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Soloing Cross Country on CM400

Friday, January 8, 2010
Westward, Ho! Soloing 4000 Miles on a Motorcycle Older Than Myself
Honda CM400T poses in the desert  looking sturdy after three weeks and almost 3000 miles of riding.
An old Honda CM400T and 4000 miles of ashpalt to reach a new desk job in Calilfornia made for a memorable solo journey for one young rider.

The rain started slapping and the thunder cracking a few hours into my cross-country motorcycle trip. I’d been racing the clouds since I left the Atlantic coast that morning, and now they’d caught me, in a barren stretch of road outside Tallahassee, Florida. I was already feeling stupid when I stopped to pull on raingear – and that feeling intensified when I discovered that, in the rush to blow town, I’d packed an extra set of rain pants instead of a jacket. With only swaying cypress for shelter, I did what I could – scavenged a white trash bag from my luggage and punched my head and arms through. Then I climbed back on my 28-year-old motorcycle and raced for Tallahassee. More than 3000 miles remained to the Pacific Ocean. The learning curve was going to be steep.

This whole trip began in a rush, when I was offered a job in California. Motorcycling cross-country had been a growing dream of mine, so I seized this as my chance. Yes, I’d only been riding for 10 months, and yes, the 1981 Honda CM400T I’d inherited was three years older than me. But, heck, I told myself, I had three weeks to prepare, and I was ready for a challenge. So I gave away most of my belongings and strapped the rest to my bike. The plan? Take the back roads. Go slow. Tent camp, diner hop and drink in as much Americana as possible along the way. And prepare as well I could by following the advice of friends who were wise in the ways of motorcycles.
Riding a southern stretch of interstate with apparently intense concentration.
The sun in your face and blue skies, this was what every motorcyclists envisions when planning a cross country ride.

Getting Started (Ignoring Advice)

Following advice proved tricky, however, as almost everyone reacted skeptically to my plans. “Cool,” said one good friend who’d taught me to ride. “But don’t you want to get a different bike?” “Not a chance,” said an Arizona Honda mechanic when my concerned dad called ahead to see how he thought the bike would handle the hills. “She won’t make it out here.”

Rob, my mechanic friend, was supportive but still cautious. “That motorcycle’s kinda like a commuter bike,” he said. “Back in the day it wouldn’t have been all that unheard of to ride something that size long distance, but now highway speeds are much harder to keep up with.” Nevertheless, he helped me gear up with saddle bags, an old plastic trunk he found in the shop’s attic, a mechanical tune-up, and basic emergency tools and skills.

Others worried over a young woman riding and camping alone. My Dad suggested I gain 50 pounds and festoon my face with piercings. Another friend insisted I take his tazer. I listened politely to these concerns, and then ignored most of them.

Near the Grand Canyon  descending to the Vermilion Cliffs was a breathtaking sight.
Wide open country was ahead, and a little Honda to cover it all.
Cheerfully invincible, and fueled as I was on the adrenaline of adventure, factors like bad weather, dangerous people and mechanical problems fit into my plans not at all. But by the time I arrived in Tallahassee – feeling stupid, very wet, and a little more mortal than I have before, evidence that these elements would figure larger than expected was hitting me in the face and running down my back.

Still, I tuned out the pair of Harley Riders who warned me, as I rode out of Florida, “you’ll burn that thing up,” in favor of the middle-aged, minivan mom who pulled over at a gas station to say, “you’re living my dream.”

My morale rebounded quickly from that initial rainstorm shakeup, especially after my boots dried, my waterlogged phone revived, and I secured a real rain jacket. For the next week or so, everyone’s well-intentioned warnings proved untrue as the miles rolled out from under the Honda’s tires. The bike cruised gamely along at any speed under 70 mph despite the heaps of luggage it carried. I found myself keeping time with a friendly Harley rider through much of Mississippi. At one stoplight, he unzipped his jacket to reveal – I looked over expecting a hairy chest or worse – a Chihuahua. “Name’s Harley,” grinned the rider.

The bike and I motored through the South like the little engine that could, moving slow and steady through Alabama’s flaming azaleas and magnolia-lined streets that smelled musty with history. I chugged across Mississippi’s wide-open countryside, where even the gas station attendants oozed southern charm, growing fat on biscuits and crawfish pies. I crossed the Mississippi River at the funky, bluesy town of Natchez, then motored through farmland into east Texas’ explosion of spring wildflowers and big trucks. The bike and I cruised into Austin with over 1500 new miles on the tachometer, high on the fumes of adventure. The bike received a clean bill of health at a local shop. Then I was on my way again, rolling over across Texas hill country in a smug frame of mind.
The mountaintop view of Big Spring  Texas  with ominous windmills twirling in the distance.Campsites in West Texas are what youd expect from the state - big. This one  by my estimate  was three acres.
Everything's big in Texas, from the view atop Big Spring (left), to the campsites (right).

