Monday, December 03, 2007

Sedalia anxiously waits

Well, good news for Guberburger fans: it looks like the Wheel Inn will reopen at a new location sometime next year! My sister emailed me a week or two ago to let me know, and then I googled to this link in the Sedalia Democrat today:

Wheel Inn, guberburger to return

Yeah, I'm going back.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

WPFL Championship

I went down to San Diego CA (actually La Jolla) to enjoy the last game of the 2007 season, the WPFL championship, on Saturday night. Brrr! I made the somewhat unwise choice to ride the motorcycle down, and it was chilly! I also got rained on like heck for about three miles, just south of Camp Pendleton, but other than those minor discomforts, it wasn't a bad trip. The Motel 6 on Hotel Circle left a lot to be desired, but hey, that's what I get for going cheap.

The SoCal Scorpions (American Conference champs) were hosting the Houston Energy (winners of the National conference) for all the marbles. Both Houston and SoCal are good teams - the Energy won the first three WPFL titles, in 2000, 2001 and 2002, and while the Scorpions have been to the playoffs many times, this is their first trip to the WPFL championship. I met up with Amy and Chandra, and we settled in for a good game.

It was an entertaining game, dominated by defense. The offense on both sides seemed to misfire quite a bit, which kept the scoring low. The Houston quarterback (Cantu) in particular was off-target all night long, unable to complete many passes. SoCal drove down the field a number of times only to stall out in the red zone. The frustration of the offensive game's stutters were offset by the BIG hitting of the defensive squads. Nothing brings a crowd to its feet like the ringing thud of a pancake block! At halftime, SoCal held a 14-7 lead.

I started to wander around the crowd, meeting up with some folks. I ran into the WFBTalk gals over in the opposite stands, just in time for their halftime show (LOL) and Robin nabbed me and put me on the air! I also got to meet a bunch of Empire State and Las Vegas players, sat and talked with Coach Josh from the Quake for a little bit, and generally mingled and schmoozed. I didn't get back to my seat next to Chandra until the end of the third quarter and the gals were wondering where the hell I had disappeared to.

The second half was fairly boring, with both offenses badly stalled out. Houston did have a chance, a possession in the waning minutes of the game, but couldn't capitalize. SoCal hung on for the 14-7 victory and a well-deserved championship. They've been a good team for a while now and it's nice to see them reach the top.

The big topic of discussion - what's going to happen to the WPFL now? A lot of teams are leaving for other leagues. No one knows if there's gonna be women's fall football in 2008.

Sunday, I bundled up and took the long way home through the mountains east of San Diego, stopping for apple pie (again, yum) in Julian. The previous days' storms had left snow and ice on the shoulders but the roads were perfectly clear, and it was quite a lovely day. Cold cold cold for riding. I gotta get some better winter gloves.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tombstone AZ run

I wandered down to Tombstone AZ on a whim this weekend. Some of the AZ gals were getting together there for dinner, and I thought I'd tag along. Besides, I haven't spent too much time in southeast Arizona. Now, you have to understand, Tombstone AZ is a pretty long ways away from me, almost 600 miles, so I got up early in the morning and rode rode rode for most of the day. Boring interstate miles are still more fun than not riding ;) I pull into town somewhere around 4:30, and by the time I get parked and get my camera out, there are re-enactors milling around on the main street, and soon they go into a whole routine, playing out the actions of the Earps and the Clantons and the leadup to the Gunfight at the OK Corral. It's essentially a running shouting match that walks the entire length of Tombstone ... all four blocks of it. Of course by the time they are down by the Corral, that's where you have to pay admission to see the re-enactment of the gunfight itself. I decline. :)

To me, the whole thing had a kind of funtime Disneyland feel to it, until I remembered that the street I was walking is the actual site of the event. Wyatt and Doc and the Clanton gang trod here, these dusty alleys, where I now stand. This gives it a sort of different attitude, I'm not exactly sure why.

