May 22, 2012
Lanesville, IN – Oak Grove, MO (510 miles)
Some things in life are just providential. If I’ve learned anything from this trip, that’s the most consistent lesson I have experienced. When I learned about tentspace on ADV I started searching for people on my route to put me up for the night. I was especially interested in finding people early on in my trip knowing that I was inexperienced with motorcycle maintenance. My primary concern was if something went wrong with the bike, I would be screwed. So I made an effort in my planning to be sure that in my first week of riding I’d be heading towards someone with motorcycle experience.
Unfortunately, out of five or six people on tentspace that I contacted throughout the states prior to my leaving Virginia, only two responded to my request. One however had relocated and was unavailable to host me. But thankfully enough TooTallRacing was excited to provide a bed and warm meal for me on just the first night of my long journey. After a few emails back and forth once TTR heard where I was headed, he informed me about his own adventure to Alaska and back last summer on his BMW1200GS. He sent me some of his pictures which only got me more excited to be going to Alaska.
When I got to his house, he and his wife had a spaghetti dinner and cold beer waiting. We enjoyed talking about his trip and he was full of suggestions on routes to take and places to stay such as Thompson’s Eagle Claw motorcycle campground in Tok. This is still one of my favorite places on the whole trip. He even gave me some contacts in Anchorage that later ended up providing the most important support to me.
In the morning we had some coffee with coffee cake and TTR showed me his decorated garage with his bikes, photos, and license plates. Without much of a plan for the day I thanked him, said goodbye, and headed west hoping to camp somewhere past Kansas City. I went through Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri through lots of fields and strong wind, but the sky was blue and the air was warm.
I felt comfortable riding all day except for fighting the wind. I learned quickly how to ride from my core so I wouldn’t exhaust myself bracing with my arms and legs. I found it especially tricky learning to balance the bike through all that wind while passing eighteen-wheelers. Feeling the counter-wind-effect while passing and anticipating the degree of gust that was going to hit me after passing was difficult not to overcorrect. It slowed me down and tired me enough that I didn’t make it all the way to Kansas City.
At some point in the middle of the day just after stopping for gas I was getting on the highway when my oil light came on. Of course I immediately panicked and pulled over in the most un-ideal location; the on- ramp to a highway and a sloped gravel shoulder. I struggled attempting to get the bike on the centerstand and was unsuccessful. I called my mentor in Virginia freaking out and of course all he says is, “How many miles have you been since you left Virginia?”…(Probably 700)…“Well put some oil in it!” I felt like an idiot….duh!
I filled the bike with ¼ quart oil and of course the light went off. I rode some more and ended up stopping for the day at a KOA just 30 miles from Kansas City. After unloading all my gear I was able to get the bike on its centerstand at a flat location and check the oil. It definitely didn’t have much so I topped it off and hoped for the best. I had just enough daylight to set up camp and make dinner with my alcohol stove. It wasn’t exactly my style of camping next to cars and families close to the highway but it worked for the night. I wanted to get some good rest for an early start tomorrow and hopefully make it all the way to Denver.
Quote of the day:
This is an excerpt from my journal…..”Camping next to a family of kids. Baby won’t stop screaming. I want to smother it.”