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MidLife

My Big Trip

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MidLife

I recently had the opportunity to go on my dream ride. Being between jobs opened a time window that I wouldn’t normally have. My initial thought was to head for Southwestern Colorado, an area I’ve visited many times but never had the opportunity to ride in. From there the trip took a life of its own. Realizing that I had the time to do it right I started thinking about all of the great rides I’ve read about on the board. Well, I had to go to Torrey and that wasn’t all that far from Cody. If I took a route north of I-70 I could catch the Badlands, Rushmore, Black Hills….. If I came back via a southerly route I could visit relatives in Arkansas (and ride the bottom of the Big 8 from the UN). As long as I was going North I could go through Minneapolis, visit a friend and see Betty’s. You can see how this worked. This is what I ended up with, going counter-clockwise.

 

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Day 1 9/8 Columbia, MD to Columbus, OH

 

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The Beginning

The best part of today was the ride over Route 50 through West Virginia. There are some nice twisties going up and down each side of the mountains. Here’s a view from the top

 

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Southeast Ohio was scenic. I purposely went through Athens, a town I had lived in as a kid, but hadn’t been back. Here’s a pic of the house we lived in when I was in third grade. Looks a little smaller than I remember <grin>.

 

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Day 2 Columbus, OH to Evanston, IL

I got out of Columbus easily, and had a Honda Civic run front door, at 90, for a while. I was sorry to see her exit at the Honda plant in Marysville. Around 9:00 I ran into some hellacious fog. For close to an hour I was constantly wiping condensation off the face shield and had to slow significantly in some sections when the visibility dropped to 100 ft or so. It cleared up about the time I reached Indiana. Once I was through the fog I made good time, only seeing a couple of LEOs. I guess they were all on the interstate <grin>

 

I slabbed in to the south side of Chicago and then headed up Lake Shore drive on a beautiful afternoon. I rode on some of the lakefront road and stopped for a picture break. I was able to park across from the Field museum and get this two-fer picture. On one side of the bike is

 

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Da’ Bears

 

And the other side is

 

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Da’ Tower.

 

 

From there it was an easy zip (in pre-rush hour traffic) up to my sister’s in Evanston.

 

 

Day 3 Tourist Day

 

Visited Millennium Park in Chicago

 

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Sis in front of the Pritzker Pavillion

 

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The “Bean” It’s real name is Cloud Path. A fascinating piece of sculpture. As you can see it’s very popular.

 

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A view from underneath

 

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A couple of shots of the “water park”. The images change from various faces to water scenes. Water comes out the mouth at times and cascades over the top at others. Very popular with the kids!!

 

 

 

 

Day 4 Chicago to Minneapolis

 

The ride up I-90 to La Crosse was quick and uneventful. Just before reaching the Mississippi river I caught Wisconsin Hwy 35 north. This was a beautiful ride with great views of the river at times. On a 90+ degree Sunday there were multitudes of boats in the water and bikes on the road. I was constantly waving. At a gas stop a local told me about a park set on a bluff above the town of Alma. The view was spectacular.

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One of the Lock and Dams on the river.

 

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The French lay claim to the entire western US

 

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My day ended with a visit to the Twin Cities motorcycle “shrine”. I did get a chance to meet Tom, who yelled something about charging extra for pictures of the place grin.gif

 

 

Day 5 Stationary in Minneapolis

 

Played tennis and spent the day relaxing with friends.

 

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Day 6 Minneapolis to Rapid City, SD

 

An interesting riding day. After several days of temps in the 90’s a cold front brought much lower temperatures. It was 70 and sunny when I departed. Reaching Southwestern Minnesota the cloud cover came in. It was very low, but no rain for awhile. Shortly after Mankato I saw the “writing in the clouds” and pulled over to put on rain gear. Although there wasn’t much rain the temp dropped to 60. I was glad for the extra layer. Once I hit South Dakota it began warming up, eventually reaching the low 70s.

 

My discovery for the day- reduced temperatures and increased speeds greatly facilitate adopting Master Yoda’s riding position. thumbsup.gif In central SD there was so much wind from the north that I was leaned over to right (although nowhere near what others have encountered) Passing Semis became a real pain in the a** at speed. When adjacent to the trailer I’d be vertical. Clearing the front end brought gusts that blew me towards the left of the lane. I quickly figured out that it was worth slowing down when passing them dopeslap.gif

 

This bike is smoother and faster than any vehicle I’ve ever controlled on the ground. The miles flew by. As the day went on I became comfortable with higher speeds (No specifics. I’m taking the 5th…wink.gif)

 

Once past the Missouri River

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the terrain became much more interesting. Here’s a shot of a huge silo in a small SD town. At a distance it resembled castle.

