Not Dead Yet II: Still Not Dead!
September 22, 2000
I spend the bulk of the next day trying to help Jim and his efforts. He's found a class that has what's known as a "soft" record, one that seems unusually low for the requirements. He's cleared his modifications to his bike with the judges and he spends a few hours stripping the bodywork off his ZX-12. He's going for the records in the 1350M-G and 1350M-F classes, which are engines up to 1350 cc's with modification from the factory body and chassis with either pump gas or any fuel, respectively. The records are both within what he has already been running, but the 1350M-F record is only a mile or two per hour less than what he had been doing, and the removal of the bodywork will affect the aerodynamics some. Too much, it turns out. His first test pass is 20 mph below what he had been running, and well out of range of the records. So the "soft" records turn out to not be so soft after all. Bonneville makes one earn their way, and that's what the real value to running there is.
I had planned on staying a third night, but the motels had suddenly doubled their rates, it being a Friday. Since I am entitled to a pit space, I figure I can camp in my space, but this turns out to not be allowed. So I watch the racers some, and I see that many have pulled out. The day before I arrived, a streamliner had made a pass at 450 mph and would have gone for its class record but the parachutes deployed prematurely and it took two hours to dig the streamliner out of the salt. Yesterday, when that same streamlinerhad gone out it made it to the half mile mark and then blew over. I couldn't tell if it was due to a cross wind or a parts failure. Today, it heads out and I wish I could be at the timing lights five miles away to see such raw speed. Even at one mile, I can see it rapidly building speed to a level I have not seen before. I am near the food consession stand and nearby is a race official with a radio. Shortly after the three mile mark the streamliner blows a front tire. The damage is severe, but the driver was not injured. The racing is halted for almost two hours while the cleanup effort is underway. Afterward, the amount of participants shrinks quite low. Rain is coming in, so I decide to pull out. Jim and one of his friends takes my picture, and as I normally don't take pictures, I forget to take a picture of them, even though I would have like to have.
With each passing mile west from Wendover the air is getting colder and the sky darker. I start out with blue jean jacket and pants. Twenty miles out I change to my leather jacket. Another twenty miles I change to my rainsuit. Ten miles later I put my leather jacket and chaps on over my rainsuit. Another ten miles and I put my blue jean jacket on under my rainsuit, with my leathers on top. I already have a long sleeve tshirt on over a short sleeve tshirt, and I didn't bring a sweatshirt, so I am out of layers. Too bad the air wasn't out of cold. Or rain. Shortly after leaving Wells, Nevada, I hit a mild drizzle. I climb in elevation. 6800. I didn't think I was that high, but the small sign says "EL 6800." The next one says 6900. Then 7000. Gonna be a cold ride. I hope we summit soon. 7400. 7800. It is getting damned cold and my left arm is getting very stiff. 8100. No way. 8500. Where's the snow line? I must be hitting it soon. God, it's cold. My feet are blocks and I can't feel my hands. 9100. OK, maybe I don't recall seeing a peak anywheres near this high on the map. Then I feel completely stupid when I see a sign that says "Summit Crest, 5900 ft." And then the next small sign says 9200 while the road is clearly going down. Stupid me. They are mileage signs, not elevation signs. I don't know what the "EL" is for, but it wasn't elevation.
Just because I wasn't as high as I thought I was doesn't mean it wasn't as cold as I thought it was. After descending for several miles, I reach Jackpot, NV. The display says 42 degrees F. So I just passed through rain in the mid-30's. No wonder I am shivering. Only 48 miles to Twin Falls, Idaho. I buckle down and do it, and with each mile it gets warmer. The rain stops as well. By the time I make town the clouds are clearing and I see the sun. I try to find a motel but by the time I find an area I'll accept the rates are too high. I find a KOA right outside of town and since the temperature is now in the fifties I consider camping. I start to tell the manager I'll take a campsite and my teeth start chattering as a chill goes through me. I ask if the Kamping Kabins have heaters and since they do I take one instead. I spend fifteen minutes in a hot shower and go back to a restaurant for as hot a dinner I can find. I can't shake the chill.
September 23, 2000
The space heater runs all night but never really warms the cabin. I'm told there was frost on the ground that morning, but I didn't know because I stayed in bed until the sun was well up. I leave out around 11am, with the air somewhat warmer but with me as bundled up as the day before. The miles pass well enough, except I can not get warm. It is a gorgeous blue sky and the temperatures are moderate, but I can not shake the chill. As the sun gets toward setting, I being searching for a motel. I need heat. My first attempt is poor. I check in and realize that there are only thin wallbase strips that don't appear to work. I decide to check out, and after some "debate" with the manager I am given a refund and I go on further down the road. I find a Econo Lodge in Boardman Oregon, and in spite of the $44 a night price, I stay not one night but two.
September 24, 2000
Some time around noon the chill finally broke but I am still drained. I have had the heater at full blast since I checked in and am slowly turning it back. Tomorrow is is supposed to be in the 70's, and I sure hope it is.
I have some observations about Oregon, one of the stranger states I've come across in my travels. The people are quite nice, don't get me wrong, but this place is definately different. No sales tax. Unusual for a state that has no significant year round tourism or oil. No self serve at gas stations. The attendant has to hand you the gas pump, even if you do the pumping yourself. And yes, gas is twenty cents a gallon higher here than in Idaho. They have these things called "Truck Safety Corridors," which is reverse speak for a highly dangerous crossing due to ice and cross winds. Strangest of all, but oddly consistent, are the speedometer callibration areas. One would think it would be a radar gun with a highly visible readout like I've seen in many states, but here it is instead mile markers placed at every mile (how ingenious), and after you've passed the miles, you can look at your watch and see how long it took. I guess that's how you are supposed to use it. Otherwise it's just a bunch of markers telling you you've gone another mile. Beats me. And no jokes about my having found the perfect place for me to live!!
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