2023 SCBR – Day 2 – More Mountains

Heat, mountains, and desert. Still very optimistic, though!

Day two started off with a healthy degree of positive vibes and energy.

That optimism ended quickly after realizing that all of my shakedown and tests back in Minnesota were at 700-975ft of elevation and a max of 80F…

Within an hour, I was already required to run on freeways. I was lucky on the first sprint by being able to join a group of five other riders–many of whom were on 150cc bikes. Being in a safe cluster achieving speeds of 55mph meant I was able to focus on the road ahead as opposed to what would ram me from behind.

Day two’s route landed on much of the old Route 66 long forgotten and way less travelled.

Occasionally I’d come across these old formulaic ghost towns between the mountains and desert.

I was very relieved to have sent my support truck on an alternate route, effectively bypassing the dangerous climbs and hills as well as a stuck semi that blocked regular traffic. Scooters were conveniently able to navigate around it.

In order to get to the next checkpoint, riders had to endure nearly 100 miles of elevation bending freeway.

100 miles….

When looking for alternate routes, only gravel and sand paths were viable. The legally exempt voice of the pack? Pick a Gold Wing sized soccer next time or be damned…

The temperatures, as well as my patience, began to hit limits as I approached yet another seemingly unnecessary mountain. Why the official route required riders to clear so many of these climbs and descents was a mystery to me except when I considered veterans may be bored with plain routes. My bike’s performance eventually began to fade to the point that I could not make it up a subtle hill. 25mph, 24, 23, 22….7,000rpm, 6,000, 4,500… ugh… I took apart the molten hot transmission and realized that, perhaps, there’s more to the story. I summoned my support truck and replaced every component of the transmission with new parts from the spare scooter. The combination of waiting for the support truck and speedy repair process was enough to cool the bike down. At this point I was convinced 90% of the issues were related to the transmission components, despite finding any failed or failing parts.

The scooter could now at least get up to 45-50mph and about 7,800rpm.

The day was getting longer and longer. Fewer scooters could be found and I knew I was one of only a few bikes still on the route based on the fact that the official SCBR support trucks were far ahead of me. I made it up and down yet another mountain pass and descended though Jerome, AZ when one of my headlight mounts snapped off due to consistent vibration.

I stopped in a town called Cottonwood to assess the damage around the bike when I decided the next mountain pass was not at all viable so late into the day…. It was time to begin the grieving process.

Missing just one official checkpoint along the 3,200mi route disqualifies you from being able to say you officially “finished” the SCBR. A lingering voice inside every rider’s head infected real-time decision making based on this ominous threat.

For me, this was absolutely not worth the risk. I realized chasing this goal wasn’t really anything I wanted to be a part of anymore. And that’s okay!

Feverously packing the scooter into the trailer to bypass the last mountain pass and head right for the hotel using the obvious and less torturous path around the mountain, I forgot my primary helmet at the gas station. I later tried to call the gas station using the number posted on every possible online listing only to find it was not a real number. Oh well I guess. I packed backups.