My Wife’s First Motorcycle Trip and her "Biker Stories from the Road"
This ride report is taken from my wife’s emails she sent back to her coworkers and family as we travelled. I have filled in some blanks and added the photos but otherwise it is a pretty complete report from a gal who said she would NEVER get on a motorcycle. The report will follow but to set the story I need to give some background so bare with me for a bit.
My story is not a lot different from a lot of others. I had ridden bikes for years but as the family was being raised they slowly slipped into the background. On top of that my wife had absolutely no interest. Many times I would say “when the kids move out lets get motorcycles and go travelling" and the answer was always the same. "Absolutely NOT!" She would never ride on one let alone drive one.
Well I had talked her into running and she said she would never do that either so I just let it be…..for now.
When the kids grew up and started living on their own I decided that I would like to get a bike again. I had always wanted a Harley Sportster but a fellow at work was selling an older Honda 450 Nighthawk so I settled for that. Little did I know how significant getting the cheap Honda was over an expensive Sportster.
I was just looking for something to take the pinch out if the gas bill and maybe satisfy my old desire to get a bike again so picked it up. The Honda ran nice and I used it but a couple of my friends were also getting bikes and they were getting more dual sport style bikes. It became very apparent that I was not going to be able to go the places they were going on that Honda so over the winter I got myself a nice used Kawasaki KLR 650.
It was what I thought to be the perfect bike. It could take me to work, got great gas mileage and could head out on the highway at the drop of a hat. That summer someone mentioned taking a trip out west. I thought no way we are taking those dirt bikes all the way out there so just to shut them out I said "if we go we have to go to Yellowstone". My wife and I had gone there 10 year previous and it was beautiful. To my surprise everyone agreed and after much planning we headed out west. That trip was the clincher. It was 2 weeks of fabulous, the scenery, and everything was just perfect.
All I could think about as we travelled was “How can I get Denise (my wife) to do this?” I mean, I like my buddies, but Denise and I travel well together and I thought if I could just get her to try maybe one day we could do this.
When I arrived home I started planting the seed. I told her that travelling with the guys was fun but I really would want her to come. It was also around this time that a few of my friends wife’s were also either talking about getting bikes or had actually got one. She finally relented and a few weeks later I found a nice lowered KLR that would fit her perfectly.
We spent the remainder of that fall with her riding around the local golf course parking lot learning how to drive a bike. She admitted that it was kind of cool and the next spring took a riding course and we took a few nice little trips with all of our friends. It was a fun way to spend the summer days and evenings.
I was set to retire a year down the road and had it in my mind that my retirement gift to myself was going to be a nice new motorcycle to travel with. My wife still had to work for 5 years so she would just use her KLR until then.
I had a short list of bikes, the Suzuki VStrom, Honda Veradaro, or a BMW F800 or 650GS, One cool snowy November day while on a trip to the city I walked into the BMW dealer and sitting in the window was a new F800GS 30 year Anniversary edition. I was set to retire in one year after working 30 years full time and I knew karma was set. I was going to own that bike. They actually had 2 bikes there on sale and the other one was a nicely loaded Blue F650GS. My wife was at another function so when I went to pick her up I said "I had found the bike I wanted" lets go look at it. We had some time to kill so we drove over to take a look. As we drove over I casually mentioned that the F650 and to my surprise she just said oh ya in a positive sort of way. Long story short we walked out of that dealership with seriously less money that we walked in with but we had 2 of the greatest bikes we could afford and I was estatic.
I immediately began secretly planning a trip. It would be basically the same trip I had taken with the guys and close to the trip we had so enjoyed many years ago. I planned it (and an alternate route in case of bad weather) out and laid the plans out to her and to my surprise she said OK "let’s do it". "We did not buy those great bikes to sit in the garage, lets get some kilometers on them!"
We picked up the bikes in March.
There was still snow and ice so we trailered them home
I had retired just a few short weeks prior and had taken a trip around Lake Superior with my friends. A few days after returning Denise and I headed out on what could either be the end of or the start of a fantastic relationship with my wife, me and motorcycles. I will let Denise’s stories (with some of my input to fill gaps) take it from here.
Day 1 September 18, 2011
We left Dryden Ontario on September 18th 2011.
I am driving a 2010 BMW F800GS and she is riding a 2010 BMW F650GS.
This was to be Denise’s first big motorcycle trip. The plan was to head west and try to get into Montana and Wyoming. It was a cloudy day when we left but rain was threatened so we suited up as we said goodbye to her mom and dad.. A cold wet shivery stop at Clearwater bay just west of Kenora had us wondering what the rest of the trip would be like. The forecast was for clear skies so all we could do is put our faith in the forecasters and keep heading on.
