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Thread: Summertime Desert Transit Question for Veterans

  1. #1
    Knight-Errant 1957mpd's Avatar
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    Summertime Desert Transit Question for Veterans

    Work takes me to Monterey, CA fairly often - every 6 weeks or so to teach for the Navy for a couple days - and normally I fly ELP-PHX-MRY R/T. But I'm thinking about doing a 3-day trip each way in easy legs on the R1200GSA. My 2 route options are (1) Las Cruces - Flagstaff day one; Flagstaff - Barstow day two; Barstow - Monterey day three; or (2) Las Cruces - Phoenix day one; Phoenix - Barstow day two; Barstow - Monterey day three. My question: for the desert transit legs, which is lower risk, a pre-dawn departure quitting early afternoon and of course staying properly hydrated, or a night time transit of the (1) Mojave or (2) Sonoran deserts. Living in NM, I am accustomed to riding in summer heat (it's been 100F/38C+ every day for the last week). I've just never ridden more than 2 hrs in high temps.

    I should add the desert crossings will be on super slab: I-10, I-40, I-5, etc.
    "Sol el que ensaya lo absurdo es capaz de conquistar lo imposible." Miguel de Unamuno 1905

    Mark - Las Cruces, NM - '10 K1300S and '17 R1200 GSA

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by 1957mpd View Post
    Work takes me to Monterey, CA fairly often - every 6 weeks or so to teach for the Navy for a couple days - and normally I fly ELP-PHX-MRY R/T. But I'm thinking about doing a 3-day trip each way in easy legs on the R1200GSA. My 2 route options are (1) Las Cruces - Flagstaff day one; Flagstaff - Barstow day two; Barstow - Monterey day three; or (2) Las Cruces - Phoenix day one; Phoenix - Barstow day two; Barstow - Monterey day three. My question: for the desert transit legs, which is lower risk, a pre-dawn departure quitting early afternoon and of course staying properly hydrated, or a night time transit of the (1) Mojave or (2) Sonoran deserts. Living in NM, I am accustomed to riding in summer heat (it's been 100F/38C+ every day for the last week). I've just never ridden more than 2 hrs in high temps.

    I should add the desert crossings will be on super slab: I-10, I-40, I-5, etc.
    That's 1100 miles going through Tuscon and Phx. 15 hours by car, bike maybe 20-22 hours with enough breaks while stopping for gas. I won't ride at night, thus I'd leave at 6am, ride 400 miles in about 8 hours or less and pull in by 2am [ right at the start of the hottest part of the day ]. 3rd day would be a lighter day of travel.

    I live in the Sonoran just east of Phx. year round. I'm leaving mid July for Ak. on the bike. I have to meet two others 3 days later in Kalispell, Mt. some 1350 miles from home. My route planning gets me on the bike 6am and traveling 500 miles until 4pm or so. Using a camelback and staying hydrated while riding and taking extended breaks at gas stops.

    I made it back from W. L.A. to my house a few months ago [ 410 miles ] in 6.5 hours averaging 63mph but I was pushing hard and on cruise control at 90 for much of the way. Ya, I fracture a few laws from time to time when I want to get somewhere This trip coming up, I plan to average 50 and take lots of breaks riding 10-11 hours to make 500 miles for the day.

    I'd suggest a cooling vest, every stop soak it again and stay hydrated with the camel back. I've ridden log hauls of surface roads many times when younger, making 1600 miles on 21 hours on a bike, but I'll not ever push that hard today. You've only got to go 1100 miles, cooling vest, stay hydrated and that's an easy enough ride across the deserts.

