Side swiped and dragged by RV (I’m alright)

July 15, 2012 in Ramblings

Going into this Journey, I knew that there would be hazards. Scorching heat, bitter cold, monsoons, drought, powerful dust devils, treacherous wind…I’ve experienced it all in the past two and a half months…but NOTHING prepares you for being in a collision, especially with an RV. Before I begin I want to state that overall I am ok and my bike and trailer are still drivable.

I arrived in CA about a week ago and it has been a whirlwind of excitement. There are more Honda Ruckus guys in CA than any other state. As I entered each town, I was greeted by large groups of scooterists…everyone has treated me extremely well. I have had a nice place to sleep, food, and bike maintainence where ever I’ve traveled in California. One of my recent stops was DROWsport, a business that specializes in Honda Ruckus tuning. Drew, the owner was very kind…he gave me a place to sleep and changed the oil on my bike.

From there, I connected with two Ruckus guys – Ray and Keith. I stayed at Ray’s house for two days recuperating. I was feeling extremely worn out and needed the rest. Ray and Keith offered to ride with me up the coast for two days. Ray was able to juggle his work schedule and away we went. We planned an “Iron Man” journey up the CA coastline…from Long Beach to San Jose…about 425 miles in a 48 hour period. That is especially difficult when you’re on a 49cc scooter that tops out at 35MPH!

The highlight of the journey was “Big Sur”…a beautiful part of the CA coast filled with natural wonders. The first day of the trip was long and arduous but a lot of fun…lots of camaraderie, greasy burgers, and flying road debris…lol.

We traveled up steep mountain passes and the hills really slowed us down. We were behind schedule and decided to ride after dark. We were pretty far up into the mountains on very narrow, treacherous roads. Ray was in the lead, with me in the middle and Keith was last. The roads became narrower and narrower until the shoulder almost disappeared. At it’s narrowest, the shoulder was only a foot wide. Ray was in the lead as we approached a long sweeping bend. He was several car lengths ahead of Keith and I. I saw a huge pick up truck in my rear view mirror…It had a lift-kit on it so it was much larger than a normal pick up and it had huge, oversized tires on it. It was hauling an equally huge triple axle travel trailer. It passed Keith, just missing him on the narrow shoulder, but I was not so lucky. The careless driver crossed the white line as he was approaching me and caught my bike mirror AND my left elbow on the side of the travel trailer. The mirror and my elbow became lodged in the trailers side awning rail. I was locked to it’s side and it started dragging me up the side of the mountain. It actually pushed me past the shoulder and I was wedged between the trailer and the side of the mountain…I fought to get the bike free from the grip of the travel trailer…after a good 10 seconds, the bike broke away. It then became a fight to keep the bike upright. When the bike broke free, the momentum threw me into a long rut then up the mountains hillside. I somehow got it off the mountainside, through the rut, and back on the shoulder without dumping the bike on it’s side! I STILL don’t know how I did it. The careless driver never even stopped. They just kept going up the mountain. I was shaken to the core. Keith approached me with his mouth hanging open and a look of shock and disbelief on his face. I was trembling and confused about what just took place. We looked over the bike and trailer carefully. My mirror was bent and one of the plastic signs on my cart was damaged but otherwise the bike was ok. Ray realized that we were no longer following him and circled back around to see what happened. He was equally shocked and amazed that the accident did not result in an ambulance ride.

I had no choice but to shake off the accident and continue forward. We were in the middle of nowhere and had to get off that mountain.

We found a hotel a few hours later and stopped for the night. The following morning, we headed out and by late afternoon we reached Big Sur. It was everything Raymond promised it to be. Absolutely breath-taking. One of the most beautiful places on earth. We spent the rest of the evening exploring and taking pictures. By nightfall, we were still up in the mountains and I did not want a repeat of the previous night. Unfortunately, the rest of the night was equally trecherous…narrow shoulders, careless drivers, and lots of dense fog. We arrived at the hotel at 2AM…a new record of 14 hours on the road. I FELL into bed and passed out. Ray departed for his brothers house just a few miles away. Keith and I are meeting some other Honda Ruckus guys for a ride in the morning.