By the time we made it to Steinbach MB the sun had come out and we were rewarded with it’s warmth and headed down Hwy 59 to the border. A pleasant (need sarcasm tag) crossing of the border and we continued down hwy 59 to finish the day at Warren MN. Spent the night at a nice little motel “The Elm Crest” and with a plan to head a bit further south and then travel Hwy 2 due west we watched the weather forecast that night.
There was some talk of some rain in northern Montana and western NDakota but morning found us waking up to a brilliant blue sky.
Day 1 map
Day 2 September 19th, 2011
We left Warren in the morning after a pleasant breakfast at Melody’s cafe.
The weather was cool but the sun warm. The wind was reasonable but would increase as the day presented itself.
One of the goals of this trip was to travel secondary highways, eat and stay at non franchise mom and pop type restaurants and motels. Motels are great for bikes because you can carry your gear in and the bikes are right outside your door for peace of mind in security. We quickly developed the mantra of our trip and it was to be NO INTERSTATES and NO WALMARTS . On just our second day we were forced to eventually travel our first 25 miles of interstate (29) to get down to hwy 2.
As we left Grand Forks ND on a 4 lane highway I felt some disappointment as the road continued to be a very flat windy high speed 4 lane. This class of road was certainly not in the plan but when it comes down to it there are few other ways to get across the plains of the mid west. A couple highlights was the geographic center of North America and Rugby, ND
and then a 50’s style diner named Krolls at Minot.
As we left Minot we could see high clouds approaching from the west. Not threatening at all but still I took note as the forecast was for some rain by tonight. We would have to make sure we stopped early enough, but as we headed west the clouds actually started to lighten.
We stopped for gas at Ray ND where a trucker said “You are going to get wet” . I was thinking he was a bit out of it and we decided we would find a place to stay at Williston, ND which was about 40 minutes away. By the time we got to Williston I could see what the trucker had meant. The western sky was going black. It was find shelter and do it soon or run. We did both but I will let Denise’s stories from the road carry it from here.
Day 2 Map
Very well played taking an "absolutely not" to "let's do it". :bow
Had your wife had any prior bicycling experience?
Great start. In! :thumb
Hey, wait one darn minnute!
Didn't I see you guys fighting your way through Red Deer rush hour traffic a week or so ago?
@treadless yes she did ride bicycles, in fact was hit by a truck riding her bike the summer before we bought the motorcycles. Left her pretty skittish about bikes in general.
:lol3 I was gonna honk and wave but you looked like you were busy with tight traffic and trying to let your wife catch
up crossing the river.
Biker Stories from the Road - part 1 September 20, 2011
This was a tough day and took no pictures while in Williston. This area is going through a huge oil/gas boom and the city is trying to catch up. The roads have ruts 2 feet deep at the intersections from the unplanned heavy traffic. We find out there has not been an open hotel room there for a couple years. If you are travelling through this part of the US make plans for a place to stay or to travel through.
Picture this ... Williston North Dakota, the Fort MacMurray of the US west with transport trucks and trailers everywhere and we ride in at 6:30 on Monday evening. The oil boom is on and has been apparently for the last 3 years.
We try and find a room but there are none. We ride from one hotel, motel, and inn to another with the same result. There I am following, because what the hell else am I supposed to do, weaving in between all of this traffic. The trucks line every street and that many again are on the move. The Walmart parking lot is jam packed with travel trailers and trucks. People are staying on every square inch of land ... most of it muddy! To the west is a really dark stormy sky.
We have to make a decision to carry on down the highway or find a campsite. So we opt for the campsite. By now it is getting dark and the rain is settling in. We find the most inhospitable camp ground you can possibly imagine. The lady acts like she is doing us the biggest favour ever and she charges us $18 for a teeny tiny spot for our tent. The guys in the next tent are from South Carolina and they are up here looking for work because there isn't any down home. They drive everyday to the oil sites and bug for work.
Anyway, we get the tent setup and it is 8 pm so I go to find the showers. There are signs on the door that say the showers and restrooms are closed at 9 pm ... oh great do they not realize that my 50 year old bladder has night time issues! Inside the shower/restroom building there are signs that say the water for the campground will be turned off on Oct 1st. So this campground is jammed packed with travel trailers of every size .. most of them look like they are not going anywhere so only god knows what they are going to do for water come October.
Garth decides to go and check out the little store because we have not eaten since 3:30 and the store is closed ... even though the "sign" says it will be open until 9 (they must have been running around closing up the shower/restroom buildings). So now we are in our tent and it is raining. We have one little light it is 9 pm ... are we having fun now! Good thing for Atavan, ha ha! I knew that keeping that prescription would pay off. We wake up at 2 am and we both have to pee! So out we go into the rain and pee in the bush behind our tent. I ask GW if he still thinks that the morning will be clear and sun shiney ... hmmmmm. I am up again at 4 am and now the wind is just howling ... watch out Dorothy!
