Transcontinental ride (July 1, 2011)

Results 1 to 20 of 70

Thread: Transcontinental ride (July 1, 2011)

Hybrid View

Previous Post Previous Post   Next Post Next Post
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    High Park

    Post Transcontinental ride (July 1, 2011)

    My friend Jesse and I are riding transcontinental starting July 1 and planning to cover some 12,000Km in 20 or so days through US and Canada. The rough plan is to ride to west coast, down to LA and back with a lot of interesting detours and stops in between. You can follow our little adventure through the blog at Everyone is welcome to subscribe and comment. I will not be following this thread or replying to posts here until we come back.

    2011/07/22: I'm back and sorting things out. Will post one day at the time based on the blog, but with much more details and pictures. Stay tuned.

    2011/07/30: This thread has been given an alias for easier access by non-members of this forum. It's (no www. prefix). If you want more pictures than could reasonably fit in this report, they are at

    2011/10/25: A couple of pictures just to interest people to scroll down for more:

    Last edited by Vlad; 10-25-2011 at 04:50 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    High Park

    Day 1

    Time to roll!

    The day has finally come. It's time to roll and roll we will - big time! It's hard to describe the feeling of combined anticipation, excitement, worry that I forgot something important, doubts of my ability to endure and enjoy at the same time, sadness to leave my darling Duda behind...

    Then, much worse men have done much more with much less and lived to tell a good tale. These two notwithstanding :

    Suzy B, fully loaded and ready. There's a total of 160L of space in hard cases, tank bag and passenger seat dry bag, not counting the top case rack. This bike has been reliable as an anvil for the last 100,000Km and I have no doubt it will carry me over the continent and back without an issue. It has brand new Shinko Raven 009 tires that should last the entire trip:

    Attachment 0
    Attachment 0
    Lapeer, Michigan

    We started later than planned, but there's plenty of time to ride. I don't have to be back to work before 25th, and neither does Jesse. The day was pretty uneventful, mostly boring highway, but it did feel like a start of something big. I felt like I'm on a mission, and the first event on that mission was to get picked for a "random" check at the border. I guess the border guard was ticked off that I'm carrying so little cash for such a long trip (I prefer credit cards, thank you very much, and brought back 90% of the cash I had) or it's truly random. Anyway, I guess my NEXUS card doesn't make me immune. All officials I dealt with were polite and professional though, and I was on my way pretty fast. No complaints.

    Setting up camp in Lapeer, MI.:

    Total for the day: 395Km
    Moving average: 102Km/h
    Moving time: 03:53
    Last edited by Vlad; 07-29-2011 at 02:14 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    High Park

    Day 2

    Lapeer, Michigan to La Crosse, Wisconsin

    Good night sleep, no rain. Morning nice and warm, it looks like it will be
    a nice day.

    A pit stop near Battle Creek, MI. Balmy 30 degrees and it's not even noon yet.
    This will be good conditioning for the deserts.

    Putting feet up for a little auto-transfusion is a great technique to relax. Doing it in the shade doesn't hurt either.

    38 in the shade, and no shade. Braking out the heavy artillery - cooling

    Making good speed, 117 average so far. Plenty of time to ponder the vastness of this land while holding it with one hand at 130 on a wide, straight and uncongested Interstate 94.

    Chicago is an oven today

    40 degrees and very slow traffic going through. Our cooling vests don't work well when stopped, but we endure. Pull over for gas and quick refreshment. No reprieve from the heat - it radiates from the asphalt and concrete around us. You know you are in a rough neighborhood when the Shell gas station attendant lives in a cage behind the inch thick bulletproof glass. Everything around us is ran down and bleached, even people. Get the hell out of Dodge!

    Wisconsin, new time zone

    Amazing how refreshing 38 degrees feel after 40. Once out of Chicago we were back up to speed, temperatures a little lower and our cooling vests started to work again. The temperatures continued to fall as we went into Wisconsin (they really hate their governor here ). At 35, the vests were cooling us too well (it get's positively cold!) so we took them off. Helmets came off too for the first time on this trip. What a relief! Put them back on about 50Km later as the relief wore off and being pounded in the face by bugs at sunset stopped being fun.

    Twisties in Wisconsin?

    Wisconsin was mostly boring flat farmland until we got off the highway after Madison. On our way to Lacrosse we hit some hilly countryside roads with sweeping turns and almost no other traffic. What a welcome change after the long highway drone.

    On a sad note, we got our first and hopefully last road kills of the trip. First Jesse hit a bird head on. Straight into his forehead, jettisoned behind and fell on the road. We like to think the poor thing was just knocked out and survived. Shortly after, another bird slammed into the bottom of my windshield. That one was dead instantly, don't ask how I know . I hope we paid our dues to suicidal animals and that they will stay out of our way in the future. We weren't even going very fast, 80-100 at most...

    Farming in Wisconsin

    Spending the night camping on a lovely farm of Giselle and Ron. No sense writing more, pictures will have to tell this story.