Also – on an equally difficult note…California is the half-way point in my journey. As all of you know, I am trying to raise $20,000 for three charities that combat child sexual abuse. I never looked at my Pay Pal donation account until this morning. I need to be at $10,000 to be on target. I checked it and to my (initial) disappointment and dismay it was at $1,500. That is nowhere even remotely close to being on target. My mind initially turned towards the negative. I thought “Wow…115 degree farenheit heat, bitter cold, monsoons, being dragged by an RV and this is what I have to show for it”.
THEN, I thought about the people who donated and had an immediate change of heart. Every donation came from good people with GREAT hearts. All of these donations came from everyday people with everyday jobs…many of them struggling to make ends meet. A $20 donation was 3 hours labor flipping hamburgers for some of the people that donated. Others were single parents, families just starting out, and a few were even unemployed. After realizing that, I felt GREAT and I felt PROUD of all the people who came together to support me and the charities I am riding for. I will keep moving forward inspired and blessed as the day I began this Journey! I am so fortunate to be here…healing inside, touching lives, and inspiring others to heal. I could be in no better place.

Downtown Hollywood!

Our first lunch together

Along the California coast

Keith, Tom, and Ray

Keith behind me. Noticed the narrow shoulder!


Somewhere along Big Sur

One of the most beautiful places on earth and I was able to see it with my own eyes!

California Dreamin’

July 7, 2012 in Ramblings

This is my amazing trek from Yuma AZ to El Centro CA!

I woke up at 7:00AM at the Travel Lodge in Yuma Wednesday morning. I inspected my bike and found a HUGE nail jammed in the trailer tire. I was debating whether or not I could make it to CA with the damaged tire. The punctured trailer tire was bothering me so I decided to try to get it fixed before I left Yuma. I called Liberty MotorSports in Yuma at 9:00AM when they opened. To my surprise, they had the tire in stock! (3.50 X 8.00)

I arrived at 10:30AM and was greeted warmly by the entire staff…what a great bunch of people! While I was there, I asked them if they could do an oil change, and change the rear tire (Tim gave me a like-new OEM Kenda). I asked them if they could work with me on the price of everything because obviously, it was a charity ride.

They replaced the rear tire, swapped out the front tire, and changed my oil as requested. They finished everything by 1PM…when I went to pay they said “No charge, it’s on us”. Wow…what an awesome group of people.

So it’s 1PM and I am just hitting the road…kind of a late start but the bike maintenance was necessary. I started out on RT 8 and rolled into California. Seeing the “Welcome to California” sign was a really big deal to me. I can’t believe I made it from Pittsburgh, PA to California on a 49CC scooter.

I am REALLY excited about my journey through CA. I am not sure what to expect and the unknown is exciting to me.

I was on RT8 and came up on a sign that prohibited motor driven cycles from continuing on RT 8. My nice short trip just became complicated and LONG. I called Frank and we had to figure out a new route. My 68 mile journey turned into a 130 mile journey through a deserted, barren desert. To be honest, I was feeling a little scared…I turned off the highway and what I saw was an old straight 2 lane highway cut through a very deserted, barren area. It was 2PM and HOT (102F).

I was not prepared for this trek…I did not have enough water and had no idea how much gas I had in my Ruck. I trudged forward apprehensively…

I never realized that such a barren wasteland could be so BEAUTIFUL. WOW! What was even more exiting was the barren sand dunes I stumbled across. Almost indescribable. The dunes were a smooth, pristine tan color…carved and swirled by the wind…they almost look “creamy”…and the scale…they were so huge that they almost looked fake…like you were looking at a surreal painting. At one point, I looked around in a 360 at the dunes and I got goosebumps from head to toe. The scale of it was more than I could comprehend.

By this time, my eyes, nose, and mouth were clogged with a talcum powder fine sand (note to self – check air filter on Ruck as soon as possible). My eyes were dry and gritty and it was getting hard to breath. I drove through the desert for several hours and out of nowhere came upon farmer’s fields full of green crops. What!?!? Giant sand dunes and barren desert then green fields…with no transition!?! One second I am in the desert…the next second I am in fertile green farm land…was I hallucinating?!? …lol…was this a desert oasis or mirage?!? …lol…lol. How strange…