Day Three, and the road trip starts.
Drove down Sunset Strip, past Tower records and Amoeba records. Late 80’s L.A. metal will always hold a soft spot in my heart.
The suburbs and single story blocks of shops here really remind me of Gosford in Australia. Although the Central coast of Austalia is far more picturesque. I’m also noticing similarity to Grand Theft Auto San Andreas and L.A. Noire, which shouldn’t surprise me since they’re both set in L.A.
The weather is fine and warm, and after a gas stop and some Mexican fast food called Los Pollos Hermanos or something I’m ready to go.
I’m kind of on edge at first. Some tight corners getting out of L.A. and I’ve lent over too far and scrapped the foot pegs on the road. Always gives me a jolt. And I’m constantly checking the Sat Nav and getting anxious about missing the freeway exits and turns. And I’m not wearing sunglasses or sunscreen, and I’ve forgotten to secure down all straps on my backpack and they’re flapping about, and at one point my bag popped open, so I had to stop and prepare a bit better.
But soon the desert opens up and it’s beautiful and a million miles always from European motorways. This bike is made for the open road. Soon I come across a biker going the other way and he waves and suddenly I’m no longer a city commuter but part of this unspoken camaraderie of bikers on a road trip. Hell yeah! I let out a loud roar into my helmet which is muffled by the wind and the engine. It feels good!
Then I settle into the rhythm of the road trip. Checking speed, checking Sat Nav, calculating fuel consumption, checking street signs, watching out for other drivers and the scenery, which is spectacular!
Fuel stop in Mojave included some awful fast food burger joint. How and why can they process food so much that it becomes so fake, tasteless and indistinguishable?
I continue on through the desert. At one point the paved, smooth road suddenly gives way to unsealed gravel. I hit this at high speed and the bike is swaying nastily. Both the back and front are fish tailing and I’m trying desperately to stay calm, keep it upright and slowly but firmly brake. I manage to slow from 70 to 5 mph but I’m pumped full of adrenaline. The bike had nearly gone over and at that speed on that loose service it would have torn everything the shreds, the bike, my clothes and myself. And it would have been impossible to get the bike back upright. I’m always a little concerned about tyres on a road trip. A big semi trailer has so many extra wheels that if a tyre blows they can handle it. But with a motorbike, there’s only the two (each with only about a credit card sized contact patch with the ground). If I have a blow out, it’s game over. Now I’m riding on rough gravel. The hard shoulder is smoother sand so I slowly make for that. It’s still very rocky, but I figure less chance of a puncture. But the intermittent soft sand patches introduce new hazard for the heavy bike. I make it make to paved road and the panic washes away. That was very unpleasant.
I pass through Little rock, Searles Valley mining town, then into Death Valley. Stovepipe Wells, Furnace Creek, and then on to Beatty. I had originally hoped to go via Barstow which is name checked in the opening scene of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but that’s east of L.A. and I wanted to go north east. And anyway, that’s bat country!
Beatty is a grim and small town, the one petrol station has a row of poker machines which seems popular with the locals. Dinner is at a place called Chili and Beer which has a menu as diverse and cosmopolitan as the inhabitants of this town. Then to the RV camp which is my home tonight.