Summer 2012 Ride

Day 1 – 6/1/12

I got on the road for this year’s ride just before 9:00.  I headed toward Binghamton on I88 and then 17 turning south into Pennsylvania onto rt220 near Elmira just east of the large area of rain that I could see on the radar map.  I did my best to stay away from the rain for a few hours heading in the general direction of Altoona.  I rode some secondary roads through Pa until about 2:30 when I decided it was time to turn west on I80.  I put my rain gear on and prepared to get wet.

Almost immediately after turning west, it started raining.  For the remainder of the day, I rode through a variety of light, moderate, and heavy rain storms.  The temperature was in the mid 50′s so it was not exactly a pleasant ride.  I stopped for the night about 10 miles east of Akron OH.  I’m looking forward to some drier riding tomorrow.

Miles today: 554
Total miles: 554
States: NY, PA, OH

Day 2 – 6/2/12

I was glad to see that the rain had passed by overnight and the sun was shining when I woke up this morning.  It was a bit cool, about 48, when I got on the road at 8:30.  I headed north from Akron toward I90.   There was a pretty stiff head wind that really killed my fuel mileage.  I got 29-30 MPG for the first two tanks of gas.  For quite a while, I had to cruise in 5th gear because the bike wouldn’t go 75 up any type of hill when it was in 6th gear.

I hit Chicago at about 2:00   into heavy traffic.   I’ve been through here a few times before and never had much of a problem with traffic but this time it took over an hour to go 3 miles.  The the heat management system kicked in a number of times so I started shutting the bike off whenever I could.   Once I got through this traffic, I hit another batch of traffic a couple of miles down the road.  This time, I got through it in about 20 minutes.   Altogether, I wasted around an hour and a half to getting through Chicago.

After Chicago, it was smooth sailing for the remainder of the day.  The landscape is starting to open up and I’m seeing a lot of farmland.  I stopped for the night in Tomah Wisconsin.  Tomorrow I’ll be headed out onto the plains.  I’m going to ride towards Wyoming and the Teaton National Park.  I haven’t been to Wyoming in a few years so that seems like as good a destination as any.

Miles today: 638
Total miles: 1,192
States: OH, IL, WI

Day 3 -6/3/12

I left the hotel at 8:30 this morning and headed west on I90.  The weather today was perfect for riding.  I only encountered a short patch of very light rain, the rest of the day was warm and sunny.

 image Late in the afternoon while riding through central South Dakota, I spent a couple of hours killing lots of bugs.  After inspecting the carnage splattered on the windshield, fairing, ad lowers, it appears that I’ve slaughtered hundreds of honey bees.  It’s one big sticky mess spread across the front of the bike.

I stopped for the night in Rapid City SD which is just a few miles from Sturgis.  I think I’ll take a ride through the Black Hills tomorrow before heading into Wyoming.

Miles today: 707
Total miles: 1,899
States: WI, MN, SD

Day 4 – 6/4/12

I got started at about 8:30 this morning and headed to Hill City SD and stopped at the local Harley shop to get a shirt.  From there I rode through the Black Hills and stopped at Crazy Horse.

Crazy Horse is a large carving similar to the carvings at Mt. Rushmore.  There is a museum with a nice collection of Indian information and artifacts along with a gift shop.

After leaving Crazy Horse  I rode into the Custer State Park.  The scenery was quite nice and I saw a couple of herds of buffalo.  A few members of the second group of buffalo were right next to the road.  Cars were stopped to take pictures and I really didn’t want to get too close so I stopped about 30 feet short of the car in front of me, shut the bike off, and waited for traffic to clear.  Buffalo are big and I didn’t want to spook them and end up getting attacked by one these beasts.

The next batch of wildlife I encountered was a group of donkeys.  These guys had their heads inside car windows to beg for food.  One of them walked toward me but quickly walked away when he realized I didn’t have any food for him.

I left Custer State Park and headed into Wyoming.  For the most part I stayed on secondary roads and ended up stopping for the night at about 5:00.  The Grand Teton National Park was another 250 miles away, the radar showed some large areas of rain, and it didn’t look like there were going to be many hotels along the way so I stopped in Casper WY.

