Dr. Tiki’s Atomic 1000

On July 16th, 1945 at 05:29:45 Mountain War Time
Mankind entered the nuclear age when a
19,000-ton plutonium bomb named “The Gadget”
was detonated at the Trinity test site in New Mexico.

Wagers were taken on “”whether or not the bomb would ignite the atmosphere, and if so, whether it would merely destroy New Mexico or destroy the world.”

_________

First and foremost, I have to recognize Brian T. in the Iron Butt Community. He conceptualized this ride and on October 2017, him and his wife were the first people to get this certificate. You can read more about his ride on the Iron Butt Forums.

As soon as Brian posted his ride report, it had peaked my interest. I liked that this was a new ride and I have been fascinated by all things nuclear so what better place to go, than ground zero where the nuclear age began.

I started playing with route ideas right away and eventually I ended up with a plan that would have me leaving Phoenix early Saturday morning on April 7th, riding to the Trinity site then returning back home to Las Vegas.

On April 7th, I started my ride as planned and left on time at 03:00am. I left Phoenix behind me and entered the Tonto National Forest where once again, I was reminded of that one stupid error that I make EVERY time… I didn’t bring my heated gear.

It’s not that I forget to bring it. I just simply don’t want to bring it. I would rather be mildly uncomfortable than pack it. For everyone that’s going to comment on this, all I can say is “I know.” And I will probably continue not packing it for whatever stupid reason.

So as I start to slowly climb in altitude and with every degree that the temperature drops, it’s just another reason as to why I should pack my heated gear.

Finally a distraction from the cold, I start to watch a pair of headlights come up behind me. Slowly at first but as they get closer their speed picks up. I watch them switch lanes and as they go to pass me, I switch off my Clearwater auxiliary lights and the truck immediately brakes and settles into a speed that matches mine and drives next to me a for a few seconds, then he slows down and drops in behind me at a comfortable distance. I flip the Clearwaters back on again and he never tries to pass again.

I had a planned gas stop in Payson, AZ and when I pulled into the gas station for fuel and relieve. The truck pulls up next to me and asks, “Hey man, what kind of lights do you have on that bike?”. He stated that as he got closer to me, he could see better and that made him more comfortable to pick up his speed but when I turned my lights off, he couldn’t see that far ahead anymore and decided to slow down. He finally decided that it was safer if he let me lead through the twisties. He then warned me of Elk in the area and we wished each other a good day.

Next couple of hours was ride, gas, repeat.

I arrived at my closest gas stop that I was going to use to the Trinity site in Socorro, NM which was just a few miles from the gate that would take me to the test site. I skipped my planned gas station for a Chevron station that was right at the edge of town. The pump’s display was only showing half the information needed to pump gas, but the pump did work, But I did have to go inside for a receipt re-print. It wasn’t that the LCD screen on the pump was burnt out from the sun, the information just wasn’t there. When it asked to print the Receipt Yes / No ? There was nothing on the keypad, side of screen or on the screen that indicated where the Yes and No buttons were. Mental note, don’t use this gas station on the way back.

My next stop was a quick stop in San Antonio, NM which was even closer to the base entrance. I stopped in real quick for a BIO break and bought a small bag of Planters Peanuts for .50 cents to get my closets DBR that I could to the site.

From San Antonio, I continued down 380 to the Stallion Gate entrance that took you down 525. A few miles down the road and I hit traffic entering the base. Though my wait was 45 minutes, it moved fairly fast and the guards had an efficient system that would allow them to check ID’s on multiple cars at a time and release them, allowing the line to advance 4 to 6 cars at a time.

At the Trinity site, there was ‘motorcycle parking’ near the entrance of the outer perimeter fence around the site. There is little asphalt here and you will be parking in the dirt.

As Brian mentioned, there are some Porta-Potties and various information booths setup and some vendors selling merchandise but there is no shade anywhere unless you are hugging someone’s trailer or the Fat Boy demo bomb.

