandals and a big hat, then locked up my helmet and jacket with the bike lock to the backrest. Once on the shuttle heading north, I realised I hadn’t got the motorbike’s key with me and must have left it on the bike, yikes! What should I do, go back or risk it, feeling frustrated with myself enough already I decided to risk it. I had never done this route up the canyon, the shuttle buses are curious-looking articulated vehicles, with no a/c but lots of open roof lights facing forward dragging in a fresh wind. I rode them up to the top, planning on getting out at the various stops on the way back and possibly doing a couple of the 30 mins trails. At the top, I walk briefly into the riverwalk canyon for a short way but was so anxious about the bike keys I decided to return. I will return another day with more time and do one or two of the trails, I like the idea of The Narrows a trail that is along a river bed, so nice and cool in the height of summer. When I got back it was still sweltering and I couldn’t see the bike I began to feel sick, how stupid I was to risk this? Then with relief, I saw it, phew! And the key was still in the lock next to my jacket. I changed back into biking gear and dipped my hydration jacket in the restroom sink.

Onto the bike and back again, my third ride through the tunnels that day! With the sun behind me, radiating a rich golden glow on the rocks in front, the only jarring element was Phill Collins belting out ‘a Groovy kinda love’ on the radio. I had a great ride out of the park and then onto the main highway heading north, I was well in the grove, with next to no traffic and some beautiful sweeping bends. I was belting along. I passed a white pick-up parked facing the opposite direction, it swiftly did a u-turn in my direction and then lit up with red and blue flashing lights, it was a cop car, oops! With earplugs in a can’t hear a blooming thing, so asked if he could speak up. I was told I had been doing 85 in a 65 zone, gulp, I said I hadn’t realised just how fast I was going, just enjoying the ride. He did a check with my licence, the politely told me that someone had died on a bike hitting a deer last week and that I should slow down. That was it, he let me off, what a relief. I naturally get the cruise control on 5mph above the legal limit as a headed-off. By this time the sun was begging to go down and my hydration jacket began to have a negative effect I was getting pretty cold. Tropic was a small town on the other side of Bryce Canyon, the RVP for Iain and me, it was about 8pm when I got there.

The track within the hotel grounds was made of large gravel, which had the bike wobbling all over the place, I arrived in a very ungainly fashion only just keeping the bike up. Iain my Kiwi friend and playmate for the next few days, ran across the car park, he had been eating with some German bikers. It was good to see him, I let him go and finish off his food while I decanted the panniers into our room, which looked like a Chinese laundry, with a vast selection of damp cloths hanging off every available bit of furniture. I joined the chaps for some food, one spoke good English the other not so good, but all agreed on the gravel drive-in was a death trap. They had arrived at SFO and had to wait for two days as their airline had misplaced their luggage, this meant they didn’t get their first choice of bike and the one with poor English had an Indian, not a Harley, he was unimpressed. After eating we ventured to the fire pit, which was what had attracted us to the place, but their feeble bit of wood hardly warmed us, so after a while, we left.

The next morning we had breakfast on fragile polystyrene plates, topped up the bikes and headed east on Highway 12 with Capital Reef National Park as our midway point. The next two hours were the introduction to my new ‘best road’. As ever, hardly any cars, some red canyons with long 70 mph sweeping bends, later we came upon some very baron white rocks in an area called the staircase near Escalante, with incredibly sharp switchbacks, never have I felt a 10 or 15 mph speed sign so appropriate. We climbed and climbed, this then became the Hogs Back and quite unlike the one near Guildford, it was very high, very thin and went on for ages with nothing but white rock walls as far as the eye could see. The downhill section was then through forests and we had the bikes slaloming through the curves.

We stopped at Torrey in the visitors centre for a wee brake, the lady behind the counter seemed to strangely not know very much about the National Park she represented. On returning to the bikes, Iain disappointingly encouraged an old hippy to start to chat with us while her chap was showing off with his black belt Kung Foo moves under the shade of a nearby tree. Thankfully we extracted ourselves after not too long and made a hasty retreat across the road to a Subway for lunch. Capital Reef was only half an hour up the road, we reached this massing cliff face well outside the park itself and continued along its base for some time. I cannot imagine what the first people who saw it thought of this impenetrable wall of stone. On arrival we purchased an annual National Park pass using our previous park’s receipts as a discount. We swapped bikes and headed into the park, there was little difference between in and outside the park with regards to the views, we basically went to the end had a brief look and came back. Rather a wasted side trip except for the restrooms and a water fountain. We are both glad we booked our own model of bike. Iain’s is a Heritage model and seemed more nimble and lighter at standstill, but I was still happy with my power and did not have the big screen in the way. Once out of the park we came up and over the reef wall and along lots of winding passes with tight curves. Later there were some strange powdery hills with beautiful and delicate symmetrical flows almost like at the base of a tree where the roots begin to splay out. This morphed into a huge landscape of white concrete-looking cliffs, it was as if god was showing off all his landscaping skill. Having reached Hanksville we needed a fill-up of the tanks and a cool down ourselves, the town was a very sad and depressing place, the only people around sat on Harleys and seemed to be Europeans. I am glad we stopped as there were no other fuel stations for the remaining half of the route, this is a very desolate area of America.

