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Old 03-30-2013, 09:53 AM   #1
TucsonStan OP
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Oddometer: 49 Helix!

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 " 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.......

THE 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.

THE ROUTE.......

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, 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 Helix!
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Old 03-30-2013, 12:10 PM   #2
I do my own stunts!
Joined: May 2011
Location: Charleston, SC
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Scooters are underappreciated in the USA. I'm subscribed. Good luck.
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Old 03-30-2013, 01:52 PM   #3
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Sounds great, thanks for taking along
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Old 03-30-2013, 02:53 PM   #4
Studly Adventurer
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Southeast Lower Carolina
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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.
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Old 03-30-2013, 03:21 PM   #5
Alan Spears
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Pissed 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 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!
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Old 03-30-2013, 04:02 PM   #6
long distance rider
Joined: Nov 2004
Location: Kingman, AZ
Oddometer: 33
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......

Good Luck

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Old 04-01-2013, 04:31 PM   #7
Twist and Go
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Joined: Jan 2004
Location: In The Isothermal Belt, NC
Oddometer: 1,358
On Board...

Now "Certified Scooter Trash"
2006 Yamaha Morphous, 2006 Fly 150 "BlowFly 200",2009 Buddy 125
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:42 PM   #8
Joined: Jun 2011
Oddometer: 40

Subscribed, from one Arizonan to another.....have a great ride!
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Old 04-02-2013, 12:38 AM   #9
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Joined: Sep 2007
Location: The Willamette Valley, Oregon
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Great report!

I'm subscribed!
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Old 04-02-2013, 04:52 AM   #10
TucsonStan OP
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Oddometer: 49 Helix

I left Las Cruces at the crack of dawn. Well, it was a bit past that and a bit chillier than I thought it would. It's problem living in one area and going to another, I expected warmer mornings.

There's an old David Allan Coe song with the line, "It's cold in the desert, I'm chilled to the bone". I thought it was chilly at the motel but it was even colder riding Hwy 20 south towards El Paso.

It got mentioned earlier about Hwy 50 through Nevada as being the loneliest road in America. I stacked New Mexico's Hwy 9 up against it. If that's true about those highway's, then Hwy 20 between Las Cruces and El Paso has to be the most aromatic highway in America. For a while, I was beginning to think that every cow in America lived near that stretch of road. It was funny, you couldn't really see them from the road but you knew they were spades! I must have been down wind. I grew up back east, in dairy country of the garden state, so the south end of a north bound cow isn't all that offensive. Those dairy farms might have add 200 cows, not the thousands that these places were holding.

In El Paso, I wanted to take a few pictures but always managed to be way past the picture spot before I found a spot to pull over. For a while, I was riding right along the infamous border fence. Since the road was an old city street, I always managed to be passed the picture spot I liked before there was anyplace to pull over. I figured that, since I'll be following the river and the border for most of the next two days, I'll have plenty of opportunities to take pictures of the border. I was still riding on highway 20 as I rode into and through El Paso. Somewhere in there it turned into Paisano Ave, then Almeda Ave, then I think something else.

In the 6300 block of Almeda Ave, just in case you find yourself in El Paso with nothing to do, there's a two story building with name on the top that says, "Naked Harem". When I went past it, it was 9 o'clock in the morning and it appeared to be closed or, right now, I'd be giving you a much more detailed report.

As you wind your way south out of El Paso, you pass every rundown, used up adobe building you can imagine, housing more odd, eclectic businesses. All of them are painted in very bright cloors, yellow being the most domanint. Shortly, the buildings gave way to farm fields but only on one side of the road. The farm fields were on my right while the buildings, of all shapes and sizes, continued on my left. Then I would ride through a small area that I'm guessing passed for a town. Most of them could have fit inside the average Walmart Super Center. Tornillo, Alamo Alto, Acala and more whose names I can't remember, on into Fort Hancock. Don't think that Fort Hancock is the next big town. Well, I guess it is. It might take 2 Walmart Super Centers to cover the whole place.

Yeah, right! Who are they kidding.