The site itself is very unassuming given the history. At the center is the stone obelisk built on ground zero. Next to it, surrounded by a small and low rebar rail type of fence is the last remaining footer of the tower that held the bomb when it exploded. The rebar rail is more there to show people where it is and to keep people from tripping over it, than it is to protect what little remained.

After taking in the scenery and people watching, I bought two patched and coin from one of the vendors and of course it didn’t even occur to me to ask for a receipt.

Once back at the bike, I double checked that the SPOT OK message went through and found myself making my way back out to San Antonio, NM where I bought another package of peanuts, got my receipt and went on my way to Socorro for gas.

Entering Soccoro, I remembered not use the Chevron and went to the second of the three gas stations in town… a Shell station. The LCD’s on these pumps were just sun bleached and unreadable. So I went to the Conoco where the pumps were older, but everything worked.

Leaving Soccoro and back on 60 going west, back home to Las Vegas.

The entire trip I was going to be riding into the sun… I rode east in the morning, and now I will be riding west in the afternoon.

In the morning I froze all the way to the base and on my 500-mile return, I will be facing a 20-30mph headwind.

I set the cruise, sank down in my seat a little and decided to just enjoy the scenery… well its New Mexico… I did what I could.

Since I was going back into the mountains and climbing elevations with a head wind, my entertainment for the next 100 miles was doing gas calculations in my head. Eh, I should make my next gas stop.

On my way back I decided to stop at the Very Large Array radio observatory. It’s something that I always wanted to see and since I was here, I couldn’t let it go by without stopping. After spending a little time at the Visitor’s Center and walking around, I was back on the road… and I even made it my gas stop later on with some gas in the tank remaining.

Other than the wind, the rest of the ride should be easy sailing. I had two more stops to make for the Tour of Honor, one was a daylight only point and as I got closer, I knew I wasn’t going to make it, so I adjusted the GPS units to skip it. As I got into Northern Arizona, the sun went down finally but so did the temperatures. This time I decided to layer up BEFORE I got chilled which turned out to be a nice ride back home. See I did finally learn some thing.

When I did get back into Nevada, my planned finish was in Boulder City. After gas I showed 1,035 total miles completed in 20 hour and 45 minutes. I went through my end of ride paperwork and checklists, satisfied with everything, I hit the SPOT OK button one last time and I was done.

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Atomic 1000 Graphic

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YOU WILL NEVER BE SAFE RIDING YOUR FRONT WHEEL

YOU WILL NEVER BE SAFE RIDING YOUR FRONT WHEEL

 

Many years ago… I was riding my sports bike through the Red Rock Scenic Loop with a friend trailing behind me. The road had a small straight that lead into a gradual right hand turn. It was a beautiful day and we were just enjoying the ride. I approached the turn and went straight… straight off into the desert and down a 30’ embankment.

According to the ‘Record of Achievement’ that I received from the investigating Park Ranger and from actual observation from my friend, I never hit the brakes and apparently I didn’t even try to attempt the turn. I simply rode my bike right off the road.

As I healed over the next few months, it allowed ample time for me to go over the accident in my head and to dissect what happened. The things that stood out of my internal analysis where that I let my attention lapse, that for a split second, I forgot where I was and what I was doing. Secondly, at the beginning of the turn, I saw something on the edge of the pavement and I rode my bike right over it as I sailed off into the wild blue yonder.

Target fixation occurs when a rider locks their focus of attention onto something, such as a piece of road side furniture. The focus becomes the dominate message for the brain and then all actions focus on this message. Your hands start to follow your eyes and the next thing you know, you are flat on your back, looking up at the sky with little birds flying circles around your head, wondering what just happened.

Ever wonder why someone chops their turns? You’ll see it as a series of quick maneuvers while the rider goes through the turn instead of one flowing motion from entry to exit. This occurs when the rider is watching the apex or is looking to see what is directly in front of them. Don’t ride your front wheel, turn your head and look through the exit of the turn.