    White helmet will help some too. Good luck if you choose to take the bike. Riding during daylight hours is safer that in the dark IMO.
    The lion does not even bother to turn his head when he hears the small dog barking.

    https://www.youtube.com/user/azqkr

  3. #3
    Knight-Errant 1957mpd's Avatar
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    Yep - it's about a 15-hr drive going the shortest route via PHX. I normally make one trip each in Spring and Fall in the car on my semi-annual logistics runs (wine and assorted distilled adult beverages...). I usually drive it straight through, but 1100 miles in a car is easy; it's just three gas stops. Going the more scenic Northern route via Flagstaff does add about 75 more miles and 1 1/2 hrs because I avoid interstates on the New Mexico section. But if I make this run on the bike it'll definitely be chopped into three 6 or so hr days, stopping by 1400 when it really heats up which fortuitously is around check-in time at hotels with bars. If it were Fall I'd think about tent camping but not in mid-Summer when the Sonoran desert can still be 100F at midnight.

    Like everyone else, I've thought about an AK run on the bike. I've flown up there once in a 50 yr-old 65-hp airplane. Went from San Francisco to Nome and back. Took forever but had a great experience. Most of the time the cars and trucks on the road were making better speed over the ground than I was in the air but I could cut corners they couldn't. I do remember bugs, though. Had to put fine mesh screen over the fuel ports when filling up because something about gasoline attracts mosquitos like crazy. And they're HUGE and very numerous.

    Thank you for the response. I'm thinkin' on that cooling vest idea.

    Cheers.

    Mark
    "Sol el que ensaya lo absurdo es capaz de conquistar lo imposible." Miguel de Unamuno 1905

    Mark - Las Cruces, NM - '10 K1300S and '17 R1200 GSA

  4. #4
    I won't ride without mine in the heat. Keeps the core cool enough to ride all day with little discomfort in the heat here.
    The lion does not even bother to turn his head when he hears the small dog barking.

    https://www.youtube.com/user/azqkr

  5. #5
    #4869 DennisDarrow's Avatar
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    For me, it's not a problem day or night to cross the Mojave. Like others have said, lots of water and just stop, wet down at least a heavy towel and long sleeve shirt with water and head out. At night has it's problems with monotony, drunks, and critters; but is a valid alternative. Just look at it as another challenge to conquer and get it done....God bless....Dennis

  6. #6
    Registered User powwow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1957mpd View Post
    Yep - it's about a 15-hr drive going the shortest route via PHX. I normally make one trip each in Spring and Fall in the car on my semi-annual logistics runs (wine and assorted distilled adult beverages...). I usually drive it straight through, but 1100 miles in a car is easy; it's just three gas stops. Going the more scenic Northern route via Flagstaff does add about 75 more miles and 1 1/2 hrs because I avoid interstates on the New Mexico section. But if I make this run on the bike it'll definitely be chopped into three 6 or so hr days, stopping by 1400 when it really heats up which fortuitously is around check-in time at hotels with bars. If it were Fall I'd think about tent camping but not in mid-Summer when the Sonoran desert can still be 100F at midnight.

    Like everyone else, I've thought about an AK run on the bike. I've flown up there once in a 50 yr-old 65-hp airplane. Went from San Francisco to Nome and back. Took forever but had a great experience. Most of the time the cars and trucks on the road were making better speed over the ground than I was in the air but I could cut corners they couldn't. I do remember bugs, though. Had to put fine mesh screen over the fuel ports when filling up because something about gasoline attracts mosquitos like crazy. And they're HUGE and very numerous.

    Thank you for the response. I'm thinkin' on that cooling vest idea.

    Cheers.

    Mark
    +1 on the cooling vest...they work amazingly well to keep your core temperature down and feeling comfortable. I'll typically soak mine, then store it in a large Zip lock bag before hitting the road in the morning. Once the temps hit upper 80's/lower 90's, I pull it out and put it on. It will keep me very comfortable for about 2 hours, then it's time for a short break to re-soak it. I carry one of the flat rubber sink stoppers so I can soak it in a restroom sink for a few minutes. The difference in comfort when riding in high temperatures is dramatic.

    They're popular with construction workers, so you can usually find them at Home Depot or Lowes.
    Larry Gregerson; Bend, OR
    MOA #93031

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