Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Ken and Galen dropped me off around noon at Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango.  It is a modern hospital that took me straight in from the Emergency Room.  No waiting is always good.

I was assigned a room and a kind, beautiful nurse.  She made it bearable.

The doctor was a youngish fellow who knew his stuff.  It turns out he is a mountain biker with a wife and son who suffer from Celiac disease.  Because they have a very limited diet, he follows suit and has eliminated those foods from his diet as well.  Good guy.  He gave me some suggestions for dining in Durango.  I took his advice and ate at two of his suggestions.

When I told him about my Factor V and blood thinner, the first thing he did was order an INR blood test.  It showed my levels, always between 2 and 3 when tested at home, to be 5.1.

He also thought that the swelling and bruising may be from a cracked bone so he ordered an X-Ray.  As in St. George, it was negative for any bone breakage.

To get the INR down he ordered two units of frozen plasma.  It takes time for the plasma to thaw, so I ended up there until after 8:00 that evening.

I called Uber for the long ride into town.  Apparently the hospital used to be in town but was moved to a new development a few years ago.  The driver took me to the Best Western downtown so I could see the town on foot.

My leg in Durango.
The blood was weeping from the wound, the blood blister and weeping through the skin.
What a mess.

I couldn't get to sleep as there was great stinging pain coming from the skin around my right calf when I lifted it into the bed.  Elevation made it worse.  I would get up when it became unbearable, then walk around the room.  That made the pain go away so I would lay back down.  Within five or six minutes the pain returned and I repeated the walk around.

I did this until around 2:00 AM.

Then gave in and sat in the only chair in the room, got three pillows that I put in my lap.  I laid my head on the pillows and sleep finally came.

I woke up at around 6:00.  I was able to climb into bed and sleep a few more hours in the bed.

Rest is what I needed more than anything so I hung around the hotel room until after noon.  I could walk so I went outside and limped around the town looking for a place for lunch.  The doctor had recommended East by Southwest, and Asian fusion restaurant.  I needed a salad and ordered a crispy salmon skin salad that was very tasty.  Sitting at the bar I had a pleasant conversation with one of the sushi chefs.  He had had an accident a few months ago while snowboarding, so we had a common interest.

Crispy salmon skin salad.  Just what I needed.

Then the doctor had requested that I get my blood tested during the day.  I found a clinic that would do the work and hailed an Uber.  The car arrived and off we went.  The ride was supposed to be only a couple of miles, so when we had driven twice that I asked the driver if he knew where he was going.  He was recently divorced and from Florida.  He relied on his phone to get anywhere.  He realized that he was taking the long way around, reached into his pocket and offered me a few dollars for his mistake.  I refused.  He was a very nice guy learning the town and I could easily let him off on his mistake.  He dropped me off to the address on our phones, but the place had moved a year ago.  It was another mile to the actual clinic, and I wasn't about to walk, so I called him and he returned, then drove me to the new address without charging, then waited for me to get the blood test and drove me back to the hotel.  I paid him cash for this trip.  It is great when people are so willing to help others. 

David arrived mid afternoon and we walked around, then found a restaurant with a porch, where we sat and talked while drinking a couple of beers each.  Very pleasant to be able to relax a little with my brother.

For dinner, the doctor had recommended the Ore House, so we headed there.  It was only a couple of blocks and the walk was good.  It was early but the small dining room was full.  We chose to sit at the bar rather than wait for a table.  The bar was handled by two servers who proved to be very good at their craft.  They were personable, knowledgeable and friendly.

David doesn't eat dinner, but I do.  I ordered the prime ribeye off the menu, along with a spinach salad.  As we were talking with others at the bar, one asked if I had ordered the steak "charred".  I said no and asked Mark, one of the bartenders, if I could have it that way.  He raced to the kitchen and got it done. 

The steak was probably the best ever for me.  Tasty, crusty, juicy, fatty, tender, everything that makes a good steak.

We retired early in preparation for me leaving early to fly home.  I was able to sleep like a normal person.

David wanted to see the airport so he joined me in the Uber.  It was a Lincoln crossover so I had plenty of room for my stiff leg.

We arrived and arranged for the driver to hang out to take David back to town. 

I was early, wanting to make sure I didn't get held up in security and could relax while waiting.  The security line had zero people when I arrived.  I also had pre-check so it was a breeze.

The flights were good.  On both I asked if I could have a seat with extra legroom and was offered an exit row on the flight to Dallas.  On the flight to Jacksonville I asked the flight attendant if I could move and she said she wasn't supposed to allow that but did anyway.  It made the time in the air  much better.

