Funny motorcycle stories are my own personal accounts of my travels around North America on my Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle. Most of them took place over the last decade.
They are "diary-like" in nature and I tell it like it was when I was experiencing the rides. I didn't try to make them funny necessarily, I just see the "light" side of things and report them in that vain.
People I know got a chuckle out of them and that's why I posted them here. (Most motorcycle riders should also get a kick out of them.)
The first one is from a trip down the west coast (Vancouver, Canada to Nevada and back). I called it Musings From A Motorcycle Maurader. I'll put the other trips on separate pages and put their links at the bottom of this page because they're reasonably long.
Here's the first one:
Greetings. I'm back after 14 1/2 days on the road! Here are some of the highlights of my trip (details to follow):
1) Running out of gas in the middle of the desert at 104 degrees Fahrenheit!
2) Getting the best campsite for free at Lake Wonderful (a misnomer)!
3) Being "leaned over in a turn" at least 1/4 of my riding time (motorcycle heaven!)
4) Seeing some of the most spectacular mountains and canyons on the continent.
5) 7,436 Kilometers (4,621 miles)
6) Attending a Harley rally in cowboy country, where the city's only bar was closed for renovations at the same time as a hot air balloon fest was occurring!
7) John Fogerty of Credence Clearwater Revival fame out-dueled Charlie Daniels (the fiddle playing singer of "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" song) in the battle of the concerts.
I guess the best way to describe the ride to you is to kind of relate it chronologically and then explain the above points when I get to an appropriate place to talk about them.
My first fear was crossing the border with all my stuff packed on the back of the bike. It would have taken me an hour to unpack and repack it all if they asked me to. (Now, I could probably do it in 5 minutes!) Anyway, he basically said, "Where do you live? Where are you going? Have a good trip!" so, I was through the border in about 2 minutes with no line-up!
I turned off the interstate highway just South of Seattle and headed for the coast. (You can't do this any sooner without having to take a ferry.) From there on, the roads were great and un-crowded and I cruised on down to a State campground South of Newport, Oregon.
(Just a word about the weather here: it was sunny every day for at least the first week. However, along the coast, every morning this mist/fog rolls in and obscures the sun so it's very cold in the morning! By noon it's usually hot again. This happened all the way into Southern California!)
I crossed an interesting bridge in Southern Oregon that went across a large bay. It was quite high and a sign on the causeway leading up to the bridge said, "Danger - high winds when lights flashing!" The lights weren't flashing so I barreled ahead only to find that I was being batted around like a piece of tissue paper! It felt like the front wheel was being lifted off the deck! I'd like to go over there sometime when the lights are flashing. That must be quite a spectacle.
Anyway, by the end of Day 2, I found myself in the middle of a humungous Redwood forest with humungous Red Cedar trees - in the dark! (I should have stopped earlier but I was having so much fun with the winding roads that I went on a little too long.) Rule number one when camping - always bring a flashlight! I did! So I managed to crash in a very rudimentary State campground for the night.
Day 3 started with a couple of hours of spectacular roads through "wine country" which gradually turned into major highways as I neared San Francisco where I had to go over the Golden Gate toll bridge (toll being the operative word here). You see I had no idea it was a toll bridge until I happened to glance at small little sign at the side of the road as I was entering the bridge deck at 65 mph with hundreds of cars! Now here's the problem. It said something about $5 and I didn't know what bills I had and whatever I had were in my wallet which was inside my coat (zipped and snapped) and in order to get at it I would have to stop, take off my gloves and unzip while balancing a 500 lb motorcycle! These people crossing the bridge with me are hurrying and I know they're going to really love being stuck behind me at the other end of the bridge while I dig around for money! Anyway, I managed to get over to the right far enough so that when I came off the end of the bridge I spotted a little V painted on the ground between the booth for busses and ones for cars. I stopped there and dug out the money while the cars whizzed by me and then a cop let me back in line. Whew!
