October 24, 2013

All Posts, Features, The Rebel Rides

I spent a hundred bucks on gas. My pillion pad was empty. I didn’t run into anybody I know. I remembered a couple of guys who didn’t remember me.

I took photographs. I made notes. I got sunburned. I ate fast food. I drank some five dollar beers and a ten dollar glass of wine. Mostly I drank alone. The motel bed made me itch. It was a non-smoking room so I had to go outside to smoke a roach.

I fought the wind all weekend. Every dawn was calm. Every afternoon a twenty mile an hour wind rushed out of the southwest. The gusts blew double that. Some monster off the Baja coast was big enough to reach out and shake me from six or seven hundred miles away.

Sunday night I turned on the news to try to learn if the monster had a name. A weather witch forecast “gusts up to forty” would “begin to develop around noon.” Then she laughed and all the news fools laughed with her. She twitched her hips the way a mare in heat twitches her tail. Then one of the news fools said something I couldn’t understand and the weather witch said, “Oh yeah,” just like a real, drunk, homemade, amateur MILF says “Oh yeah!” I turned to my phone, tapped the weather ap and saw a satellite photo of Charybdis in the Eastern Pacific. Then I went back to staring at the weather witch’s hips.

I knew what to do. This was not my first trip away from home. I set the alarm for six. I was packed and checked out and my tank was full and I was descending the onramp to the Black Canyon Freeway before seven. The sky was the color of an old plastic milk bottle but I was full of the false hope that experience brings. I hoped the ride home would be easy. I hoped a breeze would push gently at my back. I hoped the wind would not buffet me until noon and that when it did it would smell of the sea.

The I-17 in Phoenix was designed so 120,000 cars could travel the 13 miles between Northern Avenue and Interstate 10 each day. Most of those cars were on that freeway all at once that morning and none of us were happy. For one thing, the local police think the most logical and efficient thing to do with a motorcycle in heavy traffic is a crime. And for another, Phoenicians are the worst drivers between Bangkok and Rome. Although to be fair to Phoenix, out of respect for that weather witch’s alluring hips and lewd laugh, not every driver that morning tried to abuse me. A few of them were polite as I white-lined by to their left or right. But, most Phoenicians consider a motorcycle splitting lanes to be a grave insult. The worst of them think traffic is a blood sport. While I was at a dead stop, one driver hit my left side-view mirror with the right side-view mirror of his SUV. I believe he would have run over my front wheel and pinned me to the pickup truck on my right if I hadn’t gunned it and escaped through an impossibly narrow crack.

On I crept, long minute after long minute, ever vigilant for the lunatics making desperate lane changes, squeezing through the gaps left by the fools who feel obliged to stay multiple car lengths behind the vehicle ahead. I put my feet down every two minutes. I cursed the drivers who edged closer to the white line as soon as they saw me coming. I know everybody in Phoenix carries a gun. I cursed them anyway.

After eight or nine miles, which is to say an hour, I began to look for broken glass and blood. Whatever caused this had to be a catastrophe. There had to be ambulances ahead. There might even be a helicopter but the overpasses and the Tundras and Sequoias left me blind. Eventually I spied two mostly plastic cars with gaping holes in what were once bumpers. A mommy and a cubicle slave had been detained by an Arizona Highway Patrolman. He had ordered them to stand in one of the open lanes and they had obeyed. The cop was deliberate, in charge and alone. I believe he had been investigating there for an hour or so. He glared at me as I rode past him and began to accelerate.

A minute later I was finally headed west. In the hour I had been trapped an insistent breeze had risen from somewhere near Baja and a few white tumbleweeds had begun to spin across the sky. I was convinced I would be home by one anyway. A revised itinerary appeared on the head’s up display of my imagination. A half hour after the traffic jam I briefly settled into a constant and sedate 80.

