|08-28-2009, 12:38 AM||#1|
Joined: Aug 2009
A ride report (barely) worthy of ADV: 4,000 miles in under 1 week
Hello everyone :)
My first post on ADV - always been reluctant to post here because I've never felt like any of my rides compare to the magnitude of places that people here go to, since my choice of bike has always limited me to staying on the tarmac, but I hope you'll all enjoy. This trip was taken from 8/12/09 to 8/20/09
And in case you're wondering, no, I'm a guy. The avatar is just a running joke from another forum.
|08-28-2009, 12:39 AM||#2|
Joined: Aug 2009
So about 4 months ago, I had the bright idea that I needed a road trip. Originally planning for the usual 3-4 days being gone, I figured I could actually squeeze in a whole week of riding, which in turn led to "how far COULD I go in one week?"
Simple route layout began to lay out the route, and I picked the end of my summer break before school started again as my departure date, because it would ensure that it would not be sweltering hot, and from prior knowledge of my friends the Fuzzmops, knew that the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming could still be closed for snow as late as late May/ early June. Thus, the general time window was laid out, and the closer I got to the departure date, the more I fine tuned the route I would be taking. More or less "guessing" on how far I'd be going every day I gave myself specific checkpoints to at least reach every night, trying to keep the mileage to around mid-500 miles per day.
So as my departure date finally approached, I'd already picked out the finest accomodations I could find in the towns I planned to stop at for the night: One star motels priced more or less around $50/night. Pretty much all of them were found with google maps, just typing "motel" into the map search zoomed into the little town. Some were actually just found getting into town, asking how much for a single room, and deciding to stay or not.
Finally, August 11 came, the day before my departure. Work absolutely dragged on forever. I couldn't wait to leave; and since I would be gone on the date of my mom's birthday, I took her out for an early celebration dinner that night, and had the best sushi imaginable. Went home, already knew the anticipation wouldn't let me sleep much anyway, and set my alarm for 3:45 AM, just enough time to stumble out of bed, get geared up and head on my way, in order to traverse the I-15 through Vegas and Nevada, before the sun was fully up and ready to kick my ass.
Woke up several hours later, walked to the garage, where the bike was already packed and loaded up, put on my Gerbings liner to offset the morning chill through the mesh jacket, and was on my way.
3.5 hours later, I was in Vegas, with the thermometer greeting me with 97 degrees at 7:50 AM. Motored on, fighting off boredom and drowsiness, knowing I had 400 miles of slab to cover before I got to anything resembling interesting. I would have to say the whole bottom tip of Nevada smells like tar, rubber, and foul chemical stench that I can't quite describe.
By 10:00 AM I was greeted by a small canyon pass following a river as the I-15 crossed a small corner of Arizona, giving me a chance to pass some of the cars that had just been blowing by me at 95, who were now going 50, due to the complex task of having to make a turn.
About 20 minutes later, I was finally into Utah.
A short while later, I was in La Verkin, Utah, which was my jumpoff point off the I-15 (finally) and the route that would lead me into Zion, National Park. The clouds that had been brooding in the distance were now the clouds I was riding into, and it began to spatter soft, sporadic drizzle on me, although the air temperature remained in the high 80's. Stopped for a quick breakfast, where I ran into a quartet of riders, who had their Harleys with trailers outside, and chit chat led to them proudly show their patches they had EARNED that said "I rode mine to Sturgis." They let me know there was rain up ahead in Zion, where I had just come from, and thanked them, though I had already pulled out my rain gear and staged it somewhere quickly accessible.
Heading down the road, I soon found myself surrounded by iron-rich rocks glowing a fiery red. Quite the change from all the dull browns you grow accustomed to in Southern California.
Finally reaching Zion, I purchased a multi-agency annual pass from the Parks Service for $80 that gets up to 3 motorcycles into a national park for 1 year from purchase, or up to 4 people in a car, I believe. I would be going through several National Parks, so it made sense to buy it, as only a few parks would put me over the price tag of the annual pass.
The road leading into Zion, Utah State Highway 9, goes from relative flatlands to a deep canyon in a very short time. It's quite an amazing change from the 400-something miles of flat boredom you've just endured to get there.
Zion, while being an incredibly small section of road on SR-9, takes you from the deep canyon walls, through a half-mile long tunnel cut straight into the rock, and up into smaller rolling hills, with the rocks changing into something resembling a flaky pastry crust. (I know, good thing I'm not a geologist.)
As the bike complained about the 30mph speeds I was stuck at, following the endless parade of cages in front of me, Zion slowly but surely ended, leaving you wanting for more scenery and amazing geological formations.
But the road soon opened up, and the hordes of tourists vanished, leaving only an open road between Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park, and the Dixie National Forest, as the road branched into US-89 heading north.
Arriving in Bryce Canyon, NP, the clouds began to darken some, which made me stop and put my rain pants on, in addition to the rain jacket I was already wearing. Going into the park (which had all the road torn up into compacted gravel) the clouds opened up some, and let a light, but steady rain fall, as I headed towards the end of the road. The minor inconvenience of road and weather would totally be worth the vistas once the end of the road was reached.
Reeling from the spectacular views, and amazing weathering and erosion of the rocks, I headed back out through the rain back to Utah SR-12 which was my route north.
I hit an wide open section of sweepers, but began to struggle with drowsiness, my eyelids getting heavy anytime a short section of straightaway showed up, making me realize I'd only had about 3 hours of sleep, and how utterly stupid it was to ride if I was this tired. I checked the Zumo for my gas mileage and noticed I was due to stop soon, and tried to wake myself up to at least get to the gas station, where I'd down a redbull, and some sugary snack to at least wake me up temporarily. By now, the skies had let up with the rain, and it was just warm, but not too humid. Overcast skies must have been helping to keep the temperature down.
Stopping for gas, and something to wake myself up, my odometer read something in the high 400's for mileage, and realized I still had quite a ways to go before I was at my stop for the night. Timewise, I was doing fine for arriving with daylight left, so I figured I'd press on.
The open sweeping road finally became a tighter section of road, as it dropped in elevation suddenly, through another steep canyon of red.
This canyon eventually led back up into elevation, where it actually followed the very crest of a ridge for about 5 miles, giving you dropoff vistas on both sides of the road. After the road flattened out again, it began to lead into the Capitol Reef National Park, which culminated in the road turning something very much akin to the Cherohala Skyway, if you've ever been on it. 50-ish miles of sweepers, with an occasional left or right kink thrown in. Great rhythm, and as I climed up in elevation again, the temperature began to drop from high to mid 80's down into the 60's. I stopped to put the Gerbings back on and snap a picture.
The road finally brought me to a fork where I had to head northwest for 10 miles, into a small little town called Bicknell, where I had chosen to stop for the night.
Tired and frazzled, I pulled into the parking lot, relieved to finally be able to relax. Checked the odometer and it let me know I'd just done 682 miles in 14 hours, on 3 hours of sleep. Ah, stupid me.
Had dinner at the diner that was attached to the motel, took a shower, set my alarm for 6AM the next morning, and fell asleep with absolutely no trouble, by 9PM local time.
Next up: Day two.
novos screwed with this post 08-28-2009 at 12:57 AM
|08-28-2009, 12:40 AM||#3|
Joined: Aug 2009
The following morning I woke up to a planned "short" day of 492 miles. The morning brought cool, crisp temperatures at 7200 feet, so I put on 2 layers under the Gerbings, and set off into the morning sunrise, which was already creating a light show on the hills around me.
