[Somewhere in the middle of Nevada] — Nothing beats riding in Nevada’s high desert country, mountains in the distance, miles and miles of open road unwinding before you, with almost no traffic. On roads like these, you appreciate being on a big touring bike with a 6-gallon gas tank.

There is a downside, however, and here is a little confession, something no biker likes to admit. If you look closely at the gravel next to the bike, you can see where I dropped it and tried to pick it up (and couldn’t!). When I see signs like “Next Gas 80 Miles,” I can’t resist stopping to take a picture; I think it helps tell the story (in this case, I was writing  about riding Nevada’s “loneliest roads,” with a jaunt through Death Valley, CA thrown in for good measure. The article will come out in Harley-Davidson’s HOG summer issue).

In any case, as I attempted to position the bike the way I wanted it for the photo (still sitting in the seat), somehow my boots slipped on the gravel, and down it went! There is a proper way to pick up a fallen bike, which involves facing away from it and grasping the handlebar and under the seat and lifting with your legs, not your back (here’s a YouTube video I found which describes the process). Two things worked against me, however: the bike had fallen on a downhill incline, and my feet couldn’t get traction in the gravel when I tried to lift it (you can see the “skid marks” from my feet in the sand).

Defeated, I sat down on the fallen bike and waited for a passing car to stop. Two things worked against me here, also: first, passing traffic was very infrequent — maybe one car every ten minutes or so — and second, being a guy and a “tough” biker (hahaha), I was too embarrassed to wave anyone down — so I just sat and looked miserable, waiting for someone to stop. After a few cars passed, finally someone stopped to ask if I needed help, then another car pulled over at the same time, and both drivers helped me pick up the 900-pound bike. I was extremely grateful, highly embarrassed, and before riding off, I took the photo I’d wanted, after vowing to myself to think twice about stopping on any more soft shoulders!

 

About Glen Abbott
Glen Abbott is a Florida-based travel writer & photographer specializing in motorcycle touring and travel. He is regular contributor to Harley-Davidson's HOG Magazine, and his travel features appear regularly in motorcycle magazines and other publications.

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31 Comments
  1. Jay Green

    August 12, 2011

    I watched the movie Paul tonight and cracked up seeing some of the places you wrote about in your article.
    Jay Green recently posted..Your Favorite Ride Contest at Competition Accessories

  2. Nathaniel Long

    August 10, 2011

    Dropped my bike avoiding a guy stepping between gas pumps on a 4,822 mile westward swing a couple weeks ago. Do you have a ride plan on the ride in HOG? How many miles is the loop from Vegas to Vegas? Contemplating trying your route in September beginning in Georgia.

    • Travelin' Gringo

      August 11, 2011

      Hi Nathaniel, I rode from LA to Vegas, and started from there. I don’t know how long the loop was just Vegas to Vegas, but starting in ending in LA it was 2,200 miles total, so if you subtract out the distance from LA to Vegas and the return, it should give you the approximate mileage of the Vegas-Vegas loop. Have a great trip!

  3. Charlie

    August 7, 2011

    Just got through reading your story in HOG, would love to do a fly and ride how many miles did you do and did you have any problems finding hotels.

    • Travelin' Gringo

      August 7, 2011

      Hi Charlie, I rode about 2,200 miles total, starting and ending in LA. But if you’re doing a fly and ride, i’d recommend starting and ending in Las Vegas. I didn’t have any problem with hotels, but I planned them out in advance since I knew there wouldn’t be a lot of choices where I was going. Good luck with your ride!

  4. Bob Crunch

    August 1, 2011

    Great story! I have seen plenty of pictures of signs like the one in your photo but I can’t imagine what goes through one’s head when they see that sign in person.

  5. Jay Green

    July 3, 2011

    I have never traveled on those kinds of roads. I live in the congested north east quadrant of the country and travel the mid atlantic region. Those big touring bikes sure are a handful. For now I feel more comfortable with the Dyna line. At least I can pick them up when they tip over. I tipped mine twice. Once while adjusting myeself in a parking lot and second forgetting to put the kick stand down. I really like the post. Thanks for sharing.
    Jay Green recently posted..Leadership and Teamwork for a H.O.G.® Chapter

    • Travelin' Gringo

      July 4, 2011

      My personal bike is a Road King, not as heavy as the big touring bikes, but almost! Before the Road King, I had a Dyna Wide Glide – you’re right, it was a lot easier to pick up if I dropped it!

