2 weeks, 16 states, almost 6,000 miles and memories galore!!! - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
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2 weeks, 16 states, almost 6,000 miles and memories galore!!!

I'm back home.

As previous threads have eluded, I had the itch to take a couple week ride west from Wisconsin. I finally accrued the vacation time, worked it into my schedule and made it happen.

The plan would be to ride with a good friend (older gent on his NT700) out to see the redwoods and the mountains. We would camp most of the way, but would eat out. We had a rough idea of a route and planned on 350 to 400 miles a day while keeping our commitments to a minimum and our options open.

I have a set of Ortlieb saddle bags and a Seahorse top box, along with a Wolfman dry bag. I also added an extra SAE 2-pin socket with a USB adapter to keep my phone charged.

Pre-trip I had a full 15,000 mile service done and new Bridgestone T-30 EVO's mounted.

Shortly before we left we reversed the direction of the trip from counter-clockwise to clockwise due to the wildfire activity in the northern Rockies, and hoping it would calm down before we got there.

Plans were kept loose and typically figured out the night before.

Saturday, August 29 - Day 1

Starting from roughly Ashland, WI., the route was US-2, I-35, MN-23, MN-7, US-212

I was up with the sun on my way to Jim's place. After a quick pre-trip photo showing 2 bug free bikes with fairly wide chicken strips we were South Dakota bound by about 7:15. These were mostly familiar roads through Minnesota.

Once we got on a fuel schedule (I was the short tank of the two) we were off. It was a mostly uneventful day on fairly straight roads. Early in the morning the roads were wet from an overnight rain. The new T-30's felt loose but they only had about 50 scrub in miles bringing them home from the shop. This went away and after another 100 mils they felt great, turning in quick and holding nice lines. My luggage arrangement worked well and the bike was running nicely. This isn't Jim's first rodeo, as he takes a smaller trip or two every year and even went to Alaska 2 years ago so I'll limit comments about his rig to the comical parts.

It was a beautiful day for riding (with only 2 minor wrong turns). We stopped in Redfield, SD with 477 miles on and had out tents set up by 5:30. Campground of choice was the Have-A-Rest park. Nice little spot but, due to it being a Saturday night, it was a bit noisy. That may have partially been my fault for choosing a tent site across from an RV with a confederate flag and a couple ATV's out front. Lesson learned I guess.

After dinner we brought a couple donuts back to camp so we could eat and roll out in the morning. A little final discussion of the next day's plan and it was lights out.


I will keep adding days as I have time. Feel free to chime in or ask questions.

Mitch
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post #2 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 07:24 PM
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Sounds like its going to be a nice trip...BTW I like the Hi-Viz gear....

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post #3 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 09:30 PM
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Safe travels guys, take plenty of pictures and keep those updates coming!
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post #4 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 10:31 PM Thread Starter
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Just so everyone knows, the trip is complete and we are back home. I't is just too hard to update on the road. However, I will tell the story day by day as it happened.

Jim and I are both very happy with our AeroStich gear and it performed flawlessly throughout the trip.

Sunday, August 30 - Day 2

The route was US-212, SD-79, (Sturgis) US-14A, US-385

To say we were up with the sun would not be giving us credit. We are both early risers so it was more like "up with the moon". This would become somewhat of a rhythm for the trip ... with a few exceptions.

Right out of the gate, not 5 miles down the road Jim hit a little bird. I saw it bounce off the lower cowling and skid across the road. As I later found out, Jim didn't even know he hit it. No harm, but let's hope that is the last of our roadkill.

I don't know that there is a good way to cross the plains. Long, strait, flat ... but I guess beautiful in it's own way. We saw antelope, cows, lots of hay bales and what surprised me the most, sunflowers, fields and fields of sunflowers.

Finally we crossed the Missouri River. You don't want to be asleep here. Wake up and make a couple sweeping corners or you might be going for a swim. The change in scenery was nice. This is still mostly rugged pasture land. Jim had warned me of a couple longer stretched without fuel so we were keeping the tanks full; however, there were enough gas stations that it wasn't a real problem ... even with the poor gas mileage I was getting at the higher speeds.