But the wind began to fray just past Tonopah. It became two winds – a headwind and a cross wind blowing left to right. I clenched my legs together to keep my boots on the pegs. I caught a dresser with a patch holder from an Oakland club. Neither one of us could keep a constant speed. The winds changed minute by minute – now out of the west, then the south, then somewhere in between. Sometimes I was going 80 and the Oakland patch fell behind. Sometimes he passed me and he kept going and when I looked down I saw I was only doing 70. Then the patch would get stuck a quarter mile ahead of me. He would slow and I would catch him. Our engines sang together for a few miles before we finally parted ways. I don’t think we ever looked each other in the face.

I really liked that satellite photo of the Charybdis. It made me feel bigger and more in charge of my life. Science is my favorite lie. I like to pretend I understand all the things I cannot control. I am infatuated with the myth that weather is made of great whirlpools of clouds turning left or right. I like to imagine that weather has something to do with the laws of physics because that way I can imagine I know what is going on. That morning I comforted myself with the lie that sooner or later every wind must turn. I imagined these winds would turn when I crossed the California state line. If I could just get through the Saguaro forest, if I could just make the river by ten-thirty I would be home free and I could enjoy the best part of the ride.

Over the years the California deserts have marked me with images. They are marks only I can see: Creosote bushes dancing the hula in gentler winds; ocotillo and mesquite in front of a perfect pastel sky; wary jackasses and bold coyotes; roadrunners and pack rats. The desert is California without the lies. For decades the California desert lost its population as the miners, subsistence ranchers and the economy that supported them moved west into the big bowl of El Lay. Now the desert is filling back up again with campers, trailers and squatters as all the old hopes that once defined California turn to pain. Hundred thousand dollar houses became million dollar houses in an economy that was drying up. Then by some ironic magic the million dollar houses became million dollar debts. Then after the Sheriffs came and evicted them people began to drift east back into the desert of broken dreams, the harsh, angry America politicians dare not see. So now the desert images include 10,000 year old Proto-Amerindian petroglyphs spray painted with angry graffiti. Sometimes I like to pull off onto a side road and stop and stare. If I could make the river by ten-thirty, I promised myself, I would find a place to stop and stare.

And all the time I still knew perfectly well that weather is not made by anything I can understand. It is made by inscrutable demons and spirits to suit themselves and I always know that things usually don’t turn out the way I hope they will.

First there was the traffic jam. Then there were the headwinds. Then there were the bees. This was the swarming season of the killer bees. Two or three of them hit me in the face hard enough to raise welts. One of them flew up under the cuff of my flannel and stung me there which was when I realized the clouds of dots were bees. The one that stung me felt like it was trying to chew its way out of my shirt. I pulled over, unbuttoned my cuff, brushed off the bee, and dismounted to stretch my legs. My ears were ringing after less than a hundred miles. I opened some gum and managed to shove it in my mouth before the wind ripped the foil from my hands. One gust staggered me. The bike, leaning left, seemed to rock. I rolled my shoulders and pushed on. I had to constantly steer left in order to go straight.

Twenty-five miles later I stopped in Quartzite for gas. I didn’t need gas. I needed the stop to keep my hopes alive. It was 10:15 in the morning and I was almost to the river. There wasn’t a single bird in the sky. There was a black cloud growing in the southwest. I slowed to sixty as I started down the long hill into the Colorado River Valley. The trucks all slowed too. I didn’t see another motorcycle. The patch on the dresser was somewhere behind.

I stopped again at the agricultural inspection station. The idea that I might be smuggling fruit fly infested oranges into California on a motorcycle has always struck me as absurd but I was happy to stop anyway. Some guy in a brown shirt stared at me and then dismissed me with an official wave. I roared away eager to find the far side of the wind. I hoped it was a few miles up ahead. The more unpredictable the wind became the more convinced I was that I was almost through it.

And each time I glanced to the southwest the dark cloud had grown. Sand started blowing across the road. The little dustups were not terrible but they were bad enough that I did not stop to stare. I already had my image: A black hole was eating the desert sky. I hid in the lee of a truck, slowed to 50 or 55 and crept across the desert as the black stain pushed clouds over my head. The world shrank. The vistas drew closer and the horizon to my left turned yellow.

I finally passed the truck near Indio. Twisting, whirling sand devils danced in the highway. I stopped again and filled up. While I stood there two teenaged girls ran squealing from their car to the minimart. Their squeals were lost in throbbing blasts of wind. I stared at the dancing sand devils as if somebody else was going to have to ride through them. Then I tied a bandanna over my face and pushed on.

