2019 PITS Cruise – Day 8

Closed the party, re-obtained a Bluetooth headset, and took the quick-and-dirty route to the loneliest road in America.

The Start

The party was already breaking up when I crawled out of the tent. I had heard Pete start his Bike and pull away when there was barely light in the sky (he’s a morning person).

Vina had acquired some pastries for us and we devoured them which enthusiasm. The rest of the morning activities, breaking camp, taking a shower, and packing the bike, we’re broken up by hugs and farewells for those who were heading out.

Dennis had suggested that Cycle Gear in Sacramento would have the Sena 20S Evo that I needed to replace the one that I lost the previous day. I still didn’t know where I was going to get home, other than the general easterly direction. I decided that I’d get the replacement headset purchase out of the way and decide on a route home from there.

There were only a few attendees left when I decided to reset the service warning light on the Nightowl. I moved the bike over to a shady spot next to the saloon and proceeded to hook up the GS911 and my iPad to the saloon WiFi. As usual, I needed to download and install a firmware upgrade (turned out to be a recurring theme), which is fine but adds time to the process. With the upgrade installed, I had to restart the GS911 to get it to render the site correctly so I could get to the service procedures. I captured the current scan with a few minor and not-unexpected fault codes. Then reset the service indicator and packed up the gear.

By this time, Dennis and remaining crew had taken the weekend’s garbage to the dump and it was just Vina and me at the saloon. I gave her a hug and thanked her and Dennis for their tremendous effort to provide a wonderful weekend for us. The Nightowl fired, the service light did not illuminate, and I rolled out towards CA99 and Sacramento.

The Ride to Sacramento

From the saloon to CA99, CA26 is rolling hills that give way to flats filled with orchards. Dennis once told me what they grow here, but I forget. Walnuts?

CA99 north was moving at a brisk pace and the miles rolled pretty effortlessly. This the first time in several days that I wanted to turn on some music, but alas, no headset because I’m an idiot and lost it. (Sigh)

As I approached the US50 interchange, the skyline of Sacramento was visible in the distance and the traffic started to compress and almost grind to a halt. Being in California, I took full advantage of the lane splitting rules and found ways through the slow traffic that minimized the delay. Soon enough, I was on I80 east and found the exit that would take me to Cycle Gear. Note that it’s harder to follow navigation directions when there’s no way for it to talk to you. I just had to keep an eye on the distance to the next turn and go from the map, at least as much of it as I could see in the bright sunlight reflecting off the screen.

Shopping at Cycle Gear

The staff at Cycle Gear was attentive and asked to help me within 15 seconds of when I parked myself in front of the Bluetooth communicator case. I purchased my replacement Sena 20S Evo (single) and proceeded to the tables in the shade outside to prep it.

  1. Unpack the unit and snap it onto the existing mount.
  2. Turn it on and verify that I can hear it through the existing mount.
  3. Pair the unit to my phone.
  4. Use the Sena Utility app on my iPhone to set the options to my liking.
  5. Pair the headset to the Nightowl.

Step 4 gave me problems when the Sena Utility app announced that I needed to update the firmware in the headset before I could access it from the app. I grabbed my stuff and headed back inside to the helmet counter, where Ray was talking to one set of customers that he was installing a headset for. In addition to this, Ray had two other sets of helmets waiting for his attention. To make matters worse, his coworker walked by and announced that we was due to go on a half-hour break.


In between his multitasking, Ray asked what I needed and I explained the need for a firmware upgrade (second one today, remember the GS911?). He said he thought that we could run the upgrade program from their point-of-sale computers, which thankfully weren’t totally locked down to a single point-of-sale application. He produced a cable, which meant I didn’t have to unpack my new one, and plugged in my unit. He started the utility app and it announced that it needed to be upgraded (third different upgrade today). We waited for that to run and he said I could start the firmware upgrade when it was done since I’d used it before and he needed to step away with a customer for a second. I pushed the utility app through the rest of the process and verified that it could not interface with the Sena Utility app on my iPhone.


So, back out side where I finally finished step 4 (from the above) and got through step five (Nightowl pair) as well. The Nightowl pairing took a few iterations to get it just right, at which point I verified that I could play music to the headset from the Nightowl and still hear the navigation directions coming to the headset directly from the iPhone. I then unboxed the rest of the new Sena stuff, all of which I don’t need right now, and packed it in one of the saddlebags.

With the necessities out of the way, I started to think about route. Even though the extended weather forecast looked good for the week, I still wanted to stay south of I80 through the mountains since they had already been hit with two snowstorms this fall. Who knows how much is still melting on the shoulders and freezing overnight. Nope, no thank you.

I didn’t want to repeat the roads I did with Pete and John on the way west. That left a southerly route through southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. Another option was the US40 route through Colorado, which is what Karen and I planned for last summer but that got derailed a flat tire and an unplanned visit to Salt Lake City. After looking long at the maps of Nevada, Utah, and Colorado, I figured out a basic, loose, not-tightly-defined plan that would (probably) get me back home I time to watch Michigan play Penn State this Saturday afternoon.

