I was going to call this ride report, "Long way Around" but I felt that Ewan Macgregor and Charlie Boorman have pretty much beaten that title to death. Another idea was to call it, "Going East to Go West", since I riding from Tucson, Az to Redondo Beach, California, by way of a whole lotta points that are east of here. As you can see, I finally settled on "America....by Helix! By the time the ride is over, I think I'll have covered around 8000 miles over 45 days. My other half says I'm limited to 7 weeks for the trip so I've actually got 4 days to spare.
This trip actually started in a motel conference room, 18 months ago, in Barstow, California. A bunch of good folks, who'd just finished the first 3-lap scooter race around the Salton Sea, were polishing off way too many adult beverages. Amongst all those adult beverages, somebody suggested that we all get together in 2013 and recreate the original Brock Yates Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash or whatever it was called. Remember, there was more than ample alcohol in that motel conference room.
And so a race was born!
As a guy who'd rather ride 200 miles (one way!) to lunch than ride to a restaurant down the block, I was in. It didn't make a difference to me where we started from or how much it cost, I was in.
Just like the original, it was decided that the race would start at the Red Ball Garage in Manhattan and finish at the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California. The entry fee would be $99, of which 10% would be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.
In the original there were no rules. It was one vehicle, at least two drivers per vehicle, see you in Redondo Beach. With scooters, there are a few minor rules. One scooter, one rider, no sidecars. Unlike the original which was run for pride and bragging rights, there will be prizes in this one. I think the prize for winning will be $1000. There are also prizes for winning your class. If you win your class, there are 5 classes, you get $200. So, the overall winner will walk/ride away with a cool $1200. It could be more because if there are no entries in a class, that prize money will be split between the other classes with entrants.
So, the date was set, the entry fee was established, now all I had to do was wait a year and half. Well, cut forward 17 months and here we are, I haven't even starting packing and this trip starts tomorrow!
Before I go on, I want everybody to know that I'm well aware that this Cannonball race, known as the Real Cannonball, has stirred up a lot of controversy in the scooter community by calling itself the Real Cannonball.
I know that there's another race, known as The Scooter Cannonball. I not writing this ride report to piss anybody off. I'm planning on entering The Scooter Cannonball when it's run next year. If you have feelings about one race or the other, let's leave those feelings out of the comments. I'm a rider/racer and I'd prefer to not to get bogged down with the politics of who's right or wrong. Who really cares, let's ride.......
It's a 2001 Honda Helix. This happens to be my trophies from the Salton Sea race. Second overall and first in class.
This was not my first choice for a ride. I also have a somewhat ratted out 2000 Honda Helix, which was my first choice. However, I took it to my local Honda dealer to get some work done and it took them two weeks to tell me that they didn't have a some specialized tool to work on a scooter that Honda started making in 1986! How does that happen? Anyway, they told me they'd ordered the tool but it would take 5 days to get here. They said the scooter would be ready around April 4/5. Great!...I'm leaving 3-31, tomorrow. This is the reason that a person needs two of whatever it is that their riding.
This was what I wanted to ride......
It's a somewhat ratted out 2000 Honda Helix. It's what you'd get if you put a little boy Helix in a room with a little girl Ruckus. I call it a Helkus.
Going east to go west. When I leave in the morning, I'm heading to Las Cruces, by the back roads, to see an aunt. She's told me that every time I pass through Las Cruces, I'd better stop or it'll be the last time I ever pass through Las Cruces. From there, it's on through El Paso to pickup Hwy 90 in Van Horn, TX. I'll be heading towards Brownsville.
One of the reasons that I need 35 days to get to New York is because I can always find a reason for a touristy type of detour. Most of those detours come from one of my favorite websites, RoadsideAmerica.com. It's a website that lists a bunch of stuff that the Chamber of Commerce won't tell you about. Also, on the south Texas portion of the ride is a short ride into Mexico. I'll figure that part out as I get there.
For all the dual sport/off road riders out there, that's not me. I have every intention of keeping the scooter on the pavement, with the exception of that mexico part. Now, this scooter is no stranger to dirt roads as Arizona has more than it's fair share but, hopefully, not on this trip.
For all of you that pack up all the camping gear that you own, that's not me either. I've never been much for sleeping on the ground, not since I got out of the Army anyway. I'll be looking for cheap motels or any couch that I can scare up and the dog will let share it with him.
As for the eating part of things, I'll be eating in as many mom and pop type cafes as I can find. However, knowing that I might get hungry somewhere out in the boonies, with no cafes in sight, I did pick up some things to snack on.....
Clif bars are $1.50 each at our local REI store. I found these at a local scratch and dent grocery store for .25 each. How could I pass that deal up. I do have one rule as I travel, no matter whether it's on two wheels or four wheels. I try to never eat in anyplace that I can eat in in Tucson. That pretty much rules out all the big chains. The one exception to that rule is Subway. I love those sandwiches and now that the prices are lower, I might just be eating in a few Subway's.