Extra legroom

But the problem I had with the trip home was in Dallas.  When I got off the plane in the concourse in Terminal B, I checked the screens that said my flight to Jacksonville was departing from gate C27.  I walked to the airport train station and took the train to Terminal C, then walked the long distance to C27.  There was nobody at the counter and no indication that it was the right gate for me.  I sat there a while, then checked my iPad to see if it was the right gate.  The iPad said I was supposed to be at A25.  So I walked back to the train for the ride to Terminal A, got off and walked a long way to A25 where as soon as I sat down, a voice came over the loud speaker system saying that the flight leaving this gate was going to Savannah and the Jacksonville flight was leaving from A16.  Another long walk on a gimpy leg got me there and we left without incident.

I certainly was wishing that I was still riding, especially knowing that the dirt roads ended after Day 4.  Those last six days were my kind of riding.  I would have loved being part of the traveling show all the way to Virginia Beach.

Friday, June 8, 2018

After the Fall

After my little spill, I got up, stood Vanessa up, sat on her and got her started in two tries, then drove off to finish the remaining legs of the day.

Her front wheel and steering were not working well together as they had gotten skewed by approximately 15 degrees.  I rode that way until I came up to find Charlie (twelvetoes) working on his scooter.  He had fallen three times on the same road.  He got on the seat while I held the wheel and we got it straighteded.  I finalized it a little bit down the road to get it just right.

I had tired of the dirt and gravel and had found a paved road to take to the checkpoint.  It cut approximately seven more miles off the dirt road.

When I rode into the village, knowing that I had blown the SCR leg with the time spent riding and getting back on the road, I wanted to rest a minute at the general store.

I thought I wanted to eat and get a drink but found that I wasn't hungry.  The nice lady working at the checkout counter helped me get some ice for the bump.  I ended up buying several first aid items to help me get going again.

But when I felt that the swelling was too great to spend another 5 hours in the heat of southern Nevada and Utah, I called Ken to pick me up.

He arrived and loaded Vanessa onto the trailer.

Ice at the General Store

Vanessa on the trailer

We rode around Las Vegas where Ken said it was time for ice cream.  He found a Dairy Queen and got me an Oreo Blizzard.  It helped.  Then to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, where I bought my Lifetime Senior Pass to the entire National Park system.

Eventually, we got on I-15 and made our way to St. George.  Everyone was already there, the bane of riding support is you are usually last getting to the finish hotel.  I wanted to get Vanessa cleaned up to ride the next day and washed her, using water and towels provided by the hotel.  She looked good.

Then Ken, loudernorth and I decided to walk a block to find a restaurant for dinner.  When we got there my knee was hurting badly when bent.  I made it back to the hotel when Walt offered that I probably should get it checked in a local clinic.  I hailed an Uber and headed to one that was supposed to be open 24 hours a day.  It wasn't, but was next to the hospital, so I checked into the ER.

They asked me questions and took an X-Ray that said my leg wasn't broken.  When I told her about my Factor V, the doctor never seemed concerned.

At the St. George ER

I went back to the hotel and could barely sleep due to the leg pain.

The leg looked worse in the morning.  No riding for me, so I loaded in with Ken.  Earlier in the morning Ken and Mike loaded Vanessa into Doug's trailer.  The intent was that Ralph, driving for Doug, could ride around the difficult parts of the day while Ken swept the broken scooters on those parts.  We had room for two scooters.

We started by following the official route that took us for no reason off of 9 so we could ride on another ten or so miles of dirt road.  There was not even a photo bonus to make you do this part but I had programmed my GPS to follow the official route this year.  The Helix group was negotiating a very soft spot when we caught up with them.

Then we came to the entrance to Zion National Park.  It was busy but spectacular. Oh, how I wanted to be riding through that place.

We came up to another long dirt road but Ken decided to backtrack and go around, a route that would have been a wonderful alternative to the dirt so prevalent this year.

We then took the long Burr Trail that had 40 miles of dirt including the famous switchbacks.  They were spectacular.

Then we crossed Lake Powell on a ferry.

We made it to the hotel in Bluff without having to pick up anyone.  We were late and everyone else had eaten or had plans.  Ken and I were in different hotels, several miles apart, so he dropped me off.

I went into the hotel's restaurant for dinner alone, but within a minute Cheryl appeared.  She asked me how my leg was doing, then,we talked for a few minutes before Bagel appeared, so we joined him for the remainder of the dinner.

The next morning we started out towards Trinidad where my brother David was to meet us.  Riding in the support truck made this not so good because we would be late getting in, but I had no choice.  The leg was looking bad.  Shortly into the day, Ken had a call from his brother Scott, who had the belt break on Big Red.  We thought we knew where he was but he wasn't there.  After a few more calls we determined he was on a part of the leg that Ken had skipped without realizing it.  Scott's route was on my GPS, but not Ken's.  More confusion, but I found him on my iPad map.  We were 25 miles past him so more delays.

