I’ve been writing about motorcycles for over 20 years, and while riding the bikes we test is a huge part of my job, there have only been a handful of times that I’ve been given the opportunity to put together extended multi-day rides. Even rarer are the chances to spend that time riding solo – an activity I find good for the moto-soul. So, you can imagine my surprise when both Honda and my boss gave me the okay on my long-shot pitch to ride the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour from Austin, TX, back to Los Angeles. They called my bluff, and I suddenly found myself with a Gold Wing Tour, four days, and as many miles as I could cram into the adventure. A direct path home would be around 1,400 miles of freeway droning – not a recipe for much fun. And riding motorcycles is all about fun, right?

The Nuclear Tourist Tour: Day 1
The Nuclear Tourist Tour: Day 2
The Nuclear Tourist Tour: Day 3
The Nuclear Tourist Tour: Day 4

I had a few goals for the trip. First, if I could swing it, I’d stop off at the Very Large Array. If I managed that, it would be my fifth time. Clearly it speaks to my space geek side. This stop would also place some really fun motorcycle roads between me and my second goal, a brief visit with some college friends who live in Tucson, AZ.

The planned route hits five states, avoids interstate highways as much as possible and will total about 2,000 miles.

After several false starts, current events ultimately provided the inspiration for this trip’s route. Weeks of Dear Leaders Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump comparing the size of their missiles had recently prompted me to go back and reread (for the first time in decades) a few sections of Jonathan Schell’s seminal book, The Fate of the Earth. With this warning freshly renewed in my mind, the January 13th false missile in Hawaii clinched the topic for me. I’d go visit sites associated with the development of our nuclear defenses. The structure of the trip then fell into place.

Join me right here for daily updates, while I meander my way through the American Southwest as a nuclear tourist aboard my ICBTM (Intra-Continental Ballistic Touring Motorcycle). If you are so inclined, you can watch my route develop via the Spot Gen 3 satellite tracker I rented for this trip in an effort to alleviate my wife’s worry and let my boss know how hard I’m “working”. (Click here for live route.)

The Nuclear Tourist Tour: Day 1
The Nuclear Tourist Tour: Day 2
The Nuclear Tourist Tour: Day 3

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  • Gabriel Owens

    Wish i had known you were in Texas, i would have loved to buy your dinner.

    • DickRuble

      His tabs are picked up by Honda or the publisher.

      • Old MOron

        Hey Gabriel,
        Since Honda or MO is picking up the tab, maybe you can intercept Evans and he can buy you dinner. Ha!

      • Gabriel Owens

        Still MO guys are my celebrities, at least the old dogs are. Itd be like you getting to have dinner with brad pitt.

        • DickRuble

          Seriously, you could’ve caught up with him. He’s still in TX. As far as having dinner.. Brad Pitt wouldn’t be on my list. He wouldn’t even make my wife’s list.. or so she says…

          • Gabriel Owens

            I dont think i could have actually. Im in the sabine national forest. About 6 hours drive from central texas.

          • DickRuble

            That’s the problem with TX.. it’s big.

          • Gabriel Owens

            The road he was on most of the day is 84. If you follow 84 east all the way to the Louisiana border, then thats where im at. Ive ridden 84 all the way to where it ends in new Mexico. Pretty good ride.

          • DickRuble

            You’re close to Mamou and Ville Platte.. Best Mardi Gras spot.

          • Gabriel Owens

            Hes on 60 now. Good to be doing it at night. This part of the trip SUCKS. all deserted

          • Gabriel Owens

            Tis the season too

    • Rocky Stonepebble

      I’m hungry. Just post me the money.

  • John B.

    What a great trip Evans! Enjoy!

    I am glad you are taking this trip because it may affect how you and the other MO journalists rate sport touring motorcycles. As is typical for long motorcycle trips that start in Texas, most of your first day, 700-plus mile trip from Austin to Los Alamos will be on boring straight roads. I always try to knock off 650-700 miles on the first day when heading west from Dallas. This gets me to the fun riding faster. As such, on the first and last day of any long trip that starts deep in the heart of Texas, comfort matters much more than performance.

    Sport tourers like the Super Duke GT, Kawasaki H2 SX, and the like are great motorcycles, but I do not know how comfortable they would be on a 700 mile day. I am sure those 700 mile boring days pass more comfortably on Tourers, and sport tourers that tilt toward the tourer part of the scale.