After the pre-Gunfight show, I run into Worm and Debbie, and we shop until it's time to meet everyone else for dinner. This is easier said than done, since Tombstone shops close up seriously early. Only a few are open for us to browse, most of them having locked up around 5:00.

Dinner is at the Longhorn Restaurant (a famous landmark, but next time I am going to Big Nose Kate's) and is quite good. Turbo and Dan are there, and I get to meet Twiggy and DynaCat, who both live in this part of Arizona. Afterwards, we retire to the cute little hotel that Turbo's found, and we stay up late talking in the courtyard with a bunch of other motorcyclists. Ahh, life is good! In the morning, I get up, pack my ittybitty bag, and head back 600 miles home after this nice visit with friends.

And that's my trip to Tombstone AZ, "the Town Too Tough To Die." :)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Femmoto 2007

Off to Femmoto, the women's demo/track day in Las Vegas NV. This was my second year at the event, so I knew what to expect this time around. I wasn't able and/or willing to take time off work, so I bombed across the desert late Friday and checked into the Ramada close to the speedway after 9 pm. A little traffic, a little cold, but not too bad.

Saturday morning up bright and early, out to the track to sign up for my rides. This year's dance card consisted of:
1) Kawasaki ZX-6R (last year's favorite ride)
2) Kawasaki ZX-10R (the liter version of the above)
3) Buell Ulysses
4) Aprilia RSV
5) Honda CBR

The first session was pretty cold and windy but it died down after that, making everyone happy. The rules for the novice groups were a lot stricter this year, no passing allowed on the track, which meant our first run around was much more like a stately parade than a race ... yawn! Not once did I get to open it up on the ZX-6R.

However, on the next go-round, the Femmoto staff riders managed to herd the inevitable slowpokes out of the way and I was able to get a few good laps in on the 10R. Ooooeeee, that bike is fun. When you get on the throttle on that one, it responds in a hurry. I was doing the dick showoff thing coming back to pit lane, revving the engine just to listen to it go VRRRRrrrr VRRRRRRrrr VRRRRRrrr and laughing the whole way.

the filling-rattling Buell!The Ulysses was not much to my liking. Last year I rode a Buell Blast (250cc) which made me look like a circus bear on a bicycle & felt like a badly tuned lawn mower. So I thought I would try the larger Ulysses, which is 1200cc and is so tall I can barely tippy-toe it, and it still felt like a badly tuned lawn mower. Oh well. The Buells just aren't for me.

Didn't like the Aprilia that muchThe Aprilia RSV is a 1000cc supersport, and seemed like a very nice bike. However, once I got on the ergos didn't fit me (riding position required me to tuck my legs up more than I think is comfortable ... not a good bike for fat chicks) and I didn't enjoy that session too much. I never felt like I was in the proper part of the powerband so it wasn't a responsive machine. Overall, an "ehhhh" ride.

Loved the Honda! But, in this picture, I am stuck behind slowpokes & can't carve the corner.Fifth and last, though, was the one bike I for-sure wanted to ride this year, and that's the Honda CRB. Ever since Honda came out with the redesigned CBR line for 2007 I've had a thing for these bikes, and I wanted to give one a bit of a workout to see if I liked it as much as I thought I did. The answer is HELL YES. I rode a 600cc, and it was comfortable and powerful and smooth as silk, a real joy to ride. It was my best ride of the day, too, I was lucky to get on the track just in front of the bottleneck (the inevitable slowpoke) so I had a mile of empty track in front of me & I could go as fast as I wanted without worrying about traffic ... it took me about three times around before I finally lapped and caught the back of the slow pack (I don't ride that fast, I don't have the skills for it) and let me tell you those three most FUN laps I did all day. Honda has those machines dialed in perfectly, and I now have a new favorite sportbike (the Kawi Ninja remains a close second.) I tell ya, if I had a spare $9,000, there'd be one of those in my garage. I can't ride it for a long time, but it sure is fun for play.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Green belt, part 2

It was an honor and a privilege to be able to participate this weekend in USSD events during the Shaolin Monk's visit to the USA. The Head Abbot of the Shaolin Temple came and spoke to us, and as I explain to friends, this is sort of equivalent to a visit from the Pope (or other head of any major religion.) It was pretty exciting.

