48 State Run

Smath

Premier Member
#1
While it hasn't been certified yet, I figured I'd jot down my experiences on my 48/10 attempt so others can benefit. It's quite long, but I wanted to capture as much as possible while it's still fresh in my mind. It's a resource-intensive ride that many of us may only get one opportunity at completing. So for your reading pleasure and a potential source of information for your 48/10 attempt, I present the following ride report:

48 States in less than 10 Days – a Ride Report​
Overview
On 29 April 2018, I set off to visit all lower 48 contiguous states the US in less than ten days.
First, a little background is in order. I’m a relative IBA novice with only 4 SS1K and a BBG under my belt. I picked up my 2016 Honda Gold Wing in April of the same year and in August had done my first SS1K. My wife and I have done several long day trips on the bike but, with the exception of 2 being SS1Ks, most have been less than 500 miles per day. The bike is a fairly stock in terms of LD farkles. I have the stock seat, no auxiliary lighting, and no auxiliary fuel. I do have the full Traxxion suspension upgrade and Helibars though. On the handlebars, I have a RAM mount for my phone (with USB power) and a Garmin Zumo 665. Prior to the trip I mounted new Dunlop Elite 4 tires and changed the oil with AMSOIL full synthetic. I also swapped out the spark plugs for the colder ones recommended by Honda for extended highway traveling.
For those that are interested, my personal gear consisted of a Shoei Neotech helmet, an Aerostich R-3, Aplinestar boots (both waterproof and hot weather versions) and a variety of gloves to match the weather. I wore an LD comfort base layer underneath and supplemented it with heated pants/jacket liners when needed. I did ride in street clothes on the day I was meeting up with my son and his wife in WA. There was a noticeable comfort level difference as jeans under the R3 were quite a bit warmer. I kept a lunch cooler with snacks and a CamelBak with 3 liters of water tied down to the passenger seat for easy access at stops. I also carried an assortment of tools, air compressor, and other odds and ends.
Why did I do it? That’s a hard question to respond to with a single response. I guess I wanted to add just one more feather to the cap of a life that’s been extraordinarily blessed to be anything but average. I want to be a positive statistic demonstrating that long distance riding can be done safely. I rode to see as much of the country in the time available to me before I change duty stations and deploy to Afghanistan again. I’d like to say I came away from the trip with some life-altering self-realizations but I’d be lying if I did. The time apart from daily demands did allow for introspection which was beneficial. I also learned much more about my tolerances with regards to LD riding.

Statistics for the trip in total: 8,265 miles in 9 days, 4 hours, and 50 minutes. I burned through 226.06 gallons of fuel with the average price per gallon at $2.77. I averaged 898.24 miles per day with an average of 15.99 hours traveling each day (hotel to hotel) which results in an average speed of 56.18 mph.
My Spotwalla track can be found here: https://spotwalla.com/embed.php?id=187b65ad927e12a39f&scale=on&zoom=default&refresh=no

Day One
As most can attest to, the sleep before a much-anticipated trip can be less than what’s desired. I was no different but fortunately was able to get some sleep. The myriad of checklists and mountain of preparation done ahead of time helped reassure me that I hadn’t forgotten anything. I had created a binder with planned stops/times, my log sheets, and an overview of the route on the cover to share with inquiring minds. On the fridge was a copy of the same information for my wife who would be providing support from home should I need it. The plan was to do a SS5K for the first five days which would put me in Wendover, UT. I’d drive up to WA to spend time with my son and his wife in Pullman, WA and then take a leisurely trip home across I-90/I-80. The trip should take just over 8 days in total – I’d leave Sunday, 29 April and be back by Monday, 7 May.
As planned, I was at the gas station at 0500 and on the road headed east shortly afterward on Sunday morning. I had originally planned on getting another receipt in eastern PA, just in case I needed more time, but I forewent this safety measure and stopped for the first time in NY. No receipt at the pump, so I had to go in for my second receipt of the day – no worries, right? After all, the 48/10 is a marathon, not a sprint. In fact, several stops required either going into the station today. Some receipts didn’t print and others didn’t have the address. The latter was resolved by purchasing some candy for an additional receipt which had the information I needed. Shortly after NY the rain started, ugh! I had checked the weather forecast out west, assuming the weather in the NE would be similar to PA – wrong! The rain stayed with me throughout the day – coming and going, but never really that bad. I stayed warm with my heated gear and dry under the ‘Stich.
Crossing into NH, I found myself on the 101st Airborne Division Highway. This was a nice surprise as I’m being assigned to the division in July and will be deployed with them in theater in short order after getting there. The traffic wasn’t too bad throughout the NE, though there were some slight delays in NYC as expected. My wife and I did a SS1K on Memorial Day in 2017 in conjunction with visiting Tour of Honor memorials along this same route, so there were no surprises. To avoid someone else pumping my gas in NJ I opted for a candy bar to get my dated business receipt. The day ended in Edgewood, MD at a Comfort Inn about 2300. I’d be staying at Choice Hotels for the trip as they were offering a free night for every 2 separate stays you had with them. I automatically cut my lodging costs by about 33% by doing so.