High Winds and Snowstorms 

Leaving Austin, the wind picked up. It was manageable but exhausting. Tired from battling the gusts, I stopped early at a Texas-sized campsite (three acres of open prairie) and checked the weather. As it called for afternoon winds much fiercer than today’s, I broke camp at dawn to beat them.

The weather went from nice to gnarly in an hour. The landscape flattened into long expanses of scrub, framed by low-slung plateaus that were perfect for winds to howl across. A strand of white, swirling turbines warned how blustery the area could be. When I finally arrived in Big Spring, I was going about 40 mph to avoid being blown off the road and feeling shaky. By then, 55 mph gusts had suspended every red particle of dust in the air, so that the valley appeared on fire.

I was accelerating through a dusty intersection when a mean gust whooshed down, picked up both bike and passenger, and lifted us over a concrete median. I was in the process of steering into the safety of a parking lot when the first gust’s accomplice knocked me completely over. I gathered myself quickly and stared forlornly at the motorcycle laid out, like a wounded animal, at my feet.

In Big Spring  Texas  after the wind storm: Im beginning to turn into Clint Eastwood.
Wind and the elements on a cross-country journey turn our writer's visage into an Eastwood-like stare.
A friendly passer-by helped me pick it up. After checking its aging, rusting body for leaking hoses, hissing radiators, flying monkeys and other possible disasters, I pushed start. The engine turned over weakly and quit. Breathless minutes passed. I tried again. The bike sprang to life.

I rode no farther than the nearest Motel 6. It smelled like stale armpits. I spent the rest of the day glaring reproachfully at the wind, boosting my morale with heaps of Big John’s barbeque, and making the most of a railroad ghost town.

Despite the spill and the miles, the motorcycle purred as gamely as it did the day we started, and aside from a leaky seal that I’d been told not to worry about, it chugged along in its typical “I think I can” attitude. I, on the other hand, was feeling the effects of the road. By this point, the wind, sun and cold had leathered my face and induced in me a flinty eyed grimace reminiscent of Clint Eastwood.

In Roswell  New Mexico  I spent an afternoon posing with aliens  learning about conspiracy theories  and camping near a series of bottomless lakes outside of town that seemed dangerously close to the crop circle zone.
Friends and family probably looked at author Jamie Hansen like she was from Mars when she told them she was riding a 1981 Honda CM400T cross country by herself. 
And in this edgy frame of mind, I encountered the next obstacle. It hit after just one day of sunny respite in Roswell, New Mexico – a day spent unsettling myself with evidence of crop circles and fretting over little green men visiting my tent that night. The morning started inconspicuously. It was warm and sunny, but forecasts called for increasing rain and cold as I headed toward Albuquerque on 280 North. It was the loneliest stretch of highway I'd ridden: 95 miles without a town, a solitary gas station, a house, or even a cow. Only clouds fell in long, dark lines across the highway.

And by the time I reached the town of Vaughn, the sun had headed home for early drinks, and those clouds had developed an angry, swollen look. Feeling rushed and frustrated from my recent layup, I decided to continue about 50 miles to what appeared to be the next town, Clines Corners. The rain started just out of Vaughan, and before too long, it got harder to see. Rain had turned to snow. The snow fell heavier the farther I drove, blanketing the desert – and the pavement-- white.

Over the past few days, I'd felt a growing sense of frustration with the weather. I'd been wasting hours each day, planning routes to correspond with elements that ended up noncompliant anyway. 'Shouldn't I be relaxing, drinking in the countryside and not freaking out about logistics?' I’d thought bitterly. Now, wiping snow from my visor, I found myself laughing at how crazy I’d been. I’d chosen to cover this great, wide country on a little, two-wheeled v ehicle and somehow expected a pleasure trip. Sight seeing, friendly encounters, golden highways and open skies were all I’d envisioned. Think Easy Rider, but without the death. I had conveniently forgotten that weather existed, or at least come to believe it would not affect me as I traveled at 60 mph in the open air.

The Arizona desert included 100 mile stretches of barren road. With only a two gallon tank  I carried extra gas - and was glad I did.
The desert included 100 mile stretches of barren road. With only a two-gallon tank, carrying extra gas was required.
I realized, as I drove with great determination for Clines Corners, that this was not a joy ride, but more an expedition. And with this thought everything fell into perspective.

Finally I reached Clines Corners, wheels slushing through inches of snow. Clines Corners, it happened, was a gas station and diner at the intersection of two lonely roads. The next motel was half an hour away, and the roads might be closed soon. I ordered a coffee and sat down to freak out as a slush pool formed at my feet. My options appeared to be: hitch a ride in the wrong direction with the pair of gnarly truckers to my left, pitch camp in a snow drift behind the gas station, or get demolished by a runaway semi while attempting to bike to the nearest motel.