We stopped for a butt break in Faith, SD which happens to be the home of Sue. Discovered in 1990, Sue was the largest and most complete T-rex ever found. There is a plaque and sculpture along 212.

Moving on, we found our way to a pull off on the side of 212 known as the Ben Ash Monument. It marks the spot where, in 1875, a group of trailblazers traveling from Bismarck to Deadwood first saw the black hills. The haze on the horizon didn't allow us the same views, but I was still getting excited. We were close now.

At Newell we turned south for Sturgis. Fortunately we were a couple weeks after the rally so it wasn't too busy. We packed down an all you can eat pizza buffet and tried to move on. By this time it was getting HOT, or at least hot by a norther WI boy's standard. Temps were into the mid 90's. Jim soaked down a handkerchief and put it around his neck. A handkerchief ... I knew I forgot to pack something. I did the next best thing, opened every vent in my Stich jacket and rode on. It was warm but we kept hydrated.

Not too much farther south we wheeled into the Three Forks Campground just north of Hill City by early afternoon. It was a smaller campground along 385 but it was hot and we were happy to stop. The keeper was a nice lady who chatted with us for a bit and then gave us pick of our tentsite. It didn't take me long to set up and find the shade. I'll save you the horror of the photo Jim took of me flopped out shirtless in the shade outside my tent.

As we got toward later afternoon there were a few clouds in the sky and it cooled off a bit, enough so that I wanted to go for a short loop ride. If memory servers correctly we went 16 to 16A to 244 which just so happens (by dumb luck) to be the loop around Mt. Rushmore. We stopped at a scenic view to get a couple photos just as the rain clouds started to roll in.

Just as we pulled in to Hill City for dinner it started to rain. About that time Jim remembered that he didn't close the rain fly on his tent ... oh well. By the time we got back to camp it had all but quit raining and Jim's tent was not too wet. After showers to wash the day's grime off, it was bedtime.

Total for the day was 375 miles.

We knew the plan for tomorrow was to ride the Needles Highway and then head out south. Finally, some curvy roads to dream about.

Mitch
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post #5 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-14-2015, 11:44 AM
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Just a thought, Slow-Steady - NEXT time try putting your ride report into "Members Rides".

GOOD write-up tho'....


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post #6 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-14-2015, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fasteddiecopeman View Post
Just a thought, Slow-Steady - NEXT time try putting your ride report into "Members Rides".

GOOD write-up tho'....

Thanks,

As a moderator, please feel free to move it over there for me.

I will try to get a couple more days worth posted up tonight.

Mitch
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post #7 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-14-2015, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
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Monday, August 31 - Day 3

The route was Needles Highway, US-385, SD-71/NE-71, NE-30/I-80, US-50

You not only have to pay attention to what time zone you are in, but where you are at within that time zone. We tried to check the forecast for first light and set for that. Alarms went off at 5:15 this morning. After packing up, fueling up, and getting a quick doughnut and OJ breakfast, we rolled out.

We paid our park fee (I think $10 each) and headed down the Needles Highway at 7:00. The advantage of riding out that early is that there was NO other traffic. However, just as we didn't have to contend with unpredictable cagers, there was plenty of unpredictable wildlife. Between the deer and turkeys around nearly every corner, we rode at a fun but safe and scenic pace. What a view, and what a road. There were some narrow spots and some steep drop-offs but the road itself was in great condition. I wanted to work on my chicken strips but the abundant wildlife and sightseeing just didn't let that happen, and that was for the best, as every time I start to get a little too aggressive I remind myself there is a time and a place for that type of riding and it isn't here on the edge of a mountain with blind corners and an ambulance a good hour away. Besides, I wanted to be able to see the scenery, not just focus on setting up the fastest line for the next corner. As we headed out south we finally met our first car.

We rolled by a couple solo bison and then a whole heard. The farther south we got, the more the landscape became grasslands.

