Sunday, May 11, 2014

Running Out Of Fuel On a Motorcycle, Day 20

honda st1300
For a moment there, Sash and I thought we would lose one of our clients after a nerve-racking 30 minutes of riding down the Interstate.

We were coming home from a long motorcycle road trip (20 days total), making our last stop in Yuma, AZ. In fact, we hadn't originally planned to stop in Yuma. The day before, we were actually trying to ride from Phoenix to San Diego in one shot, but the heat of the desert caused us to stop in Yuma.

That night in Yuma, I had set our alarm clock to 4:00 AM, so that we could get an early start and make it to San Diego. We had a client meeting that day at 11:00 AM, and needed to get home around 9:30 AM at the latest, to shower, change clothes, and make the drive north in time to see our clients.

The alarm clock rang, and after resisting getting out of bed for 45 minutes, and after a couple of hours of packing our stuff while beating each other with our emotional outbursts, we managed to mount our motorcycles and speed off across the Colorado River into California.

Except, we forgot to refuel.

Sash's motorcycle, a Yamaha V-Star 650 for those of you who might not be familiar, only seems to travel about 130 miles tops at sea level, with no head wind and fully loaded with gear, which was the case in this situation. She only had about 60 miles left on the tank, which was last filled in Dateland, AZ.

Waking up early and bickering over relationship stuff caused us to forget to get more gas.

It wasn't after I passed by the last gas station at Felicity that I realized the situation we were in. I suppose I could've exited the next off-ramp and turned around to hit the gas station, except the I-8 through the California desert doesn't have many off-ramps. I opted to keep our speed relatively modest, at 75-80 MPH,  conserving fuel while still keeping us on schedule, and try our luck.

Sash, however, seemed concerned about our time. She pulled ahead and moved at a faster speed. When I caught up to her and looked at my speedometer, we were going between 85 MPH and 90 MPH. I made a hand gesture, pointing at my fuel tank, and making the international symbol for "slow down", which I figured was probably was flattening my hand and making a downward motion.

But she didn't seem to understand.

About 10 miles later, her bike began to stall. That's when she turned the petcock to "reserve" and pointed to her gas tank.

I slowed us down to between 55 MPH and 60 MPH, and tried to nurse what reserve she had left to make it another 25 miles or so to the next gas.  The entire time, we thought about what it meant to be stranded in the middle of the desert with no gas.

At one point, we actually pulled over and bickered about who's fault it was. We were both panicked about not making our 11:00 AM appointment, on top of that, tired of having to wake up at 4:00 AM.

But we managed to stretch the last gulps of fuel in the V-Star's gas tank to make it to the next station in El Centro. We were relieved. We bickered and argued some more, and then mounted up and rode the rest of the way back home.

yamaha v-star 650

At home, we showered and changed clothes and jumped into our pickup truck to drive north another 60 miles, and managed to make it to our client meeting, albeit 30 minutes late. But they were really nice and understanding and we all had a great time.

Altogether, our 20-day motorcycle road trip traveled nearly 2,500 miles round trip, although my Honda ST1300 recorded 3,039 miles due to the riding back and forth between hotels, restaurants, friends, family, and other venues.

If we learned anything about this trip, it's that we really belong on the road. We're meant to travel on our motorcycles, meet people and see the country. I think we already knew this, but felt that we needed to spend time in San Diego to build our client base. But on this trip, Sash discovered there are already a lot of motorcycle-focused businesses that earn a living on the road.

So now, that's on our mind.


  1. I appreciate your brutally honest thoughts of riding.

    I would guess that any bike rider with long distance road experience has encountered the fear of running out of fuel; some even have (guilty!). It's a reminder to take advantage of fuel options as they present themselves.

    NOTE: I still run short of fuel.

    Glad everything worked out.

  2. So glad Sash didn't run out of fuel. Riding on fumes isn't any fun.

    It sounds like things worked out even if you were a little late. The hard part will be deciding on your next trip, then when and the where.

  3. Sounds like a fun day :-) I always carry a small reserve can just in case. That would truly suck to run out of gas in a desolate area.

  4. Steve, running low on fuel and the fear of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere can be a sick feeling. I can only imagine your conversation. If it were me and my wife I know I'd be the one catching hell and no matter what it would have been my I can relate. I'm glad things worked out.

    I'm looking forward to following your next grand adventure. Hope y'all can visit us in Texas!


    Live Free. Ride Hard. Be Happy

  5. I wasn't worried. Ha ha ha! I didn't know if I would run out of fuel, but I knew that if I did, AAA would come and give me some to get me to the gas station. And I figured things would work out, one way or another.
    The bickering was a result of two very tired people planning to do too much in one small period of time. We will try to minimize "schedules" being so tight on the road in the future.
    Perhaps if we just live on the road, then we'll always be where we are supposed to be when we get there, hmmm? :)
    Smooches to all of my Pooches,
    Sash - The Rude Biker Chick


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)