Monthly Archives: July 2013

It feels different today…

Epic Ride, Day 5:

Riding to Spearfish for the NT-Owners National Rally (held in the same place at the same time as the ST-Owners National Rally) was the beginning of the ER.  But it was the 3rd year we’ve had an NT-Owners Rally and the 2nd year we’ve done it conjunction with our brothers and sisters of the ST persuasion.  It’ not routine, but it has that feeling… you know it …Been There; Done That.

Today we broke new ground.  Part of that started when I woke up at 5:05 and started packing.  I’ve still got a ways to go, but everything was packed in an hour, and the bike was loaded in about 1:45.  A new record!

But I got slowed down a bit when I realized that I didn’t have and hadn’t packed my cell phone.  Maybe, we thought, it was at the Holiday Inn’s restaurant where five of us had eaten last night.  We tried calling them on Joe’s phone, but couldn’t find a person who could help.  So I rode east to the Holiday Inn and still didn’t find the phone.

From there, I went to McDonald’s where we had breakfast four mornings in a row to join Rick Ryan (the Dessert Frog), Jim Moore from Nebraska, and Joe, my riding partner.  Then Richard from OKC came in.  After eating, we headed in different directions, Richard and Jim riding south together toward Hill City and Chadron; Rick, Jim and I heading west on I-90 to Gillette.  We got gas, talked a while with each other and with some great brothers who were on some kind of road trip together and then Rick headed south on WY-50 towards Casper and, eventually, Henderson, NV.  Jim and I rode US-14 through Spotted Horse,  Clearmont, and Ucross to Sheridan.  Like SW SD, NE WY was incredibly green.  I even saw water in the Powder River.  We took a short break in Ranchester and then rode over the Big Horns to Burgess Junction and then south to Shell Canyon.  Along the way we saw three moose, two large bulls in velvet, and either a younger bull or a cow, also in velvet.


Shell Canyon is a spectacular ride I’ve been wanting to do since my dad told me 20+ years ago that it was one of the prettiest drives he’d ever done.   He was right!  It would be worth going back and spending a day in the canyon, looking at the geological treasures revealed in the upthrust formations, and their faulting and fracturing and eroding, just trying to wrap your head around the immensity of the forces involved and the length of time it all took.

The canyon spit us out in Greybull, where we stopped for a few minutes on the way out of town to look at the remnants of Hawkins and Powers fire-bombing fleet.  H&P had been the largest fire-bombing contractor in the west until the wings came off a couple of his PBY5’s one year and then off some of his C-130s the next.  The NTSB grounded all the fire-bombers until they could establish an effective inspection program.  Mr. Powers was getting old and decided he didn’t want the hassle, and closed the doors on his business.  About five of the old-timers were sitting behind the airport fence at a Rest Area just west of Greybull.

This is one of those PBY5 Privateers:

We got to Lovell at about 6:30, checked into the Horseshoe Motel (we give it 6 stars, BTW).  Joanne, the co-owner with her husband told us that there wasn’t a Laundromat here in town but offered to was our clothes for us.  She even folded them!  Wow!

Tomorrow, we’re up and at ’em again as we head for Montana, Red Lodge and Beartooth Pass.  We’ll come back into Wyoming on the Chief Joseph Highway, get through Cody and the Park (that’s Yellowstone National Park, if you didn’t know). and hopefully somewhere near Salmon, ID. before we camp tomorrow night.

Statistics:  2013 mileage:  7,153; Trip Mileage on the ER:  1206 miles.

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Didja’ hear the one about the guy who…

Epic Ride, Day 2:

As my friends Rick Ryan (who will accompany me on a lot of my Epic Ride), Jim Moore and I were riding to North Dakota on Thursday, I kept thinking about “No-Dak” jokes.  You used to hear a lot of No-Dak jokes in Wyoming.  They were kind of like jokes about Poles, the Irish, and Texas Aggies.  They weren’t very politically correct.  But they were kinda’ funny.