The Sonny Bono Memorial Freeway slowed to a crawl when the visibility dropped to a couple hundred feet. The blasts of sand burned my exposed skin. My eyes watered constantly. The bike, my boots and my clothes collected a dull, pale patina. Mile after mile I crawled along in traffic while the darkness in the sky grew and panicked clouds rushed before it.

And, then I dropped the bike. I fell to my left. I don’t know what happened. I was numb and upright one second. Then I was struggling to pull the bike back up but it was already too late. Then I was lying sideways in a freeway in a traffic jam in a sandstorm. My boot was trapped under the primary case and I was embarrassed. I managed to pull my foot out of my boot and scrambled to my feet. I had to try twice to wrestle the bike back upright. I found the kickstand and retrieved my boot. Nobody helped me. As I was shoving my foot back into the boot someone behind me honked. The shift lever was bent. The clutch controls had rotated around the left grip. I didn’t have a tool with me. There was a stain of primary fluid on the road. This was in a place called Whitewater. I fired the black bitch back up and got off at the next exit. I was lucky. I needed a rest between rounds.

I parked the bike at a rest stop. Most of the spaces were taken. All the women ran to the restrooms and back and they all screamed as they ran and as they screamed their hair flew in a dozen directions at once. The air sounded like a waterfall. There was no cell service so I couldn’t even comfort myself with more weather ap lies.

I found two fellow travelers – a couple of long haul truckers on vacation on a couple of touring bikes. We sat at a picnic table partly sheltered by pine trees. We shouted small talk. “I thought that sand was going to blast off all my paint,” one of them said.

“Is there an end to this?”

“Should we push on or stay?” We were mostly silent for almost two hours while a slow parade crept along the freeway.

A Highway Patrol car rolled through the rest stop. I turned my back and ignored him but one of the truckers said, “I’m gonna go find out if that cop knows anything.” When he came back he reported, “The Chippie says all this just stops about five miles up the road. Just past Cabazon.”

“Should we go?”

“What do you think?”

I thought, “I want to sleep in my own bed tonight.”

We split up and three minutes later I was back on the bike. The cop was right. The winds calmed after only a few miles. But as the winds calmed it began to rain. The rain didn’t stop until almost Riverside and then I was in the familiar gladiator traffic of Los Angeles. My back ached from wrestling the handlebars but I no longer had to hope or guess or pretend to believe in science. I was on familiar ground. The bike droned its comforting growl. The black stain in the sky disappeared behind me. The sky became a familiar mix of pale blue, yellow and gray. I once again conquered the hairpin transition from the Ten to the Six-Oh-Five and then onto the One-Oh-Five. Around Paramount a head wind began to buffet me again.

I was diving into the tunnel that leads to San Diego, two miles from the coast when I first smelled the Pacific. I glanced at the watch on my wrist. It was a little past four-thirty.

And, that’s how I spend the best of my days.




68 Responses to “Phoenix”

  1. Metal Dave Says:

    Hell yeah Rebel, that was awesome

  2. Bill Says:

    What jrnr said.

  3. Damage Says:

    Great read Rebel!

  4. RVN69 Says:

    Guess I’m kinda amazed that no one helped either Rebel or you Ol’Lady Rider. I dumped my bike at 4:30AM in the parking lot of some shit hole motel in Bumfuck Kansas trying to ride off with the front disc brake lock still on and people came outta the woodwork to help me pick it up. I think I would have felt better about such a stupid fuck up if so many people didn’t know about it!!

    “I came into this world kicking, screaming and covered in someone else’s blood and I am prepared to leave it the same way.”

  5. Ol'LadyRider Says:

    Have made that trip many times, and have always been amazed at how quickly the weather can change… But that wind is the constant. Sometimes a friend, sometimes a fierce enemy.

    I travel from Dago, so I’ll often take the 371 (I think that’s the right number, haha) to drop down into Palm Springs. Wind on that road is terrifying and exhilarating, and I always feel like Empress of the Universe each time my bagger and I downshift for the first stoplight at the bottom of the mountain.

