Friday, July 22, 2011
Almost 1,300Km today, 15.5 hours on the road, 12.5 hours moving.
I've ridden so many beautiful roads and seen so many wonderful places in these three weeks that I feel I've already forgot half of them. The impressions and experiences kept piling up in such a short order and so intence that it was sometimes hard to remember all that happened on the same day. This blog will hopefully jog my memory and I'll do my best to expand and update the posts in the following weeks. Check back for more pictures and stories.
The GPS says 15,000Km :)
Thursday, July 21, 2011
The weather looks terrible through the window but the forecast is good everywhere on my route to Toronto. Getting ready to roll ASAP.
CORRECTION: The idiot was me. I thought I was getting room 106 while the key and my bill clearly stated 108. To my defence, I was tired and soaking wet and the marking on the key wasn't very clear to read at night. I managed to open the room with the wrong key because it was left unlocked for late guests. I apologized to the manager and thanked goodness I didn't spray him (blush).
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Starting at the border the sky was getting really grey and low and the road wet in places, but no rain. I kept telling myself that the rain has passed and those are just low clouds/fog. For a while I was right, but then the road started to get more soaked and the trucks/buses I was catching up to or passing by were picking up clouds of it. It also started to drizzle, but nothing serious yet. As I was getting close to my destination for the night Nipigon the sky opened up and I got seriously drenched within minutes. A lady at the gas station showed me the TV with severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings for the area and told me I'm going straight into it. Fortunately the motel was close and although I still got soaked to the bone at least I didn't continue to follow the storm that is going East. Forecast looks good for tomorrow and I"ll give it a shot at going straight to Toronto (~1,400Km). At least the navigation will be easy - all I need to do is just follow Yonge Street :)
State parks, rest areas, rivers, resorts, cliffs, waterfalls, beaches. Many
places to see and enjoy. Unfortunately all state run facilities are closed
due to a pissing contest in Minnesota legislature :(.
For the first time in days the temperature dipped below 30. Refreshing
indeed, even chilly at times.
Stop at Gunnar's place in Grand Marais for a Philly Steak Sandwich. Will be in Canada soon.
Got a weird tan from riding all day without a helmet, with goggles and inverted baseball cap. Have to work on it tomorrow before I cross the border into the nanny state of Canookistan.
This picture is proof that you don't have to look good to have a time of your life :). My cheeks are sore from all that "wind massage". I'm thinking of wearing one of those Venetian masks next time...
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
ride without a break in this heat (still constantly over 40, up to 44).
Entered the second rest area around the sign that says "Road closed". Screw
it, gotta take a break. (Later I found out that all rest areas along my way were closed. A strike?)
700Km so far today, all in terrible heat, at high speed and with a lot of
side wind gusts. Have to put the helmet on or my head will explode :).
Neither with nor without is good for everywhere and every day, especially
not the whole day. Thankfully here I have a choice.
It's been between 40 and 44 all day. Strong wind gusts from the south on
I90 are blowing me over to the left lane all the time. What's worse, they
are overheated too - I swear no less than 10 degrees hotter! It's not a
hair dryer on high, it's one of those heat guns - it hurts.
Passing trucks at 150 is a scary affair. Terrible buffeting behind and on
the side, topped with an amplified gust to the left as I pass the nose. It
blew me almost to the left shoulder once, but I learned the trick how to do
it safely. Why at 150, you say? Because trucks are doing 130 and there's no
point in riding next to them a second longer than absolutely necessary.
Crossed the Missouri river. Got chilled for a few seconds, just enough to make the subsequent heat even more brutal. I wish I could take a dip...
Stopped in Mitchell.