I was thinking about them because we were riding to North Dakota just so I could color in another state on my “states-I’ve-ridden-in” map on the NT-Owners Forum.  I had driven to North Dakota one other time, but it had been dark by the time I got north of Belle Fourche, and I wasn’t prepared for how beautiful the ride would be.  It’s been a wet spring and early summer up here and the grass was green.  We saw lots of cattle, quite a few pronghorn antelope, some sheep, and thousands of round bales of hay.  What we didn’t see that I kept imagining was the vast herds of buffalo that once roamed the Plains, herds so big that it would sometimes take more than a day for them to pass a single spot.

We got to Bowman, North Dakota, and rode past three or four gas stations.  About 10 miles east I remembered that Rick had told me that he would need gas in another 140 miles when Jim and I were fueling up in Belle Fourche.  It had been 120+ miles.  I used the search function on my GPS to look for fuel opportunities along our route.  All the little arrows in the list were pointing south and the closest gas, according to Garmin was 110 miles away.  Oops!

But we could see two large grain elevators in Scranton, four miles ahead, so I pushed on, hoping Garmin was wrong.  Sure enough, there was a gas station in Scranton – thank you, CENEX!

At Gascoyne, the next town east on US-12, I thought we needed to turn south.  Garmin said, “No, it’s 6 miles east of here,” but I’d lost faith in Garmin.

You guessed it…this time I was wrong and we turned around.  As we rode back through Gascoyne (Pop: 10-15), I was the only one to see the old historic marker for the “Yellowstone Trail.”

At Reeder, we did turn south on ND-22, which became SD-79.  There was a sign warning us of 14 miles of road construction, but we didn’t see hide or hair of it.  In South Dakota, Garmin was wrong again.  Ralph was 5-6 miles away from Garmin’s guess and Reva was “out-of-place” by 3 miles.

South of Reva, there was another warning sign, promising 50 miles of road construction, but we weren’t worried.

We should have been.  After about 15 miles, we came to flagger.  He had several cars and a couple of trucks stopped, but waved us and the two Road King riders who had passed us to the front of the line.  The pilot car came in just a few minutes.  He led us down the road for 12 miles, riding in loose gravel, parallel to the clean side of the road that was waiting for oil and gravel.  All the construction was in the first ¼ mile of the flagger.  After 12 miles, he left us to our own devices and for the next 28 miles we rode on the cleaner side of the road.  But when we’d meet a northbound truck on the loose gravel, we learned to duck the flying gravel

We made it to Sturgis, a nice, clean, and quiet little town for the next 2-3 weeks, and took a well-deserved break for cold liquids and refreshing food.

After lunch, I headed to Rapid City, to pick up Jim Rau, who was leaving his bike at the Honda dealer for an 8,000 mile service.  Jim will be riding to Alaska with me, standing in for Rick, who’s got to resolve some family issues before he rejoins me on the road.

Between North Dakota and Sturgis, we had seen temperatures of 105-107F, but by the time I got to Rapid, it was “only” 104.  On the way home to the campground, it cooled off to 98F.  The wind was incredible, turbulent when the hills were close to the road, and so strong on one short stretch that even after downshifting to 4th gear, I couldn’t maintain 60mph.

But we made it back and I slept the sleep of the just Thursday night.  After all, I had just colored in another state!

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There are no amateurs in this business!

For the last 18 years, I had several cartoons on my office door at the church.  One of my favorites was from “Willy and Ethel.”  Willy was sitting at the table with a cup of coffee and said, “There are no amateurs in this business.  That’s why we are called Procrastinators.”  This will surprise no one who knows me, but I’ve been crastinating all day.  I don’t have much left to do because I didn’t unpack my camping gear after the Pre-National Rally Rally.  I’ve got a little bit of business to take care of and I’ve got to pack clothes, documents (passport, Four Corners Tour documents), and medications as well as decide what to do about maps.  I bought a bundle of Rand McNally’s laminated maps, but don’t have them for everywhere I’ll be riding.  I’m thinking that I’ll just cut pages out of an atlas. They’ll take up way less room than the laminated maps.  Hmm… I think I just decided what to do about maps.