Ok, that's about it for now. This is my third try at getting this ride report written and posted. Here's hoping that 3's a charm.
I hope everyone sticks around as I think this trip is going to be quite the adventure as I head out into America.....by Helix!
Scooters are underappreciated in the USA. I'm subscribed. Good luck.
Sounds great, thanks for taking along :thumb
Sounds like you are on the ride of a lifetime. Listen to your Aunt. She has it right. Visit your friends. Visit strangers, they can your become friends. Try not to get in the position of regretting delaying a visit. It hurts. Death does not know nor does it care about your schedule.
The Real Cannonball ~ World's Most Extreme Motor-Scooter Endurance Race
Stan, Great blog! Thanx in large part to you, your unwavering support of MSILSF, and your Helix, The Great Race is ON! The monetary prize for 1st Place Overall is US$1,000.00. There is an additional US$1,000.00 prize money to be divided up among the 1st Place winners of each Class. A US$500.00 prize has been posted for the 1st Place winner of Class II (101cc to 175cc). MSILSF is awarding trophies for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place in each Class. Bill Murar of www.lakeerieloop.com fame is directing the motorcycle component, known as The Real Cannonball Tiddler Division. I do not know if monetary prizes are being awarded. Trophies only I believe. As you know from having collected so many, MSILSF Extreme Endurance Racing trophies are second to none! The small cadre of Wanna-Bee Walter(s) who criticized and boycotted this event, using as their excuse righteous indignation of our use of the word "Real", are true wankers. They'll run their pajama party in 2014, pretending they're racing, and blow smoke up each other's exhaust pipe. They were offered the opportunity to race. No guts, no glory! We [MSILSF], on the other hand, need make no further apologies to a certain forum owner and his ilk for our racing WFO from Manhattan, NY, to Redondo Beach, CA. God Speed! http://www.motorscooterlandspeedfederation.org
What a great idea, A Cannonball run on a scooter. I've been lurking around scooter forums and your rides for years, ever since Ed Otto ran the Iron Butt back in the day. I am always keeping my eyes open for a good deal on a Helix....just a matter of time and I will add one to my stable.
I'll watch with great interest as this thread developes, I'm picturing myself on a ride to Anchorage on a Helix one of these days, your ride might just be the thing to inspire me to get er done......
The Real Cannonball ~ World's Most Extreme Motor-Scooter Endurance Race
I'm guessing at least one scooter racer will come ripping through Kingman, AZ enroute to the Portofino Hotel!
Anchorage will be a great ride! Best of luck on your riding plans.
Here I set with nothing to do and my new Helix setting in the garage with nothing to do,,,,,,what did I miss????
You could have very well ridden right past my home today, in New Mexico.
Happy Trails, ride safe
I'm looking forward to following along on your ride report. Good luck and enjoy the ride.
Hey, GasandAsphalt....where are you? I basically riding the back roads. If you're between Rodeo, N.M. and El Paso, along NM 9, then I did pass your house. Are you anywhere near Las Cruces or is that to far east?
Awesome man have a great time.
ooo I am in!
Comin' through Cleveland, O??
Stan, if your route to Manhattan brings you through NE Ohio, lemme know, I've got space for you and the Helix. Two of us will be heading to the Red Ball Garage on May 2 to join with other adventure seekers for this epic sprint.
We're riding with the tiddlers in the motorcycle division. One on a 2006 250 Ninja, the other on a 2007 250 ninja.
If you can't make it here, we'll see you in the Big Apple. So, ride aware and we'll see you there!
Boss of The Real Cannonball - Tiddler Division
Well, I successfully made it through Day 1. I guess when on your two-wheels and you say the day was uneventful, that's a good thing. Even though I ridden all the 1st day's road on more than a few occasions, I never cease to be amazed by the scenery.
Taking pictures has never really been my long suit. In another ride report I saw where somebody posted, "If there are no pictures, the ride never took place". So, with that firmly planted in my brain, I'm taking pictures!
I've had to change my ideas a bit. Even though I've seen, or ridden, most of the roads that I'll be on over the next few days, I'm trying to ride and take pictures from the perspective of one of my future friends in Maine, or Montana, or Canada who are still butt deep in snow.
I know a lot of people take pictures of the food along the ride. Here's a picture of my last meal at home for the next 45 days. I was originally going to say that this was my last home cooked meal but then realized that this would have offended my aunt Pat in Las Cruces, my ex-mother-in-law and others and the last thing I want to do is piss off anybody who might want to cook me a home cooked meal.
All loaded up and ready to get on the road. And for those of you who might be tempted to ask, yes, that is my house. Did I mention that I love yard art?
About 20 miles south of the house is this crested Saguaro (pronunciation guide.....it's Sa-wha-r-o). There are somewhere around 700 of these crested saguaro's in Arizona. No one knows why some crest and some don't. All the crested ones have been GPS logged so no one tries to "borrow" one of them. Saguaro's don't start growing arms until they're around 50-75 years old. This beauty may have been here since Teddy Roosevelt was president, maybe Abraham Lincoln.