Heading East on Utah SR-24, I headed towards the Dixie National Forest again, and was once again greeted by high canyon walls, this time in the form of Meeks Mesa
Stopping to gawk for a minute, I continued on towards Hanksville, passing through terrain features that if you told me I was on the moon, I would have believed you.
Stopped for a quick fill up of gas, and branched off the road heading southeast on Utah SR-95, towards Glen Canyon and Lake Powell. As soon as the road approached Glen Canyon, I was once again amazed by the topography, and saw deep gorges right next to the side of the road, cut away by flowing water. This stuff all looked pretty grand to me.
Lake Powell finally appeared off in the distance, and I realized why I had been seeing so many trucks pulling boats, seemingly in the middle of the desert.
I was amazed, but the full magnitude of Lake Powell and it's immensely high cliff walls wouldn't show themselves to me until I turned off towards a vista point. Just amazing.
The whole vista just seemed to be made all the better by the low ceiling of clouds overhead. The sky being closed in made the massive scale of everything in front of me just a little bit more comprehensible. Just a little bit. And Glen Canyon had no shortage of stunning sights, and the road just flowed like poetry through the landscape.
While stopping to take a few pictures, save for the ones on the move, I noticed I had passed the same big rig hauling a crane about a half dozen times. I wondered if I was more annoying or amusing to the guy.
The road slowly led out of the deep canyons through smaller rolling hills, surrounded by coniferous trees, in stark contrast to the landscape that was just nearby. Turning off on SR-261, the rolling hills eased, and a sign appeared that the pavement ended in half a mile, and there were narrow roads and tight turns ahead. I figured it was just more road construction, but I had no idea I had been riding on top of a massive butte for the past hour, and had abruptly come to the edge of it.
The road continued visibly below, and the only way down was a section of tight switchbacks that dropped you to the valley below in a short section. Good thing I was prepared with Road 2's on the RSV, because I remember reading something about them being dual-sport, or something.
The road finally met up with the pavement again, and I was off, headed towards the southern tip of Utah, and Monument Valley. Stopping for gas in Mexican Hat (which is actually just a rock chimney on top of a small butte, surrounded by construction trucks, apparently) I rode past a toasted redneck doing his best Peter Fonda, with American flag bandana and ape hangers on his Harley. With the amount of insects on my shield, I imagined he was sporting a winning smile under his mullet.
A few miles further down the road, Monument Valley began to appear. Now, maybe it's because I had just come through the magnitude of Glen Canyon, and I'd been seeing buttes of many, many scales all over souther Utah, but Monument Valley didn't blow my mind the way Glen Canyon did. It seemed to me that Monument Valley just had the largest, most glaring examples of how wind and water erode the rock, but have left some of the highest standing islands of stone in the desert.
The road turnoff into Monument Valley finally appeared, next to a cheezy casino/kitsch shop, and I turned onto the Indian reservation, where the signs said it was $5 to enter. I slowed down to 30 to rummage through my tank bag and check to see if I even had any cash on me (because in this age of plastic and the debit card, who actually NEEDS cash?) and luckily I had a whopping $7 in my pocket.
Turns out, Monument Valley is really small-ish parking lot with a restaurant/gift shop that was under construction at the time, filled with many a worker shouting profanities in Spanish. It made me chuckle, as I stared out at the vista, and noticed a dog lying on the ground at the edge of the parking lot. I didn't know if it was dead or injured, but it let me know when I got closer as it growled and scampered off, that it had been just in fact, taking a nap.
Just below the parking lot, at Monument Valley, there's a dirt "road" that leads into the valley itself, where tourists can traverse foxhole sized craters and random rocks the size of basketballs jutting out of the dirt, in order to get a closer look at the vistas. I had already done some packed ground, so I figured I'd ride down to take a closer look.
I made it down as far as a small clearing where there were some card tables set up to sell foolish tourists garbage and jewelry that they don't really need (I'm sure it's finely crafted and all, but I'm a cynical bastard.) The path down there was filled with Volvos and rented RV's going 5mph as all the occupants bounced around inside with the uneven road surface. I hit a downhill section of deep sand, and feathered the rear brake only, deciding that packed gravel was fine, but sand on the Michelins was just shitty, and I wasn't going much further.
Thankfully the view where I stopped was worth it.
On my way back up towards tarmac, the downhill section of sand had an RV starting to go up, and I could tell the driver was hesitant to get up it, and I didn't want to get myself buried having to stop behind him, so I went around the RV which was creeping forward at a glacial pace, made it 3/4 of the way up, tried to avoid a huge dome of sand, and went right into a hole as deep as that pile was tall. The front wheel made it through, but I felt the bike lose momentum and dropped my feet as soon as I felt the rear sink into the hole and stop. I feathered out the clutch and felt the rear spin, so I hopped off the bike, rocked it back and forth at a 45 degree angle to the incline of the road to get the bike out of the hole, and walked the last 50 feet next to the bike giving it a touch of gas and clutch to help me move it up through the sand. As I climbed back on, I looked behind me and saw the RV shooting a huge rooster tail of sand as the back corner of it sank even deeper into the road. Poor guy was probably going to be there awhile.
|08-28-2009, 12:40 AM||#4|
Joined: Aug 2009
Back on US-163 I headed down a half mile to the Arizona border, and as I snapped the picture of the Welcome sign, I realized I was "close" to the four corners, and I may as well be a touristy dumbass and go there as well.
Stopping for gas in Arizona, I punched the location of Four Corners into the GPS, and realized I was actually 70 miles from where it was. I figured I may as well, and set off on US-160 heading East. Boring, flat, dull. Why was I going to Four Corners again?
An hour later, I crossed into the tip of New Mexico, and headed up the road leading to Four Corners.
Finally arriving at Four Corners, it turned out to be another section of Reservation, wanting another $5 for an entry fee. It took me about half a second to decide that for another $5 in cash I didn't have, I didn't really give a shít about seeing a metal plaque on the ground marking a political boundary, swarmed by the Farsnworth family and their snotty children.
I motored on into Colorado.
Now the sign says "colorful Colorado" but the southwest corner of Colorado greets you with these small, grey domes of rock that make it look more like a pit mine than a scenic state. I soon stopped for gas again, filled up my camelbak as the weather was in the low 90's now, and continued up US/SR-491 back into Utah, into a little town called Monticello. Now the only thing that town and the mansion Jefferson built for himself share is that they both have f'd up streets, wet from rain, and torn up by bulldozers. (Thomas Jefferson had bulldozers, look it up.)
US-191 heading north out of Monticello was pretty scenic still, with buttes off in the distance, and some close to the road. There was even another natural arch right off the road, with a housing tract behind it (an extravagant $130K buys you a home here!
This one looked like a giant, fat, stone woman
I crossed back into Colorado, through a nice flowing road that lead into La Sal National Forest, and was a welcome change from the 200-something miles I'd just done of straight highway roads. The road branched off north to Colorado SR-141, and was easily the best road of the day, certainly ranking amongst the best of the trip. The road leads you from slow rolling forests, right along a river, right into another massive canyon, where the river widens, and the road flows right alongside it. You soon find yourself surrounded by 800 foot vertical cliffs, riding amongst giant stone monoliths, ancient and silent. I truly felt humbled by the scale and beauty of the surroundings.
