Long Distance Endurance Motorcycling - 48 State Challenge!

kwthom

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Premier Member
IBA Member
#1
Long Distance Endurance Motorcycling - 48 State Challenge Starts!


Introduction

I’ve been typing away on this topic for a long time. Many of you who read - and laugh at - my ramblings on the various forums I’m on are well aware of my questions on the topic to those that have ridden these types of distances in the past. I’ve gleaned from your wisdom; it’s appreciated.

Soon after completing the 50CC Quest in 2016, this 48 state ride had piqued my interest. I’ve been chipping away at not only understanding the history of the ride specifically, but also understanding a bit about cartography (map creating) as well as elementary routing topics.

The fact that there has been a desire to travel to our contiguous states quickly actually has been around for decades. Science does generally describe the gritty, gory details in what is known in mathematics circles as the “Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP)”

Sales? I don’t wanna sell anything, I want to buy something that gives me a valid receipt in 48 states.


There’s also discussion amongst those who would claim that the District of Columbia should not be included in this exercise. After all, it’s 48 STATES, right? Well, what’s another stop in the scheme of things?

Could I actually do this? Could I actually get onto a motorcycle and ride 8000+ miles in order to acquire yet another token of gratitude for a ride well done, and the admiration of my peers who also are crazy enough to ride long distance?

I’ve spent a multitude of hours assembling the data necessary to certify this ride. In doing so, the intent will now be to explain the ride as I rode it. Quickly, but not so quick that it’s a blur. Much of what I’m going to write in the prelude will be a few things recycled from some of those very discussions that happened in forums.


Prelude

In reality, there’s a lot of time that can be sunk into planning. Trust me, I did it. In reality, there’s only a few things that are necessary. For those that aren’t familiar with long distance (LD) riding, this segment of the ride report may have some items that may not be fully understood.

Whatcha really need? In a sentence...money, time, route. I had a monetary value in my head; my wife tells me I may have over-bid the cost associated with this ride. I stay in inexpensive places where possible, and on this trip, I really didn’t eat much. So, gas...and lodging were the big expenses. I’ve not yet added those values up as of this writing.

Thus, it’s really the route that is the heart of the solution to the problem of how to do this ride. There are plenty of resources, and in those locations on the Internet that discuss long distance motorcycling, there will be individuals out there who will know and readily share this information. Since I’m here in the southwest, ideally, I don’t pick a route that begins/ends in Kansas -- right??

One of the things that I have seen people struggle with was what I struggled with. These are the types of rides that may not start or end close to home, simply because you want your ‘on-the-clock’ route as efficient as possible. In my case, a 300 mile ride and an overnight stay, then a 40 mile ride to the actual starting point. The 550+ mile ride home will be an adventure in itself...stick around for that.

Finally, the ultimate location to learn more about this style of motorcycling, go see the web pages at the Iron Butt Association.


Equipment

2016 Goldwing, set up as I had my 2006 Goldwing. The really big helpers on a ride like this is some level of auxiliary lighting. Purchase the best light you want to have with you. Out here in the west, there’s a lot of pitch-black night out there. Well, in my case both late nights -and- early mornings benefitted from bringing my own ¼ mile of illumination with me. On many of these types of rides, you can get away with stock lighting. If you’re doing this more than once or twice, getting the lumens out there help - when you can get away with it. A lot.

I realize there may be states where having lighting on a vehicle such as these on a motor vehicle may be illegal - all of ‘em. The reader must recognize that a significant percentage of the LD riding community will be similarly equipped. They are considered personal safety equipment in these circles.

I’ve described the audio enhancements I’ve made in the past elsewhere. My phone is bluetoothed to the motorcycle audio system. I’ve also added the benefit of electronic detection of radio ranging apparatus that may be utilized by various law enforcement agencies. The phone provided entertainment (music, podcasts), conversations both by text and voice while underway, GPS tracking, track recording, and ride pace monitoring.

The motorcycle built-in GPS had the routing as daily segments. Thus the bike GPS was primary; for secondary GPS routing needs, the phone could pick up that task as required.

My equipment? Shoei Neotec helmet, EdSets audio with both built-in earpieces and an external jack to allow the use of inexpensive stereo earbuds. FirstGear Kilimanjaro jacket, LD Comfort undergarments, and because I’m a short, fat, sh!t I’m wearing Sedici Arturo mesh pants. They’re held up with a very recent purchase - HoldUp’s suspenders.

Look at all those words…tell me a story!!

Not quite yet. So, our little story is going to be words - and pictures. (Oh, good - walls of words suck!!) I've got a point-and-pray Nikon on a lanyard used to grab pictures as I see 'em rolling down the road. This is also my primary camera for taking images of receipts and odometer readings at each fuel stop.

A second camera is positioned on the left-side aux light bracket. The GoPro is set up to take an image every 30 seconds. What am I going to do with over 19,000 images? I'll show you a few of them that will enhance the story - I hope.

A sample of the perspective:


Day -1 - Tucson, AZ to Kingman, AZ

I’ve taken this portion of the ride about once a year to either see family in the Vegas area, or to do a small weekend motorcycle ride in the Death Valley National Park in the middle of winter - a great time to go.


(L) Picacho Peak, Arizona - The American Civil War's westernmost battle happened there in 1862.​


Forced gas stop outskirts of Phoenix metropolitan area​


I came here to buy a gas gift card...they don't sell their brand of gift card here.​

A totally uneventful ride to Kingman. The big thing is I practice my receipt gathering skills; I’ll go into those details a bit later in the story.



Every one of these needs to be readable - even if I can't see it in the camera display.​

The "200 mile trees"








Along US-95 in the Joshua Tree National Forest, there are two huge cottonwood trees on each side of the highway. On one of our earliest motorcycle rides on this road, I’d noticed that these trees were almost exactly 200 miles from home. In five days, I’d be a LOT farther than 200 miles from home - if all goes right with me *and* the bike.

One of the early topics that new LD riders are exposed to is the Archives of Wisdom (AoW) http://www.ironbuttrally.com/tech/aowprintout.cfm
I thoroughly recognize the article for what it is; don’t be stupid and do these things before a big ride. Think I’m smart enough to learn? Naah…
I wrote several ride preparation posts on my blog to document a lot of this. I’m not going to rehash everything, but go back and read the Day -4 post about the water jug implemented at the last minute. It *did* work well on the 100° temps for most of the ride to Kingman.

https://kwthom.blogspot.com/2018/07/48-in-10-ride-day-4.html


A cool room on a hot day - good times!​


So, I tend to forget at times this is there. There will be others with debris on the lens, promise!​

A quick bite to eat, then early in the room to cool down and focus on getting that sleep I really want. I’d managed to get to sleep about 8pm. I’d planned to be rolling no later than 3am local time; this was to make sure I got into Idaho with some daylight left.

298 miles...time? I got all day to do this. Short day; enjoy it!

Still from thunderstorm video taken the day before my 48 state ride.​

Day 1 - 31 July - Pre-ride start to Lake Havasu City, AZ
I had pondered this problem up until the last week - do I just start this ride here in Kingman, or do I save myself a few minutes of that 240 hours I have to do this ride? I finally decided to start in Lake Havasu City - or at least a place that has that as an address. In reality the intersection of AZ-95 & I-40 is 20 miles from Lake Havasu City proper, but...it’ll work for me, as I’m only 21 miles away from my *second* state and stop, California.

The 40 miles to ride there to the ride start made me consider just how lucky I am to get to run off and do this ride. My wife had mentioned wanting to go, but I said that I loved her waaaay too much to abuse her like that on a timed trip of this length. Thanks, love!

There’d been rain on-and-off throughout the afternoon and into the night. The clouds were periodically lighting up from thunderstorms in the mountainous areas...and it would seem to also be in the direction I’m going. Every good ride has weather, right? A few sprinkles as a prelude there was just the beginning. Looks like mine might get me right out of the gate. That may not be such a bad thing, as it’s still a bit muggy out here.

I pull up to the fuel islands; desolate as you'd expect a place would be in the middle of the desert at nearly two in the morning. I take a minute to grab a photo, then another couple of minutes with a final rehearsal of the steps I need to do.

Moments before departure, this fuzzy image. It looked fuzzy away from the camera as well.​

Deep breath...let's go! Put the card in the pump, fuel the bike. Take the receipt - get a good clear photo of it (it took a few times...)

It's on!​

Got it! The ride has begun...but, I gotta be in New Mexico - by way of Maine and seventy-odd other stops in ten days? What was I thinking!
 
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kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#3
Day 1 - Tuesday, July 31
Lake Havasu City, AZ to Grangeville, ID
Google Maps (as planned route): https://goo.gl/maps/42PZmruZAtE2
GPS Distance: 1034 miles
Travel time: 16h 55m
States Claimed(*): AZ, CA, NV, UT, ID, OR
(*) Pass thru once, I’ll list it - pass thru multiple times (like I did in ID and others, no further mention)


I had this leg significantly longer in my early planning, but in really reviewing those last couple hundred miles, I’m really glad I made the arrangements I did.

That rain that’d be chasing me to the first gas stop finally caught me just as I crossed the border into California. I’d really wanted to get a photo of all of the “Welcome to xyz” sign, and at first, I told myself turn around if needed to get it. Well, that plan went to crap about 15 minutes after this ride started.



Forgot to start GoPro in Arizona; started in California. D'oh!​


The rain was hard enough that for me to even considering stopping to take that photo of the California sign would not have been a good idea. So, then the welcome sign picture game became “it’d be nice to get…” - particularly on those states that I’d never been to.





Dark, rain, and slick - and people think this is fun!​


A slight route deviation in Las Vegas; one of the last things I checked a couple days before was how I was routed at the US-95 / I-15 junction. I decided that it’d be easier for me to just get onto I-15 south from I-215 and roll straight thru the construction zone at that intersection - wise choice.