Somewhere along here I upped the roadkill ante. I'm not sure exactly what it was, some type of small rodent, (maybe a prairie dog). Anyway, it darted out from the grassed on the edge of the road and I felt a little whoomp whoomp. Ok, one for Jim and one for me, tie game and that's enough.

We stopped at a little museum in Hot Springs. The older gent there suggested we take 71 south to Scottsbluff so we did, but not before walking around town a bit to see the spring water flowing in the creek along the main street. The old buildings in town were beautiful stone buildings set right against the rock face.

From South Dakota we crossed into Nebraska briefly where the avoided I-80 for a while but then took it the last bit into Wyoming where we caught 85 going south. Somewhere at a stop here my phone rang ... it was work ...
Reluctantly I answered and talked the boss/secretary through some paperwork that they were confused about and on we went.

Ahead of us the rain clouds were darkening and we were headed right at them, but sloooowly because of several section of road construction. Fortunately we ducked into an awaiting garage as the clouds passed just south of Greeley, CO. That garage belonged to Phil, a fellow NT rider who Jim had ridden with before. Phil had kindly offered to let us stay with him for the night and even guide us out of town in the morning. We had a wonderful dinner and talked bike talk with Phil and another friend who stopped by.

Phil used some software he had to not only plan our next morning, but he gave us a great looking route for the next day or three. It looked good and we planned to loosely follow it.

It was a later night getting to bed, but that was going to be OK because I had already been warned by Jim that Phil was not a morning riser. The plan was to leave at 8:00 but I was dubious.

Total for the day was 373 miles. We used the garage to check tire pressures and give the bikes a good look over before the mountain twisties in the morning.

Mitch
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post #8 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-14-2015, 08:49 PM Thread Starter
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Tuesday, September 1 - Day 4

The route was CO-14, US-40, CO-13, CO-64

Before I start this, remember that Jim has ridden with Phil before and they both knew that Jim was always ready to roll while Phil was still snoring.

Jim and I were awake and packed out of Phil's basement by about 7:45, but there was no sign of Phil yet. We headed out to the garage to get our stuff loaded. Jim went back in to get something. Meanwhile, Phil walked out, put on his riding suit, pushed the bike out of the garage and sat there WAITING FOR JIM. Jim and I both agree that Phil set him up good, but as an innocent bystander (and the fact that I was waiting outside with Phil) I thought it was hilarious.

8:00 sharp we were on the road ... to the gas station and McDonald's. By about 9:15 we were actually headed out of town with Phil in the lead. We wound out of Greeley to 14 which parallels several different rivers through the gorges of the mountains. It was absolutely stunning. A running river on one side of the road and rock walls on the other. There were fishermen in the river as well as some traffic on the road but most of the cagers were good at using the "slow vehicle pull-outs" to let us by. Phil has had a couple knee replacements so watching him get on and off the bike is a spectacle, but he sure can ride that NT. Unfortunately we were enjoying the flowing curves of the road so much we didn't stop to take any photos. I don't remember the specific names of the several passes we went over but this was my first experience with temperature changes at higher elevations. Living near Lake Superior, I'm all too familiar with the affect the lake can have on the temperature, but this was my first time getting cooler and even colder as we climbed.

At Waldden we stopped for lunch. Phil had some volcano burger and as spicy as it was, he still managed to tell continuous airplane and motorcycle stories ... for an hour and a half. I only wish I could remember details and tell stories like he can.

On up the road a bit Jim and I headed west on 40 where Phil waved to us and headed back east for home. We wound our way to Craig where we took in the Museum of Northwest Colorado. They had several great exhibits, including an entire room devoted to a Cowboy and Gunfighter Collection. Sorry, no photos allowed in the Museum.

Soon we headed on to Meeker where we gassed up and talked to a Harley rider who, judging by the worn underside of his floorboards, can ride. It was looking like rain but we kept with our plan and headed to Rangely. There didn't look like any way to dodge the clouds so that seemed as good of a plan as any. With our Stich suits buttoned up tight, on we went. As we rode west is sprinkled a little but never really rained too hard. It had completely quit by Rangely where we set up camp in a small city campground that I can't recall the name of.

