I had completed a Coast to Coast in 2009 following I-20 through Atlanta and ending in Tybee Island. This time I would stick to the more southerly, and more commonly done I-10 route.
I left San Diego Thursday morning at midnight and headed east over the mountains. This windy mountainous leg was very enjoyable back in ’09, but this time the winds were horrible. Living in West Texas, I am used to riding in strong winds, but these were different. My speed dropped to below 60 as I fought to keep the bike on the road. The winds came from all different directions, and I was glad I only had to pass one or two big trucks. Once out of the mountains things calmed down and I was able to kick my speed up and enjoy the ride.
At one point, after passing a couple of Border Patrol pick ups that had some sort of radar scanner equipment in the truck beds, something weird happened with my speedometer. The thing went dead. The light stayed on but the needle dropped to nothing. I believe the odometer stopped as well, but I’m not sure because I may not have covered a tenth of a mile before pulling over. The speedometer and odometer are critical on Iron Butt rides. I shut the bike off, pulled the key out, and waited for my radar detector to go off (it’s hardwired in and the circuit stays hot for maybe a minute after shutting the bike off). This was a very long minute in the pitch black desert right on the Mexican border, and I was relieved when the bike started right up, and even more relieved when I pulled away and the speedometer was again working. This incident caused me to worry a little, but the speedometer never did it again.
I was in New Mexico when the sun came up and I warmed up in Lordsburg with a McDonald’s sausage biscuit and coffee. I made El Paso around noon and to my surprise moved through with almost no delay at all. The ride through the Texas hill country went smoothly and I thought about my gear selection. I have tried different clothing combinations for years, and was very pleased with what I had worn for this long winter ride. It was dark by the time I made San Antonio, but I grew up there and was familiar with the highways. I took the north loop around and continued on I-10 to my stop for the day. I like to cover more miles on day 1, thus the super early departure. I chose Columbus, TX for it’s location (1400 miles from SD, 1000 miles from Jax). I also liked its proximity to Houston. It is about an hour west of Houston, and a 5:00 AM departure would put me through Houston around 6:00, before the morning commuter traffic got real bad. The plan worked well, and I was happily having a Waffle House breakfast another hour later.
This was the first time I had ridden all the way east on I-10, and I enjoyed all the bridges through the marshes and swamps. At one point I looked over at the west-bound bridge and noticed how high the water line was on the concrete pillars, probably from Katrina.