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50CC two deer and dirt


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Trip report 50CC on November 2, 2007 from Sullivan's Island, SC to San Diego, CA.


The most important and valuable feature of this trip is that I took it, despite all the problems arising to prevent it. That is not to say that all went perfect or as planned, but it took place.


Lessons learned:


1.Don't start out tired. It turned out that being tired at the start left me beset by fatigue the whole time, and ultimately was my undoing.

2.You don't have to hit your own deer. You can hit one that someone else has already hit for you.

3.Hitting the second deer is not the end of the world, but can start to make you wonder.

4.Getting caught in an edge trap in the dark is more scary than anyone can describe.

5.Music or other entertainment is sorely needed on those long endless stretches through the deserts of the American Southwest.

6.If you discover that the red car that was in front of you is now a semi, you are too tired to continue.

7.No matter where you are, someone will want to bend your ear for twenty minutes longer than you planned to stop in order to talk about your bike.



I had planned to make this trip starting November 2 from Jacksonville, Florida. Things changed, and I started from Sullivan's Island, SC on November 2. The downside was that instead of riding to Jacksonville on November 1, and sleeping; I rode to Sullivan's Island at the end of the day, and left. I had been up all day and had ridden 220 miles that did not count.


With suitable poor timing, I hit the rush hour traffic coming from Charleston. I was plagued with thirst and fatigue along the way to Atlanta. About forty miles east of Atlanta, I topped a rise to encounter a deer that had just been hit by a semi ahead in the adjacent lane. I dodged right and just clipped it. The bike and I stayed upright; and I just carried on.


Now that I had the hit-the-deer© adventure out of the way, I figured that I was in for smooth sailing. I rode on through Atlanta, and into western Georgia. Approaching Carrollton, I waded through stopped traffic where it appears that a couple of semis and a car had gone head-on and burnt.


Although I was feeling tired and hoping that it would improve with time, I was clear-headed and motored into Alabama. Topping slight rise in the interstate presented me with another deer that someone else had hit. Before I could react, I center-punched it in the roadway. Deer went everywhere, but nothing hung on the bike; and I stayed upright.


I pressed on, planning to stop near Tuscaloosa, AL and get some sleep. Much to my dismay, every hotel room for miles was taken due to the football game the next day. I did the Iron Butt on a concrete bench in a rest area. That was little consolation, but provided some sorely needed sleep.


I rode on into Mississippi, awaiting dawn. Riding through a construction area, I regarded the difference in light and dark pavement in the adjacent lanes. I finally decided that the two were at the same level, and moved over to pass this car that I had been following for many miles. Edge trap. These things are more scary than you can imagine from the description that anyone will give you. The pavement chewed up the side of the front tire; but I managed to steer away from it.


It surely was time for a coffee break and stretch. I wanted to check to make sure my guardian angel was still keeping up. She certainly had been hard at work.


I pressed on into Texas, making Dallas around 3:00 p. m. local time, Saturday. I dove into a bed at a local inn and slept until 9:00 p. m. local time. Leaving into an incredible traffic jam on the interstate left me wondering what it must be like in the afternoon during the week. Creeping forward twenty feet and waiting for a moment over and over again was killing my left hand. Once I cleared town after forty-five minutes of stop and go traffic, I had to stop to let my hand recover. I had strained both hands a few days before, as I would recall more than once during this trip.


At this point, I had covered about 1127 miles. Not much of a rate, but still a possibility of making it. I stopped at Tye, TX and caught a nap on the bike in the parking lot. I was still dragging the fatigue demon with me.


Early morning fog west of Dallas was so dense that I had to stop and wait for about an hour to let it burn off.


I made Marana, AZ around 5:00 p. m. local time Sunday, after riding into the setting sun for about two hours. Later I called Jamie, to let him know an approximate arrival time. Riding along I-8, I could feel the fatigue. At one point, it became apparent that the red car that I had been following was now a white semi. I knew then that I was toast. I called Jamie to cancel and backtracked to a hotel in Gila Bend, AZ for some real sleep. My alloted time had expired with 280 miles still to go.


Just the same, all was not lost. I was also intending to go to Laguna Niguel, CA to ride with my brother. At a stop along the way, I met a lady beemer rider, Beemer Bird, on her way from Australia around the world with a destination of Tierra del Fuego by Christmas. She was headed into Mexico. She asked about deer in Texas, and told me about taking out a kangaroo on her GS. I wished her luck.


I continued on to Laguna Niguel. I arrived around lunch time. We visited, then rode the Ortega Highway out and back. This is a wonderful, twisting, mountainous road with a reputation for plenty of radar monitoring.


On Tuesday, I rode up to Redding, CA where Russell Saddles is located. I wanted to have a fine tuning on my bike seat. I slabbed it up I-5.


Los Angeles is quite an experience in heavy traffic. The rest of the time, we all moved right along. It was night when I reached the campground; and I made camp in the dark. It got quite cold during the night, about one season more than my sleeping bag.