During the week prior to my departure, I learned about track file displays on my Spotwalla tracking page. The blue line represented my planned route. This should make it easier for those that didn’t know about the route (mainly non-riders) to follow my progress. I've since taken my GPS tracking files and now also incorporated it into the same map as a red line.

Vegas, baby. Okay, let’s move on!​


Getting onto US-93, I took the time to check tracking - what?? My Bubbler points were there, but the tracking dots weren’t showing up - reboot phone, all returns to normal. Weird...





More desert and more light.​





Rural Nevada - serene!​


My first few fuel stops were normal - 8 to 10 minutes long. Get gas, get the photo, stow the receipt in the proper location in the book and continue. Again, the person that came up with that idea - brilliant!

This first of a few ‘incidents’ happened; this was odd. The helmet cord is a typical two-piece system. The connector between the helmet cord and the rest of the audio system typically sits just above the area where it might get caught...until now.

When I moved away from the pump, I recognized it was quiet - cord is not attached. I moved away from the fuel island, and typically, can just pull the cord up to where I can attach it - either moving or at a standstill...uh-oh, not now.

I’d managed to snag the connector end under the gear shift lever! I do NOT have a spare - this could be bad if I’ve destroyed this. Fortunately, I’d just slightly deformed the connector. A quick squeeze, and it was able to plug into the helmet cord, and once again I had audio in both directions.

The fuel stop in Utah took a bit longer...nature called; good place as any to take care of business.



The Wendover, UT/West Wendover NV. border​


I had been on nearly every mile of these roads, on various other rides I’ve been on. Once I made the turn onto US-93 in Utah, then I was in new territory...and would be for at least the next five days.



My last stretch of Interstate for today started here​



Haze in the sky; smoke from forest files to the west.​


As I rode further north, the temperatures continued to stay in the low 90 degree range. I knew from monitoring weather reports, this is a heat wave in the area - to me, this is nice!



Touring riders....​



...not interested in Sturgis, I guess.​


I never knew Twin Falls was built right next to the Snake River Canyon...wow!

Oregon was another one - just like Utah was - that’s a ‘dash and go’ state. Dash in long enough to get a receipt, then dash back out and continue onto the next state. The people that laid these rides out...you could tell a lot of thought went into planning these locations. Many states would be in-and-out in an hour or less.

Fuel in Oregon

You can find a lot of folks from the Beaver State may not particularly care about the change made for gas retailers in rural areas to allow vehicle operators the ability to pump their own fuel.



Another fuel stop - where am I?​



Sticker on the pump was a bit of humor - to me, anyway.​


My shot was a little blurry; found this image in an on-line story about the change in the law that went into effect this year:



Thanks Argus Observer


I’m getting a bit tired, and I know I have some twisty forest roads to end the day on.



US-95, central Idaho​







Short break here in Riggins, Idaho​



Parallels the Salmon River for miles…​



Bridge crossing the Salmon River​



One of those road alignments that's been this way forever​


No other major events - ride went well, and another thousand mile day accomplished.



Grangeville, Idaho​


This community that I’d finally decided to end my first day on is near a lot of national forests and parks. For street motorcyclists, one of the better roads is the road from here thru Lolo Pass and into Missoula, MT. My fear was that I’d not get a room just randomly showing up, thus this was one of only three places that I’d made advanced lodging arrangements.



Tonight's lodging choice in Grangeville, Idaho​


I got to the room and checked in. I’d really thought about walking a block to a restaurant/bar that I saw on the way in for a bit to eat.

Nope, wiped out. Phone call home, shower, goodie bag for a package of peanut butter crackers, cold water, and bed.

Do I have enough in me for three more of these in a row? I think so. I’m tired, but excited. I have a bit of a struggle to sleep. I roll over, fire up the police scanner app, put it on a familiar channel, set the timer - off to sleep I went.
 

kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#6
Day 2 - Wednesday, August 1
Grangeville, ID to Bowman, ND
Google Maps (as planned route): https://goo.gl/maps/BoYUG1Y8rGU2
GPS Distance: 976 miles
Travel time: 15h 01m
States Claimed: WA, MT, ND

I had to cross town (oh, a bit less than a mile…) to get to my fuel stop to begin the day. Today I knew that this wouldn’t quite be a 1000 mile day, but my goal was to ride it as if I was attempting to ride a 1500 mile day - a BunBurner Gold. The first couple hundred miles would again be thru the twisty canyons of Idaho along US-95. The rest of the ride would be along I-90 & I-94 across much of Montana, then a beeline toward North Dakota along US-12. Good pace will help set the tone for today’s ride.

When I loaded the bike each morning, I tended to just get the gear in the bike, then get away from the motel as quietly as I can. At the gas pumps, with plenty of lighting provided by the gas islands, I can get my trunk situated. The clipboard and photo album (receipt repository) are on top, available for easy access.

As got this stuff arranged, I took another moment to clean a layer of insect guts off my windshield. Grangeville’s finest decided to pull up to chat. At first, his questioning was if I coming into town.

No, sir, I’m headed out - heading to North Dakota - by way of Coeur d’Alene. At that point, the ten second ‘elevator speech’ happened.

“I’m beginning day two of a ten day motorcycle ride touching all of the lower 48 states.”

“Quite a ride - good luck!”

I thanked him, wished him a safe morning, then began the gear-up process.


Leaving Grangeville, ID​


Another twisty road in the woods, auxiliary lights for the win!​


Welcome to Washington - too dark to get that sign.​


My second fuel stop of the day...really wish it was light, but it was not to be - and probably a good thing, too. The southeastern part of Washington is partially bordered from Idaho by the Snake River. There are a pair of communities that straddle the river at this location - Lewiston, ID and Clarkston, WA. History class from school once again proves to be a help “Oh, yeah, Lewis and Clark - explored this region of North America in the early 1800’s”

Washington...getting there around the bridges and the river was only easily done with good clear GPS instructions. I made certain that I’d fully crossed into Washington to get that gas receipt.

Another ten minutes, another state claimed! Now, these little twisty, two-lane roads have been fun for the last few hours of riding, both this morning and yesterday - but I’d really like to be able to relax just a bit on some good ol’ Interstate highways!


Another sunrise while on the back of a motorcycle.​


"On The Road Again" - Willie Nelson. Rattle that around in your head for a bit.​


Grain silo -or- potatoes??​


A couple of hours later, and enjoying another sunrise, I barreled my way thru the panhandle of Idaho, my next fuel stop was in Coeur d’Alene.

One quick stop after the fuel stop for a bit to eat from the grocery store in the same shopping center, and it was time to zip across Montana.


Beautiful scenery​


Twists & turns along I-90 in western Montana​


Roughly six hundred miles of Interstate reminded me a lot of the travel across Texas I did for my 50cc ride a couple years ago. Having divided the legs of today’s ride into roughly equidistant lengths made clicking off the miles - and the stops - pretty ordinary.




The St. Regis River parallels the Interstate for miles​



Slowly coming out of the Rockies​


Much of this Interstate is posted at 80MPH​


It was here that I started noticing a few more motorcycles - both going the same direction I was, but a few groups headed west. Yellowstone...the other end of Lolo Pass...Cody, Wy. A lot of good riding up here still to do.


A group of trike riders towing trailers. Most of the females seemed to be rather miserable. No gear, and baking in the sun.​


I'm not preaching for or against ATGATT, but there's times if you're going to be miserable...be protected and miserable. That 92 degrees was warm, I'll give you that.


Saw this at the fuel stop. Big bucks from NY, she was riding a Spyder, he was driving the rig. Obviously headed east to a little get-together in Sturgis, SD - Arrr!​



Prairie farms - a lot more to come, I’m sure​



Main highway into southwest ND​



A thousand bugs in 200 miles​



Roadside crucifix - state does this marking fatality location.​


In scouting lodging locations for this day, I’d found another inexpensive mom-and-pop place. This one did have a diner next door; I just hadn’t looked up what time they closed.

While checking in to the motel, “When does the diner close?”

“In about 20 minutes.”

I parked the bike, then went over and got my first true meal of the day. I sat at the counter, chatting with a local fellow about traveling. This guy really didn’t seem like one to be doing a lot of that, but then again, I probably didn’t look the part either. In these little towns, folks will chat up strangers. It must be the charm, not looks or smell, that does it. The server got a good tip that night.

I got back to the room, spent a few more minutes removing bug guts from the windshield and the lights. Something’s telling me I’m gonna need ‘em tomorrow morning. I called home, took a nice warm shower, and went to bed.

As I laid there in bed, the realization hit me...two more thousand-mile days? Who was the genius that dreamed this plan up?

Oh, yeah…. Zzzzzzz.
 

kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#7
Day 3 - Thursday, August 2 2018
Bowman, ND to Osceola, IA
Google Maps (as planned route): https://goo.gl/maps/VRJCqfPSMnE2
GPS Distance: 1051 miles
Travel time: 16h 30m
States Claimed: SD, WY, NE, IA, KS, MO


Awake in the wee hours of the morning isn’t anything new. Once again, reality hits - no lounging around - I gotta keep rolling!
I get the gear loaded onto the bike, then try as best I could once again to have a quiet escape from the motel parking lot. At 2-ish in the morning, kind of rough. Had to hit the starter twice on this escape, sorry Budget Host sleepers!


My ungraceful exit from the Budget Host motel starts here.​


The fuel stop to begin the day was across the highway. This town of ~2000 is at the crossroads of a couple of older U.S. Highways. A truck stop again lights up the night with fuel and a chance to fill my water jug. I get what I need from the store, then exit to the fuel islands.

My first struggle with the original configuration of the water jug happened here. Several minutes getting it cinched up enough to not tip over with a nearly full gallon of water. Good enough for now - I think...