I then got lost in San Fran for a while before I found the coast road and it was windy and cold. About a half an hour south however, the sun came out and I had a most spectacular ride along the cliffs with the Pacific hundreds of feet below. I stopped to take some pictures here because everybody else was, but you sort of had to be there to appreciate it. This was when I first realized that not all parts of all roads have guardrails! There are just too many miles of them for that, so if you miss a turn, you could be gone for days before someone would find you! That thought came to mind several times over the next dozen days as I leaned around many mountain roads but I tried not to let that slow me down!
Eventually, the road turned into a highway again and I cruised towards Santa Barbara looking for a campground. There wasn't any, so around 10:00 pm I spotted a motel and stayed there for the night.
On Day 4, I left around 10:00 am the next day for an "easy cruise" to my friend's place just southeast of LA, called Temecula.
Anyway, even though it was Sunday, it was still not a "cruise" on those freeways around LA. It was more like a daylong NASCAR race. At times it was stop and go with no reason, other than volume of traffic. (Once, there was a real accident however.) The rest of the time, the slowest vehicles do about 70 mph!
I got lost once but finally made it to Temecula around 5:00 pm. As it turns out, my friends live just 60 miles from the Mexican border! They explained to me that when they are giving directions to someone in their area they describe it as "about an hour" ride - no matter how far someone is traveling because once you get in the race, you're too focused on survival to notice how long it actually takes!
We had a great dinner and spent the evening catching up on the last few years. It went by too fast. Thanks guys!
My initial plan was to go from Temecula to Las Vegas and then on to Utah but I had never been to The Grand Canyon so my pal suggested I go to Phoenix instead and then head north to The Canyon. I agreed and headed off for Day 5 on a great road that would eventually connect me with Interstate 10 to Phoenix. The road to Interstate 10 was a great motorcycle road. (Thanks again.) Interstate 10 was another story!
As you can imagine, a four-lane highway across the dessert is going to be flat and straight and hot and fast! The speed limit is 75 mph; so most people are doing 90! Of course, I'm traveling the highway at the hottest time of the day. (Phoenix hit 104 degrees Fahrenheit on this particular day!) So, it's a real blast furnace with what seemed to be a constant headwind.
Do you remember seeing those little "dust devils" in farmer's fields on hot summer days? While I was killing time between gas stations, I noticed a "dust devil" off to my right although it wasn't little. In fact, it was as big as an office building, so I slowed down to get a better look and timed it so that I got to it just as it got to the highway. Mistake! It wasn't a "dust devil". It was a sand storm! I thought it was going to sandblast the paint off my helmet and bike! What a sound. From then on I watched them from a distance.
Then, the unthinkable happened!
I was about 100 miles from Phoenix. It was about 3:00 pm and the bike started to sputter! Now the Harley doesn't have a gas gauge, but I have an odometer and I have a reserve tank. Since I've had the bike I have always reset the odometer when I get gas so I know how far I can go without refueling. In the city I get 230 kilometers before I hit reserve and on the highway I can usually go to 250. (On one stretch in Oregon I got 280 kilometers without touching the reserve!)
I looked at the odometer and it was saying 190. I should have been able to go a lot farther than that! I switched to the reserve however, to see if that would clear up the problem and it did, so now I was pretty sure I had a gas problem and not something worse. Now, all I had to do was get to the next gas station on my reserve. It seemed to me that I had about 30 miles to go. Good luck!
To make a long story short, I coasted to a stop in the middle of nowhere, resigned to the fact that I would have to hitch a ride to the next gas station and back. I decided I would have to stow all my gear somewhere before I left it because I didn't want to carry it with me and leaving it on the bike made it too inviting for thieves, so I looked off to the side of the road and there was a culvert right where I had stopped! It hadn't seen water since the Ice Age of course, and it was dry and rattler free so I threw the gear in there and stuck my thumb out.