Target Fixation can be avoided.  Common methods include:

  • Actively scan your surroundings, don’t focus on one thing for too long
  • Don’t focus on obstacles/hazards, look at your escape path instead
  • Turn your head in the turns and look through the exit
  • Look further down the road on the straights
  • Talk to yourself. Get in the habit of saying “Wake Up”, “Look” or “Focus” to yourself when you notice your attention is starting to wonder
  • There is even a Pro AMA rider who will bit his lip HARD when he needs to get his focus back

Be the boss of your motorcycle, don’t let it take you for a ride.

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Hoka Hey?

Let me preface the next paragraph with the following. The Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge is something that I have been interested in and following for a number of years now. In the last week, I have worked six days of 16 hour shifts at my job and this evening was the first night that I am home at a reasonable hour and there has been some alcohol involved… and I ran across some Hoka Hey internet stories while perusing the internet before I went to bed. Saying all that…

I will ride in the Hoka Hey.

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Heaven to Hell Pictures

I did my first Iron Butt Ride on April 11th, 2015. It was a group ride with our local Harley Owners Group chapter and it was a back and forth route from Las Vegas, NV to Grand Junction, CO; back to Las Vegas.  Officially we had 16 people turn in documentation to the Iron Butt Association for their certificates (My first time documentation included), unofficially, we had at least 19 bike in the group. I was told that a successful group ride of this size was impressive and as a Road Captain in our local HOG group, I have always been proud of the effort and the way the ride was handled, and that we started and ended together as one group.

Ever since that ride though, I was always thinking of my next Iron Butt Ride. I would go through the list of Certified Rides and think about this ride or the next, but the one that always grabbed my eye was the Heaven to Hell Gold. Maybe because I live in Las Vegas, I was drawn to the fact that it ended near me, or maybe it was the fact that only 27 people had completed it. Hell, more people finish the Iron Butt Rally every year that its held than the total amount of riders that have completed this certified ride in the last 17 years. I slowly became obsessed with it.

In April of this year, I completed my second Iron Butt ride, the Kactus Kilo Tour of Honor SS1K that coincidentally occurred almost two years to the day from my first certified ride. Though it took two years to get going, I’m hooked now.

There is a charity that I am involved in and ride with. This charity deserves it own separate post but this year I found myself capable of completing the Heaven to Hell Ride as my ride with the charity would bring me within range to setup for it.

From July 10th through the 19th I rode with my charity from California to Texas and on July 19th, I rode a Tour of Honor Saddle Sore 1,000 from Abilene, TX to Colorado City, CO via Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Finishing on my birthday, July 20th.

My facebook post that day was this:
{BEGIN SNIPPIT}
“For my birthday.. I rode 1,100 miles in 24 hours, across 5 states. Visited 4 Statue of Liberties and several veteran memorials and picked up a couple of pics for the HOG ABC’s of touring. It was a good day. I ate B-Day Cupcakes that were delivered to my hotel room from {my girlfriend} Christine and I am staged to crank out out a bucket-list Heaven-to-Hell ride that will get me back home. This is just the last 24 hrs!

Leading up to this day, I rode over 2,500 miles… of which 1,200 miles were escorting an american flag across CA, NV, AZ, NM and into TX for the Nation of Patriots “Patriot Tour”. I Ieft TX without my flag pole as its now flying the Nation of Patriots flag proudly acoss the rest of it’s tour.

I made new friends, thanked veterans, and stood in front of greatness time and time again. I have attended cermonies that brought men to tears and seen patriosm that others can only imagine.

It been a pretty damn awesome 2 weeks! … I only have a couple of days left before I return to normality, but it aint over yet!”
{END SNIPPIT}

It was a pretty damn awesome two weeks! but the next day… July 21st, I started my Heaven to Hell ride. I even had a friend ride out of Las Vegas to meet me in Colorado Springs because he wanted to do the ride as well! Awesome!