    Yes, the best of days. Thanks for capturing the ride so beautifully.

    (I also know the feeling of suddenly being on my side and having no real understanding of how I got there. No one helped me either. Strange world, eh?)

  6. BNH Says:

    A few years ago I sent you an email expressing admiration for your journalism. I get hit on the head a lot, so I can’t remember if I included anything about you just being a damn good writer as well. So hence this comment:

    Dear Aging Rebel,

    You are a damn good writer.

    The Internet

  7. AZ Ghost Says:

    I love the road tail. Very interesting. I have made the trip form the valley of the sun to the beach front weather many times, and even though I live in Phoenix, coming in or going out; always a nightmare. Best time to leave is 12 am and same for coming in. Keep up the good news, nice to have the truth out there.


  8. 10Gauge Says:


    Another great read….Had my foot stuck once the same way and was thankful to be wearing my engineer boots rather than my lace ups! I had just gotten out of the hospital after an almost month long stay so there was no way I could pick it back up myself…my shop was right next to a bar where I knew just about everybody but nobody came out or said a word….much later when I could see the humor in it I asked why nobody lent a hand and I got the “we know better than to get near you when you are pissed of like that” response…which was true… I was pissed off and embarrassed because I knew I was too weak to be riding really…it didn’t matter much any ways because a guy I have known for many years saw me and ran up and helped me get my scooter strait….had to replace the clutch lever and a couple of small things but it was really not much more than a bruised ego.

    I’ve been kicked by the wind, robbed by the sleet
    Had my head stoved in, but I’m still on my feet and I’m still… willin’

  9. RLG Says:

    Good job dude!

  10. Ray Holly Says:

    Not bad. My favorite part. ” The desert is California without the lies ” – You’re fuckin’ poetry in motion man. Don’t take shit from cagers. If a Cager honked at me after I put it down I would lose my shit. Fuckin’ cali assholes… Born and bred here. No courtesy for the common man. Still, good imagery you provided. Riverside is my stomping grounds.. that 10 gets windy and narrow eh? Peace

  11. Jim666 Says:

    great writing as usual Rebel

  12. Woodstock Says:

    the best of my days.

    Nobody says it better.

  13. WheresMyBoots Says:

    Thank you very much Rebel, again, for the amazing writing and for the continuing and fine education I could get nowhere else. In addition, you have scared the living shit out of me, but I am still buying the bike, because the good stuff is too good for me to pass up. Thanks again, and much respect. Be well.

  14. Caesar342 Says:

    There’s a bunch of killer bees in Phoenix? Is this seasonal?

  15. Chas Says:

    Great read cheers bro, we dont get a lot of sand storms in London, but we get plenty of wind and frigging rain, trust me it’s no fun riding my streetbob around wet slippery narrow roads, full of cages, trust me…

    been to Phoenix, yep your interstates are something else compared to the roads over here, you stay safe, and enjoy your rides,respect from UK

  16. Cap'n Bill Says:

    I’ve sure been in enough high wind in my daze… I try to stay from cities and we don’t have near the jams as you do in the El Lay area.

    There have been too many times of taking a break in the action and thinking, ‘Whaddafugg am I doing???’

    Keep up the great work, Mr. Rebel!