The first half of Saturday was the USSD studen'ts workshops, were we were able to work with the monks themselves. It is AMAZING to watch these guys and their abilities - they make everything look easy, but that ease is earned through years and years of hard physical training. I can only hope to someday get that low in my stances :)

Saturday afternoon was part 2 of my belt test, and let me tell you, when they said the second half would be the easy one, I think I was misled :D Anyway, I made it through, with my knee grinding and my Achilles screaming, and didn't suck too badly I hope. I couldn't hear a word any of the instructors were saying at the front of the room, 'cause it was incredibly noisy, so I always seemed to be half a beat behind on whatever was being barked out. I was not the only one. At the end of the day I was grateful to be awarded my green belt - for this one, I've worked hard.

Sunday, we had a promotion ceremony - our new ranks recognized by Professor Matterra and Headmaster DeMasco, and our photo taken with the Head Abbot, monks, and ranking USSD instructors. This took awhile because we were brought to the stage in large groups. The green belts alone had over ninety people. Then, Sunday afternoon, we saw the Shaolin Monks in performance, where they do their martial arts demonstrations. It is a VERY cool show and if you ever get a chance to see it, you definitely need to go :)

Monday, August 20, 2007

2200 Miles For A Steak

It started on a kind of dare, but turned into an event: a couple of the east coast gals met a couple of the west coast gals for dinner at the Big Texan in Amarillo.

I took Friday and Monday off work, and basically rode two days to get to Texas (catching up with Joker at the end of the first day in Gallup) and two days to get back home. Now that's my idea of a good RTE! (ride to eat)

Temps were beastly, but then again when aren't they in August. We prepare as best we can (I had my coolvest, of course) and ride early and drink gallons of water. I think the easterners had the worst of it; their temps were as high as ours but they aren't used to handling it. Plus, heavy rains closed I-40 and routed them out of Tennessee, stretching the return trip an extra day. Ai.

I have a new entry on the List Of Weird Foods I Have Tried: rattlesnake is on the menu at the Big Texan. It's a food I would order once but not twice ... it's mostly bones & not nearly worth all the effort. :D

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Green belt, part 1

The Shaolin Monks are coming to America, a special event for USSD, and I will be testing for my next belt that weekend. However, in order to participate in the "monk test", students are being submitted to a pre-test, which is where you are really put through your paces.

So, today I drove down to a different dojo (this pre-test was held in Rolling Hills) and gritted my teeth though the thing. I know, I know, I complain that kempo gets harder and harder with every level (and it's supposed to) but JEEZ today's test just about killed me. Since there were so many people there, and such a limited amount of space, they moved us all outside and we ran around outside and did drills in the parking lot. Let me repeat that. We RAN. OUTSIDE. ON CONCRETE. IN THE BLAZING SUN. By rank, groups were called indoors at the end of their tests; we were brought in after about three hours.

I can not even begin to describe how much pain my knee has after running and jumping on hard surfaces in dojo shoes for three hours. I have taken my last, precious Vicodin which has cut down on the groaning and weeping a bit, thankfully.

At least I get two weeks recovery time before part two of the test.

Monday, July 09, 2007

What I Did This Summer (2007)

This is for my sister who says I never update my blog ;)

June 23 through July 8

Fillmore UT, June 23 2007
Fillmore UT - The County Courthouse and Territorial State House were half a block from my hotel.
Day 1: Leaving Los Angeles! The new bike's odometer reads 743 miles. It's a long hot day riding across the desert. I-15 carries me north to Fillmore, Utah (a fairly small town about 100 miles south of Provo.) My hotel has the world's worst bed, soft and saggy and a guaranteed backache the next morning.