Well, crap, I found myself thinking. I might have come to embrace the adventure, but this particular scenario still sucks.

But as I grew jittery on coffee, the flakes slowed up. Sensing opportunity, I reached down deep into my gut, pulled out some burliness I wasn’t sure I had, and motorcycled with steely caution, on ice, to Moriarty, where I spent a night de-frosting, relaxing my clenched butt cheeks, and drinking at the local honky tonk with a fellow stranded biker.

I’ll admit it. I set out on this trip as much looking for fiascos as not. I chose to ride my bike cross country to seek out moments where the comfort of the routine ends and all of a sudden you are forced reach down deep, grab onto a heaping mound of fortitude, and LIVE.

The Joy of the Road

I found those moments, probably in larger doses than I was looking for. But I also found an America that is unique to two wheels – the America you can’t find in a minivan crowded with screaming kids, a small angry pet and flying Dorito c hips, hell bound for the next tourist destination. As anyone knows who’s cruised the open roads, riding a motorcycle opens you up to the people and places in between destinations – sometimes in a very raw and exposed way.

I met Santa Claus at a Utah gas station  and he left me these gifts on my saddlebag - a candy cane and a coin that read you were caught being good.
I met Santa Claus at a Utah gas station, and he left me these gifts on my saddlebag – a candy cane and a coin that read you were caught being good.
Crossing the historic Navajo Bridge  near the Grand Canyon.
Crossing the historic Navajo Bridge, near the Grand Canyon.
The Southwest, filled as it was with small disasters, also contained great thrills: back roads that stretched over a hundred miles between signs of civilization, diners with swagger and sharp-tasting coffee, bars with Mexican flavor and cowboy appeal, towns with aliens and conspiracy theories, and the Navajo Nation – a separate country tucked into ours – revealing its character along the Vermilion Cliffs that fringe the Grand Canyon.

Being on a motorcycle also gives other folks a reason to break their routine, open up to a stranger they’d usually ignore – either to help out, or just to swap stories for a while. Kenneth, a squirrely-haired Harley rider left Easter breakfast early to help me determine if my bike was burning oil (it wasn’t.) Then there was Craig, who took personal time from the Flagstaff dealership where he worked to come help when some MORON (I’m not naming names) poured diesel down her gas tank. Even Santa showed up in Utah and left a candy cane on my tank bag.

Eventually, outside the Grand Canyon, the bike had to start climbing, and phrases like, “you’ll burn her up” nagged at my newfound high. I dropped into a lower gear and the bike and I wound our slow way high above the canyon, up through pinyon pine and juniper, and dropped down the other side into Utah. Despite all the warnings to the contrary, the bike loved the hills.

I cruised the crazy topography of Zion National Park and scooped up my boyfriend, John, who rode alongside me on his dual sport Kawasaki. We headed south again, because we could, for a music festival in Arizona. Saguaro cacti towered up to greet us as we climbed mountains and descended into Phoenix.

Driving through the California desert  east of Bakersfield  there are ample opportunities to pull off and camp.
Driving through the California desert, east of Bakersfield, there are ample opportunities to pull off and camp.
Then, after a few days of music, we made tracks for California, through the most desert-like landscapes imaginable – low and barren, spotted only with train tracks and ghost towns. And then, before it felt like it was time, we crossed the Colorado River into California, scooting along the edge of Joshua Tree National Park, through the forgotten, middle section of the state, through the frigid wind funnel that is Tehachapi Pass, and finally descended into wine country. We zoomed over the rolling hills ecstatically, making tracks for San Luis Obispo and the ocean.

John and I arrived on a windy afternoon. We parked on the edge of a rocky overlook and shook off our helmets, then wiggled loose our faces and jiggled the stiffness from our wind-braced bodies. We looked at the ocean. Looked at each other. I’d been planning to hurl my body into the Pacific, but it was COLD. So instead, I raced down the rocks and danced in circles on the sand.

It was a strange feeling. Two days later, I’d be in San Francisco, behind a desk, starting a new chapter in my life. And with 4000 miles of adventure fueling me, I felt ready for any challenge.

Later that day, a biker approached John and I as we nursed coffees at a beachside café.
I jubilantly reached the Pacific at San Luis  Obispo  California.
I jubilantly reached the Pacific at San Luis, Obispo, California.

“Nice bikes,” he said, mostly to John. “Been traveling far?”

“This girl,” said John, “just rode that motorcycle here from Florida.”

The biker looked to me, a little incredulous-seeming, for confirmation.

I glanced over at my bike, dusty but standing tough under the sagging gear, and then down at my scuffed up boots.