  17. Dutch Says:

    2012 my girlfriend, now fiancee, had just got the keys to her XL1200. it was a monumental time we had spent hours on the flat of swap meet grounds near lemon grove learning her how to handle the wonderful little carburetor’d beast we now know as “purple rain” it was all to prepare her for her riding to the river run on her own bike. over 5000 miles on the back of my FXD had gotten her to the point of saying that she could and will do it. my beautiful angel certainly did it. she learned and she learned on a tough ride when we set out in may that year to cross the mojave desert to that wonderful little play land of laughlin and bullhead city. packing down the bikes is a struggle but certainly something we learn to do in our travels. there just isnt enough room for her shoes, makeup bags, clothes, and feminen power tools like curlers straighteners and dryers. she had learned to do more with less, and also to hide shit in the bottom of my bags where i was already set up. the 15 north introduced rain as soon as we pass escondido which wouldnt let up till temecula. those big heavy breathers take in water and our motors dont like that much so she came to understand the importance water in our motors. then the sun reached out and slapped us on the back of the neck as we came through lake elsinore, first adjustment of clothing must be made, jackets off and coppertone applied we were back on the road, now the unavoidable 15north’s monstrosity trifecta of the 91 then the 60 then the 10 interchanges that provide plenty of cages to dodge and white line. a little nerve racking for her and i could see (mostly hear the frustration) as she kept piping her 1200 to let the other drivers know theres a pissed off first time long rider anxious to get on the open road, as we cleared rancho cucamonga i personally felt we needed a quick smoke and beer break, what better option on the 15 than the good ol screamin chicken. a beer, a cigarette, and don henley drifting in the stale air of the dollar bill clad bar room we had our fill and ready for the next leg of the journey. theres always an intersting thing that occurs in the west cajon valley and thats where the damned unrelentless temperature change starts and will refuse to let up, my science teacher in some grade im sure explained to me at some point in my life why this phenomena occured and also how perfect it was that fog settled so well through that valley. my love was now faced with the impossible task of navigating near blindly with and already shitty headlight situation that sportys are doomed with through the hazy gray clouds all the way up the 4500 foot elevation mark of oak hills, then the big bear hug of desert heat was there to greet us all the way to barstow. after clearing vicotorville my beer was ready to make its exit so i humored my bladder went ahead and pulled over near bell mountain i knew exactly my plan but unfortunately had failed to completely prepare my girl and her bike for what was about to come, so as i made the next off ramp a quick turn to the right then left into a dirt and gravel opening to make my leak she followed suit however that loose gravel of course is just a sure shit way of well… hating loose gravel. that front tire of hers kicked right and purple rain went down. she has officially had her first fall. it took no more than a breath for me to kick down and be over to the top of my tearing up girlfriend picking that bike right up off her to where she slid out from under it started the kicking screaming and cursing towards every desert brush sage within kicking distance. Joe Camel was quite the key player in tough times like these that day, sure enough there he was again, smoke it up wipe them tears laugh that its all ok, and on we go. a quick refill and other camel break at barstow station set us on to ludlow, that all too crucial fill that most of us need between barstow and needles. about thirty miles into the hop skip and jump of the 40 east those all too mysterious powers of desert winds greeted her for her final challenge. the constant steering to the right as the wind blew to the north kept us at what seemed a snail’s pace at times getting down to 35mph for one stretch that was at least an hour. she refused to stop though, i could see the anger right through her dark glasses and even at ludlow there was some nasty things said about me potentially enjoying how hard it was for her (maybe i was) but i did know that some day she would too. maybe 15 min out of ludlow the winds died and we were able to hit that top gear and make the 70 mph dance of two harleys on a lone desert highway watching the desert sky make its turn of colors as the sun made its exit for the day. some say fall of the east coast is breath taking… my brothers i invite you to the mojave desert and witness this. getting to needles was simply the test of how that seat treated her ass. i assured her at the mobil station in this desolate town of California that we soon would be cresting the hill of fort mojave and seeing those familiar lights of the casinos, and any problems with her body at that point would merely disappear. something in the mind of her had definitely changed between ludlow and needles as the ride out there had truly been a test for the biggest ride she had done at that time and only a month after she had gotten her bike. we still laugh about it to this day and she always laughs even harder at bikes on trailers. since then military has us in Virginia and after this deployment is done she and I have promised each other that these harley’s are going to see these fall colors that the blue ridge mountains, shenandoah parkway, and the rest of the scenes that the appalachians can provide. thanks rebel for giving us a place to share.

  18. JohnnyD Says:

    If you ever have to do the I-17 to the 10, ALMA MC clubhouse is right by that ramp. Next time give a holler and we’ll open up and give you a beer or three.