SR-141 eventually wound down, as it neared Grand Junction, Colorado, where everybody drives 40mph, despite the posted limit is 50, and the cop that was taking a nap 5 seconds ago won't hesitate to pull into the street and follow that "rice rocket" with the bags on it that just rolled by him (still below the speed limit)
After stopping at a motel in a quiet suburb of Grand Junction and asking Agnes (she was old and crabby, I assumed she had a name like that) how much the single was (85+ tax, and they're ALL smoking rooms) I decided to head back west on I-70 towards the airport at Grand Junction where I knew there were motels and stuff available.
Settled on the Motel 6, which sported a cool 44.95 price on the sign, got checked in, somehow got bumped up to 50-something with bullshít fees, AND had to pay $3 for 24 hours of internet. Awesome. One star fleabags offer free internet and these cocks at Motel 6 still charge you for internet like it's 2002 and wireless is something new and cutting edge? See if I ever stay at your crap locations again, and I hope Tom Bodett (the 'tard from the commercials) dies of throat cancer.
Unpacked my stuff, checked the odometer and somehow ended up with 631 miles in 11 hours. Damn if the Four Corners wasn't a huge waste of time. Oh well.
Had dinner at Cocos (finest quality meal I'd had ) went to Home Depot to get some WD-40 to lube my chain, and went to bed. Decided to ruin a towel from the motel cleaning my chain for charging me for wifi.
Next up: traversing Colorado, the indirect way.
|08-28-2009, 12:41 AM||#5|
Joined: Aug 2009
As morning broke on Colorado, I stepped outside of the motel to find a light drizzle coming down, put my rain gear on and headed off. Stopped to refuel, and headed East on I-70 for a short while to get off on US-6, which made a loop heading southwest, and down towards Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
I noticed the weather just got worse with more dense clouds, and colder and colder temperatures, finally checking the GPS to see what my altitude was, and I found I'd already crested 10,000 feet elevation, before 7AM.
Continuing down the road, I passed through several small towns, continued donw along CO SR-50, turning into US-50, chasing a diesel truck through the ascent up the mountain into Gunnison, letting him run rabbit for me in case there were cops ahead.
Turning off US-50 onto SR-92, my fuel light came back on, and I checked for the nearest gas station, which said 37 miles away, so I put it in, figuring I could make it no problem. Once routed, it was 46 miles away going through the windy road that went across the mountain. I dropped a gear or two, and putted through the damp windy road at 3500 RPM in order to milk more mileage out of the tank. I didn't stop for pictures here as the mountain was blanketed with thick clouds, so my visibility was limited, though I was able to see a whole group of young deer grazing just off the side of the road - thankfully they didn't move when I went by.
Finally making it to the next town, and gas, I ended up putting 4.42 gallons in my tank. Pretty sure I made it there on fumes, and not wanting to risk running out again, I decided to fill up the 1 gal can of gas I had strapped to the bike in case I came that close to running out again.
The road next took me along SR-133, which lazily followed a river, and where most of the locals were out for their weekend ride. This was the first time since I'd left home that I'd even seen sportbikes, and almost all of them were riding without helmets. Just can't get over the fact people let all the road debris hit their face.
SR-133 branched at SR-82, towards Independence Pass. The road led me through Aspen, and I couldn't believe my eyes. The town greets you with an airport filled with private jets, no less than three local cops parked on the road enforcing the town's 25mph speed limit and "no cruising" law. Downtown Aspen was even worse; clogged with spotless Land Rovers and Mercedez G-Wagons, I figured they were the locals who had driven their "utility vehicles" out of the garage to go preen downtown. You couldn't even smell the mountain air anymore over the cologne and perfume of the douches walking along the streets.
I wouldn't have felt bad if someone had handed me an axe and told me to start swinging away into people. It was just like being on the West Side of LA, just in higher elevation. I think Utah is the place to go snowboard for me, to hell with Aspen.
Leaving Aspen, the road narrowed and the tarmac ended altogether, I figured it was probably due to the DOT realizing gravel was easier to maintain in the wintertime than asphalt was, but at least it was still scenic. The road even lead through a forest of birch trees, which I can't remember seeing anywhere in CA.
The road started to climb up towards Independence Pass, going from high 9000' elevation up towards 12,000 +
Peaking Independence Pass, and taking an elderly picture's couple, who were both dressed in shorts and polos and shivering uncontrollably, I descended the pass heading back towards I-70 again.
The road finally branched off at US-24, then SR-9 heading up towards the interstate, as the road followed yet another river, through several coal mines, loading rail cars right along the highway, and finally these giant sentinels, welcoming and saying goodbye from the mountain pass.
Finally reaching I-70, I jumped on it for about 30-40 miles heading East, as my destination now was Idaho Springs, CO, and towards Mount Evans. I stopped for a picture at the Eisenhower Tunnel, which is supposed to be the highest elevation vehicle tunnel in the world.
It was a good 20 degrees warmer inside the tunnel than it was outside. I enjoyed the temporary warmth, and was happy to see the sun was breaking through the clouds onto the interstate on the other side of the tunnel.
It was here I hit a traffic jam, with all the lanes stopped. I was about to say "screw it" and just lane split like back in CA, but decided not to, and not 2 seconds later, I see a Sheriff's car 2 vehicles in front of me. Come to think of it, what could he have really done to try and follow me? Oh well, better safe than sorry.
10 miles later, I exited to Idaho Springs, which looked like a charming little town, complete with brewery and little boutique shops. Too bad I didn't have time to stop and look around. I headed up the road to Echo Lake, and jumped onto SR-5 towards the summit of Mount Evans. The whiteboard at the entrance to the road mentioned it was 36F at the top of the road. I put on my rain coat just for an extra layer to have on.
14 miles later, and several great views later, I crested to the top of the road, at 14,168 feet, passing alpine lakes and meadows along the way. It was indeed, quite cold and quite windy up at the top of Mt Evans. You could even see Denver, 60 miles away off in the distance.
Heading off once more, the bike hesitated to start for a moment, but a small blip of the throttle gave the mixture enough oomph to fire the engine up. I'd hate to think how poorly a carburated bike would perform at that altitude.
I descended SR-5 again, back through Idaho Springs, and a short jump West on I-70 again to US-40, which on the map, had an awesome section of switchbacks, which I wanted to take a picture of, but found they were actually too big to take a picture of from the top. I did find this aerial picture of the road to illustrate what it was like:
Cresting at 11,000 feet, the road started to come back down, and led through a few towns, one which was having a War Veteran's rally, and the main drag was choked full of Harleys and slow moving everything. Luckily I saw on the GPS there was a road behind the main drag where I could bypass everything, and it got me through that town quick and without issue. I suddenly wondered if there would be rooms available where I wanted to stay, but as the road listed it 20 miles away I figured I'd be OK since most rally types wouldn't ride as far as 20 miles to go barhopping.
Finally reaching Granby, CO, I pulled into what looked like a decent motel, asked the clerk the rate, and got a room. As I was turning to leave the office I asked him "you guys have wifi, right?"
He chuckled. "Hell, we 'aint even got telephones."
So I unpacked my stuff, went to dinner, and when I came back, 2 harley guys were lounging outside their room.
"Bike's kinda dirty, isn't it?" they said gesturing to the RSV.