Day 2: Yup, backache. Nicer weather now that I am a little further north and at a little more altitude than yesterday. I get screwed up and miss going through Provo Canyon (I got on 89 instead of 189) and end up going through Salt Lake City proper on I-80. Traffic isn't bad so I don't mind. I make it all the way into Nebraska, stopping in Kimball. I am treated to twenty miles of cold stinging rain at the very end of the ride - wow, the weather is REALLY different in this part of the country!

Original Pony Express station, Gothenberg NE
The first Pony Express station
Day 3: Today is hot and muggy. (I am born and raised in the southwest ... how do you all handle the humidity? Ugh!) I stop in Gothenburg NE and see the first Pony Express station. I finally get off the interstate and onto US-30, and watch for Lincoln Hwy sights. Stop for the night in Ames IA.

Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa ... the Field of Dreams, where Shoeless Joe and Moonlight Graham play
In the bleachers, the Field of Dreams
Day 4: Meander my way through Iowa, stopping off to visit the Field Of Dreams in Dyersville. I cross the Mississippi at Dubuque, get rained on like hell in Rockford IL, and work my way through Chicago traffic (since I don't know how to route myself away from the bad spots) before stopping for the night to visit with Tink in Dyer IN.

The Hall of Fame really does look like a juicer
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Day 5: Off and on rain for my trip across Indiana and Ohio, all on US-30. Visit the NFL Hall Of Fame in Canton. Get caught in a local holiday parade in Minerva OH ... seriously, all these folks were in folding chairs on the sidewalks or their front stoops, and they were all waving at me, so I waved back. LOL. (I was about ten car lengths behind the last float. The 2 mph pace just about killed my clutch hand!) End up in Moon PA, just outside of Pittsburgh, for the night.

Fallingwater, in my eyes the most beautiful architectural feat in America
Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, in southwest Pennsylvania
Day 6: Visit Fallingwater, and run into Budgirl there, too funny! My intention had been to take the old Lincoln Hwy all the way to Jet's house near Philly, but when I find myself running hopelessly late, I hop on the Penn Turnpike and haul ass across the state. Saves time, costs me $14.75. Geez I hate toll roads.

Day 7: Ger lets me borrow his shop to change the oil and filter on the new beast, the only maintenance required on this trip. Set off for Lancaster PA to hook up with my pals there.

The Angle, where Pickett's Charge ended
Gettysburgh, the Angle. Called the High Water Mark of the Confederacy, here the rebellion broke in blood.
Day 8: Jet, Bam, Ger and I head off for Gettysburgh early in the morning. This is a Holy Grail for Civil War geeks like me, and they graciously humor me and listen to me go on and on and ON about many details of the place. Nice riding, but the humidity is still killing me. Back in Lancaster, the RSBS Wigapalooza provides the evening's festivities :)

Whooooo hooooo!!!
Takin' a ride in the Stearman ... what fun!
Day 9: Up early and heading out; we're off to the VanSant airport in Erwinna PA. Jet and I have got it in our heads to ride one of those barnstorming biplane rides so that's going to be the adventure for today! We sign up for the full-monty aerobatic flight and that's what we get: loops, barrel rolls, hammerheads, Immelmans, other stuff I forget what it's called, EVERYTHING. I love it. Jet turns a little green around the gills ;) We give her all the time she wants to recover before leisurely riding home again.

Mmmm, pie.
Lancaster PA is Amish Tourist Town!
Day 10: I bid a fond farewell to Jet, and start heading west again. I stop for a looksee at Valley Forge. I stop one last time in Lancaster PA for a slice of shoofly pie. I stop and spend a little more time in Gettysburgh, walking around on Little Round Top which we had hurried through on Saturday. I also stop in Bedford PA to take pictures of a famous building in the shape of a coffee pot. Then I realise I've been farting around most of the day and I am not even going to get out of PA if I don't beat feet, so I hop down to the interstate and end up making it to Wheeling WV for the night, a stone's throw from Ohio.

