The Nuclear Tourist: Day 1
A first date with the 2018 Gold Wing Tour
Today was my get-to-know-you ride with the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour. A first date, if you will. Of course, one that took place over 12 hours and 600 miles. In that time, we learned a lot about each other, but first we had to get past that initial awkward stage of the Wing being a DCT model and me reaching for the clutch lever at each stop for the first 30 minutes or so. After that, we began to click off the miles.
We hit the road a lot later than I would have liked and didn’t get going until about 11:15. So, I knew I’d be spending a good bit of the latter part of my ride in the dark. The route avoided the interstates as much as possible, taking me from Austin to Sweetwater (because that was the name of a town in one of my favorite movies, Once Upon a Time in the West) and then picked up Highway 84 (which took me through towns with names like Muleshoe) for the remainder of my trip to Santa Rosa, NM. The roads were mostly flat and frequently divided highways. The scenery was good if you’re fond of wide open spaces. I saw more freight trains in one day than I’ve seen in the last several years.
With the suspension set to “rider with luggage” mode, the Gold Wing Tour floated over the highway and its irregularities. The new engine is ungodly smooth at highway speed – even when the bike is traveling at throw-you-in-jail speeds. I kept the ride mode set to Tour since that’s what I was doing, and there weren’t any corners, anyway. At a steady 80 mph, the engine is spinning roughly 2,700 rpm, and like I said, it was vibration-free.
Since the temperatures ranged from 65° to 23°, I was happy for the weather protection the windshield offered. Although it creates a great pocket of relatively still air, I was really grateful for the heated grips, seat, and my electric vest as the temperature dropped after dark.
The last thing I want to comment on before I call it a night is the Gold Wing’s GPS. It is the best motorcycle GPS I’ve had the pleasure of sampling. The wide screen offers plenty of room for the map and the list of upcoming turns. When a turn is approaching, a secondary map with higher resolution replaces the turn list on the right side of the screen, simplifying the act of getting through complicated intersections in unfamiliar towns.
Tomorrow’s trip begins with a dash up to Los Alamos, NM, before heading back to the south in the direction of Tucson, AZ. I’m already looking forward to it, but first, sleep.
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