Day one totals: 11States (PA,NY,CT,MA,VT,NH,ME,RI,NJ,DE,MD) 982 miles, 17.8 hours traveling

Day 2
The plan was to end up in Alabama for the night. I knew I had to be on the road early but I justified leaving a little later so I could take advantage of the free breakfast. I was taking the loop around Baltimore, so traffic shouldn’t be too bad at 0700, right? I should have chomped down on the bit and been on the road at 0500 as planned. Spending $5 at McD’s down the road in WV would have saved me lots of time as traffic wasn’t insignificant on the beltway around Baltimore. The station in WV didn’t have the address on the receipt, and neither did the ATM receipt. Fortunately, the clerk was willing to give me a receipt after my $2 M&M purchase and that secured my visit to the state. I joked with the wife that I’d be bringing back a saddlebag of assorted candies if this kept up.
I wasn’t in WV long before passing into VA. I took I-81 south which was quite familiar to me after completing a BBG a few weeks prior, along the same route. Life was good and traffic was sparse and fast. Then after my second, and last, fill-up in VA I sacrificed my brand new rear tire on the altar of road hazards. I heard the pop, saw the low-pressure indicator light up, and nursed the bike to the shoulder as traffic did it’s best to impede my efforts. I clearly had a flat tire but could not find the offending element to remove so I could patch the tire. I put some air in the tire and gingerly made my way up the interstate to the next exit, hazards on and traffic providing a nice breeze as it whizzed by at 80 mph plus. My hopes of a SS5K were dashed and I started to seriously question my resolve to finish the trip. I’ve been riding motorcycles for over 20 years and know that your state of mind goes a long way towards being safe. I know what many of you are thinking, it’s just a flat tire – get over it. Normally I would agree, but with all the stuff on my plate back at the house, a mere 6-hour ride away at this point, it was tempting to say this was a sign I should go home and tend to other matters.
As luck would have it, there was a Honda dealer at the next exit with a Dunlop Elite 4 tire in stock and a mechanic available to change out the tire. I called the wife and she reminded me that it may be another six years before I get another opportunity to make this trip. I posted my dilemma on the IBA Facebook page and received much-needed encouragement and advice on the situation. The best advice I received was to sleep on it and see how I felt after the situation had been resolved. The IBA veterans seemed to realize I was facing a mental hurdle and that sometimes you have to trust your gut. Sometimes a flat tire is more than a flat tire, and other times it is just a fly in the ointment.
While the mechanic was working on the bike, I was trying to figure out how my perfectly orchestrated plan was going to be amended. If the Big Dogs said I need to sleep on it, then I’m going to sleep on it, but I might as well get a hotel in the direction of my original plan. I cancel my reservation in AL and settle for a hotel in TN, visiting KY in the process. After the service desk wished me well on the remainder of the trip and reminding me to take it easy on the new tire, I was off.
My visit to Kentucky took me through the Cumberland Gap, to and from Middlesboro. Normally I wouldn’t recommend taking the same road twice on a trip like this, but the Cumberland Gap is an exception. It was also what I needed after questioning my resolve. The sun was setting as I took the long, sweeping turns through the cool mountains. The trees and amber clouds were reflected in the still, mountain lakes I passed turn after turn. Good thing I had to take it easy on the tire, otherwise I’d be tempted to focus on attacking the corners versus enjoying the scenery unfolding in front of me. The landscape was just stunning and the riding conditions were a far cry better than the NE. By the time I was headed back to TN, I was feeling much better about the trip. By the time I stopped in Newport, TN for the night at 2140 I was ready for a big push the next day.

