Reno September 2002 Trip

by Dave Schultheis

I have attended Street Vibrations in Reno NV for the past three years, and I made plans to attend again in 2002. Street Vibrations is sponsored by the Harley-Davidson Dealers Association of Northern California and is produced by Road Shows, Inc.

As usual, I sent my check early and got my pre-registration card early. Then I made a reservation at the Silver Club in Sparks NV.

In previous trips I have taken CA Highway 4 over Ebbetts Pass, CA Highway 88 over Carson Pass, and other routes to Reno. On this trip I would staying with friends in El Dorado County, so I planned a route up U.S. Highway 50 and then over Kingsbury Grade in Douglas County NV.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002 - San Jose, California

I took the car to the repair shop, got a ride home, then paid a few bills and packed my T-Bag and saddlebag liners. Late in the day, the repair shop called to say that the car needed ball joints, that they could do it while I was gone and that they would keep the car inside at night. What the heck, it's only money.

I went to bed about 9:00 p.m.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002 - San Jose, California

I woke before the alarm sounded, got up and changed VCR tapes, packed the last few items, attached the T-Bag to the Road King, started the bike and put the bag liners into the saddlebags.

After putting on my lucky green shirt, jacket, helmet and gloves, I left home at 6:20 a.m. and headed out through the Santa Clara Valley. Northbound Meridian, southbound Interstate 280, northbound Interstate 680, eastbound Interstate 580, eastbound Interstate 205 and northbound Interstate 5.

As I had neglected to check the map, relying upon my [usually] good memory, I continued north on I-5, looking for the CA Highway 88 turnoff. Those of you who are familiar with the area will realize my mistake.

By the time I got to CA Highway 12, took the off-ramp, pulled into a Union 76 station for fuel and checked the map, I realized that Hy 88 can be reached from CA Highway 99 but not from Interstate 5. So I plotted an alternate route and determined to learn some new highways. [The "silver cloud" doctrine.]

I continued north on I-5 into the Sacramento area, turned east on U.S. Highway 50, stopped for a couple photos at CA Highway 160, continued east on Hy 50 to Watt Avenue, then took Folsom Boulevard to CA Highway 16 (Jackson Road) toward Rancho Murieta.

[For those looking at your Gold Country AAA map, I later determined that I could have taken Eight Mile Road or Hy 12 over to Hy 99 and then to Hy 88, or I could have taken Twin Cities Road to CA Highway 104 to Ione, and I will try those routes on future trips. There is something to be said for learning from your mistakes.]

I rode east on Hy 16, took a photo at CA Highway 124, then Hy 16 ended and I continued north on CA Highway 49 ("the Gold Country Highway") into Plymouth ("Ole Pokerville"). There I turned onto County Road E16, watched a half-dozen deer cross the road (I was paying attention so there was plenty of time to react), and continued through the communities of River Pines, Mt. Aukum, Somerset and Pleasant Valley.

I was earlier than expected, so I took a short trip through Newtown and Diamond Springs to Placerville for a CA Highway 193 photo, then back through the downtown area to Hangtown Harley-Davidson. If you stop by, you might want to note that they are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

I rode back to Pleasant Valley Road and then to Sly Park Road and stopped at a small grocery store for some provisions and rest. While there, I talked to a woman who noticed my cosmetically-challenged saddlebag lids and said that her husband may have something that would fit.

After another short ride through the trees, I arrived at the home of my friends Mark and Christine right at 12:00 noon, 229 miles from home. I had last visited them a little over a year ago on the way back from my 2001 cross-country trip. It was good to visit again.

I parked the Road King and greeted Christine and the dog; the kids were in school and Mark was working. I brought in the stuff I had bought at the grocery store and made sandwiches, caught up with my notes, checked the maps and played with the dog while Christine did a few things around the house.

She asked what I wanted for dinner and I suggested that she take the night off from cooking and let me take them to dinner.

About 2:30 p.m. we drove down to pick up two kids at the bus stop. When we got back, I covered the Road King so that it wouldn't be dewey in the morning, and later put on the soft lowers since it would be a cold morning.

I took some of my things up to the guest room and made the bed.

About 4 p.m. we made another trip to the bus stop to pick up another child. Back at home, she had the kids change to go for dinner.

We drove into Diamond Springs and chose a Chinese restaurant. I had some chicken and rice and others had various other dishes, some to share. After dinner we stopped for ice cream to take home and enjoy. We watched some television, talked to Mark on the phone, enjoyed typical sibling interactions and played with the dog.

I took an opportunity to take a little walk around their acreage and enjoyed communing with nature for a while. Miles from anything, on a clear evening, among the trees. It was great!

Later, I took a shower, watched a little more television with the family, then went up to bed in the guest room about 10:00 p.m.