After a short break, we headed south and into King Canyon towards the Colorado River crossing and once again we found ourselves sweeping through enormously deep Grand Canyon-like canyons. I would like to have gone towards Bullfrog, what a name, but it was getting late and we had many miles left to go. Thankfully Iain, who was leading, pulled us off and up a lane to an overview point. A great decision, this was a dramatic view with Lake Powell hundreds of feet below us, we took a few photos and made a few ‘just step back a bit’ jokes. We soon crossed the river and on paper, it was a simple straight ride but turned out to be a deserted road parallel with a canyon wall, but the canyon must have been 10-15 miles wide. By now we are extremely tired and would have liked it to end, but had to keep plodding on, despite this being another biker’s dream road. In consideration of my previous night’s stop by the cop, Iain and I had discussed keeping things at just 10 mph above the speed limit, however, we completely dismissed that thought along this stretch, both wanting rest and no other traffic around, we made good progress!

Somehow we passed Fry Canyon our next proposed stop, but it sounds like it was along an unmade road anyway. Iain and I discussed if we wanted to see Natural Bridges NP or not, it was on the way and was easy to stop, but our predicted time at the Cabin in Monticello was already going to be around 7 pm when it would be getting dark. So we decided to make it a quick one, not wanting to double back here the next day. The Visitor’s Centre was shut, but a young First Nation (Red Indian) gave us a brief resume about the layout around the monuments loop, he was a film-maker and was here to interview the local ranger on Trump’s new controversial Head of the Park Service, a worry some prospect. The first bridge was impressive but the sun was in the wrong direction, so it photographed badly. The second stop had us scrambling along a cliff edge all hot and bothered even at 5 pm, the remaining bridges required a small hike, and we gave up on them. I would recommend it to someone with time to walk down to at least one of the bridges, so I think you would need 2-3 hours here.

The road then joined the main north/ south highway, it took another hour. We passed lots of Deer Warning signs and a couple of different Police cars having stopped other motorists. In Monticello Iain was delighted to find a gas station open as he was dead low on fuel, we bought cereal tubs for the morning and were warned by the sun-wrinkled gas station attendant of the ‘Rich Hippies’ that inhabited Moab now, she also gave us two options on how to spend Saturday night in this not-so-kicking Monticello. Our cabin turned out to be simple to find, down a short and not-too-scary downhill gravel drive, we arrived at sunset to find small deer all over the place including the cabin’s driveway. The wood cabin was delightful, on a hillside and overlooking a golf course, with a smashing covered porch. We offloaded the booty and headed back out to the bright lights on the bikes. Option one a mum-n-pop diner had people waiting outside, so off what we had been told was the posh option. It wasn’t posh at all, but a very nice Mexican-style canteen, we had a very nice (far from posh) meal. When we headed back in the dark, the town was dead, Saturday night here was not ‘kick in’. I was a little concerned coming down the scree track in the dark but all was well. The night was still young, so we relaxed in the cabin’s lounge, looked at the photos and chatted over what we had seen. The cabin was dual level with a second bedroom in the basement, but only one bathroom, so Iain politely washed his undies in the kitchen sink that night instead! It was a funky old place, very homely in a rather dated 1970’s style, with lots of photos around of an elderly couple, him a giant, she a dwarf. It was a delightful place and only $112 for the night.

Compared with the previous day we only had as the crow flies, a relatively short distance to travel up to Moab. However, the vast Canyonlands National Park is split into three sections due to both The Green and Colorado Rivers, there are no bridges across the park, so you need to drive in turn around and then back out again, so our plan was to go to the Needles section first then on to Moab. Our map suggested a cross-country route through the town, so at 0930 hrs we left and headed through the residential roads, we never did find the road, but we kept coming across small groups of deer trotting around the streets and driveways of the houses, there are so many they that they must be a real pest?

