The adventure 3: Eagle, CO to Bakersfield, CA

Monday, 12 September 2016  |  Admin

BUTT SERIOUSLY: FIRST TIME OUT ON THE IRON BUTT RALLY: AN IRISHMAN'S STORY / Richard KeeganI surprised the desk clerk when I checked out at 05:30 next morning. The three hours’ sleep, a perfect rest and I was all set for the day’s ride. And what a ride it was to be.

Spectacular is an often-used word. The ride this Sunday was spectacular. I had crossed the Continental Divide in the night. All rivers were now heading for the Pacific Ocean and so was I. The scenery was really American. The colours of the rocks were amazing, with awe-inspiring formations. I was approaching canyon land, the bike and the tyres were performing beautifully and the bike was tracking as if it was on rails through the broad sweeping turns as I descended from the Rockies. Life was good. I was up early enough that, for the first three hours riding, it was not even too hot, just a really pleasant Sunday bike run.

Then the warning light came on for low petrol. No problem, time for the auxiliary tank. Except I had already emptied the auxiliary tank the previous evening. I was getting low on petrol. No problem, I thought, I will get juice at the next town, 30 or 40 miles away. No problem. But 30 miles, then 40 miles, came and went without any petrol opportunities. Finally, an exit came and I took it. A mile and a half later, I came to a T-junction. On the left was a simple petrol station, more like a shack, with two petrol pumps outside. And two old guys in real cowboy hats chatting in what was now 100˚F heat. Just chatting, no hurry. No problem, I thought, until I saw the sign written onto the side of the shed: “God took a day off on Sunday – and so do we!”.

Oh boy. I asked the old guys and they directed me back east about eight miles on the county road, where they assured me I could get gas on a Sunday. Riding along through the range lands on the county road, I was counting down the miles, passing by fields with horses running free, the Wild West. Then the fun started. The gas station was supposed to be at a crossroads. I had found the crossroads but no sign of the petrol station. It took me about 20 minutes to find the gas station – up and down and across. Unbelievable. In this remote and semi-desert place, I couldn’t find the gas station. It was ‘hidden’ behind some small bushes. Filled up with gas, water and Gatorade, I headed back to the Interstate and the junction with Interstate 15.

Interstate 15 has to be one of the most dangerous roads in the world. The traffic was moderate, the surface is good, the road is wide but it goes through one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. You find yourself not wanting to watch the road but wanting to look at the incredible scenery instead – highly dangerous! Temperatures were again well into the 100s and I was sucking water and Gatorade constantly. Twice on this run to Las Vegas, my cloud angels helped me out. Twice, it rained a gentle rain when the temperature was at its highest.

I-15 is a popular biker route. I passed several groups of Harley riders as they holidayed down this spectacular road. The contrasts were quite stark. They rode in T-shirts and jeans, some with helmets, some without. They all seemed to be so cool. I was riding in full bike gear: jacket, trousers, gloves and helmet. I was sure that I wasn’t cool. But we were all enjoying the ride, the scenery and the experience. There are so many different ways to enjoy biking.

Extracted from BUTT SERIOUSLY: FIRST TIME OUT ON THE IRON BUTT RALLY: AN IRISHMAN'S STORY by Richard Keegan.