Day 11: It's a haul-ass day. I-70 carries me to Warrenton MO, 50 miles west of St Louis. 600 miles. It is STILL hot and humid.

Sunset at the dome site
Sunset in Missouri, and we're gonna set off LOTS of fireworks
Day 12: Today is the 4th of July, and I arrive at my sister's house in Warrensburg MO before noon, where we promptly go out and buy a massive amount of fireworks, and set 'em off that evening. Artillery is fun :)

Hey, go check out my sister's blog - she has a great writeup of my visit (much more detail than my lightning recap here, and more photos!)

Mmmm, Guber Burgers.
Last chance for Guber Burgers.
Day 13: My one day off the bike. The family heads down to the Ozarks for a cave tour and a little sightseeing. One of my fondest wishes, to have a Guber Burger at the Wheel Inn before they close for good, is fulfilled. What? You've never heard of the Guber Burger? It's a burger topped with peanut butter, a surprisingly good combo. The Guber Burger has now passed into history as great road food sacrificed to the gods of progress, as the Wheel Inn was closed forever. Hwys 50 and 65 in Sedalia MO are being widened.

Day 14: Sadly I have to head on home to get back to work next Monday, so around midday I say goodbye to my sister & family, then haul ass west, making it to Limon CO an hour after full dark.

Why is the sky so hazy? (I'm gonna figure it out soon!)
The hazy, hazy skies in Utah were my first tipoff something was wrong.
Day 15: I head through Denver and cross the Rockies via I-70. I get caught in the mess where the Utah brushfire has closed the interstates; they take us off and send us southbound on Hwy 89, which would be a lovely two-lane highway except for all the interstate traffic on it. Yuck! It's horribly smoky and I ride with a wetted-down handkerchief tied across my mouth and nose, which at least keeps the flying ashes out of my lungs. At last we are allowed back on to I-15 and I get as far as St George UT before getting a room for the night.

Day 16: On the road at sunup, trying to beat the worst of the killerheat across the desert. As it warms up I end up taking two water breaks for every gas stop, but it's working and holding the heatstroke at bay :) I roll into my driveway around 2 pm.

6621 miles and one helluva trip! So, where should I head next? ;)

Respectfully submitted,

Friday, June 01, 2007

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Followup to the bad carb

After disassembling the wee beastie's carburetor, I'm afraid her days are numbered. I cleaned out the jets (which were a little gummed up, but not too bad) and probably should have replaced the float, but didn't have the part available. She's running a little better, but still stumbling when accelerating from a full stop. This has me a bit worried with my next cross-country trip approaching. It is really gonna SUCK if I have to stop every hundred miles between here and Pennsylvania and spray carb cleaner into her throat. Besides, it's time and then some that I "move up" to a bigger engine ... most folks consider a 600cc machine too small for touring, and while I revel in my status as the grrl who rides the little bike impossibly far, it probably will be more comfortable on a larger machine.

So, I am pulling the trigger. Ever since running the Iron Butt with Joker, I've had a bee in my bonnet about the Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad, a 1600cc beast. Today after work, I dropped by Burbank Kawasaki with a price quote from another SoCal dealer in hand, and whaddaya know, they beat it by $400. I take delivery of a jet-black 2006 Nomad, zero miles on the odometer, on Friday.

Now I just gotta get the run-in done before heading back east. :)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

WWF Williams AZ

At the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. You like the artsy shot? ;)Just returned from WildWestFest, the RSBS Raven Clan's annual do. The location this year was Williams AZ, next to the Grand Canyon and surrounded by some of the state's finest riding. I had originally planned to be in Arizona from Thursday through Sunday; however, starting a new job at Kaiser cut short my vacation plans and I rode out to Williams on Friday instead. It was great to see my pals, some of whom I only see once or twice a year, and spend some time talking about everything and nothing over the requisite margaritas.