Leading up to the ride, I planned everything I could. I went over the route and the IBA description time and time again. I adjusted gas stops and went over it yet again. I read and re-read the IBA Requirements for the ride and signed up for Premier Membership. When I met my riding buddy in Colorado Springs, I went over the fact that this ride is important to me and there will be no screwing around on this trip. No ABC’s of Touring Stops, no Tour of Honor Stops, nothing but business from beginning to end.

July 21st, Start, Pike Peak, CO – Plan your ride, ride your plan ( see, I learned )
We leave the hotel and head up to Pikes Peak, the pre-ride to the entrance the day before payed off and we knew exactly how to get to the entrance with out any additional stress. We left the hotel on schedule at 8am and got to the entrance of the park soon after and we had a nice no-stress ride to the top. I was worried about the weather given all the rain they had been having lately but on this day, the morning was perfect. Clear blue skies, and it was even t-shirt weather at the top of the mountain.

We parked our bikes, took some scenic pictures and took in the sights. We ended up at the gift shop and bought a “I Rode The Peak” patch. With the purchase of that patch, the ride was on! I went straight to the bike, went through my checklist, zero’d out parameters on the GPS, hit the SPOT OK button, and we were off!…. then within minutes later we were stuck behind traffic as a Road Grader that just finished leveling the parking lot at the peak, started to make its way back down the mountain.. F’Really! Come on!  GOOSFRABA… Goosfraba…. goosfraba.

We got around the grader in pretty short order considering the switch backs and make it down the mountain without further incident.

Stop 1: Hartsel, CO (74 Miles later)
Why did I plan this stop? I think I was worried about gas mileage after reading all the warnings about mileage when going up the Pikes Peak. None the less… stick to the plan.
City/State on the Receipt … Check.
Date/Time on the Receipt … Check.
Gallons/Price Correct… wait… Date/Time are an hour off! Double check the receipt to the Garmin and the onboard GPS. Yup, one hour off and on the first gas stop and there are no other stores in this middle of no where. So I make a note of it, hit the SPOT OK button and hope for the best.

Stop 2 : Independence Pass; 12:56pm MST (146 Miles)
This is a required stop and we started to get into some rain on the way up the hill… cold, wet rain. Took me about an hour before I remembered that I have heated grips on the Harley. The pass was beautiful and we got our required pictures, plus pictures of the GPS, odometer, etc… just in case we need it.

Stop 3 : Wood Creek, CO
Even though I told my riding partner that there was no screwing around, I made plans for this one stop at Woody Creek Tavern. Famous for their margaritas and local bar to the writer and gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson. We had some lunch, drank some water and I bought a t-shirt. We seem to be on time and maybe even a little ahead as our stops were going quicker than I had planned.

Stop 4 : Glenwood Springs, CO; 15:37pm MST  (211 Miles)
Aspen sucks! Well.. when you are on a bike running a timed road trip. We finally got out of Aspen and into Glenwood. I had to fight the urge to be drawn into the siren song song of the local Harley dealership but we managed and we were off without further delay. I’m starting to worry about time though… we spent allot of time in CO so far and still have Utah and Nevada to go through. The schedule says we are OK though, so I relax… the plan is good and we are still riding the plan.

Stop 5 : Grand Junction, CO; 16:58pm MST (294 Miles)
Nothing to say about Grand Junction, got fuel, checked weather and moved right along. There was some rain ahead of us but it looked like most of it already moved off.

Stop 6: Salina, UT; 20:15pm MST (502 Miles)
We just rode through a long section of highway miles. We got some light rain but we barley managed to ride the edge of two major rain cells. One was probably 1/2 mile away and you could see the curtain of rain off to the left in the desert. We got a couple of occasional rain drops from it, but nothing major.

At the gas stop, I even ran into a an ex-worker from back in Las Vegas. We talked for a bit, got caught up and remarked on the fact, that of all places to run into someone, who would have thought it would have been in Salina, UT.