Starting the day fumbling with the water jug - again!​


Not five miles away from town, I was on full alert as I passed a deer - live one - the first of several...that I could clearly see along the side of the road with the aux lights on. You see this back home in Arizona to an extent, but more in the north part of the state. Nearly every pick-up and semi truck has what are known as “bull bars” around here. I had a feeling this was going to be a treacherous section to get thru.


Dark? Oh, my, it was dark out here!​


The next 150 miles were on this high alert...awaiting for either my next stop or the sunrise to give me more of a perspective of the horizon. My pace had to be steady, yet my senses were maxed out. I got a chance to be alert for different things (cops) as I rolled thru a couple of small towns.


Belle Fourche, SD​


Next state, and first en-route stop of the morning - another in-and-out in Wyoming. I’d read that this location opened at 5am local time; I got there about 15 minutes after they’re opening time. Another driver pulled up alongside, and a friendly warning about the cervidae (deer, elk, moose) sightings regionally. I let him know already seen, awaiting full daylight to help out.


Wyoming...gas and a minute to relax.​


Sturgis, SD was eerily quiet as I rolled thru at around daybreak. The Rally doesn’t officially start until Friday; thank goodness I’ll be 400 miles east of here by then. Yet another stop, marking a corner - and- a state, and we continue into the morning.


near Sturgis, SD​


near Sturgis, SD​


Low clouds in Rapid City, SD​


Back on the highway and a short time later, yet another state border crossed - Nebraska. By now, it was light, and I’d been too focused on those critter sightings earlier in the morning to worry about food.

This bull was intently watching a herd of cows on the other side of the highway. Wonder why?​


A break for a bit to eat, then more miles to a second location for fuel was an impromptu modification to the planned route. I didn’t feel bad, since it was blown as I rolled thru Vegas two hours into the ride.


This may be why this is 'fly-over' country.​


More stops, more simple gas stops, but a couple of missed Bubbler marks. There’s another auxiliary app on my phone that needs to run that senses when the bike doesn’t move. What that will do is trigger the Bubbler app on my phone. I physically need to see that screen and go “yeah, hit the mark!”. There seemed to be more than once that I may not have physically let things stop long enough for the auxiliary program to work. I’ll have to play with the timing on that for the next ride.

During this stage of riding, I wasn’t filling the bike; there was no need to do so, but there did need to be enough to get to the next location, which could be 120 miles away, so these fuel stops were only for a few dollars of gas.


The clipboard I have has this checklist as a reminder of what I need to do at every stop. I’d probably get to step 8 in this list, then go “Meh! - roll!” and miss the remaining steps. The most important ones were u front - getting the gas, getting the receipt and getting the photo of the receipt.

The extreme north east corner of Colorado was the next stop. Along the old main drag of town was the next location for fuel. This was a stop that I needed to mark a corner, a state and fill the bike with gas.


Reading is fundamental - note on pump "no fscking receipt!"​

A profane scribble about not providing receipts was on the face of the fuel pump. The station/convenience store had recently switched and was simply an unmanned fueling opportunity. I knew that a few miles away, I-76 has an exit, and with the exit were a couple of fuel opportunities. I left, got my fill-up and good receipt; onward to ‘fly-over’ country.


Another state, another corner. Full tank? Let's go!​

Crossing Nebraska on I-80, I’ve got 360 miles and farmland. I then got onto a phone call chatting with wife for a bit. I’ve mentioned this in past ride reports, but the nice part about these conversations is it’s a lot like having her on the back of the bike.


Two hundred miles of this​

Now, typically, I’d converse a bit via text message. No, I’m NOT typing them out on the keyboard! I’m using Google Assistant to take my words and turn them into text messages that are sent. When a text arrives, I get a chime, and at my convenience, I have Google Assistant read my latest text message. I also had a couple of other conversations, one with a friend in California, another with a friend that’s in Washington D.C. It made that stretch of road much easier to deal with. So did an hour or so of music.


I mean, it's different than it is at home.​



It just seems to go forever...Iowa border with Nebraska (Missouri River)​

Yet another uneventful fuel stop that got me across Nebraska, then came the first Iowa corner. If you note there’s a few places that there are some directional changes to be made over the next 200 miles. Yep, each one needs to be marked.


Iowa stop. Who is shuffling into the store there?​

I did get turned around a bit in this Iowa town. It’s laid out in a grid, but there’s only a single road back to the highway that takes you back to the Interstate. I wasn’t allowing the GPS to recalculate -again, me being smarter than the tool - ha! Eventually, back on the road, and onto the next routing challenge - getting to Kansas.
You can simply look at a town like St. Joseph, MO and know it’s been around a while - and the engineers who were given the original task of creating limited-access roads in the area were creative. Putting a freeway right next to the Missouri River - probably the only way to do it.


Put an elevated freeway right next to that river - what could go wrong?​

A few loops, ramps, and bridges - Kansas. I pull up to the fuel island, and I see an officer in an unmarked patrol car. The radar antenna in the dash, along with the antennas bristling from the roof...kinda gives it away. He left before I did, so I’m not sure where he’ll be hiding, but I only have a mile to get back to Missouri.

Forty miles of busy four-lane highway gets me to my Missouri stop - at the intersection of this highway and the freeway that’ll take me into Iowa (again) and my lodging. It’s later in the day, so mind goes “rush-hour-traffic”, and all I want to do is get me onto northbound I-35.


I can't get on that Interstate fast enough - get me outta here!​


When I did, it seemed that it was even more hectic - what?? Many of those that were really pushing that 70MPH limit around here - Texas plates. Okay, so why would a crap-load of Texans be hauling-ass into Iowa? Never did get the answer.

An hour-and a half later, I pull into my evening’s lodging choice in a small town south of Des Moines.

Now, earlier on, I’d mentioned that I had only made three reservations in advance on this trip. That’s kinda-sorta true. I had a list of two or three options at any given location that I’d pre-determined would be a good day’s effort. Last night, one of my tasks was to make arrangements for tonight. I’m just not a fan of walking in and getting pot-luck for a room choice or a room rate. It might be good, it might be terrible. In a tired condition, I’m not one to make decisions like that.

Once set up with a major chain, it’s be a few minutes and reservations are there for you when you arrive - no matter your arrival time.


Another day ends, another cheap motel awaits.​

Tonight here in Iowa, I did great. Unfortunately, tomorrow night’s location? Smoking rooms only - ugh! Well, I’m probably pretty rank-smelling myself, so it’s not going to matter.

Another phone call home, all is well I’m not much of a listener especially when tired. My voice probably gives away a bit of fatigue that’s beginning to kick in. I need another good dose of sleep. With today’s effort, the longest three-day stretch I’ve even done on two wheels - 3061 miles is done. One more (nearly) thousand mile day tomorrow - do I have it in me?
 
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kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#8
Day 4 - Friday, August 3, 2018
Osceola, IA top Willoughby, OH
Google Maps (as planned route): https://goo.gl/maps/p7gR7KUBGsB2
GPS Distance: 994 miles
Travel time: 17h 22m
States Claimed: MN, WI, IL, IN, MI, OH


A handful of states - and the ‘last’ thousand mile day. If I did my arithmetic correctly, with a respectable day of riding, this should qualify me for a Saddlesore 4000 certification.



This morning, Iowa. Tonight? Ohio. Via Minnesota and Wisconsin.​


Each stop on the ride represents a ‘corner’, as well as a state. Now, we really get into the one tank of fuel per state segment of the ride. Planning the fuel stops was an exercise in efficiency. Can I get a few of those 10 to 12 minute stops today?



Farms...​



...one of those areas you have to figure...​



...the farm was here before the Interstate!​


Iowa, then Minnesota farms...a LOT of farms. They started disappearing as the wooded areas returned. that suddenly turned into forests as WI approached.



What are those white puffy things? Oh, yeah, clouds!​



More farms...​



...low clouds. What brief weather I've been looking at is....​



...lower clouds! ...I'm chasing a weather system across the midwest for the next day or so.​


I had done a trip related to work in the Madison area a few years ago; I didn’t recognise it from the freeway, which was under construction back then, as I recall.



My one-and-only stop in WI - or so it was planned to be.​



Stopped waving here.​



Wisconsin - home of the Bar-and-Shield brand. Local ride, or a ride a few hundred miles west of here?​


Wisconsin...supper clubs. My Android phone is now haunted with all of the places along my route I’ve researched. The day I wrote this segment of this report, a story about Wisconsin “supper clubs” popped into my newsfeed.

Stop in WI - 15 more minutes fighting that water jug, now empty. It’s tied down, not well - still have to find a better way. Remember what I wrote about that Archives of Wisdom article?? I’m now beginning to believe it to be more like the Ten Commandments - thou shalt NOT do stupid crap!!



I’m getting fatigued earlier in the day - it’s catching up to me. I can't exactly think straight.​


I had to stop here to position my toll tag. Good, easy, temporary location for this ride. Now, I’m ready for Illinois.
Soon after crossing the border into the state, I aimed the bike right for the I-Pass Express Lane with my NC Quick Pass on my AZ plated motorcycle. I may have confused the heck out of at least a couple of states, since my tolls to date is exceedingly low. Shhh...don’t tell ‘em! Oh, no - they got me. It just took a bit to catch up. :/



High-speed tolling - a technological marvel? Naah.​



Service Plaza - Needed gas to clear IL, but these places are huge wastes of time, part of the reason you’re paying tolls.​



Road Construction! Holy Crap!​



Toll tag check? Well, why not?​


So, I didn’t think about this until the end - in IL - was my tag even working? The tag can be taken in the ‘slow lanes’, where people would typically pay by means other than the tag. In this case, I beared to the right. As soon as I approached, up went the gate, the display on the left gave me a ‘go’ indication, and I was back up to speed.



Speed? Not for long - wait! Friday? Everyone leaving town early??​


Timing - is there really ever a good time to go thru (or even near…) many of our major metropolitan areas? Like Chicago? Why in the world would everyone be headed away from there and into Indiana?? Second service plaza was for a drink and to relax a bit after wall-to-wall traffic. Listening to the CB, there’s about 20 miles of traffic ahead of me, and no easy way right now to avoid it.



