Honda produced the CBX the four years I was in college. My ride then was a ’73 CB500F, pretty snappy in its time, but nothing like the big six. When I took my first full-time job, the local Honda dealer had a left over ’82 CBX on display. I fell in love with that pearl white bike, but didn’t have the means to buy it.
Flash forward twenty years. I now have the means and I’ve discovered eBay. Soon, a tatty 1982 pearl white CBX is mine. It’s not the most beautiful example available, but it runs strong. It’s a driver, I’m a rider, so a trip is in order.
I flash east from Colorado, literally cooking my way across Kansas in the middle of summer. I arc north through Michigan and into Ontario, blasting through torrential downpours and loving it. I head back south into New York State. I stop in Syracuse to say hello to an old client and end up with a month’s work. On the weekends I explore the Adirondacks and the Thousand Islands.
Finally the Syracuse gig is up and it’s time to head home. The call to Colorado is strong and I snap off 764 miles in one day. It feels effortless and it gets me to thinking. I’ve read Ron Ayres’ book Against the Clock, the story of his conquest of 49 states in seven days. What sticks in my mind is the Iron Butt Association, a group of riders that have ridden 1,000 miles in under 24 hours. I’m sitting in Vandalia, Illinois about 1,000 miles from home. I could do it, my own personal iron butt ride on my dream machine.
The next morning I check the bike’s vitals, service the drive chain, and hit the road. The sun rises at my back as I speed west on I-70. St. Louis arrives in no time. I cross the mighty Mississippi River, swinging past the Gateway Arch and onto I-44. I-44 carries me clear of the big city into rolling countryside. I get off at the exit for Washington, Missouri, cross the Missouri River, and follow its course on a spectacular bit of road called Hwy 49. It’s the highlight of the day’s ride.
At Jefferson City I cut north on Hwy 63. I rejoin I-70 at Columbia and get down to business. It’s August, it’s getting hot, and I’ve got a long way to go.
I drone west on the super slab, stopping every 100 miles for gas and a cold drink, usually ice tea. Traffic is heavy through Kansas City and on to Topeka, but it moves along at a good clip. Finally, as I reach Salina things open up a bit. Rumbling along the freeway isn’t too entertaining, but I enjoy the countryside and watching the odometer add up the miles.
By the time I reach Oakley, Kansas, I’ve been running with the sun in my eyes for an hour. I’ll suffer the same fate for another hour as I bid I-70 goodbye and continue west on Hwy 40. The sun finally sets as I reach Kit Carson, Colorado and dogleg south towards Pueblo via Hwy 96.
I’ve got over 800 miles down as I burn through the darkening plains of eastern Colorado. I’m tired and my right arm is completely numb. I’m hyper alert for deer, it’s their witching hour and they don’t disappoint, making several appearances along side the highway. But the motor still sings and I feel good as the air cools and home gets closer.
I have a bad moment when the bike makes a horrible squeal. I quickly stop and inspect things, but no signs of damage are apparent. I rev the engine and discover the tach cable has parted. It’s the first and only mechanical problem the 22 year old machine has displayed in the three months and 7,600 miles I’ve owned it.
I sail into Pueblo late in the evening and stop for my last fill up and cold drink. I look at the odometer, it looks like I’m going to be 40 miles short of my goal.
Grim determination takes hold. I’ll not be cheated this close to the finish line. I roar north on I-25 for 20 miles to Pikes Peak International Raceway, then backtrack to Pueblo. Within an hour I’m home; tired, sore, and ecstatic. I’ve covered 1,016 miles in 17¼ hours on the machine of my dreams.