"Yeah, three 500 plus mile days of rain, off and on. I notice your bikes didn't get dirty coming all the way from that trailer over there." I said gesturing to the enclosed trailer 20 feet away with "Chopper This" and "Custom That" on the side.
They both looked into their beers for a witty reply, but found none.
Went inside, warmed up with a shower, and got a text from a friend how the trip was going, and had a short conversation with him about what an antisocial tool I am, and went to bed.
Next up: Heading to Wyoming
|08-28-2009, 12:43 AM||#6|
Joined: Aug 2009
I awoke the next morning, having already heard the spatter of rain on the motel roof, and on the asphalt outside, glad my bike was parked directly outside my door under the eaves, since I'd run the battery tender cable out through a window to recharge the battery just in case. I got dressed, prepared for rain, went outside to pack the bike, and noticed the 2 harleys had been put away in their precious little trailer. What wankers.
Left the motel, went to get gas at the corner, and headed north along US-34 towards Rocky Mountain National Park, under a light rain. Rode along the edge of a lake, until I reached the park entrance, where I was waved through, and noticed mutilple speed limit warnings in a row, followed by one telling you speeding kills wildlife. I figured I'd comply since the ground looked like this, and I'd just cruise at the mellow 45mph limit to take in the sights.
At first, I didn't really fathom what the big deal was about this National Park, as the woods were scenic enough, and the granite mountains off in the distance were nice, but didn't have that "zing" to it that makes you stop and be in awe.
I motored through the park, climbing back up to 10,000 feet, realizing my rain gloves, though waterproof, didn't insulate at ALL, and I was getting sick of having my fingertips be numb from the cold temperatures.
The road slowly began to wind a bit more, and finally came around a hill where I could see a valley, with a small river flowing through it. The wow factor was finally presenting itself. I stopped to take a picture, thinking it all looked so "Sound of Music" below.
I continued to climb further up, until I came to a bend in the road that presented a huge ridge of mountains in the park. Yeah, that was the wow factor I was looking for. It was pretty cool
The road began it's tighter, curvier descent down the mountain, and the sun had already broken through the sky, presenting dry asphalt on the northeast side of the mountain, showing the valley below. You could already see the little town of Estes Park below.
I rode down the rest of the way, and stopped at a sporting goods store to see if they had any insulating gloves that were water "resistant" at least, or some thermasilk liners. They only had basic winter gloves, the kind you only wear in the snow for 10 minutes before your hands are soaked, but like I said, I was tired of my fingers being cold.
I stopped almost next door to have some breakfast, and plot out another possible route, since I had originally planned to make one huge loop around Rocky Mountain Park, back to Granby, but I didn't want to do the commuter-packed US-40 switchbacks again, not to mention the 100 little towns I'd have to ride through to get there. Two couples were having breakfast at the table next to me, and one of the women just kept obviously staring at me, looking me up and down half quizically, half with disdain. I guess they're not used to seeing people in any kind of leather that doesn't have tassles all over it, so I finally asked her if there was something on her mind, and you'd think I'd just asked her if I could skullfück her grandmother since she turned away quickly and pretended she hadn't just been staring at me for the last 20 seconds. It must have been the knee pucks that made her so uncomfortable.
I finally decided on heading out towards Fort Collins, and then doubling back across CO SR-14 to Walden, which was my portal out of Colorado and up into Wyoming.
The section between Estes Park and Fort Collins was your typical suburbian commute, dull and boring, sadly with almost nothing to photograph. I crossed back West over SR-14, which follows a river for about 80 miles,although it had a good number of cars to get around, before you climb up to 9,000 feet, and then drop into a valley that leads into Walden.
As the road flattened out towards Walden, the landscape opened up, and you know what wide open plains mean, don't you? That's right, pesky crosswinds!
At least the winds weren't TOO strong and I was only being made to wander around in my half of the lane.
As I reached Walden, I wondered where Thoreau was, and if he could tell me what the big deal was about his pond.
I stopped for gas, checking the Zumo, and I could hear the tuba going "WAH WAH" as I was informed I had 304 miles to go, and it all looked like wide open, straight roads of Wyoming's plains.
I looked up, and saw a pair of sportbikes across the street with saddlebags, and idled over to them, and said how nice it was to see something other than a Harley that was actually getting used for touring.
"Actually, we're from Chicago... we trailered in, we're about 50 miles down the road." one guy told me. I had to shake my head. Chicago is far and all, but jeez. Doesn't anyone ride their damn bike anywhere?
I wished them a good ride, recommended SR-14 to them, and told them there were spots where it was raining on the road, and to be careful.
I motored out of town heading north, and I wasn't even 1/4 mile out of town when it began to rain. I pulled over to don my rain suit, and headed up towards Wyoming.
No sooner did I crest a hill about 2 miles later, when I was literally hit with a wall of wind. The clouds in front were thick and heavy, and the rain had been picking up, but that ridge must have been holding back all the wind from the clouds because it just slammed right into me. 70 felt like 120 with my helmet being pushed back, and I just stayed in a tuck as best I could, and dealt with the buffeting.
Of course the road would turn, and it would go from a headwind to a crosswind, and I'd be riding sideways just to track straight in the road. Priceless. I checked the Zumo, and it merrily gave me the finger, as it informed me there were 270 miles to go.
novos screwed with this post 08-28-2009 at 12:52 AM
|08-28-2009, 12:43 AM||#7|
Joined: Aug 2009
I finally reached the Wyoming border, and pulled over so the wind was blowing AT my bike, so it would at least dig the stand into the ground, and not blow it over instead.
I motored on, heading up to Rawlings, and from there, Muddy Gap, Wyoming. By now I was about 100 miles into Wyoming, and I'd only gotten welcome with wind and rain. The section between Rawlings and Muddy Gap just cranked it up a notch, heavier winds, more rain, and I was crouched in a tuck trying to hide behind my windscreen, wearing 5 layers, with my Gerbings ON, and still shivering. Welcome to Wyoming. Mother fuck.
Stopped for gas in Muddy Gap, where 2 riders, one on a GS, the other on a Harley informed me it was only raining a little bit on the way to Yellowstone, and I told them about the conditions to expect heading down to Rawlings.
Thankfully they were right, and the skies began to open up, and the wind subsided by about 80% giving me a welcome respite from being knocked around. I looked to my left and saw the system I had just ridden through, and was glad to be out of it. In front of me, the sun illuminated clouds ahead, but at least there WAS some sun.
Seemingly hours later (maybe just 100 miles) I began to see the finish line, as the trip meter counted under 200 miles to go, and I was riding through patches of sunshine.
No sooner did I stop for gas, and headed on my way, when the road slowly curved north, and I blinked a couple of times, thinking the road wasn't really taking me in the direction I was looking at, was it?
I zoomed out on the GPS and didn't see much alteration in the road's direction. WOT THE FACK. Not more of this shít.
At the very least, I took time to be amazed at how quick, and how dark the clouds blanketed the land in front of me. Those clouds couldn't be more than 5-600 feet above my head. I was amazed, there's no weather like this in CA.
As I rode into the dark clouds, I started seeing lightning firing off in front of me, a couple of miles away, then it was on both sides of me, and more frequent. Thankfully, the road curved to the northwest, and I was led out of the system, having only had to ride through the fringe of it. Looking to my right, the system presented a faint rainbow where the sun shone down on it. Quite the juxtaposition, and in my Leprechaun voice I asked were me Lucky Charms were now?