The first two semis passed by, but the next vehicle was a bus and he stopped. It was completely empty. He was returning to Phoenix from an overnighter in LA. As it turns out, he had to bus a bunch of Amtrak passengers from Phoenix to LA the day before because Amtrak was so far behind schedule, they had to turn the train around in Phoenix! (And we thought our railways were bad!)
He took me to the next gas station, which turned out to be 25 miles away. (There was no way I was going to make it on reserve!)
While en route, as we were chatting, I told him I had a roadside assistance program through the Harley Owner's Group (HOG) that might be able to help me get back to the bike (at no cost to me) but I didn't think my cell phone would work in the middle of the desert. He said, "Try it". I did. It worked! So, as we were pulling in to Tonopah, Arizona (2 gas stations and a restaurant/truck tire place) I was talking to a nice lady who said she would make the arrangements and call me back.
I waited in the Shell station because it was air conditioned and had lots of cold drinks and in half an hour she phoned me back and said she had arranged for someone to take me back to my bike with some gas. She said he was coming from some company in Tonopah and as she was speaking, I watched someone depart the restaurant/tire place and jump in a truck. It was right across the street! I could have done it in two minutes! Oh well, she did it all from Wisconsin, so it would take her a little longer.
This guy arrived in an old "beater" of a pickup truck with some old tire changing equipment in the back. The windshield was cracked and there was no air conditioning so I jokingly asked him if he thought it would get us out to my bike. "Oh yes" he said, "it's got a new engine in it". Well, it got us there all right and after a hair-raising turn from the 90 miles per hour lane into the sandy medium, we made it.
I put some gas in the Harley and it started. Obviously that was all that was wrong with it, so I bade him farewell and headed to the ditch for my gear. When I came up again, I noticed he was still there! Then I heard: "click, click". The engine wouldn't turn over. I said, "Before I put all this gear back on the bike, do you want a ride back to Tonopah"? He said, "No", he'd radio it in. So, I packed up and left him in the desert!
Why did I run out of gas? I don't know for sure but I think it was those stupid gas hose nozzles that they have in California and Southern Arizona. They have a plastic covered spring over the nozzle and you have to push the nozzle far enough into the tank when you are filling your car so that it seals the top and prevents fumes from escaping. If you don't push it in far enough, it won't pump gas. Great for cars, lousy for motorcycles! You have to pull the spring back with one hand while squeezing the nozzle with the other and trying to see how much room you have left in the tank and I think, thanks to that brilliant piece of ingenuity, I failed to get enough gas in.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
I got into and out of Phoenix around suppertime and headed north for the Grand Canyon.
About an hour north of Phoenix I started looking for a campground and saw a sign for one just as it was starting to get dark. I pulled off the Interstate and went looking for it. It turned out to be in a state park and it took me an hour to find it! I eventually went through the park gates and there was nobody there. I went into the campground and there was nobody there! The place was totally deserted! Maybe it was because it was 90 degrees still, I don't know, but there was not a sole in the place. I picked the best camping spot overlooking Lake Wonderful and settled in - just me and the coyotes!
Sometime in the middle of the night two other guys rolled in and rolled out of their pickup truck and were asleep immediately, just around the bay from me. They must have been locals to be able to have found the place in the middle of the night. They were still asleep beside the truck when I left in the morning and in fact, the truck door was still open!
The next day (Day 6) I headed for Flagstaff up Interstate 17. Once there, I caught some more interesting roads to the Canyon. It got cooler as the day went on because I was always rising in elevation. At one point, I crossed a pass that was over 8,000 feet high. (This has something to do with one tectonic plate sliding over another one.) Anyway, I arrived at the Grand Canyon around 2:00 pm and got a campsite right on the rim.
Now I've been on the tops of lots of mountains and it's always awe inspiring to look down from the top but it's really weird driving along what seems to be a flat plain and then suddenly looking down into this great hole which is as far down as if you were on a mountain! Anyway, I spent the next 5 hours just wandering around the rim. Awesome.