    I find myself wanting more amenities (weather protection, Sat-music, nav) on those long rides. As such, motorcycles like the BMW 1600 and the new Honda Gold Wing have become more interesting to me. Adventure sport-touring motorcycles also work well.

    • Born to Ride

      I really like the new Goldwing, and considering how quickly my dad can navigate his 900lb version down a serpentine road, I can only imagine how good a 780lb wing with updated suspension and chassis would be.

      • Rocky Stonepebble
        • Born to Ride

          How do I post a picture of my dad riding his Goldwing down Montezuma Valley into Borrego AND get my boot in the picture? That sounds like a recipe for disaster.

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            Paint. Real shitty photoshop app, but it is free and on your computer.

            Or, just do what I did and go out to the garage with the Sony cam and the tripod and shoot a photo, you lazy sod.

    • Gabriel Owens

      Yes. In east texas with same theory. Knock out 700-800 miles on the first day. If you ever want to go to the Dragon just come stay at my place then we’ll knock out the 670 the next day.

      • John B.

        Deal! Thanks!

  • DickRuble

    For your next trip consider a grand tour of dioxin dumping sites.

    Tip: You can also stick the Gen Sat 3 to an 18-wheeler and sit and sip coffee and make up prose at the truck stop until it comes back. It’s takes on average four days.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Current events.

  • Lance H

    Looking forward to hearing all about this ride! My first Wing was a 2006, my 2nd motorcycle after trading up from my very first ever, a V Star 1100. Aboard my new Wing, I promptly set off from the DFW area for northern California, and loved every mile aside from some back pain at the end of each day’s ride. Ultimately I moved on from the Goldwing because of that. Oddly, long days in the saddle are more comfortable for me on my Harley Road Glide, but I really miss the monstrous torque and handling of my Goldwing! Might have to give this new one a shakedown.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Yes, I have done 1000 plus miles a day on my Softail comfortably (longest was 1224 miles).

  • Starmag

    Make sure you take that left turn at Albuquerque!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8TUwHTfOOU

    • Rocky Stonepebble

      Get. Out. Of. My. Brain.

      • Carol

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    • Sayyed Bashir

      First he has to learn to spell “Albuquerque”.

  • Old MOron

    Congratulations, Evans!
    I remember when John Burns was denied a similar request for a cross-country solo review. I suppose you’ll razz him about it for a good while. Heck, I probably will, too!

    • john burns

      O yeah, the K1600B huh? Times like these it’s good to have a memory as decrepit as mine. Thanks for reminding me!

      • Roger

        Keep going, King of us decrepits. We the fauthful followers .

  • Pete terHorst

    Sounds like fun Evans!

  • Old MOron

    I’ll have fun tracing your route via Spot. Although I’m frustrated already.
    No Luckenbach?
    No Twisted Sisters?
    Oh well, like JohnB says, sometimes you have to start with a long, boring run.

    • John B.

      Two of the three Sisters run north and south; i.e., riding them, though well worth it, gets you no closer to Los Angeles. So many roads, so little time.

      • Old MOron

        And IIRC the sister I liked best was the horizontal one.
        Oh well, sometimes you have to get the hell out of Dodge.

        • John B.

          For me, the most interesting ride in Texas is in and around Big Bend National Park. It’s surprisingly spectacular.

          • Old MOron

            You’re not the first person to praise Big Bend National Park. If I ever make it out there again, I’ll give you a heads-up.

          • John B.

            Yes, please do. It’s an especially great place to visit on a motorcycle; spectacular beauty, sparse traffic, and great motorcycle roads.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Yep, I blew out the rear tire on my Harley there, went off the road through cactus and hit a huge rock, me and the motorcycle flew through the air and landed next to each other, headlight on and engine still running. That was 250,000 miles ago.

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            For me, the most interesting ride in Texas is Felina.
            Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina
            Wicked and evil while casting a spell
            My love was deep for this Mexican maiden
            I was in love, but in vain I could tell

          • Gabriel Owens

            I dont care for it at all. But 170 from terlingua to presidio is one of the most challenging rides ive ever been on. Then from presidio up to marfa then on to fort davis. Big bend just dont do it for me, especially not for the 25 dollars they charge to drive through and look at rocks and desert. Nah.

          • John B.

            The road you referenced from Terlingua to Presidio is on Lonely Planet’s list of best motorcycle roads in America. The region is awesome even if you skip the park itself.

