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Local is an easy rider

Local man completes Four Corner tour

San Ramon resident Arno Fritz climbed onto his motorcycle in late May and hasn't gotten off. Well, maybe to eat and sleep.

Fritz, who's been riding a motorcycle for 15 years, recently completed a 19-day tour of the United States, under USA Four Corner Rules that mandate traveling to each of the four corner cities in the country within 21 days. Fritz decided to embark on the trip in January and completed the 9,980-mile journey on June 12, riding approximately 12 hours a day in near freezing conditions and sweltering heat.

"This may sound simplistic," said Geetha Bhaskar, a colleague and friend of Fritz's, "but I believe the only difference in dreaming and wishing for that 'trip of a lifetime' and having completed the trip is getting out a calendar, marking the dates and then set about making the dream a reality."

Riders can visit the cities in any order and by any route and do not have to return to the beginning to complete the event. They must send mail from each of the corner checkpoints with a self-addressed envelope to show proof of their visits:

A gas receipt from a service station in the checkpoint city;

The postmark date, odometer reading, and a phone number from a location listed on the corner map furnished; and

A photo of the participant's motorcycle at each corner checkpoint. The background must be of a post office, police station or a landmark that clearly shows the checkpoint city name.

Those who finish receive a scrapbook with the certificates, photos, gas receipts and a miles recap date sheet of the four corners with the postmarked envelopes. The package includes a pin, and patches with the Four Corners logo.

"This is truly a class event," Bhaskar commented.

Beginning with a 330 mile trek from San Ramon to Los Angeles on May 25, Fritz traveled to Chula Vista, outside San Diego, the following day and then to Las Cruces, NM in a nearly 1,000 mile ride. Bhaskar reported that Fritz received zero tickets, had three close calls, burned through 220 gallons of gas and got approximately 44.95 miles to the gallon.

Below is Fritz's itinerary, compiled by Bhaskar, which took him across 27 states and three Canadian provinces.

Friday , May 25

San Ramon -- Los Angeles

330 miles, GPS Miles 320

An easy ride to the northern edge of L.A., since he didn't want to go through the city on a long weekend on Friday at rush hour.

Saturday, May 26

L.A. -- Chula Vista, (outside San Diego)

228 miles, GPS running total 539

Got an early start, around 7:15 AM. Traffic through L.A. is light first but gets busy later on. Driving to the post office in Chula Vista to take the required picture of the bike in front of the post office. To close out the evening, went to the Rock Bottom Brewing Company for an excellent dinner.

Sunday, May 27

Chula Vista, CA -- Las Cruces, NM

728 miles, GPS total 1,226

Took the Otay Lakes Road which takes a bit longer than the freeway, but it is a great motorcycle road. Lots of sports bikes, which easily hit triple digits when they went by on the few straight sections of this otherwise winding road. Connected with Highway 8 again and drove the last 65 miles to El Centro where the temperature started to climb.

Wasn't a really hot day for the area but high 80's. Took a couple of diet-coke-breaks along the way to Las Cruses where he arrived at 9 p.m.

Monday, May 28

Las Cruces -- Seguin, Texas

637 miles, GPS total 1,887

After a very disappointing dinner last evening, especially after riding over 700 miles, Frtiz was on the road at 6 a.m. and the temperature was in the low 50s. Made his way through El Paso and onto San Antonio. It got pretty hot and windy and at some point, needed a stop for a 20 minute catnap. With newfound energy, made his way around San Antonio via the 1604 loop and, 30 miles later in Seguin, called it a day.

Tuesday, May 29

Seguin, Texas -- Gulfport, Miss.

587 miles, GPS total 2,463

A 5:50 a.m. start and it is already 75 degrees compared to yesterday's 52. The first 160 miles to Houston are easy, but as soon as Fritz entered the outskirts of Houston, he got lost in a maze of freeways. Thanks to iPad with Google Maps and the help of a local, ended up on a toll road with almost no traffic.

Looking back it's like a blur and feeling really sorry for the people who have to commute into Houston, since the traffic coming into Houston was a parking lot for several miles. The first thing Fritz noticed when crossing into Louisiana was a dark object in the middle of his lane. Nicely lined up with his front tire was a pitchfork, though no harm was done as he saw it early enough. Houston through Beaumont, Lake Charles and onto Baton Rouge. By now the temperature had hit 96 degrees and the humidity was probably in the same neighborhood. After a quick stop at the Mississippi Welcome Center, rode 30 more miles to Gulfport, Miss. where he found a Motel 6 and a Mexican Restaurant.

Wednesday May 30

Gulfport, Miss. -- Sun City Center, Fla.

630 miles, GPS total 3,069

Leaving before 6 a.m., it was already 77 degrees. After about 70 miles, Fritz hit the long and awesome tunnel bridge combination in Mobile, Ala. After a quick coffee break, rode few more miles and he is in Florida after three days and two hours. 180 more miles brought him to Tallahassee. Traffic around Tampa was bad and on top of it there is a lot of construction going on.

Thursday, May 31

Sun City Center, Fla. -- Homestead, Fla.

