Monthly Archives: July 2008

Day 15 – Coming home

Waking up this morning just 475 miles from home, I knew today was going to be the end of this trip. Much of the morning was spent trying to come up with some meaning to tie this whole thing together. All along this trip, as well as the previous one people have asked me why I do these sort of trips.
I know there are a number of elements to this answer, a big one which I would rather not admit to of course is the ego factor, I know its hard, I am pretty sure I can do it, I have a good threshold for discomfort and an stubborn ability to stick with something long past it making sense.

A huge piece of course is getting in touch with where you are, for example if you are driving somewhere, and a sprinkle of rain hits, even if a convertible it is not a big deal. On a bike if you climb or descend a few thousand feet and consequently the temperature changes, if like me you choose not to use heated clothing then this becomes an issue, you need to find somewhere safe to pull off, or ride the next few hours in a degree of discomfort. Normally I can feel rain coming a few miles before I get to it, when your head gets shoved around a lot more, also if you are behind a semi/articulated truck/18 wheeler the buffeting increases greatly. Next you start to feel water droplets form on your leading edges e.g. knuckles, and eventually rain begins.
With the smaller tank I am stopping for fuel about every 150 miles, this forces you to more gradually see the countryside change between fuel stops and being a loan rider just invites people to come tell you their story.
When out in the flats you spend most of the day leaning to keep the bike upright against the wind, but whenever you overtake a vehicle that creates a hole in the wind, and depending on which side the vehicle is relative to the wind direction sets the 5 feet the machine will lurch once you get into that hole.
There is also great solitude in the helmet, whatever you setup when you pull out is all you have until you stop again, your iPod may be in your breast pocket, but if you don’t have your plugs into it when you leave there is no way to set that up at cruising speed with glove on. Once locked in your helmet all you have is yourself, and you need to keep focus on the road ahead, this is why people call biking the “poor mans meditation” as without knowing any mantra you are forced into a similar mindset.
Of course one of the true joys is the lack of cell phone within your helmet, as with the heated clothing, you can use technology now to get you past this restriction, but right now I choose not to do that.

I then realized a very substantial piece is getting in touch with your machine. Without a large pane of glass to view the world through, it is much more difficult to gauge speed. By about day three on a trip I am no longer looking at my instruments for this information, I can feel the engine RPM’s of my delicate Bavarian boxer engine vibrating through my boots, and also tell speed by the wind-noise. I have also realized I need to up-shift/down-shift without looking at the tachometer or hearing the engine, based on the wind and my feet vibrations not matching.

Final_Mileage

Winding into the mountains of West Virginia from Charleston I was still trying to work out my answer, while trying to work this out I was overtaking a large vehicle and I was fighting with the cross winds banked over at about 30 degrees while climbing. Instinctively I rolled the throttle open about another 1/40th of a turn, the engine pitch dropped as it worked harder, I instantly felt the flex in the swingarm under the twisting forces, I felt the bike dig down as the Metzler Z6 on the back grabbed a more firm grip of the road 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81 and as I cleared the front of the truck I noticed my feet shift ever so slightly on the pegs so my weight was moved from taking me through the right banking turn and I was balanced to pull me into the left banking turn and I finally understood what the trip is about..

day_15_home

Day 14 – Part 2


After my four hours sleep I feel much better and like I can write something of value instead of last nights placeholder. It looks like I am about 475 Miles approx 7 ½ hours from home. This is of course bitter sweet, it will be really nice to be home, but I will of course miss the miss the road, and I will miss the isolation in many ways. There are few things like tranquility of 12 hours within your helmet with no interruption.

I did ride further then I planned last night, my intention was only to go as far as Lexington, but once I got there all the hotels were taken, so I rode about another 60 miles. This was not pleasant at the time, as I was approaching Lexington near 2am, and Louisville around 1am traffic was erratic, I can never tell if the Friday night kids playing in their fathers cars, drunks driving, a full moon or what is happening. Probably a component of all three.

I did get to meet a character named Jose at a gas station yesterday, he started telling me about his bike, a Gixer, and when he asked how long I had been riding and when I told him he almost fell over. He then said I would likely walk like I had been raped at the end of the trip, as he had done after three days riding horses in Mexico. He also mentioned that he was going to have to learn to keep it in his pants, as hid kids are scattered all over the place now, and it is getting expensive to go see them. Finally we discussed problems with fhis transmission, and if it were not under warrantee, he would have done a Mexican repair, and just downgraded it to two wheel drive. All in all, he was a lot of fun.