I need a Gatorade and five minutes of Internet, then back on the road again.​



Indiana - and still more traffic.​


Clear traffic, now in IN wander to next road in the route; stop for fuel. Timing a bit better - next stop will be MI



Indiana Service Plaza. Find a set of green gloves? Think I left them here​


Again, whoever actually came up with these routes is a genius. So, exit toll road (with a transponder, who cares?), then a few miles, cross into Michigan. Another mile, and the station that was on the list.


I
Michigan sign - GoPro grabbed it - Nikon totally missed it!​


I go thru my routine - but the driver that was roughly my age in the clapped-out sedan next to me could just get screwed! His cheap-assed $4 imitation Ray-Ban glasses just couldn’t control that stare at me thru the entire time they were there. Fortunately a couple of kids jumped into the car after a couple of minutes, with soft drinks and fist-fulls of snacks, and off they went with their car running really, really rich in fuel mixture. I’m suspecting that I may have been one of the first people he’s ever seen in ATGATT apparel on a non Bar-and-Shield brand motorcycle. Jealousy? Confusion? Don’t care, gotta go - and this is probably why I missed the Bubbler mark here.

Reverse my entry into the Wolverine State and return to Hoosier-land. The shadows are getting longer, and I see the distance that remains until I reach lodging.



The time between off the toll road and back on the toll road? Eleven minutes.​


I’d been randomly taking photos with my Nikon that’s been around my neck for a LOT of miles. As a precaution, I had purchased a spare battery. Well, right about this time - yep, the Nikon dies and I’m about to do my stop in Ohio.



Ohio Service Plaza. Service? Naah...​


I’d chosen to do this as it was time to eat. Seems like my body finally figured out that at least something in me once a day isn’t such a bad thing. As I pass the sign, I note that one of the vendors is a bagel place. Now, right about now, a toasted bagel with peanut butter sounded really good. I pull in, walk inside (did I remind you of the time drain at these places? It’s okay now, my ride today is almost done) and head for the bagel shop.

The snooty female at the register says that the man in front of me is her last customer.

“But it’s twenty till closing”

I’m sorry, but we need time to clean up.

You’ve GOT to be sh!tting me! It seems the plaza’s restaurants close at 8pm.

I do NOT want a burger; the only other place appealing was a common chain pizza joint found in malls and airports. I’m not a big fan of over-sweet cinnamon rolls, so that establishment was crossed off the list - ugh!

Semi-warmed cheese pizza was a letdown, after I had my heart set on that bagel.



8pm closing? What - nobody travels after 8pm around here?? It's still light out!​


Back on the bike, get enough fuel to make it to my motel. An hour and a half later, I’m there. Around 4055 miles in four days. At the time I couldn’t keep track of time to save my soul, but upon review, in four days, I’d only lost a couple of hours - not including the time I’m ‘losing’ as a result of east time zone crossings.



Building layout very odd, but hey it's a place to stop moving for a bit.​


Did the same drill of calling home, cleaning up and getting some rest. My call home was quite short... In fact, I can sleep in a bit, if my body let’s me - it’s in the plan!
 
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kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#10
Great recap to date Ken. I think I stopped at the same Wyoming gas station; although, they all start looking alike after a period of time.
Sure...probably a lot of other common stops along the way - since the route(s) were amended from what others have done in the past.

Stock Goldwing has a bit less range, and I'm okay with the stop every three hours limitation that provides.
 

kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#11
Day 5 - Saturday, August 3, 2018
Willoughby, OH to Kittery, ME
Google Maps (as planned route): https://goo.gl/maps/9ybjgBNeuwQ2
GPS Distance: 717 miles
Travel time: 13h 24m
States Claimed: PA, NY, VT, NH, ME


NOTE: Google Maps route link is the original planned route. From today forward, the routes are relatively unchanged, but the day they’re being done is changing. I’m doing more each day than planned.

Did I sleep in? Not really. Now that I’m the eastern time zone, my brain isn’t completely used to the sunrise at 6am. I am liking the 8pm sunsets, though makes that riding day with natural light a lot better.



Another day, another state, another gas station departure.​

I have a 600 mile day that I can take my time with. Or, do I?



My mind has gone numb - did I put my laptop in the bag? Yes - proceed!​




Weird lighting for the Pennsylvania welcome sign.​




Twilight in PA - and fuel soon.​




PA only has ~40 miles of I-90, easy to miss this stop if not paying attention!​




NY toll gantry on I-90 - since it worked in IL, it must work here!​


I get to NY and once again enter the time drain of the NY Thruway’s service plaza and the lengthy wait to get a Golden Arches breakfast. It was five minutes of staring at the map on my phone while eating...wondering if I should try and get Maine today instead of tomorrow. Hmmm…



So, the median has the food service area - the brick building you see in the distance. Walking felt good.​


Off to the fuel pumps - fuel, receipt and off I go across New York.



I can't exactly pin where it looks similar...Minnesota?​



We shadowed each other for 100 miles.​



Upstate NY or WI? Hard to tell, if you've been to both places.​



Upstate New York
In my research, I’d seen where there were a couple of ways to run thru the northeast. One way was to just plough thru and get as many as possible. I figured a good dividing point of roughly half of the states would be a bit easier.
The miles ridden were roughly the same, but the time spent in doing them would be better spent.

I had decent time across the NY Thruway...but then the 'fun' of the roads that’ll get me to New Hampshire. Roughly three and a half hours to do 150 miles. I knew this segment was going to be the slowest, and I had to first get around this absolute wad of traffic - all headed the same direction I am.



Stop-and-go traffic. No easy ways around this.​



Have these been here since colonial times??​



Scenic region...never been in this area before this ride.​



More farms...you can sort of tell these are much older.​



Deerfield River​



Two hundred year old buildings with the highway right next to it!​



No rain, wet roads only.​





Yankee Publishing - The Old Farmer’s Almanac​



Architecture blends in with the area well.​


By the time I saw my approximate time in Vermont, I knew that we’d press on toward Maine & snag it tonight. Now, the lynchpin to this being successful was the fact that I did have a reservation in New Hampshire. So, I rode the day’s ride as planned and went right to the room. After checking in, I then routed myself toward Maine. About 50 miles and 50 minutes.



About here, I'm having brief second thoughts about this change in plan.​



A reflection of me at the upscale restaraunt while I was temporarily 'misplaced'.​


There are two bridges between Portsmouth NH and Kittery ME. The major bridge is the one on I-95. The second is a drawbridge along the old US-1 truck bypass. I’d gotten slightly turned around, but was able to get onto US-1 for a leisurely ride thru coastal New Hampshire before finally reaching the U.S. 1 Bypass and the Sarah Mildred Long bridge.




Sarah Mildred Long bridge (Kittery, ME & Portsmouth, NH) opened early 2018​


My routepoint on the GPS was incorrect, but only by a couple of blocks later, I see the gas station. Another partial fill of fuel, and another state checked off the list - number 27 at this point.



A familar logo from back home. I'm a long way from home!​


Then, a brief moment of reflection. I’m half way thru this little adventure, and I’m about the furthest I’ve been away from home - except when I traveled for work years ago. I didn’t know it then, but I was 2700 miles away from home. It’s time to swing the Wing (see what I did there??) and point her south & begin the second half of this, with the emphasis of heading home.

Well, another slight screw-up, this one’s on me. I think. The intersection between US-1 and I-95 there in Kittery is a series of loops and ramps that could lead a person with a bit less directional aptitude than normal to make a decision which would cost me another few miles of riding in the Pine Tree state. I was too busy looking at signs; I did NOT have the correct directions on the GPS - there’s the critical error.

So, I end up taking a few mile detour until I could find a ramp that’ll allow me to head south. I pause for a moment at the Visitor Center along the Interstate and fire up the backup GPS - good ol’ Google Maps.

“Okay, Google - route me to Super 8, Manchester, New Hampshire”

I can’t be sure, but I think the Google Assistant laughed at me a bit in reply.



Another view of the Sarah Mildred Long bridge​


An uneventful 50 minute ride later, back to lodging. While I was on the way back, the storm clouds that had chased me thru VT and especially NH had showed up here - and I got drenched for about ten minutes. It did feel good - but then, I realized that I had not protected my phone and it had gotten a bit damp.



Oh, yes, it rained hard for several minutes.​


A few minutes on the AC unit in the room had it dry enough for the evening phone call home.

The good that came out of this? It was a back track no matter when Maine was hit. Doing it now will allow for more time head thru the area that I’ve read from nearly everyone is the biggest pain-in-the-a** of the entire trip - the North East.

I *do* need to rollout of bed early one more day. From discussion with a couple of people that live in the region, if the weather is good, then it’ll be a beach day on Sunday; and traffic will suck. Well, the only way to mitigate that is to try and get as much done as early as possible, thus the pain-in-the-a** should be reduced.

Well, at least that’s the plan.
 
Last edited:

kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#13
Day 6 - Sunday, August 4, 2018
Manchester, NH to Martinsburg, WV
Google Maps (as planned route): https://goo.gl/maps/U1DiSS114hA2
GPS Distance: 628 miles
Travel time: 12h 34m
States Claimed: MA, RI, CT, NJ, DE, MD, DC, WV

NOTE: Google Maps route link is the original planned route. From today forward, the routes are relatively unchanged, but the day they’re being done is changing. I’m doing more each day than planned.

Sound sleep for once...and now, time to go. I took a bit of time and saved to my laptop some of the data from the Nikon camera and from the GoPro last night. I’d just hate to lose this data, so a bit of time making a backup is good.

Obviously, the route is slightly changed as a result of snagging ME yesterday. Thus, Google Maps will help get me to a station in MA, then will get me to RI. From there, the primary mapping via the bike GPS will take over.