Day two totals: 4 States (WV,VA,KY,TN) 622 miles, 15.2 hours (4.5 hours for the flat tire)

Day 3
I wanted to knock out at least 1,000 miles today to try and stem the loss of miles from the following day. I had called my son and told him I might be getting in a little later but I’d try and spend an extra day with them. I had entertained the idea of a BBG along the northern part of the route if I needed to make up time. With my mind back in the right state (it’s just a flat tire, right? No big deal), I’m out the door and on the road about 0500. The weather was a bit chilly, but the heated gear worked well to keep me comfortable as I focused on the twisting road leading me into NC. I stopped at a McDonalds for a quick breakfast sandwich and deleted my planned NC gas station from the GPS route. Unexpectedly, the new route took me across the GA state line en route to SC. I quickly stopped, grabbed a receipt for GA and deleted my GA point from the GPS. Could I detour around Atlanta? My hopes rose once again thinking that maybe luck was on my side again. A few miles later I cross into SC and find a gas station much sooner than expected. After putting in half a gallon I had to go inside once again to get a receipt. The clerk seemed amused but understanding. Do many LD riders take this route? Upon returning to the bike I had my first of several encounters with folks wanting to know what’s up with the filthy bike and weary astronaut looking fanatic accompanying it. That’s where I learned the route overview on the binder was a valuable tool. Life is good, and I’m off again hoping to avoid Atlanta.
Ha! Atlanta traffic was served up to me on a full platter of excess exhaust fumes and unaccommodating drivers. This was about the time that Ms. Garmin and I started to consider legal separation proceedings as she routed me onto off ramps only to bring me back onto the freeway. Traffic wasn’t as bad as NYC or NJ, but it was frustrating nonetheless. After what seemed an eternity of stop and go hell, the road finally opened up again and I was off at a good clip going south. After passing old stomping grounds around Fort Benning, GA my right highway peg suddenly gave way. A cursory inspection on the side of the road revealed that, while all the mounting hardware was secure, the main pivot point would ratchet around and not support any weight. Of course, fixing it would require the hex key I left at home. At least my left peg still worked, and that’s the leg I have most problems with. Life remains good.
As I make my way into Alabama and towards Florida, I get a call from Ken Andrews wanting to make sure I was doing well. I appreciate an LD veteran reaching out to make sure that my mind was back in the right frame and to remind me that the best part of the trip was ahead of me. He also reminded me to “Never Forget Florida!” Though to be fair, as I crossed the bridge into Century, FL later in the day I could see how you might think you’re in FL even though you’re still in AL. I’m looking forward to rooting for Ken as he competes in the Iron Butt Rally in 2019 – he’s good people and a hardcore rider.
The rest of the day went by in short order. I wished I had the time to slow down and partake of crocodile po’boys and other local cuisines as I make my way across MS and LA. I can’t complain too much as I did stop in MS to enjoy a Whataburger. I told myself at the onset of the trip that if I find one in my home state, TX, I’d partake of a local favorite. I was just doing so early. LA flew by in the dark and shortly I was pulling into Texarkana, AR for fuel and a receipt. As I ended my day in Texarkana, TX at about 0100 local time I realize I’ve visited half the states yet only covered a third of the miles – and I’m only finishing up day three!