We came off the main highway towards the Squaw Flat, it was a 32-mile detour, half was straight and terribly boring, and the rest in contrast was huge dramatic scenery, we stopped at one point a bright orange cruiser bike roared past, and a helmet-less chap with a matching T-shirt and a young girl clinging on to the back. We met the liberally tattooed couple later on while having their Sunday morning fag, they clearly don’t talk much to middle-aged men and were reluctant to chat with us. At the Visitor’s Centre the day had heated up again, we went inside and there was a huge model of all the sections of the park and it was very clear that further north was a much much higher overlook that we really should have chosen instead. We continued into the park to see the views but decided we would exit back to the main road, go up the main highway and again cut off down a spur road to the other place called Needles Overlook which was strangely outside the park. Each spur was 30 odd miles, so we had now committed to a 180-mile journey in all, even though Moab was only 35 miles away! Naturally, we belted along these roads and again it was scenery overload, which we were getting a bit blasé about. When we finally arrived it was as dramatic as we envisaged, there was a shear drop of probably one to two thousand feet, to what seemed like the main canyon floor level, this in itself must be 5-10 miles wide, then below that the cracks of the canyon that the rivers sat hidden in, even deeper still. Blimey, it has even more amazing than the Grand Canyon for me. We experimented with various poses, and a few of Iain’s were quite unsuccessful. It was stinking hot, we both had our wide-brim hats on and left our jackets on the bike seats, which for me put paid to my tube of lip salve.

We only had a day together in Moab, before we had to head our separate ways and we wanted to make it special. The initial idea was to do a Canyoneering expedition, rappelling into slot canyons with pack rafts to paddle out at the end. Unfortunately, it was the wrong time of year for this with the water levels. So instead it was suggested we consider an amazing Peddle Paddle day which was arranged just for us with Desert Highlights LLP.

This started with an early morning pickup at the hotel in a large dirty old van containing two chaps, Herb and Evan, a few bits of mountain bikes and lots of kit. It was still dark as we headed out into the desert and stopped in the middle of nothing. They fitted us out with a suitable bike, a big rucksack, some foam sleeping mats, a folded pack raft about the size of a rolled-up sleeping bag, two parts of a kayak paddle, loads and loads of small water bottles and part of a picnic. Due to my broken coccyx, I also had my trusty doughnut pillow in readiness for the second element of the trip, this hung off the rucksack in a not-very cool way, as it’s NHS hearing aid beige. There were very cumbersome packs with bits of stuff sticking out all over the place and not very light at all, but we soon got used to it.

The sun started to rise as we three cycled along a gravel track for a couple of miles, probably around 20-30 mins, easy going with nothing much to see, but all of a sudden the track started to gently descend and then skirted around some outcrops. We then entered a gorge and the track then opened up into an alarmingly steep shear-sided canyon, wow where did that come from? These tracks were from the old uranium mines that operated in the area in the 1950s. There was no barrier and the track was very rough and rocky, I think we were both rather nervous coming down the steep descent trying not to skid on these rather tired old bikes, but we stopped quite a few times for photos, a few slurps of water and to appreciate the silent beauty. The descent must have been a couple of hundred feet at least. This was Spring Canyon a tributary of the picturesque Green River. After a number of tight switchbacks, we finally reached the water’s edge and continued for half an hour along a small bumpy track following the bank. This undulating trail was quite hard going with the weight we carried more noticeable as we went on, I was finding it hard work. Evan was looking for an entry point as the banks were very high, as too was the vegetation, and there were no natural slipways. Once the track meandered away from the river, we had to stop and make the best we could.

We first set about unpacking the rafts. These are quite small and for single use, with one end slightly thinner and made of tuff stuff. The inflation was with a big bag to scoop in the air, which seemed a really soppy way to inflate anything, but was surprisingly efficient, filling the bulk of the raft, with a pump to add the main pressure, this didn’t take long at all. Next, the bike’s front wheels came off and the sleeping mats were arranged on the end of the rafts in a way the sharp bits of the bike didn’t puncture them. I realised at this point why they only used old bikes. In our case, the bank was six or more feet down to the water and it was rather a struggle to get us, paddles and rucksack down to each uncooperative raft and then a bike handed down to be bungeed over us at the front.

The rafts sat well up in the water, there was no feeling of them being unstable and being a kayaker, I found them very easy to paddle and direct. The bikes on the front balanced well with the weight of you at the back. We three soon settle down with Iain looking like an Egyptian mummy smeared in suncream and swaddling in gear to keep the rays from his skin. The river was very calm and we floated into I think Labyrinth Canyon into the Green River.