“Well, yeah,” I said, with a very non-Clint Eastwood grin. “I guess I did.”
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Comments
Cori   March 29, 2014 11:21 PM
Nice story!I wish one day do the same.Do u think I am too old at 33?And another think is that I have no motorcycle yet ..still keep alive my dream..
geodoug   April 13, 2013 04:09 PM
I know I am a little late, just read it. will you marry me. LOL girl after my own heart, I did it on a Honda 360 barn bike. WA to VA. Tent camp the whole way. No planning a trip WV to WA on a zx14. How long it will take is determine by the stars. no time line
Len C. -One tough cookie  January 23, 2011 06:57 PM
That's an awesome story. I'm in the midst of reviving my CM400 from the graveyard. It sat outside for 20 years uncovered and was in bad shape. I'm glad to know that the bike can handle just about anything that I'll through at it. I don't intend to put it to that much of a test. I applaud your courage and I envy your spirit. Good luck to you in your future endeavors.
Hiro -1981 HONDA CM400E  November 26, 2010 07:15 PM
Hi Jamie, I enjoyed your story and also pictures too. I have 1981 HONDA CM400E. But my bike doesn't work right now. When I was read your story, I want to run my CM400E again. because your 1981 HONDA CM400T is still running! I think my bike still can running too! so I will make my CM400E run come again! Thank you for great story :) Thank you!
gman -recent ride  September 19, 2010 08:34 AM
Just read your new piece about the Cascades - that ride sounds like a blast.
greg m -1980 cm400t  September 13, 2010 11:20 PM
hey great story,just bought a 1980cm400t.great shape.thought about selling not sure if bike is for me,but your journey has made me think about keeping it.thanks for sharing.greg,florida...
Chris -Great Story, Jamie.  August 21, 2010 11:23 PM
I made a similar trip 25 years ago after getting out of the military (Georgia to California). I am planning my next trip and after reading your story I just moved the timeline to sooner from later. Great story, Jamie, and I hope the job is providing more great stories although different from the ride.
D. -02 R1150RS  July 27, 2010 06:15 AM
My first big ride at 19 years was from Denver to LA and back on a 380 (2 stroke) Suzuki. Reading about this ride was heart warming
John -cool chick  June 29, 2010 10:20 AM
Met Jamie this weekend at a motorcycle Rally in washington state great to talk to and she is still riding the honda
Bob H -Great read and ride!  June 26, 2010 09:43 AM
Jamie, I heard about your ride when I was buying a book at the Book Nook in Blairsville. Your mom saw my T-shirt which is BMW moto related and bragged on you some. Of course, I asked if you had written about it....I was in a book shop after all, and she gave me the link.
Very enjoyable and pretty brave. I've ridden all over the US and Europe and your ride compares with any of mine.
Atta girl.
Bob
stu -cm400  May 11, 2010 09:07 PM
enjoyed story;just got and rode mine from anchorage to homer ak;was cold in mts...lol
Mark H -Inspired article  May 4, 2010 05:59 PM
Brought tears to my eyes, as have many of the great comments written here - put me down for one of those books if you ever get around to it!
dylan -CM400  April 25, 2010 08:16 PM
this has inspired me more than any other story i've ever read to head out cross country like ive always wanted. And there just so happens to be a CM400 for sale in my town.... if you ever write a book, count me in for a copy. great writing cant wait.
Jon Turpin -My own cm400t  April 24, 2010 09:40 PM
I recently bought and have been fixing a 1980 cm400t, and I've been thinking about taking a trip like this myself. I hope I have a bit better weather, but all the culture you experienced in your adventures. Thanks for writing about your experiences Jamie :)
Ron -Inspiring  March 24, 2010 02:20 PM
Thanks for sharing your experiance! I am getting ready to go on my first ever cross country/ back road / camping experiance. You really wrote this journey out in a way that it really made the reader feal like they were part of your journey. I hope to inspire someone else like you have inspired me.
Chris H. -just got her running -  March 12, 2010 05:38 PM
Great to read this! I stumbled onto your inspiring story as I searched the web tonight for little tidbits about the cm 400. I just bought an 81 custom for 600 beaners with only 3500 miles on it. I assumed I would be tinkering with her for a few weeks, at least. Imagine my surprise to drop in a new battery, open the fuel line and listen to her turn over on the first try! She stumbles a bit, but I actually got to ride her around the neighborhood tonight as the sun went down and the temperature dropped below thirty. Spring is coming, and I'll think of your trip as I tool around the rolling hills of new england this summer on "the little bike that can"...