I did notice in the past that after you go a certain amount to the west, the high test fuel drops from 93 Octane to 91 Octane I seem to recall when I was in the middle of nowhere last year that it dropped even lower. The breaking point on the return this year was just past St. Louis. If anyone knows why that happens, please let me know 🙂

It seems to me like it is time to load up the Bapper one last time, and burn out the 750 miles to home.

Take Care

Brian

Day 13 – Back on the road

 

 

Today was a nice day of hard grind, long miles in high temperatures. The addition of Auntie NoNo, to the trip amounts to what I guess is about a 300 mile diversion; of course most of it is off the highway, so they are a slow couple of miles. That said I am really happy I got down to see her, if not for running parallel to a cop and a lot of roadworks today I would have gotten in much earlier, but I got here none the less.

Auntie NoNo is in fine form, and I got to meet her puppies which are named after Jane Austin characters, but that apparently does not make her weird 🙂

Auntie_NoNo_Dogs

As I am just 1200 miles or so from home now and today I did a bit over 800 miles I am wondering if I should go with the plan of a three easy days of 400 miles a piece, or if I think I can notch it up and do two 600+mile days. 1500 miles in two days is enough to qualify for the Iron Butt Bun Burner award, so that would lead to me to believe it is not easy 🙂

Anyway, to some quick ramblings from today, carrying on from yesterdays comments about billboards, today I did not see too many, but I did note the number of anti-abortion non-commercial billboards once I got into Kansas, they continue until I got here. Also I noted around Tulsa a big US Army recruiting poster, it had a guy in full uniform with the tagline “are you tough enough”, quite a bit from the invoking of pride to become a Marine.

View_in_Kansas

I have also come to think that you can judge a lot about a state based on its rest areas, Iowa had full time staff keeping them clean, as well as free WiFi. Kansas on the other hand many toilets with no stall doors, and those that had them were without locks. Please draw your own conclusions.

As I have come back East I also have noted the reduction in large freight trains, I measued some of the trains I saw in the past few days, on average they were about 1.1 Miles long and were jammed with coal.

I really did seem to be all business today, I had planned on hitting the Atomic Canon, but when the time came, I elected to keep rolling.

In general I found Colorado to be a truly beautiful state, imagine my surprise when today it turned ugly, I was wondering how all was so brown and five minutes later I saw the “Welcome to Kansas sign” I guess it is not easy being a state in the Midwest.

Despite hitting snooze a good few tiemes this morning as when my alarm went off I knew I could not pull off the 13 hours of riding today, so I am off to get some sleep; this will help make me strong tomorrow as well as help me recover from last night.

Brian
day 13 - Denver to Fayetville

Day 12 – So long Denver


Since I started loading up the Bapper for the final big push across the country, I have felt less and less as if I am on vacation, it is time to go home. Arlington has felt more like home each year I have lived there, and I suspect this next 12 months will really cement that in my mind.

I did make it to the very wonderful Casa Bonita today, it was all that SouthPark talked it up to be, I can see why Cartman tried to convince Butters that the world had come to an end, so he could go there.
All had told me the food there is really bad and to instead just get a drink, the management there have a strong way to work around this, rather then address the quality of the food, they just set a rule that you have to order a meal before you get into the dining room were all the action is.
I also had the chance to check out the Coors brewery (from the street) as well as the final resting place of Alfred Packer, a key for all Cannibal and musical fans. Finally I got some nice riding time in the mountains, unfortunately as it was dark and stormy I did not get as nice a view of the Rockies as I had hoped for, but there was some wonderful riding.

On the bike front my little tire pressure monitoring devices (firefly’s) had started chirping around the time I got to Denver, when I checked the pressure both tires were in the 20’s instead of 38 and 42, so that is sorted now. I also took this as a warning and purchased a real flat repair kit, in addition to a pump that will run off the bike accessory socket. Hopefully that is a waste of $150 and I never have to look at a tire again.

It is sad saying goodbye to my wonderful hosts Justin and Emily, after being here for three days it still seems too soon to go. But the road is calling my name, and I have to eat up 800 miles tomorrow, so I will finish loading up, put my laundry in the drier and try and get some sleep prior to tomorrows 4am start..
My time in Denver has easily 10x my booze intake for this trip, not to mention 10x my bad food intake, so from that standpoint it will be nice to get back on the road.

