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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

  7. #7
    Knight-Errant 1957mpd's Avatar
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    Desert Transit Update

    Well I survived the desert. Two, actually.

    The 2400 mile R/T shakedown ride of the new R1200GSA wound up transiting both the Mojave and the Sonoran deserts. My Las Cruces to Monterey journey went "high" - up to Flagstaff and then across the Mojave then up the San Joaquin valley before cutting over to Paso Robles then North on 101 until turning into the coast at Salinas. The return went "low" because there were just so darn many monsoon season T-storms in northern AZ. Left Monterey and headed down 101 to Paso Robles then cut East over to I-5 South climbing up over the Grapevine Pass down into LA where I picked up 210 over the top and connected to I-10, blasting across the Sonoran desert (Palm Springs, Phoenix, Tucson) and into Las Cruces. Temps ranged from low 60's to a high of 113F. Dodged 6 T-storms and was nailed by 1. Two days - one 5 hrs and one 7 hrs - were above 100F the entire time. I chose to wear a BMW Venting Machine suit with Moto-Skiveez undergarments and no cooling vest. That suit was a little cool in the 60s but really comfortable between 70 and 90 and still not bad even up to 100 at 75 mph. Above 100F, well, you're just hot but a water break every 2 hrs or so kept things under control. Because the suit is fully mesh plus armor, when I was clobbered by the level 3 T-storm, other than my crotch, I was completely dry within an hour. 90 at 75 mph is a terrific dryer.

    What I learned:

    1. The desert in Summer is not to be trifled with, but it's not anything to be afraid of, either. Make certain the bike is in tip-top shape, especially the tires, and carry lots of water in case the unforeseen should occur and I have to wait a long time for assistance.

    2. Know your limits. My longest one-day pull was 479 miles. Both directions averaged between 5 and 8 hrs of riding per day for two days and then a short - 3 or 4 hr - third day.

    3. Start at dawn and quit early. Even when the hotels say check-in is 1500, everyone was happy to accommodate me at 1300. Hit the pool first; bar after.

    4. Even when the day promises to become a broiler, that hour before the Sun rises is always a beautiful ride as dawn floods the desert landscape and the T-storms the night before release the desert's special fragrance.

    Thanks to all who offered advice.

    Cheers.
    "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

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