Jump to content

Initial Thoughts On My Five-Week Cross-continent Ride


marcopolo

Recommended Posts

I just got back home last week, after a five-week, cross-continent ride to California. I logged 12,567 kms, or about 8,000 miles, during 36 days on the road. I was two-up for four of the five weeks (my wife flew to Milwaukee to meet me at the MOA rally, and flew home from Denver on the return leg).

 

I headed west from Ottawa, and crossed the border at Sault Ste. Marie. From there it was down through Michigan, and Wisconsin, then west across Minnesota, South Dakota, and into Wyoming. After an unplanned trek south to Salt Lake City to have my final drive replaced, we altered course and cut across the Nevada desert to San Francisco. From there it was down the coast to LA (our turn-around point). We headed back through Las Vegas, then over to Sedona Arizona, and up to Moab Utah. From there it was into Colorado (Ouray and Steamboat Springs, before heading to Denver – the airport). I then made for home, riding solo the last four days: Kansas City, Indianapolis, Olean NY, then finally home. Here are a few initial thoughts, in no particular order.

 

We had a grand total of 2 ½ hours of rain in five weeks (while on the bike, that is).

 

We saw more Harleys than we could count, until we hit California. Most have aftermarket pipes. Solo HD riders were a rarity; most rode in packs. Also saw a fair number of Gold Wings.

 

BMWs were few and far between, save for Wisconsin when the MOA rally was on. Cedarburg WI is a nice town. Morton’s restaurant had the greatest grilled veggie platters, as well as really tasty bratwurst made with jalapenos and blue cheese right in the sausage.

 

We’ve never seem so many riders wearing nothing more than jeans and a T-shirt, no matter whether it was hot, or cold.

 

Our strategy for handling the July/August heat by hitting the road early worked very well (we had bought a couple of evaporative cooling vests, but never took them out of the bag. Same held true for the generic “camelback” I had bought – never used it; just threw bottled water in the tank bag).

 

A few days, we were on the road as early as 4:30 a.m. When heading west from Salt Lake for Sausalito CA, we were advised to stop half way across the desert. With the time change, and the 4:30 departure, we were done for the day at 9:30 a.m. Luckily the HI Express had a room ready.

 

We saw many beautiful places, with spectacular scenery: Chief Joseph Hwy, Yellowstone NP, the Grand Tetons, Pacific Coast Hwy. Sedona AZ, Grand Canyon, Canyonlands and Arches NPs, Ouray CO, Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain NP. That said, having crossed through Nevada both going, and coming, it is best described as a wasteland.

 

Places we’d go back to without hesitation: Sedona (a great place to relax); Sausalito (a great way to see San Francisco); and, Ouray (great riding, good eating, and terrific geo-thermal hot tubs at the Box Canyon Lodge).

 

There is a Starbucks in Gillette, Wyoming – site of next year’s MOA rally (the city, not Starbucks)

 

People were universally friendly wherever we went. I recall the owner of the motel outside Cody WY offering us the use of his car to go into town for dinner (we accepted). We recall the lodge owner in Ouray who offered us the use of her jeep while we waited for the room to be readied (we graciously declined).

 

Had a nice chat with a State trooper a few miles outside of Cody (78 in a 65 zone), but he let us go with a warning. He was a nice guy, and seemed to accept our story about not wanting to be caught in a thunderstorm on a bike.

 

Did more interstate riding than ever before and discovered that it does have certain advantages, (as long as you pick the right ones), like making time and having services easily available.

 

BMW of Salt Lake treated us very well when it came to repairing our R12RT in a timely fashion (failed final drive). Thanks to service writer Andy. Certainly helps to still be under warranty when it’s a $2,000 job otherwise. We were only off the road two days. Could have been a whole lot worse.

 

Missed Idaho, and Oregon, as a result of our detour to SLC.

 

We had booked rooms in advance, but cancelling hotel reservations was hassle free, even at an inn in Oregon where we had expected to pay a cancellation fee.

 

We brought our laptop along for the first time, and it proved very useful. There’s free WiFi everywhere now.

 

The Garmin 276C GPS worked flawlessly.

 

We saw more of Salt Lake than we had ever expected. Had a couple of good meals downtown, and saw the sites you’d expect. Nobody tried to convert me, but I did think a few had their eye on me. The liquor laws are still a little puzzling, even after three trips to Utah now.

 

Came to really like Blue Moon beer, on tap in many places out west. When asked where it was from, I was told Colorado. Later in my trip, I was served it in a bottle. Indeed it is from a Colorado company, but it was brewed – get this – by Labatts in Toronto! Alas, it’s not sold in Canada.

 

Also loved the buffalo ribeye, and buffalo filet, that we had in Cody. Not the town in which to be looking for sushi, or tofu.

 

Speaking of sushi, really enjoyed Sushi Ran in Sausalito.

 

Ditto the cook-your-own 8th Street Steakhouse in Steamboat Springs that DouglasR introduced me to in May. I swear some of the steaks could have fed a family of four.

 

Not being a gambler, never had any desire to go to Vegas, but it’s a little hard to avoid when you’re heading from LA to Sedona. It really is an artificial world in the middle of nowhere, where people-watching can be a full-time job. The Cirque du Soleil show “The Beatles Love”, was outstanding whether you’re a Beatles fan, or not.

 

Riding across the Golden Gate bridge was a hoot.

 

Having your passenger taking pics, and videos, while on the move makes for a terrific record of a bike trip.