Day three totals: 9 States (NC,GA,SC,AL,FL,MS,LA,AR,TX) 1068 miles, 20.7 hours

Day 4
In the week leading up to the trip, the weather promised to be clear and cool throughout the western states. Well, at least for the areas that I checked for. As the date got closer there appeared to be a storm brewing that would bring rain to Kansas, Nebraska, and possibly Colorado. My original timeline would have put me a day ahead of the weather, but as I woke up on Wednesday the weather channel did not paint a pretty picture for my day. Kansas City was ground zero for all sorts of horrible weather. They were forecasting thunderstorms, extreme lightning, tornadoes, high winds, and a chance Godzilla might appear. I believe they even had the Ghostbusters on standby as the gates of hell were threatening to open up and take KC off the map. I entertained the thought of staying in Texas for the day but decided I’d try to make it as far as possible today before Mother Nature decided to force me to take shelter for the day.
As I took off on US 259 north towards Oklahoma I was reminded why I like Texas so much. The two-lane road opened up to 70 mph as I passed longhorn cattle. A few raindrops reminded me of what to expect later in the day but the weather was nice and there was very little traffic. Soon I was in OK and approaching the turnpike. I had totally forgotten about tolls in OK and my E-ZPass wasn’t going to work here. Fortunately, I had the cash I got from the ATM in WV. It was a pretty uneventful trip through Oklahoma other than a fortuitous detour through McAllister, OK. I say fortuitous because a friend of mine was at the Army depot there and now I can understand why he wanted to leave. Before I knew it, I was in KS and in good time I was at my fuel stop in Missouri north of Kansas City.
My wife has an uncanny ability to call just as I’m pulling into a gas station. I’m not sure if she’s watching me via the wonders of the internet or it’s just a sixth sense. She asked how the weather was treating me and we joked about how mid-western meteorologists all seem to be “Chicken Littles” always threating that the sky is about to fall.
You’re thinking it now, so I’ll just say it. Yes, I jinxed myself. The rain started ten minutes later and by the time I got to my stop in Iowa cars were pulling off the road to let the storm pass. The scariest moment of the trip occurred about this time as I passed a dump truck. While leaned over to the left, the wind and water on the road proceeded to push me towards the truck. Fortunately, the truck’s driver noticed my predicament and slowed down so I could get in front of him. Once clear of the truck the wind abated and I was able to stand the bike up and proceed without incident. Though the weather was quite dreadful, I will admit it’s interesting to drive into the heart of a storm, have the weather taper off, and then have it catch back up with you while refueling.
At the fuel stop in Iowa, I pull up the weather radar on my phone and see immediately that the storm front is long and skinny while heading towards the northeast. As I drive west towards Lincoln, NE I should leave the storm in about 15-30 miles. The looks on peoples’ faces as I pull away from the station were priceless. Yeah, I’m nuts but under the ‘Stich I’m warm and dry. Gore-tex gloves are also quite nice.
Sure enough, the weather quickly clears up and I’m able to speed up again. I’m stopping early tonight to dry out the gear and get a good meal. I reach the hotel in Lincoln about 2000 and by 2100 I’m in the pub next door getting a club sandwich and a large glass of water. Wearing street clothes for the first time on the trip feels good but I’m nodding off while waiting for my meal. Sleep comes easy once I get back to the room.