Miles for the day = 229.

Thursday, September 26, 2002 - El Dorado County, California

I slept okay and awoke at 6:47 a.m. to the sound of tires on the gravel driveway, the first trip to the school bus stop. I got up and washed, combed and dressed, and put my stuff back on the bike.

After warming the bike while putting on my jacket, face warmer, helmet and gloves, I thanked Christine and left their house at 8:00 a.m. It was cool but comfortable weather for the 12-mile ride to U.S. Highway 50 near Pollock Pines. As I reached the highway, I was glad that I had put the soft lowers on the bike, because it got colder as I gained elevation.

About 9:00 a.m. it was necessary to stop for some road work, but it was only a 5 or 6 minute delay. At about 9:20 a.m. I pulled into a Shell Station in Meyers CA for fuel.

To this moment I do not quite understand the exact sequence of events that caused me to let the Road King tip over onto the left side engine guard. I think I got out of my normal sequence between gloves and kick-stand, not sure.

Anyway, a couple of nearby construction workers came over and helped me get the bike upright while I thought about whether to tell the other customer at the gas station that "I meant to do that."

The last inch of the clutch lever broke off, so I picked up the piece and put it in my pocket. The lever still worked, but extra care was needed. I noted that there was a little engine oil on the ground, although I'm not sure if it was mine or not. The bike wasn't over long enough for there to be a gasoline spill.

The bike started and ran fine, so I determined to move forward, although I would need to replace the clutch lever before long.

Pioneer Trail turns off Hy 50 in Meyers and bypasses much of South Lake Tahoe, so I took that route as I hadn't been on it for a few years. There has been a lot of development in the area, and a couple of traffic signals have been added, but it was a good way to get where I was going. Pioneer Trail comes back onto Hy 50 just a few blocks from the state line.

Moments after crossing into Nevada, I turned into the parking garage at The Horizon Casino Resort Hotel at Lake Tahoe (Stateline NV) and parked at 9:50 a.m. and went inside.

I slightly bettered my financial position (by $5.00) and then continued east on Hy 50 into Zephyr Cove NV. I turned east on NV Highway 207 and rode over the Kingsbury Grade and down into Mottsville. Since this was the first time I'd been through the area, I turned north on NV Highway 206 into Genoa.

I decided to take Jack's Valley Road to Interstate 395, but don't go that way unless you want to look at the scenery. The speed limit is 35 miles per hour for long stretches. Next time I'd have taken NV 206 east to I-395.

When I got to Hy 395, I turned north and went into Carson City, through the downtown bottleneck and got to Carson-Tahoe Harley-Davidson at 11:05 a.m.

The Service Writer (Clayton) told me they could fix the clutch lever in about 10 minutes, so I gave the go ahead. I asked them to also make sure nothing else was wrong.

Well, it took longer than 10 minutes, but it's a nice dealership, with lots of stuff to look at, so I did. The technician, whose name I never got, was very good. He came out twice to tell me what he had found. The lever was an easy fix; he also lubed the clutch cable, adjusted the clutch and offered to do a couple other things, but I decided to get on the road.

I got out of there at 12:25 p.m., continued north on Hy 395, which is city streets for a couple miles, then about 30 miles into Reno, consisting of a 70 mph section, some 50 mph sections and various in between. Every time I ride this road there is more stuff being built on both sides. There's a bypass coming in who-knows-how-many years.

When I got into Reno I took Moana Lane and turned west for a few blocks to the AAA office, got a current Carson City map, then continued another couple blocks, turned south on S. Virginia Street and parked at the Atlantis Hotel Casino's parking lot at 1:15 p.m. The hotel and casino are on the east side of the street with a pedestrian walkway (and seafood bar) going across Virginia Street to the parking lot. During Street Vibrations, Atlantis sets aside a large part of the parking lot for motorcycles, complete with plastic tape and Security personnel 24 hours a day.

I took the walkway, then down to the casino floor, then up to the second level to the convention center and picked up my plastic bag full o' stuff from Road Shows, including "H.O.G.-tag" (needed for some activities), event tee-shirt, printed schedule, envelope full o' coupons and advertisements and the all-important headlight sticker.

I applied the sticker, remounted the Road King and rode about six miles to the Silver Club Hotel Casino at Victorian Square in Sparks. I've stayed there many times because it's less expensive that the downtown hotels and because I can (usually) see the motorcycle from the room. (More on that later.) They were happy to take my money but the room wasn't clean yet, so I was invited use a couple of drink coupons at the casino and come back later.

I went over to Harley-Davidson of Reno by way of Wendy's on Kietzke Lane just south of Market Street (very convenient location). There were a bunch of people shopping but no bargain table, so I rode over Automotive Way (by the car dealers, would you believe it?) to Kietzke Lane and downtown on Virginia Street, where the Road Shows people let me in with my sticker.