On Saturday, I ended up on my own. A lot of folks had done a Grand Canyon ride the day before and were heading south to the Sedona area. I sort of had my heart set on the South Rim, so that's where I went, riding solo. It was a MARVELOUS time. The weather could not have been finer, and I happily cruised Hwy 64, mainlining the heady scent of pinon pines warming in the sun. I stopped for photos. I stopped for a Navajo taco at a roadside stand. I stopped to take in the magnificence of this part of the country, and it couldn't have been a more wonderful day.

Jen and I rode home together on Sunday, and the bike is behaving badly. She'll stumble badly from a stop, especially if she's been running at high speeds for a while. This makes offramps quite challenging. I'll have to take apart the carburetor to see what the problem is.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Iron Butt Ride Report

For those who don't know, the Iron Butt Association is a group of long distance riders, who offer a number of ride certifications. The "beginner" Iron Butt ride is the Saddle Sore 1000, which is 1000 miles in 24 hours. Certification means you rode the ride, completed the documentation, sent it in, and it was verified by the IBA. In return, you get a nice patch, pin, and/or license plate frame, plus bragging rights. The IBA has pretty strict requirements. By design, it's not exactly easy to get an IBA certification. This is the tale of my first SS1000 attempt.

I spend Friday night at Joker's house (and they made me a fabulous dinner, for which I haven't thanked them profusely enough) and we agree to get up early and be on the road by 5:30 am. We're off to bed at a reasonably early hour.

Morning arrives, the alarm goes off. I hop into my riding gear, check all the last minute things that need to be checked, and we're off! We even get out by the time we wanted. By the time we get to the Coachella Shell station and tank up, the receipt reads 5:37 AM. Now, the clock is ticking. We turn onto I-10 eastbound. The sun will rise in less than an hour, and the deep purple sky on the eastern horizon drains imperceptibly of color until it's a bleached white, and then the gold and red tones of dawn greet our east-turned faces. It's not too terribly cold (I am not wearing every single layer possible, but close) and the wind, which can be fierce out here, has remained calm for us. A good start to our long day of riding!

Our first stop is just across the Arizona border, where gas is about forty cents cheaper than California. We whip in and out of that station so fast, you'd think it was a NASCAR race or something :) We're both feeling eager to pile on the miles, so early in the day! (The receipt has no timestamp on it; I think we get out around 7:15.)

The next gas station, we finally stop for a little breather and a bite to eat. Gas is at 8:30, and then it's breaktime. Neither Joker or I like to eat a big breakfast, so we set out without a meal, and I'm now snacking on powerbars and getting some caffeine in. I must admit that I am a coffee addict and will get a wicked caffeine headache if I don't get my daily allotment. Here, in Tonopah, we blow a lot of time standing around, but I am not worried. I have pretty meticulously charted this run, we're stopping for gas every 100 miles (a little bit of overkill, but it's a better-safe-than-sorry strategy in case of headwinds) and I've built a fair amount of farting-around time into our schedule and a big cushion at the end, in case anyone needs to take a nap somewhere along the trip. We eat into our nap time a little bit, which is no big deal.

Joker takes over the lead (I've been riding lead so far on this trip) and she sets a good comfortable pace. Her speedo is broken and she doesn't know how fast she is going, which is much less of a problem than you'd imagine. (If everyone is passing you, go faster. If you are passing everyone, go slower. That's about it, LOL.) Her bike is much larger than mine so if she forgets and twists the throttle she can leave me in the dust, and she pulls away from me a couple of times, and backs off a bit when she notices that I've fallen back a little. After a time, she gets the feel of the pace and my keep-up speed, and then that doesn't happen too much any more. We will trade off the lead position for the rest of the day, divvying up the work.

