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The "Oatman Ride"

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First of all, Sue & I had a wonderful time this last weekend on our trip to Oatman and Laughlin. The ride and/or location is just part of

ones trip, the people are what makes it happen and this group of riders are supper, I want to thank you all for joining us and making this

ride such a success.


We started our trip by meeting for breakfast in Santa Ysabel. Sue & I arrived there first, we have the shortest ride, and were joined by

Jamie & Leslie and later by Larry & Marianne, too bad Jim Moore couldn't make the trip. frown.gif


After we got fed, we headed down to the desert and up to Mecca and Box Canyon. That little short-cut is so unique. Got onto I-10 east

for a short time and turned off onto Rice Road. Rice Rd. was a smooth, freshly paved, straight and almost void of any traffic, black carpet,layed out before us. So smooth and straight, it became boring, mile after mile of a smoooth straight road with no cars. The down side is, you can't speed on this road as it is patrolled and CHP and they will certainly nail you. I keep thinking of Russell and what would he do, open it up or just be patient and stew in the juices of opportunity, the road looked like a race track, waiting for you to just go.


We were cruising along minding our own business when low and behold we come across other riders, other BMW riders. As we got

closer, I saw the BMWRT oval on the back of one of the bikes. It was Tony & Kim, ahead was Greg Haverkamp and in the lead was

Steve & Jennifer. What are the odds? Linked up and road together to Parker for lunch, got some gas and watched Jamie wash part of

his bike. grin.gif


After lunch it was on to Oatman. Took the old Route 66, and that is quite a road, how did they ever travel across the country on those

roads? We did make it though, fed the burros, had a drink, and when the town shut down, we went on to Laughlin and our hotel.


That evening we went to Harrah's for dinner, great idea Steve. Sue sweet talked the Bell Boy at our hotel to give us all a free ride to

Harrah's, what a deal. Greg got us into the buffet and we were as happy as pig in slop. Then, then along came Gleno, fresh from a long

ride, looking for food in all the wrong places. What a treat, he and his wife topped off the evening, a cherry blush.gif on the desert, what can I say.


The rest of the evening was short, had to make plans for breakfast of course, and on to that king sized bed for a good nights rest.


The next morning, Steve and Jennifer had to leave early, said our good byes and on to the food. All we did was eat, reminded me of

Gold Wingers. Sue & I, Jamie & Leslie, Larry & Marianne and Tony & Kim left the hotel together around 11:00, got some gas and hit

the road. As a change of pace we came back by way of Twenty Nine Palms and Yacca Valley, dropped down to the Palm Springs area

and made our way to the Pines to Palms Hwy, with the help of Tony, and road the back roads home.


Again, a great weekend all made possible by a great group of BMWRT.com people. wink.gif



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Thanks again for the great idea and ride, Rodger! (I posted a bit more under Greg's tale)


Can't wait to go fishin'! I got a half-shift relief for Friday night, so after I drop Les off at the airport in the wee hours of the morning (to fly to Georgia to pick up her RT smile.gif ), I'll be able to meet you at your place early . . . I may even have a certain member of the "Fungi-Town" Crew in tow! laugh.gif

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(All smaller pictures should link to larger ones)


The Oatman ride, turned out to be in many ways a "right of passage" for myself and my beloved passenger (and girlfriend) Kim.


It was to be a ride of "firsts".


It was the first "larger" group ride that Kim and myself would be travelling two-up on. Up to this point, it has only been us riding alone - or maybe with one other bike. In all my years of riding, Kim is really the first passenger I have ever taken on a motorcycle. Riding two-up is still very new to me, and it's also very new to her. As I've come to discover, it has, in many ways been like learning how to ride all over again. At least for me it has.


Bottom line? I didn't know what to expect. Prior to discovering this incredible community and prior to discovering the RT, I honestly wasn't a big fan of group riding for many reasons. I also wasn't a big fan of two-up riding.


But Kim was different. This group was different - many people on this board have quickly become some of my closest friends - and now it was time to actually do a trip with some of these people for the very first time. Prior to this event, Kim and I would normally "ride to the event alone or with one other bike" and meet everyone there.


We knew going into it we were going to be 'slow'. We knew we were going to be the 'slow ones'. My biggest concern was Kim - and making sure she was comfortable. Making sure she didn't get scared. Making sure I took EXTRA care to take it easy with the bike, with my speed, with everything.


