Sunday July 22
The 2012 VOCNA Ride and Rally was over. In camp it was a sad, but beautiful morning after the AGM. People broke camp, packed up, and said their goodbyes.
There was a long drive ahead for all of us. Mirek and Gwen get the prize for anticipating three solid days of driving to return to Ontario, Canada. A bunch of riders were returning to various Southern California locations. Fred Mork, Jeff W., Amy, Jeff S. and I, the Merry East Bay Veloteers, planned to drive across the Mojave in the heat of the day in order to get home. It took us 18 hours to arrive. Fred may have jinxed us when he said we could get home in 15 hours.
The first incident happened at a rest stop. It was so hot that the water I kept throwing on myself evaporated in minutes. A truck hauling a motorboat hit Fred’s truck. The damage was not extensive, but negotiations took a few minutes. Then we were back on the road, heading towards Interstate 5.
A good Samaritan driver honked and let us know about the first flat trailer tire. It was on the right side, so we were able to pull over to the shoulder to work on it. Fred is a monster when it comes to changing tires. Jeff W. helped. The two of them could be pit crew in the trailer races. In minutes we were underway.
The second flat trailer tire shouldn’t have been a surprise. The shredding of the first one shifted the stress somewhere. However, the second flat tire was on the left. We needed more space than the minimal shoulder to work on this one. We limped down the shoulder to turn off.
Fortunately Fred understands such things and carried two spares.
Another hundred or so miles (time and space blurred. Outside was desert, desert, desert and one golden ribbon leading us home…), we ran out of fuel. On previous trips, we’ve been able to travel many miles after the fuel alarm goes off. Not this time. Between when the alarm went off and the truck stopped we traveled only twenty miles and there was no fuel station in site. Fortunately we had extra fuel in the back. The difficult part was that this is a diesel motor; when it ran out of fuel, it lost it’s prime. You have to bleed the injectors. Oddly enough Jeff S. and Fred had experienced this before. They knew what to do, although they weren’t sure it was going to work. Ah, for a moment the big gravel-eating motor sounded like a thumper, before roaring back.
The final problem was human-error. Throughout all this, Jeff S. and I rode in the back of the camper with no air conditioning. Between using the evaporative process (throwing water on our selves) and the breeze of flying down the road, we were comfortable. But we didn’t move much. Nor did we speak much. Somehow one of the shower valves was left on. The bottom tanks filled up. What a mess!
After dinner at Harris’s Ranch, Jeff S. and I moved into the front. It was the last leg home. We made it, back to Fred’s Ranch. It took 17 hours and we had another few miles to get home.