Riding today gave me a chance to do some thinking, looking at the billboards I think you can really tell what advertisers think of people in different parts of this huge and diverse country. In Michigan I saw signs of impeccably dressed marines with swords calling on pride to join the few, the proud. In Gillette Wyoming I saw a billboard of a woman with a blackened eye, and lots of writing in English saying that being abused by yours spouse is not acceptable. Oddly however the board also had written on it in Spanish, “We speak Spanish”. Without the context of the rest of the board, I wonder how a non English speaker would interpret the image and the fact that they speak Spanish.

Anyway, I am tired, and am hoping for at least one REM cycle before tomorrow.

Be safe

Brian

Day 11 – Denver … D is for Debauchery E is for ..

Again I awake in Denver with a sore noggin, and an over stuffed stomach. Justin and I went to see Gonzo in the local Landmark theatre and it really was enjoyable. It even seemed like a slightly healthy option as Emily was kind enough to drive us there, and we were going to walk the mile or so home.

I was already a bit rough, as to re-hydrate post massage I popped into Dougherty’s bar for a refreshing cider, alas they only had it in a bottle and I learned that at happy hour you buy one beer, and they give you a second one. Ouch. Just when I was about to leave G-Nome dropped in with her friend, so I had to order one more beer, which of course was two.
The massage was super wonderful, the masseuse was a former professional pole vaulter, I needed some good deep tissue work and I suspect that had I given her a piece of coal she could have made it into a diamond. Really good work.

G-Nome_Brian

After Dougherty’s Harmon fired up the Big Green Egg and rocked out some steaks and onions.

We really enjoyed the HST movie, and when we popped in for a drink in the place across the street we met the first person in Denver who has approved of my idea to go to Casa Bonita. So its on, I am going to stop writing this nonsence, and go be a tourist. I really hope tomorrows entry is better then the past two days. Denver is a rough town 🙂

Only_person_in_town_that_approves_of_going_to_Casa_Bonita

Oooo and our stupid drunken asses had McDonalds after we got home. Yeah us.

Brian

Day 10 – Denver, Emily’s Birthday

 

I really was tired when I got here last night, so I was all set for some sleep when Emily sent me a text message offering me some ass. Turned out it was Pizza and it was not to be had anyway, so some fine homemade quesadillas, and several bottles of wine later it was the wee hours and time to sleep.

This led to a pretty subdued Monday, Justin and I spent most of the day running errands picking up birthday stuff for Emily including us getting quite lost several times down county roads, and dirt roads trying to find the place for her main gift. The good thing about that is we got to see “The Bandit” which somehow reminds me of the “Little Mule” in the movie Romancing the Stone.

Bapper_and_Chez_Harmon

The gentleman we bought the burner from was quite chatty, so we got to meet he Geese, chickens, sheep dogs, parakeets and miscellaneous other interesting creatures on the farm. He also sent us to the Pepper Pod for lunch, which made much of the pain from the previous evening go away.

As we rolled through downtown Denver Justin pointed out many of the sites, and I failed to capture them with my camera 🙂

We had a really nice dinner for Emilys birthday, and after eating camp food for a week or so, it was quite a change. Back to the hours and I got my ass handed to me in wii tennis and a hardcore wii baseball game. I think I was 28-0 down at the end of the first inning, LOL. Some Tiger Woods wrapped out the evening.

Cheese_the_ass_cat

As you can tell from this entry, I have not been on the machine, and really not thinking much. I have been faffing around with the blog adding plugins etc. that Adam suggested, and I suspect tomorrow will be just as idle so not much to report then either.

Right now I am planning to pull out Wednesday night / Thursday morning and make the 800 mile sprint to Aunt NoNo. So should see her Thursday evening.

Brian

Day 9 – Rally ends, Devils Tower and the road to Denver

 

Today was the end of the BMW MOA rally, but before leaving the area I wanted to swing by the Devils Tower as I missed it last time I went across 90. As you can clearly see this is the landing sight from Close Encounters, the piece of rock itself was pretty impressive, but the land around it was just breath taking.

I_guess_no_one_drives_cars_in_gillette

From there I was trying to visit a bar Justin used to serve beer at in Laramie WY, the bar is called something like the Rump Ranger. Everyone was very friendly. Again I wanted to stay off the slab, and rolling along 287 as well as 34 again in WY was just stunning. It is impressive with all the weight on the machine, and my laundry acting as a sail how well she manages in the twisties. I was banked well over in a corner on 34 when I saw a funny looking long eared deer. I grabbed the brakes hard and they stopped me very well, however my reactions and those of the machine were in vein as the deer took off running before I even registered it.