Recognizing the fact that I haven’t had a cigar yet on this trip, I go to my tour pack and start to light one up for the next segment. as I am in the process of setting my cigar going, my riding buddy comes out of the gas station, looking and pointing at a huge rain cloud,
He asks, “Are we going that way?”
Me, “Yup, right through the middle of it.”
“Should we put our rain gear on?”
“Nah. Why start now? Lets go!”

For future reference, if you are ever on a ride and someone says “Why start now?” in reference to rain gear…. put the rain gear on.

Oh we got rained on. This storm probably ranks as one the worst storms that I had been through. The rain was so bad that the road way could not clear it fast enough…. rain so bad that you can not see the lane markers any more…. rain so bad that there are puddles of water in your boots. Rain so bad that you can’t keep your cigar lit anymore!

Stop 8 : Delta, UT; 21:49pm MST (576 Miles)
Delta Utah…. go the speed limit! The presence of Sheriffs is strong in this town. The original gas stop that I had planned had us going through town and getting gas just before we left Delta but when we got to the station, it was closed. Though the pumps were open, there was no attendant in case of a receipt issue, so back to the beginning of town where we saw a manned gas station. Locals were setting off fireworks in the middle of the night and I remarked that it was a nice ‘Welcome to our town’ celebration that they put on here.

Stop 9 : Ely, NV; 23:27pm PST (728 Miles)
Oh my god what a boring ride! 152 miles of riding in pitch black, no moon, no oncoming cars, no cars in front of us, no cars behind us… just you and the what ever small patch of desert that your headlight can light up in front of you.

This is another required stop so we get our pictures of everything that we can, then go inside to buy some water and snacks but the attendant is no where to be seen. We head back to the bikes to find them covered in Stink Bugs. They seemed to be more drawn to the warmth of the tires and they are covered in bugs.

We go through the now normal routine of checking the receipt and hitting the SPOT OK, and we are off again…. while squishing hundreds of bugs on the way out. Seriously, you had to shake out your jacket before putting it back on, it was nuts!

Stop 10 : Tonopah, NV; 02:10am PST (897 Miles)
Another boring stretch of road in the middle of the night, only punctuated by the occassional Jack Rabbit that would dart across the road right in front of you. I swear, one had antlers on his head.

Stop 11 : Beatty, NV; 03:41am PST (991 Miles)
Those damn Jack Rabbits are out to kill me! You kind of get freaked out on the first couple that run in front of you, then I remembered a story that was told to me that basically went like this, “Is it bigger than a small dog?”, “No'”, “Then why the hell are you trying to swerve around it!?”. So I stopped worrying about it and just started counting the number of suicidal bunnies in the desert… sorry, it was 3am… I lost count and lost caring about it, but there was a lot of them.

I also remember how unseasonably cool the entire trip has been. Pikes Peak was nice and warm, but the rest of the trip was rather cool.. and sometimes very wet and COLD. So far though, it has not gotten hot.

Remember earlier when I said, when you have that moment when someone tells you “why put on your rain gear now?”.  The same goes for when someone says, “Hey it hasn’t been hot really at all.”.

Stop 12 : Bad Water, CA; 05:16am PST (1049 Miles)
111 Degrees and the sun isn’t even out… but at least the sun isn’t out… just as I planned it! We ride to the ticket Kiosk and it’s Out Of Order. Thats OK, I have this planned out just in case. Do another SPOT OK, take more picture of the GPS showing the location and time. Take more pictures of us and the bikes and even of the broken kiosk.

It’s done! We made it! It’s Over!… nope… we still have to get home to Vegas… another 2 hours away. but the time seemed to click off effortlesy and before I know it I was back home in my bed. The next day I organized all the receipts, paperwork and pictures and sent it off to get my certificates.

After two weeks of riding and nearly 6K miles in 12 days, I rode in 10 states and completed two Iron Butt rides and as I sit here typing this ride report, in my other browser are plans for a Solar Eclipse 1000 on the 21st of August.

Mile Eater, here I come!

 

 

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