Miles today: 348
Total miles: 2,247
States: SD, WY

Hanging out with the buffalos …image

Custer State Park

Crazy Horse

Hill City SD

Day 5 – 6/5/12

I left the hotel this morning and headed toward the Grand Teton National Park.  Most of the ride was through remote areas with not much to look at other than the cattle, horses, and pronghorn antelope.  It was nice and sunny and the air was a bit cool so it was quite comfortable riding with my jacket on.  After about 4 hours, I started seeing the mountains off in the distance.

The Tetons are beautiful.

I ate lunch in Jackson WY and then headed to Montpelier ID on rt 89.  This road ranks as one of the best and most scenic rides anywhere in the US.  It follows the Snake River for a while and goes through the Targhee Nat’l forest, the Caribou Nat’l forest and the Bridger Nat’l forest.  Outstanding ride.

From Montpelier I continued on 89 south toward Brigham City UT.  As I reached Bear Lake, the wind picked up and made staying on the road quite challenging.  I’m guessing the wind was steady at 30 MPH with gusts of 40+ MPH.  As I passed side roads the dirt picked up by the wind felt like needles sticking me in the side of my face.  Thankfully, tis only lasted about 10 miles ad then the and died down to reasonable levels.

About 20 miles north of Brigham City it cooled off significantly and I started hitting rain.  I had already put my rain gear on about an hour earlier because the radar showed that some light rain was a definite possibility.  The connector on my heated jacket isn’t working and looks pretty rusty inside so it’s not working right now.  At first the rain was light but as I went over a mountain pass, it got heavier and colder.  Eventually, I had to pull over and put my 3/4 helmet and heavy gloves on because I couldn’t see to well ad my hands were getting numb.  As I stopped on the side of the road I realized why I was so cold  – it wasn’t just rain, it was a mix of rain, sleet, and snow.  I’m guessing that the temperature was somewhere in the mid 30′s.

When I got out of the mountains and into Brigham City I stopped to get coffee, warm up, and wait for the rest of the rain to pass.  I booked a hotel room and called it a day.  Hopefully tomorrow will be warmer.

Miles today: 541
Total miles: 2,788
States: WY, ID, UT

Grand Teton National Parkimage

Day 6 – 6/6/12

Not a real exciting day today …

It was cool when I got started today, about 44 degrees, so I headed south on I15 in search of warmer weather.  It finally started to warm up as I approached St George UT.  I exited the interstate and took a ride through the desert toward Lake Meade.  It was in the mid 90′s by mid afternoon which was a welcome change from the cold weather yesterday.

After spending an hour or so riding around in the desert, I headed to Las Vegas to get a room for the night at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon.  I spent a couple of hours walking up ad down the strip eventually stopping to eat dinner at the buffet in the Flamingo hotel.

Miles today: 514
Total miles: 3,302
States: UT, AZ, NV

Day 7 – 6/7/12

When I left Las Vegas this morning, it seemed like it would be a nice easy 5 hour ride to Kaydee’s house.  I’ve made this same trip a few times in the past and the road from Vegas to LA has become familiar.   I had enough gas so I didn’t fill up in Vegas and instead, got onto I15 and headed out into the desert.

After about an hour and a half, I needed to get gas so I stopped in Baker CA to fill up.  When i pulled up to the pumps, the bike seemed to be idling a bit lower than normal.  I didn’t think much of it at the time but this was a sign of the trouble that was soon to come.

I filled up the tank and got a cup of coffee for the road and started to take off.  All of the sudden, I lost power and heard a loud putt-putt-putt noise coming from the motor.  I knew from the sound that i had just lost a spark plug.  I coasted to stop in the Alien Beef Jerky parking lot and got off the bike.  Sure enough, the spark plug was hanging from the plug wire and dangling alongside the motor.  The motor and plug were pretty hot.

According to the signs along the road, Alien Beef Jerky is the best jerky in the universe so I took this as a sign and went inside and bought some beef jerky to kill time and let things cool down a little.

I started checking out the bike and was pleasantly surprised to see that there were still threads in the heads.  I carefully put the plug back and tightened it down hoping for the best.  I have no idea how the plug loosened up and backed all the way out of the head.  The plugs were changed in March so it’s probably gone about 7-8k miles since they were changed.

I cautiously headed back out into the desert and prayed that I’d be able to make it the remaining 180 miles without any more trouble.

Thankfully, I made it to Kaydee’s house without any more trouble.  I need to take a better look at things to verify that the plug is fully seated.  It’s hard to see down there so I’m still not 100% sure that the threads are completely undamaged. I’m not sure that I want to take the plug out because I’m afraid that it won’t go back in again.  The bike does seem to be idling normally so maybe it’s OK.  We’ll see.