    Slept better than previous night, it was nice and cool. Gnats that greeted us in swarms did not manage to get into tents. Forgot to put my ear plugs in and ended up listening to raccoons chatting around my top case all night. I guess they smelled the breaded chicken that was in there, but they couldn't get in. The noises those animals make are really amazing, they sound like a bunch of R2D2 robots from Star Wars arguing about something . I was tired enough to filter them out and get a good night sleep. Gnats greeted us in the morning too, but we ignored them. Those insects will get straight in your mouth if you are not careful! Beautiful scenery and good company more than made up for that annoyance. The farm has the rustic charm of a place people were working on for generations.

    Total for the day: 918Km
    Moving average: 98Km/h
    Time on the move: 9:22
    Last edited by Vlad; 07-29-2011 at 12:33 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    High Park

    Day 3

    Another day, another time zone

    La Crosse, Wisconsin to Wall, South Dakota

    A very scenic and twisty rural road, then hugging the bank of Mississippi River (yes, that Mississippi, it's huge even up here), over the bridge in Lacrosse and into Minnesota. Some more fast and fun sweepers to Rochester. Having lunch in Del's cafe, looks like this is where locals feed on Sunday. Trying to decide how to proceed. It's very hot again, but not hot enough for me to wear the cooling west yet.

    After lunch, we tackled the US Interstate system, jumping on I90 for the next 900Km or so. Ran straight through Minnesota, crossed the Missouri River (yes, that Missouri), and ended up in a place called Wall in South Dakota.

    Despite the relatively boring scenery (some hills, a lot of farmland, a few windmill farms) quite a bit of fun was had today. We killed time by telling jokes, looking for "rabbits" to chase (folks going fast enough for us to go after them) and testing our endurance. Thanks to Giselle's hearty breakfast and a good night sleep at the farm we were in quite a good shape to push some limits. For starters, we decided to pull off the Interstate only when we have to stop for gas, which is around 300Km (my 1200 gets consistently better mileage than Jesse's 650, although not by much - go figure). A couple of small personal records were set, like the longest ride and time in the saddle without putting even one foot down for a stop (just over 300Km and 2.5 hours) and longest ride without braking (Bandits engine brake well and there was no reason to brake for anyone), also just over 300Km.

    Here's the video Jesse made. It's very nice, but trust me - it was even more fun than it looks:

    Jesse stole my thunder by asking first a question I always wanted to ask on a motorcycle ride: "Which time zone are we in?"(we really weren't sure). This is our third time zone in as many days - that's how (and how much) we like to ride!

    A good meal in Cactus Cafe in Wall was served by a charming Russian waitress. Jesse fell asleep on his netbook and I had to sneak it from under him . A glass of wine (it still hasn't turned into vinegar) and I'll be snoring just as well

    Some people like to travel light, but not us .

    The monstrosity in the background was neither the only nor the first one we saw. Once passed a full size passenger bus RV that was carrying a Goldwing on it's hitch and pulling a Chewy Suburban with a few bicycles on it's tail. I'm sure the kitchen sink was not just proverbial in that case. I wonder what the fuel economy of such a convoy is...

    At a scenic overlook above Missouri River:
    Attachment 0

    This was a very interesting day. My confidence is back and growing. We can tackle this continent head on.

    Total traveled: 983Km
    Moving average: 115Km/h
    Time on the move: 08:32
    Last edited by Vlad; 10-19-2011 at 10:37 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    High Park

    Day 4

    Wall, South Dakota to Sturgis, South Dakota

    Bad in the Badlands

    My English is not rich enough to find a proper superlative for a day like today. Heck, not even my Serbian is good enough and this trip has barely started.

    The day began after a short but high quality sleep in Anne's Motel in Wall. Woke up like vampires around 5:30 and were on the road before seven. First leg, Badlands National Park was truly amazing, for both the martian scenery and the excellent twisty road. In situations like that it's really hard to pick what to concentrate on and you can't fully enjoy both the ride and the vistas at the same time. We did our best, alternating between some pretty spirited riding and soaking up the scenery.

    Exiting Badlands we went through aptly named Buffalo Gap National Grasslands. Prairie it is, but what a prairie! Long stretch of little traveled scenic road allowed us to let the bandits stretch their legs a bit. Quite a bit actually. My bike, more loaded with gear than it ever was before, easily reached 125mph (just a tad over 200Km/h) at which point it started to complain by gently floating the front end and wobbling, like it wanted to say "You have 20kg in your top case alone, have mercy on me!". There were also quite a few suicidal birds in the area that kept flying into our path - I fully expected to hit one, but they all escaped (I guess our reputation travels as fast as we do). The rest of that leg was completed at comfortable 100mph cruising speed (160km/h). As a consequence of pushing a lot of air with what's essentially an aerodynamic equivalent of a brick, our bikes were sucking gas big time. I was deep in reserve when Jesse's started to stumble just in time to reach the only gas station in the last 100km or so. It turned out the place has quite a history and we chatted with the owner about it for a while. "Dances with the wolves" was filmed close by.

    With a hassle of having to call AAA from where there's probably no cell signal avoided, we continued on through Rapid City (very bleak and industrial looking place from what I could see) towards Mount Rushmore.

