There really is no place like home. Perhaps it is the bittersweet nature of ending a perfect ride but what you want is to be home and what you don’t want is for the tour to be over.
Every blog posting has been super easy to write with the exception of this one. There are still too many memories of this trip that are flooding in to make a coherent statement or summary that adequately describes this ride. There are some observations that stand out as noteworthy however. One of those is that I left Daytona Beach on October 6th to ride to Los Angeles in a 5 day 600 mile per day Interstate trip to end the Grand National flat track season at the LA County Fairgrounds and do the awards ceremony. The trip ended yesterday after right at 7,500 miles. I’ve never done a coast to coast ride in my history that did not have at least some rain or stormy days along the way until this one. Zero rain and only one or two cloudy days with near ideal temperatures pretty much sums up the weather conditions. Only twice were the Harley-Davidson (Gerbing) full sleeve electric jacket liners called in to play and both times they were back in the saddlebag by noon. That is amazing for a mid October tour from the East coast to the West coast. I must admit that the HD’s seat heaters and grip heaters were deployed many times but seldom cranked up. In fact, the grip heaters are so effective that I only used setting 1 or setting 2 of the 6 available. Setting 2 is very hot. Not sure what happens if you choose setting 6 but it must be the nuclear option if the first two positions are any indication.
The second overall thing is my love of the American West. The mountains out West are separated by what the Native American Indians call a sea of desert between them. With a straight road ahead for as far as the eye can see and a massive mountain at what appears to be the end of that road you would think in an hour or two you will be at the base of the mountain. Not true. 4 or 5 hours later they sometimes only look a bit larger but are still far far away. That’s how big the expanses are in the West. This trip had much interaction with the aforementioned Native American Indians. It was always informative, entertaining and enlightening. Their handmade goods are very intriguing to me. Perhaps it is partly that my Grandfather 5 generations removed, Edward Boone, and his brother Daniel Boone did lots of business with them back in their day. My Grandfather and famous Uncle Daniel would trap furs and trade them to the Indians for their handmade goods. Once while trapping at the Blue River in Kentucky they were caught by a particularly angry group of Indians. While they had many Indian friends who they did business with, there were some tribes who simply wanted the white men off their land and they did everything they could to dissuade them from being there. They captured both of those guys and held them captive. My Grandfather was scalped and killed while in captivity and his brother, Dan, escaped and went home to Kentucky to build Fort Boonesboro. He moved the entire family and extended family into the fort to protect them. I suppose he was somewhat reacting to the death of his brother. Fortunately my Grandfather had already fathered his children or I wouldn’t be writing this blog today. Not as a Boone anyway. When I interact with the Native American Indians I always think about my Grandfather and Dan as they did the same. Today there are a few Indians who dislike the white man but that is a rarity. We met one of them. It was cool. When he started talking about the white man killing his people I replied that the red man killed my Grandfather. Touche’. We are even. I didn’t kill him and he didn’t kill me so it’s all good. We bought some fine hand made pieces from three different tribes. Each took the time to explain the origin of the designs and why they are important. Having studied the Native Americans and their lives prior to our arrival I have great respect for their beliefs and their culture. We can perhaps discuss that later but this column is supposed to be about motorcycles right?
The 2014 Harley-Davidson CVO Ultra Limited was a good and faithful motorcycle for this trip. On the return from LA via Vegas, Gallup NM, Tombstone AZ, San Antonio TX, New Orleans LA and the other great stops on the tour, we chose two lanes only. Perhaps we did 100 miles of Interstate all the way home. The ride out was strictly 600 Interstate miles per day and the ride home was 300 to 400 miles of 60 miles per hour average. Both are perfectly suited for the Electra Glide. This bike is a 110cu inch CVO or Screamin’ Eagle with performance and appearance upgrades. The standard Electra Glide 103 would have been just fine for me. I never asked for a CVO 110. That’s just what HD offered up. Two up, packed for two and many days on the road the bike had more torque and horsepower than I would ever need. Loafing along at 60 mph in top gear and deciding to make a pass of a slower vehicle in front was simply a matter of twisting the grip. A proper V8ish growl under the tank produced a rapidly climbing speedo needle with no strain. The throttle on the new bikes is “fly by wire”. HD has that technology down to a fine art. It feels exactly like a cable actuated throttle including the rate of return when you roll off. I like that. Conversely with the cruise control set at 80 on the 80 mph speed limited roads in Texas a pass worked the same way. Twist the grip and its all there. That is horsepower. When I rode Harley Davidson evolution engined tourers in the 90’s, BMW motorcycles passed you on the Interstate seemingly at ease running 80 to 90. Not so much anymore. The HD Motor Company has very much tweaked, honed and refined the entire package to the point that I’m asking is this the worlds most comfortable two up tourer? We will address my thoughts on that in a later blog post but my answer today is maybe it is. No one motorcycle can ever be right for every rider but for me, the HD FLH chassis machines may be the bike for the type of riding I do. On the way home I crossed the 40,000 mile mark for my miles in 2014 to date. Not my biggest year but not my worst. The best part is it was all shiny side up and rubber side down.
I’m reminded many times out West by the harsh and hard environment that those early settlers and cowboys encountered as they lived, worked and traveled in the West via horseback. There is a certain comparison to be made concerning the steel horses we ride today vs the real horses they used for transportation. I choose the comfort of a motorcycle as well as its ability to cover great distances in a single day in total comfort as well as outrun arrows that are flying at me. Just kidding. No one shot at me.
Home now and prepping for tonights Talking Motorcycles radio show. Think I will talk about that bike and this trip on the show tonight in addition to having a discussion with our guest, Dave McGrath, a man I have much respect for. He was, until last week, the Senior Director of Competition for AMA Pro Racing. Should be an interesting discussion. If you would like to tune in LIVE or listen to the show in the archives at NextMotoChampion.com or through FB or the iTunes Store as a free podcast download feel free. In a few weeks we are planning to have someone on from the aforementioned Harley Davidson Motor Company to discuss the FLH touring platform in detail. Those of you who read this blog will get the word on that before anyone else. If you have suggestions of who you would like to hear from on the show feel free to leave me a comment/suggestion. Here is the always active link where you can find tonights show live or at any point in the future:
When the dust settles on this trip I will be posting up more post ride comments about the bike, the ride and other points of interests encountered on the off chance that you may be interested in some of the great hotels and destinations I am discovering as I criss cross this great Nation.