I've been warned there are road closures on I-10 in Phoenix, and sure enough the big electric signs are warning of dire consequences if we don't take the cutoff route, so we abandon all hope of going through Phoenix and take the Gila Bend detour. AZ Hwy 85 takes us south to I-8 east, which rejoins I-10 in Casa Grande on the other side of Phoenix. Here we stop for gas at 11:20 (at a stupid Exxon where four out of eight pumps were marked "out of service") and find ourselves fighting some traffic when we get back on the road. The corridor between Phoenix and Tucson is always bad, it seems, I guess it's just too many cars and too few lanes. It's not terrible but enough to keep us alert, for the cagers are driving city-aggressive instead of open-road-laidback, changing lanes frequently and tailgating and trying to pass on the right and all that nonsense. It doesn't really clear up until past Tucson, when suddenly there are few cars and we can relax.

Next gas stop, at 13:10, is Benson AZ (this is the part of Arizona where Bisbee and Tombstone are located.) A few miles later, as tempting as it is to stop and visit THE THING?, we press on and head into New Mexico. Our turnaround is twenty miles across the border, and we really need to stop and have a decent meal. We've only been snacking so far today.

We pull into Lordsburg NM around 14:55, get a Subway sandwich and have our first long sit-down of the day. It is oh-too-easy to not eat on the road, and we probably waited one stop too long to get a real meal, 'cause we'd both started fading a bit. I take the time to text Stormy to let her know we've reached the halfway point. Once fed, we both are feeling pretty good. We've come a smidge over 500 miles, which is how far I travel on a typical summer vacation day. Not today, though. I'm not feeling too tired or sore yet, but I can feel it coming soon.

Now, we turn around and come back, hitting all the same towns for gas along the way. Benson 17:15, Casa Grande 19:05. Here the sun has gone down and we'll be finishing the last 300 miles of the run in the dark, which is sort of a scary thing. We reduce our speed by another notch and keep a sharp lookout for critters. I do see what I think is a coyote on the shoulder of I-8, but we flash by so quickly it's hard to know if I'm right. Joker is leading, and she takes us through the Gila Bend detour. Coming from this direction, it's the most confusing road even in daylight, and it's only worse in complete darkness, confusing signs that are hard to read, and poorly painted lane markings. Thankfully I've been through here before and also she is paying attention to where I am pointing for her to go. We make it through and roll into the Tonopah station around 21:10.

Now, with only 200 miles to go, each leg is getting a little slower and each break is getting a little longer. My hands, wrists and shoulders are really starting to ache, especially on my throttle hand. I take my last turn at the lead, and steadily roll through the western Arizona desert, which is spectacularly dark and empty. No moon; it'll rise after we finish tonight as only a waning sliver. A few miles outside of Quartzsite AZ, a coyote runs out on the road in front of me, then retreats to the shoulder as I begin to swerve. The jolt of adrenaline is huge, but thankfully it's not a close call at all. I am very happy that we have seen no deer (the bane of motorcyclists.)

Gas at the AZ-CA border around 23:10, and Joker leads us on the last 100-mile leg home. We are both awfully tired and just want the thing to be over already, and the end is almost in sight! We finally hit a little bit of the weather that we've luckily avoided all day ... suddenly winds kick up, and we get a little spatter of rain with under 50 miles to go. We slow WAY down for that. An electric sign warns of high winds and low visibility ahead. Thank goodness our destination is right where the interstate comes down out of the mountains and onto the valley floor; we're going to miss the blowing sand that plagues the entire Palm Springs area some days. I am quite happy when the lights of the valley come into view, it's just the final roll down the hill now and off at the first exit, pull into the Shell station where we started this ride so long ago, and we officially stop the clock with one final gas receipt that reads 1:20 AM. Mission accomplished! We've completed our IronButt run in under 20 hours, and both of us were tired but not zombie-heads at the end.

I'd do it again :) just not two days in a row, not yet. I think I need to do a little training before taking that on, or at the very least get a throttle lock to give my poor right hand a break!