Since there will be so much interstate riding later on in the trip, I'm trying to stay on the back roads as much as possible. Besides, there's more see and usually better roads to ride. In Fort Hancock I had to get on I-10 for the 68 mile ride to Van Horn, Tx. I'm guessing that when they built the interstate, they built it right over the existing road because I don't think there are any paved back roads between Fort Hancock or Van Horn. At least my map didn't show one. Of course, that's assuming that the road they built over was paved in the first place. It might have just been a cattle path, formerly used by all the relatives of the cows I passed for the last two days.

Before arriving in Van Horn, you pass the thriving metropolis of Sierra Blanca, Texas. Other than being another town that the interstate is in the process of killing, Sierra Blanca is actually in the history books as the meeting point of the second TransContinental Railroad. The first TransContinental Railroad was completed at a place called Promentary Point in Utah, the second was here in Sierra Blanca.

This picture pretty much sums up the long term prospects of Sierra Blanca, Texas

Van Horn, Texas.....I've camped here in Van Horn on more than a few ocassions but the campground is closed now, as is the Dairy Queen and the Pizza Hut. Van Horn has a wide main drag and you can tell that this place was once a thriving little west Texas town....before said interstate!
I'm guessing that there were more businesses here, when the highway went through, that has allowed it to hang on. More so than Sierra Blanca.

Van Horn is where I pick up highway 90 for the next 600 miles as I head south to the valley, that part of Texas at the very bottom. First stop, Marfa. Marfa is the art center of west Texas. Why, you ask? Because a New York artist by the name Donald Judd discovered, way back when, that he could buy up a whole bunch of the area around Marfa real cheap.
So, Donald Judd moved to Marfa. I've been to Marfa several times but I always manage to get here at the beginning of the week and all of the art exhibits are only open later in the week. I guess that if I want to see all the art stuff, I'll have to make a special trip.

Somewhere between Van Horn and Marfa, you come across this.....

Note the location...

I'm guessing that this is somebodies idea of funny. But, ladies, there are some very nice looking Prada purses and high heels in there. There's also a camera pointed at the front door, so I guess my ugly mug is stored on somebody's computer right now.

From Marfa, it's only a 30, or so, mile ride to Alpine, Texas, a much bigger, more prosperous West Texas town, probably because it's the home of Sul Ross State University. I think Sul Ross was a former governor of Texas, but I could be mistaken.

Alpine is where I am right now. As soon as I finish this ride report and fill up on the free breakfast here at the Highland Inn, change the oil in the scooter, I'll be on to Eagle Pass, on my quest to find Helix.
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:42 AM   #11
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Enjoying your journey of discovery...

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Old 04-02-2013, 08:26 AM   #12
Joined: Mar 2012
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You didnt see the marfa Lights?
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Old 04-02-2013, 09:19 AM   #13
Brooktown Geezer
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I'm in for this one.
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Old 04-02-2013, 01:30 PM   #14
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Joined: May 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
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You mentioned having to pull over to take a picture. It's not hard taking pics while riding if you have a point and shoot camera. I hang my camera around my neck with a fairly long strap. If I see something worth taking a pic of, I use my left hand to turn on the camera and take a pic. I have been able to get a lot of pics I would otherwise have missed if I had to pull over.

For example, one day I was riding along on the highway and a scooter passed me. I decided to get a pic. Yes, it was a helix and he was moving along at a good speed.

I ride, Therefore I Am.

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Old 04-03-2013, 01:04 AM   #15
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Location: Deep East Texas
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Originally Posted by TucsonStan View Post
... I'm guessing that when they built the interstate, they built it right over the existing road because I don't think there are any paved back roads between Fort Hancock or Van Horn. At least my map didn't show one. Of course, that's assuming that the road they built over was paved in the first place. It might have just been a cattle path, formerly used by all the relatives of the cows I passed for the last two days.
"The road" used to be US 80. Way back when, it ran from Savannah to San Diego. Pretty sure it now dies in/near Dallas.

Enjoying your RR - keep on scootin'!
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