Henry -love my yamaha 950  February 25, 2010 01:40 PM
Jamie you are now a true blue biker. I am told that what you endured and encountered puts you at the top of the list. Amazing story and now you have all the guys and gals hoping for the courage to do the same.
Alystar Mckenneh -Come ride with me  February 19, 2010 08:20 PM
Jamie, I am doing a 10,000 mile ride starting in April. Come ride with me, just for a few miles if you want, I would love to interview you for the webcasts I will be doing as I go. RoadtoSturgis@gmail.com Alystar McKenneh
Jacq Desmarais -Did a similar trip on suzuki GS400  February 13, 2010 02:50 PM
Your story is like mine but you really went west! I rode for 5 weeks from Montreal, QC to Keywest FL. after graduation in 87 The trip of my life and great people I met along the way. Don t stop riding... it was my only mistake. jacq
Bob J. -Invitation to Jamie  February 4, 2010 02:45 AM
Jamie, I've been riding for more than 50 years and I still haven't gone on a cross country ride as far as you did, and on a small bike without a windshield. You are one inspirational gutsy lady and I take my helmet off to you. Come on down from San Francisco to Alice's Restaurant (in the hills above Woodside) about 45 miles south of SF and I will be honored to buy you and your boyfriend a "motorcycle" lunch (see their menu). BTW, your writing skills are excellent. Keep the stories coming.
Dan Nicholas -Husky Rider  February 2, 2010 04:28 PM
You have a special zezt for life and adventure. Really enjoyed your well written story. Be well and thank you for sharing.
DLA Sr -Awesome adventure, and fantastic writing!  January 30, 2010 08:11 PM
After decades of people talking us out of it, I resumed riding and my wife started for the first time. People are shocked everytime they find out this middle aged couple loves to ride. We have made several lengthy trips, but none that compare to yours! Thanks very much for sharing your amazing story. I hope others will be inspired to not wait as long as we did! I am glad you did not let them talk you into waiting!
George M -Kz400 CC experience  January 28, 2010 09:44 AM
Awesome story. Back in '79 I rode my Kawi Kz400 on two long trips, one from Denver to Minneapolis and back, then from Denver to Orlando. Talk about the little bike that could and did. The second trip had people placing bets to see how far I'd make it, suitcase and duffel bag strapped to the seat and rack. They all lost! I retired it when it wouldn't go any further and replaced it with a CB750 and later with a GL1200. Still, the memories of those early rides are priceless. Cherish them. Its an accomplishment that only a few have!
Tessa -WOW! ur amazing  January 23, 2010 03:39 PM
Jamie - We all knew you were an incredible woman, but you keep surpassing any level you've set for yourself. You have such a gift. Keep writing and living n loving life. Love you, girl!
Gero Guevara -Awesome Story!!!!!  January 20, 2010 09:54 PM
well,.. im just going to keep it simple.... im in love!!!!the story,the ride, and the woman!!!!
Dan -N.E. Georgia  January 20, 2010 06:51 PM
Enjoyed your story! A friend of mind and a proud parent on yours shaired the a link to this story with me today. Boy I am glad she did. I am a Honda owner (Saber 1100) myself and my bike has never failed me. What an adventure. You have goten me to thinking and planning a road trip of my own. Thanks and good luck on the new job.
Waterbaby -AH THE MEMORIES  January 19, 2010 02:20 PM
I bought a Yamaha 400 in TX fall of 1980. In spring of 1981 I rode it from TX to Boston, then in Sept of 1981 I rode it from Boston to Seattle my ovaries are laying in a shallow unmarked grave somewhere in Illinois! Really LOVED your story, ROCK ON SISTER FRIEND.
Little Ari -Thank you  January 18, 2010 06:12 PM
Your story is great and inspiring for a new rider like me. Makes me wanna get back on my 82Honda450 and get back to riding.
Johnny Rocket & Babydoll/Fl. -Way To Go!  January 18, 2010 01:54 PM
Loved your article. It was most interesting and certainly kept our attention. You have a promising future in journalism; keep writng!
Our best to you and hope you will come visit soon.
Richard K. -ROMEO Coordinator  January 16, 2010 07:25 PM
