The day started like any other… I woke up to the sound of my alarm and couldn’t believe it was already morning. I finished my last-minute packing while anxiously watching the weather. The temperatures in Death Valley continued to climb into the 100+ range before 10am and I knew I was doomed. With blacktop temps reaching 160F I didn’t want to risk being stranded and cooked alive. So, like any other long-distance trip inevitably does, the plan changed before it started. I took a quick look at my Butler Southern California map and spent some time online at Roadrunner.travel before deciding to take the somewhat familiar Angeles Crest (CA Hwy 2) to 138 and head north before hooking up with the 15 freeway to Vegas. The 55 miles of curves on Hwy 2 were calling my name as I finished loading up Black Betty and pulled onto the road.
I forgot that it was Saturday and ended up joining what seemed like every fellow rider in the state of California. As busy as it was, the smell of pine trees was distracting enough to keep my mind off the traffic. The altitudes on Angeles Crest make the hot summer weather a thing of the past. Cool breezes greet you around every sweeping turn and the views are constantly breathtaking. As I approached 138, warm air replaced cool and I knew I was in for it with around 220 miles to go in the desolate desert that separates Mt. Baldy from the city of sin. I stopped to make a quick video and jumped right back into it without a second thought. It was time to beat the heat.
By the time I hit Barstow to connect with the 15 freeway (that’s I-15 for all you non-Californians) I was regretting my choice to ride to Vegas on such a hot day. By the time I hit Baker to fill up on gas and dive head-first into the Shell station’s beverage cooler, I was regretting my decision to ride at all. I only had 90 more miles to go and knew that the elevation change just before the state line meant I would get a little relief, but I didn’t even want to go back outside to pump my gas. Then I remembered that this is called the Survivor Ride for a reason – it’s not supposed to be easy. So I put on my big girl pants (Icon, of course) and headed northeast for the last leg of the shorter-than-anticipated day.
I pulled onto Las Vegas Blvd and into the Mandalay Bay valet parking station promptly at 7:30. Apparently the guys parking cars are fans of motorcycles because they all waved and smiled and directed me to park in the shade behind their desk. I made my way up the the room to shower and change, ran downstairs for a delicious dinner at the cafe and was back in my room in time to spend the rest of my night staring at the most amazing view right outside my window. Needless to say, I slept with the curtains wide open. I’d say Day 1 was extremely tough, but totally worth the end result. Great success!