Day four totals: 5 States (OK,KS,MO,IA,NE) 693 miles, 12.3 hours

Day 5
The sky’s clear as I get the bike ready after grabbing breakfast at the hotel. Fortunately, they set up prior to 0600 so by about 0630 the bike was packed, tires/oil checked, and I was next door getting fuel. The weather was clear for about the first hour and then the rain decided that I didn’t have enough the day prior. To make matters worse, the wind came back with a vengeance. I had never seen rain streak horizontally across my face shield before. Traffic was light, mercifully, and shortly I was in Montana.
As I headed to Cheyenne I noticed what appeared to be really bad fog forming. At least I thought it was fog until I saw that my peripheral vision was clear through the visor. Had I gotten something smeared on the front of the visor? Early in the trip, I noticed some leather wax had gotten onto my glove’s thumb squeegee and then onto the visor as I went through the NE states. Not sure what to expect, I pull over at the next rest area to remedy the situation. Seeking shelter from the rain in the restroom, I pull off my helmet and quickly realize it’s the pinlock visor. With all the rain and wind, moisture had made its way under the pinlock visor and was fogging up between it and the main visor. I could have cleaned it up, tightened up the pins, and continued on, but for the sake of expediency I took it off and threw it in a saddlebag. I’ll revisit the pinlock issue once I’m home. To make matters worse my waterproof boots seem to have been compromised and I’m riding with waterlogged socks at this point.
I get fuel prior to Cheyenne and blast into Colorado once getting onto I-25. Coming up and over a crest in the road and seeing the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the distance made me scream for joy like a young child at Christmas. It was a beautiful sight to behold as the weather cleared and the sun came out from behind the clouds as if the heavens were welcoming me back to old stomping grounds. I was stationed at Fort Carson previously, our first daughter was born here, and my mother’s side of the family is all from Colorado. Denver traffic wasn’t too bad but a detour gifted to me by Ms. Garmin’s untimely directions cost me time. We’re seeking professional counseling by this point in the trip. A stop at a scenic pullover south of Denver almost cost me a pair of socks as I swapped out my WP boots to the hot weather ones. The wind was brutal.
The rest of the ride through CO was uneventful and NM greeted me with a spectacular view as I came out of the Raton Pass and headed for my hotel in Las Vegas, NM. There were rain clouds in the sky, but none threatened my path. In fact, I had to admit that they looked almost alien with their tentacles reaching towards the ground – giant jellyfish scouring the earth for food. I stopped alongside the road to grab photos for my family – it was an amazing sight to behold.
Pulling into the hotel, I spot two guys who were obviously enjoying the end of a long day of riding. As I pull into my parking space they approach me and casually mention that it’s kinda late to be rolling in. No disrespect meant to these guys, they were quite friendly, but I was thinking that 2000 was early. We chat about LD riding for a while and I show them the map. They told me that my wife was a keeper for supporting such a trip. They were on a 3-day run through Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico. Once they learned I planned on being up at 0400 the next day I was ordered off to bed. It was nice chatting with fellow riders – this trip can get quite solitary. I’m now a full day behind of my original schedule. I plan on sticking with my original plan from this point forward albeit cutting my time with my son and his wife a little short so I can position myself on I-90 for an early start for the run home.

Day five totals: 3 States (WY,CO,NM) 873 miles, 14.8 hours

Day 6
Today would be a day of extremes. The weather was just above freezing when I woke up and it promised to be close to 100 in California. There was also the fact that I was drained. I hadn’t been eating like I should. In fact, other than the meager breakfast, a banana, and trail mix I hadn’t eaten much the prior day. I looked at the map and realized I’m two 800-mile days away from home, albeit through the same damn weather I just suffered. I call the wife and told her that I was thinking about throwing in the towel. A wise woman, she patiently listened to me in my self-pity and then reminded me that I wouldn’t get this opportunity again for several years if at all. Then she told me to go get something to eat – things will get better. After all, this was the part of the country I was looking forward to.
She’s right (as often is the case) and a ride through the southwest was the anticipated highlight of the trip. It may sound crazy to some, but as a young Soldier, I loved training in the desert. My first duty station was with the 3d ACR at Fort Bliss and we’d spend months in the desert of New Mexico with bigger exercises near Barstow, CA. I still enjoy training in the desert. Sunrise and Sunset in the desert are magical moments if you can take the time to witness them unfold.
I’m on the bike before 0500 and off to get fuel and hopefully a bit to eat. The local McD’s is closed and I raid my stash of bananas and trail mix as a poor substitute, I’d stop later for food. The run through the desert on I-25 towards Albuquerque was what I expected. The sun rising behind me, illuminating the landscape in hues of orange and red, as I took the sweeping turns a little more aggressively now that I’m positive the tires are well worn. It was cool, but nothing the heated jacket liner couldn’t remedy. I opted to not wear the pants as they can be a little more awkward to remove from under the ‘Stich and the Wing’s butt warmer is pretty efficient. My feet are chilly as my WP boots are still wet and I’m wearing my hot weather boots but come a few hours I’ll be more than OK.
After stopping for breakfast near Gallup, I’m again flying across I-40 headed west. Nearing the Arizona border, I notice my speed and lane position fluctuating, a tell-tale sign of fatigue. Pulling into rest area just across the state line I discover the joys of the Iron Butt Motel. It’s still early enough that the temperatures are cool and the birds are chirping as I take a 15-minute nap on a park bench. I decide that taking a 5-hour energy drink probably wouldn’t hurt as I gear up and head back out feeling oddly refreshed after such a short break.
Anticipating the fuel prices in Needles, CA, I stop prematurely to fill up in Kingsman, AZ at $2.89 per gallon. Sure enough, sixty miles later I’m in CA balking at the $4.50 per gallon price tag. I get just over a gallon and head north towards Nevada, ready to put California in my rear-view mirrors. I make my way to Las Vegas where Ms. Garmin again creates disorder with her inability to communicate in a timely manner and I end up going from stop light to stop light around Nellis Air Force Base to the northeast side of the city. After fueling up, I’m on US 93 headed north again.
US 93 is an interesting route. The terrain (mountains and valleys) reminds me of my Combat Outpost was in Afghanistan, northwest of Kandahar. The locals there would have loved to have miles and miles of well-maintained roads like we have here in the US. If anyone else happens to take this route, I recommend filling up in Crystal Springs. I filled up in Lund at a premium – it’s a very long road. I raced north, with the hopes of covering as much ground as possible before the sun went down, but alas, I still had miles to go once the sun said its farewell for the day.
This was the only time I wished I had more of the staple LD farkles – specifically auxiliary lighting and a SPOT Tracker. There was clearly a persistent danger of critters on the roadway. Lots of rodents took advantage of my headlight to run across the road in front of me, but the biggest danger I faced was from a rabbit who decided to rest in the middle of the road. Fortunately, he bolted left and I swerved right and we both lived to tell the harrowing tale of our encounter. The speed limit was 70 but I decided to go a bit slower as to not outrun my high beams. Auxiliary lighting would have been helpful out there in the middle of nowhere. It wasn’t long until I was also out of range of any cell towers and I was the only vehicle on the road. I was alone and unafraid, making my way carefully across the desert. It was shortly after noticing my loss of contact with the outside world that I saw the stars in my peripheral vision. About 15 miles outside of Wendover, I pull over to the side of the road and look around. It was as if I was in my own personal planetarium. I hadn’t seen so many stars in such a clear sky since my deployment. Other than my bike, there were no manmade lights to be seen. This was definitely one of my favorite moments of the trip.
I’m passing through the casinos in Wendover, Nevada and am at my dump of a hotel in Wendover, Utah shortly after 2300. Looks like you go to the UT side if you don’t fare well in your games of chance. It’s been a long day but I’m back on top as far as my attitude goes. This is the first leg of the trip to go as originally planned and I got to enjoy my trip through the southwest.

