Cross-Country Honeymoon on 1973 Hondas
What better way to celebrate a marriage than to ride two 1973 Hondas on a cross-country honeymoon?
Just off SR 91, along I-15 in California, just before the Arizona border.
There aren’t many days in one’s life that combine terror and love in quite the same way your wedding day does.
The first test any marriage is put through is known as “wedding planning.” Having bluffed our way through these trials and joined our lives as one, my wife, Nicole, and I decide we’re going to take a cross-country honeymoon ride, me on my 1973 Honda CB750 and Nic on her 1973 Honda CB350G twin.
As one of the best wedding presents ever, her brother has our bikes shipped out to his home in Lake Arrowhead, Calif., so, “all we have to do is ride them home to Chicago.” Rather than traveling through the boring parts of this great land to see the exciting parts, we’ll start at the exciting parts. And if we break down early on, the scenery will be better.
In preparation, and with 12 hours to spare before the bikes get picked up for shipment, new tires are mounted on my 750. And I have 12 hours to see if my fork rebuild worked, whether I can fix a misfire and if I can Helicoil a header mount. The answers are Yes, No and No, but I fixed it with J-B Weld.
Nic’s 350 just needs gas. It’s a time machine — it still has the clear warning sticker on the gas tank. Assuming all goes well, she’ll be the hero of the trip. Thousands of marginally talented riders have ridden cross-country on 750s. But doing it on a small twin will be a bit more challenging.
With bikes shipped, we arrive at LAX, and our first obstacle is our own stupidity. We brought nothing but black leather gear for a July trip through the desert. After a trip to Chaparral Motorsports, we’re outfitted in white textile clown suits. These jackets will mean the difference between possible and probable heatstroke.
We plan a route roughly heading to Las Vegas and parts beyond. We enjoy half a day of lovely curves on SR 18 and SR 38 by Big Bear Lake before we set off to see the dinosaurs at Cabazon, Calif., which were featured in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Reaching the valley floor, it’s about 100 F, and soon hits 110 F. It’s close to untenable, even with the new gear. We see the dinosaurs and manage to make it to Palm Springs before heat-induced vomiting and fainting can begin.
Nic’s fading fast, so we stop at the first hotel I see, which turns out to be abandoned. The second hotel is the Movie Colony, a vast improvement. Rapid recovery is made with beer and a 24-hour pool, but neither of us has ever experienced 114 F heat before. How do old people survive, never mind thrive here?
The intense heat casts doubt on our trip goals. Forget the bikes, what happens if we break down in the middle of nowhere? In the spirit of conquering common sense, I talk Nic into trying SR 62, which will eventually take us 160 miles to Parker, Ariz. Nearly 100 of these miles will be without any kind of civilization. If we leave at 6 a.m., we should miss the mid-day heat. We encounter 110 F heat, and manage to reach the junction at US 95 and a gas station. If ever you’ve wanted to ride through that desert planet on Star Wars, this is it. I find out my bike has a bad front wheel imbalance and unhappy carbs. Nic’s bike just needs gas.
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