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May 24th, 2010 - Las Vegas, Baby!

As we rode up the 25N, we felt a little bit like we were in the twilight zone, each of us privately musing over our recollection of US geography and wondering how in the world Las Vegas could be on our route. Hadn’t we left that back West, miles ago? But sure enough, sign after sign kept pointing towards Las Vegas. Turns out there is another Las Vegas, in New Mexico, although this one doesn’t come up in the first five pages of a Google search, if you just search for Las Vegas instead of Las Vegas, NM, but it should given its colorful and storied history.

Las Vegas was established in 1835 after a group of settlers received a land grant from the Mexican government. The town was laid out in the traditional Spanish Colonial style, with a central plaza surrounded by buildings which could serve as fortifications in case of attack. Las Vegas soon prospered as a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. Historian Ralph Emerson Twitchell once claimed, “Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes and outlaws than did Las Vegas.” Among the notorious characters were such legends of the Old West as: dentist Doc Holliday and his girlfriend, Big Nose Kate, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Mysterious Dave Mather, Hoodoo Brown, Durango Kid and Handsome Harry the Dancehall Rustler. A number of films were made in this town, and Patrick Swayze, American actor, dancer and singer-songwriter, had a ranch in Las Vegas.

After grabbing some New Mexican grub in Vegas, we headed out into the fierce winds, like 2 bugs on a bull. The wind was blowing around 45-50 mph. and pushing us back and forth all over the highway. Sometime during the ride, the plastic cradle for the GPS which was mounted on the front left side of the bike broke off. Luckily, Chris was able to grab the GPS before it fell and smashed to bits on the highway. We pulled over at a rest stop to get a reprieve from riding in the winds. Chris latched his helmet onto the front left pannier as he had done hundreds of times before, and the rack supporting the pannier sheared completely off and fell to the ground with the pannier.

Thankfully a friendly family traveling in their RV came over to chat and gave us some rope to help strap the box to the rear left pannier. It’s important that the weight on the bike be properly be balanced and distributed so as to ensure the maximum safety while riding. We were already having trouble riding in the wind but after having to re-position the left front pannier to the back, we were wobbling back and forth in the wind.

With miles to go until Denver, Colorado, we were trying to make good time to reach our couch surfing host, Paul Cornelius, but had to ride between 45-65 miles per hour. This slower place made it easier to spot the antelope dotting the plains as we drove by. The sun set gloriously against the mountains, and we still were hours from Denver. We threw on more layers to help beat the wind-chill and pushed on until we arrived exhausted at Paul’s doorstep. Paul opened the door before we even dismounted from the bike and came out to welcome us. Although our stay with him was short, he took the time from his busy schedule to visit with us and share stories about life and travels around the world. He’s traveled all over Central and South America as well as lived in Europe and will be leaving shortly on a back-packing trip to Asia and Africa for the next 2 years. The next morning we lucked out and found the coolest guy on the planet with more tools that I could care for. We’ll be fixing the bike here in Denver and get on the road. Stay tuned!

There are 8 Comments

  1. CaddmannQ
    June 10, 2010 at 3:49 am

    I can see why the bracket broke. That’s a very eccentric load. It might nor weigh much, but repeated bouncing has taken its toll. I’d definitely consider using an upper and lower bracket on those boxes.

    BTW, that Santa Fe Hilton looks pretty awesome compared to a tent in the desert.

  2. Spanky
    June 10, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Your a better man then me Chris…

    It appears that Cynthia has taken over the writing duties, not that there is anything wrong with that..

  3. TomK
    June 10, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Same thought here Spany. I think Cynthia writes well.

  4. mpanther
    June 10, 2010 at 3:53 am

    Well, ya got me there with the Las Vegas header. lol.

    As for the leading boxes, those racks are rated for about 10lbs total load.
    I imagine you could put up to 20 in smooth riding conditions, but that includes the weight of the Box and bolts to mount it too.
    While I think the idea is a good one in spirit, you have to much weight up there for them to survive.

    What you need to do is either to get them down to a total weight of less than 12 lbs or have them remade out of stronger square stock.

    It wouldn’t be hard to take a second set to use the clamps off of, and cut the old square stock off the current ones and the new ones.
    The add stock that is the next size thicker for the base.
    Next add the second set of clamps an inch lower than the first and add a brace from the second clamps up to the front of the main support.

    This would allow much more weight. maybe even more than you would Want up there.

    After this improvement, the next failure point would likely be with the crash bars themselves. lol.

    To make the repair easier, you might try finding square stock that just fits Into the old stuff. but you would need to have it welded to the clamp to do any good, so you would be cutting the top and sides off and leaving an inch or so on the bottom to help with alignment. at the clamp.
    The cut the bottom and most of the sides off the platform leaving about an 1/8″ to help with alignment there.

    If you are redesigning them, you should also move them as close to the crash bar as possible. giving the box less leverage would make it stronger too.

    Glad to hear you made it safely to Denver.
    I have always loved playing with the wind. though most MC riders don’t seam to share my joy with it.
    Must be my sailing roots.

  5. June 11, 2010 at 1:36 am

    سلام امید جان.زبان فارسی هنوز یادت هست که؟!!پسرخاله کجایی تو مملکت غریب؟قمر چه طوره؟

  6. Cynthia Q
    June 13, 2010 at 3:47 am

    Thanks guys…the secret is out I guess…I’m a ghost writer/co-writer on the blog but change up the voice once in a while for a different perspective. Chris always fills in most technical details about the bike/repairs. At any rate, writing is the least I can do to help; after all, Chris puts in plenty of hard work with riding in all conditions on a heavy bike and keeping us safe (He is an exemplary rider, I might add. I always feel at ease with him driving) and doing the bike maintenance and repairs. I’ve been having a blast on the road and miss being on the road when we stay in one place after a couple of days. Fundraising in the U.S. is still on-going, working on local businesses, grants, and the charity rides, however the road south is still calling…

  7. Tomk
    June 14, 2010 at 6:37 am

    Or maybe Cynthia fixed it? I mean if we’re gonna hide the ghost writer….

  8. CaddmannQ
    June 19, 2010 at 8:47 am

    It’s been 2 weeks since the bracket broke off. I’m curious to see how you fixed it.

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