The rest of the road continued along for the last 100 miles, with a rabbit presenting itself in the form of a big Mercury sedan going 90, allowing me to chase it at 85, and cover those last miles quicker, without the fear of a trooper lighting me up.
As I finally rolled the last 15 miles into Dubois, Wyoming (I'd been wondering how the F you pronounced it, was it Doo-Bwah, like in French? Do-boys? Who settled this place that gave the town its name?)
I began to follow the Great Wind River, which had cut away some familiar formations
Finally got into town, checked into a motel, had dinner, and ran across some Goldwing riders that told me it had been snowing further up the road to Yellowstone, and the road construction ahead had made the trip quite sketchy.
I took heed, went back to my motel, finally warmed up with a hot shower, and went to bed.
|08-28-2009, 12:45 AM||#8|
Joined: Aug 2009
I awoke the following morning at my standard time of 6AM, and was getting pretty good at leaving myself completely packed before I went to sleep, save for the phone and ipod chargers, one for my alarm, the other to keep the tunes going for the minimum requisite of 12 hours a day in the saddle.
It had been raining all night, and the air had quite a chill to it, so I made sure to dress warm, loaded up the bike, filled the tank and slowly headed out of town.
The air was in the low 30's range, my chin already quite cold as I headed up US 287 towards Yosemite. I checked the elevation, it was over 9,000 feet, and the road kept climbing uphill.
My surroundings began to have a white dusting to them, which got thicker as I went.
Now, this wasn't by any means a heavy winter snowing, and I was glad at least the road was clear.
I began to see the signs warning of the road construction I'd heard about, and sure enough, the pavement soon ended, with a sign informing the next 10 miles had road work on them.
The tarmac became a glistening layer of wet mud, and I was none too happy. I had been following a Forrester in front of me, keeping my wheels in its tracks, but the car soon pulled away, as I kept my speed between 20 and 25, feeling the front wheel wobble around.
Now some of you have already heard this one, so just skip ahead to where it's interesting again.
**DISCLAIMER** Those are the only pictures I took that day.
Though I tried to be careful, even fully upright, my bars went full lock in one direction, then the other, and I was already aware of what was in store for me.
The bike slid sideways for about 5 feet before fully washing out under me, and I cursed myself for letting the bike get away from me, as I slid for 10 feet in the mud, hoping the slide wouldn't eat away at the mesh jacket.
The bike, having far more weight and momentum, continued sliding for another 30 feet, doing a full 360 spin on its side, before coming to a stop, rear wheel still spinning.
FŮCK FŮCK FŮCK. Of all places to dump the bike, 1000 miles from home. Perfect. I got up and felt no rash on the side of my jacket, and went over to turn the bike off. I looked down, hoping the clipon had held, but unfortunately, no luck.
I saw the bar dangling from the cable attached to the hand controls. Goddamn brittle aluminum. What the fück was I going to do now. I tried to pick up the bike but my hands were just slipping off of everything since it was completely caked in mud, and I wasn't about to go for the stock exhausts since those things hold tons of heat for hours. Luckily, an older gentleman came along, as well as part of the road crew in his 4WD duelly, who helped me get the bike up.
I thanked them both and asked the road crew guy if there was someone in Dubois who could possibly Tig weld, since the bar and clutch lever were busted off, the peg off my rearsets had come off, and the exhaust bracket was bent. He told me my lack of options, saying no one in Jackson that he knew of, MAYBE back in Dubois, and he knew for sure there was a tow truck back in Dubois that could come and get me. He offered to give me a lift to a stop up ahead where there was somewhere I could call for the tow. I unloaded the bike, put my bags, still caked in mud in the bed of his truck, and took off my rain coat to lay over his seat so I wouldn't ruin it since I was also covered in mud.
"Man, we weren't expecting this weather, we didn't have time to lay down anything on the road, and we're not running a pilot car today." he told me, as he drove ahead, his truck sporadically losing traction on the road.
He dropped me off at a lodge that wasn't a MILE ahead, where the asphalt had begun. I was even MORE pissed off that I'd just about made it back to tarmac before dumping the bike. What shít. What an idiot. Goddammit.
He dropped me off, and I called a tow, waited 45 minutes for him to arrive, already loaded with an Explorer in the flatbed. He told me he was heading to Jackson, and he recommended a guy in Dubois who did custom cycles and had a trailer. He called him up, gave him my whereabouts, mentioned the road was "a fücking disaster." and headed off.
Waiting outside, a guy came out to load his Goldwing, noticed I was in leathers and caked in mud, and asked me if I'd gone down. I said yes, and he informed me he'd gone down the night before in the same stuff, and had to stop at the lodge for the night. His 'wing had crash bars and all, so he'd only broken off his brake lever, and was using his linked ABS with the rear pedal to stop himself. His wife came out, obviously sore from the crash, and we both helped her up into the passenger seat of the 'wing. I let him know I had zip ties and electrical tape if he wanted to see if we could fix his lever, and in about 10 minutes he had a huge bukly bundle of zip ties and tape holding his lever back on. He was grateful, and said this would surely get him to Jackson, or somewhere he could get the lever replaced properly. I wished them well and they motored on.
An hour and a half later, the guy with the trailer showed up. Tall, medium build, bushy mustache, and a dog in his truck. Said his name was Don, but everyone called him Ding. I thought he must have just come off the set of No Country for Old Men.
He drove me back to the bike, where we loaded it into his trailer, and headed back to Dubois. We chatted about random stuff, and his phone went off, sounded somewhat annoyed, and gunned the gas pedal.
Turns out he's also local EMT/SAR for the town, and there was a call about a woman rider with a possible broken ankle at the next gas station about 5 miles up the road. Over the radio, he heard first responder was there already, and he mentioned that was his uncle. We got to the station, where the woman was lying on a picnic bench with lots of people around her, sounding in good spirits, joking about the whole situation. I noticed three people caked in the same mud I was covered in, and 2 bikes also covered in mud.
Turns out they'd gone down too in the same shít road, only their cruisers had front and rear crash bars, so they were only sporting broken turn signals. At least misfortune had company.
The woman was treated, and got on the tricycle one of her friends had, and headed off towards the nearest hospital - 70 miles away, to get her ankle looked at.
|08-28-2009, 12:46 AM||#9|
Joined: Aug 2009
We eventually got back to Ding's shop, where "we" (I say we because really I did like 80 percent of the work taking my bike apart since I was much more familiar on how to do so) took the upper triple off, got the bar off, and I took to getting my rearset peg back on, which had just been popped off and not broken, but the aluminum was stressed a little bit.
Ding admittedly told me he wasn't very skilled with Tig welding, and I told him as long as it all holds, that's the important part. He took a few tries, and finally managed to get the bar to hold together, and that was put on, along with the upper triple. He then took a spare clutch lever off a harley, and using a band saw, drill press, and a dremel, tried to work it out to the same cuts and dimensions as what was left of my brembo lever. It must have taken him a good 45 minutes to an hour to work it basically into the same shape, as best he could.
He fit the worked lever onto my master, said it looked pretty good, and with the first pull, snapped the whole thing in half. He looked as let down as I was.
Ding got out a sportbike catalog to see if he could find a suitable lever, but I knew those Parts Unlimited catalogues wouldn't have anything to fit the billet radial master I had on my bar. Fed up with the whole ordeal, I told Ding we'd deal with it monday, and I'd call Yoyodyne to see how quick they could get a lever out, and went back to the same motel I'd just checked out of that morning.