It's a little difficult to see but there's a mile marker on the sign just ahead of the Helix. It's mile marker 54. I was just trying to take a picture of the scenery. After I saw the marker I realized that almost 5 years ago to the day, at mile marker 44 1/2, I sent a very nice Suzuki Intruder 800 to motorcycle heaven, or wherever it that wrecked motorcycles go, and broke both arms doing it! People asked me how the accident happened. I told them to look up the word stupid in the dictionary and they'd find a picture of me. I'm sure my picture was there for a few years. Ho[efully, I've been replaced by somebody. If you're interested, too much speed and too much daydreaming!
Back then I used to ride with a bunch of oldtimers. One of them liked doing research just for fun. He discovered that Mile Marker 44 1/2 was the worst corner on any state highway in Arizona.
About a month after my accident, I went down the firehouse to thank the paramedic guy's for scraping me off the highway. Before I went to the firehouse, I had breakfast in a little cafe across the street. There was a guy in the with a Elgin-Sonoita Fire Dept. jacket on. I was telling him about wanting to thank the paramedics for scraping me up back up the highway a ways. He immediately said, "Oh, mile marker 44 1/2." I asked if he'd been there. He said, "No, that's where we scrape everybody up."
The state has since realigned the corner.
The Sonoita Inn.....in beautiful downtown Sonoita.
I took this picture to tell you that this building was originally built to be the retirement home of the race horse, Secretariat. For some reason Secretariat never lived in it and I can't remember the reason he never came to Arizona. It sat vacate for a while before being converted into the Inn that it is today.
Yes, we're only 3 miles from the town too tough to die...Tombstone.
The first thing you see as you ride into Tombstone is Boot Hill. I think that all of the dead guys from the shootout at the Ok Corral are buried there.
The best grave marker in there is one that says....Lester Moore, shot down by a .44, no Les, no more.
Just down the road is a house that Wyatt Earp lived in.
Next to it is this statute of Wyatt Earp. I can't swear to it that it looks like the real Wyatt Earp. It looks more like Kurt Russell from the movie "Tombstone" to me.
One of the restored buildings on Allen Street.
Across the street from the mercantile store is the original Bird Cage Theatre, where Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp used to deal Faro.
The building has never been restored. I've toured it several times, just for the feel of the old west.
A few years ago, I rode a VW trike up to Deadwood, South Dakota, where Doc Holliday, a hero of mine, spent a lot of time. To me, Deadwood was a disappointment as all the old buildings have been replaced with red-brick buildings. The "new" #10 saloon, where Wild Bill Hickok got shot, isn't even in the same spot as the original saloon.
In the Bird Cage Theatre, Doc actually walked through THIS building 135 years ago.
Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now.
I think you can pretty much figure out the 14 Bird Cage Cribs and the Basement Bordello parts without my explaining them.
This is a picture that hangs in the "lobby/bar" area of the Bird Cage. Notice the white spot next to her left shoulder. For some reason, my cheap little camera picked that spot as a white spot. Actually, it's a bullet hole. On the tour they point out several bullets still in the building, from many "disagreement" that took place in the building. No doubt fueled by whiskey and/or women.
Another picture from the Bird Cage.
Beautiful downtown Benson, Arizona.
After taking more pictures than I,ve taken in the last several years, I didn't ride around and take pictures of the Copper Queen Hotel (said to be haunted), the Copper Queen Mine (open for tours),the Lavender Pit Mine or the Shady Dell Vintage Trailer Park (vintage trailers available for rent. You can check out, ShadyDell.com) but I did want to show you this...
Warren Field is the oldest continously used baseball stadium in the country. No offense to all my future friends in Birmingham, Alabama but Rickwood Stadium is not the oldest ball park in the country. Warren Field was built by the local copper mining company in 1909 and has been in use ever since. Warren Field pre-dates Wrigley Field in Chicago by 5 years!
I made it!
A few years ago I followed the blog of a young man, Nate Damm, as he walked from coast to coast. As he walked Hwy 50 through Nevada, he said that Hwy 50, through Nevada, is called the Loneliest Highway in America. It's quite obvious to me that whoever said that has never been on New Mexico's Hwy 9.
Somewhere, about half way between Rodeo, N.M. and El Paso, Texas, you come across the town of Columbus. Desolate and dusty. Last year I spent several hours here trying to find the bolts I needed to patch the Helix back together so I could limp it on into El Paso for some better repairs. This year, I made it past this wide spot in the road without a hitch.
Another state down!
Actually, I'm back in New Mexico. Remember my aunt in Las Cruces?
In a bit, I'll be back on the road, back to Texas, in my trip around "America.....by Helix"
That's funny. I live on HWY 9 halfway between Columbus and Hachita.
But you're right, its lonely and desolate. But I like it that way.
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