Full Throttle: "Ray on the Road"
The "Real" Four-Corners Ride ... Part I of III ... up the Pacific Coast
When anyone mentions Four-Corners, those of us in the west think 4 states.
The only 4 of the 48 that come together at right angles. Allowing you to stand in 4 places at once; New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona.
Four-Corners, NM, CO, UT, AZ is an interesting place. On Indian land - with a nice collection of flags and plaques to mark "the" spot. And close to one of the beautiful rides anywhere - Monument Valley. The home of many John Wayne movies and automobile commercials.
That's not what the "real" USA 4-Corner ride is about. Instead, it is a cruise around the perimeter of the USA. From the Mexican border at San Ysirdo, California to the Canadian border at Blaine, Washington, east to the spot where Maine touches New Brunswick, Canada - the town is Madawaska ... south to the home of stories and legends, Key West, Florida.
This story is about that ride. The USA Four Corners Motorcycle Tour is sponsored by the Southern California Motorcycling Association. The idea is to ride to each of these 4 extremities of the mainland 48, in any order, and do it in no more than 21 days.
That part - the 21 days - seems generous. No matter where you start and where you end, the total run is somewhere between 7500-8500 miles. Even as slow as 400 mile days allows you to make it.
Yet, looks are deceiving. I know. I made this ride.
Buddy Gene and I decided to ride together. We planned to do it in the summer time, when it's not cold up north. Next, we schedule late summer, when it's less likely to be wet. Third, we'll ride a horseshoe route - going north first to beat the heat. Of course, this philosophy gets you into hurricane season in the east ... we'll worry about that when we get there.
We planned this ride for months ... we were ready. Our bikes were serviced, we had new tires. We had maps of every description ... just in case. We packed light, yet for all weather. We even scheduled service ahead. We were ready.
Stops were planned to visit family and friends along the way. In California. In Washington State. Massachusetts. Florida. And Alabama. We scheduled a day in Sturgis during rally week. We wanted to ride through a piece of Canada ... so we booked several days, with a beginning leg above Lake Michigan. And planned to visit another friend in Montreal.
To "prove" you do the ride, in order to earn the patch/pin reward, pictures in front of the post office with you and your bike are part of the process. Another "check-in" item is finding and noting a local telephone number from a key restaurant or other retail establishment in the area. The third confirmation is a gasoline receipt with the day's time and date. All this is mailed, and thus a post mark of the start day. The same procedure is repeated at each check-point along the way.
As you can guess, even with all the make-ready, things don't always go as planned. So, this is a report about what really happened. We do get all the start-up paper work done, fill the gas tank, and relax with an early and light dinner with friends. By 9 o'clock the first night we're trying to get some sleep.
Sleep was tough. We're up at 3:00am - our wheels are rolling by 3:50. It's a quick hop on the interstate - joining the already mad rush that is a daily ritual in southern California. The sky is dark - the weather is overnight cool - nice for riding. Long sleeves are in order.
Gene and I planned a short first day. So we can visit with family in central California. Once over The Grapevine we spin off on State #58 into San Luis Obispo County. A place with miles and miles of wonderful bike riding roads. And horse farms and vineyards. Plus, surf and sand on the coast. We enjoy the twists of the road - and arrive at out destination several hours early. Hey, we started early - now there's more time to enjoy people.
That afternoon and evening pass quickly. As Day Two is scheduled as a long one, we bed early - this time we sleep. At 4:00am we're back in the saddle - and ride for 14 hours. The morning is "wet" for the first 3 hours ... mist, fog, a heavy dew. Then it is cloudy, and the rest of the day delightful. Warm, not hot.
Today we're sprinting up I-5. Many consider this stretch of highway boring. Not me - I like agricultural country. Yet, I do admit, the 70 miles immediately north of Redding is some of the most beautiful national forest anyway in America. And the stretch of I-5 through Oregon and Washington is flat-out as pretty as it gets. Before dark we've ridden 784 miles, and stop in Springfield, Oregon.
Sunday we're gone by 4:30am - we've decided to get to the second check-point at Blaine, Washington today. The day was off and on rainy - "scattered showers" they call it. Somewhat cold early - when it's damp and in the 50's it can be cold. We survive. And get to Blaine mid-day ... get our pictures taken and the paper work done.
As we're grabbing a late lunch, a young man approaches, asking for help. He has a bike that has quit on him - needs to borrow some Allen wrenches. I loan him my set - we agree he'll return at "X" time ... he does not. Maybe I shouldn't be, yet I am surprised.
That evening we enjoy dinner with friends from Seattle - the first leg is history.
This ride has a dual purpose;
... to see America, and
We're doing just fine on both counts.
Ray Jutkins is a "new" rider. Been on bikes only since 1989. Yet, he does ride his Road King; 76,000+ miles in two years.
Twice he's been to "The Wall" for Memorial Day. To Daytona, Laconia, the 90th & 95th Harley reunions in Milwaukee, half the Laughlin River Runs, State & Regional HOG Rallies in California, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada & Utah, the Portland to Portland Posse Ride, plus countless special biker events. And, 9 times to Sturgis.
A number of all bike events, too; a Rider Rally in Wyoming, the Retreads National Rally, a couple of GWRRA Wing Dings, the International Drill Team Competition, the Golden Aspen Rally in New Mexico, all where he did web cast radio & television.
He's also done Iron Butt cruises ... like Coast-to-Coast in 50 hours (Ray took 46, including a 2+ hour maintenance fix in Louisiana). Always he rides - never trailers!
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