After a quick run into town for dinner we crashed. Tomorrow's plan we simple, follow Phil's directions towards 4 corners and see how far we get.

I felt like like I was looking through the corner and getting on some pretty good lines today. However, I learned, or at least got reminded of, two important things about riding in the mountains. First, being in the right gear is important. Partially because of the higher elevations and partially because of the terrain, I found that the right gear was one lower than I would otherwise have been in. This kept the RPM's up for responsive acceleration out of corners and also provided better engine breaking setting up for the corners and on the downhills. The second lesson is that your gear has to be flexible to handle the rapid 20+ degree temperature changes that occur between the valleys and passes.

With our later start and longer stops today we only added 340 miles, but nearly every one of them was spectacular. Phil, if you make your way from the NT forum to the Versys forum to see this, congratulation on being ready before Jim and thanks again to you and your wife for your hospitality!

Mitch
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post #9 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 08:50 AM
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Thanks for the updates...I need to run away from home like this...
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post #10 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
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Wednesday, September 2 - Day 5

The route was CO-139, I-70, CO-141, CO-145, US-160 (to 4-corners and then backtrack), CO-41, UT-262, US-163.

At 3:30 I woke up and listened to the coyotes howling maybe 1/2 mile from camp. The yips and howls lasted for maybe 5-10 minutes and quieted down as I dozed back off for a while.

Back to our old schedule this morning we were up at 5:30 and rolling by 6:30. Striking out south on 139 it was a spectacular view from Douglas Pass (8,268 ft.) as the sun was rising over the mountains to the east and starting to light up the west wall of the canyon below. The road twisted and switchbacked, rising and falling as we went.

The greatest skill required for this trip may have been being able to ride and sight see without getting target fixation and driving off the side of the mountain.

We did a quick stint on the interstate to get through Grand Junction but then were soon back on "good" roads as we headed toward Telluride on 141, but we didn't make it that far before the scenery called for another stop. What was left of technological marvel, the Hanging Flume that was constructed around 1890 and was basically a man made canal to deliver water to hydraulic gold mining operations, was visible on the canyon wall just below 141. A 5 mile section of the flume was a "wooden trough" attached half way up the canyon well itself. The roughly 4 ft by 5 ft flume carried 23,640,000 gallons of water per day.

At Telluride, you could definitely tell we were in ski country and today happened to be part of the Telluride Film Festival so town was busy. Actually, Telluride was down at 5 mile dead end that we only ended up on because we missed a right turn to stay on 145. Never the less it was fun to see the busy mountain town. As we headed out south again I saw the first snow of the year. It was well above us, but still it was SNOW. That made me a little worried about what the trip back home would be like as it would be a week later a farther north.

I could write an entire post about each of these roads. The condition of the roads and the never ending scenery is beyond being described by my vocabulary or photography.

On to 4-corners we stopped at the monument and took a photos. As we walked out I realized that "I" had been in all 4 states but my bike had not. Luckily the rocky parking lot went all the way around the monument and in a 1 minute bumpy ride I had added tire tracks in a couple more states.

The sun was heading toward the horizon we we scooted on out and crossed our way into Utah and ended at the Cottonwood RV Park in Bluff, UT for the night. This place had actual tent sites with nice grass tent pads. The campground was somewhat full with an Airstream trailer group traveling the county. With 419 miles on, we had quite a day!

We talked with the owner for a bit, nice lady. She mentioned that she likes to go on trips too and has a bucket list of places to visit, including the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior, just off shore from my home town. I gave her some guidance on planning a trip and showed her a couple photos, as I've been on the islands working on a NPS project the last couple summers.

She directed us to go see Monument Valley and great view of the San Juan River at a place called the Goosenecks. Google it for yourself and you will see that by choosing NOT to sprint out there the next morning we missed some spectacular views. I guess I will have to plan another trip back soon.