    Whoever coined the phrase "Getting there is half the fun." obviously wasn't thinking about the monument to American megalomania called Mt. Rushmore. He also definitely didn't get there on a motorcycle because the roads to and from there are all the fun. Amazing sweepers to the stone heads and the mother of all twisty roads from there on. It more than compensated for the fact that they want people to pay to get close to a (de)faced mountain (we didn't pay, of course, but opted for exploring the beauty of surrounding Black Hills instead).

    This is one of several more than 360 degree turns:

    Next, Custer national park. One road more beautiful and scenic than the other. Quite a bit of traffic and stopped cars, but our Sena communicators helped in making passing the slow pokes interesting and even fun. it takes some confidence and trust to pass on the inside of a blind corner when the rider in front of you tells you it's all clear, but once you learn how to do it properly and safely it's a lot of fun. I bet quite a few minivan drivers that we passed thought that we are totally crazy and suicidal .

    The sky was threateningly grey for a while and we got a few drops, but nothing serious:

    After checking a couple of wildlife trails (quite a few wild animals spotted, no Buffalo's though to Jesse's disappointment) including a well groomed gravel stretch we got out of Custer and continued on Nemo road (another sweeeet sweeping turn road) towards Sturgis, passing through another aptly named place - Deadwood. The hills (mountains by Ontario standards) surrounding Deadwood are full of tree trunks void of branches and leaves. Like there was a forest fire, except there is no trace of charring...

    Got to Sturgis relatively early, had a good meal at The Loud American and headed to well deserved rest. Jesse just started his soft snore and I'm soon to follow.

    The day started and continued to be hot, even through the forests and mountains, dipping under 30 only occasionally. I felt comfortable as long as we were moving.

    Just around 500Km, but worth at least four times that in my book. Without any exaggeration my best day on a motorcycle ever. It felt like everything is working for us even when it was not.

    Total distance traveled: 465Km
    Moving average speed:74Km/h
    Time on the move: 06:18
    Last edited by Vlad; 08-06-2011 at 10:17 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    High Park

    Day 5

    Sturgis, South Dacota to Cody, Wyoming

    Sunny and 27. The rain missed us completely, although judging by high humidity it did fall
    pretty hard somewhere close.

    After some souvenir shopping in Sturgis, we hopped on I90 again and entered

    A detour towards the Devil's Tower turned out not to lengthen our
    trip at all.

    We kept a very brisk pace through the long sweepers across the
    ever changing and beautiful hilly country, then comfortably "cruised" at
    160 for a while. Another amazing ride, warm and sunny weather and just
    enough traffic to make the passing fun. Having steak and eggs in an
    interesting local cafe in Moorcroft and pressing on towards Calgary.

    That was a good steak!

    Many pumps in these parts sell 85 octane gas, presumably for agricultural equipment or something similar. We were careful not to pour that, but I can't be sure I didn't at least once by accident (at least it wasn't "dyed diesel" ). Anyway, Suzy B didn't complain at all and performed like a dream in all conditions.

    Across the street from the same gas station there were sprinklers working. The temptation to cool down was just irresistible. We soaked ourselves pretty well, but all that water evaporated in half an hour at 35 degrees...

    And then, snow!

    And a mountain pass

    Beartooth pass is just ahead, but those clouds don't look good at all.

    Decided to head South towards Cody and tackle the Beartooth tomorrow.

    This is grizzly country, no doubt about that.

    From 32 degrees to 18, from 3,000 feet to 9000, from scorching sun to
    pouring rain and hail, to still snow covered mountain pass, through
    mountains and prairies, this was another day to remember. Constantly
    changing and beautiful scenery on superbly engineered and maintained roads
    have been a standard on this trip so far. Being able to do it all at any
    speed we are comfortable with most of the time is also a rare treat we are
    trying very hard not to abuse.

    Spending the night under severe weather warning (narrowly avoided the heavy
    front coming from the North) in Cody, Wyoming. Hoping to tackle the
    Beartooth Pass and Glacier National Park in Montana and reach Calgary

    Total distance traveled: 677Km
    Moving average speed:103Km/h
    Time on the move: 06:34
    Last edited by Vlad; 08-01-2011 at 06:56 PM.

  7. #7
    djez's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    I used the gel seat foam from canadian tire that i bought for 9 bucks. It worked for me, I just strap it over the seat and it did add comfort to all day riding. Other option is sheep skin, beads. There are some neat bullet container ( plastic and metal) that i found in Le Baron that can be mounted as side cases for cheap.
    A.K.A. PugsLover rider of:
    "Shelly" '16 CRF1000f
    "Goldie" '10 CBF1000fa
    "Flash" '02 CHF50 Scooter
    "Hawk" '88 NT650
    "BB" '02 Super Blackbird
    "Blue, Blue.1 and Blue.2" '89 CB-1 400 + '89 Blue CB-1 400.1 + '89 Blue CB-1 400.2
    "Donna the Dominator" '88 NX650 Dominator

Tags for this Thread


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts