Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Memorable Ride

I’m in the planning stage for my Spring Break ride toward Seattle. More and more I don’t feel that I will make it that far. In my research for a route I find the average temperature over the Loneliest Road, US 50, through Nevada is 28 for the low and 58 for the high. It appears to be in the 7,000+ foot elevation and the high point is over 13,000 feet. Snow is a real possibility. I’m determined to start on that route, but not married to it. Riding in the cold isn’t too bad, but freezing wind takes a lot out of me.

Thinking of this trip harkens me back about 26 years to when my daughter, Jeane, was six years old. I rode a 1982 Goldwing Aspencade. I decided I wanted to add a sidecar, also known as a hack, and purchased a two passenger model from California Sidecar in LA. I ordered it, waited for almost a month, and scheduled to pick it up on a Friday. The time finally arrived and as I was preparing to leave my daughter asked if she could go. After some discussion with her mother it was determined that she was old enough for a road trip. We mounted up and were off on our adventure on a Thursday afternoon.

An adventure it was. Jeane being six was susceptible to falling asleep in, or on, a moving vehicle. Even if that vehicle is a motorcycle. Seventy miles an hour and a six year old falling asleep isn’t a good match even on a Goldwing. She was just small enough to be able to slip around the arm rests and dangle over the side of the bike, precariously close to falling off. Because I just couldn’t keep her awake I had to stop and make her safe. The only thing I could come up with was to use my belt to tie her upright to the trunk of the bike. That worked well and she safely slept almost the entire way there.

Then there was a little thing called the Santa Anna Winds that made an appearance around Indio. Riding at almost a forty-five degree angle to vertical to be able to go straight was work. I think I even questioned my sanity a time or two during this trip. Passing or being passed by a semi was an adventure as the bike would straighten up until it was past and then jerk back to the lean angle required to go straight down the road.

We showed up at the sidecar shop on Friday and they went to work installing our new car. They gave me a loaner bike with a hack and we were off for a ride. This was my first time ever driving a hack and it was an adventure all its own. This time would be invaluable when faced with the ride back to Phoenix. Stopping required much more thought than riding just the bike. All the normal motorcycle steering I had ever known was now useless. It was learning to ride all over again.

After the new Friendship car was installed we were on our way back home. At Ontario the bike just quit. Right on the freeway, but close enough to hit an exit. As luck would have it that exit had a motel and a Checker Auto. The motel was open, the Checker wasn’t. We had to spend the night and wait for Checker to open the next day to replace the battery. We finally got rolling with Jeane enjoying all the room in the two passenger sidecar to herself. She would sit for a while, lay down for a while, and crawl into the nose of the car for awhile. It had to be great fun for a six year old to experience that first ride all alone in a sidecar. I know it was great fun watching her and driving it down the road and learning to ride all over again.

This is the only picture of the sidecar I can find. That was a really great rig when the trailer was added. There was also a convertible top and windows that could be installed when the weather or sun required. There was a gas tank in the sidecar, behind the seat, that used an electric fuel pump to supply the bike. I think it held ten gallons and the range was more than a person wanted to ride without stopping. That is unless you were a six year old little girl going on your very first road trip on a motorcycle with your dad. I'll bet Jeane doesn't remember a lot of the other trips taken in this rig, but I know she remembers this one.


  1. Jeane being thirty-one is susceptible to falling asleep in, or on, a moving vehicle.
    One of the best parts was when we stopped for gas and I got a brand new cherry chapstick to help with my wind blown lips.
    Although this was a two person sidecar, my favorite memories of riding involve two little girls and their Cabbage Patch Babies.

  2. That is a great story, Paul. Good luck on your ride to Seattle. I hope the weather cooperates. The first week in March, I am planning to ride my bike from Baltimore to Daytona for Bike Week there. But I will play it by ear depending on the weather at the time. Later in March, my wife and I will be in Scottsdale for Spring Break. I plan to rent a Harley and do some riding there too. How close are you to Scottsdale? Maybe we can ride together.