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Blog > April 2012 > Rio Rider: An Epic Ride for Love

Rio Rider: An Epic Ride for Love


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Someone else's 1974 Honda 360 CB.

My brother John had a dilemma. He was in Oneida, Illinois, while Joyce, the girl he loved, was in San Diego. Both were flat broke from using Ma Bell to call long distance and the distance between the two remained immense. So he did the logical thing and in September of 1976, jumped on a 1974 Honda Twin 360 CB and rode it across the country to be with her. Four years later they were married, and have been so ever since.

I recently conducted a long distance interview by email for some details. Such as how much money did you have in your pocket?

“I don't recall - but I probably had a couple hundred dollars in travelers checks - no credit cards.”

How much luggage did you take with you?

“Bare minimum - a small duffel bag tied with bungee cords to the luggage rack behind me.”

As planned, there were to be four legs of the trip, separated by 1-2 day layovers to visit with relatives. The first leg was Oneida to Tulsa, Okla., to visit the Tulsa Kin, then on to Duncan Okla.to visit Aunt Ennis. After that it was Duncan to Las Cruces N.M., and a stay with the Las Cruces clan. “I needed a full day (or two maybe?) of rest in Las Cruces to prep for the final leg to San Diego - expected to be 700 miles, the longest leg of the trip. Ha ha. If I had only known.”

Then on to San Diego for the last leg on the fateful date of September 10 1976 when Hurricane Kathleen swept up through Baja, Mexico, into the American Southwest. In his own words:

“The last leg was 875 miles and worth writing about - since it should have been only 700 miles. Interstate 8 was washed out in Ocotillo by the hurricane (2 people killed) and I had to detour north at El Centro, ride up to Indio then down on state roads through Hemet and into San Diego. The last leg from Las Cruces took something like 22 hours and contained some surreal moments. “

Like what?

“Smelling ocean air in the Arizona desert and a white-out sand storm that forced me off the road and into a gas station. I pulled up at the pumps and the attendant came in the blowing gale and yelled "I don't wait on fools!" Later - riding through a flooded intersection in Brawley, CA, as one cylinder flooded but the other kept chugging -- and 2 kids paddled by in a canoe. Riding up the coast of the Salton Sea with no rain and a beautiful sunset - magnificent. Riding in the rain again through winding mountain roads near Hemet and getting blinded by oncoming traffic headlights - praying that the road would continue beneath me. Probably the riskiest, stupidest, death cheating moments of my life. Finally realizing (stupid) that I had to take the visor off in the rain at night.”

The worst and the best?

“Hypothermia - wanting to give up - but could find no motels or open businesses on my route at 2AM. I stopped to change into dry clothes - seriously concerned that my shivering would make me lose control of the bike. The rain eased up about then and though I was still looking for any place to pull over and spend the night - no opportunities appeared until I entered San Diego and realized I was nearly there. The best part of it all was Joyce greeting me at the door of her parent's house overlooking the bay and Pacific Beach at 3AM.”

Have you ever thought of doing it again?

“875 miles in one day through a hurricane on a twin 360? No. Cross country ride on an appropriate 2 wheel vehicle in pleasant weather? Sure.”

And so it was on John's Epic Ride which holds a revered place in our modest little archive of family history.


Posted: 4/1/2012 9:31:32 AM | with 0 comments

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