It was about 2:30 p.m. and there were bikes and people shoulder to shoulder for the first couple blocks. The area that was originally intended for "motorcycles only" had become heavily congested with bikes, pedestrians and vendor booths. Unfortunately, many of the pedestrians weren't paying attention, so the going was slow. Even though the clutch was much easier to operate after getting lubed, my left hand got tired from crawling down the packed street.

Scofflaw that I am, I parked in a red curb zone, watched people walk by and ate my Wendy's food.

I went inside the Silver Legacy Resort Hotel Casino and used my player card so that they'd know I had been there. I "changed" my financial condition slightly, then used their self-service coin redemption machine. These are pretty neat; you can change bills to coins or coins to bills without waiting at a cashier window. Unless you get stuck behind a slowpoke. Just like on the freeway.

I went back out onto the street, found the bike and rode back to Sparks. My favorite convenience store had been closed since the last time I was here, so I found another and got some juice and milk to put on ice for later.

I got to the Silver Club at 4:40 p.m., got card-keys to Room 505, then made three trips upstairs with my stuff. I put the fluids on ice, hung up my clothes and checked the bag o' stuff from Road Shows. No glass beer stein like last year. Too bad. The H.O.G.-tag was there, as was the pocket schedule and a lot of coupons, most of which I could not use and tossed. I checked the schedule and confirmed that the "welcome" reception was still scheduled for 7 p.m. at Atlantis. So I caught up with my notes and rested a while.

Later I rode over the Atlantis, parked and went up to the walkway over Virginia Street. I found a nice quiet nickel machine but unfortunately it was too close to one that kept making Regis Philbin say the same thing over and over. Fortunately, that player moved along after a while.

I was doing okay, won fifty coins, then 250 coins, then 250 coins, then 125 coins. A woman walked by and without asking, spent 30 seconds grinding out her cigarette butt in an ashtray a few inches from my face. I didn't say anything (out loud) but moved the ashtray as soon as she left.

After the machine gave me another 200 coin payout, I decided to call it quits at 800 coins, pushed the "cash out" button and started filling the bucket. After a while the flow stopped and it was clear the hopper was empty. I waited for an attendant. Then waited for a bag of coins. Then waited for a backup person (two must be present). I finally got my 800 coins and converted it back into $40 on the way to the Grand Ballroom.

I waited a short while for the doors to open at 7:00 p.m., then got to the serving table and got a few chicken wings with ranch dressing (this is food?) and orange juice. I found a place to sit at a table with some nice folks from Sunnyvale CA. The husband and wife had been riding double for many years, and the wife was proud that she had finally bought her very own Sportster and was enjoying her first road trip on it.

A gal from Road Shows came to sit at the table and asked several of us, in turn, some questions about what we thought of Street Vibrations so far. She typed our responses into her hand-held computer with fold-out keyboard. No telling what they would do with the information, but it was nice to have been asked my opinion.

The music was scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m., but 7:30 came and went and there was no music. There weren't any chicken wings left either, and at 8:00 p.m. I decided that I had enjoyed about as much as I could stand, and I was outta there.

It takes a while to get downstairs, then back upstairs, then down again to the parking lot, and I took a leisurely ride back to the Silver Club and parked in the City of Sparks' parking garage, which is right next door to the hotel. Both of the light bulbs in the fixture were burned out on the pole where I usually park, so after talking with the Security Guard, I ended up parking on a cross-hatched area next to the Security office (very well-lit) near a couple other bikes and cabling mine to a concrete post. The guard was interested in getting a motorcycle, so I answered a few questions and thanked him for watching the bikes, then walked back to the hotel and took the elevator up to my room.

I called my friend Rick S., who lives a few miles away, on the phone. He had talked to Mark from Pollock Pines, where I had stayed the night before. Mark would be riding up to Reno the next morning. The original plan was to take Rick and his wife to dinner, but Rick volunteered that they might have us come up to their house in Stead instead. Who was I to argue? I've dined at their home before and it's better than any hotel! Anyway, Mark didn't have a cel-phone but would be in contact with Rick by amateur radio when he got into town.

I programmed a message into the hotel's voice mail system, turned on CNN and watched Larry King Live, then called Mark on the phone, as he should have been home by then. We talked for a while and confirmed plans for the next day.

I took a shower, watched television and went to bed close to 11:00 p.m.

Miles from Pollock Pines to Sparks = 123. Riding around Reno/Sparks = 26.

Miles for the day = 150. Miles for the trip = 379.

Continued in Part Two

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Created on March 2, 2003. Last updated on April 6, 2003.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA