L.A. to Hanksville, Utah
It might not be the best ride, but can you handle it? Or are you the kind of guy that pulls his bikes by a trailer?
If you're reading this, then don't. This is not for the weak of heart; this is for the real experience. This isn't a story about fun times, or mega-stripper bars, dreamlike visuals, riding in a pair of shorts and flip flops, or smiling happy people, though some of those things are present. Riding isn't always fun. Sometimes you have to earn your miles (trailering your bike doesn't count!) This is a story that I would prefer to forget. I prefer to face the pain of my past with my back turned to it. This is the story of the Hell Ride.
Some people want to have a million dollars before they die. I want a million experiences. But, some experiences are better forgotten. I embarked on a motorcycle trip from Los Angeles to Sturgis, South Dakota, with a group of people. Then from Sturgis, I went on alone up through North Dakota, over to Minnesota, up into the UP of Michigan and back home to Chicago. When it was all said and done, I had ridden more than 3,000 miles. Bad shit happened. We rode through kiln-like heat and tornadoes and we almost lost one of our crew.
I was supposed to write this story nearly six months ago. A responsible writer would put the words down on paper before his wounded brain turned into numb scars. I am not a responsible writer. Note: It's not too late to stop reading this. Instead, I sat at bars drinking heavily, telling the story to friends. The more I told the story, the more increasingly numb I became until I just stopped telling it. Then I just drank. I pushed the thoughts aside and refused to actually sit myself down and write. I displaced the depressive thoughts of the trip for so long, that I forgot what happened and had to call my buddy Brad to remind me.
Brad, or B-Rad, as I call him has the personality that everyone loves. He and I have talked openly and honestly in the past for hours about our misadventure, but as soon as I turned on the tape recorder he became an emotionless idiot. I just spent nearly two hours on the phone with him in hopes to reopen my wound and let it heal properly this time. I wanted to share our heartfelt experiences and instead received a boring recount of what time we ate lunch each day of our nine-day ride together. "Yeah, we turned left on 41. We ate at a McDonalds there. Then kept going..." B-Rad's feelings were numb as well.
I begged him to think that I was a chick in a bar and that he had to tell me the story of our trip to get sympathy so I'd go home and bang him. I hit record, and he immediately reminded me of the heat and how behind schedule we were. I guess B-Rad really wanted to do me.
Day 1 L.A. to Vegas
Our crew consisted of Billy Bartels, who must have ridden Harleys before he had even escaped his mother's womb; The Freshman, who had never ridden a Touring bike (see also: inexperienced rider who is too short to reach the ground) and had never been on a bike for more than one hour at a time; Chad, a computer programmer that had previously ridden from Alaska to South America; Brad and myself. We all met up at a gas station 60 miles out of L.A. to start our journey along I-15 in the 100-plus degree heat through the desert. We rode through Baker to check out the world's largest thermometer. The mercury read 101 and my head was thumping. At the time, though, had I known that heat would be the least of our worries I would have relished every bead of sweat. Around midnight we made our only stop of the day to get gas. Everyone looked how I felt. We arrived at Brad's mom's house at 2 a.m. She started cooking up a smorgasbord of food. With our guts full we sprawled out in bedrooms, on bunk beds, floors, and couches and slept hard.