I should also note that we rode through a couple rain sprinkles throughout the day. I have come to realize that it rains every day in the mountains, but they tend to be small fast moving cells and it is hit or miss if you get wet.

I had no idea what Utah was like so the next day was a mystery as I closed my eyes for the night.

Mitch
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post #11 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thursday, September 3 - Day 6

The route was US-191, UT-95, UT-24, US-50 (50 overlaps I-15 for a few miles)

Another up and going normal morning.

I had no idea what to expect for terrain in Utah, but I certainly wasn't disappointed.

I was really getting used to the 65 and 70 mph speed limits on 2 lane roads (55 here at home) and with the little bit higher elevation, mileage wasn't suffering too bad.

The majority of Utah was huge red colored rock canyons. The roads were typically fast paced sweepers that would occasionally cross over a pass and then back down into the next canyon. Riding along were were constantly looking up at the canyon walls above us and I thought were were at the bottom of the canyons. It wasn't until we crossed a river that was several hundred feet below the road that I realized that were were on a wide flat shelf. The majority of what you saw was flat and above but then out of nowhere there were DEEP cuts with flowing water below. I hope that describes it well because it was really impressive to suddenly realize there was twice as much terrain as you previously thought. The landscape just did a great job of concealing the cuts until you were right on top of them.

We wound through Fry Canyon and I felt bad we didn't stop for a photo ... until we spilled into Glen Canyon, which was even more magnificent.

This went on for miles and miles. Gradually, as we moved west and a little farther north things seemed to flatten out a touch. The valleys became much wider. Somewhere along here I set my throttle lock and rolled a full 10 miles without touching the bars. That was way more than my previous record of 3 I set somewhere in the southern Colorado / Nebraska area.

As we made Delta the wind from the SW picked up and it got hoter. We knew the last 100 miles or so was going to be tougher. I soaked down my 12" by 42" microfiber towel and draped it over the back of my neck and across my chest. That thing holds a lot of water and kept me cool. Jim did the same with his handkerchief but had to stop and wet it down once, whereas, I was still damp. The quartering headwind was knocking the bikes around some, especially the lighter, taller Versys. Steadily we made our way across the NV border and into a little town just south of 50 on 487 called Baker and the Whispering Elms Campground.

As we pulled in, we drove by a park visitor center so as soon as our tents were set up in the sandy "tent site" we got, I went back to see what the area had to see. There were guided tours of Lehman Caves but unfortunately we had missed the last tour today and would be gone before the first tour tomorrow. The lady at the park (Great Basin National Park... I think) provided me with a Highway 50 Passport (more about that tomorrow) and told me about a nice ride up to Wheeler Peak.

I went back to the campground but Jim's suit was off and he was d.o.n.e. for the day. I guess with 441 miles on for the day I couldn't blame him. No worries, I'll go exploring by myself. At the base of the road to the trailhead read a sign saying 8% grade for next 12 miles. Do the math, that's a mile in elevation. I kicked the bike down a gear, let the RPM's soar and headed up up up. I was carving pretty nice until a switchback at 8,500 feet caught me a little off guard. I give a little rear break, looked, pushed, and leaned and came zipping out upright. After that I figured I better drop another gear and rein back. Good thing because there were several more switchbacks ahead. The view from the trailhead at 10,000+ feet was obscured by trees and I didn't have enough time for the several mile hike and 2,000 ft climb to the summit so I wound my way back down to the 9,000 ft pull-out with a view of the valley. What a view it was. I was about 4,500 feet above the town we were camped in and about a mile above the valley below. The combination of sun and clouds made shadows on the valley floor below that could almost have been mistaken for lakes. I snapped a few photos and then just sat there for a bit taking in the panoramic view.

Back down at camp I showed Jim photos of what he had missed on the 30 mile round trip. We had a nice quesadilla dinner just across the street and looked at tomorrow's plan. The weather was calling for more wind. It was supposed to be calmer in the morning though so we washed up, set our alarms extra early and zipped into our tents.



