Wandering Ganesha

2015 Iron Butt Rally – Part 2.3: Putting in Miles

It was familiar territory moving north out of Ely. I’ve gone by the 163 miles to next gas sign many a time. Even though my Tiger Explorer has a pretty reliable 400-mile range it always gives me a little pause to double check that I’m fully fueled. With the high speed limits of Nevada, the miles started to melt away. US-93 is an easy road to ride, for Nevada there is a fair amount of traffic, but compared to anywhere else it’s pretty spartan. If you look at Google maps you might think that there are some towns along the way. But these are long forgotten, and in the sun and heat they have been reduced to nothing but dust.

Soon I ran into my first construction zone. It was the usual one lane with pilot car. I have a protocol with these that I try to follow pretty religiously. As a Californian, I’m used to filtering up to the front of the line. I always wait for no traffic and pass the line of cars. I pull up to the front with my helmet flipped up, near to the person holding the stop sign. Before they can start yelling at me I quickly apologize for cutting in line. I explain that waiting in line is a good way to get rear ended and bikes don’t fare too well in a fender bender. I also explain that I get to eat less dust this way. This usually puts the flag bearer at ease. While these things are all true, it also means that I don’t have to pass a bunch of cars and trucks on the other side of the construction.

Once they are calm I start trying to be my usual friendly self. My first question is how long till the pilot car is. If it’s more than a minute or two I immediately get off the bike. The flag person may make a fuss at this, and will ask you to stand to the right of the bike or on the shoulder. Obviously I do what they tell me and explain that I’ve been on the bike for a while and it’s a good opportunity to stretch my legs. Because I had Sanjay’s hat with me I took off my helmet to let my head get a little rest too.

I give them sympathy or having to stand around on such a hot day. Then start putting on more sunscreen. I always offer some to the flag person too. Then I quickly wolf down some food and drink a good amount of water.

My first flag person of the day was a friendly young woman that was happy to chat. She was home from college and was happy to be earning good money for the summer. Even though it was a bit hot out. we chatted for 6 minutes until I saw the pilot car coming our way. I quickly mounted up, thanked her for the good job she’s doing and headed out behind the pilot car.

40 miles later I was doing the same routine but with a woman that had eaten too much dust for the day. Her face was thoroughly hidden behind a bandana and sunglasses and she would only make hand signals. Hard to chat her up, but I did my best! The pilot car was there quickly and I once again was watching the steady counting of my odometer.

US-93 north of I-90 at Wells is a little less familiar to me. I’ve only ever traveled it at night, and while it was pretty damn hot out I welcomed the sunlight and scenery. Soon the border gambling mecca of Jackpot was upon me and I was crossing into Idaho. My speed dropped with the Idaho border sign. Idaho actually enforces its speed limit and it’s lower than Nevadas. But still my pace was good and I was enjoying the light traffic.

As I approached more populated areas I came upon some fellow motorcyclists. The leader was on a large Harley Dresser and his friend was on a Harley trike. They were behind a truck and doing a little below the limit. I quickly passed them and the truck waving as I went by. Yes, I’m a chronic waver.

Now Harley riders don’t get a lot of love from the Long Distance riding crowd. Part of this is because the HD crowd tends to have an elitist exclusionary attitude, and part of it is that they really don’t make great bikes. Not many bikes accelerate, stop or corner worse than a Harley. Personally I don’t care what someone rides, as long as they treat me well, I treat them well. And there is no denying that the ladies like the Harleys! In addition, in rural areas 95% of the bikes I see are Harley’s so there riders get out and ride at least!

There is, however, a small percentage of Harley riders that take exception to being passed by another motorcycle. I’m not sure if it’s just being passed by a non-Harley or any bike, as I’ve never ridden a Harley more than around the block. But there seems to be some kind of macho thing going on with these riders. Sadly the Dresser rider was in this camp. Soon after I passed him and the truck he was following he was in my mirrors. Now I have no idea if he would normally do my speed, but he’d had plenty of opportunities to pass the truck he’d been following, but he only passed it after I did.

Now a good number of these HD racers will then pass me and slow down. This is the most annoying thing, as I use cruise control I’m going to be quickly on their tail and passing them. I once leapfrogged a Harley for 80 miles in Pennsylvania. Luckily that had been a 4 lane road. It only ended when he got off the highway for fuel. I had a feeling this rider was in the pass and slow camp, but he was hampered by his friend on the trike. Harleys are already slow, but a Harley trike is slower than a car. His buddy was still behind the truck. After a mile or two the trike had finally made it around and was lumbering closer to us.

My luck was running well and before the trike could make its stately way forward we were into more traffic. I sliced my way through and continued at my usual pace. Eventually, the Dresser was in my mirrors again and the trike was a slowly approaching blob on the horizon. US-93 transitioned to a 4 lane highway and my worries of having to leapfrog a HD trike for miles and miles dissipated. Soon I was turning off onto US-30 and my tail was forging their own path.

At the Snake River I pulled off the highway onto a small road that would take me to Haggerman Fossil beds. It’s always difficult to ride on slow roads after a long highway stretch. Make me feel like I’m just crawling along. A few miles later I was having to pull a u-turn as I had missed the sign on the left as I was enjoying the view of the Sanke River on my right. I’m not sure what’s at Haggerman, fossils I’m sure, but there was a very lonely sign and not much else.

HAFO – Haggerman Fossil beds
280 Miles Since Fuel and Mcdonalds at Ely Arrived 14:03 Departed 14:07

Hagerman Fossil




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