Day Three: Sunday, October 21, 2007

San Diego to Ridgecrest

I left San Diego around 8 AM Sunday morning and headed North on I-15. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny morning. The road was perfect and virtually traffic free. I put the cruise control on 85, flipped out the highway pegs, kicked back, and watched the world go by. It was a fine morning for enjoying the scenery and reflecting on just how blessed I am.

Somewhere along the line I passed a guy on a Road King and he joined up and ran in formation for an hour or so until I needed to make a fuel stop. I’d look back ever so often and imagine that it was Pete, David, Mark, Greg, Jeff, or Peter back there. Now would be the time to start planning a spring ride guys.

I rocked along in total bliss, took the 215 toward San Bernardino, and got my first little taste of what I was in store for the rest of the day. In Riverside, about where the 60 crosses 215, a gust of wind blew me out of my lane. My adrenaline immediately shot of the scale. After driving through what I thought was a brief wind tunnel, I pulled over to snap this pic. You can see the dust storm coming…


With a small mountain range blocking the wind and thinking the worst was over, I continued north on 215. The worst was yet to come.

A few miles later, pulled over on the side of the road again, I snapped this just before my bike blew up off the kickstand.


I spent the next 50 minutes bracing the bike to keep the wind from blowing it over. Later, I found that the winds were gusting at over 75 mph. Not really what I would call an ideal riding environment.

I figured out how to get off the interstate in the first 10 minutes. It just took me another 40 or 45 to get the courage up to try. I waited until a slow moving big rig came by and as it blocked the wind from me, I hopped on, fired up the bike and raced to catch up, running along side the truck on the shoulder. It was about a mile to the exit and I passed some 15 to 20 other motorcyclists all standing on the side of the road holding their bikes up.

With no small amount of relief, I got the bike off the interstate and parked in the lee side of a Starbucks. Moments later the wind started blowing roof panels off the building.


Safe and Smokin

The next five hours were spent meeting other motorcyclists (about 20 of us ended up stuck there), listening to reports of the fire that broke out a few miles away, drinking coffee, and waiting for the wind to die down. At least three tractor trailers had blown over, one of which we watched catch on fire. There were reports of a second truck that caught on fire, but it wasn’t confirmed.

Late in the afternoon, a local biker offered to lead us through a back way around the pass. Since the wind had died down a bit and the fire was reportedly under control, four of us took him up on it. It was far to late to continue on to Death Valley, so I headed North and spent the night in Ridgecrest.

I went to bed quite relieved that I’d survived the wind and didn’t have to sleep on the ground outside of Starbucks.

Author’s Note: Even though I’m VERY late with this post, I’m posting it with the rest of the trip for continuity.