Mitch
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post #12 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 10:28 PM
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OK, so as a new member, I can finally post on here after my 48-hour wait and required introduction. I'm the guy who went with Mitch on this great tour. I'm not totally unqualified to be on the Versys Forum because I'm a former Versys rider.

Mitch is doing a great job of summarizing our ride. There are lots of details missing and will never be recovered. Anyone who has done any long distance touring has had thousands of thousands of thoughts pass through their helmet which are never documented or recovered. But without helmet-to-helmet communications it is amazing how similar those thoughts are found to be when we stop at rest/refueling stops. "Did you see the _____?. Oh ya! that was great".

Mitch was kind to me when he referred to two wrong turns on the first day . Both of those turns were made by me who had been across SD at least 4 times in the last 4 years on the same road, one of them in July of this year. Overconfident? - not me.

The one thing Mitch's account does not adequately describe is the daily change in "spectacular". It was something entirely new and spectacular in a different way each day. That was in terms of geology/terraine, vegetation, farming/ranching practices, and cultural developments. The joy of touring. Add to that the interesting people you meet along the way and you have a big part of the equation for "why we ride". Describing the interesting people along would take a special writing talent that I simply don't have.

I won't attempt to improve on Mitch's account(s) - (unless he screws up) - that will probably happen when we get to the redwoods in CA. Watch for it - I am.
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post #13 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 10:55 PM
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Preface for Mitch's account of Day 7

As stated, the winds were significant at the end of day 6. That isn't uncommon out west. But the wind died down that evening. Then I was awakened about 3:00AM by wind rattling the tent. I checked the weather on my phone and the National Weather Service had issued a high wind warning for the coming day right in the area we were to pass through. At our 5:30 wake-up I told Mitch about the warnings and said we should seriously consider the wisdom of crossing "The Loneliest Road in America" in such conditions. That discussion drug on for at least 5 or 10 seconds before the consensus to go for it was reached.

Now over to Mitch

Jim

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post #14 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-16-2015, 09:34 AM
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Thanks for the update guys...I'm reading this on one screen with google maps on the other, switching from terrain to satellite as I go.
I swear before this story is done Iím going to quite my engineering job and runÖ
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post #15 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-16-2015, 09:47 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by outdoorgb View Post
Thanks for the update guys...I'm reading this on one screen with google maps on the other, switching from terrain to satellite as I go.
I swear before this story is done I’m going to quite my engineering job and run…
Look at the bright side, you don't have 2 days of flat plains riding to get to and from the good stuff.

Stay tuned, we are far from done yet!

Last edited by Slow-Steady; 09-16-2015 at 09:51 AM.
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post #16 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-16-2015, 11:54 AM
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I get to ride quite a bit of THAT each 'winter'.

I figure that the WHOLE state of Utah could be a national park!


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post #17 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-16-2015, 04:30 PM Thread Starter
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Friday, September 4 - Day 7

The route was US-50, US-ALT 50, I-80, US-395, CA-36

Believe Jim's memory if you like, but my notes say we were up at 5:00 sharp. As he mentioned, there was a wind advisory going into effect at 11:00. We briefly debated what to do but soon decided that we would ride until it got too windy and then quit for the day. Whatever miles we put on would be fine.

US-50 across Nevada has the title of the Loneliest Road in America. To turn that into a tourist trap, they offer a passport that you can get stamped at the few town along the way and then you send in the stamped page to get a certificate saying that you survived the Loneliest Road. It sounded like a neat souvenir to have so the night before I had picked up 2 passports and got them stamped for Baker.

We decided that since it was early and not windy, we would roll a few miles and grab breakfast and gas on up the road a ways. When we pulled over at 8:00, we had 130 miles on and we needed food. Unfortunately it appeared to be too early to get the passport stamp for that town.

After fueling ourselves and the bikes, we continued west. As we rode, the scenery stayed similar but the passes got lower. As I recall, early in the day we were crossing in the 9,000 ft elevation rage and by the end of the day the "high" places were closer to the 4,000 ft elevation range. That could only mean one thing, we were slowly getting closer to the coast and the Redwoods that I so wanted to see.