537 miles, GPS total 3,586

Took off from Sun Center City around 8 a.m. toward the Alligator Alley (Highway 93). Stopped at one point because the sky looked really dark, and did not want to be drenched suddenly with nowhere to quickly stop and change. After 20 miles of 93, he took I-29 where he saw several signs about Panther Crossings. There is also a stretch of 7 miles with a fence on both sides of the highway. Lots of traffic and the speed limit is mostly 45 and 55 in some places. This is still excruciating slow and it took hours to make it to Key West. Ended up in a Days Inn around 10 p.m.

Friday, June 1

Homestead, Fla. -- St. Augustine, Fla.

404 miles, GPS total 3,990

Leaving around 8:20 A.M, Fritz planned to head straight up I-95, but was told to stay on the turnpike as long as possible and go through Orlando. Friday rush hour Orlando brought bumper-to-bumper traffic for miles and wasted so much time. Several times today the sky opened up, once while he was unprepared since he had just stored his rain gear away. Thirty miles down the road, saw blue sky again. Fritz called it a day in St. Augustine, 20 miles short of Jacksonville..

Saturday, June 2

St. Augustine, Fla. -- Rocky Mount, S.C.

590 miles, GPS total 4,338

Back to an earlier start around 6:40 a.m. The conditions leaving St. Augustine were just perfect - 72 degrees and an empty freeway. Started out in Florida and went through Georgia and the Carolinas. Ended the day in Rocky Mount, SC.

Sunday, June 3

Rocky Mount, S.C. -- Milford, Penn.

570 miles, GPS total 4,804

Back on the road by 5:50 a.m. This is the first time in a long time on this trip that Frtiz steps outside to a rather chilly morning, only 59 degrees. Quickly makes it into Virginia. The weather turned bad approaching Scranton, Penn and the wind and rain got really, really bad. It was a wet, slow ride for another 30 miles before Fritz got a room in Milford, Penn at an old hotel/bar.

Monday, June 4

Milford, Penn. -- Lewiston, M.E.

390 miles, GPS total 5,182

Started around 7 a.m. after waiting 30 minutes for the rain to clear. The temperature never made it past 55 degrees, the amount of traffic from Scranton to Hartford and Worcester to Boston is bad enough on a good day, but with driving rain and wind it makes it even harder. With all these traffic lanes and Highway splits a GPS with lane assist would have been good to have. Goal for the day was Bangor, M.E., but landed in a Motel 6 in a warm, clean abnd dry place.

Tuesday, June 5

Lewiston, M.E. -- La Pocatiere, P.Q.

590 miles, GPS total 5,642

Off early to reach the third corner, 350 miles away. From Bangor it is slow going for about 80 miles or so, since there are a lot of small towns in between Bangor and the border. Stopped for the day just outside La Procatiere, N.B. at a road side motel/restaurant.

Wednesday, June 6

La Pocatiere, P.Q, -- North Bay, Ontario

604 miles, GPS total 6,215

Coldest day so far on this trip only 48 degrees at 6:30 a.m. This was a long day with only a few quick breaks. Montreal is crazy in terms of traffic, with lots of highways crisscrossing each other. Made it after 600 or so miles to North Bay, Ontario.

Thursday, June 7

North Bay, Ontario -- Escanaba, Wis.

494 miles, GPS total 6,705

First stop was Sudbury, Ontatrio, 125 kilometers away. This is a very scenic ride and you can see why Ontario is called the state of 10,000 lakes. Another 310 kilometers, to make it to Sault Ste. Marie Highway 17 is a two- lane highway that brings you to a lot of small towns and the speed limit drops down. Went on another 145 miles to Escanaba, reached the local Best Western.

Friday, June 8

Escanaba, Wis. -- Lakeville Minn.

497 miles, GPS total 7,133

A shorter drive, that was an easy day except for the heat and humidity.

Saturday, June 9

Lakeville, Minn. -- Miles City, Mont.

737 miles, GPS total 7,858

Took off at 6:30 a.m. for a long day driving, through Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota. The wind was blowing hard all day and is was either a cross wind or headwind. Gas mileage went down to 29 miles. Arrived at 7:15 p.m. in Miles City.

Sunday, June 10

Miles City, Mont. -- Spokane, Wash.

703 miles, GPS total 8,545

At 6:30 a.m., the freeway from Miles City belongs to you, and to you only. The first 130 miles flew by fast.. Ended the day in Spokane at a Motel 6, this one was closest to the freeway.

Monday, June 11

Spokane, Wash. -- to Salem, Ore. (via Blaine, Wash.)

747 miles, GPS total 9,279

Reached the final corner in Blaine, Wash.. Started extremely early at 5 a.m. in cold, 45 degree weather. After 170 miles, Fritz hit Blaine around 11 a.m. Since it is 920 miles from Blaine to his home in San Ramon, he called it a day at Salem, Ore..

Tuesday, June 12

Salem Ore. -- to San Ramon

611 miles, GPS total 9,890

On his way home, it is starting cold and wet. Eighty miles down the road in Williams, this ride was just blur.

For more information on the event, go to www.usa4corners.org.

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