|14-09-2006, 08:57 AM||#1|
Solo trippin' on a Buell Ulysses...WARNING, loads of pics...
This journey started innocently enough. One day in early August I was browsing eBay after a hard day at work. In an effort to stay informed, I often conduct research about motorcycles for sale . Pretty soon I made my way over to Cycletrader. Within minutes, I was talking to Bill in Phoenix . I wasn't in the market to buy a new bike, I was conducting further research . He was selling a 2006 Buell Ulysses with 670 miles on the odometer. After a brief conversation, I impulsively offered to purchase the bike. Bill informed me there was another guy first in line coming to inspect the bike that evening. I said fine, I'll be runner up. Bill said he would call later to let me know if the bike was still available.
I now faced the opportunity to bring my wife, Julie, on board with my bright idea of buying a bike 2100 miles away and riding it back. As with the previous 53 or so bike purchases, Julie was one hundred percent supportive. Armed with her approval, I began to get excited with anticipation. I called Bill to asked if the other guy had seen the bike yet, and to let Bill know I would buy the bike, sight unseen, for his asking price if the other guy backed out. He asked if I was local, obviously screening me as a potential buyer. I said yes, I live in Virginia . He said something about big gonads .
For the next several hours, I waited for Bill to call. During that timeframe, I began to question whether I should actually follow through with this long distance purchase. I told Julie I planned to sleep on the idea and make sure I wanted the bike. She agreed that would be best. As we were getting ready for bed, my phone rang. It was Bill. I intentionally let it ring. Bill left a voice mail saying I should call him to discuss the bike. Several minutes later, I was on the phone finalizing the agreement. Julie came into the room during the conversation, and said she was proud of me for giving so much consideration to this purchase before deciding to buy .
The following day, I express mailed full payment for the bike. Several days later, I received the clear title to the bike. I then obtained a fresh, Virginia title and tag from the DMV. The bike was now officially mine, although it was 2100 miles away, and I'd never even riden a Buell .
Julie and I started planning the return trip. She booked a flight from Dulles Airport to Phoenix, on Friday September 1st, leaving at 7:30AM eastern time, and arriving in Phoenix at 9:37AM pacific time.
The initial planning was overwhelming. Looking at a map of the four corner states, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, there are so many great routes and great sites to see, it is clear I had to start narrowing down the route to a manageable size. About this time I researched some of MikeO's reports from the previous year. Mike had written something about how liberating it is to accept the fact that you simply cannot see everything, and by forgetting what you're missing, you are free to focus on what you will see. Thanks MikeO, those words certainly helped Julie and I come up with a route.
Julie insisted I book a room for the first three nights, since this was Labor Day weekend. We had no idea how busy the region would be, and it would not be fun to be in the middle of unfamiliar territory without a place to stay. Since I was flying out, I didn't have room to carry my camping gear. After much planning and research, including many great recommendations from the fine folks here on ADVRider, we finally settled on the return route.
The first day I would head north through Prescott, Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon , and spend the night in Flagstaff. On day two I would continue north into Utah, then east to Bryce Canyon . Day three I would continue east through Kodachrome State Park, to Escalante . Day four I'd head east, north east, then south and stay in Moab . The next day I would continue east to the Colorado Rockies, then south through Ouray Pass, Silverton, to Durango. Day six I'd leave Durango, head south through New Mexico to Albuquerque, then east on I-40 toward home. I figured the trip would take 9 or 10 days, and total 3100 miles.
As the departure date approached, I lived and relived every step of the way. On Thursday, I programmed each of 10 separate routes into my GPS for the ten day journey. I also contacted my insurance agent and purchased insurance for the Uly. I also joined AAA so I would have free towing up to 100 miles , as well as 2 gallons of free gas delivered in the event I ran out .
I barely slept the week before the trip. Every night my mind was flooded with the details of the trip. By Thursday evening I was exhausted. Julie and I went to Dicks Sporting Goods at the local mall to buy some last minute items for the trip. I picked up some cold weather Under Armour, some protein bars, and a Camelback. Someone here on AdvRider suggested I use the Camelback through the dry climate out west. Whoever recommended it, thank you .
As we were shopping, Julie asked how I was feeling. I told her I was tired, and feeling like I lacked the energy to take this trip. I'm a diabetic. Sometimes I do things because I don't feel like doing them. I do them because one day I might not be able to do them. That's partially the reason behind this trip.
