WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: WanderLunch 5 - Beatty, Nevada
Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 22:37:04 -0700

        About eight or ten years ago, when motorcycle sales were picking up again in the US as baby boomers re-entered the market, I remember reading some articles in the fringe press about how motorcycles can be bad for addictive personalities. Someone coined the phrase "adrenaline junkies" to describe the go-fast crowd and their penchant for taking unnecessary chances.
        The truth is known to those of us who have motorcycling in our blood. There is an organic, scientifically undiscovered, but commonly known variant of adrenaline, called 'motocyclene'. It is both a stimulant and a relaxant, but it is a transient chemical - only the lack of which can be physically observed. Some of us who have it are M+, some of us are M- ... that doesn't mean "infected", it is more like blood type positive or negative.
        M+ motocyclene sufferers are charged by riding. They get thrilled and filled by their time in the saddle, and when they end their ride their motocyclene receptors are happy. M- motocyclene consumers start out pent up in the frustration of not leaning/accelerating/swooping until they release that energy in the saddle. They end their ride calmed in spirit and renewed by having escaped into their own world for a while.
        Let's face it, riding is a constant stream of instant interpretation challenges, and yes, adrenaline is a frequent friend, but adrenaline rushes leave you tired when they pass. Motocyclene dependent personalities end a ride feeling better - even if they are tired.

        I left Page in a brilliant crisp desert morning. People write trite phrases about 'desert color', but up close the sensuality of color profusion is really quite vibrant. Purple grasses at the edge of the road. Iridescent orange blossoms on lilly-bell flowers. Glowing blue stars on shrub bushes. And I haven't even mentioned the multihued sand cliffs or the several blues in the sky. If this were a digital image, a color count would be in the millions.
        Unfortunately, I couldn't really concentrate on the colors. I was involved in a game of death-squirrel slalom. As I dropped off the Mesa to the Colorado River, there were hundreds of ground squirrels darting across the road. The MSF should consider using them in swerve/avoidance training. Somehow I managed to keep my tires clean, but at least one made it clear between the front and back tire.
        The river plain immediately north of the Grand Canyon is about 4,500 feet elevation. As you travel toward the north rim, the road suddenly rises to 7,900 feet in less than 10 miles. This area is a prime example of 'changing conditions'. I left Marble Canyon in sunshine at about 90 degrees temperature. I pulled into Jacob Lake half an hour later *in* the clouds at 45 degrees. But although this may sound uncomfortable to non-riders and may not even be noticeable to someone in a car, it is part of the tactile experience every rider looks back on.
        As I got off the bike I heard a loud PLOP and tuned to see a pile of while goop on the seat. Thinking $@$# birds, it suddenly occurred to me that the goop was melting. Then another PLOP, then more ... I was in a snowball storm. Not a snow storm, not hail! The snow was falling in clumped balls about the size of bubble gum. Weirdest precip I've ever seen. Fifty miles later I was sweating again.
        In previous writings I mentioned "rain veils" - those clearly delineated curtains of precipitation that drift down from clouds which have been compressed by the mountains, but each cloud is a distinctly separate source of moisture. Not only did I see them again today, but I was riding along side one that was moving in the same direction I was. When the road veered slightly left, I was in the (light) rain. Veer right, dry. I could almost reach out at stick my hand into the shower.

        The vast wide spaces of the high plains have been good for the voices. They all have a place to go, and the racket isn't quite so cacophonous. (Best comment I've seen on this was a signature from someone on the IBMWR: "Are the voices in my head too loud for you to?") All of the voices and I were amused, though, as we approached Colorado City, Arizona. Nowhere near Colorado, but sharing the border with Utah. Have you noticed the cutesy names in many western states that combine two state names? Texarkana is perhaps the best known, but there is also Calneva, Texhoma, Texico, and others. So why isn't Colorado City called Utizona? Or better yet ... if there were a city near Four Corners, would it be Ari-col-uta-mex or Zona-rado-tah-xico? Thinking back to circling Needles ... the only name for a city across *that* border would be Haystack. Gad, riding the desert can be quizzical.
        My K75 turned 54,000 miles and feels stronger and smoother than it did when first broken in. The last tune up at BMW Marin did something magical. I'm getting better mileage even in the high altitudes, averaging 47-50 mpg cruising at 70, and I saw 240 miles on one tank when I was taking it easy.
        Quick observations: Southern Utah has the most amazing sandstone cliff structures. From a distance they are painted in colors, but up close they look like giant sandcastles ... one almost looks around for the pail and shovel.
        Interstates are sometimes a necessity, although droning in a straight line at 85 (to keep _with_ traffic) is as exciting as having a package of corn for dinner. But if you have to do it, I can't think of a more scenic 50 miles than I15 south of St. George, Utah, through the Virgin River Canyon.
        There were at least a dozen F16 jets practicing out of Nellis as I rode through Lost Wages (Las Vegas). Full afterburners. Loud enough to drown out the throttle tuners in the next lane (bikers who sit at a light and rev the engine constantly).
        GPS and StreetAtlas have quite a sense of humor. There is no No. Lamb street off of Exit 50 no matter what their maps say ... oh, what a minute, "N0 Lamb"? Lucky for me I still know how to navigate by turning around.
        Time for me to backtrack and be fair to the stereotypes I mentioned yesterday. Today in the tourist destination areas of the Grand Canyon I saw "out there" 2 GoldWings, 1 Harley dresser, 1 FJ, and even a Honda Pacific Coast. And 6 BMWs.
        Sadly, as I was walking to the restaurant for dinner, I saw a fellow picking up a R11R in the one intersection in Beatty. He's ok. He grabbed too much brake at the stoplight and lost it in a patch of gravel. Be
careful friends.

FuelPlus 416 miles, 6:55 hrs engine, 61 mph average
Page US89 US89A AZ389 UT59 UT9 I15 (cross Las Vegas) US95 Beatty

        Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Remember the Austrian girls? They were very impressed that I would ride a Bay-Emm-Vey so far from 'civilized cities' in this country. Karla and Gerta both want to say Guten Tag! to everyone ... next time I have to learn how to say "I'll wash your back and you wash mine" in German.

Sam Lepore, San Francisco
Wanderlust Rider

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