While the clutch survived, my lighting did not. Fifteen minutes into day one, the cast aluminum bracket holding my headlight snapped. At least I got it out of the way early. A few minutes of fun with the Leatherman and I officially needed to finish before dark.
Not long after that, my bike started to short out. I didn’t think to bring fuses, but I had a ton of safety wire. I quickly learned how to hard wire my fuse holder. I was either gonna finish this ride or melt my motorcycle in the sand.
The first day went like this: fall behind old guys on fast straights and then pass old guys in the dirt. Get gas, get lost, get stuck in sand, tell newcomers who joined our group that “I was fine” and then find the road to the next gas stop. When it was fun, it was FUN. When there was no service and no help, it was a character building experience in a gritting your sand-filled teeth kind of way. We were running the ‘hard way’ as long as we could. When the gearbox on one of our bikes broke, we decided to take the short way.
Luckily I wasn’t the only one having trouble. A few of the other vintage riders had lost power, flatted tires, smoked clutches and broken woodruff keys. Nobody was safe from 200 miles of sand and rocks. Except the guys on brand new bikes with brand new gear… those guys were untouchable.
After several hours under the sun we ended up taking some detours through the familiar area of Stoddard Wells, just outside Barstow. We found some rocky hills to climb, got another flat tire or two, and got lost on the backside of the mountain. Thankfully, being a holiday weekend, there were plenty of guys throwing thumbs up that were willing to point us in the right direction.
Without lights, the ride into Barstow was a little dicey, but thankfully our team manager, Joy, had her brights on and was tailing us into town. We finally rolled into our motel parking lot and assessed the milieu of damage. Despite the fatigue there was no time to rest, it was now time to repair.
The lot was riddled with bikes making fixes. The main hotel was a block away, but we had our own little vintage oasis away from the ‘hey my dad used to have one of those’ conversations courtesy of the cheerful guys who’d already showered and eaten dinner.
I was officially not legal anymore. My mufflers had rattled out, my lights were gone, and one of my footpegs had shed its grippy outer cage. The good news was that I found the culprit creating the electrical short in my wiring. I also cleaned my air filters checked some nuts, bolts, and I was good to go.