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A brief cruise by the Corn Palace

 

 

 

And I was off to the first planned sight seeing of the trip

 

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The badlands are amazing. You can see for 30+ miles. I’m glad I wasn’t here during the heat of the summer. I imagine it gets pretty uncomfortable!!!

 

 

Day 7 Rapid City to Gillette, WY

 

Dead Presidents, A Stabbing Victim, Canyon Carving, and the Devil.

 

It was a “smell the roses” day. I started off with a visit to Rushmore. Yea, we’ve all seen countless pictures, but it is impressive.

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In addition to seeing a unique place I made some new friends. I had parked next to a LT, and when I was off the bike I noticed it had Maryland plates (same as me).

I eventually ran into Chris and Eleonore. Turns out they live 20 miles from me ooo.gif

 

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We rode together for the rest of the morning. First to Crazy Horse.

 

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If you can believe the info, the Rushmore heads can fit into Crazy Horse’s head. The scale is immense. I doubt it will be finished in my lifetime, but it’s an epic undertaking. Don’t miss it if you’re in the area. According to the video they show Crazy Horse was knifed in the back by a soldier, during a truce.

 

From Crazy Horse we rode through Custer State park- first the Wildlife loop, a very scenic and open area where we saw this fellow.

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A bit later we could see herds of them, but they were too far away to get a good picture (not interested in one of those “flyspeck photo” where you can’t tell what the dots are) Then we rode the Needles Highway, a very demanding road, with tight curves and limited sight lines. A mostly 2nd gear run. Here’s a view from 6,000 feet.

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When it ends Hwy 87 continues with more open curves. I enjoyed that section a lot, especially after the tightness of Needles. After this we split up. They were headed to Sturgis and I wanted to get to 14A, from west of Lead to Spearfish. I am so glad I did. It’s about 20 miles of canyon with long, steady curves. My favorite of the day. It would be a great Riding Smart location clap.gif

 

My next stop was Devil’s Tower. I went a bit out of the way to catch Wyoming 24, coming from the east. A good decision. Almost no traffic. The road demanded speed and I provided it.cool.gif I really enjoyed the 60 mph curve signs, on a road with a 65 mph speed limit. Obviously the Wyoming Highway department understands how people travel on these open roads.

 

Devil’s Tower is awesome. That’s about all I can say. Here are some pics.

 

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Land Shark

 

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This is a sacred site to the Indians and they tie prayer clothes to some of the trees

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I wicked it in to Gillette and tried the Holiday Inn Express first. They wanted $109. I didn’t need to stay there to figure out that was too high. grin.gif The next three hotels were full. Had I made a bad decision? Nope, the Best Western had a fine room for $72.

 

Day 8 Gillette to West Yellowstone, MT

 

A day of passes and electric heat.

 

It started when I passed Chris and Eleonore on I-90 near Buffalo. This was the first of several encounters with them today. We were taking the same route to Yellowstone. I had the pleasure of following them down from a pass. They are good! Smooth and more lean than I’d be comfortable with, towing a trailer.

 

This was the first day I’d needed the electric vest. It was around 50 degrees when I left and I enjoyed the sensation of a warm torso, especially the back of the neck. It makes a tremendous difference when moving fast.

 

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Self Portrait

 

I went over three high passes today. One on 14a, one on Chief Joseph Highway and last; Beartooth. They were all spectacular.

 

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Note the "snake" in the middle grin.gif

 

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The Beartooth Hwy is closed here, due to some of the road being washed out.

 

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Being in the mountains is wonderful. It’s my first time on a motorcycle and I’m loving it. Beartooth was cool. Really. You go over 11,000 feet. There’s snow all around at the high elevations. I had a neat photo in the snow, but it turned out blurry. I guess the altitude affected my photography grin.gif

 

I then had a nice (but slow) ride from the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone, over to the Western entrance. I had to stop once for Bison crossing and about a mile later a really big one was walking along in my lane, near the shoulder. I wisely pulled in the clutch and coasted by. I did not want to startle the big guy!

 

The remainder of my ride out of the park was with the sun in my eyes and the cages frequently stopping as the wildlife emerged. Almost had a fender bender when the crowds grew for a buck with large antlers. Made it to the hotel and did some laundry. My riding suit was about to stand up from all the bugs on it!

 

Day 9

West Yellowstone to Evanston, WY

 

I left the hotel at 9 am. It was 40 degrees. First stop was Old Faithful. I was following the path around the geyser when four bison wandered out of the trees and across the path, about 30 feet from me and others. I was getting the camera ready when they broke into a trot and started moving around.