Clay (RedNigel on the NT-Forum) called a bit after 5PM.  He and I are meeting at Briggsdale, about 60 miles from here, on our way to Spearfish through Pine Bluffs, Fort Laramie, and Newcastle.  He had ridden Loveland and Berthoud Passes and Trail Ridge Road today.  It had been his shortest distance, but he had taken a hike at one of the trails on top of Trail Ridge (around 12,000 feet).  He was suffering from altitude sickness!  A good night’s sleep should put him right.

My SPOT tracker will go active tomorrow when I leave town.  Then you’ll be able to click on the link and see where I am.  If you haven’t seen a SPOT track before, I think you’ll find it a pretty neat way to “travel” along.


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– 3 days and counting!

My riding buddy for the trip to Spearfish is in Gunnison tonight with a broken pannier latch.  He’s got it bungeed shut somehow.  We’ll have a pannier latch workaround session at Spearfish!

Good news tonight from Jim Rau (junglejim on the NT Forum) had responded to my tentative invitation to join me for the Canada/Alaska part of the ER.  We talked for nearly an hour tonight and he’s in.

I wasn’t worried about riding by myself, but it’s going to be good to have a partner with me.  Jim and I are both getting into that “little-kid-the-night-before-Christmas” mode that always afflicts me before I leave on a trip.

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My guess is that most people who ride

My guess is that most people who ride to Alaska (and all the other places I plan to go on this Epic Ride) are detailed planners.  Not me.  Since my retirement (it’s been two whole weeks now since I’ve worked for the Fort Morgan United Methodist Church and my official retirement is now nearly a week in duration), I’ve got time with no pressing events that I have to fit into a schedule.

The closest thing to time pressure I’ll experience will be after I get back into the lower 48 at Blaine, Washington, where I will begin the Southern California Motorcycle Association’s “Four Corners Tour.”  The Four Corners gives a rider 21 days to document his/her presence at the post offices in Blaine, WA, San Ysidro, CA, Key West, FL, and Madawaska, ME.

I think it’ll take me about five days to ride good portions of the Washington, Oregon, and California coastal roads and get to San Ysidro.  Leg Two, to Key West, FL, gives me a chance to attempt an Iron Butt Association Coast-to-Coast 50.  Just like it sounds, a CC50 gives a rider 50 hours to get from one ocean to another.  I’d like to knock out a BunBurner Gold on the CC50.  The BBG is 1500 miles in 24 hours.  I came close to achieving that ride last summer on my way to Spearfish, but the 24 hours ran out at about 1435 miles.

I’ll be hoping to make contact with members of the NT-Owners Club along the route, but won’t have time to fit my schedule to theirs.  If they can meet me along the way, which shouldn’t be too hard since they’ll be able to see where I am by looking at my SPOT track, I’d be delighted to talk a few minutes and have them ride along.

When I first envisioned the ER, I imagined I’d be doing it by myself.  I like to ride long distances by myself and feel confident in my ability to do so.  I’ve done several multi-thousand mile trips solo, including part of my 3800 mile ride in Europe in the summer of 2008.

But last summer, Rick Ryan, a friend from the NT-Owners Club, asked about riding along with me.  I like Rick and our riding styles and appetites are very similar.  So, we’ve been planning on doing this together since last summer.  But things change.  Rick has had some family issues come up that are going to require his attention for at least a few weeks.  So, I may be doing at least the Alaska and Canada portions by myself.

But maybe not!  Jim Rau, another member of the NT-Owners Club, who I met and enjoyed talking to in Spearfish last year, is considering joining me.  I’m hoping that will work out.

And, if we’re lucky, Rick will be able to reconnect with me as I begin the Four Corners portion of the ride.

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Less than a week!

In six days, I’ll hit the trail to Spearfish, South Dakota, where a few Honda NT700V riders will join a bigger group of Honda ST riders.  We’ll camp in the Spearfish City Campgrounds and enjoy rides in the Black Hills and time kicking tires and telling lies. This is our 2nd NT-Owners National Rally in Spearfish and the 3rd one we’ve had.  Number 1 was in Hill City.

If you want to follow my trail, bookmark this link (nothing will be visible until July 10th when I start to ride!):

Below is a picture of my bike unloaded.  It’ll look a little different all loaded up!


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