I came home and packed my Wolfman Beta and Wolfman Odyssee Duffell, as well as piece of carry on luggage. The carry on luggage contained all the expensive electronics including my laptop, two cameras, GPS, iPod, all the cables and chargers, as well as my insulin, syringes, and some food.
I said goodnight to three of my kids, my dog, and my wife. I slept like a baby all night. The alarm went of at 5:00AM. Julie took me to the airport. She snapped a photo as I was departing. I was slightly stressed at the beginning of the trip, can ya tell?
I kissed Julie good bye and went inside the airport. Checking in was like clockwork, until Homeland Security got a glimpse of my cary on luggage,,,,,
|14-09-2006, 09:11 AM||#2|
We're so uptight here on the east coast. Some folks checking in at the airport are a miserable brood. I stood there and watch people bitching, much to my delight . They were bitching about stupid little things. I decided I'd give them something real to bitch about .
The line to pass through security was flowing as fast as an airport security line could be expected to flow, until my bag went through the x-ray machine. All of the sudden, everything stopped. The operator called for a security check because of the two viles of insulin (liquid) in my bag. It took about 2 minutes for the first security detail to show up. I'm standing there smiling . I'm the only one smiling . The people in line were impatient before I stopped the progress. Now, they're ready to take up stones and cast them upon me.
The security detail shows up and asks for back up . They pull me aside and for the next 15 minutes, remove everything from my bag, wiping and testing everything for bomb residue materials. They were particularly pissed to see my laptop in the carry on. It was inside a foam protective cover, which was inside a plastic protective case. One guy is checking my stuf, the other guy is checking my reaction to this event. I'm just smiling . I explained I don't fly much, and didn't know laptops had to be indvidually examined. They finally finish examining all my stuff, and ask me if I need any help putting it back in the bag. I decline their assistance.
By now, I'm one of the last people to arrive at the waiting area to board the plane. The folks on my plane don't seem too chatty . Fine, I'll just wander off into a corner and listen to my iPod. Oh yeah, I was in full riding gear, wearing my Sidi boots and Joe Rocket jacket. The other passengers weren't impressed. Oh well. I'm utterly delighted that I'm not as miserable as some of the fine folks around me.
We finally board the plane. I'm sitting next to the window. A couple, obviously in love, sit nex to me. I stand up and tell the girl next to me, "this jacket has to come off." She doesn't even acknowledge me. Didn't look at me. Didn't say anything. Nothing. I'm thinking to myself this is going to be a long flight. I look out the window. I rummage through my carry on bag at my feet to find my little Kodak. I look out the window. The girl next to me is irritated that I'm doing something. I capture the moment. The mood outside is representative of the mood sitting beside me. Well, not quite that bad
I find my stress has completey departed. I think it landed squarely on some of the folks around me. I'm wondering to myself if every flight is full of miserable people .Nah! The crew is extremely professional. They smile as they walk by. The guy in front of me decides to recline his seat all the way back into my lap. I act like it doesn't bother me. I feel like throwing him of the plane .
We take off. Within a few minutes, Tom Cruise is playing on the Screen in front of me. Mission Impossible III is the choice entertainment for the day. Halfway into the flight I have to pee. I don't dare get up. People all around me ar getting up to pee. I didn't want to piss anyone off, again . I decide to hold it until Phoenix. I decline the second offering of coffee. Fortunately I didn't have to pee that bad. I enjoy the rest of the movie. It's over and we're just crossing Texas. I grab my camera again. As we descend, I start shooting out the window. There's nothing else to do.
My first glimpse of Phoenix. It doesn't look so hot out there
The good thing is the plane landed 37 minutes ahead of schedule. Plenty of time to pee before making my way to baggage pick up. The bad thing is, our baggage doesn't come out of the plane until sometime around 10:15. We're all waiting. We all want our luggage. Everyone is nicer now. Several people come up to me and say "Yeah, you're from Dulles, I saw you back in the airport. I'm just making sure I'm in the right luggage terminal." They're surprisingly friendly in Phoenix. People start asking questions. Why are you wearing a jacket in Phoenix? Don't you know it's 108 degrees outside? I look around. Everyone is wearing shorts. I have on heavy Joe Rocket riding jeans, riding boots, and a jacket. It turns out to be a great conversation starter. People seem geniunely interested in what I'm doing.
I talk to a lady who flew out from N. VA for her fathers 75th birthday. She tells me there is no better place on the planet than Oak Creek Canyon . That's wonderful, because I'm riding through there in a few hours.