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I suddenly felt very vulnerable!! Fortunately they weren’t interested in people. There was some jostling around and a couple of them started butting horns. The cameras were clicking. Later I was thinking that they were probably young males, out to scare the tourists. Typical teenagers!!

 

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Thar She Blows

 

A few miles later I happened to look over and spotted Chris and Eleonore, yet again, at a pullover. We were all laughing when I turned in. This was to be our last meeting. I was heading out of the park and they were spending another day there. I’ll look forward to seeing them at home.

 

The Tetons were awesome as always

 

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I had to pull over for the obligatory Teton “Cheesecake Shot”. “That’s nice honey. Now move your cheek a little to the left. Got it. Nice job!”

 

After Jackson I headed 26 and 89 to Evanston. The road was fairly tame, but the scenery along the Salt River was great.

 

 

Day 10

Evanston to Pangaitch, UT

 

Up and out in 50 degree weather, with the vest ready to go. One of the routes I had been especially looking forward to was Hwy 150 by Mirror Lake and over Bald Mountain pass. The road became nicer the higher I went. There were some nice curves. However after my third encounter with free range cattle I realized that I needed to shift to “scenic riding” mode. This was a good decision. I think they must play “chicken” with each other on the road!

 

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Right at the pass I stopped at talked with a fellow from Ontario, riding an 1150RT. He was on the 52nd day of his trip, with 50 some to go. Nice life! He’s not on the board, but I told him how to find us.

 

 

 

For the last couple of days I’ve been keeping an eye on the rear tire wear. It was beginning to get my attention. I called several places in Utah and a couple in Colorado. There were tires available at some spots, but either no techs or no openings to do the work. I have a couple of light days after today, so I hope to find some place in SW Utah to take care of it.

 

I meandered south, picking up another highly desired route, Hwy 72 from I-70 to Loa. This road was a good as I’d read on the board. I decided that if I got pulled over I’d tell the cop I could die happily!

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Rolled into Pangaitch, but couldn’t find a motel with Internet access. Hopefully I’ll connect with the electronic world tomorrow night. Had some of the best barbeque at the Cowboy Smoker. Highly recommend it!!

 

Day 11

Panguitch to Zion to Torrey

 

This was intended to be light riding day with a trip to Zion and then up to Bryce for the night.

 

I wanted to get ahead of the crowd at Zion so I headed out at 7am. It was 28 degrees! I can’t say enough nice things about that heated vest! The trip in from the west is dominated by the tunnel portion. Built in 1930 (and to that era’s size needs) it uniquely has windows or slots cut into it to allow light and air in at intervals. Here’s a shot of one from the outside. Stopping inside is a no-no.

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I got to the visitor center before it was crowded and took a premium spot, one that was very visible from the center. I was a slightly worried about leaving all my gear on the bike. I ended up stuffing the saddle bags with all of the electronics, put my riding pants in the red Seal Line bag, put the boots behind the windscreen, jacket on top of the tank bag and helmet on the seat. My half-cover covered it all perfectly.

 

I had heard the Angel’s Flight hike was well worth the time, so I caught the shuttle to the starting point. It’s 2.5 miles up and back.

 

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At the Top

 

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View of the East Rim trail

 

I left Zion for Bryce intending to get there in mid-afternoon and secure a room. I figured that Sunday evening wouldn’t be too bad. Fool dopeslap.gif There aren’t many hotels and they were all full, including the next town east. Time to rethink the situation. Touring Bryce at this time of the day was impractical. I’d be coming out in dark and cold without a place to stay. That would be a below in headwork. I decided the wiser course would be to head to Torrey. I called the Chuckwagon and they had one ground floor room left. One credit card number later it was mine! I was finally going to stay at the mythical Inn.

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About ten minutes out of Bryce my negative thoughts about missing the park disappeared. Hwy 12 was a rushclap.gif This is the kind of road I came out here for. It was another one of those- go for the curves, no wait- look at the panorama roads. I started feeling schizophrenic. Ride, Look, Ride, Look. What a great problem to havegrin.gif

 

I was surprised by the climate variations along the route. It was cold in Bryce and I had put the jacket liner it. By the time I got to Escalante I was hot and took it off. Then of course it got cold crossing the pass to Torrey. Knowing I was close I gutted it out.

 

After checking in I had a delightful evening with Bob Palin, who I had not met before. We went to Café Diablo for a great dinner and then Bob was kind enough to take me up on the bluff above town to see the Harvest Moon. Very impressive. So is the 12” clearance on his truck that got us up there.