  19. Austin Says:

    @Rebel – Hey, You captured it – some of my (click) favorite parts of this Earth. After I read this last night – I went out to Hadley’s today for a Date-Banana shake, just because. One time, not too long ago, I was standing by the road up in Whitewater Canyon, just a bit. The brush rippled – there was a whoooosh and my shades flew straight up off the top of my head into the air. My ahhhh… brand new Serengeti driving glasses. Took me almost an hour to find them about 50 feet away hanging in a greasewood. Had a few windshields sandblasted out there too. Glad your ride was a round trip!

  20. RVN69 Says:

    As always a great story. Glad the get off didn’t fuck you up too much. No smoking rooms are a bitch, now we gotta go outside just to smoke a joint. In 2000 I was coming back from Cali thru Arizona and hit winds like that, thought I was a character in the Wizard of Oz.

    “I came into this world kicking, screaming and covered in someone else’s blood, I am prepared to leave the same way.

  21. DesertH-D Says:

    Thanks for the respite Rebel. Needed that just now…

  22. Snow Says:

    Bad ass recount of your ride, like so many have already said, it feels we’ve gone along with you. The fight traffic, biting of the sand, sting of those damn bees and the salty smell of the ocean. Great job.
    Thanks for bring us along, ride safe.
    Much respect, Snow.

  23. Base Says:


    I have another benefit you can add to your resume of how your writing effects people.

    I watched my 6 week old Grandson this morning while my daughter went to a couple of appointments. He was not having the best of days being a little fussy and not liking anything about being away from mom.

    I had the lap top on the table and had been reading on your site so I clicked back onto this thread and read your story to him. Not only did he quiet down but smiled at a couple points, of course I added sound effects where necessary, like wind, bike sounds etc…

    By the last paragraph he was asleep and must have been dreaming of riding along with you because every now and then he would smile and make a sound similar to my mimicked motor cycle imitation.

    OK, might be stretching the motor cycle noise thing, but he did smile while napping.

    Another Biker in the making……


  24. sherides Says:


    Thoroughly enjoyed this tale.
    You definitely have the gift of a great storyteller.
    More riding stories please.

    Everytime I am out riding and see a plastic grocery bag floating in the middle or side of the road, I think of you.

    Then I make a mental note to purchase myself a pocket knife in case I ever get attacked by one of those bags.


  25. Tim D. Says:

    the story was great, I thought I was the one riding, Man those bees can hit hard real hard especially the big Black ones, and man do those stings hurt!! along with those cross winds!! what a nightmare, but when ya get home it was somehow worth it!! Rebel that was written very well!!!

  26. Badger62 Says:

    Beautifully written! A great writer can pain a picture with his words and put you right there with him…well done.
    Now i remember why i try to avoid the I-17 whenever possible.

  27. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    When I took the SuperShuttle from Phoenix airport to Sonny Barger’s party, I was wondering if the 10 in Phoenix was the 10 in Hell aka The Damn Santa Monica Freeway That Sucks (it is). The “advantage” that TDSMFTS has is that it doesn’t get sandstorms and plagues of killer bees.

    YYZ Skinhead

  28. jrnr Says:


    Excellent story, as always. I bet you could you could write a true adventure novel out of going to the corner convenience store.

    With utmost respect,


  29. JohnQ Says:

    YUP ! good story Rebel,

  30. hated and proud Says:

    glad you made it somewhat safe rebel

  31. Mike 184 Says:

    Thanks Rebel, best thinkg I have read in a while.

    @ Stroker, I used to run that strech of the 10 every day from Yucca to Calipatria every day. Than I started going around the backside of the Salton Sea. Damn that place smells bad in the winter.

  32. Road Whore Says:

    I know exactly how it feels…in spirit, I was right there with you. In fact, I’ve ridden such conditions myself, many times. You capture it accurately, and with the love of a true rider.

    Good stuff, Reb!!!

    Ride Free

  33. bones Says:

    rebel,imean hunter imean rebel my two favorite writers who relate true tales.

  34. Mudduck Says:

    thanks for your time and your stories. just happy your here.

  35. Glenn S. Says:

    Great ride story, Rebel, as always.

