Clem's Coast to Coast Bike Ride

Posted on Tuesday, September 08, 2009 by Ryan

By Ryan Clements
I don't recall the first time I thought about it, but about six weeks ago I started planning a motorcycle trip from Florida to California. I also don't know what the driving force behind me thinking it was a good idea was either. Maybe it's because I just wanted to be able to say that I rode my Harley Davidson from Tampa to San Diego. Or maybe I was up for the challenge. Either way, I made the plans and made it happen, which is easy to say now that I'm typing this from the comfort of my 11th story hotel room in the Downtown San Diego Westin, as I feel the cool breeze blowing in through the open door. Here are the stats:

Total time in hours: 81 including stops and time changes
Miles Friday: 721.2
Miles Saturday: 805.1
Miles Sunday: 815.5
Miles Monday: 177.6
Total miles: 2,519.4

Ryan


6am on Friday in the alley behind my house in Ybor City. Go ahead and make fun of my vest. I deserve it

The sun was rising to my right as I headed north on I-75

I passed these other bikers on 75. Bikers always wave to each other, but when you're geared up for a serious trip the waves are a bit more serious, too. Note: If you ride a scooter, don't wave to someone on a real motorcycle

There is a lot of this from Tampa to Pensacola on I-10. Nothing. I-10 actually goes all the way from Jacksonville, FL to Los Angeles, CA

I managed to avoid these guys the entire trip. You wouldn't believe how many people I saw pulled over in every single state along the way

Thanks to Rob for the tunes for my iPod and Sharkey for the Clif Bars

When I stopped just before Alabama I threw on my helmet courtesy of Loser Machine because in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana helmets are required

This bridge on I-10 just before Alabama got pretty much destroyed in one of those hurricanes a few years ago. Now it's completely rebuilt

I made it to the Alabama border just after 1pm

As I was approaching downtown Mobile on this long-ass bridge, my bike started swaying back and forth a bit and it felt like something was wrong with it. I looked at the front tire and everything was fine, but you can't see the back tire on my bike when you're riding it. Then I switched lanes and almost lost control at 70mph. I pulled the clutch in, coasted towards the side of the bridge, and slowly applied the brakes. While coasting down to 60, 50, and 40mph the back tire started moving like speed wobbles on a skateboard. I thought, "This is it. I'm going down." Fortunately I didn't panic and just rode it out. Upon getting off the bike I realized I had a flat back tire. Check the storm cloud in the distance. Things weren't looking good

An hour later the tow truck arrived and somehow the storm went around me. I think that someone was looking out for me because spending an hour on the side of a bridge as trucks and cars FLEW by me wasn't exactly relaxing. Three bikers stopped to see if I was okay, too...not that they could do anything, but it's the gesture that counts

Oh what? Four hours later I was back on the road speeding through the rest of Alabama and Mississippi. Thanks to Mobile Bay Harley Davidson for taking care me so quickly

Sunrise to sunset on day one. The Welcome to Louisiana sign snuck up on me so I couldn't pull over fast enough...same with the Welcome to Mississippi one, which I completely missed

It was getting dark, so I pulled over at a random exit to switch out of my sunglasses and I rode right into a DUI checkpoint. The cop was cool and asked, "Did you pull over to ride your skateboard the rest of the way?" and then told me to keep going. I wanted to be like, "No, check me. I really haven't been drinking!"

Saturday morning I got on the road as early as possible. The industry outside of Baton Rouge reminded me of New Jersey

By mid-morning I had arrived in Texas

What's up Houston. I'm looking forward to being back there in November for the Johnny Romano Make-A-Wish Jam

This place, Buc-ee's, had signs for 100 miles prior to the exit, so of course as a consuming American I had to see what it was all about. That will be the last Chicken Fajita "Whale" I ever eat

A couple of hours later I passed through San Antonio

There was a lot of nothing in between San Antonio and Ft. Stockton, except a fair amount of rain. There are a few hours of no pics because I rode through the rain at 80mph, scared $h!tless and hydro-planing, trying to make it to my destination for the evening

Just outside of Ft. Stockton it stopped raining. I only get about 200 miles per tank, so visits to gas stations are very commonplace

The landscape started to get very scenic as I approached Ft. Stockton

I wish that we had signs like this in Florida. 80mph means you can pretty much go 90 without getting pulled over

On Sunday, day three, I left Ft. Stockton at about 6:30am and the sun didn't rise behind me until about 7:30am. So I spent about an hour on a pitch dark I-10 with literally no cars in the westbound lane the entire time. I kept thinking, "I hope a deer doesn't run out in front of me right now," as I kept my eyes on the road and dodged roadkill like it was a slalom course

The ride from Ft. Stockton to El Paso was absolutely beautiful, and a bit chilly at 60 degrees, too

See those shacks on the side of the hill, kids? That's Mexico, which you can see from I-10 while driving through El Paso. I'm thankful that I was born on the north side of the border

I think it was late morning on the third day, Sunday, as I was arriving in New Mexico

There are several Border Patrol Inspection Stations along the Mexican border. This guy started shaking his head "no" after I shot this

I was gassing up somewhere in New Mexico when some other bikers pulled up next to me. The name of that gorilla is Keith, in honor of their friend that was killed by a drunk driver. Keith is still rolling with the crew in spirit. Note: Yes, I'm wearing assless leather chaps

There were a lot of warning signs like this in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. When you're cruising on a bike and the weather is nice, there's no better experience. But add in some dust and crosswinds and the bike is shaking and you're being blown all over the road. Hold on tight!

The beautiful landscape of the southwest never ceases to amaze me. This is in western New Mexico. Photo taken at 90mph

The Welcome to Arizona sign snuck up on me and there were tractor trailers all around, so I was barely able to get this shot

I was still wearing all of my leather gear and noticed that it was getting warm. Then I looked down at my thermometer and saw that it was 100 degrees out! It went from 60 - 100 in about six hours!

I was getting gas in Tucson at about 1pm and decided to keep going since I gained two hours from the time change. This photo was taken in between Tucson and Yuma, where I stopped for the night, completely exhausted. At one point it was 105 degrees. I know Death Valley is in a different part of California, but I felt like I could have died out there...or at least melted. It's the hottest I've ever been in my life and there was a point where there was nothing for about 75 miles, with the exception of an exit and road to nowhere-land

Day four, Monday morning, I work up early, took my time, and cruised out just before noon and immediately hit the California border. Almost there!

Was I in Egypt for a minute there or something? This is what it looks like about half an hour west of Yuma, AZ

Can you see that fence in the background? That's Mexico and there were Border Patrol agents literally everywhere, with flood lights to light up the desert at night

After this journey I concluded that dogs in cars riding on highways are fascinated with motorcycles because they just stare you down. This little dude took it to the next level and was going ape-$h!t from the safety of his back seat

This big-ass mountain range is in the middle of Yuma, AZ and San Diego, CA

I was enjoying the most scenic part of the trip, but could barely take any photos as I weaved in and out of slow-moving trucks as we climbed the grade to the peak

Windmills at 4,000 ft. above sea level. The photo doesn't do it justice considering these things were like 10 stories tall

Border Patrol Checkpoint number four. "No sir, there are no Mexicans in my luggage." Once again, the one officer waved me through as about a dozen others mean-mugged me

Just after 1pm, after four days and 2,519.4 miles, I arrived at the Westin in Downtown San Diego

I earned this one. That's the view from my room on the 11th floor with the Bay in the background. Thanks ASR for the hook-up

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