Jason, the master of the craft, had made my seat originally. He re-shaped the foam and such and put it on the bike for me to take a good long ride to see if it was more what I wanted. I rode the twisty road over to the national park, got a stamp, then headed up the interstate toward Mt. Shasta for a real test. I have always considered interstate riding to be the most uncomfortable for me. Having never been to Oregon, I checked out the Starbucks in Ashland; then headed back to Redding. The seat was as close to perfect as it could get.


They had the cover back on the seat; and I was ready to ride around 5:00 p. m. Not wanting to experience another cold night this far north, I headed south. By the time I reached Sacramento, the shine was off the cadillac; and I put up my tent in the local campground for the night.


The next day, I perused the park stamp offerings on the way back. I decided to go by Joshua Tree and score a stamp on the way home. I should miss the rush traffic in Los Angeles and reach there before closing.


The GPS had been having flights of fancy on the way to Redding. I pulled the battery at Russell, hoping this would do the Microsoft reset for the unit and stop the screen flipping back and forth between navigating and destination selection.


Wending my way past all the gigantic farms along CA 99, I found that the GPS became strangely possessed and froze south of Fresno. After fiddling around for an hour or so with the unit and talking to Garmin, I put the unit in the carrier and tossed it into the top case. This unfortunate delay enabled me to hit Los Angeles at the height of the rush traffic. Before long, my hands had had enough, and I stopped for a while to recover and write off Joshua Tree. I also got myself a map.


Getting back underway, I watched a finely polished demonstration of lane splitting by several of the locals. I could not gather the determination to try to wedge the wide BMW cases between cars, so I let that go for another day. On the other hand, I was treated to a quick course in facilitated passing in minimal distance by one of CHP's finest. I suppose that this is lane splitting of a sort except done at highway speeds. I gave that a spin, and had a ball easing my way through the traffic. I found this quite useful all the way home.


I was determined to have California in my rear view mirror by the end of the day, and made Blythe at the border on 11/8.


Heading out bright and early the next morning, I decided to visit Saguaro National Park near Tucson. Might as well get a stamp from a site practically on the way. I reached Tucson around lunch, got some directions from the local folks and headed up the the park.


In the overall scheme of things, some directions are better than others. I turned onto the road into the park. Not a nice road, hard packed dirt with some ruts and large gravel. After bouncing along at twenty miles an hour for about three miles, I came over a small rise and saw about 100 feet of sand covering the roadway. I wallowed into the sand hoping to get stopped without braking, and started a tank-slapper that ended with the front wheel washing out and leaving me and the ST in the dirt. I heard my left shoulder make a disgusting crunching sound as I hit the ground. I lay there for a moment gazing up at the bright Arizona sky, then decided that the noise I was hearing was the bike still running on its side. I flipped the kill switch and started to evaluate my options. No pain, everything still worked: fingers, toes. Out here in the essential middle of nowhere with who knows what damage and injuries. Now what?


I sat up; and a pickup truck suddenly came over the rise, stopped, and the driver got out. As I stood up, he came over and asked if I needed some help. Seizing on a moment of inspiration, I said that I did. I told him what happened and he told me about crashing many times up here on his dirt bike. I picked up the ST; and he procured a rock to put under the side stand. The sand turned out to be 8 inches deep, so the bike would have simply fallen over again without some support under the stand. He told me that the good news was that cell phones worked out here, got in his truck, and left.


I took out my cell phone and sent my daughter a text message that I had crashed in the sand in the park. My wife seldom has her phone available during the day at work. Unfortunately, my daughter thought that I meant that I was taking a nap.


By now, my left shoulder was hurting mightily. I needed a plan. I looked at the remaining sand and decided that no stamp was worth going through more sand than I had. Especially since it appeared that I would have to cover all this again on the way out.


Concluding that I needed to make a determination of the nature of the injury to my shoulder, I decided to head back to Tucson and find a doc-in-a-box or hospital, whichever came first.


The pain would not allow for movement of the elbow above the shoulder, so I felt that I needed to take extra care getting out of here. I could see no obvious, gross damage to the bike. I turned on the switch and the computer booted. I pushed the starter and the bike came to life, but the oil icon came on quickly. I shut it off and looked the bike over once more. No sign of any damage or leak. The oil was topped off that morning in Blythe. I started it again and let it idle for a few seconds. Sure enough, the oil icon switched off. I suppose that the engine simply needed to build pressure or whatever, again.


I managed to get turned around and putted out to the hard dirt, dragging my feet in the sand for assurance.


As luck would have it, I ran across the directing sign to an urgent care facility and headed to it. At 1:30 p. m. on a Friday afternoon, I hoped it wasn't too crowded. Not that I had much choice in the matter. Surprisingly, the waiting room was empty. Step right up and get registered. Paperwork, then back I went.


During the interview, the doctor had some trouble coming to the realization that I had crashed a motorcycle. Finally, it dawned on her. She said that usually patients from motorcycle wrecks were all chewed up and bloody. I mentioned the gear. She said flatly that nobody wears that. I told I did.


The examination was completed, x-rays taken, and the pronouncement was made that there was nothing broken. On the other hand, any muscle or tendon damage would have to be evaluated separately, later on. She said that there was nothing special for the pain that she could prescribe that I could take and still ride. We discussed my favorite analgesic, ibuprofen, and agreed that it would have to do.