 

Buying an Autocom before this trip was a wise move. There’s no way we’d have wanted to be on the road for that length of time without being able to communicate easily. The Autocom worked well, and having GPS audio prompts was very useful in a place like LA. Thanks Fernando.

 

Also tried out my new earplugs from Arizona Al. They were great. Thanks for getting them here on time, Al.

 

Carried an iPod Nano, but never used it once in five weeks.

 

There’s nobody in the carpool lanes in the LA area. Guess virtually nobody travels with a passenger around there.

 

Our trip would really have been screwed up, had we not been at DouglasR’s house in Wyoming when I discovered my faulty final drive. Aside from diagnosing the problem, he offered me the use of his truck to take my bike to the dealer in Salt Lake, when BMW Roadside assistance could not get it there in a timely manner. It saved us days of waiting around SLC.

 

It’s hard making the adjustment back to reality after being on a five-week road trip. Also gained 5 lbs. No more cold beer each day for a while at least.

 

Switched to Michelin Pilot Roads (from Metzeler Z6s) just for this trip – so I could have rain grooves that went all the way across the rear tire (to better assess wear). They lasted the whole trip, which surprised me a bit, given two-up load, in hot weather etc. Noiser than the Z6s, but I certainly achieved the mileage objective.

 

Was a great riding adventure, and one I loved being able to share with my wife.

Link to comment

OK, I'll just be the first to say: "We need pictures!!!!"

 

Now, with that out of the way, I'm glad your adventure had a happy ending. Thanks for sharing the tale.

Link to comment

Marc, it was good to see you all the way out here on the left coast. Your summary is great, but I am certain there are at least 10,000 things you left out. A trip like that can be managed once or twice in a lifetime, and the sights and memories last at least that long.

 

Congratulations on achieving a long-held goal. Hope to see you again at one of the Torrey rides or at an UnRally.

 

P.S. I hope there are pics to follow.

Link to comment

Let's try a teaser to see if I recall how to upload pics.

 

Sunset in Sedona:

 

IMG_1791.jpg

 

Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park:

IMG_2663.jpg

 

Canyonlands National Park:

 

IMG_2363.jpg

 

The two offending parts of my failed final drive. The first is the flange, which attaches to the rear brake rotor -- it's one half of mating sets of splines. The second pic is the rear axle tube. These two sets of splines are a compression fit, helped by a snap ring. These are what hold the rear wheel on the bike. The bike developed a lot of play where there should have been none.

 

 

IMG_0893.jpg

 

 

IMG_0897.jpg

 

 

Finally, here's DouglasR loading my RT onto his truck in Lander, Wyoming for the five-hour drive to BMW of Salt Lake City. I'm "supervising", ably assisted by our mutual friend (and GS rider) Tim.

 

IMG_0908.jpg

Link to comment

Here are another three, just to prove I was not alone.

 

Katherine arriving at the Milwaukee airport:

 

IMG_0591.jpg

 

On Trail Ridge Road in RMNP.

IMG_2700.jpg

 

 

In the geo-thermal hot tub at the Box Canyon Lodge in Ouray, CO.

IMG_2445.jpg

Link to comment

Mark

It was a pleasure meeting you totally by chance at Brown's BMW in Pomona, Ca. that Saturday morning a few weeks ago. Your trip sounded fantastic except for the final drive. The pic of the sunset/sunrise is awesome. I am sure all of us are looking forward to the plethora of pics you took along the way. Don't keep us waiting toooo long. Glad you had a great trip.

Link to comment

Great pictures! It's amazing what great pictures and even video you can get from teh bakc of the motorcycle while moving with just a inexpensive digital camera. We have 20 minutes of footage going up a down Pike's Peak.

 

My wife has the exact same Blue Joe Rocket riding jacket. Amazingly flexible those mesh jackets are... and the liner actually is waterproof... testing in several downpours. With a heated vest, we wear them from freezing up to 95 degrees.

 

Now I just need to convince my wife that a week long trip on a motorcycle is as good as a tropical vacation. The motorcyle trip is a lot cheaper. I wish I had vacation time for both.

Link to comment
Mark

It was a pleasure meeting you totally by chance at Brown's BMW in Pomona, Ca. that Saturday morning a few weeks ago. Your trip sounded fantastic except for the final drive. The pic of the sunset/sunrise is awesome. I am sure all of us are looking forward to the plethora of pics you took along the way. Don't keep us waiting toooo long. Glad you had a great trip.

 

It was nice meeting you too, Keith.

Link to comment

It sounds like you had a great trip, but I beg to differ with one point:

There’s nobody in the carpool lanes in the LA area. Guess virtually nobody travels with a passenger around there.

 

Your timing must have been excellent. I just spent an hour-and-a-half or so in a cage with my daughter in stop-and-go traffic in the carpool lane this evening.

Link to comment
It sounds like you had a great trip, but I beg to differ with one point:

There’s nobody in the carpool lanes in the LA area. Guess virtually nobody travels with a passenger around there.

 

Your timing must have been excellent. I just spent an hour-and-a-half or so in a cage with my daughter in stop-and-go traffic in the carpool lane this evening.

 

I was riding in off-peak hours -- early Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning. Had I been caught in stop-and-go traffic, I might have worked up the courage to lane split.

Link to comment

Mark,

Nice tale, and great to have the perspective of a rider who doesn't always ride on our Interstates.

Glad you two had such a great trip.

Link to comment

I'm glad you two enjoyed your trip, despite the mechanical problems.

 

.... having crossed through Nevada both going, and coming, it is best described as a wasteland.

 

Perhaps it is an aquired taste. Many of us find a stark beauty in the desert.

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...