Finally at 7 Garth goes to see if the restrooms are open ... thank goodness they are. Off I go in the pouring rain and I try and take my time doing whatever (and coming up with a few new morning routines) just to waste time so that I don't have to go back to the tent. Alas I head back. GW has checked out the store and they don't open until 9 am. We are so hungry. We are faced with another decision ... we can stay in the tent all day (and become crippled beyond recognition) or we can face the elements and get the hell out of Williston!
But first some breakfast somewhere. So we pack up in the pouring rain and head down the highway to find a restaurant. We walk into a restaurant and "seat ourselves" but we are chased down by a Spanish speaking waitress who is trying to tell us that they don't have a cook. Apparently cook number 1 left for a doctor appointment leaving cook number 2 and she became so overwhelmed with the onslaught of customers that she walked off the job! Well I was dumbfounded and asked her if we could at least have toast and coffee. She took pity on us and we got the best damn tasting toast and coffee ever!
GW studied all the maps and we talked about possible routes and hoped and prayed that our route would take us out of this weather system that had settled in over Williston. So away we go down the highway and the wind was so strong that it was not much fun. We decide to go town by town until we hit Sydney Montana (it was only 40 some miles away) and then we decided to stay in Sydney ... get a room and let everything dry out!
We have our sleeping gear spread out and the wind really helped out in drying out our tent over the back door railing.
Main drag through Sidney, MT
What an adventure so far!
Day 3 and 4 map
Biker Stories from the Road - September 21 2011
Ok you know how driving in the fog can be a little unnerving but because you are in Dryden and you know where you are going it really isn't that bad ... well try motorcycling through the fog which is accumulating on the face shield of your helmet like rain ... down a highway that you have not been on before ... scarey to say the least!
We left Sydney Montana drove through the fog but eventually drove into a beautiful sunny day. A big blue Montana sky that goes on forever! It was only 8 degrees which was pretty chilly but it got warmer. We drove down highway 200 for most of the day.
Not a well travelled highway but an absolutely beautiful highway and lots of it is newly paved. We just cruised along enjoying the scenery of rolling hills, golden fields, pastures dotted with cows and horses. I didn't realize that cows actually look up to see what is going past ... they really do ... I paid attention to it today and I wondered what they must think ... maybe it is "hmmm nice bikes", haha!
So we are cruising along and we come across these caution signs for road construction ahead ... no workers in sight but a stop light because the highway has been closed to one lane. Now we are the only ones on the highway and it is red when we get there so we stop and we wait ... Garth looks over at me and says I feel like we are in a Monty Python film ... what the hell are we waiting for we are the only ones out here! It was so funny!
We made it to Great Falls Montana which is on highway 89 but a bit north to where we want to be but it is the only place big enough to actually have some place for us to stay. Tomorrow we head south on highway 89 which goes into the mountains.
I just love the reaction we are getting from the old guys that we are meeting along the way. One old trucker approached GW with a big smile and says "she didn't trust your drivin' so she got one herself". One old guy loved our BMW's and wished us a great trip across the States. They always want to know where we are from and are surprised when we tell them. We met a man who worked up at Fort Mac way back when. He actually knew quite a bit about Canada.
We had lunch at the Hilltop Cafe in Jordan Montana today and they had a big map and push pins and all of the visitors were to put the pin where their home town is ... someone from Thunder Bay visited the Hilltop Cafe. They had the best tomato soup I have ever tasted. To this day I have not found any better. The great things about these non franchised local restaurants.
I joked about trying to find "peace and tranquility" on this road trip ... today it was very peaceful on that highway. Guess that is all for now. Stay tuned for more.
Day 3 and 4 map
Biker Stories from the Road - September 22, 2011
Strawberry and Rhubarb pie for breakfast ... yes sirree it was delicious and warranted after the pitiful breakfast offering from the Super 8 we stayed at Wed night in Great Falls, MT. Bikers, including GW, are all drawn to Super 8's! Riding into the sun coming into town it seemed like everyone was turning in front of us.
Thursday's riding day brought with it a bunch of new experiences. We got out of Great Falls Montana and headed back down highway 200 to find highway 89, which is the historical King's highway, and it runs from Alberta down to Flagstaff Arizona.
GW decided to take a little detour into Belt Montana, which was quite a ride down into the Belt Valley which is surrounded by the Belt Mountains and sits along the Belt River (Americans are so creative, ha ha). Anyway that is where we found the Belt Cafe and had the delicious pie and coffee.
Highway 89 is really spectacular. We crossed over the Kings Hill pass, which was my first mountain pass experience on a motorcycle (4000 ft climb), and then rode along the Belt River. It was really nice and I have come to realize that riding at this time of year lets you escape the busy summer traffic ... there are times when we are the only ones on these highways.
We passed huge cattle ranches along the way. The "Castle Mountain Ranch - Headquarters" has an elaborate archway over their driveway. We have seen some really amazing homes as well.