I check my cell phone for messages. I'm getting an unclear signal. Finally, I call Bill who is picking me up. He asks where I am. I tell him I arrived early, but I'm waiting for my luggage. He says he's in the luggage area too. I turn around, and he's standing right there. Bill says, "You said you have blond hair, I was looking for a long haired hippy. You didn't say anything abolut having a crew cut."
Bill turns out to be a super nice guy. He's very interested in my plans. He's very interested in sharing about his family. He's understanding about having to wait for my luggage. It finally arrives. We head out to his Big Whit Buick SUV with 20 inch rims. I immediately notice how hot it is. In the shade.
We head towards Sun City West. On the way, Bill offers to swing by the Harley Davidson dealer so I can buy a quart of oil for the ride home. I have the chance to talk to the service manager who just performed the 1000 mile service. He assures me the bike is ready for the road trip ahead. He seems curious as to why I would want to ride the Buell across the country. In the parking lot I notice a sight I've never seen before. The bikes parked out front all have towells draped over the seats. It really does get hot in Phoenix .
We head over to Bill's house, conversing the whole way. No ackward moments. Bill is like a long time friend I haven't seen in years. I had a gut feeling when I first spoke with him on the phone that he was the geniune article. We roll through the gates to his community, past the golf course, to his house. The garage door opens, and I laid eyes upon my bike for the first time.
|14-09-2006, 10:19 AM||#3|
Bill was super patient with me during the next hour. I really needed to get the bike setup properly before departing the shade of his garage. The first priority was suspension setup. The limited knowledge I had gained about Buells, and the Ulysses in particular, strongly suggested I set the suspension according to my weight and luggage. It was exceedingly important as I would be riding through technical mountain passes within the hour.
After dialing in the front and rear preload, and front and rear compression and rebound damping, I mounted two ram mounts, one for a handlebar mounted camera, the other for my GPS. I really like the 12V adaptor in the dash. Just a plug and play proposition. I then mounted the tank bag. Bill is half freaking out at my tenacity. I had run through these procedures at least a dozen times before the trip began. Finally, I mounted the Wolfman luggage. The Beta bag fit perfectly on the rear seat, serving as a comfortable back rest in addition to luggage. The Wolfman Odyssee Duffel strapped perfectly to the 3 way flip up back rest thingy, and was held in place by the 2 straps on the rear of the Beta duffell. This provided me with 5 outside pockets each having easy access, perfect or storing necessities like water and orange juice.
I strapped a cargo net on top of the two bags, and placed my jacket under the net. I'm all about ATGATT, and consider my T-Shirt ATGATT in 108 degree phoenix heat. The jacket would be worn before I reached the first set of twisties.
Before leaving, Bill offered to fill my Camelback full of ice, and iced cold water . Ladies and gentlemen, meet Mr. Bill. Here's a shot of the bike he bought to replace the Uly for riding in the Phoenix desert
Here's a shot of the odometer just prior to my first ride:
A final shot of Bill and MY Uly
My fully loaded Uly:
And the trip has begun. Here's Bill leading the way to Route 60, the first leg of my planned route:
Just after I shot this photo, Bill and departed ways. Here's to you Bill, for picking me up at the airport, and for delivering a better than expected Ulysses
I continued heading north on Route 60. It was hot. Make that HOT! At first, all I could get out of my Camelback was the warm water in the syphon tube. It was still better than nothing.
This was the first time I had seen cactus growing in the wild.
I continued rolling north, tripping the shutter way too many times.
Soon after riding through Wickenburg, AZ, I took my first GPS indicated turn onto 93N which became 89N. Within a few minutes, the road led through subtle sweepers
then right into some incredible roads snaking through Prescott National Forest. At this time, I was still getting comfortable with the bike. In fact, up until this moment, I really hadn't given much thought to the bike itself. All of my energy was spent planning the trip, and setting the bike up for the planned route.
As the road became more twisty, it also climbed in elevation. As it climbed in elevation, the temperature dropped. Instead of 108 degrees, it must have cooled off to 98 degrees. Still, it felt better than 108. The passage through this section of mountains was pure delight. I stopped the Uly for the first time, got off the bike, and snapped a pic:
I now turned my attention to the bike. As I stood there, I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Here I was, in the middle of a mountain pass on a new bike, with nothing but bliss laid out for the next 5 days. I took my helmet off to soak in the moment. As I did, I took another swig of water, this time lowering my head as I drank, and for the first time since leaving Phoenix, I was rewarded with a huge gulp of iced cold water .
