Two-Wheeled Daydream

Sometimes the daydream looks like this photograph. On the big road bike, heading for some destination in America’s West. This photo was captured in the San Jacinto Mountains on my favorite stretch of local road, Highway 74 through Garner Valley.

Right now, the usual daydream destination is the Vermilion Cliffs in northwest Arizona. This stretch is the starting point for that journey, running over the mountains and down into Palm Desert, across the desert and the Colorado River into Arizona, north along the river, across the desert again, up into Flagstaff, then north toward the Navajo Reservation. Its a long ride at 560 miles or so, and I’d need at least 3 days to do it in order to have enough time to wander around the Cliffs with a camera for a few hours.

There are other two-wheeled daydreams, of course. Riding through the Black Hills of South Dakota is worth a 1,300 mile ride to get there, but a week is needed for that trip. This photo is of Brandon McKee riding north on Route 395 beside the Sierra Nevadas. All three photos in this post were taken with the Lumix FX01, an out-of-date digital point and shoot. I typically hung the lightweight camera on a neck strap inside my jacket and pulled it out with my left hand when I wanted to shoot. In an emergency, I could drop the camera and grab the handlebars with both hands because the neck strap was short enough to keep the camera away from the gas tank if I deliberately dropped it. I’d operate the camera with my left hand. With the gloves on, I could slide a switch on the top to the On position, then press the shutter and fire a quick series of frames. The photos shown here are as close to level as it ever got, since I didn’t look at the camera while shooting.

Another weeklong ride that keeps rising in my thoughts is Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska. Though I’ve never been there, a Carhenge trip would not be so much about the destination as what I could ride through on the way there. It would be easy to cross the Colorado River before sunrise, then ride through Arizona, Utah, and Colorado on the way to Nebraska. Alliance has another advantage in that it is (+/-) halfway across the continent, and I could meet friends from the east coast there, then we could spend a couple days riding the Black Hills/Sturgis area before returning to opposite coasts.

The third photo is from California Route 58 between Santa Margarita on the coast and Simmler on the edge of the central valley. That Saturday morning I’d set out toward the San Bernardino Mountains and ended up riding a loop through the Mojave Desert, The Sierra Nevadas through Tehachapi Pass, across the central valley and the Coastal Range to the coast around San Luis Obispo. When I looked at the trip meter at home that evening it read 636 miles. It felt like 300…