Misty pre-dawn morning in New Hampshire​


Early morning foggy conditions in New England. The storms that had beat this area up over the last few days seems to have pushed offshore, so my mind is immediately back to the discussion on-line ‘the beach traffic is gonna suck’.



Sometimes clear...​



...sometimes foggy.​


I don’t know when exactly it’s gonna show up, my focus is just stay on the plan. MA, then RI, then CT. Only a gallon or two, then move on to the next one. It’s making stops reasonably quick, and that’s good.



Free lens cleaning from the humidity you can see!​



Twelve minutes. That’s all it took to deal with a grumpy Yankee inside the convenience store.​



Traffic is pretty sedate still - Sunday morning; gotta start getting bad soon.​



CT gas stop. Enough to get me to NJ​



A second shot at getting this sign​


Once I hit NY state again, then I knew that I’ve hit that traffic suck mode. Now, it wasn't bad at 6am, but by now, there’s a lot of people out here. They’re not all going to church. In this region, it’s difficult to tell who the tourists are just by looking at vehicle license plates...so many of them in such a small region. I’m sure more than a few probably looked at the AZ on my plate and went “Wha?”



One of many carefully-planned directional changes on today's route.​


The turn onto I-287, then the Tappan Zee Bridge. The original bridge from 1955 has been replaced with a modern structure opened in 2017; the old bridge is being dismantled. It would appear that that twin to the span I’m on now is going to be where the old bridge stood. I think I remember crossing the old bridge on a trip west - California? West Virginia? State-of-the-art in the mid 1960’s. I was one of those lucky kids that got to go a lot of places in the car, thanks to my parents both to see family, but to also relocate to the west coast.





(L) Old bridge being dismantled.​


The NJ fuel stop was in a fairly remote stop in the northern part of the state. I killed off one of the gas cards that I had purchased with the intent to relieve my credit cards. I have enough to get me to my next state, Delaware.



My one fueling system professional to interact with happened here.​
I've been pumping gas longer than that kid has been alive!​


So, my routing was supposed to be I-287, then on to NJ-24. This then turns into I-78, and from here I was supposed to take The Garden State Parkway for a few miles, until it joined up with I-95 near Woodbridge. Obviously, I’m reading signs, not GPS directions.



Missed my prefered routing - kept looking at the I-95/NJT signs.​


For those that have never experienced it, the I-95, I-78 interchange is an engineering cluster-**** from the 1950’s - maybe earlier! A single-laned fast right turn puts you on the right road. If you’re NOT on the right road? You get to see the “Welcome to Bayonne, New Jersey” sign, after exiting the Newark Bay bridge.

In just a few miles...traffic! Late morning...where in the hell are all these people going?? “Beach Traffic” - M’kay.

Suddenly, it dissipates and traffic is heavy, but flowing well. Another mid-morning need for food, so another service plaza for food and a few quick texts with my wife.



Brunch? Lunch? I don't know - it looked good at the time.​


We have a guest arriving at our place on Thursday morning...and just wondering if you’ll be home to pick them up at the airport.

Fast math in my head “yes...think so.” Thus, my nine full days of doing this trip may need to be truncated by a few hours. I’ll need to see how today goes. I did know about this in advance of the ride.



Part of a group of people that were just staring at me as I prepped to leave...so I repeated the 30 second elevator speech.
Maybe they’ve never seen a responsible motorcyclist before.​



The Delaware Memorial Bridge​


Exit NJ, enter Delaware. This was another quick stop, but I made a wrong turn at the bottom of the ramp. Eventually, I get head in the right direction, and get to my gas station. If there was an unnerving time of this ride, this is one of them.



Note the sedan and the empty space in front of the exposed fuel island.​


A single empty pump; I’m taking it - you see it in the image above. In the sedan in front of me, four adult males...who seemed like they really didn’t have anything better to do than block the pump in front of me. I went inside to pay (since pump didn’t want to take my card…). Went back out, pumped my gas, got my picture and got out of here.

Another slight re-route around a neighborhood gets me to a highway that leads me back to the Interstate. It took me a bit, but I do believe I’m now feeling the full effects of mental fatigue.

Delaware lasts about twenty miles, and then I cross into Maryland.

Just a few miles, then the sign for the ubiquitous sandwich shop - yeah, I could use some food. Now, those blue ‘logo’ signs that are along the Interstate are intended to advertise locations that are within a couple of miles -or less- of the Interstate. This place must have just barely made it within the two mile distance that food places are authorized.

I place my order, sit down and relax for a bit. Maybe I can relieve some of this mental fatigue by not having to think - even if it’s only for a few minutes.

A Bar-and-Shield rider & his pillion come into the shop. They’re both sweating profusely upon arrival - no ATGATT. Yeah, I’m sweating in this 88 degrees and 40-some percent humidity, but again, being accustomed to the desert, it’s not that bad.

Routing takes me along US-1, then back to Interstate. Within a few miles - low fuel light is on.

Now, I’d done a bit of pre-planning here. I know that I have right at one gallon of fuel and that gallon will last 35 to 40 miles if ridden sedately. I’m approaching the metropolis around Baltimore, and I *think* I can make it to the other side. A lot going on, stay in the middle and keep up with traffic, nothing more. Fortunately, traffic is moving well, I think I get out of the major metro area, and see a sign for a college campus. Oh, gotta be something there?

It’s a down-hill, so off goes the motor, playing the NASCAR fuel-save game. As I get closer? NOTHING but a closed college campus. STOP the bike NOW!



A tactical error to be corrected. Don't feel like pushing this 900 lb. pig!​


I find a tree and hide under the shade. I know I don’t have many miles of fuel left, and I know this trip isn’t going to derail on some dumb move of NOT getting gas when I should have earlier - like around the area of that sandwich shop??

GasBuddy app - gas closest to me. I see a few in a cluster about five miles from where I’m at; fortunately the road I’m on is going to take me there. The road actually turns into a state highway, then into an Interstate. Zoom off at the first exit - hey, it’s US-1. Green light, turn right, and I see a green logo on the other side of the freeway. Fuel...the lifeblood of this little journey I’m on.



See it? Just beyond the stop light​


How close was I to becoming a pedestrian? The answer is, I didn’t.

My next stop is the District. I’ll get enough here to be certain I can ride away from there if it’s not going to work out.

As I’m getting gas, a local pulls up to get fuel in her truck. This was a working woman (no, not THAT kind of working woman!), the truck seemed to have not only tools and such, but also some household items. She wandered over to get a better look - and was one of a few that noticed the plate.



A brief, but pleasant encounter with a local​


“Is that Arizona? You rode that motorbike all the way here from there??”

“No, I was in Maine yesterday. I plan to be in every state - and the District in less than ten days. This is day six.”

I can’t write it as she said it, but it was ‘Lord have mercy!’. Another minute to chat as I geared back up, then we were both on our way.

I wander my way back to Interstate 95, then the turn onto Interstate 495 - also known as The Capital Beltway Inner Loop. Well, being this close - should not take much to do this. Sunday afternoon...seemed that a lot of people were out in the Silver Spring region. Last-minute shopping before the start of a work week, school shopping - who knows.

Follow the GPS. The southern end of Silver Spring is adjacent to the District. A convoluted Y intersection leads me onto Georgia Avenue - this will take me to the next route point.

I used Google Earth and Google Maps to heavily research this stop. As you enter the District, there is a small sign that welcomes you. This was another one of those “I really want this picture!” photos. It didn’t turn out great, but I got it anyway.



The sign is on the right; obstructed by my windshield​



Lucky shot by GoPro on the same sign! Okay, do what I came to do - get gas!​


Next on the agenda - fuel stop. I see the place on the left side of the road, easy to get into the lot, but then I see the problem. This is a small, neighborhood gas station - four pumps total, which means a max of eight fueling at a time. There’s a single open spot; I take it.



Busy place on a Sunday afternoon​


It also seems that the clientele here doesn’t often use pay-at-the-pump. The gentleman in front of me had walked back from the store, then proceeded to pump his fuel. Several others were awaiting access, so let me just help facilitate the issue by getting my fuel & getting the heck out of the way for the next individual.



I backed away from the island as soon as I was finished; more cars were wanting to fuel.​


I walked up to the pump - hey, a receipt. Now, this part of the story became very clear. I left that receipt on and proceeded to pump my fuel, then I took my receipt and moved off and took my photos. Only then did I look at the prior receipt, then placed them both into my receipt repository.

A tangent for a few moments, based on what I wrote above:

One of the ways that the IBA controls cheating is by the magic behind the scenes they do in order to make certain (as best they can) that everyone is on the up-and-up when these types of rides are done. It would have been exceptionally easy for me to have taken that receipt, turned around and headed away - but I didn’t. After I took the photos of my receipt, I flipped it over. It was for much more than the 6.6 gallons of gas that my bike can hold.

It would be so easy for there to be help of various means along a route as complex as the one I did for this ride. When I turned in my logs and receipts earlier, I also had a signed statement noting that what I provided was the truth of the ride. Anyone that does an IBA ride is aware of this. There may be some that want to get into this association by less than honorable means. Even if it’s a simple certificate and a license plate backer - honor still means something.

Now, back to our story!

This was the challenge of the day, and it’s accomplished. Getting that receipt, getting that photo, and getting out of here. Another missed mark from Bubbler...eh, tracking will have me here. Now, the focus is getting out of here and onto the Interstate.

Getting onto I-495 was easy, this led me to I-270 and west toward the very corner of West Virginia. Then - traffic - dead stop.



The dreaded traffic really started getting thick here on the Beltway as I was leaving the region.​


I’m not sitting here; I see some alternative roads, so another idiot (me) out wandering around western Maryland. A lot of farms; pretty country, but very slow going, as others have also done the same avoidance I did.

I work my way back to a convenience store which is close to the highway. Today is really the first day in several that heat & humidity is beginning to have an effect on my thinking. The water jug should have been pressed into service earlier in the day, but in a bit of an accident, I finally figured how I should be strapping the jug on the bike.

