Around My Local Riding Area in 80 Days…

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.

Categories: Uncategorized | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “Around My Local Riding Area in 80 Days…

  1. Terry L Todd

    Hey Phil, Don’t know if you remember me. I’m the long-bearded friend of Randy Bishop’s. He hooked me up with your blog while you were still on your way to AK and I have followed you with interest ever since. I was in Colorado at that time but now am back in Thailand where Nancy and I do pastoral care of missionaries. Thanks for taking me along on your ride for all those miles. If I never get to take 80 days and do a similar ride, at least I will have the experience of sharing yours. It’s been a good ride. Welcome home.

    • Terry, I do remember you and I saw your comment when you started following the blog when I was up in Alaska. Do you ride any in Thailand? If you do, are you on your Beemer? I’m guessing that missionaries can use good pastoral care and I’m glad you and your wife are there providing it!

      Phil Tarman Fort Morgan, CO NT700VA — “Dudley” (66,000+ miles) IBA Premier Member # 5811: SS1000 ( x 2) , BB1500 Follow the “Epic Ride” at

      > Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2013 07:35:28 +0000 > To: >

      • Terry L Todd

        I ride a little here, though I don’t have my Beemer. Randy is enjoying it for me this year. I bought a 1984 Honda XLV 750 here, the Paris Dakar Rally model. It has been a disappointment as it had been neglected and it’s hard to stop all the oil leaks. I ride a little Yamaha Fino scooter (115cc) around town but I haven’t been able to do many adventure rides. All the best to you in your retirement.

      • LOL! My retirement will be short-lived. I’ll be starting as an interim pastor at a church 170 miles south of here on November 1 and doing that for 8 months.

  2. Klint Stewart

    Phil, I’m sorry we weren’t able to cross paths. I didn’t get thru York until last night. Hey I got 694 miles in 2 days riding for work. 🙂

    • Klint, I thought about you as I went under US-81 in the rain yesterday morning. It was raining and I wondered if you were anywhere near. I would have called you Wednesday night, but my phone wasn’t working. It had worked everywhere I went and then didn’t work in Nebraska, and it’s a Viero phone! I saw a Viero store in McCook and went in and the nice lady powered it off and turned it back on and, Voila!, it worked. Glad you got to ride some for work!

      Phil Tarman Fort Morgan, CO NT700VA — “Dudley” (66,000+ miles) IBA Premier Member # 5811: SS1000 ( x 2) , BB1500 Follow the “Epic Ride” at

      > Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2013 13:37:36 +0000 > To: >

  3. Rich Clough


    Welcome home! Noah and I were waving to you as you pulled into town yesterday, but you seemed “otherwise engaged.” We will need to get together to hear your stories of the road. Glad you had a good time.


  4. Klint Stewart

    I left Newton, KS at about 930 yesterday morning. I actually didn’t get to York until 630pm last night. We’ll be looking forward to see the “summation” posts.

  5. Janice

    Welcome home. Sounds like a great adventure. I enjoyed seeing your pictures and reading your blog.

    • Thanks, Janice. It is good to be home! Joanne and I went to the pie and ice cream social at the church yesterday and it was great to see people again.

  6. Phil, welcome back, and thanks for taking the time to post stories and photos as you’ve traveled the continent. I’ve sure enjoyed reading the accounts of your trip.

  7. Missy

    Mr Phil,
    Glad to see you’re safe back home.
    I want to thank you for giving the opportunity to read along, and be somehow a part of your journey. I enjoyed it very much.



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