  6. cass

    June 30, 2011

    Great post and story! Definitely would want to go there and experience something new and worthwhile. Thanks for sharing this one! I really find it cool and amazing.
    cass recently posted..BEST DATING SITES

  7. trudy

    June 29, 2011

    My husband and I lived in Las Vegas for three years, and we always loved a weekend ride up to Mesquite and back!
    trudy recently posted..satellite internet tv software to download

  8. Andy C.

    June 29, 2011

    I am glad that everything went well. And it is nice for the strangers to help you in that situation. I also hope that your bike is okay after the fall.
    Andy C. recently posted..Comparateur forfaits mobiles

  9. Raymond

    June 24, 2011

    I have 3 brothers and they all have motorcycles, but none of them will ever admit to dropping a bike. Scratches just “magically” appear every now and then… 🙂
    Raymond recently posted..Laie Point State Wayside Park, Oahu, Hawaii

    • Travelin' Gringo

      June 26, 2011

      Yeah, it’s really embarrassing to admit you’ve dropped your bike, kind of an insult to your manhood, or womanhood, as the case may be!

  10. Nevada highways sure were lonely when I was there. It’s kinda fun to drive through and feel so far away from civilization.
    Scott – Quirky Travel Guy recently posted..Quirky Attraction- St Louis Citygarden

  11. The Dropout

    June 24, 2011

    900 pounds — are you mad?
    I bet you looked as forlorn as a dog in the rain, sitting there waiting for help. I am imagining it and the picture is utterly utterly pathetic.
    Were you tempted to smooth over the gravel before taking your pic?
    The Dropout recently posted..Meet The Dropouts – Migration Mark Wiens

    • Travelin' Gringo

      June 24, 2011

      I didn’t even think to smooth over the gravel; I think I was still shook up!

  12. great story! bet the emotions were mixed when someone stopped to help! can totally understand why there are no photos of the bike sitting in the dust as well. hope the ride scrubs up alright.
    jamie – cloud people adventures recently posted..How the Clouds Roll

    • Travelin' Gringo

      June 24, 2011

      No photos of the bike tipped over because if I’d tried to open the TourPak where the camera was, everything would’ve spilled out!
      There were a couple of small scratches in the fairing and a saddlebag (both are fiberglass) — the bike was from Harley’s press fleet in LA, so I was pretty embarrassed returning it. The mgr. told me they’d take the bike out of service and replace the scratched parts (the press bikes have to be basically flawless because they’re often photographed by motojournalists). I got an email after that from the magazine editor scheduled to ride it after me, teasing me about it, but telling me the same thing had happened to him before!

  13. inka

    June 24, 2011

    Been waiting for your next post and here it is. Lucky you that these people stopped to help. I can’t imagina trying to life a 900 pound bike, but we#ll do anything to get our shot, won’t we? And thanks for so constantly following me and the many RTs.
    inka recently posted..Hear your whispers in Epidaurus-Greece

    • Travelin' Gringo

      June 24, 2011

      Thanks Inka — and I always enjoy reading and re-tweeting your interesting, well-written posts!

  14. Hahah, great story! My dad just bought a Harley – I’ll have to ask him how many times this has happened to him so far. 😛
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..4×4 Adventures in the Off-Roading Capital of the World

    • Travelin' Gringo

      June 24, 2011

      Christy, I guess it happens to all riders at one time or another, but none of us like to admit it!

  15. jade

    June 23, 2011

    We have also driven on these roads and they are completely isolated- make sure to have a lot of gas before heading out!
    jade recently posted..1 Must Have Summer Travel Tool

    • Travelin' Gringo

      June 24, 2011

      Yes, definitely a full tank of gas — another of the roads I was on there had a sign “Next Gas 150 Miles” and I’ve got a pic of that somewhere too.

  16. eileen ludwig

    June 23, 2011

    good thing people stopped that is some desolate road there
    eileen ludwig recently posted..Water Taxi Fort Lauderdale Venice of America Pirate Republic Stop12

    • Travelin' Gringo

      June 24, 2011

      Desolate roads, yes, but some of the most fun and relaxing riding ever (aside from dropping the bike). Really helps you realize what a big (and beautiful) country we have.

  17. maria

    June 23, 2011

    But, you got a great story and a great picture! I like how the blue sign matches the blue bike and the blue mountains in the background. Glad you are ok. Could have been a lot worse.

    • Travelin' Gringo

      June 24, 2011

      Thanks Maria. Yes, the pic is kind of a Rhapsody in Blue, especially if you include how blue I felt after dropping the bike!

  18. Been on those roads and they are desolate!

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