That night, the coyotes were really loud. I guess they were scouring the rim for stray children!
I left the next morning (Day 7) around 7:00 am for the trip north to my HOG rally in Utah. Actually, you have to go east for about 2 hours before you can go north. That's a BIG hole! I stopped for lunch in Page, Arizona, which is right beside Lake Powell, so all the lawns are green in town but the whole countryside is red sand. It's a weird site to see all that blue water amidst all that red sand and green lawns while frying at 100 degrees.
I made it to Panguitch, Utah about 3:00 pm and headed for my motel, which was to be home for the next few days. The motel was about 20 minutes from town and I had to travel through Red Canyon to get there. The whole area is loaded with great canyon rides and I had to do this one at least twice every day. It has some strange rock formations in it.
On Day 8, I went for a run and hit a laundromat to renew my t-shirts and then headed for town to register for the rally. It was sunny until I got to town and then the clouds rolled in. By the time I found the fair/rodeo grounds it was sprinkling and as soon as it started to pour, I headed into the registration building along with about 100 other bikers. (This mid-afternoon thunderstorm seemed to be a daily occurrence around this part of the country and two days later it put on quite a show along with local lightening strikes!)
Later that day they had a "Taste Of Panguitch" dinner at the fairgrounds that was an excellent BBQ feast put on by a local group. That was supposed to be followed by a "sunset ride to Bryce Canyon" but turned into a "go if you want to" thing, which I did, because it was only 5 minutes from my motel. It's a spectacular canyon because it is mostly salmon coloured sandstone and holds some weird shaped pillars as a result. It was worth the ride!
On Day 9 I got up early and headed for town for the start of our day long "Poker Run" through The Burr Trail. (A poker run has 5 stops and you pick up a card at each one and the people with the best hands win prizes at the end.)
While approaching the town I happened upon a bunch of balloons flying over the road and snapped a few pictures. Then I hooked up with 4 other people and we took off for the run. It was along the Burr Trail, which is very impressive, and we covered about 200 miles during the day. None of us had very good poker hands however, so we didn't win any prizes.
Incidentally, my headlight burned out during the run so I had a bit of a problem. How do you get a replacement bulb when the nearest Harley dealer is 4 hours ride away? One of Utah's Harley dealers had an apparel tent set up in town to sell clothes, so I stopped in there for advice and, talk about service, the manager came out and removed the old bulb, sent me off to the NAPA Auto Parts store in town (even though it was 5:30 pm) and I was able to get a replacement bulb for it. I took it back to the tent and he replaced it for me! Many thanks to Boyd! It has been working ever since.
That night brought a collection of bikers, balloonists and buffalo herders into the arena for the Charlie Daniels Band. He was good but I liked one of the set-up bands better. Of course, the locals thought he was great!
Day 10 started with a $5.00 all-you-can-eat breakfast put on by the Lions Club, followed by a bike show and a Harley vs. locals' baseball game. Then came a humongous thunderstorm and an awards dinner for about 700 people. (It was there I discovered that I had won a draw prize and picked up a set of metal HD coasters!)
After dinner we hit the main drag of Panguitch, which was closed to traffic so that the balloonists (about I5 in all) could light their balloons in the street. It's quite a sight to see these huge balloons rise up in the street and of course, when the pilots fire their propane blasts into the balloons at night, it's very colourful.
On Day 11, I headed for home around 9:30 am. The first 1/3 of the day was very scenic with lots of canyons and valleys to ride through. The next 1/3 of the day through Salt Lake City was all freeway. (I thought I was in Cleveland!) The last 1/3 of the day was OK except that I ran into a couple of downpours.
What I learned from the first one is that if it looks like it is going to rain - it is! I waited a little too long to change into rain gear and got a little wet, though fortunately it only lasted for about 15 minutes. The next one lasted for about 1/2 an hour but I was ready for that one.