          • Gabriel Owens

            Yes. It is a great one. Everything on the left, Mexico. Everything on the right, Texas.

          • John B.

            Yes, that road. A Blue Heeler almost took me down in one of the small towns along that route. Now I know why they are called “heelers.” I could see the little F-er’s silhouette in a sprinter’s start as I rode into town.

          • Roger

            What is a “Blue Heeler”?

          • John B.

            I’m dyslexic, and still spell like a fourth grader. Let me guess, Blue Healer? Who knows? The little cattle dog.

          • Gruf Rude

            ‘Heeler’ is correct. Cattle herding dog, fairly small, VERY tough, unbounded energy.

          • John B.

            Yes, exactly. That makes sense. They are always under heel. As opposed to having the power to heal. Words… .

            I had to drop a gear to get away from him and then found myself doing 75 mph is a 30 zone. I got away though.

          • Roger

            Agree on all counts.

          • Evans Brasfield

            Absolutely. The road along the river going northwest from Big Bend is spectacular!

        • Gabriel Owens

          Yes that ranch road 337. It goed through Leakey (pronouned Lakey). Awesome little town.

    • Rocky Stonepebble
    • Sayyed Bashir
  • cgaralis

    Which version are you riding? DCT? Looking forward to your ride report.

    • Evans Brasfield

      I’m on the DCT.

      • Gabriel Owens

        Woot!!!

  • Alaskan18724

    Beautiful country around Los Alamos.

    • Rocky Stonepebble

      Lovely plumage …

  • Alaskan18724

    “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

    • Old MOron

      Death rides on the pillion!

      • Rocky Stonepebble

        You’ve met my ex?

    • Rocky Stonepebble

      No upvote. Oppenheimer was a pretentious git. The Gita, though, is some interesting reading.

  • Old MOron

    Oh man, Evan’s has covered about 150 miles, averaging about 60 mph, while I’ve been stuck in an office. Arghhh!

  • Mark Radtke

    Hi Evans
    Safe travels as you make your way. Will look forward to your report on the new Wing.
    I’m heading to Tucson soon to get out of the Wisconsin Winter and wish I could meet you for a ride along the route. The timing will not work on this trip. If you get the chance sometime, take the Catalina Highway up Mt Lemmon from Tucson. I did this in November and made a short ride video. https://youtu.be/O7l4loBStYw
    All the best. Mark

  • Alan G

    feel free to camp on my 40 acres in cibola national forest road 6a

  • spiff

    Stop by my bar when you are in Vegas. I’ll buy you a drink.

    • Rocky Stonepebble

      No boot, no cred. Post a photo of you and your boot.

      Or, stop posting.

      • spiff

        I did post such a photo. I am now content that I shared the boot with the MO community. Many moons ago I had to “shoot the boot”, but that’s another story.

        • Rocky Stonepebble

          Where is this boot photo of which you speak?

          • spiff

            I think it is in the super naked shoot out.

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            Wait … just a boot? No clothes?

        • Old MOron

          Shoot the boot! Man of the match? First try?
          I had to dance a Zulu Warrior.

          • spiff

            The honor of being a rookie.

            Btw, SATURDAY IS A RUBY DAY!

        • spiff

          The honor of being a rookie.

          Btw, SATURDAY IS A RUBY DAY!

  • john phyyt

    Gotcha at Allsups Store; Post Tx. Amazing. If I was close I would buy you a Beer.

    • Gabriel Owens

      Cool man.

    • Evans Brasfield

      Yep, I bought gas there.

  • Old MOron

    As of 17:30 it looks like a, more or less, six hundred mile day.
    Rock on, Evans.

    • John B.

      Evans made it to Santa Rosa, NM in one day. That will work. From there to L.A. the riding will be much more interesting. In some respects, I prefer New Mexico to Colorado when riding a motorcycle. NM is warmer and has a more distinctive culture. Yes, I’m a little jealous.

      • Old MOron

        Hmm, and it looks like he’s sleeping in, or perhaps enjoying a leisurely breakfast this morning. Now I’m jealous.

        • Old MOron

          Oh wait, he’s on the move.
          Looks like he got started around 08:30.
          Go, Evans!

  • Sayyed Bashir

    MO is getting more and more interesting. Imagine all the MOrons following Evans in real time on a cross country tour of Texas BBQ and nuclear installations. What next?

  • John B.