Day six totals: 4 States (AZ,CA,NV,UT) 1,125 miles, 18.3 hours

Day 7
Yesterday was a long day, but I’m up and on the bike by 0600, getting gas across the street from the hotel. Up onto I-80 and then back onto US 93 en route to I-84 near Twin Falls, ID. I’m in street clothes under my R-3 today as I plan on spending some time off the bike once I get to Pullman, WA. I quickly notice the change in comfort level and wonder how why I traveled long distances previously in jeans. I guess I’m getting soft as I find easier ways to travel. The scenery is just as beautiful today, with snow now covering the mountain ranges. There’s something about snow that makes mountains far more majestic.
I get to Walla Walla, Washington just before 1400 and wait for my son who’s traveling down to ride with me back to Pullman. He arrives about 10 minutes later and, after pairing up our headsets, we’re chasing each other along back roads and chatting about life. He’s on a2007 Patriot Edition VRod I previously owned before gifting to him. There’s not many Patriot Edition VRSCAWs to begin with, and even fewer with the Army badging. When he said he wanted to keep it in the family, versus me trading it in, who was I to say no? It’s nice to see it still running so well.
It was great to get off the bike and take their car as we went out to dinner. It was graduation weekend at Washington State University, but fortunately we got to the restaurant before the ceremony ended. My son also showed me around WSU where he’s currently a graduate student. It seemed as if the weight of the world had descended upon my shoulders now that I was off the bike. Without the constant focus required for riding it seemed as if my body was shutting down. It would be good to get into the hotel early tonight.
I said my farewells after we returned to the house after dinner. They provided me a bunch of bananas to refill my reserves and a bottle of hydrogen peroxide to help dissolve the bugs off the bike. It was great to visit with family but the clock was ticking and I had to get back on mission. It was a nice drive up to Coeur d’Alene, ID and by 2100 I was fast asleep. Some joker had set the alarm for midnight, but the joke is on him – I quickly went back to sleep.