I sent my wife a text message that nothing was broken. Of course, this did not mean that there was no pain. I suited up, and rode to a convenience store to take some ibuprofen, drink some coffee to gain the potentiating effect for the medicine, and make some plan for the remaining 2000 mile ride home.


My wife and I discussed making a claim with the insurance company, and decided that the medical coverage would be good. The lady at the insurance company was helpful, and told me that a police report was not needed. That was good, since the police would not have jurisdiction on Federal Land in the first place. Besides, a police report always seems to be more trouble than it is worth.


I am here to tell you that ibuprofen is no wonder drug. After all the fiddling around and repacking the bike, I still was hardly able to raise my elbow above the shoulder. My efficient day was shot. Although there was only two hours from the time that I crashed until I was out of the urgent care, finally getting underway did not come quickly.


The biggest problem with riding was the tight U-turn. My shoulder hurt so much when I needed to tip the bike to make a U-turn that I feared I might drop it. I had to pad my way around as if I were on a hardly. Actual riding was not a problem, just cruise on down the road. I rode 440 miles to Van Horn, TX and camped for the night.


It was pretty clear to me that I was not going to make the Tech Daze in Atlanta. I put Texas behind me that next day, spending the night near Shreveport, LA; and made it home on November 11.


The weather for the entire trip was wonderfully clear. The fog outside of Dallas forced me to stop and wait for about an hour for it to clear. There were some windy spots coming through the desert, but nothing to be a worry. Riding into the sun was the pits.


Equipment. The new Parabellum windshield was great. It cut the wind without any back pressure on my helmet. The rear Z6 made it home with 14,000 miles on it. It does not have much left on it, but the replacement is sitting in the garage. The bike ran fine, using about 500 cc of oil during the trip. It uses less and less oil as the mileage accumulates. One of my Motobozzo fog lights has moisture in it, so I need to resolve that problem. Total mileage for 9 days was 6,544 and about 143 gallons of fuel.


Except for a bit of haziness on the left pannier, there is no discernible damage from the wreck. All the crud, blood, and bugs washed off. The electric jacket and gloves from Warm and Safe were life savers. First Place award goes to ATGATT. My packing technique for the laptop came in last. The padding that I used slipped during the ride resulting in a broken hinge. When the Zumo died, I realized why some use two GPS units during the Iron Butt Rally. The biggest waste of space was tennis shoes. So much room to pack and not worn once. Flying J receipts do not have the time on them.


I do have a better appreciation for the time spent in the saddle to make decent progress riding and the deleterious effects of fatigue. My hat is off to those Iron Butt riders who make 1,000 miles a day and collect bonus points.


I believe that it was therapeutic to ride with the injured shoulder. Not using it allowed for it to rest, and likely kept me from doing anything to worsen the injury. I had torn the rotator cuff in the same shoulder last year. I am hoping that this will heal on its own, too.


It was informative to see the deserts and California. I gained an appreciation for large farms and feedlots. California is different because there is so much. So much traffic and city. The mountains of northern California and southern Oregon were a sight to behold for us east-coasters.


It was great to see my brother and his wife. Time marches on, and we never know when this opportunity will cease.


I saw roughly 25 motorcycles during the trip. I guess the riding season is over. The best one was the H-D trike pulling what appeared to be a full size pop-up camper.


The best random conversation was with the local fire chief in rural Arizona who said that there was no need to go to Alaska because it was probably the same as where we were. There were several conversations in which the other person would noticeably drift into a reverie of this sort of trip.


Let's see. If I leave Jacksonville at 6:00 and make Van Horn, TX in 24 hours, I should make San Diego by ...........

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Wow. Sorry about the accident. Hopefully the shoulder will heal just fine.


Also, let us know what the resolution on the Zumo is.


Regardless, it sounds like quite the ride.


Thanks for the write up. Pics?

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Wow, Chris, what a story! Very interesting and information gained as well.


I hope your shoulder feels better soon. I look forward to hearing more of your ride tales.



Steve in So Cal

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great write up


I will not make any effort at monday morning quarterbacking but I think your decision to abandon the 50cc attempt in recognition of excessive fatigue was an excellent judgement. Good luck next time.



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I finally got some photos resized to put up for the trip to California. I did not take many shots, since I was riding an average of 727 miles per day.


Here is the ST at Parabellum waiting to be fitted for a new windshield for the trip.




While I sat here eating a moon pie, the bees were busy drowning in my coffee. It must be quite dry out here in Sierra Blanca, TX.




A Saguaro cactus at sunrise in Gila Bend, AZ.




A good look at the Parabellum windshield in El Centro, CA, where I met Beemer Bird on her trip around the world.




Here is a shot at a rest area in California showing how to really trailer your bike in style.




This could be a photo of destiny, heading into the desert where I would crash in about 15 minutes.




You can see in the sand where I plowed up to the site of the crash.




Not a scratch, just dusty.




Expensive Texas gasoline.




A lonesome snag in Alabama on the way home.



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