Great story and one you should be proud of. I thought it was more interesting and better written than some of the stories to come out of the magazines that proliferate out there. In fact, I hope you take up pen in hand and scribe some of your adventures while out there and let the magazines have a fresh slant on things. Many of us in the center of the country get tired of hearing about the newest and best and unatainable and just want to return to the simpler bikes of yore which is just what you chose and it proved to be perfectly acceptable. Sounds like with your talent, you could do just that!
Scott M -Old Hondas rock!  January 16, 2010 07:42 AM
Not much to add, Jamie, but thanks for a great story about a once-in-a-lifetime trip! I still vividly remember the three-week western states trip I took on a Yamaha XS650 when I was a much younger man. Once we get rid of some of the ice on the streets here, I'll have to take my '82 Gold Wing for a spin around the block...
Len -Great Ride, Great Story  January 15, 2010 02:43 PM
You're an inspiration to all of us that ride. Keep riding and keep writting.
Bill Mara -Slow Poke  January 15, 2010 01:24 PM
Keep riding and keep writing
Robert -Great Story  January 15, 2010 08:57 AM
You are an excellent writer. Great story and congradulations on the accomplishment!
Forest -Good for you...!!  January 15, 2010 08:08 AM
Great story!
Hogman -kudos Jamie  January 14, 2010 11:48 AM
Much props to you Jamie for having the confidence to do a trip like this when you haven't done anything like it before. Hopefully you inspire other women to do solo bike tours.
Gerry Tompkins - aka gearbear @ st-owners.com -Enjoyed your story  January 13, 2010 11:04 PM
Thanks for sharing your story, I enjoyed it. I'm sure you stirred the wanderlust in a lot of the riders who read it.
Lou Whitney -Cross Country  January 13, 2010 09:55 PM
I've been back and forth across the US from Florida a few times, and I know how lonely, yet serene it can be. Every day is a new adventure, and you can never plan beyond an hour or two, if your lucky. I think it was brave of you to head across country by yourself, and on an old snmall bore bike. Of course, it was a Honda, any therefore vitually bulletproof. I'm sure you enjoyed the wilderness camping. I know that you will cherish the memories of that ride for the rest of your life. How's the new job going?
Joaquim Gonsalves -Cool.  January 13, 2010 09:56 AM
Stuff of dreams.
David J -Your journey is just begining  January 12, 2010 08:36 PM
Hey Jamie, When you need a break from the city come up to Sonoma county and we can take you for a ride on the best roads on earth.
JohnD -Far  January 12, 2010 06:19 PM
Seems like you are prepared to go far in life, specially when you are not behind a desk. Welcome to SFO.
Anna (Hillbilly) -MS  January 12, 2010 05:29 PM
You go girl! I rode from Southern, Ca to Missouri Ozarks and back on a 10 day trip a couple of summers ago. 3.5 days coming and going. Took Old route 66/40 most of the way. I camped also and had a great time. The worst weather I hit was a monsoon rain about 130 miles east of Flagstaff, then there was the wind in the Texas panhandle LOL I do feel with you about that darn wind. My total round trip was 3700 miles. I enjoyed every bit of it, met some really nice folks and would do it again at the drop of a hat. Those old Hondas are some great little machines, you picked the right old bike to make the trip, I bet it's still going strong. I have owned a few in my day. Now I'm riding a Vulcan 900 and I love it!
Rich R. -Way cool....  January 12, 2010 04:09 PM
You rock. I froze until my fingers wouldn't move riding into Flagstaff in April (coming the other direction from LA) on my Vulcan. I leaned into the wind on my KLR650 until I thought I'd fall over in Colorado. I camped out in the rain and had the wind blow my tarp away so I got completely soaked in my sleeping bag. And none of that holds a candle to what you did as a new rider on that CM400 riding cross country. I have a new hero. :-)
Matt B. -Brings back memories  January 12, 2010 02:49 PM
I loved your story and hung on every adventure in it. There's truly nothing like the open rode on a motorcycle. I traveled from North Dakota to Phoenix, AZ and back one summer and the next summer did another 7500 miles in 31 days. I rode the million dollar hwy through the Rocky's in Colorado, went through Yellowstone, Glacier, & Yosemiti Nat'l Parks, along the Columbia river through Washington over to the coast of Oregon and down the 101 and 1 to San Francisco then back down to Phoenix over the Sierra's. Never stop riding and Please keep writing. You could work for Cruiser Magazine as an editor with stories like this. Thanks.
Prof -Proud of you  January 12, 2010 02:29 PM
Thank you for joining the intrepid women of the USA on such a great trek. Congratulations.

