Lehto, Biela bike trip news 2005-07-12

Frank Biela and JJ Lehto are nearing the completion of their cross-country motorcycle trip. Braselton, Ga. - JJ Lehto and Frank Biela were nearing the finish line Tuesday, one week and nearly 3,300 miles since they started a cross-country ...

Frank Biela and JJ Lehto are nearing the completion of their cross-country motorcycle trip.

Braselton, Ga. - JJ Lehto and Frank Biela were nearing the finish line Tuesday, one week and nearly 3,300 miles since they started a cross-country motorcycle ride from Lime Rock Park in Connecticut to Infineon Raceway in California. And already, they are starting to talk about their next ride.

The two Champion Racing drivers were preparing to leave Reno on Tuesday morning for Infineon, site of this weekend's Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Ravenswood Winery, Round 5 of the 2005 American Le Mans Series. Along the way, they have seen the historic Northeast, the plains of the Midwest and the majesty of the Rocky Mountains.

"It's been a special trip for me. Being on the bike and going through America was a nice feeling," Biela said. "We took pictures everywhere. You have to see them, and the impressions you get going through the country are completely different. If you go through the country, you get a feel for how big it is and what is going on everywhere. That's the nice thing to get that kind of impression and experience."

They have tried to average 500-600 miles a day and actually did more than that in the early part of the journey. That allowed them to venture along Highway 2 in Nebraska and head south from Wyoming to go through the Rockies.

"It's been a long ride," Lehto said. "We've covered a lot of states. It's been a lot of good fun and a lot of things to see. I was quite impressed with Nebraska and how beautiful it was. Colorado was great, too with the mountains and rivers. That was our best leg, I have to say."

It has been easy as weather, traffic and bike maintenance haven't been issues. For the most part, Lehto and Biela stayed clear of many big cities along the way. They did cut through Salt Lake City but missed rush-hour traffic. They then rode through the Nevada desert early Monday morning and pulled into Reno about 5 p.m. local time.

Biela even got lucky at a casino, twice winning at a roulette table. He played his wedding date and won back-to-back.

"He's good at the table," Lehto joked.

"Normally I don't gamble," Biela said. "I had only been three or four times in a casino, so I'm not the type of guy who goes whenever I can. Last night, we got here kind of early. I was thinking, 'You are here, you may as well go play.' I put money on my wedding date and won twice in a row. I told JJ I'd buy us a beer, and then we went to bed."

As for the future, both say they want to do another trip like this in the near future. Lehto said he wants to try one a little farther north, whether or not it is between ALMS races or during the offseason. Biela agreed with him.

"The real country for biking is definitely America," he said. "You meet people when you start to refuel and you start talking to them about where you're going and where we are coming from. You don't feel alone. Whenever you stop and talk to each other, that's something you can find only here."

The Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Ravenswood Winery, is set for 11 a.m. PDT Sunday at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. CBS Sports will have television coverage from 3 to 5 p.m. EDT. American Le Mans Radio and Live Timing and Scoring can be found at www.americanlemans.com. Testing is scheduled from 12:15 to 2:15 p.m. PDT on Friday, with practice sessions from 10 to 11 a.m. and 2:05 to 3:05 p.m. Saturday. Qualifying is scheduled from 3:15 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Frank Biela , JJ Lehto