A ways farther up the road, we noticed that Jim's front left turn signal bulb had burned out. I may have teased him a little that if he wouldn't leave them on for so long after the turn they would last a lot longer, but we've all done that. The wind was also starting to pick up a little so we pushed on.

As we crossed into CA I saw my first ever state border check station. We approached, slowed down, and then were waved on through. Not that we had anything to hide, but it was nice not to get stopped.

Somewhere in here Jim had a helmet problem. At a rest stop the cover over the shield hinge popped off and we had a little trouble getting it back on. We grunted, maybe cussed a little, and finally it snapped back into place.

The strong wind held off a little longer than expected, but by 3:00 it was really picking up. We fought through it for a bit and then found a Super 8 in Susanville, CA. This would be our first hotel stay of the trip.

Hopefully Jim's burned out turn signal will be the only technical hiccup we have for the trip. We unloaded our gear from the bikes and quickly set to work getting it fixed. Unfortunately, the owners manual wasn't very clear on what bulb was needed and with most bikes, you have to do some disassembly to get to it. We had a few tools and parts laying around, but with the old bulb out, Jim walked to the nearest parts store in hope of finding a replacement. Getting the bulb and getting out of the store was a struggle (he can fill in that part) but none the less we got everything put back together .... until the right pannier wouldn't open. The quality of the latches on the NT is about a notorious as the cluster buzz on the Versys. We tinkered for a bit longer and finally got it un-stuck and working again.

They were calling for temps in the upper 30's overnight so we were fine with crashing in the motel for the night. The winds were also picking up so we tucked the bikes in the last stall between an SUV and a concrete wall where they would be a little shielded.

The plan for tomorrow was to make the coast. I called ahead and reserved a tent site at the KOA in Eureka, CA. It was the most expensive tent site of the trip, but it was Labor Day weekend and it felt good to know we had a spot reserved.

Knowing that we should make Eureka by early afternoon I also did a little checking to see if there were any bike shops we could go kick tires at.

Sorry, no photos for today. We were riding hard to beat the wind and just didn't take any. Also note no further mention of my Passport, which after missing the first town or two, I kind of forgot about. We did however cross all of Nevada in a single day and put on 473 miles. Maybe it is to a city boy, but the Loneliest Road didn't seem all that lonely to me. Peaceful, but not lonely. It was a nice ride with towns often enough for fuel.

Mitch

Last edited by Slow-Steady; 09-17-2015 at 06:36 AM.
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post #18 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-16-2015, 05:24 PM
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One of the features of "The Loneliest Road in America" that I appreciated was the lack of RVs and the roads that allowed passing vehicles almost anywhere except the series of ridges we crossed. I hate following RVs traveling in groups, below the speed limit, and blocking my view of the wonderful scenery. Mitch complained mildly that I was aggressive in passing the RVs. He was usually behind me and I left him on his own to get by the pokey coaches. A lot of folks are pretty good at pulling over into the "slow vehicle" lanes, but some aren't.

The RVs were much worse when I went to AK. They really bunched up on the construction zones. I think the most I passed at once was 12 and my riding partner got 15 of them at once. The Alaska and Cassiar highways generally do not have passing lanes.
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post #19 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-16-2015, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
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Saturday, September 5 - Day 8

The route was CA-44, CA-299, US-101

We knew today was going to be a shorter day to make it to the coast so we slept in a little. Not quite until Phil time, but late for the two of us. We had continental breakfast at the hotel at 7:00 and then leisurely loaded up and headed out.

We battled a little bit of Labor Day weekend traffic, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. As Jim mentioned, we passed a number of RV's, typically him first and them me at the next chance I got. The Versys is a little more sporty than the NT so I kept up even though Jim is a good rider.

We also saw quite a bit of road construction of 299, but because of the holiday weekend, it was shut down and traffic flowed pretty freely through it.