The flow was enough that we could paddle at a very relaxed pace and then at times would just sit and chat as we gently swung around moving at a nice pace down steam. It was one of the most relaxing and meaningful days of my life. It was hot and yet cool in our big hats and the water flicking off our arms, the numerous bottle of water they had supplied us with was enough. The scenery was ever-changing and the river snaked its way across the land, with lush green banks. We stopped on a large beach for lunch, having found at the last minute the sand was actually oozing mud, then headed up a dry stream to find some shade in the scrub. Even then set out various elements of our picnic, to the delight of hundreds of flies and mozzies. A pretty unpleasant experience and a bit of a shock as we had none on the water, we ate swiftly and soon played around in the mud again trying to get the rafts back into the flow. The three of us got on well with a day-long chat and lots of laughter, we saw a handful of other rafts as the river made huge curves in the deep side canyons. The journey downstream was 12 miles and took around 6 hours, but what an amazing experience. At the get-out point, the deceptively sand colour beach was once again mud, which made for a spectacularly clumsy and undignified end to the day, as we tried to haul ourselves out of very slippery dinghies and were ejected with a plop and sank up to our shins in the ooze. Herb was waiting with the van, which then struggled to haul us up the very steep canyon track, passing a few rusted wrecks that hadn’t made it and rolled down the hillside. I wasn’t that optimistic we were going to make it, but Herb knew his stuff. What a memorable trip, not cheap, but the memories will last a lifetime.

I headed back to Las Vegas and London. Iain had another day to see Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, then headed west via his high Monument Valley, so then Las Vegas and home to New Zealand

The run back to Las Vegas

Thanks for the photos, Iain. I had a good run, In fact after the SLC turn off the Freeway going west was a very interesting one, with lots of ranges to come up and over, in and out. One massive range near Salena and at 7000 ft was decidedly chilly and then bloody cold as I rounded the corner into the shadows. Made good speed, the Utah limit is 80mph, so stuck it on cruise control for 85mph and hardly saw any traffic. Until I-15 when it was an almost instant ‘open the oven door’ situation, blooming hot all the way down and lots more traffic too. Stopped for lunch at midday just 180 miles from Las Vegas, so much faster than I had predicted.

An hour out I overtook three Harley with a Danish flag, we met at a gas station on a pee stop and they were nice chaps (for Vikings). This was day 10 they had started in Denver, went north to the Black Hills of Dakota (said it was the best bit) then to Yellowstone and south. They were very concerned about having to go through Death Valley to get up to Yosemite. Nothing booked just finding stuff on the fly. One big bloke, chubby and very tall, was on a Sportster, it looked like he was on a toy bike, he says he chose it due to cost and was a very BAD mistake!

I left first and at the end of the car park was a STOP sign, it was a wide open space and nothing coming either way so slowed down and cruised through. By the end of the Up Ramp and back on the freeway, the Police Cruiser with lights flashing was now on my tail, so I pulled over. Again got a bit of a polite bollocking as the Danes charged past, phew (again). I should have actually stopped at the Stop Sign, the cop car was hidden under the freeway in the shadows. Met up with the Danes and slipped into formation until we reached Las Vegas.

It was a furnace, traffic was bad, I was very uncomfortable with the heat and much larger numbers of really bad drivers too. Couldn’t find the Eagle Rider depot on my first pass so went to do a U-turn in front of an industrial unit on a side road, but my boot slipped and I was too exhausted to hold it, so dropped it gently and stepped off cursing. At this point, I was dead hot n tired but recalled how to flip the bars to the right, grab the bottom bar with two hands behind your back with knees bent, and then just straighten up. A chap had stopped to help, and I think we were both surprised it came up so easily. Found the depot in the end and all was Ok at check-out, but next to me were the two Germans from Bryce!

They have had a hell of a time, the Indian’s clutch/gear box had gone, and they had been stuck for two hours at a red light in Sedona. Finally got the bike going, 1st & 2nd Ok but the rest would only stay in place with the clutch lever held in. He had ridden ALL day back to LV holding the gear lever!!!! They were livid and even the Eagle Ride mechanic called it a ‘pile of shit’, a few heated discussions as the bike should have been going back to SFO, but as I left he had been given a Road King. Not an outstanding trip for them then.

Eaten and waiting for my flight. Found 7 bites on my arms and my shoulder, but are not itching. Thank you again for working your trip around my dates, it’s been great. Always be open for another trip when you feel finances are appropriate.

Kind regards