One of the first women to try the same thing did it in 1916. Two 20'ish sisters, on two Indian motorcycles - by themselves and no chase vehicle - from the East Coast to the West Coast. They were arrested a couple of times for wearing mens clothing ;-) Never had a flat tire, and there were no recognizable roads from Denver to the next state. They also drove up Pikes Peak with their bikes while they were at it.
(Note: the 1916 Indians had foot clutches, hand shifters and kick starts on a 1200 cc machine!)

http://www.vanburensisters.com/

Good Job Girl!


Simon & Tess Moore VStrom650 &DRZ250S -Never say Never Way to go  January 12, 2010 02:07 PM
My wife surprises a lot of people following behind me on such a small bike, is not the size, or the brand, or the clothes you wear, but what you actually do with them. Way to go, Long way Round Simon & Therese Down Under
Old Geezer -How Refreshing  January 12, 2010 11:33 AM
How refreshing to see that the spirit of adventure still lives in todays youth! In my youth I solo toured California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington on a Suzuki X6 Hustler, what fun and what memories that left me with! Congratulations young lady you should be proud!
scott halbleib -great story  January 12, 2010 11:30 AM
loved reading your story. nice escape while sitting in my cubicle. congrats on getting up the nerve and doing something like this. it's something you'll always remember!
Kevin -Ninja 250  January 12, 2010 11:19 AM
I can relate to LAP above that it's just the fact that you are doing something fun like that!! I rode my ninja from Phoenix to Maryland to see the 2007 motocross of nations. After that I rode up to a small town in New York where I spent the early days of my life. Then went down through Ohio, Kentucky(rain for the next 2 1/2 days), Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and back to Arizona. 6311 solo miles with many smiles along the way!! I'll bet you will have fond memories of your trip for years to come!! I'm still telling people, go see the country on a bike!!
LAP -Congrats!  January 11, 2010 11:03 AM
I'm always happy when I see women out riding... I met a girl once who rode a sportster cross-country solo. Your story reminded me of her, and more importantly that it's not who you are or what you ride, but that you get out and do what you feel like doing.
Tommy D - New England Deep Freeze -Honda CM400 won't die  January 11, 2010 07:03 AM
I was at a Harley swap meet back in the old days where they had an import bike to demolish. They'd charge money to take swings at it with a 5 pound sledge hammer. Before the swinging started they would blow the motor. Well this day they had a CM400 that looked really beat up. I'd guess it was about 8 years old at the time. They started it up and wound the throttle open to blow the motor, reving it wide open in neutral. After 5 minutes of this with the header pipes glowing red hot and no BOOM, they drained the oil. They ran the same procedure with no oil in the little 400. There it was screaming wide open with no oil for another 5-10 minutes. No BOOM... Those Harley riders learned a lot about Honda CM400's that day as the little motor just would not blow. Back to your story... Great write up. I enjoyed the read as I'm looking out my office window at 10 inches of snow that won't melt and temps in the 20'. We need more of these stories during the winter months for us northerners that hibernate for 5-6 months. Great stories aren't about being comfortable but about overcoming. Keep up your writing. I hope to see more on this site.
Terry H.- V-Strom owner -Congrats!  January 10, 2010 07:43 PM
Hats off to a courageous young lady. Sounds like a great trip.
K2 -Happy trails!  January 10, 2010 12:13 PM
Jamie;

Glad to see you had such success on your solo journey. You are an ispiration to many women who wonder if they shoulda/coulda/woulda done something like this? Did Cheryl Mc play a role in your decision?
She helped me decide to hit the trails again. Solo or plural, biking or hiking, there is much adventure to enjoy in our wonderful country. Keep up the good writing!


Julio R -Encore  January 10, 2010 10:24 AM
When's your next trip? We want an update
Alex (ccobra8) -Awesom adventure!!!  January 9, 2010 09:36 PM
You are an insperation as I plan my first trip coast to coast and back. You are a true rider! Great write up too. I read it yesterday and came back and read it agian today. I have no doubt you will sucede in what ever you set you mind to, be it a desk job or what ever. Congrats on your trip and my helment is off to you!
Dana Teel -ST-1300 Owner  January 9, 2010 07:17 PM
Jamie, wow, what a story! I can tell you have a great sense of adventure! When I was in my wee 20s, I took my Honda 400 Four Super Sport from San Diego, to Houston, TX to visit a friend. It was quite the trip. I can't imagine what twice that distance would be like. I had to draft trucks to keep up to speed. I heard about your story on ST-Owners.com, where someone posted a link to your story. I'm so happy they did! You my girl have a lot of talent telling stories. I think I'd take advantage of that if I were you!
Jim B -movie?  January 9, 2010 05:10 PM
I think somebody out there should turn your story into a movie - or an NPR piece, or something.
Jamie -Thanks Guys!  January 9, 2010 04:57 PM
Howdy everyone, thank you for the fantastic, encouraging comments you've left about the article. I think the best thing about riding is the amazing community, as is demonstrated here. Julie L, for your question about advice for women solo riders -- I'd say: bring what is necessary in order for you to have peace of mind. What, exactly, that is varies depending on the lady and her comfort level, I think. There were many times that I was glad to have my cell phone, and a couple times that the tazer my friend Billy insisted I take felt pretty comforting. Having the sense of security these tools foster can make the trip a lot more enjoyable. Same goes for maintenance and emergency tools -- something with which to fix a flat tire, the bike's owner's manual, spark plugs and fuses were especially handy for me.
Tim -st1300  January 9, 2010 03:32 PM
Jamie you rock. I loved the story. Makes me want to ride cross-country even more. You are a true long distance rider now.
Dennis Brady -Thanks for sharing your story  January 9, 2010 02:44 PM
Congrats on a great journey. I envy the experience, and thanks for sharing a true Americana journey!
David -NGTC Motorcycle Technology Instructor  January 9, 2010 12:41 PM
Outstand accomplishment. Thank you for sharing it with us. I will pass this along to others to let them know it is alright to do what you dream of doing. Ride free and ride often.
Papa -ST1300  January 9, 2010 11:52 AM
Good write up. Good memories while your sitting behind that desk as well. Thanks for the read on a cold winter day.
Richard Lee -Endurance Guy  January 9, 2010 09:38 AM
Well done, Jamie. Well done.
Jason W. (veefore) -Take a look  January 9, 2010 08:20 AM
Jamie - follow this link over the the Honda ST Owners site - you're becoming a folk hero! http://www.st-owners.com/forums/showthread.php?t=78152
Julie L -Question  January 9, 2010 08:16 AM
Were you ever scared or lonely? Do you have any advice for other young female riders?
Jason W. (veefore) -Bravo!  January 9, 2010 08:07 AM
Your excellent account of your adventure brought back a rush of great memories. I soloed from CT to San Diego at 18 on a CX500; a truly liberating experience that opened my eyes to the world around me; I wouldn't trade that experience for the world! Kudos on your bravery and sense of adventure - enjoy the ride! Life's a journey, not a destination.
Mark -Nice write-up!  January 9, 2010 08:03 AM
I bow to your endurance, fortitude and your ride!