Then another part of me didn't want to frustrate the group. Didn't want to hold them up. Didn't want to be a 'burden'. As I would come to find out, it was a total waste of energy to concern myself with that stuff - but I'm getting ahead of myself.


Needless to say, I didn't sleep well the night before - and as a result, I find it appropriate to open this write-up with the same words I've used in the past...


Dawn came early on Saturday.


A person who has quickly become my "two-up riding and long distance mentor" not to mention a great friend, Steve Carr (Steves1150), his wife Jennifer, and Greg were going to be at my place at 8:00 A.M.


8:10 A.M. came - and there they were. It was time to top off with gas, go grab some breakfast - and get this thing started. After a quick stop at the Chevron, we agreed IHOP was a good choice - and motored on over there.


Sitting at the table, the conversation was great. My mind was so cluttered - which was not a good thing before a motorcycle ride. Two really good friends of mine had just gotten laid off from my work the week before. Big shock, and big bummer. They're cutting back at work. I was reassured that I was safe - but I mentioned to Steve that I was kicking around the idea of a career change. Maybe something in the motorcycle industry. Greg chimed in that he recently went through a change with his career - and I quickly realized that we had all 'been there' and I took comfort in this. Thanks guys for the breakfast talk. It made me feel better.


After breakfast, it was time to hit the road. As I was exiting the restaurant there was a line of people waiting to be seated. Wearing my Savannah II suit, everyone was looking at me like I was in a "Chem-Bio" protective suit or something. The manager said to me as I walked by, "What's with the...? (Pointing to my riding suit)". "Motorcycle trip" I replied. "Where to?" he asked. "Oatman, AZ, and then Laughlin, NV". "Right on - nice ride! What are you riding?" "BMW I replied". "Nice! (he exclaimed and continued) Hey, I used to ride a Suzuki 750.... maroon... and it had these handlebars... but no windscreen... I never ran with a windscreen.... but it moved out pretty well.... but the thing would suck gas.... blah blah blah blah..."


"Oh great, I thought - I have to sit here and listen to his life story." I mean he was a nice enough guy and I love to talk bikes - but now was not the time. We had to hit the road - it was getting late... I was getting hot in my gear... and while I can't remember what I said, I politely was able to break away and tactfully end the conversation with no hard feelings.


By now it was approaching 10:00 A.M. and we were on our way.


What a great day it was. A little chilly - but sunny skies as we blasted up "the 10" heading east - Steve leading, then Greg, and me and Kim bringing up the rear. A position we would gladly enjoy for the balance of the trip.


Our first stop was a famous 'landmark' on Route 62 known as the "Shoe Tree". I don't know how or why it is there... other than the fact that this is where shoes must go when they pass on.




After we paid our respects to the Shoe Tree, we continued on down Route 62 and the wind decided to pick up. Suddenly, I saw in my mirror a virtual 'sea' of headlights fast approaching us. As the headlights got closer, I commented to Kim on the intercom, "Hey, lots of bike behind us!". 15 seconds later: "Hey, lots of BMW's behind us!" 15 more seconds passed: "Hey! That's Jamie and Leslie! That's Rodger and Sue! That's... thats... thats.... a Goldwing? Oh! Larry and Marianne! It's the Dry-Town Crew! Woo Hoo!"


Woooooosh... as they all passed us like we were standing still. As fate would have it, we were all brought together - and pulled over to exchange hugs and handshakes at a place called Vidal Junction.




Shortly before we left Vidal Junction, another 'first' happened. After we stopped, I carelessly left my HJC Symax helmet on my seat, and a gust of strong wind blew it to the ground with a "Smash!" Ugh. Aside from a few nicks on the outside, the helmet appeared to be intact. But then I peek inside and was shocked at what I saw. The speakers and microphone on the inside of the helmet had literally 'exploded' out of their mounting positions. I quickly tried to snap everything back in place. The rest of the group was leaving, and I didn't want us to get left behind. After putting on my helmet I could feel one of the speakers digging into my ear, and the boom microphone was poking up one of my nostrils. This wasn't going to work. Waiting at the stoplight, Jamie and Leslie were next to us. I flipped up the chinbar and said to Jamie, "I've got to fix my helmet - it's messed up." Jamie then pulled over with me and waited while I struggled to get the thing put back together. The rest of the group was already out of sight. Thanks, Jamie and Leslie for waiting there with us.


