119 degrees ain’t no joke! Winds fill my helmet like the breath of Hades as I hold the throttle steady and level my aim across the Mojave on the Africa Twin. Given its Dakar-related roots, seems only fitting that the first time I ride the 2019 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports it’s 119 degrees in the desert. When the road climbs to 3,000 feet and it felt cool at 104, you know it’s a scorcher.

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression, and the Africa Twin has obliged. The first time I whacked the throttle the pop caught me off-guard. It’s got a solid low-end punch and a healthy midrange. The long travel suspension dutifully dismissed all of the broken batches of LA pavement on the way out of town. I’m grateful Honda hooked me up with the Adventure Sports package with its bigger tank. Major props for throwing on some bags for me too considering I’m living off the back of a bike for the next two weeks. Sturgis beckons like a Siren 1,400 miles away as I dig in and ride against the desert sun.

Needless to say, you meet some interesting characters in the Mojave. You don’t even have to storm Area 51 as they’ve already taken up residence in Baker and are building a hotel. Talk about enterprising extraterrestials. Though the roadside attraction is campy, I couldn’t resist the tourist trap’s allure.

The Mad Greek Café is a literal oasis in the desert. I shovel piles of savory shaved meat, feta, tomatoes and onion into a pita and devour it like a man lost in the Mojave for weeks. Between the cool air conditioning and the gallon of iced water my body temperature is coming back to normal. Fueled back up, I’m ready to tackle the second half of the ride.

I race the sun toward Las Vegas and beyond. Temps continue to hover around 115 and a truck ahead blows a tire and black chunks fly above the hot asphalt. Though it was lanes away, the sound of a big rig’s tire blowing is unmistakable, a concussive force that’s felt in the body. Steering the Honda Africa Twin away from the sound is almost instinctual, and to my good fortune the Africa Twin responds just as quickly.

I’ve got no time for Vegas. It’s still too damn hot and I prefer keeping my money in my pockets. The windows of Mandalay Bay glimmer like fool’s gold in the distance. The shell of the Raiders new stadium is coming right along as another revenue stream will soon roll into town.

I survived though the Mojave tried to cook me alive. I was hoping to catch Zion at sunset but the big red ball won the race and disappeared behind the mountains before I could get there. The heat did beat me down though so I call it quits, leaving Zion for another day.

Day 2 of the journey to Sturgis was the complete opposite of Day 1. A slow, steady rain pelted me for the first few hours. The aroma of the arid land filled the air as the drops fell. The lower temperatures were a welcome reprieve from the blistering heat of the day before. When temps continued to drop into the low 60s, I actually had to stop and add another layer.

If you weather the storm long enough, you get rewarded. After hours in the rain, traffic disappeared, roads dried, and Utah’s Highway 12 gifted me its treasures. I found the happy spot in the powerband of the 2019 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports as the curves cut through red canyons and rocky spires. 24 seemed to stretch forever as I rode toward the eye of the storm on the horizon and let the Honda stretch out sixth gear. On I-70 I raced two thunderstorms and aimed for the hole in the middle. The storm to my left smacked me with heavy crosswinds but I beat it out. The storm to my right filled the sky with streaks of lightning and doused me when I hit Grand Junction but spared me its full wrath. The moon hides behind the horizon and the night is darkened by the shadows of the mountains as I ride through Colorado. Two days into my journey to Sturgis, I’m looking forward to meeting up with friends today and writing the next chapter.