So there we were, ready to go. By now our list of riders had dropped to nine, more manageable than 11, but still a bit more than we had hoped for. Shortly before the ride, one of the guys was having a problem with his bike, so we called Harley's press fleet center. They graciously let us borrow a yellow '06 Road Glide for the trip. Now we had finalized our route, including gas, dinner, and hotel stops. We got together for a pre-ride meeting (see sidebar), and then we were ready to go.
Eight of the nine of us (Bob, Eric, Gib, Fuji, John, Fred, Jeff, and myself) met at a gas station in Lakewood, CA, at 2:45 a.m. on Saturday. We hit the road by 3 with a plan to meet Craig at our first gas stop in Lynwood, CA. Just before we pulled off the exit, a bike joined our group. It was Craig-perfect timing. A quick fill-up, and we were off. From there things went well to our next stop in Needles, CA, where things went downhill for Fred (see sidebar). As the day went on, we ended up in two groups, missing each other by about 45 minutes. We stayed in touch by cell phone as we planned to rendezvous in Gallup, NM, for dinner. Prior to arriving, the second group had to pull off and adjust a pushrod that had loosened-no biggie. We hooked up in Gallup, and after eating dinner we attempted to repair a broken kickstand spring. No luck, but nothing a bungee cord couldn't fix. With dinner out of the way, it was time to blaze across the beautiful New Mexico landscape and make it to Rio Puerco, NM, 120 miles to the east. We made it there at 6:30 p.m. local time and still needed to blast 300 miles back to Flagstaff, AZ, and call it a night to qualify for the Saddle Sore 1000. With quick stops in Gallup and Holbrook, AZ, we were on the last leg of our first goal. We pulled into Flagstaff at 10:45 p.m. We did it-1,091miles in less than 24 hours. But we weren't finished yet.
Sunday morning rolled around, and we were on the road by 5:50 a.m. The early hour and elevation made for some cold temps. We had on our cold-weather gear as the day got started, but that didn't last long. By the time we reached Seligman, AZ, a mere 75 miles away, the desert was heating up, and we found ourselves stripping off layers of clothing. The warm sun felt good as we made our way out of Arizona and back into California. When we hit Needles we scarfed down some fast food and got back on the road. Before we knew it, we were back at our final gas stop prior to the last leg of the trip home. We had about 115 miles to go and 2 hours and 45 minutes to get there, barring any unforeseen problems. It looked as if we would get it done. Just over two hours later we were back. We had done it (all but Fred-there's always next time!). When it was all said and done, the group as a whole had a tremendous sense of accomplishment, although a couple of guys thought it was a long way to go just to turn around. Most of the guys agreed that this ride is in your head: Set your mind to it, and you can do it.