    Here is a photo of my Concours in Hot Springs, Arkansas next to an older model Gold Wing. The Concours is 688 pounds, and the size difference surprised me.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b32a7485886c16611e21e7ab482f19a2c86ef7b3a30b32a90661181c3adba048.jpg

    • Gabriel Owens

      Do you do 7 up to Russellville?

      • John B.

        Unfortunately no. I left Saturday afternoon, and ride back Sunday morning. Next time I go up there I want to stay a couple days.

  • Mike Morrill

    Not sure if you’re checking messages here. But I have a couple ideas for the Santa Fe/ABQ area. If you have time, ride State Hwy 14 between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. It is much more scenic than I-25. Also from Los Alamos visit Valles Calderas and ride State Hwy 4 to Jemez Springs…great views. Also, there is a museum covering the history of nuclear weapons in ABQ near Kirtland AFB. An hour there is well spent.

  • Rocky Stonepebble

    “I’d go visit sites associated with the development of our nuclear defenses.”

    So, you are riding to Israel, Germany, The U.K. and Canada?

    • Sayyed Bashir

      And Japan?

  • Jett Anderson

    I recommend the Valles Caldera, out the west side of Los Alamos, and down through Jemez, back in to the city, though it will be cold this time of year.

  • Old MOron

    Google says, Santa Rosa to Tesuque in two hours.
    I think Evans made it in two and a half.
    Prolly spent a half hour taking pictures and making notes, just executing his MOronic duties. Good onya, Evans.

  • Rocky Stonepebble
    • Old MOron
      • Sayyed Bashir

        He is never coming to the U.S. or California (because of the death penalty).

        • Old MOron

          Oh yeah, I’d forgotten about that. Good memory, Sayyed.

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            Burns day. Your Long Island ceilidh is wee totties compared to what we get here.

            And in Nova Scotia, they are through the roof.

          • Old MOron

            Will you feast on haggis tonight, or will a dram suffice?
            (I’m guessing you take something from the Lowlands.)

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            Used to do it every year, down at the Lodge, but can’t be arsed now that I’m older.

          • Old MOron

            Long Island? You ignorant slut!

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            Sorry. Was chatting hockey with someone. Meant to say Miami Beach.

          • Old MOron

            Are you trying to hurt my feelings?
            The link I posted was for Long Beach, California… aboard a ship built in Clydebank!

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            Read them in order (this latest was in moderation for four days).
            “Long Island” (home of the NY Islanders) “Miami Beach” (Florida Panthers). Merge together to get ? ?
            Long Beach!

            I screwed up the first time (I honestly had just been talking hockey to someone. John Tavares, to be exact).

          • Old MOron

            Hey Rock, I just remembered one of my favorite things about Nova Scotia. Do you follow Frankie’s weather reports?

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            Used to. A local Trawna radio station of arseholes used to play his reports, and then slate him. I was off-put after that.

          • Old MOron

            Really? What assholes!
            I’ve always watched Frankie on youtube. I had no idea anyone would slate him on the radio.

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            Yeah … kind of offensive. And, this was on Canadian radio! (Although, they seemed to think they were Don Imus or Howard Stern).

            Frankie is from Sydney Nova Scotia. That is Cape Breton Island. I plan to retire there.

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            Yeah … kind of offensive. And, this was on Canadian radio! (Although, they seemed to think they were Don Imus or Howard Stern).

            Frankie is from Sydney Nova Scotia. That is Cape Breton Island. I plan to retire there. Edit: Me in Sydney:
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c34d026ea0288299fe30310bc7e1c5ebd17ea07d317dd6064800b845d2d2ce40.jpg

          • Old MOron

            Small world: I used to enjoy motorcycle correspondence with a gent from Halifax. If one can stand the cold, it does seem like a nice place to retire. Cheers!

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            Cold?

          • Old MOron

            Hey Rock, I just found this. It was pure serendipity. Thought you might like it.
            https://youtu.be/1bHWhbu_mbk

      • Rocky Stonepebble
  • Bernard Dubuc

    So tomorrow the VLA and most likely white sands, you are a luck one those roads are so nice https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9f58e2a713224b4d90dd6013b1592f41658a24252d4d5d4d136e1652b17b6981.jpg

  • Gary

    If the orange ape triggers a strike, you may want to backtrack to Carlsbad. There’s a cavern there …

  • Hugie

    Enjoy the ride and let us know if it likes to wheelies with a full load!