The moment of departure or the beginning of something is a strange place in time. We have been preparing for over a year - buying motorcycles, rebuilding them, acquiring the needed equipment, making things, practicing, learning, planning, saving money, packing. And finally we rode our heavy-as-hell bikes out of the driveway. In that 30 seconds our lives shifted from (relative) domesticity to the daily unknown. The moment passed, and we twisted our throttles, shifted gears, and somewhat shakily began moving along the roads.
Day one quickly became time for me to learn how to balance the Hammer with a hundred and fifty extra pounds, as well as a time to discover that the Hammer has a broken shock and Whiskers has a leaking brake caliper. Minor safety issues but headaches none the less, it is fortunate to find out these things so immediately giving us time to order the parts we need. In the small desert town of Delta, Utah of all places, we found a suspension specialist in his backyard who re-charged the shock (it’s still pretty broken), and Scott bought brake fluid to keep filling his reservoir. We had a caliper shipped to Cali and kept riding West. West. We were ready to be out of Utah.
Nevada is like surface of the moon. Miles and miles of straight roads through salty valleys that contain no one, interrupted by rocky desert mountain ranges. The loneliest highway in America is lonely indeed. Lonely, hot, dusty, and beautiful in it’s own right. At one point we were hit with a rain storm, grooved pavement, and 60 mph wind gusts all at once. I thought I was going to eat the dirt on the side of the highway, with a squirrelly front wheel, a bad shock, and the wind pushing my feet from where I wanted to be on the road, but we made it through. I am continuously learning how to ride again when we hit new terrain or new riding conditions. It’s a little hard, but I love it and each new challenge makes me a better and more confident rider and human.
After 600 miles and a night in the desert serenaded by packs of coyotes, the Eastern Sierra Nevada range came into view and things became abruptly green, the roads began winding through hills and mountain passes, and Nevada was behind us, with hot springs ahead. The second riding challenge of that day was an 8-mile dirt road that was full of in ruts and deep sand - sometimes 6-8 inches deep, which is hard on a heavy motorcycle. Even Scott had some difficulty getting through it. I almost went down twice but muscled through and thanked Thor (Hammer god, ha!) for the power of acceleration. 400 miles at 55mph, wind and rain, sand and cold found us shivering and exhausted but we were met at the end of the sand road by friends who gave us the glorious wonderful amazing gifts of fire, beer, hot food, and friendship. I think I cried. And we sat in the hot springs and went to sleep with the moonlight shining on our faces.