Epic Ride, Day 80:
The “Local Riding Area” reference is to a set of decals I’ve got on my panniers. Bill Thweatt, a member of the Iron Butt Association, came up with the decals and I liked them enough to put them on my panniers after I painted then rattle-can satin black:
Home! It was exciting to ride into Colorado, then it was even more exciting to ride into Morgan County, and then to ride into Fort Morgan and onto my street!
Home… my cats even act glad to see me. My wife even acts glad to see me. I’m guessing that all the cats want is food, but Joanne is really glad to have me here!
Today’s ride from Lincoln to Fort Morgan was only a little over 400 miles, but it was tiring. It was 77 when I went out to leave and I thought I was going to be hot, but by the time I got just west of Crete, it was raining. I was in and out of the edge of a cold front for about 150 miles and kept getting light rain and jogs up and down in the temperature. It did get up to 70 once, but also got down to about 53 a couple of times — and this was the first day in a while that I didn’t at least have a long-sleeved shirt on. I started to put on the heated jacket, but kept getting lured farther west by sunshine.
It was also very windy until after my last rainy stretch which was about 25 miles into Colorado. Then the wind slacked way off and was probably only 10-15 mph. Before then, from Crete to Wray, CO, I’d guess that it was never less than 25 and sometimes up into the 40-mph range.
A member of the NT-Owners Forum asked me why I was doing this Epic Ride and he said that saying “Just because it was there,” wouldn’t count as an answer for very long. So here’s my answer to him:
Since I started riding in ’97, I’ve enjoyed long rides. I’ve made a long trip nearly every year since then, ranging from 1-11,000 miles. On every one of those rides, I’ve enjoyed the riding itself. I didn’t have a list of places I wanted to see or things I wanted to do, but I did have a list of roads I wanted to ride. That’s been growing and when I first heard about the Four Corners Tour seven or eight years ago, it went onto my “bucket list.”
I’d been to Alaska once, but only as far as Hyder, which is just across the border from Stuart, BC, and is about 1300 miles from the next closest place you can ride to in Alaska. I really wanted to ride to Alaska. Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Labrador were places I’ve flown over coming back from Europe on my two trips there and I wanted to see them from the ground.
So, I started thinking about the Epic Ride about 5 or 6 years ago. As Jim and Rick, the two friends who rode with me for more than a few miles can tell you, I didn’t plan it obsessively. In fact, I barely planned it at all. A friend loaned me “Mileposts,” the huge and detailed guide to the Alaskan Highway and I never even opened. I looked at Streets and Trips and outlined a couple of routes, but most days the planning consisted of looking out in front of me (or us, whichever the case might have been on a given day), punching a destination into my GPS and then, when I got around to it, getting on the bike and riding. I never had a reservation more than a couple or three hours in advance of arrival and usually didn’t have any reservation. And it all worked pretty darned well.
People kept telling me I needed to see this or that or that I needed to eat at one place or another, and I appreciated all those suggestions, but I didn’t act on very many of them. Mostly I just rode. I’ve got a strange kind of memory. I remember roads I’ve been on years ago in fairly vivid detail. I have gone back to a road where I was a passenger in a car when I was 12 or 13 and remembered every turn (not every curve, but every time I needed to choose which way to turn) and navigated it to get where I wanted to go. This ride gave me a whole bunch of new material for those memories. I don’t know if that qualifies as an answer that will count for more than a little while, but that’s my answer and I’m sticking to it. 🙂
I rode all but five of the 80 days and every day was a really good day. I didn’t have any days (or hours either) when I regretted being where I was and doing what I was doing. I was amazingly lucky with weather. I think the worst weather were the days in Canada when Jim and I were riding on roads that were under construction. The hardest rains were in Florida and Georgia, but they didn’t last very long. The coldest I got was in Newfoundland the night I was riding in the rain from Deer Lake to Port-aux-Basques to catch the ferry back to North Sidney, Nova Scotia. The hottest was in the desert of south Arizona when it got to 112F.
The best places? The Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper; the ride into Valdez; the Cabot Trail; crossing Vermont; Newfoundland’s Gros Marne National Park; Lunenburg; Labrador — and I could go on and on. There are an incredible number of beautiful places and roads in the US and Canada and all of them are worth visiting.
People were great everywhere I went, too. Motorcyclists were always fun to talk to, no matter what they were riding or what they were wearing, they were friendly and helpful.
Would I do it again? Well, probably not, but I went to lots of places I’d be willing to back to and visit again in a more leisurely fashion. There are several I’ll be taking Joanne to in the next few years.
My average day was only 264 miles. The average of the 75 days I was on the bike was 281 miles. The average during the Four Corners Tour was 364 miles.
The bike was practically flawless. A headlight bulb burned out and both brake lights burned out. One of my Denali D1 driving lights got water inside it and shorted out the driving light circuit. I replaced both tires, the rear at Gainesville, FL, had 13,560 miles and would have lasted another 2-3,000 miles. The front had 19,982 miles and would have gotten me home. Tim Wilkes changed the oil and filter for me in Baton Rouge, LA,, when I had 9,800 miles since the previous change. Since then, I’ve put another 9246 miles on and will probably get an oil and filter change in the next week or so before I got up to Thermopolis, WY, for a meeting there
I’ll be posting a few more additions to the blog as I have some time to reflect on things in a more organized way.
Day 80 Stats: Day, 419 miles; Trip, 21,090 miles; Year, 27,091 miles; Total, 78,949 miles.