So we pulled into White Sulfur Springs for lunch, 22 degrees and time to peal off another layer of clothing. I have become quite good at layering ... lots of clothes in the morning and down to shorts and t-shirt by end of day. We found a neat little restaurant and encountered a crusty old guy who was so interested in our journey. He told us that he has a Kimco 500 and he has ridden it up into Alberta.
We also talked with an older man at a gas station who asked us how we were finding the grasshoppers on the road. He said that they had an awful time with the grasshoppers this summer ... he said they even tried to eat his garden hose! So off we go ... lots of cows, horses and then in the middle of nowhere along side the highway ... a fully decorated cedar tree ... I mean sparkly garland (red, silver and blue) and little American flags all over this big cedar tree. Also had a bit of a heart stopper moment when we were following this big truck and travel trailer along some fields. The big irrigation system, you know the kind on wheels, well it was on and very close to the highway. With huge eyes I could see that the end sprinkler was aimed at the highway ... the truck and trailer hit it and water just sprayed everywhere. The air was blue under my helmet as we approached and then the sprinkler changed direction and all we rode through was a wet highway ... thank GOD!
Another highlight of the day was Trixie's Antler Saloon! It reached 29 degrees by the afternoon and that is really hot when you have all your riding gear on ... so GW spots this place, of course in the middle of nowhere, and pulled in.
Picture taken from Facebook page for Trixie's
Trixie was behind the bar and she had some of her regulars in there ... one white haired old gal sitting on her stool in the corner ... she actually greeted us as we walked in ... and then another old couple and the lady was playing the slots. We have a cold non-alcohol drink and in comes another traveller. He orders a vodka and Red Bull drink because he is driving through to Spokane Washington! Only in America!
Picture taken from Facebook page for Trixie's
So we made it to Missoula Montana, Garth was here back in 2000 when he was part of the fire team that came down that summer to help them with their huge fire situation, our bikes are scheduled for oil changes this morning. Another milestone yesterday was my bike hit 5000 k ... I have only had it 6 months.
This afternoon we will head out to Livingston Montana where we can meet up with highway 89 again and head back south. We may be camping the next few nights so will update you when I can.
Day 5 map
Moto chicks kick ass!
This winter I bought my first motorcycle and I have been having a blast! Fun to see other womens stories especially when they are also brand new to the sport!
Of course you are having a blast!
Great ride report.....
Biker Stories from the Road - September 23, 2011
Interstate driving is not something that I wanted to do but a biker chick has to do what a biker chick has to do! LOL and actually it didn't go too bad except that even though we were going 110k other travellers passed us like we were standing still.
So we left Missoula after our bike servicing at Big Sky BMW and headed out of the city trying to find Interstate 90.
Big Sky BMW
Fill in from Garth
Missoula is an interesting city. I think that we should come back here and do some more local exploring.
Lot of these old heritage homes near Big Sky
Great service at Big Sky. Here is the lounge where you can wait for your bike. Cold water TV and computer with internet available
Denise's bike packed up. Hepco Becker side bags (with liners) and a Cabela's boundry duffle (100% waterproof). I carried all of the camping gear but she was able to fit all of her stuff in this setup quite easily
Love this "Life needs more green lights" poster that was up in Big Sky's washroom.
Ahead of us was a truck pulling a horse trailer with a horse inside ... its back end facing us. Wanting to get a feeling as to whether Garth knew where we were going I asked him what the route was ... he replied "just follow the horses ass" and I thought "oh I am"!
One thing about interstates ... once you are on them it is really hard to get off and if you are actually looking for something in particular well good luck! But we had to get back on track today.
We roared through Butte Montana and Garth pointed out that overlooking the city from the top of a mountain is a huge white monument of "Our Lady of the Rockies" which is dedicated to Mary the mother of Jesus. It is quite amazing ... it is 90 ft high, the second largest statue in the USA and is a tribute to all mothers.
(Photo credit http://images.travelpod.com/users/da...he-rockies.jpg)
The interstate took us out of the valley and back into the mountains where we crossed the continental divide. The temperature dropped to 26 degrees and it felt like such a relief from the 31.5 in the valley.
We ended our day in Bozeman Montana and it was 30 degrees at 5:30 pm. I was certain that GW was going to insist on camping tonight but alas a "Days Inn" appeared with a "Famous Dave's Barbeque" next door, yahoo!
We are heading into Yellowstone National Park tomorrow, following highway 89, so we will definitely be camping. This weekend has been declared National Parks weekend and the entrance is free. So the weather is beautiful, the entrance is free, and it is Saturday ... hmmmm can you say lots of traffic?
Something else I have noticed on this cross country ride is the smells! Good natural out-in-the-great-outdoors smells. Every new landscape has its own.
Map of days ride
TO be continued on Monday
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