I finally figured out how the Camelback works. I shot another photo bewildered that I was really there, amazed at the fine piece of machinery
I started the Uly, and headed deeper into the mountain range. Before too long I caught up with this fellow moving along at a spirited pace down the straights,
and I thought this is cool, we can roll through this section together. That thought lasted until we reached the next turn, where he decided to drop anchor, and I got my first real feel for how powerful the front brake is After slamming on the brakes and yawning through the next section of twisties, I politely passed on a double yellow, and rode solo through the next section. The roads weren't too shabby
After cresting the ridge, the roads terrain became more and more red, and the roads continued to thrill
leading me through a quaint little town called Jerome:
Jerome sits right on the mountain ledge. I wish I had more time to spend exploring this place. I was a man on a mission though, so my photos were limited to what I could shoot from the saddle:
The speed limit was 15 mph through town
Proud kind of place:
That is a geniune horse and buggy rolling through on the right:
I left Jerome, filled the gas tank for the first time, and headed toward Prescott. My adventure was underway. I was having a blast and looking forward to Sedona.
|14-09-2006, 11:03 AM||#4|
Route 89 N led me to the town of Prescott. I hadn't planned to stop here, but during a conversation with Bill earlier in the day, he mentioned Prescott is known as a typical place in small town USA. As I rolled through, I saw the courthouse on my right, with a parking space out front that had my name on it.
It was now 3:30 in the afternoon. I should be rolling to Sedona. I'm interested in Prescott at the moment. Straight ahead of the parked bike was the courthouse.
In front of the courthouse was a monument to war veterans
so I grabbed the Nikon and started shooting
Some bikers were having a picnic on the courthouse lawn. It was a beautiful day. Temps were in the low 80's with zero humidity. A picture perfect place really. A man was walking his pair of golden retreivers. I chatted with him briefly, telling him about my golden retreiver puppy back home. I countinued shooting while we chatted.
Prescott even has its own Harley dealer
Before leaving Prescott I called Julie to say hello and to let her know I got off to a great start. I told her I was in Prescott, and she asked "where's that?" I told her on the way the Sedona. She said you better get moving . I agreed, said goodbye to Julie, then said goodbye to Prescott.
Back out on the road, you can pretty much see Sedona from Prescott even though it's 40 or 50 miles away. (My mileage estimates are probably way off, but I'm writing it as I remember it, accurate or not ).
The landscape was continued to impress this east coaster.
That's Sedona up ahead.
The closer I got, the more beautiful Sedona became:
A better perspective of the same shot
On the way into town I stopped at this particular spot,,,,
for a reason
I rolled into town
turned left down a neighborhood street
and regardless of where I pointed the camera
found an interesting perspective to shoot
I continued North
through the touristy section of town
and the train kept rolling.
It was now about 5:30PM, the sun was setting fast, and I wanted to roll through Oak Creek Canyon before dark. On the north side of Sedona, I stopped one final time for parting shots, some with the bike:
some without the bike
As I left prepared to leave Northern Sedona, I was putting my camera back inside the tank bag, and hear an ear piercing howl, more of a mean growl, roaring up the road. To my pleasure, I saw three Lamborghini's racing through the pass, coming out of Oak Creek Canyon . Damnit, I hate when I miss those photo ops.
I didn't realize it at the time, but Oak Creek Canyon is literally just north of Sedona. The light was fading fast, so I knew my bar mounted cam wouldn't be able to capture images without blur. I shot anyway. And deleted every single shot through the pass. I did stop a time or two to shoot with the Nikon.
This road is 14 miles of nirvana
No Parking. Unless you are from out of town, riding a Uly, and need to take a photo
As I rolled out of Oak Creek Canyon, my immediate goal was to find the motel Julie booked for me in Flagstaff. The sun, and temperatures were setting fast
and the rain was moving in
I headed east on I-40 for 5 miles before finally locating the motel. It started raining just as I rolled in.
I asked the attendant if there were any restaurants within walking distance, and there was an Outback Steakhouse just down the street.
After unloading my luggage, the rain passed, and I was treated to a nice sunset.
Instead of walking to Outback for dinner, I went to the food mart and bought some slim jims and a couple Coronas.
Here's my GPS log from Day one. Not too many miles, but every inch was fantastic.
And here's me for the final shot of the day
I slept like a baby, having gained 3 hours due to the flight. Tomorrow, I head north into Utah.
BTW, as I was typing this portion, Bill called to make sure I arrived home safely. We had another nice conversation and he said he'll be reading this report. Cheers Bill, you were the highlight of the day