 

Day 12

 

Torrey to Placerville, CO

 

I had a great time today, running through Capital Reef and then down to Lake Powell, across on the Ferry and then into my sister’s.

 

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The Reef

 

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I remember gas prices like this. During my trip I saw several closed stations with the old prices on the sign.

 

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On 276 East, from Lake Powell

 

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Getting my niece and nephew started on riding grin.gif

 

Day 13

 

Placerville to Cortez to Durango to Silverton and back

 

I ran the loop. The weather was overcast for the first time on the trip. As a result the pictures aren’t as vibrant. I’ve been to Southwestern Colorado numerous times over the years, but had never made it the million dollar highway until today. It was a very nice ride, although probably one of the most crowded since I’ve been out west. I suppose the highway’s reputation has something to do with that.

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Not sure you can see it, but the "U"s are "V"s on the Covnty Covrt Hovse.

 

 

Day 14

 

Fore and New Shoes

 

My brother-in-law took me to play golf at Devil’s Thumb in Delta, CO. I had the most enjoyable round of my life! The ball really travels at altitude. After one tee shot I looked back and commented that “I was going on the tour!”

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Rain over the Mountains

 

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View from the course

 

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How can two guys hit three balls into the same trap?

 

While I was having fun, a local shop was putting new rubber on the bike. There is small shop in Placerville, “To-Hell-You-Riders”, that has spin balancing equipment and was able to get a set of Conti’ Road Attacks overnight. Paul, the owner took care of everything!! I put a quick 50 miles on to run them in and they worked great.

 

Day 15

Placerville to Walsenburg, CO

 

Payback to Mother Nature

 

After almost two weeks of clear skies it was time to pay dues today. I ran Hwy 50 into Gunnison, under threatening skies, but arrived dry. I had lunch (met a couple from Pennsylvania who were four weeks into a trip on their Goldwing) and then backtracked to pick up Hwy 149 through Lake City. The rain gear got an excellent workout!! Around Lake City the colors of the Aspens were incredibly vibrant, but the dark skies kept the camera from truly capturing them.

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I would love to run this route in good weather!!! (Perhaps I’ll make the ’06 UN). Even though the weather conditions s***ed I enjoyed the scenery. I crossed over Slumgullion Pass without incident

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(this was the “high” point of my trip grin.gif) and then coming south about 1,000 feet lower encountered light snow on the road. Severe pucker factor eek.gif At that point I wanted to get lower fast. The road didn’t accommodate me. Fortunately I made it without incident.

 

I stopped to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park, near Alamosa. It is supposedly the newest national park. The size of the dunes is something to see. Stop by if you get a chance.

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From there I had another, lower pass to cross, unfortunately with rain most of the way. I was happy to find a hotel with a room on the first try.

 

 

Day 16

Walsenburg to Independence, MO

 

Nature really intrudes

 

For the last several days I have been watching the projected path and impact of Hurricane Rita. I planned to ride to Arkansas to visit relatives (and ride some of the great roads there), but the storm track has convinced me to wave-off and stay north. I plan a route through K.C., avoiding the expected storm area.

 

I was out at first light, 7 AM, wanting to cover some distance. I take Hwy 10 towards La Junta. In the first 50 miles I count 3 cars going west and none that I overtake going east. A nice, fast ride. I pick up Hwy 50 and motor through to Kansas. Just before Lakin I pass a LEO going west. I see his brake lights in the mirror and slow down. Sure enough, about 2 miles later he’s behind me with the lights flashing. S***! My first performance award on two-wheels. As I’m un-gearing he walks up and says “In a hurry this morning?” with a grin. He tells me that he’s not going to give me a ticket because he didn’t get a radar lock (I just won the lottery!!), but cautions me about speed and accidents. He says that the radar gave him an initial reading of 95. I don’t think I was going quite that fast (although I was in the neighborhood), but since I’m not getting a ticket I keep my mouth shut!! He takes my license and proceeds to check it. I am clean. He’s a nice guy!

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Now my challenge now is to get through the remaining 400 or so miles of Kansas without attracting the attention of any of his fellow LEOs. I know I’m on the system and another pull over will certainly lead to an award.

 

I had disconnected the Valentine One in South Dakota. It was now time to re-engage.

 

I decide to take 156, the Santa Fe Trail, from Garden City, thinking there will be less LEO activity. Within 20 miles I pass another one, heading west. Fortunately I was being cautious and had been running slower. No problem. Between here and Great Bend I encounter several more LEOs, more than I had seen in South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado combined. I decide that staying on the back roads isn’t working and head for the slab. I pick up I-70 and make great time past Kansas City, spotting no LEOs. Go figure!