After getting back into a room, I took my cloth that I'd been using to clean my faceshield and cleaned the mud off my riding pants as best I could, as well as my boots. I'd deal with the jackets and bags which were still covered in dry mud tomorrow.
I finally decided to call my mom, as I knew she'd want to know and would probably overreact, even though the first thing I said was I wasn't hurt; she asked if I was hurt. Moms. :)
I gave her some info as to where, if maybe I hadn't sold it, she might be able to find my OEM clutch master and lever. She called back an hour later saying she'd found it. Bingo. I asked her to please overnight it so I could get the hell out of dodge.
|08-28-2009, 12:46 AM||#10|
Joined: Aug 2009
The next morning, I called Ding, told him a clutch was on the way, and spent the morning watching Living Single on Oxygen in the motel room, already bored out of my mind.
Walked to the bank to get some cash to do laundry, because everything was muddy, and my clothes smelled like gasoline for some reason.
Went to Ding's shop because he said I could come by and wash the mud off the bike. While there, still bored, I helped him pull the heads, piston and crank off a Dodge V8 engine he was working on, and hot dip the lower casing, before heading back to my motel room, grabbing some dinner and watching more TV, bored and frustrated, knowing the earliest my clutch could come was 11AM the next moring from UPS.
|08-28-2009, 12:47 AM||#11|
Joined: Aug 2009
So, the following morning came, and I had left my alarm off to try and "sleep in" to avoid the boredom of the morning. I awoke at 07:15, got up showered, made sure I was packed, and sat around being bored stupid by 07:30.
I must have sat by the window for a good hour and a half looking out every time I head a diesel engine go by, only to see Paw Kettle drive by, since EVERY pickup and working vehicle is a diesel out in Wyoming.
9 AM came.
10 AM. It was getting close to my checkout time of 11AM, and the front office had told me UPS came "between 11 and 1PM " I was trying to psych myself up for 3 hours of sitting in the motel office bored to tears.
10:50, I went to the front office, dropped my key off, and pointlessly checked out the UPS tracking number: Out for Delivery.
11:03, I hear a rumbling, and a familiar metal on metal mashing. I look up, it's UPS! I grab my stuff, go outside and sign for my package. I couldn't walk the mile to Ding's shop from the motel fast enough, but I did have time to notice how heavy all my shit was, when it had no proper way of being carried.
I get to Ding's shop, take out my awesome, unbroken stock clutch and had it on 5 minutes later. Took the bike out for a short spin to make sure everything was OK, and went back to the shop to load my bike. Ding charged me for the towing, and the welding, I rode to get gas, and couldn't get the fuck out of Dubois fast enough.
I cruised along US-287, and encountered the road I'd gone down on, now hard packed, dry soil. My mind played tricks with me for the 10 miles of construction, until I finally touched proper tarmac again. There were a few big ruts and bumps where the GPS marked I had stopped moving on that road, and I wondered if any of those had contributed to me going down, hidden under the mud, but I could only speculate.
US-287 branched off between Yellowstone, and Jackson, but I'd heard there was more construction in Jackson, and didn't want to deal with more shit roads (lol) so I headed north, seeing the Grand Teton range off in the distance.
Continued a little further north, and stopped at Jackson Lake overlook. Awesome. I'm just amazed by how nature works the land with colliding tectonic plates, volcanic rifts in the crust, wind, water, sediment.. the whole deal. Just awesome.
I encountered ANOTHER 8 miles of torn up road on US-287 just before the entrance to Yellowstone, and was getting fed up with Wyoming's fucked up roads, but finally, after a day and a half delay, I'd made it to Yellowstone.
Riding through the south end of the park was somewhat uneventful. There was a river that had cut a shallow canyon alongside the road, but there was a thick patch of pine trees blocking the view, and I saw nothing extraordinarily exciting. Part of the giant loop that you can drive in Yellowstone had been closed for the season for, you guessed it, road construction, so I figured only riding to Red Lodge in Montana for the night, doubling back through the park to start heading home.
Stopped for gas, and a small Yellowstone sticker from the General Store as a memento, and had a disgusting, dry "ham and cheese" sandwich as my first morsel of the day (at 2PM)
Continued heading north on the east side of Yellowstone's Grand Loop, and the land opened up, leaving wide prairies and mountains off in the distance.
It was here I finally saw the Buffalo my friends had told me about. They were pretty cool. Completely indifferent to cars, they just walked straight down the middle of the road, sashaying as slow as they pleased.
Traffic was stopped in BOTH directions several times because of them, and I guess when you're the same size as anything but an SUV, why would you care about everything else around you? :) The buffalo fully expected YOU to stop for THEM. One even stopped standing IN the lane to graze on a little bit of grass. :)
Heading north, I eventually hit a limestone canyon, that had been cut away by a river, Tower Falls were nearby, but I couldn't catch a glimpse of them. I could however, see the sun starting it's descent in the sky so I decided to keep moving.
novos screwed with this post 08-28-2009 at 01:14 AM
|08-28-2009, 12:48 AM||#12|
Joined: Aug 2009
The road eventually branched off, to the northeastern exit of Yellowstone on US-212, the Beartooth Highway. This road had been one of my trip goals all along, Yellowstone had just been the route to get to it. I was excited. The highway opened up to the Lamar Valley, this must be quite the gateway to go through when heading INTO Yellowstone this way.
When I finally reached the park exit, there were a trio of Harleys just checking into the park, I swung around to ask them the road conditions. Not surprisingly, they told me it was fucked up, just like all the other roads in Wyoming. I thanked them by using my Park Pass for all 3 of them, saving them each 25.00 and already having gotten my money's worth for that pass.
Crossed the border into Montana, as US-212 zigs and zags between MT and WY several times, and encountered nothing but dirt and gravel road for about 5 miles. Kept on 212 heading east, slowly climbing elevation through coniferous forests, to where the road branched off to Beartooth Pass, and Chief Joseph Highway. I was planning on staying at Red Lodge in Montana, doubling back to Chief Joseph the next morning, and riding through Yellowstone to exit in Idaho towards home.
Beartooth pass presented itself with tight switchbacks climbing a mountain, then an idiotic break of 500 yards of road scraped away, 500 yards of tarmac. Little bit of asphalt, little bit of road, and not all on one side. It was like a retard had tried to make a checkerboard pattern with the road, seemingly for no reason. If you're going to tear up the road, why only tear up tiny little sections of it? Just stupid, but then again, I WAS in Wyoming. :
As Beartooth Pass climbed up to 11,000 feet, I found myself in an Alpine environment again, with gnarled trees, bald on one side, branches pointed uphill on the other. I wondered just HOW brutal the weather must get up in this pass.
I finally hit the summit of Beartooth, and the vista was no disappointment. Just, wow.
I continued on, only to find traffic stopped at what else, but road construction. I asked the woman with three teeth who was the Stop/Slow sign person how much further to asphalt, she said it was "at the Montana border." The GPS said 18 miles. Did I mention how much I love Wyoming's roads? :)
Carrying on, the road going from hard packed gravel, to much deeper sections where I could feel the front end sinking in a bit, I nervously carried on, my mind screwing with me again every time the bars twitched just like they had before I'd dumped it. A good 15 minutes later (yeah, I was riding like a giant puss) I saw the Montana welcome sign, and tarmac! Excellent! Fuck you Wyoming and your roads!
