I didn’t know what to expect with riding one thousand miles in a day, but knowing Mike and I were the ones to kick off this challenge made failing not an option. The longest trip I had done up to this point was 650 miles. Keeping myself open to anything was probably my wisest choice. We were heading from Los Angeles to Portland in one day, and quickly making our way back down the coast.
Mike and I had originally planned to ride the path of least resistance; straight up the I-5 corridor. Our only issue with this plan is that it was about 36 miles short of the full 1k. The scenic route, up the 395 through the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway, to Reno and then back over to Portland, rang in at a perfect 1,003 miles.
Weather looked good through each of our planned gas stops, which were going to be more frequent than we’d like thanks to the small gas tank on my Sportster. That aside, this route still seemed like the better choice and overall, a better experience
What we forgot to check; the wind and the elevation between those stops.
We forged into 25-30mph winds, from head on, then the side, then the other side for hours, all in a brisk 43 degrees before factoring in wind chill.
Stopping for food and a set of long johns in Bishop, CA, we got tipped off that the 395 only got hairier with potential snowfall, and that we should instead take highway 6 up and around to Reno, which only added thirty minutes (or 50 miles) to our trip. We did it.
The winds didn’t let up with our new route, but a light rain mixed with hail came on, and the temperature dropped as we climbed up to 7,500 feet, snow dusting the ground on both sides of the road. The cold chilled us to the bone. Our lunch break just barely got us warm before we pressed on.
After being pulled over doing 90 in a 65 (and getting let go!) we stopped in Susanville, CA. Both of us wondering why we decided to go this way, I optimistically ask Mike “What poet was it that said the path less traveled by, made all the difference?” he fires back “a DEAD one!”. With that we agreed that the breezy, non-stop cold weather was going to wear us out, and that we needed to reroute if we were going to make it the 1k mile mark in time.
Cutting through Lassen National Forest back over to I-5 was the best decision we had made yet. It warmed up to a balmy 75 degrees and the ride was nothing short of incredible. The tree lined highway boasted colors of green us Angelino’s rarely get to see in Southern California. We roared down the evergreen-lined, two lane stretch of road, where the trees cut away only for quick glances at the breath taking lakes and snow covered tops of Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta, while only having to dodge one road- wandering deer through this jaunt.
Once we were on the final stretch from the California / Oregon border, the sun went down and the frigid air joined us again. We stuffed hand warmers in our gloves, threw on the other t-shirt we had each packed, and pinned it. Every gas stop was a chance to try and shake the wind chill for just a minute before throwing ourselves right back at the seemingly never ending road.
Delirium set in on our final 200 miles and I found that setting the throttle tensioner and riding with no hands was the only way to stay engaged enough to keep my severely wind-burnt eyes open, and me from not dozing off behind the bars. There were a couple gas stops where we truly doubted our physical ability to make it to all the way to Portland, only before we’d wolf down a cup of black gas station coffee, that repeatedly renewed our fighting spirts. This had been the flattest and straightest part of our ride, but proved to also be the hardest to endure.
Freezing cold and muscles nearly useless, we finally rolled to Portland, stumbled off our bikes with only minutes to spare on the 24 hour mark. Curtis “Ramble On” snapped a couple photos while we still had the road worn look on our faces, put beers in our hands, and presented us each with the official “Ride 1k In a Day” patch.
Telling him of our stupidly routed trip over that long awaited drink, we logged up our day to 1,151 miles, roughly 20 hours of ride time and 4 hours of gas/food/rest stops. This was the most difficult ride either of us had done, and it felt great knowing we pushed ourselves to the limit to make it happen.
Mike and I’s journey didn’t end here though....
We took a day to be tourists in Portland, went to the infamous Voodoo Donuts and See See Motor Co Coffee, then back on the saddle so Curtis could show us a killer ride up the gorge, along the Columbia River with insane views of all the giants of the Pacific Northwest; Mt. Hood, Mt. Saint Helens and even Mt. Rainer.
The next morning we met Adam with Endless Bummer Patch Co for a cup of coffee and some good conversation before we made our way back to L.A. He presented us with some killer patches for completing the 1k as he talked of his planned route for putting the challenge behind him in the coming weeks.
Joined by Curtis, we started our tour back home, riding in a tight pack, hauling ass down the winding 101 highway, witnessing some of the most humbling views the West Coast has to offer. Frequent stops to take in the scenery were a must, along with shared laughs of the shenanigans we endured along the way.
This trip harbored many stories for each of us that we’ll continue to share with our friends and families for a lifetime, and a bond that’s hard to describe without sharing the rigors of the open road and seeing such terrain from the seat of a rumbling v-twin for yourself
I’d do it all again in a heartbeat if I had to and encourage anyone who rides to take on the 1k In a Day challenge too.