Decided to press on as far as I can today, hoping to eventually get out of
Passed a cop sitting at the median at 140+, no cherries. Long live South
Pot stop in Murdo. Refilled my hidration pack with ice. It's constantly
above 40 for the last three hours. Engine running at up to 120, even at
high speed. No symptoms of any trouble though - it purrs like a cat or
roars like a lion at my command.
set the fastest comfortable cruising speed. I start at 140 and soon settle
between 160 and 180. It's just under 40 degrees here and I'm riding without
the helmet. There are very few insects out here and they are small, but man
does a butterfly sting when it hits you on the cheek at 180! :) I'm wearing
good eye protection though, I'm not *that* crazy :))
Passed a cop going in the oposite direction. Slowed down and kept looking
in the mirror in case he comes after me. He didn't. I guess he figured I'd
be out of the state by the time he catches up, or at least out of his
jurisdiction :). Of course, there's always a possibility that they don't
care about people speeding through unpopulated areas with no road hazards
Having a buffalo burger for late breakfast in Cedar Pass Lodge in Badlands.
My perseverance in face of heat exhaustion and sheer boredom was finally and handsomely rewarded when I entered Buffalo Gap National Grasslands (they couldn't call it "National Forest" because there are no trees as far as the eye can see :) ). Scenery gradually but surely changed for the better and the temperature fell down by ten degrees (sounds a lot, but it's still 36 :) ). Once I entered the Custer State Park it seemed like all things wild came out to play. Look for yourself:
Monday, July 18, 2011
railroad, a manly lunch in Three Sisters truck stop in little prairie town of Manville, Wyoming.
I passed a few very big trains recently, four locomotives and hundreds of
cars. I wave and honk my horn when I can and they HONK back :)
it's so monotonous. Stopped in Laramie for a power nap in a nice and shaded
rest area (35). Next stop will be lunch somewhere after I get off this
Sunday, July 17, 2011
for a power nap at the site of the Ludlow Massacre :). Shady and quiet, there was no one there but me and Syzy B. The nap lasted only about 10 minutes because some people showed up, but it did the job - I was fully alert for the rest of the day.
64 from Eagle nest to Cimarron almost as good. Helmet is taking the day
off, this is real freedom. Strong smell of pine throughout the day brings
back memories of Mediterranean holidays. A pit stop, then on the shortest
(which is usually most entertaining) route to Colorado Springs.
Great Rio Grande Gorge ride.
Through TAos pueblo through Carson NF great and twisty forest river canyon
to Taos Valley Ski village,
Saturday, July 16, 2011
It's sunny and clear, but I won't know the temperature until I crawl out for breakfast. I hope it will be milder than last night, brrrrrr.
Got a plan for the next couple of days. Some cool places to see and roads to ride in Arizona and New Mexico.
One time zone closer to home since I crossed the Hoover Dam yesterday. Finally set my bike clock to local time. It was on Toronto time ever since I left, forcing me to constantly calculate. Much easier this way, as long as I know which time zone I'm in. I guess I'll have to ask every now and then just to be sure :).
Friday, July 15, 2011
Beautiful as ever, although the road to there (64) was nothing special. Been there, done that. Next time I see the Grand Canyon it will be at least for a week - this is just teasing me too much.
Earlier today, on Route 66 in Selingman I met a gentleman who used to live in Hamilton. He warned me about riding in this area at dusk/night because a lot of elk roaming the highways and byways, especially I40 towards Flagstaff. I said I've never had a close encounter with wildlife except for the occasional bird so I think I'm either crazy lucky, my bike produces noise that scares animals or my deer whistles really work. He said he'd seen those deer whistles on smashed cars in a junkyard, all clogged with deer hair :). He also mentioned that nights get chilly in Arizona, which I acknowledged, but ignored almost instantly thinking "chilly" cannot really be that cold since the whole day was over 35.
Anyway, the deer warning was kept in mind, but Bambi decided to stay out my way through three hours of the dusk/night riding. I just saw an entire family of elk about 50m from the road in the vicinity of Grand Canyon. The whole return was done at pretty high speed too.