I smiled, and felt my left clipon snap off right in my hand. Oh, W T F. I looked down, and there it was, broken off just past the weld, everything from the controls and grip, right there in my hand. I guess Ding wasn't kidding when he said he was a shitty Tig welder. Bollocks! Curses! Crumbs! . My spirits, which had been slowly building back up during the day, tanked again, and my frustration cranked up to 10. I said "fuck the trip, I'm scrapping Chief Joseph from my route and slabbing it home on the interstate." Annoyed to maximum, I was willing to just get home and deal with the busted clipon properly, rather than pissing away more money and time on an improper fix.
I decided to stop anyway and collect the Welcome sign, one handlebar and all.
I pulled out my zip ties and secured the bar to my upper triple, with the controls facing up, so I could still use the horn, brights, and signal.
I began the ascent down Beartooth Pass, and had to chuckle at the fact I had to do it one handed. Thankfully I was used to riding like that (how do you think all the pictures from the road are taken? ;)
Then sun was fading now, and I just wanted to get to a motel, relax, and forget the shitty frustration of the day. Rode into Red Lodge, only to find out it's a ski resort town, and all the places to stay were all $95-160.
I looked up in the Zumo the nearest place I could go, found Laurel, Montana listed, called a place; $39 a night with wifi. We're a go.
Rode the last 50 miles towards the town in the dark, though I did stop to get this Muffler Man that was in the parking lot of a Casino :)
If you don't know what Muffler Men are, they're really just roadside kitsch, and I've got a collection of 8 or so different ones that I've gone to in CA, and this was just another for the list.
I made it to Laurel, where I looked for the motel, couldnt find it, so I stopped at a gas station/truck stop and asked them where they were.
"We ARE the gas station." Lovely. I looked around and the only thing I could see was a portable bungalow on one corner of the lot. I checked the GPS for alternative places to stay, but it was either Billings, 10 miles away, or something "closer" to home, 60 miles away. I finally opted for the truck stop bungalow, which thankfully turned out to be no worse than any 1 star dump I'd already stayed at. Gave the RSV one dissapointed, sad look out the window, with it's one bar, and went to bed.
novos screwed with this post 08-28-2009 at 01:17 AM
|08-28-2009, 12:51 AM||#13|
Joined: Aug 2009
The next morning, I awoke at 5 AM local time with the intention of just blasting off, ready to just hit the interstate and get myself close to home. I thought about just trying to go all out and head home in a day, but with 1,650 miles between Laurel, MT, and home, in CA I decided to break it up into two days, as I would technically only get home a day later than planned.
Geared up and dropped off my key, refueled and was underway.
It took about 2 hours to get from Laurel, to Bozeman, MT where the GPS was routing me back down towards West Yellowstone, which would shave off about 80 miles as opposed to staying on I-90 all the way to the I-15.
Bozeman seemed like a nice quiet town, and I rode by a bagel place that smelled of fresh doughy goodness inside, but decided to keep going, deciding I'd just eat "breakfast" (or more likely lunch at that point) once I crossed into Ohio.
US-191 heading south passed between some soft rolling hills with forests all around, though nothing extraordinarily spectacular.
Heading closer into Yellowstone, it came as no surprise that there was yet MORE road construction. I really think someone must have decided 2009 was a good year to tear up EVERY SINGLE ROAD leading into Yellowstone. There was only one exit of the park I didn't use, but I'd bet good money the road leading to Cody, WY was also under construction.
US-191 eventually led me to US-20 south, where I finally crossed the Idaho border.
Stopping for gas, and a brunch that included the saddest, most flavorless chicken sandwich EVER, I continued down on US-20 for another good clip, until I finally joined up with I-15.
Idaho was full of green farmlands, with their irrigation machines doing their thing as I rode by. It could have been central California for its appearance.
Several rabbits came and went, which let me wick it up to 90 sometimes, always mindful of state troopers, making me realize one of the biggest pains of traveling between states is, you never know the make, model, and color that the state's highway patrol uses, which is always handy to know.
Hours and hours later, I had crossed into Utah, and down into Salt Lake City, which has the most retarded street numbering system in the world. I already knew the streets were numbered in N/E/S/W directions from the main Mormon temple, but I would see 700 North as one exit, ride for another 25 minutes, and 700 North would be there again. I'm sure moving to SLC must be a BLAST trying to find an address for your first couple of weeks. The only thing I could figure is every suburb of SLC had it's own "main temple" and the streets were numbered out from every one of those.
I stopped for gas just outside the airport, had a drink and a snack to wake myself up, and headed West on I-80 towards Wendover, at the Utah/Nevada border.
A few miles after I had left the SLC airport, the great Salt Lake was visible to my right. It had that same weird smell that the Salton Sea in CA has, it must have something to do with the plant matter that grows by the shoreline being baked to death by the hot sun.
Further on, I saw some sort of plant/refinery off the highway. I wondered if that was where the Mormons made their Soylent Green, out of their elderly. ;) (Let's see YOU spend a week inside your helmet, see what dumb things you say to entertain yourself )
By now, all the traffic that had been around me, that I assumed were all heading towards the Nevada state line to gamble (as all the billboards enticed you to do) had branched off towards Tooele, and as far as I could see in front or behind me, I was the only one on the highway, at least heading West.
I encountered a giant salt factory, quite appropriate for where I was, and thought nothing much of it until I saw the girl in the raincoat with the umbrella that is the Morton's logo. I think I'll be buying rock sea salt from Trader Joe's now.
Between SLC and Wendover, I pretty much just say about 110 miles of this. Thankfully the crosswinds were minimal, more like the occasional crossbreeze.
Wendover creeped eventually closer, and finally I saw the exit sign for what I had come for all along: Bonnevile Speedway.
I exited, and took the 2-lane road heading north from the interstate towards the famed lake bed. 3 miles later, I finally came upon the salt flats, and the sign I had been specifically looking for. :) I couldn't help but think of Anthony Hopkins portraying Burt Munro as he also stood in front of that sign, preparing to run his Streamlier during Speed Week, though the sign in the movie had a lot less bullet holes in it.
As I finished taking the picture, I shut the camera off and turned around to find an old man standing outside his white GMC truck, gesturing out towards the salt flats, going on and on about something. I had no idea how long he'd been standing there and been talking to me since I had my tunes going through my earplugs like always. I turned the ipod off and tried to hear what he was saying, as he talked in his indoor voice, and I had a helmet AND noise reducing headphones on. Something about his daughter telling him to come out here or something.
He thankfully ended his "conversation" soon thereafter, and I motored out onto the salt flats. I was amazed at the texture of the ground, rough, bumpy, rippled ground, but hard as concrete. I followed previous tracks out into the lakebed, figuring if I became disoriented, I could either follow those faint tracks back, or just look at the GPS and follow the little blue line back to where I came from.
It was so quiet and desolate out there. The fading sun starting to make the RSV cast a longer shadow, I rode around for a bit, trying to take it all in, when I finally spotted in the distance the long Black Line from Speed Week, though faint now as it was, it was still pretty awesome to be there.
And in case anyone asks, no, I didn't take a speed run. ;) I've already run the RSV up to 171 (indicated on the GPS) and that was thrills enough for me. This was more about visiting sacred ground.