  36. JD Says:

    Rebel…. Love your ride posts. My favorite thing on the whole damn interweb! Livin in Canada this time of year Im just trying to fiNd ways of staying warm on the ride to work

  37. Just Tom Says:


  38. Paladin Says:

    Dear Rebel,

    As usual, great piece.

    Long may You Ride (to those that deserve to),


  39. JMacK Says:


    Another fine tale. Being a Canuck, it’s kind of cool that part of that highway is the only California road I’ve ridden on. My words wouldn’t do yours justice, so I will simply say thank you.

    Much respects

  40. Budweiser Says:

    Did you DVR SOA while you were on the road?

  41. Jenkx Says:

    Great writing!



  42. Latigo Morgan Says:

    Well, dang, Rebel! Great writing. I found myself trying to clean sand out of my ears without even realizing I was doing it.

    Your words put the reader right there with you. It’s truly a gift.

  43. Tidesfalls Says:

    Very nice.
    – Thank you Rebel

  44. Base Says:

    Used Google Earth and followed your trip.

    Great read, great writing, thanks


  45. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    The Charybdis-manifestation satellite footage is the main thing that prevents me from living on the east coast of any northern-hemisphere continent.

    Phoenix is a cool city, especially in spring after a rain. Some of the saguaros have peniI. I made the mistake of going there in August one year. NEVER AGAIN.

    YYZ Skinhead

  46. stroker Says:

    ah Rebel……….
    a road trip! Thank You. Been waiting for this tale. You alluded to a fall some time ago, I’m sure most of the regulars here, like me, have been waiting to hear about it. Glad you were able to ride away. Your writing stirs memories, and memories of memories. Only checked my atlas twice. You mentioned Tonopah, and I had to look. Yep, there it is, Tonopah, Arizona. Been past it many times in the past. Never made much of an impression on me apparently. Tonopah to me is Nevada. As I read, I rode with you through the pre-LA desolation of Indio, etc. on into Riverside. reminded me of my 1st panhead, and it’s first major excursion after I bought it from a burned out Jesus freak in La Habra. 65 pan, bobbed (back fold up fender removed) 6 over, no rake, no front fender, still running the 16 up front. Me and girl I left my 1st wife over had taken a trip east on the 10 and south past the Salton Sea to El Centro, and had tuned West on the 8 to Pine Valley, where we got caught in a January monsoon. Turned around, back up along the Salton, to Palm Springs and the 10, only to run into the same storm that way! Found out about 16″ tires and no front fender that trip! I leaned left, and girlfriend got the full effect of 6 inches of never ending waterfall from the front tire. Our relationship didn’t last too long!
    Lived 15 years in El Lay, mostly in El Segundo. Did a lot of riding in the Mojave and Imperial Valley. Good times, even in the worst weather. Now I live on the central coast (where the palm tree meets the pine). Still love California, in all it’s guises.
    You seem to like the south-eastern part of the state, but I submit, (and maybe you already know this) Hwy 395 is not to be forsaken. It winds north from your neck o’de woods, right on up the Eastern slope of the Sierras, and is, for my money, one of the best motorcycle roads around.
    I’ll meet ya sometime at the Cut-throat Saloon in Markleeville, if ya ever deign to travel north.
    oh yeah……… word:


    I know, I know, it’s not something a purist would do.
    However, they fucking work!

    Thanks again for the road tale.

  47. Glider Says:

    Way better than being in northwest Indiana any day of the week. Another well written piece.

  48. Slick Rick Says:

    Great story Rebel. Like I’ve said before….”you have a way of puttin me right there next to you on your rides”.

    On behalf of Phoenix natives though….its not the Phoenicians that drive terrible…’s the transplants from everywhere else that settled here that can’t drive. Probably 90% of residents in the “Valley of the Furnace” are from somewhere else.

    Keep up the great work.

    Slick Rick

  49. Jason Says:

    Nicely written old man.

  50. Rick Horowitz Says:

    Man…great images you’ve conjured there. Makes me want to shut down the office for a bit and hit the road!

    At the same time, though, those conditions are the kind that I like to have behind me. I like to have the memory, but without the active immediate pain of the bees, the sand, and, in particular, dropping the bike.

    But the adventure: that’s what it’s all about, yes?

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