Ranger_and_Bapper

After camping for a few days, not to mention partying late and being woken by the sun, today was the first time I started feeling tired again on the machine. Not to risk last times events I sucked down a redbull, water, sandwich and pulled out my nice silent plugs and went back to music. I suspect after a few nice nights in Denver I will have no such issues on the road to Auntie NoNo.

I am shattered tiered and my brain is not working, so no more for today. I will be relaxing in Denver with Justin and Emily for the next few days, so I will not be pulling serious miles.

I will however be looking at some of the treasures that Denver has to offer, maybe I can do a few buck-wheats hits and find some friends of Jimmy the Saint.

Night

Brian

day_8

Day 8 – More Rally

Myself_and_Tom

 

Today clearly marks a turning point, after today I am no longer on my way to vacation, I am on my way back. This was an odd sort of realization but I am going to have to try and not allow that to detract from all the good that has yet to happen.

I spent a good chunk of today volunteering, four hours or so in the morning signing people up to help out, and then maybe four hours in the evening slinging beers. Doing both I had the chance to meet a lot of good people, the crowd at this rally really was good.

In the breaks I had further excellent chats with Tom, picked up some deer skin gloves and signed up for a motorcycle consumer magazine. Hell I even checked in with the home office:)

No storms today and the moon is once again incredible hanging in the sky huge, not as red as it was last night, but still wonderful to look upon.

I did get to thinking however that the current economic conditions really are hurting people out of the cities. When driving through the back roads it seemed hard to go much more then a mile without seeing a car, snow-mobile, bike etc. up for sale. People seem to be selling their toys so they can keep juice in their cars so they can get to work.
Its been a long time since the U.S. saw anything like this, I guess in some way this could be good for the country, reminding people to save for a rainy day etc. I hope some day to learn that lesson myself.

Martin_Hobbs_in_Volunteer_booth

Tomorrow I make the run to “The Devils tower” then turn back south towards Cheyenne and/or Denver depending on where Dan and family are at. I can see myself attending more of these rally’s in the future. I do seem to have changed from my old, run out to meet everyone self, I have been enjoying much of the time to just relax, listen to my iPod or just slouch. I guess I really needed it.

Anyway, enough of this, the sun will be waking me in my tent pretty soon, so I should head to it and try and get as much sleep as I can.

My_tent_and_laundry

Be Safe.

Brian


Day 7 – A Day of zero miles

 

The storm raged on for most of the evening, suffice to say each time I woke up with the need to use the facilities I was trying to stay under my tent as much as I could. The weather was a bit more then some tents, and some people could manage so of our little group of five tents one went to a motel based on all being wet, and one moved as we are close to a road. I figured I can sleep through most anything, including my own snoring, so some traffic didn’t scare me, and I opted for good ground over good location.

Sky_turning_grey

I spent a good chunk of time chatting with Tom again today, he is a fellow ST owner, that is my ugly duckling bike for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, who welcomed me with some Scotch last night. He has been a bike guy for longer then I have been alive as well as a witch-doctor, I mean chiropractor as well as just general good people. I suspect he is one of the good chiropractors as he is no nonsense and seems to have a very good understanding of physiology.

Camp_Cycles

I will try not to be too boring on the bike front, suffice to say there are a lot of cool bikes, and a lot of cool toys for bikes here. Some of the vintage machines are really nice, and I included the picture of a war era bike including a rather dangerous looking sidecar gun, as well as towing a canon. I ordered a set of custom earplugs, it’s pretty cool, they make a mould of the inside of your ear and 6-8 weeks later you get plugs that keep all road noise out, as well as keeping music in. So I can keep my music volume lower, and protect my hearing. I call that a two-fer 🙂 Technically a three-fer I guess as when I popped back to get some regular plugs I can use on the road without music, he decided to give them to me for free 🙂

Having kept to my plan of not getting on the machine today, I am looking forward to riding down town tomorrow and getting something better to eat. I suspect I can do a lot better on the stove then the stuff on sale here.

KTM_good_enough_for 100K_Miles_just_not_for_a_couple_of_actors

Not much more to report, a very nice day with lots of friendly people. Tomorrow I am doing some volunteering for a couple of hours, so I suspect I will meet some more characters 🙂

The beer tent is calling, so I am off that direction.

Brian