You want the details? Buy the rights… or continue reading as it plays out.

As I suited back up, a few locals joined me in the seating area to smoke a cigar and talk about their ride. They took one look at my Leathers and asked if that was my green Harley bagger in the parking lot. I say, no, I’m the black GTL. Eyes widened and they asked where I was out of. I said Michigan. Eyes widened some more. We chatted a bit about the ride so far and the weather challenges of crossing the Rockies in mid-October. I bid them adieu an headed for a gas station to top off before heading east.

The Ride to Fallon

I’d decided to take my beloved route of US50 across Nevada. From Sacramento, that meant fighting my way back though town and taking US50 up to Lake Tahoe and on to Reno. Or, I could just stay on I80, a mere stone’s throw away, and take the Alt US50 cutoff from I80 to US50 at Fallon. I could push on into the evening and try for Austin, the next town down US50, but I know from experience that there’s a hot lot of nothing but a gas station and convenience store in Austin. I’d made a reservation in Fallon for the evening, so I just needed to head over Donner Pass.

The traffic in Sacramento was a little heavy, but not so much that I couldn’t weave through the worst of it. A few miles east of the city, the road gods turned off the traffic switch and the ride got a lot more comfortable.

Heading up the pass towards Truckee, the temperatures started to drop and I began to wonder if a costume change was in my future. Luckily, I crested Donner Pass just when the temps dropped down into the upper 50ºsF. On the eastern slopes, the sun was only occasional since it was dropping behind the mountains. By the time neared downtown Reno, I was far enough away from the mountains that I was more in the sun than not. This helped warm my bones a bit.

East of Reno, I got on Alt US50 east and cut the 15 mile diagonal down to US50 proper. It was during this stretch that the sun dipped behind the mountains now on the distant horizon. I witnessed a nice sunset in my rear view mirrors.

I rolled into Fallon shortly after my Waze app crapped out and stopped providing directions. I kept my head on a swivel looking for my Super 8 and found it without passing it.

After the Ride

It turns out that this Super 8 is a casino first and a Super 8 second (and an RV park third). Interesting combination. The curious bits are that you have to walk though the labyrinth of a casino floor to check in to your room, and you get a free drink voucher with the room. (Chuckle) Lodging in Nevada has it quirks.

After a quick unpack and getting my devices on the hotel WiFi, I inspected the map for a decent eating establishment. Susie’s BBQ next door would certainly be convenient, but I just had freshly roasted BBQ pig the night before and Susie’s would, I fear, suffer from the comparison. I remembered the only non-chain that had a billboard as I rode into town: Jerry’s Restaurant.

Jerry’s did not (mostly) disappoint. It was a traditional Mom’n’Pop diner with two cooks, two waitresses, a long counter, and a few booths. We were at the tail end of the evening rush, so there was a booth available for me to spread out a bit. Being a bit chilled, I ordered a hot chocolate (with whipped cream) and inspected the menu. Since breakfast was an all-day offering here, I chose the “Sink” omelet. “Sink” meant “kitchen sink” and was an omelet with sausage, peppers, onions, cheese, mushrooms, and more cheese on top. It came with hash browns and a side of a biscuit and sausage gravy. If this sounds like a boatload of food, remember that I hadn’t had anything since a pastry at the saloon this morning.

For some reason, the cook kept putting off fixing my order in favor of trying to catch up on other stuff. From my booth, I could hear my waitress asking about my order (“How ’bout that sink?”) repeatedly, between visits to my booth where she would apologize for the wait.

When it did finally arrive, the omelet was hot, full of savory grilled righteousness, and slathered with melted cheese. In short, it was yummy. The hash browns were decent and the biscuits and gravy were quite good; the sausage gravy was full of sausage and well peppered.

As I finished, my waitress dropped by to apologize again and to give me the check. Gathering my things to leave, I glanced at the check to find that:

  • I hadn’t been charged for either my hot chocolate or my Diet Coke.
  • I’d been given a 40% discount on my dinner selection.

I paid up front, thanked them for the consideration, and piled on a good tip for the waitress. Honestly, I would have been ok with no discount; the food was good and I filled the wait time with uploading maps and writing an outline for this post. Still, it’s nice when strangers throw you a bone even when you don’t ask for it.

Back at the hotel, I parked, dropped off my riding gear and picked up the iPad and my trusty Bluetooth keyboard. Verifying that I still had my drink voucher, I walked across the parking lot to visit the casino bar for my free drink.

The selections that were eligible for use with the voucher were pretty basic and pretty limited. Still, I was able to secure a Jack and Coke and I’ve been sipping on it as I finish this post.


Here’s today’s map and altitude plot. The altitude shows just how high you are on the desert pan between the mountain ranges along US50 in Nevada. It is not Death Valley.


Continue East on US50 and then up to US40 through some ranges in Utah. (Shrug) We’ll see.

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