We turned around and found him alongside the road.  He had the transmission cover off and was being helped by Moses, a local missionary.

We made the final fixes and Scott buttoned everything up and headed out.

Within a few more miles we came across Galen and his friend Brian.  Galen was riding a modified Ruckus that he had ridden to the second day start from Kansas City.  Nice young fellow whose name I butchered several times before finally getting it right.  He had decided to abandon the Cannonball, fix his scooter at the next stop and ride home.  I later found out that he was unable to get it repaired, so I assume he got it home on a trailer.

Then we got a call from Scott saying that Big Red was overheating.  We stopped and Ken asked where I had left the gallon of coolant that Sean had given me in Death Valley.  Scott filled the small coolant tank and headed out again.  He was a real trooper.

I was hobbling around in much discomfort and showed the boys the leg, then went back into the back seat of the truck to get ready to move again.  Ken came up and said that they had an impromptu meeting and decided to drop me off at the ER in Durango.  I could have said no but agreed that it was the right thing to do.

Ken asked me what he should do as we approached Durango.  I said that he was providing support and needed to just drop me off and continue.  I checked in and said goodbye.  My Cannonball was officially finished.

Big Red overheated two more times this day, so Scott's Cannonball was essentially over as well.  He rode with Ken the remainder of the Run.

He asked if he could ride Vanessa and of course I said yes.  But the tie down in Doug's trailer on day three failed and she bumped around inside on her side all day.  When they got her out to ride, she would start but would stall.  So they gave up riding for this year.

Our teammate Walt did well.  He finished third in spite of missing two legs on day 1 by going to the alternative checkpoint.  That cost him at least 200 points.  He lost by less than that.

We were also supporting Matt and Shane.  They both finished.  

I remain disappointed, but life goes on.

The leg in the hospital

Durango ER  Cannonball Over

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

My Cannonball, 2018

The Scooter Cannonball Run has been an important part of my life since I signed on in 2014.

In that one, I ran surprisingly well until the transmission failed and I had no spare or enough mechanical skills to repair it properly.  I ended up ninth, but should not have been classified because I missed the last five checkpoints and did not finish.  But the experience was magical.

2016 had me better prepared and ready to roll.  I took Vanessa and we ran with few problems the entire way.  I ended up third in the placings and first in raw time.  It was much fun for me to ride with friends and do well.

The 2018 Run had my attention from the time the route was provided.  This year would be different, more like some earlier runs where significant dirt roads and technical riding was required.  They also added bonus points from photos of places that kept the riders on the assigned path.

It was also to be 200 miles further than 2016, while being covered in one less day.  It had me a little concerned, especially the first four days that were filled with difficult sections.

We began in Morro Bay in the morning of May 26, right at the bottom of Morro Rock.  There were approximately 40 riders there, ready for a challenging day.

I started around mid pack and took a short cut over a pedestrian bridge, suggested to me by my friend Walt.  It cut a few minutes off the route and put me at an intersection with Doug (Old as Dirt), a very skilled rider on a scooter that should be faster than my Vanessa.  I was able to keep up with him on the straights but his technical skills had him pulling away on the twisty bits.  But the road was beautiful and the ride was fun.

At the first major intersection I turned and accelerated when the engine stopped.  It felt like the same problem Vanessa had in 2016.  Her spark plug came apart.  I opened the engine area and found the spark plug cap loose over the plug.  To make it worse this time, the spark plug tip and rod were also in the cap.  Hoping I could get away with replacing this a few times on this day, I stuck it back in and she fired up and we continued.

It was fine until, after passing Check Point One.  I blew by like I always do.  Others were hanging out taking photos.  Several were leaving as I passed and they followed me.  One was Dave, on a smaller, 150cc Vespa.  I was surprised that he could keep up.  We came to a traffic light that suddenly turned red as I approached.  Vanessa threw the spark plug cap again so I had to wave them by as I replaced the cap.

She did this a few more times, at closer intervals, so I decided that I better replace the spark plug, something I reluctantly do on a hot scooter as it will burn hands and can strip the threads out of the spark plug hole in the engine head.

I got started and found that I had two 3/8" ratchet drives, not one 3/8" and a 1/4" that I needed for the spark plug.  Several riders stopped to offer assistance but Tom Drake (tdrake) had a 1/4" drive and stayed to assist.  I got the old one out and new one in and she started.  Off we went to try to catch up.

Only to be held up for 20 minutes by a crew cutting trees along the way.

I rode much of the Sherman Pass road with Tom.  I led him for a while, then signaled for him to pass as I didn't want to hold him up.  He ran at his pace which I could match so we made a good riding pair.

The Sherman Pass was very tight and technical.  The pass was at over 9000 feet so we climbed, then dropped down towards Death Valley.  On the way down, Binh, on a Honda Elite 110 passed us like we were standing still.  He is a rider.

At the bottom, we turned onto a highway.  Tom had fallen behind taking photos but caught up as I was refueling.  Once on the highway, I was able to handily pull away even though we were both on Vespa GTs.  These machines are all different.

The finish was at the Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel.

I bought Tom's dinner for helping me on the road.  Nice guy.  Then dined with my team of Ken, Walt and Scott.  I had the burger that was quite good.

Vanessa ready to head out at the start.

The Helix crowd

Many scooters at Morro Rock

Beautiful California roads.

Checkpoint 1

Changing the spark plug.  Many stopped to offer assistance. Tom had the 1/4" ratchet I needed.  Photo by Tom Drake.

20 minute stop heading to Sherman Pass.  Tom Drake in a heroic pose.  He finished.

Me riding the Sherman Pass.  Photo by Tom Drake.

Still up high, but about to ride down a cool road to the highway leading to Death Valley.

Riding into Death Valley

Heading into Death Valley, I was hit on the helmet by a little yellow bird, 
later found on the footboard of Vanessa.  Also in there was leaking coolant.

The next morning was Death Valley to St. George, Utah.

I got up and found Vanessa covered in dust from an overnight dust storm.  I had washed her in Morro Bay so this was a little annoying.  I cleaned her up a little, at least the windscreen and instrument panel.

The ride out was spectacular.  Death Valley is a huge place with mountains surrounding the area.  We rode down to the bottom, then along the bottom of the mountains for miles.  What could have been a straight road was nicely curved and mostly smooth.  I had decided after dealing with all the gravel and broken asphalt in the corners through Sherman Pass, that I would ease up on the competitive nature this year and try to enjoy the ride by riding my normal way, a little fast but careful.

I crossed checkpoint one, then the Bonus Photo windmill at a the Tecopa Brewing Company.

I had been concerned by a dirt road just into Nevada since seeing it on the route maps.  It was such a small dirt road that neither Garmin showed it as passable.  It showed up on Google and Tyre, but not Garmin.  I was mostly concerned about getting lost while riding on this stretch.

I turned onto the road, traveled a mile of so and stopped to fill the tank with the 5 gallon spare I was carrying.  The road was narrow and rough with hills, rocks and soft sand to make it challenging.  But it was fair and shouldn't have been a big deal.  After filling the tank, I headed to the next checkpoint slowly.  There were several areas that were difficult but were easily passed.  I finally came to a relatively smooth section and accelerated to maybe 25 mph when I crossed a slight hill and found a large patch soft sand.  I slowed and got into it when Vanessa went down.

I hit my helmet and shoulder on the ground.  I could feel a hit on my right shin but didn't think much about it.  I got Vanessa up and let her sit a minute, then she started on the second try.  Good girl.

She was dented and scratched.  The left mirror was twisted but reseated easily.  The Garmin attached to the stalk appeared to not be working.  The handlebars and front wheel were misaligned by around 15 degrees.  But we soldiered on.  We came across Charlie (twelvetoes) as he was working on his scooter.  He had already fallen three times on the road.  He helped me get the steering aligned, making the ride so much better.

I had checked the maps and found that I could hit pavement to the checkpoint if I turned off on Tuscaloosa Road 11 miles into the dirt road.  I did this and rode a mile or two before finding the beloved pavement.  From there I headed to the check point but decided, since I had already blown the segment, that I would stop at a grocery store in the small village to clean up and get something to eat and drink.

But I wasn't hungry.  I looked at the leg and could see it swelling.  It started quickly and wouldn't stop, so I asked the nice lady at the counter if she had some ice that I could put in a bag to slow the swelling.  She offered some and I began the icing.  I ended up buying bandages, tape, drinks and supplies while there so she was good.

My intent was to continue riding, but the swelling had me reconsider.  I felt that icing in the support truck would be better for the swelling than riding in the heat of the day.  I called Ken who came and loaded Vanessa on the trailer.  Little did I know that my riding in the 2018 Scooter Cannonball Run was over.

Beginning of the day leaving Death Valley

Long roads became twistier later running along the mountains

Bonus photo at a brewery

Stop on the dirt road to refuel, just a few miles before the incident.

Photo by Tom Drake showing his scooter on the dirt road.

Vanessa loaded on the trailer.  Cannonball done, it turns out.

My leg that night at the ER in St. George.  Not bad but painful to walk.