 

The other noteworthy moment today is reaching 5,000 miles on my trip.

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I don’t know where that max speed came from. The Duc is fast, but not that fast!!

 

 

After the excitement, and curves of the mountain states, Kansas is, well, flat. About the only interesting observation today, is that I drop from 6,000 ft in Colorado to less than 1,000 in K.C. Sorry, but I didn’t find any other picture worthy spots.

 

Day 16

 

The big Suprise

 

When I came out of my room this morning the bike wasn’t there. I felt like I’d been punched. I looked around and saw it next to a shed at the back of the motel. Apparently they had tried to hotwire it, because much of the wiring was cut and the ignition had been damaged. When the Police arrived I was told that Independence has a big Meth problem. The cop pointed to one hotel on the other side of the Interstate and told me that they had busted Meth labs in the hotels rooms there.

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I called the dealer in Kansas City and they were prepared to help me. Fortunately I had the KOA Road Hazard program (recommended by Jamie and Leslie- Thank You!). Unfortunately the tow company they called was inept. It took over three hours to get a truck to the motel. Once there the driver was good and we went right to Letko Cycle. They are an excellent shop. Mario and Jim were incredibly helpful, but it was obvious the bike couldn’t be fixed then. I ended up flying home that evening. The Progressive Insurance agent was also great. He went well out of his way to drop me off at the airport. At least the day ended much better than it started. I’ll fly back to K.C. and ride home, probably in a couple of weeks.

 

The good news about this is that it happened at the end of the trip (two days of slab left) and in an area with a dealer. It could have been worse.

 

I had a great trip. In 16 days I only had one afternoon of bad weather. The roads were generally open. Most places were not crowded. I stayed healthy. I didn’t get any performance awards. I have memories to last a lifetime.

 

 

Trip Statistics

Miles 5252

Days 16

Avg Miles/Day 404

Avg Road Speed 61.2

Moving Time 81.8 hours

Max Speed 5th ammendment

 

 

Gear

 

I thought I’d take a minute to comment on the effectiveness of the gear I used.

 

Airhawk seat cover. I couldn’t have done this trip without it. It was the single-most effective piece of gear I had.

 

Heated vest. As stated above it was important in the higher, colder altitudes.

 

The Sealine bag you see on the back of the bike is designed for kayakers. It worked very well for me. It’s waterproof, flexible, heavy duty, and when strapped far enough forward provides some lower back support. About $20 at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

 

Motolights. An excellent investment. I know that those amber bulbs get the attention of cage drivers. Don’t leave home without them.

 

Dell 700m laptop. Small form factor was perfect for fitting in my saddle bag liner. I used it to connect to the internet, copy pictures from the digital camera, upload pics to Smugmug and update and download routes and maps to the GPS.

 

Garmin Quest GPS. Worked like a champ.

 

Cowen iAudio MP3. Small form factor and remote controller are good for motorcycle use. I had the player in the tank bag and the controller clipped to the map case.

 

XM Radio- the disappointment of the trip. The audio jack in the cradle broke loose early in the trip and I was unable to repair it.

 

Valentine V1. Worked great when I had it turned on

 

Camelback water system. I can’t believe it took me this long to buy one! It used to be I’d ride until thirsty, then drink a bottle of water. Then 30 minutes later I need a bio break. With the camelback it was much easier and more convenient to stay hydrated.

 

Space Bags. Thanks to Russell (Ittech) for this one. I picked these up at Walmart a couple of days before I left. They made the packing of the saddle bags so much easier. They’re very easy to use. Just fill, seal, and roll them up which forces the air out of the bag. Then flatten and pack.

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"Ride"-Buprofen. The wonder drug. thumbsup.gif

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BMWRich58
thumbsup.gif Kool report!

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rickcavanaugh

Sounds like you had a good trip (except the ending)

 

That area of the country is incredible. I did not get to see as much as you did, but I did get to see quite a bit of it.

 

What is the finial outcome of the bikes locks, did you have the ducati immobilizer system? If so how much has to be replaced?

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Frank Cloud

Excellent report, with the exception of the failed hot wire.

 

Awesome pictures! clap.gif

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MidLife

Yes. I have the imobilizer system. It will probably be Wed/Thur before I know the extent of the damage and required parts. I'm crossing my fingers crazy.gif

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RichEdwards

Nice trip! Thanks for posting. thumbsup.gif

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Reddog900

Great Post - This summer I was able to enjoy some the roads you traveled on through Utah, beautiful country. Thanks for the pics and the memories.

 

Happy Ridin' thumbsup.gif

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