Instead of it being directly behind me, strapped to the backrest, I should use the backrest post to hang the jug off to the side, and be near the rear footboards. There’s nothing in the jug; that will be resolved tomorrow. Right now,
I need to get out of here & get to my room.

I probably went a bit out of my way, keeping on Interstates, rather than looping thru Harper’s Ferry. I had a bit of a thought of cancelling the reservation and continuing on a bit further into Virginia, but no.

There was nothing close for dinner, so another bag of popcorn, and more data archiving from camera memory was the evening’s entertainment.



Tonight's lodging. I wanted to do more, but just too fatigued.​


A good night of sleep - I think tomorrow, I’m gonna stay in L.A. - lower Alabama. In billiards, the term “run out” means pocketing the remaining required balls and win the game without the opponent getting another chance to shoot.
I’m gonna run out the southeast United States and try like hell to finish this in 8 days!
 

kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#14
Day 7 - Sunday, August 6, 2018
Martinsburg, WV to Saraland, AL
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/ayHVGmt1C4z
GPS Distance: 1117 miles
Travel time: 19h 23m
States Claimed: VA, KY, TN, NC, SC, GA, AL, FL

NOTE: Google Maps route link is the executed route, but not all stops are marked.

I didn’t yet make a reservation in lower Alabama, but this is gonna be a rough day. It’ll take at least a thousand miles - I have no idea how long the day will be.



West (by God) Virginia​


Within a few miles, Virginia. Now, this state is notorious for being one of very few places that does not allow the use or possession of electronic detection of radio ranging apparatus that could be utilized by various law enforcement agencies. This is a good one, but so is minding my P’s and Q’s - until sunrise, at least.



Low clouds in the mountains, normal.​



The sun is to my back, and will be for a while.​



I need two fuel stops in VA - this is the first​


Two stops needed in Virginia, soon leads me off the Interstate and onto US-11W thru the eastern end of Tennessee.



US-11W south of Kingsport, TN​


This highway leads you to TN-32 and the Cumberland Gap Tunnel along US-25E. The tunnel replaced one of the most dangerous roads across the Cumberland Gap a few years ago.



Tennessee portal of the Cumberland Gap tunnel​



Exit the tunnel, welcome to Kentucky - left turn, get gas.​



Reverse back thru the tunnel - park ranger decoy car (L) in median with radar.​



Back in TN - hard to tell if the clouds have any surprises in them for me.​



Stop in Bean Station, TN - enough gas to be certain I make it into NC.​



I-40 thru this area - nothing there at all.​


Interstate 81, then I-40 and east into NC. I did this route in reverse back in April. For an Interstate, it’s pretty fun - except the slow moving trucks to contend with.

Even though I have a lot of ground to cover, I still need to take care of myself. A break at the rest area just into North Carolina threw a bunch of Spotwalla viewers for a loop.



Bubbler GPS Android app icon screen​


Instead of hitting the ‘sightseeing’ button, I hit the ‘performance award’ button. Hey, it kept a few of you buzzing about it. Honest - that’s what happened.

Gas in NC uneventful. Back on the Interstate, and another missed turn while daydreaming, not while looking at GPS. The next exit was just a couple miles away, so a quick loop back to where I needed to be, and the ride continued onto SC. Gas *and* food at one of my favorite convenience stores. Gas station food here isn’t too terrible, especially when fresh.



Final major directional change for the day here - head south!​


Cross the Savannah River and into Georgia. What day is this? Monday. Another small mental error. I was south of the turn-off to use the loop road (I-285), so then it was just slug thru town - even with a toll tag.



Rest Area - Stopped long enough to confirm a room reservation near Mobile, AL. I don’t think I can make it further today.​



Toll lane! I should be able to make *some* time this way…​



Nope - no how, no way.​



I *don’t* think this is going to last too long…it wasn’t too bad.​


Clearing Atlanta, I’m now not on my daily plan - I’m on tomorrow’s plan. The Georgia fuel stop was another off the cuff, Alabama will be the same. I’m now paying attention and hitting the Bubber mark, no longer aligning with the planned stop locations.



Another 'get receipt from cashier' opportunity.​


More road and into Alabama. The clouds didn’t show it, but the evening had some entertaining riding to be had.



Hmmm. Those clouds in the distance don't look too bad.​



Greenville, AL gas stop - simple, and full.​


The next stop should be Florida, then a nice room near Mobile, AL. Just a few more hours of riding…I’m now recognizing some of the towns I was either in or around as I did my SS2000 thru southern Alabama in order to get to Florida and I-10 and my room in Jacksonville. That ride seemed so long ago - not quite two years earlier.

Remember a few photos ago - about those clouds? Well, about the time it got fully dark, one of them decided it was time for a shower. I’ve already ridden in the dark and in the rain on this trip, but this was heavy rain - and very dark.



No, not fog - rain!​



The only shot worth keeping from the Nikon​



Unbelievable image caught by the GoPro. Illumination by lightning!​


As you see, I had stopped under the overpass to assess the situation. My cell phone was wet enough that to try and operate it right now might not be the best move; I shut it off and put it in the trunk. I’m soaking wet, I’m cold for the first time on this whole trip, and I’m pissed. Hiding under this bridge isn’t the safest thing for me to be doing...I need to make a decision. Since there’s no ramps at this overpass, there’s no way for me to get off the Interstate right here.



Sometimes, a decision is made...and you have to just do it.​


What truly has me concerned is the lightning. It wasn’t ten miles away (generally considered safe), but it was about two miles away. I had no idea how big this cell is or which way it was moving. Command decision - gear up, move out!

Even the GoPro couldn’t catch the severity of the rain as I crawled at 30 MPH along the fog line. Within five miles, it was gone - but only this storm cell or the whole storm front?

“Rest Area 1 Mile” - Oh, boy! I can dry up a bit, dry my phone off and assess the situation better!



Imagine riding thru a car wash - only, you can't see much.​


Not many souls were in the rest area building. I take a few minutes to dry off a bit - both me, a bit of gear, and especially my phone. I fire it up, then get to the weather radar program.

From what I can tell, the further south I go, the better it will be. There’s a huge thunderstorm complex in the Gulf of Mexico, but it too seems to be moving west.

I have no idea how much time I’ve lost - a few minutes? An hour? I don’t know, now it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to backtrack from AL to FL to get that receipt tomorrow morning.



A rest area! Now I can get my stuff together!​


Warm, muggy, drying slowly. Off the exit and onto a two-laned road headed south. Lighting from that large thunderstorm offshore lights up the night. I’m tired, confused and a bit worried I may have bitten off a bit too much.

One highway leads to the next, then a bridge; Florida! The marker takes me to this gas station/liquor store complex. A car with some shady dudes rolled up to the other gas pump on the other side as soon as I pulled up.



Florida - the welcoming committee made me depart quickly!​


Do the fueling job as I’ve done what seemed to be a dozen times today. I’m certain I have enough gas to make it to the room; I’m good - let’s go! I cross the road, headed back to Alabama - Bubbler! Got the mark, now time to flee the scene - and the state!

A different road that parallels the border between Florida and Alabama; much of it lies alongside a rail line. Another one of those places were it might be nice to see what’s around here; the smell was more along the lines of there’s nothing to see here - move along - and so I did.



Atmore, AL​


About a 30 mile ride seemed to take forever, but eventually the Interstate. From here, I could again get back to speed and with a little luck, dry up a bit more.

I get to my exit, and frustration sets in. The traffic light wouldn’t trigger green so I could turn left. I had to go right, u-turn and go toward the freeway interchange when the lights seemed to be stuck again; it can't sense the motorcycle! At this moment, I knew my brain was toast. I’m done; tapped out.



Getting checked in - do I hit WH for food?​


As I pull in to the street that led me to my lodging for the night - the culinary beacon of the south - Waffle House - was on the corner. After checking in, I turned right around, got on the bike and rode the 100 yards to WH.



Yup.​


I wasn’t into breakfast at that time ‘burn me a burger’ At that time of night (morning) it seemed to be appetizing - what do you think?




The normal end-of-day routine seemed to take forever. I told my wife that I should be home sometime Wednesday.



Microtel - Saraland, AL Today's goal accomplished!​


When checking in the guest service person mentioned that breakfast began at 5:30am, rather than the typical 6am. Good - maybe I can get my system back to normal before I get home.
 

kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#15
Day 8 - Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Saraland, AL to Decatur, TX
Google Maps (as ridden route): https://goo.gl/maps/naPQcugxRh12
GPS Distance: 795 miles
Travel time: 13h 24m
States Claimed: MS, LA, AR, OK, TX

Up in time to eat motel continental breakfast. My route puts me back on that wonderful stretch of highway I’m familiar with, Interstate 10 in Alabama and Mississppi, Interstates 10 and 12 in Louisiana.



Start the day in AL. Can I finish this ride - today??​



I made sure my MS stop was at the same place I’d stopped on my 50CC ride. I-10 turns into I-12, then a jog around Baton Rouge (look at a map, probably a better way around this city) and on to the next corner, and one of the two LA fuel stops I need.



Diamondhead, Mississippi​


Another ‘pay inside’, so now a little game. I want around 5.5 gallons, and gas price is ‘X’. So, I go inside, get a soft drink and pay for a really odd amount for fuel.



Welcome to Louisiana​


I’ve now returned to the original ride plan. My stops should be the same, I’m just now a half-day ahead of where I’d planned to be.



Bridge over a swamp - a lot of them around here, it seems!​



Interstate 12 east of Baton Rouge​


I get to Baton Rouge, and take this US highway around the periphery of the community. Traffic is busy, but not unbearable for a weekday morning. I’m going to end up on a ‘short cut’ route that will get me to the Interstate that will lead me to Arkansas. So, much of today is heading north - and west. Now you can see why I really wanted to get Florida last night, just made sense to do it that way.