Day seven totals: 3 States (ID,OR,WA) 762 miles, 15 hours (Several hours stopped in Pullman,WA)

Day 8
I’m staged on I-90 and ready for the run home eastbound. I notice that I’m becoming more cautious with regards to my paperwork. I take my receipts and place them inside of another plastic bag, just in case. Other than that, my spirits are high and I should get home long before the deadline if all goes well. After checking the bike and packing up, I’m on the road shortly after 0500. It’s Sunday morning and there is almost no traffic on the interstate. I’m taking one long, sweeping turn through the mountains after another – chasing the river that’s alongside the road. The scenery is breathtaking and I’m starting to wonder if I enjoy this more than the desert. The air is cool but comfortable. Today is going to be a good day.
I’m in Montana shortly after the sun starts to make its rise into the sky. I know I’m in MT because the size of the roadkill just became significantly larger than other states – I passed a moose (elk?) that failed to make its way across the road. I’m a little surprised I didn’t see the offending vehicle nearby. Montana is a HUGE state and required several fuel stops along the way.
At my last fuel stop in MT I notice the guy at the pump in front of me continue to look at the bike and me as I’m going through my routine. By now I’ve grown accustomed to the odd looks as I’m sure I’m quite the sight to behold. The bike is covered in bugs and has clearly been ridden hard and put away wet. I’m sure I look like death warmed over by now as well. I just smile and entertain young kids who are always full of questions. Well, this gentleman took my smile and nod as an invitation to come over and talk. I’m glad he did. After showing him my route, he recommended taking the next exit up on I-94 and heading for Bowman, ND; unless I was set on staying on the interstate – which I was most definitely not! He saved me an hour and provided much needed back road riding needed after a day of high-speed interstate travel.
As the sun was starting to set, I found myself going through Sturgis, SD. I’m glad I got the change to go through such a significant place to the motorcycle community, though it was quite the ghost town this time of year. After Sturgis, I’m back on I-90 for a short sprint into Rapid City for my hotel. I get in about 2100 and after changing into street clothes I take advantage of the nearby chain restaurant before they closed at 2200. It’s good to eat, I should do that more often on trips like this.

Day eight totals: 3 States (MT,ND,SD) 941 miles, 14.9 hours

Day 9
I’m so close to home I can start to smell my wife’s cooking and taste the beer that’s waiting for me. I’m about 1,500 miles away from my front door and debating how hard I should push it today. After much internal debate, I decide to play it safe and book a hotel just on the west side of Chicago for the night. I’m losing time now that I’m headed east and traffic is going to start picking up. I have plenty of time and, while I want to get home, it’s more important that I get home than when I get home.
It’s a late start today. I enjoy the free breakfast and decide that I’ll take it a bit slower. The hotel is waiting for me and I can always sleep in later tomorrow and still make time. I leave the hotel about 0700 and head across South Dakota towards Minnesota. It quickly became apparent that I will be fighting crosswinds all day today. The combination of high speeds and winds quickly took their toll on me and the bike as I was stopping for fuel far more often. My mpg reached a low of 28 for the trip along this stretch of I-90 in SD. I was starting to worry about uneven wear on the tires until I passed into Minnesota and the wind started to come from the other side. I guess there is indeed balance within the universe, or someone has a wicked sense of humor.
Towards the eastern side of MN the traffic really started to pick up. I’m no longer out west. I pull into the gas station in Wisconsin as the wife calls. How does she do that?! We both agree that now is not the time to push the limits and make plans to meet during her lunch break tomorrow after I get home. Six hours later I’m rolling into the hotel just before 2200. I have just enough time to run over to Subway and grab a desperately needed meal before going to bed.