I was lucky that this happened when and where it did. There was no traffic and I had a parking lot to work on the bike.  If this had happened on the freeway at 75mph with lots of traffic and I had to fix it on the shoulder, it would have been much more of a problem.

Miles today:  ???
Total miles: ???
States: NV, CA

Day 10 – 6/10/12

We spent the day yesterday celebrating Alida’s 2nd birthday.  Her party was at the Great Park, an old airport that was converted to a public park.  There’s a merry-go-round for the kids to ride.  There’s also a huge orange helium balloon with a gondola that you can go up in.  It’s tethered to the ground and they give rides in it as long as it’s not too windy.

Alida had a great time and got a bunch of nice new stuff.  She really liked going down the slide at the playground.

This morning I took the bike out for a ride to see if my repairs were going to work out.  So far so good.  With a bit of luck I should make it home without any more trouble.

Day 12 – 6/12/12

After spending the weekend with Kaydee, Steve, and Alida it’s time to head home.  I’m planning to make the trip home in 4 days staying on interstate highways.  I’m not sure how well my repairs will hold up so I want to stay on major roads on weekdays just in case I have more trouble.

In order to make the 2,900 mile trip in 4 days, I need to average a little over 700 miles a day.  I started at about 8:00 this morning and headed towards I40.  By noon it was 105 degrees as I rode through the desert in eastern CA and into AZ.

It cooled down to about 95 as I went into higher elevations making for a pleasant ride for most of the afternoon.  The speed limit is 75 across most of AZ and NM so i was able to make good progress today going a bit over 800 miles.  I was able to get to Albuquerque NM were I stopped for the night.

The bike ran fine today so I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope for another good day tomorrow.

Miles today: 831
Total miles: 4,466
States: CA, AZ, NM

Day 13 – 6/13/12

I left just before 8:00 this morning and merged onto I40 east towards Texas.  It was a little cool until around noon when I was able to stop and take my jacket off.  The rest of the day was perfect riding weather – not too hot and not too cool.

Somewhere in Texas, or maybe it was in Oklahoma I really don’t know where I was, I saw that there was a long section of traffic on Google Maps.  I found an alternate route that went around the traffic  and got off of the interstate highway and on to Rt. 66.  This brought me around the 5 mile traffic jam and back on to I40.

Gas prices in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri are the lowest I’ve seen and there are places where you can still get 100% gas without the ethanol.  I saw prices as low as $3.19 for regular gas.  This is a full dollar cheaper than in California where gas was well over $4.00 a gallon.

Late in the afternoon I finally exited I40.  I had been going east on 40 for around 1,200 miles so it was kind of nice to finally merge onto another road.  I’m now travelling east on I44.

I stopped for the night in Joplin MO at around 9:00pm having travelled another 787 miles today.

Miles today: 787
Total miles: 5253
States: AZ, TX, OK, MO

Day 14 – 6/14/12

The weather was perfect for riding today.  As I continue to ride east, the traffic is getting heavier and the speed limit has gone from 75 to 70 and finally, down to 65.  After driving at 75-80 for so long, 65 MPH feels slow.  There was a stretch of highway in Illinois were the police were out in force handing out speeding tickets.  This, combined with the increased traffic forced me to I keep to the speed limit for most of the day.

I crossed the Mississippi river and into Indiana at around 12:30 this afternoon.   I started hearing about a traffic backup just before I got to Terre Haute on the CB radio so I exited the interstate and took a detour to miss the traffic.  Getting off of the highway for a little while was kind of relaxing.

Sometime in mid-afternoon my phone decided to start acting up.  For some reason, it doesn’t seem to be charging properly and is draining the battery very quickly.  It’s charging, but charges slowly and only when the screen is off.  This is rather inconvenient because I’m relying on the phone for GPS navigation.

I ended up in Columbus OH for the night.  This leaves about 650 miles or about 11 hours to get home.

Miles today: 761
Total miles: 6,014
States: MO, IL, IN, OH

Day 15 – 6/15/12

Another nice day for riding.  Ohio is boring so I was glad to get into PA and NY today and see something other than flat land.  I made it home around 6:30. Compared to the past few days, it seemed like a short day today – I only did 688 miles and 11 hours of riding.

Miles today: 688
Total miles: 6,702
States: OH, PA, NY

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