With the interior of my helmet reassembled for the most part, we headed to Parker Arizona to top off with gas and grab some lunch. I must have had bad karma or something because while we were getting gas, it was now Jamie's turn for a minor mishap. Seems the the 'auto shutoff' on his gas pump was broken, and in a matter of seconds his RT was showered with a sea of premium unleaded. Looking over, I thought he was washing his bike - but upon closer look - I could see and smell what happened. What a mess. Jamie, maintaining his ever-cool composure made light of the situation by saying, "I hope this thing doesn't catch fire! Now that would be a sight! A fireman's motorcycle bursts into flames!".


Some more laughs were shared about Jamie's "Gas 'n Shine" and it was time to eat. There was a Mexican food place up the street.





(L to R) That's Larry (LJVillani), his wife Marianne, and Greg (Ghaverkamp)



(L to R) That's Jamie (KMG-365), Leslie (Les_is_more) and Signman's S.O. Sue


After lunch, it was time to head to Oatman. We took the long way - heading along the Colorado River Road and through Lake Havasu. Beautiful mountains and a nice winding road. Although we got caught in some traffic behind the rest of the group - it was an absolutely awesome ride.


Then there's Oatman. What a bizarre yet charming little town. Kind of reminds you of something out of an old "Twin Peaks" Episode...




This town's got it all. A quaint little bed and breakfast...




Wild Donkey's sleeping (yes, sleeping!) in the middle of main street...




...And a well stocked General Store (that's Kim with her new pal)




After enjoying an ice-cold lemonade, myself and Kim along with Steve and Jennifer headed for our final destination of Laughlin. Once the rest of the group arrived - we all checked in - and it was dinner at Harrah's buffet. The last time I saw this much food was at Fernando and Gleno's famed 'Food Frenzy' a few weeks back. Much to everyone's delight, Gleno and his S.O. showed up in the nick of time... and MarkM along with a few of his friends were there as well. Food Frenzy Part 2? I say yes!



(L to R) That's Gleno, Leslie and Jamie



(L to R) Greg and Larry



Steve and Jennifer. I think Steve was full...


After hanging out for awhile after dinner, it was time to say goodnight. On the way back to the room, Kim had a handful of quarters - so we sat at a bank of slot machines that surrounded a beautiful BMW Z4 Roadster. We had to give it a shot. After burning through half of the quarters - Kim wins another $20 in quarters. We decided to quit while we were ahead and turn in.


Dawn came early.


Way too early. Daylight savings was no more - and we lost an hour of sleep... overslept... and were late in meeting the rest of the group for breakfast.


We finally made it down for a bite to eat and enjoyed another meal with this great group. Perhaps the biggest highlight of breakfast was Gleno. I was laughing so hard I could barely eat my breakfast. Between the jokes with the waitress and his razzing Larry about "The Wing" it was hysterical.


Steve and Jennifer had to leave much earlier - so Kim and I would head back with Jamie & Leslie, Rodger & Sue, and Larry & Marianne. Rodger, Jamie and myself had FRS Radios so if we got separated, we had the radios to keep in touch.


The ride home was just as fun as the ride there. Feeling a bit more at ease - I was more relaxed with Kim back there - but there was something about the way my bike handled that wasn't right. It had been bugging me the entire trip. I basically discounted it as "this must be what it's like when you have a passenger and full cases".


The gang agreed to 'drop me and Kim off' in Palm Springs and head back to San Diego from there. After passing through 29 Palms, we stopped for lunch in Yucca Valley.


During lunch, I talked to Rodger and Jamie about how my bike was handling. Everytime I'd head into a corner it just felt "Squirrily". The bike was all over the place. Rodger asked if I checked my suspension settings - and I thought to myself. I had cranked my pre-load down a bit before leaving - but didn't touch the damping. Why? Because I distinctly remembered my dealer telling me, "All you need to worry about is the pre-load, Tony - don't worry about the damping adjustment - just leave it as is for two-up or solo and you'll be fine.". WRONG!


After lunch, Rodger proceeds to pull out his tools and turns up my damping. Jamie cranks down my pre-load some more - "It will ride like a different bike" Jamie assured me.


As we prepared to head out towards Palm Springs, yet another 'first' occured. It all happened very fast... but basically, myself and Kim were on the bike ready to go... I started the bike.... but didn't lift the warm-up regulator lever. The bike was on slightly uneven pavement.


As I released the clutch to roll off, the bike stalled... the handlebars turned, and sure enough the bike began to fall. I knew I should have let it warm up a bit. I tried to catch it - Kim hopped off... and I couldn't hold it anymore. Yes... it happened. For the first time I had dropped my RT.


Helplessly, I tried to use the 'backup' technique to raise it, and I couldn't. The others came back and helped me get the bike back up. Jamie reminded me "I got off easy!" - a minor scuff on the left engine guard and a small mark on the left system case. No paint damage, and the mirror (by some miracle) didn't touch the ground.


Feeling embearassed and somewhat freaked by the ordeal - we hopped back on and headed home. As we headed through Yucca Valley on home, I could feel the lower right part of my back begin to spasm. I mentioned to Kim "I think I just threw my back out trying to lift it". Which, sadly, I did. I pulled a muscle and while it's better today, I'm still very sore.


However, the pain in my back was quickly numbed by the joy I felt going through the sweepers... down the mountain... into the Palm Springs area. Jamie and Roger were right - it rode and handled like it did when I ride the RT solo. Night and day difference. First time during the entire trip I actually felt secure in a corner. Imagine that.


After a quick jaunt through Rancho Mirage and into Palm Desert, we reached Highway 74 where we said goodbye. An all to early end to what was a very memorable and educational trip on many fronts.


Rodger and Sue - thank for for sparking the idea to do this trip. Steve & Jennifer, Jamie and Leslie, Larry and Marianne and Greg - thank you for this trip, and a wonderful time going there and coming home. Most of all, I cannot put into words how much myself and Kim appreciate your patience, and the fact that you made us feel so comfortable for the entire ride no matter how far we fell behind. You are all wonderful and I only hope that a after a few more, we'll be right up there with all of you consistently.


Before I wrap up this rather long-winded ride tale, I have a few words of advice for other RT owners who might be about the embark on serious 'two-up riding' for the first time:


In my opinion, it is in many ways a whole new ballgame. I have been humbled my it. Seek the knowledge and advice of 'two-up veterans' on this board. MAKE SURE you understand rules for packing, suspension settings and how to set them correctly, and how to prepare your passenger.


...And one other thing - if you're worried about 'going too slow' don't worry. Not with this group. Ride your own ride - and it will be fine. The people on this board are so patient, so understanding, and so willing to share their expertise - because they too 'were there' at one time or another.


During the course of this weekend, for the first time in a very long time I was a teacher that became a student again. I was taken under the wings of some really skilled riders - who make riding two-up look like a piece of cake. I watched, I listened, I learned, and I am forever grateful.


Kim and I will see you for some Trout Fishing on the 19th, and before we know it - Torrey!


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Most of all, I cannot put into words how much myself and Kim appreciate your patience, and the fact that you made us feel so comfortable for the entire ride no matter how far we fell behind.


Falling behind isn't a problem. It's leading too slowly that's a problem. laugh.gif


Until the Dry-Town Crew descended upon you, you seldom fell out of sight of my mirrors; you couldn't have been that far behind.



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Great ride tale! It sounds like you had a great, although a bit painful, initiation intot he wonderful wold of BMW group riding. When you're riding with a great group of guys, there's nothing better. Everyone rides their own ride and still looks out for everyone else. Just a brilliant thing when done right! And I KNOW the crew you were riding with does it right!


Now you gotta plan the next one... grin.gifgrin.gif

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Great Ride Tale Tony! The narration is gripping, and the pics are so "vibrant" and "detailed"! (Greg, I would NEVER lash out at you! smile.gif . . . like I was ever going to keep that gas fiasco under my hat?? laugh.gif )


So glad you two had a great time! So sorry to hear about your back! frown.gif When you come down to SD for a parking lot drill day, we'll throw down a scrap of carpeting and you can practice lifting your bike back up--it's all technique and you don't have to hurt yourself doing it. If Leslie can pick up her 700+ pound Kawasaki 1000 Police Special you can learn to pick up that RT. smile.gif


Can't wait for the next one!

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Great write-up Tony!!! Two-up riding is lots of fun, as you will discover. How I envy you warm riding weather at this time of year.


For now...

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Great ride report and some nice photos!

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Great writeup Tony. Sure makes me wish I could have been there with all of you. Next time, I hope.

One thing I've learned in my whopping 400 miles of experience on my new RT is that this bike stalls easily when it is not completely warmed up. And its easy to drop when that happens (NO, I haven't yet - knock on wood). So I leave the idle advance up until there are at least 2 bars up on the display. Definitely not a KRS!!

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You are an amazing writer! Thanks for the great write up!



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