Day nine totals: 3 States (MN,WI,IL) 891 miles, 13.3 hours

Day 10 – The final day
I want to get home in time for my wife’s lunch break so by 0430 I’m on the road so I’ll miss the start of the rush hour around Chicago. I must be up early enough because while there’s a fair amount of traffic it’s all moving quickly. By about 0500 I’m getting fuel in Indiana – two more states remain! The tolls are really starting to stack up but I’m a man on a mission who can’t be bothered to take non-toll roads and incur delays. Though, to be fair, I did stop at travel plazas to stretch my legs.
I leave the tollway in IN long enough to make a run towards Sturgis, Michigan. A few miles up a two-lane road and I’ve secured my 47th state. I find it humorous that I’ve passed through two towns named Sturgis and two named Las Vegas on this trip. At this point, I’m debating on where to stop in my last state. On one hand, I can prioritize time and stop just inside the border. On the other hand, I can prioritize mileage and try to make it as far into the state as possible.
I opt for the latter as it will also minimize the number of remaining fuel stops before I reach home. I plan on trying to make it to the last gas station in Ohio but the speed is killing my fuel mileage. I see a sign saying that the next travel plaza is the last fuel stop for 100 miles and I’m sitting at half a tank. Playing it safe I pull in, fuel up, and stop the clock at about 1000. I got my last receipt 9 days, 4 hours, and 50 minutes after my first receipt. I’m now exactly 300 miles from home and on track to visit my first gas station before going home, showering, and joining my wife for her lunch break at 1600.
Unexpectedly, the last 300 miles to home seemed to be the most challenging. My body seems to realize that the job is done and the weight returns. I stopped for a bite to eat around noon. I can still make it back in time. Then in PA I hit stop and go traffic as the road crews are out in full force repairing I-80. In the end, I roll into my wife’s work at 1600, just in time for her lunch break. I didn’t close out my route as planned and I’m looking like the walking dead in a dirty yellow spacesuit as I enter her work, but I’m where I need to be. Life is good!

Day seven totals: 3 States (IN, MI, OH) 308 miles, 5 hours (till complete, then another 300 miles and 6 hours till I was home)

Epilogue
The question everyone now asks is: Would I do this again? As I write this a few days after the trip, I’m realizing that the haze of memory is already taking hold. I’m tending to forget the discomfort and challenges while highlighting the joys. With that in mind, I would most definitely do it again, with changes. For one, it would be nice to do the ride with one or two other riders. It gets lonely on the road, even for a seriously introverted individual like me. I would also take the time to stage in the Northeast and end in WA so the route was shorter. The only way I’d keep the same pace as I did on this trip was if I was making a run for Hyder, Alaska. Ron Ayer’s route to AK was just about the mileage I experienced from door to door on this trip.
Ms. Garmin and I have decided that we should part ways for the time being. Fortunately, I get full custody of the bike. I may learn to lean on her again one day.
If you’re thinking about making the trip yourself here’s what I learned that might prove useful for you:
  • Food is a drug. Make the time to eat well, especially at the end of the day. If you’re feeling drained a good meal will lift your spirits.
  • So much of this is mental. Do what you can to keep your spirits high.
  • Have a solid plan you can fall back on with changes. Odds are your initial plan will not survive the first mishap and that’s acceptable.
  • Heated gear is a must, especially when it’s cold & wet.
  • Plan on your mileage/time each day dropping. While that wasn’t the case for me, it’s a good idea to front-load your trip with long days so you have time in the bank.
  • Realize that the Northeast is not representative of what you’ll experience throughout your trip.
  • Learn to ignore your GPS.
  • Learn to trust your GPS.
  • Enjoy the ride but realize if you’re on the clock it’s a job. Get up early, ride often, be committed, be consistent when you can. You don’t sleep well when you’re off schedule and that compounds issues.
 
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Scott Parish

Premier Member
#2
Thanks for the great ride report and sharing your experience. I was hoping you would continue when I saw your post on FB regarding the flat tire. I feel ready to tackle my planned 48+/10 next month and appreciate the insights.
 

Brian Thorn

Premier Member
#6
First, Thank You for your service. I appreciate what you do for the rest of us.

Second, that was a GREAT ride report. You have a very good way with the written word, but then again, many of us introverts use the written word as the best way to get our point across.

Third, you're an inspiration to the rest of us that have yet to do this.
 

kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#8
Congrats...

In the final planning stages for an attempt later this summer - maybe - some good points in your eport for me to consider!
 

Smath

Premier Member
#9
Congrats...

In the final planning stages for an attempt later this summer - maybe - some good points in your report for me to consider!
I wish you the best of luck. If you don't need the route to start and end near the same location, you'll have more time to rest and eat. It's very doable with less than 800 miles/day with the right route. In hindsight, I wish I had taken more photos and possibly gotten a GoPro to record the amazing sights to share with family and friends. You'll experience so much more in those 10 days than you probably had in the months leading up to the ride. Looking forward to hearing about your adventure!