The GoPro did okay...​



...but a better image from my cell phone! Opelousas, LA fuel stop​

More rain to contend with? After yesterday, it’s no big deal at all!

Back on the road - and look like a good long stretch on Interstate 49 until I get to Texarkana.

Those clouds I took photos of earlier?



Approaching Alexandria, LA - Just where *are* those clouds?​



Hmmm...over the freeway??​



Got me again! Heavy, but fairly short duration, just a few miles. Saw a motorcyclist going the other way - no gear. I know, that hurts!​



Fifty miles later? Sunshine & fair-weather clouds on the horizon.​


Shreveport - terrible road conditions. Stopped at food/gas place. Yeah, glad I have water, but again, more to eat.



Shreveport, LA - food/fuel stop​


Back onto I-49 - then GPS weirdness hits. It keeps trying to take me off the highway. Eventually, I relented, and ended up on the parallel U.S. Highway thru here. After about ten miles of this madness (pretty ride thru the countryside), a sign that points me back to the Interstate. On approach to Texarkana, my GPS had I-49 as a state route. Even though my mapset is only four years old, it was still leading me off highway because it didn’t know that it had been completed some time before 2015. Good to have accurate maps, but good to have common sense. I think mine has left.

Texarkana - Arkansas! I get gas at the planned location; again missed the Bubbler mark. Eh...more important things to worry about, getting on the road that’ll get me to Oklahoma.

To be honest the least amount of route study was from Texarkana to Hobbs. Idabel seemed to be a common spot to get the OK receipt, but from here, I’d simply mapped out a direct route that would get me into New Mexico the quickest - and at least gave me a chance on getting close to home.



What do you mean the system went down? Gaah!​


In OK, I tried really hard to do a bit of research. Crappy cell service, and my favorite lodging network briefly working, then suddenly down for repair made me really frustrated. I think I could have pushed on west of Decatur, but I just didn’t have an idea of where the next lodging opportunity would be. Lack of research?

Again, I wanted to know where the end of the day would be; from there, the when the day would end be able to be calculated. From here, I just gotta get back into Texas, and deal with it then.



Leave OK, back into TX - only one more state and how much time do I have left??​


Now, I’ve written about the Interstates, easy way to make lots of time. Well, here in northeast Texas, things are a bit different. Speed limits are 65 MPH and higher between towns, but you’d better be mindful of those speed limit reductions as you get into town.



Rural Texas highway​


I’m making respectable time, and have tried a couple more times - the lodging app is recommending that I use the toll free number. I’m giving up, and will stay in Decatur. When the app was working (briefly) I did see a very reasonable room rate. During the middle of the week, I should have just driven there. No, I have all this gear, and right now my microphone is working - I’m gonna call.

“Hi my name is… I’m calling from a moving motorcycle along a Texas highway. Are you able to hear me okay?”

“Yes, I hear you fine.”

Lodging, Decatur texas, one adult, one night, non-smoking.

Yes, see it, along with your customer ID number from your phone number. All I need now is a credit card number.

“You can’t use the number that’s on file in the system?”

No, that’s only for your access for on-line booking. We have no way of seeing that account.

“Okay, gonna take me a minute to find a safe place to pull off.”



I pull onto the shoulder to read off my CC number - technology!​


I stop, pull out my wallet, dig out the CC and read off the number - stopped along a Texas highway. Thirty seconds later, I’m moving again. Unreal.

Get to town; yep - food. So, find that ubiquitous sandwich shop and pull in. Two cars in the lot - and me. The two females made a bee-line for the door when I’m taking a few extra seconds to get my phone off the mount.

I walk in, the couple seemed to be finishing up; they are gone in a matter of minutes..

The "self-entitled 50-something-year-old bitch" along with her tween-aged, whiny assed grand-daughter/niece start bitching at each other. The young one then heads for the door, still whining about something - never did figure it out completely.

I’m thinking I’ll just step up and get my order in - nope, older one comes running up reclaims her spot in line, and begins to ‘bark’ her order to the young female employee behind the counter.

It took at least ten minutes to order four foot-long sandwiches, finally realizing the whiny one didn’t get an order, so that fifth sandwich was hastily assembled by the male employee.

The young female employee comes to me, I have my order request in the most kind voice I could muster in less than ten seconds.

Then the FUN of watching this 50-something deal with the point-of-sale terminal.

“If the card has a chip, it goes in the slot. Otherwise, swipe.” Two solid minutes of fumbling, and she pays for her $37 order.

I get my meal deal (cookies!) and promptly pay with my digital wallet.

As I sat there, enjoying my meal - and the knowledge that my ride would be done tomorrow, I was reminded once again that there are some members of humanity that really need to be a bit more compassionate toward their fellow human beings. The young whiny brat was around the same age as my great-niece, who is absolutely none of those things. I guess I’m really, really lucky.



My night's lodging​


Checked into the room, make my phone call, a nice warm shower - queen beds?? It’ll work - and sleep. This journey ends tomorrow.
 

kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#16
Day 9 - Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Decatur, TX to Hobbs, NM
Google Maps (as planned route): https://goo.gl/maps/67uHzjhsEEM2
GPS Distance: 359 miles
Travel time: 5h 46m
States Claimed: NM

NOTE: Google Maps route link is the original planned route.

The travel time and distance to Hobbs is about 33% of today’s journey. It’s weighing in at around 900 miles. On ride like these, you think “900 miles?” I’ll take my time! C’mon, you’re headed home - is there any ride that you think that you’ll take your time?

I didn’t think so.

NOTE: I seemed to have been lucky and had my GoPro mostly working this entire trip. Until today. My camera itself powered up okay once I got home and away from the bike system, so it’s either the garden-variety $2 USB charging cable, or the $5 12V to 5V USB adapter buried in my fairing that died.

Okay - 359 miles; I make this in two stops. Another fuel stop, another receipt/odometer photo in Decatur, then off into the early morning blackness of north Texas.

In yesterday’s account, I made a brief mention about the speed limits. Like most places, in reality, they’re suggestions during daylight hours. More than once, I was running along at nothing more than a few ticks above the white-and-black signs, and I would be blown away by ¾ ton Ford trucks easily pushing ‘the ton’.

As you approach a community along these roads a gradual set of speed limit signs will slow you from 65 to 75 MPH, down to 55, then 45, then finally either 30 or 35 - depending on the size of the town. On the other side of the main intersection, a gradual acceleration would occur - 45, 55, 65, then 75. The lower the value, the closer to it you should be.
The other thing I noticed out here. There seem to be cops out here, but nearly all I ran across seemed to be right in town. Most all of them had that radio ranging apparatus in use. Good for me, because I knew when I heard the beeps, ease up and be sure I’m in the zone.

In some un-named town along my route, my closest interaction is described. I’m approaching a town, I go thru the deceleration dance. Unfortunately, I missed the last sign - 30 or 35? Well, be safe, do 30. The town seemed fairly short; only a few blocks. At first, I heard a chirp, then a couple more.

Yeah, I got someone here wanting to welcome me to town. Maintaining that 30 MPH, I round a slight curve in the road - chirp, chirp, then nothing. I get a wee bit closer, then CHIRP, CHIRP - Instant On radar. I pass then it went CHIRP, CHIRP a second time, as he switched from front antenna to rear antenna. Thinking that as soon as I passed, I would accelerate - but I didn’t. I think that move was ‘checkmate!’



Texas...it goes for a long time!​


A sunrise to my back, and soon my last gas stop in Roby , TX. I did enjoy this route, and fortunately, I did pick one that did allow for higher speeds.



Roby, TX - what *is* it?​



A wind turbine blade. This had to have been 250’ long.​



Note the scale of the blade, in relation to the standard-sized truck that’s pulling it...​



Roby, TX - population 643 - traffic jam! Out here!​

Entering that section of Texas typically called “west Texas”, the fields and farms, began to have oil wells and associated equipment, as well as those wind turbines as far as the eye could see.



Remember the size of that truck that was pulling that turbine blade?​


I really hadn’t listened to a lot of music over the last couple of days. I turned it on now, and enjoyed my last 150 miles into Hobbs.



The only place I stopped, turned around and got this photo. Circa 1935 - Restored in 2012 - Snyder, Texas​



Welcome to New Mexico - the last sign!​


I stopped and got that photo. Yes, I have a NM sign, but not this one. Across that final state line in this little journey means it’s over soon. I’d picked another small convenience store, and the pump wouldn’t spit out that last receipt.



The bike's been cleaner...but it did well!​


I go in and another fellow is waiting, but there’s nobody in the store. After a couple minutes the female clerk comes flying out of the back to the register. Man, I’m thinking something bad has happened… :shudder:
I get my receipt, then tell her that I’d accomplished the ride. She seemed genuinely interested, but I wasn’t in mood to chat.



The book is full. I just went into “go home!” mode.​


Grabbed the photo with both the Nikon and my cell phone; send the photo of the last receipt (this one) to my wife, along with a quick phone call to her.

I then noted that I’d had a mild case of dyslexia on the written receipt. A secondary fuel stop was on my list, it was a truck stop and only a couple miles down the road. I can take a minute to celebrate there, then head for home.

I picked up a snack, a drink and sent a couple of messages to an internet forum that had been monitoring my progress. With a photo of my second receipt secured, it was time to saddle up and head for home.

So, you’d figure that after more than 7600 miles, what’s another 570 or so home?



Crying? Laughing? Read the final episode to find out!​
 

kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#17
Day 9 - Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Hobbs, NM to home (Tucson, AZ)
Google Maps (as planned route): No plan here - just hit 'home' on the GPS!
GPS Distance: ~570 miles
Travel time: too long!
States Claimed: That's done!


NOTE: Photography became an afterthought at this point.

The ride home wasn’t planned. I hit the button to add ‘home’ onto today’s route, and it tacked on the mileage needed to get home. Okay, another sub-1000 mile day, but one that I could do in 17 hours or so.