One of the places I stopped, I stooped down and used my key to chip a little chunk out of the ground. Amazing how it's all just compacted salt crystals! You could see all the little grains and crystals in just that little chunk. I wondered how vast the sea up at this elevation must have been eons ago, when the ground I was crouching down on was all underwater.
Heading back into town, I took note of all the lovely dumps that offered lodging, for mid $30. I stopped at a gas station to inquire about a Bonneville decal, but the attendant looked at me blankly, and I re-inquired in Spanish about it (first time I'd used Spanish since leaving CA!)
He mentioned Speed Week had come and gone, and normally everyone gobbles up anything with Bonneville printed on it, but this year there'd been much, much lower attendance, and the only thing he had were sweatshirts.
It was like 95 degrees, and I had no desire to buy a sweatshirt. I decided to call Ely, NV (which had been my target stop for the night on my pre-planned route originally, and found a place to stay for $33 a night, free wifi. Go suck it, Motel6. Plotting it on the GPS said it was 113 miles to Ely, and the sun was getting low on the horizon. ETA on the GPS said 19:06 in Ely, and I decided to go for it. A quick refuel and I was on my way.
Only afterwards, did I realize I didn't know if I was still in Mountain or back in Pacific time, and I couldn't remember what Nevada fell under. It was too late anyway, since I was already a half mile out of town, and jumping on US-93 south.
Though desolate, US-93 still had beautiful desert surroundings, and the air temp had cooled considerably, since I was up around 6800 feet. I decided to cut some time off my ride to Ely, and wicked it up past 100, since the road gave enough time to spot a car on the road ahead.
I kept on like this for about 20 minutes, watching the ETA drop down on the GPS, but finally let my paranoia get the better of me, since everytime I'd see a car coming my way, I'd roll off down to about 80, until I could see the color and make of the car and decide if it was a cop or not, though I did wait to see the entire SIDE of any white SUV's that came by. ;)
I kept the pace at around 80-85, watching the sun start to make its way behind the mountains to my left.
Not long after I'd decided to roll off, I saw a car on the shoulder in the distance, and it indeed turned out to be a Nevada State Trooper. He didn't budge when I went by, though the car that came the other way going 90+ sure made him get off the shoulder. Viva paranoia. :)
30 miles, and 10,000 dead bugs on my jacket later, I rolled into Ely, and into my stellar accommodations, where I unpacked, walked a block to a diner to get dinner, and came back to settle in. I was glad I'd bothered to get to Ely, since every mile I did that day was one mile less I had to do the next to get home.
Checking the odometer, I'd pulled off 794 miles in 11 hours. Not bad.
|08-28-2009, 12:55 AM||#14|
Joined: Aug 2009
I awoke at 6 the next morning, ready and refreshed, and checked google maps for my route out of Nevada: should I head down towards Vegas, or towards US-395 on the opposite side of Nevada?
I realized I'd taken a picture of every welcome sign from the states I'd been in except for Nevada, and California. West Wendover (the Nevada side of the town) had only presented a stupid line painted in the middle of the street marking the state line.
I checked street view on one of the roads leading out of Nevada, and found it had BOTH welcome signs I was looking for.
Plotted it into the GPS, and it said 534 miles to home. Good enough for me.
Geared up, packed the bike, and shoved the room key through the mail slot of the still-closed motel office and headed off into the 47 degree, crisp morning weather.
The planned route was US-6 all the way to the California border, and after refueling and leaving town, the signs proclaimed 167 miles to next gas. Keeping the RPMS under 5K, I figured that should prove no problem.
US-6 rolled out of town into some small patches of coniferous forest, brush plains, then back up into forest again. I had to imagine that highway was just spectacular during the late autumn months, as I continued on in the low morning sun.
One of the windy sections of US-6 went through this rocky canyon, and sadly this was the best shot of it I got, clearly my on-board shooting skills weren't up to par yet that early in the morning. (No, I'm not pumping my fist in the air in a proclamation of power.)
Unfortunately, the windy sections were also offset by 30 mile sections like this:
All in all, as I neared Tonopah, NV, my next fuel stop, I was able to traverse the 167 miles in under 2 hours, low revving it in 6th going about 70-75, and I calculated I was actually getting about 50mph, when the light came on just 12 miles out of town.
I stopped for gas and a drink, shed the Gerbings liner and my long sleeve as the air was starting to warm up and headed out towards CA.
As I finally reached the CA/NV border at 9:45 AM, I was able to grab the last 2 state welcome signs.
The road descended into California, and US-395, which is usually my route to go snowboarding in Mammoth/June Lake, or my route back from Yosemite.
This time it was a giant Welcome Back in the form of 95 degrees in the town of Bishop. The heat was just miserable and oppressive. I stopped for gas, and went inside to soak the cooling vest I had brought, and was dry in about 15 minutes. It was uncomfortable to inhale, as the air had absolutely NO humidity, and I ended up using the camelbak occasionaly to pour water on my face to at least inhale some moisture.
I saw thermometers along the road show the temps as I rolled back down towards home.
115F in Victorville, CA, said a thermometer, just before I rolled by the Federal prison there. The only ones I felt sorry for were the schmucks parked at the perimeter in their trucks, with only an EZ-Up over the truck to provide shade.
I soon hit the I-15 south, and knew I was getting close to home when going 80 was no longer acceptable, as I was the one slowing people down, and generally everyone drove like a total a-hole again.
I kept watching the trip meter tick down on the GPS.
187, 160, 112, 80. Home was getting closer, and it the heat just SUCKED. One final muster and I cruised the now-familiar surroundings of San Bernardino County, Pomona, Brea, and finally, back home.
Stretching my legs, and dropping out of all my gear as quick as I could, I chugged some cold water out of the garage fridge, and finally started to relax, as I was home.
I looked back at the bike, and had to have a chuckle. 1600 miles of riding like this, reaching for the phantom bar about 100 times like a dumbass.
I took the tank and tail bags off for the last time, knowing I wouldn't have to load them up again in 7 or 8 hours again, and finally concluded,
Moto Sport Touring: 4,000m
6.5 days of actual riding, 4,180 miles, 9 states visited, countless turns and stellar roads.
Things I learned on the trip:
60 miles more or less total of off-pavement travel on this trip. I had enough of it on ST tires. smooth clean tarmac, how I love thee.
I'm pretty certain I don't have the minerals to hack the Iron Butt Rally. At least not on this bike. I'd be crying uncle by the 3rd day. 500 mile days I can do all day long, 7-800 miles every now and again, but not 11 days of 1,000 mile days.
I LOVE traveling by myself. I can operate on my own schedule, start and stop whenever I please, but at the end of the day, there's no one to share any of the quirky "you had to be there" experiences that happen while on the road.
The Road 2's have PHENOMENAL wear. There's like 6K on the tires now and it looks like there's plenty of meat on the tires yet.
Maybe next time I'll carry spare levers and stuff "just in case" though not dumping the bike is of course first priority.
I love, love love touring, and the RSV just gobbles up the miles. "Is it comfortable" you ask? Yes It IS.
Carrying a pipe or something specifically to lift the swingarm off the ground would have made lubing the chain along the way 10x easier.
I overpacked. Next time; take less crap.
The gallon gas can was a good safety net, but never actually got used. Seems like there's no paved place in the populated US where you can't find gas stations 150 miles or so from each other, it would seem - our infrastructre has been idiot-proofed.
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