California had more valleys and passes, and similarly to the day before they got close and closer to sea level the farther west we went. The biggest difference in today's riding was that things were GREEN. I know CA, especially southern CA, is in a drought,; however, the mountainsides were still more forested than we had seen the last two days. With every pass we came over I kept looking for the ocean.

299 parallels the Trinity River (I believe) for quite a while and there was a lot of river activity. At numerous places I glanced over the left edge of road and saw kayakers and rafters enjoying the fast moving water. That is something I have always wanted to do .... maybe on my next trip when I'm retired and don't have a hard date that I have to be back to work.

I think I smelt the ocean before I saw it. Actually, Eureka is sheltered in Arcata Bay off the open ocean. We pulled into the KOA and set up camp. We had a decent spot that we planned to call home for the next 2 nights.

As soon as camp was set up I drug Jim (not to hard of a job) down to the local Kawi dealer. As we walked in, the first thing I saw was a ZX14R. After chatting with the dealer for a bit I couldn't resist checking it out. As soon as I straddled it and laid down on the tank, Jim snapped a photo. I knew what he was up to. As fast as he could type, he texted the photo with the caption "man shopping" to my wife. If she believes him, I could just as well not even go home. The thought did cross my mind "with a bike like this, I could really show Jim how to pass the RV's ... but I soon came to my senses and decided it would be a tough bike to ride 2,000 miles home, especially without getting a ticket or two. Besides, I'm a tall lanky guy at it wasn't the best fit.

On the other hand, the reply text from my wife wasn't as harsh as I expected and that really opened the door to thinking about a new bike. As soon as I stepped off the ZX, I saw a gen 3 Versys 650 and a Versys 1000 on the other end of the showroom. I fondled them both and decided that I somewhat liked the 1000. I asked the dealer to work up a price for me, but after some grumbling about "out of state buyer paperwork" he changed the subject and that was it, never did give me a price. Probably for the better but I was interested. Actually, (I just as well say it or Jim will) it kinda pissed me off that he didn't seem interested in selling it to me. I don't know much about CA laws but I'm pretty sure WI cash is just as green.

We grabbed a subway and headed back to camp, which was just a couple miles north of Eureka. That evening we talked with a BMW rider that had his camp set up just down a couple spots from us. Tim was a retired guy on a new 1200 GS that he was riding all around the country, including his current tour visiting lighthouses on the west coast. Having put 297,000 on his previous BMW, Tim was full of good advice on roads to ride. For starters, he pointed us towards the Avenue of the Giants and that became our plan for tomorrow.

I sat around the community campfire that evening with a couple ... interesting ... people. There was an older couple traveling from the east coast, a local, and Nevada school teacher, a local medical marijuana farm hand and a couple others.

Tomorrow was the big day ... REDWOODS !!!!

Sorry, but with the heavier flow of traffic, I didn't get any photos of the Trinity River along 299. I know I didn't say much about the road but it was a fantastic road, even with the traffic. Overall, I am in complete AWE of the roads, the scenery, and the overall freedom this trip has provided. I didn't leave home on any type of soul searching mission but, this trip is something that I really wanted to do and I'm enjoying every bit of it beyond expectation. I have no doubt that the next week is going to be just as spectacular as the last.

Mitch
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Last edited by Slow-Steady; 09-17-2015 at 06:47 AM.
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post #20 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-16-2015, 10:59 PM
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There are lots of details missing and will never be recovered. Anyone who has done any long distance touring has had thousands of thousands of thoughts pass through their helmet which are never documented or recovered.

***I cannot express how true this statement really is. I am preparing to post a ride report soon. This is always going through my head.


-In terms of geology/terrain, vegetation, farming/ranching practices, and cultural developments. The joy of touring. Add to that the interesting people you meet along the way and you have a big part of the equation for "why we ride".

***The people are such a large part of the experience...the small town folk were usually the best, especially the old timers!
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Last edited by TalkingTina; 09-16-2015 at 11:00 PM. Reason: Words
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