8:02 AM MST Hobbs, NM (note: times taken from AZ time)


The GPS has been set to ‘fastest’, so the routing it gives me is from Hobbs to El Paso, TX, by way of Carlsbad, NM. The Hobbs to Carlsbad stretch was more of what I’ve ridden thru - the New Mexico side of the oil patch. Seventy-odd miles later, and passing thru the town, I see the signs for a place called White’s City, which is a small community adjacent to the entrance of the tourist money maker in this region, Carlsbad Caverns Nat’l Park.
Approaching Whites City, NM (pop 7), a sign proclaimed “last gas for 140 miles!”

10:01 AM MST Whites City, NM


Never pass an opportunity to get gas, so I zoomed in and filled up. At the time, I noted that a work crew was busily working on the industrial-sized water/ice machine that was being installed next to the small convenience store.
I fill up, pull a u-turn in their rutted parking lot, and headed back to the highway.

For the next half hour, things were normal. Again, needing something to stimulate the brain, the tunes came back on as I rode across the border, back into Texas.

10:31 AM MST near Pine Springs TX

A short, twisty section near the eastern edge of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. As I dipped into a turn, there was a small oscillation from the front bike. It didn’t seem like much, and the turns stopped, and again, straight highway for another 90 miles or so. I really didn’t think anything about it at the time, as I thought it was the heavy ‘tar snakes’ that section of road had.

Entering the El Paso metro area, a few stop lights, and eventually, TX-375, the road that takes you over the Franklin Mountains on the north end of town.

12:01 PM MST approach El Paso TX


As soon as I hit that first turn, the oscillation returned - made me scrub a lot of speed off. Once I hit the crest, and started down “...I gotta check this out…but not here!” as there was a lot of traffic.

A driver in a pick-up comes rolling up, and yelled out his passenger window, “Hey, you gotta flat!”

I gave him a thumb-up and really rolled off the throttle. A few short miles away, and across the Interstate was a convenience store. My gas choice is up the road in New Mexico - but I gotta sort this problem out now.

I’m not going to go into the philosophical discussion on pro or con on the use of automotive tires on big, heavy motorcycles such as mine. I’ll just tell you what happened; you can make up your own mind.

12:11 PM MST Arrive El Paso TX


I pull into the parking lot - the tire and wheel were exceptionally hot. I need to give it time to cool, so I go in and get a bite to eat. I call my wife, and let her know that I’ve got issues, but should be able to resolve them.

The handy-dandy tire gage that I carry around had been used twice on this whole journey. At the end of day two, as I cleaned the thick layer of bugs off the windshield, I’d taken the opportunity of a quick pressure check, both front and back, no issues. Three days later, another couple of minutes in New Hampshire to clean up (the rain had helped…), and again, a quick pressure check told me things were fine.

In lieu of using weights, I use ceramic beads that dynamically balance the tire while it’s moving. In 100,000 miles of using them, I’d never had a problem. Since my wheels also use a 90° valve stem, the filtered valve cores, intended to be used with the beads won’t fit. Could it be a simple as that?

Once things had cooled a bit, I really took my time and examined the tire tread, and I couldn’t find anything in the tire. My tool bag not only has a valve core tool, but also a spare valve core. I pulled out the one in the tire...well, lookie there!



White bead stuck - when did that happen?​


A little over an hour spent doing this repair. I’m thinking I’m still good to make it home in a reasonable amount of time. When I made the approach to the convenience store, just a bit further there was a tire shop.
I had them confirm pressures (since I wasn’t getting a good reading with my gauge…), all was good. Now, I’m thinking I’ve dodged a bullet, time for the journey home to continue.,/span]

13:21 MST Depart El Paso TX

13:54 MST Arrive Las Cruces, NM


My typical gas stop in Las Cruces, New Mexico was another quick stop. I needed something else to drink, more Gatorade and I’m still feeling good.

I get back on the bike, still a bit apprehensive about my repair, so I maintained the speed limit for quite a while.

Returning to podcast listening, I’m droning along; the road surface begins to get rougher than it had been. Entering a turn, while in one of these rough stretches, the feeling in the handlebars returned - damn, it’s a real issue!

As I sort out my “what to do?”, the eastern Lordsburg, NM exit approaches. I pull into one of the truck stops there, and recognize I have to fix this myself. My recent decade plus of motorcycle riding (over 140,000 miles worth…) and this is my first real puncture. Another reason why I have the tool bag - and the know-how to use the tools that’s in the bag.

15:40 MST arrive Lordsburg, NM


I note there are no air nozzles at the auto fuel islands, so I next roll over to the truck fuel islands..

Hey - hoses! What?! - They’re just laying there and not hooked to anything. So, I ride the bike into a slender no parking zone, next to the sidewalk. Now, I have to fix this! How long has this tire been flat? 50 miles? 200 miles?
I don’t know. Bike has TPMS, but the rear rim I’m using does not have a sensor, thus the TPMS system has been disabled. Problem can be fixed, but it’s a few $$$ to do. I’m adding up the costs - but I’m now concerned with resolving my acute problem - why this tire isn’t holding air.

I can’t get the bike up on the center stand (At the time, I’m not thinking that the angle has changed, since the tire is flat. Had I had a small, thin board, it would have helped.), so imagine laying down, examining about ? of the tire circumference, getting up, rolling the bike forward, and repeating.

Eventually, I find what’s left of the object that caused this issue.


A quarter-inch drive bit for a size comparison. I have no idea what it is.​


So, from the time I pulled in, until I left with a tire holding 32 psi and a sticky rope plug, it took about 90 minutes. Once I feel confident that it’s really the problem, I continue my trek home.

17:00 MST depart Lordsburg, NM

17:41 MST arrive Bowie, AZ


That relieved feeling lasted less than an hour. Upon approach to Bowie, AZ, a huge thunderstorm complex with intense lightning was crossing the freeway and barreling down onto the next community to the west (and last gas stop before home) of Willcox, AZ up.



Just to the right edge of frame, you can see the rain. Lighting was to the right of that.​


Just hang out here and watch the storm. - What could be seen with the eye…​


...couldn’t see all of it - wow, what a monster!​


A second radar view convinced me - chill out a bit longer.​


I waited around an hour, then moved the five miles to the west end of Bowie and waited there another fifteen minutes, watching the storm change. I could see what was happening by looking at weather radar, but the storm was changing rapidly. Thus, it was easier to monitor the progress as long as I had light.



I'm waiting for a sign...​

18:51 MST depart Bowie AZ

19:21 MST arrive Willcox, AZ



I thought I saw a break, I took it and for 25 miles, I was getting drenched. At this point, I’m thinking what’d I do? I’m this close to home, and am having this kind of difficulty - like I’m being tested quite severely by the motorcycling deities. No major issues, yes a few delays, but nothing like this! I thanked those deities once more that it didn't happen earlier in the week.

I pull up to my normal gas stop; exterior lights are out. Eventually (in the rain) I cross the freeway and go to a different gas stop. At this location, not one but two Arizona highway troopers also pull up as I did.

I wander over, after giving the two of them a few moments to chat…

“Excuse me, but wonder if either one of the two of you came from the west.”

Nope, both were in the area I just came thru to the east - why do you ask?

“The Chiricahua Mountains and Texas Canyon get some pretty intense thunderstorm cells to hang over them - just wondering if that was true with this storm.”

Sorry we can’t help.

There’s one final gas stop at the east end of town I can watch and see how bad it is.

I wander over to that spot - no heavy rain, but by now, any natural light has disappeared behind this storm.

I get ‘dinner’, and a few more texts with my wife.

I see the storm by using the lightning bolts that illuminate the night sky. It seems to be a bit lighter toward the north, and it seems the storm moves south.

From this point, I have around 90 miles to get home. I’ve been on the road for ten solid days, and over 8400 miles ridden. There’s a warm shower and a bed with my name on it three mountain ranges to the west.

20:01 Depart Willcox, AZ


Texas Canyon was pretty intense, but as I got to the bottom, and approaching Benson, it cleared up. So, back up to speed, thinking “If that’s all there is….”

Nooooo!

Mescal, AZ - BOOM! When I left the last gas station in Willcox, again my phone was stowed. I’m not actively tracking.

This one snuck up on me; I just didn’t get a good look and again, the rain was pretty dramatic.

How do you ride in this situation? I hug the white ‘fog’ line and keep it in sight. As long as I can see that line and the traffic around me I’m good. More than once, however, someone tried to ‘help’ by sitting on my left rear, as if they’re shining their headlights RIGHT INTO MY MIRROR! It’s obviously easier to follow than to lead; more than once I had to motion the driver to get around me!
That lasted until we reached the Davidson Canyon area, and once again, as a rider, you can feel the heat of the city as you begin to get closer. It’d appeared that much of Tucson hadn’t been fortunate to enjoy the sound and light show I did.

Passing the area around DMAFB, I could see a rain shaft near the Kino complex “Is it near the freeway??”

Yup. Didn’t last long, and I was nearly dry as I made the turn into the driveway and into the garage. Three and a half hours later than I’d expected. Another 18+ hour day.



The worst part of 8500 miles of riding - getting home!​
21:15 Arrive home
8797
odometer miles 8497 GPS miles from July 30 until August 8.

After Action Report

- I do need to procure a TPMS system.
- I do need to replace my rear tire; I can't be certain if delamination has started...only a few thousand miles left on this one.
- The IBA AoW will be treated as gospel from now on.
- My next get-away with my wife will happen soon in the comfort of my SUV.


Plugged tire still holds air, even after four weeks sitting.​
 
#18
Nicely done Ken! It was great fun watching your track as you crossed the country. From my vantage point it appeared the weather gods were definitely in your favor as the storms beating up the East Coast seemed to run from your approach. :) Thank-you for taking the time to share your experience, wisdom and lessons learned.