I stopped for the night in Pocatello, Idaho at a KOA campground where there were lots of other Harleys. 4 couples from Calgary rode in on Road Kings, pulling tent trailers! (Why don't they just get a car?) Anyway, we spent the night talking motorcycles around their campfire (because they had beer) so all was not lost.
On Day 12, I left the campground about 8:00 am after a $2.50, all-you-could-eat pancake breakfast and headed for Montana via some lesser-known highways. The Calgary riders warned me of the lack of gas stations on my route because they'd been that way before and they were right. Talk about "The Big Open", you can drive for miles on Highway 26 without seeing anything - not even any buildings!
I filled up about every 100 kilometers but skipped one at around 50 because I thought it was too soon. That might have been a mistake because I had to hit the reserve tank in the middle of nowhere and was wondering whether I could make the next town or not! While I was mulling over my options, I spied a building, which turned out to be one of those historical sites you often see on the more traveled routes. There was a pickup truck at this one, so I decided to pull in and see if I could get some information about the next town. As it turned out, the pickup belonged to a couple who were doing some work on the building and when I mentioned my potential gas problem, the lady said, "I've got a little gas left in a can inside if that would help"! I accepted immediately and forced $5.00 on her even though she insisted that it wasn't worth anywhere near that. To me it was! The next gas station was 15 miles away. Would I have made it?
The rest of the day was gas and go, mostly up the Salmon River for probably 75 miles - a great motorcycle road. I donned the rain gear at one point and ran in the rain for about 15 miles before it cleared up. Finally, I got to my turn in Lolo, Montana where I had to stop going north and turn east across the mountains. It was getting late when I headed up the first canyon and there was a great black cloud hanging over the pass, so I pulled a U-turn and went back to an RV campground I had passed and pulled in there to spend the night and sit out the rain. Of course the rain never came!
Day 13 was on to Washington, my home state (or so it seemed). The first half of the day had some great high country back roads, all newly paved but then I had to take a 4-lane highway east for several hours until I could turn north again and go along the Cascade mountains. I ended up in Leavenworth, Washington around suppertime and decided to stay there for the night because it was such an interesting place. It re-invented itself a few decades ago as a Bavarian village and all the buildings and shops look like they should be in the Alps.
I found a campground nearby that had a mountain river running right through it. It was very picturesque but not very well kept. Then I headed for town for some great German food and beer. I picked a place called Gustavs, which was right on the main drag and had a second floor patio overlooking the street. It was there that I discovered their true secret! They look Bavarian, but they aren't! There is only 1 German restaurant in town and this wasn't it! Oh well, the Icicle Ale was cold, the view was great and the chicken salad was very tasty.
On Day 14, I headed for the Stevens Pass - a great 2 hours of motorcycling and then headed south on I-5 towards Redmond, Washington for the John Fogerty concert that was to be held in a park near Redmond. What a mess of roads around Redmond! I must have stopped 5 times for directions before I finally found the Chamber Of Commerce and got a map. I asked about campgrounds nearby but there weren't any so I gave up on that idea.
I found the park about 2:30 pm and my pal showed up about 4:00 with cold beer and snacks in his truck and we prepared for the 5:30 opening.
It was a great concert. John played all the old CCR songs plus "Put Me In Coach". There were probably only a couple of thousand people in this park so we were very close to the stage. I managed to dance most of the night with some Washington women my buddy sat us beside and managed to loose my voice, my sunglasses and my Visa card, so I guess I had a good time?
We waited until most of the people vacated the park before we left and headed for home. I was home by 1:00 am after another quick border crossing. (I guess I don't fit the typical terrorist profile!)
4,621 miles in 14 1/2 days - I'd do it all again in a second!
Here's another of my funny motorcycle stories. I ended up riding the Extraterrestrial Highway at night and almost ran out of gas!
If you'd sooner watch some funny videos I made from two of my trips, then click above.
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