Congrats!

Mark
John -BakerBoy  January 9, 2010 08:03 AM
Great story Jamie! :) I had a blue 81 CM400T just like that...great reliable bike. But you _rode_ the bike, made great memories, and provided a great story! Good on ya.
Bones -Here's to you: two thumbs up  January 9, 2010 07:38 AM
What an adventure you had, and what a wonderfully written account you shared with us. You clearly have guts, but also an artist's aesthetic. That's a glorious set of characteristics. I, too, had a Honda CM400. Mine was a 1980 E, black with hard panniers, but I never rode it cross country solo. I tip my helmet to you, ma'am.
Steve H. -Great Article  January 9, 2010 06:14 AM
Loved the account of your trip. I rode cross country and back a few years ago, and I can really relate to your description of the challenges and benefits. You fight the wind and the rain and the cold, and then you reach a moment of clarity. You do meet the greatest people and see the country in a whole new way. It takes courage and determination, though, and my hat's off to you!
Hank B -Awesome!  January 9, 2010 03:47 AM
GREAT STORY! Really enjoyed it! All the more so with a happy ending ;) ps Are your friends calling you "Clint" now? :)
Robert J. -Awesome story  January 9, 2010 01:51 AM
Thanks, Jamie, for a great story. You really put me there in your ride. I could relate to a lot of what you experienced and you got me yearning to take a trip again very soon.
R Rees -Your an IRON BUTT  January 8, 2010 07:35 PM
Cool story and way to go girl! I ride a Honda ST1300 and I would not look forward to doing what you did. I get to pick my trips and routes unlike what you had to do. Again, WAY TO GO.
Eric of the Left Coast -The nod  January 8, 2010 07:29 PM
Absolutely awesome. I had one of those bikes, but I did not find the nerve to ride it across the country. Should have Well, I guess a good man has to know his limitations Or, in the case of some, the lack thereof
Larry aka RealST -Brought back memories  January 8, 2010 05:43 PM
Back on July 4th, 1999 I took off from NY on a similar cross country excursion solo. I too found that people in general were awesome. Many folks would join me for breakfast and dinner just to talk about my solo trip. I spent 33 days on the road and it was simply amazing.

Glad yours was great too and I am glad you followed your heart and didn't get persuaded by the others who doubted it. Just imagine what you would have missed.
Randy -Of course! It's a Honda!  January 8, 2010 04:40 PM
Had one of those bikes back in 81. It was like all Hondas of that age. Good. Glad you made it in one piece and loved the article. Please go for another ride and write it up so we can live through your experiences. (Or inspire us to live our own...)
Glenda B -great article  January 8, 2010 03:45 PM
Your story made me want to cry and cheer. You are one ballsy woman. Beautifully written.
Devil Machine -flatula  January 8, 2010 02:55 PM
wow, I just got rid of a '79 CM400 on halloween. what a crap bike that was. I was sooooo happy to see it go away. I essentially got it for free, with $40 purchase of the battery the previous owner had just put in, and STILL felt ripped off. I sold it for $1000, but it literally took every penny of it (and probably more) to make it rideable.
Fred M. -Way to go, Jamie!  January 8, 2010 12:42 PM
Your journey is proof that one does not need a state of the art bike with triple digit horsepower numbers -- if they actually know how to ride. I'm dealing with riders (many of the novices) posting in the NT700V review comments who say that the NT700V's 65hp (which is 22hp more than your CM400T) is inadequate. Great ride. Great story. Way to go!
Navy Corpsman -Honda 250 Scrambler  January 8, 2010 11:11 AM
Back in 1966 when I was in the Navy stationed at Yorktown, Virginia I rode my 250cc Honda scrambler from Iowa to Virginia. Had a lot of fun and only had a jacket, a Bell helmet and 30 bucks to get me there.