The other warning materialized way worse than I could have imagined. As soon as the sun went down the temperature started to drop. By the time I was back on I40 it was very chilly 14 degrees! The last 50Km of this 900Km day were done shaking like a leaf. It took me a whole hour in the shower to thaw myself - I was chilled to the bones. This makes today the day of the largest temperature difference on this trip - the whopping 26 degrees. From 40 in Boulder City to 14 in Flagstaff, from wearing the cooling vest and feeling almost comfortable to bundling three layers under my jacket and turning heated grips on high. I forgot that Flagstaff is at almost 7,000 feet :).
The full moon on the way back was gorgeous. Bright like a lantern, I'm pretty sure I could have ridden without lights if I had to.
Tomorrow? Petrified Forest National Park and then probably Albuquerque. I keep thinking about how Buggs Bunny pronounces that :))
on the bypass bridge and all the way to Kingman. Heat too, just shy of 40.
Took Route 66 towards Flagstaff. Same speed limit as I40, but way less
traffic and better scenery.
Had a good night sleep in Beatty, trying to move as early as possible. Coffee and breakfast will be taken on the road. My "Molson muscle" is starting to shrink and pants are feeling baggy :).
same as yesterday, only much worse. As soon as I descended below sea level
it was like someone flipped a switch. Up to 46 it went in no time at all.
Now that's some deadly serious heat, I have to tell you. Fortunately it
didn't last long since I climbed up Daylight Pass (relatively short but
perfect pavement and very nice sweepers under the Corkscrew Peak) towards
Got the room early, totally drained from the heat. Shower, then a ride
"downtown" for ice cream dinner in the Death Valley Nut and Candy Co. (very
good ice cream).
Trying to figure out where to go tomorrow and it's really hard. I thought
Bonneville, but I'm not so sure now - seems too far up North. Man, picking
the route is hard, even when you do it badly like me...
Thursday, July 14, 2011
gravel, or what passes as a well groomed road in Death Valley. It started
innocently enough, straight, well packed and with stretches of washboard
deep enough to rattle one's fillings out. An SUV passes the other way, the
entire family in there shaking their heads when they saw me. Then it gets
tougher, narrower, twistier, looser and in places with rocks big and sharp
enough to shred a tire. For the first time on this trip I'm questioning my
sanity, but keep going. One sharp rock is all it takes to leave me stranded
in the middle of nowhere, or worse. Turning around is not an option - the
road is too narrow and the chances of dropping the bike or loosing it down
a cliff too high. Who am I kidding, I wouldn't turn back no matter what.
White nuckled and in cold sweat I arrive at the top. It's every bit as
beautiful as I remember - the best view of the DV I know of. Windy and very
mild, visibility unlimited. Lonely though, very lonely and quiet.
The ride down was hard only for the first quarter or so, getting
progressively easier as I gained confidence knowing what to expect. The
last time I was here it was in a 4WD and there was a foot of virgin snow
covering the entire road.
A short hop to Eureka mine to check the ruins and back on asphalt again.
Booked a motel I Beatty for less than third the price of Furnace creek.
Heading to the other mountain range to visit Agureberry point (been there
in the winter and it was awesome). But first a minor detour to Panamint
Springs for lunch. As I climb up the mountains 37 degrees is quite
refreshing compared to 40+ in the valley and totally comfortable, 34 a bit
chilly and 30 definitely COLD. If I didn't stop for lunch I'd have to pull
over to get the cooling vest off, it's really cold at anything below 35 or
I took a short detour through Mustard Canyon. Quite challenging loose
gravel. I hope Agureberry won't be that hard because it's much longer.
cozy up here. Very good bacon cheeseburger and a small but strong dark
beer. I could easily take a nap now, but it will soon be time to roll and
burn off those calories. Don't want to overdo it today though. This heat is
taking it's toll no matter what, so I'll try to hit the sack earlier than
usual and get a good night sleep. Also need to plan the next leg of the
were running across the entire salt flats, 16Km each way! Just met one of
them at the pool. His name is Scott and hew's a participant in the Badwater
Race. Look it up, this folks are hard core to the bone!
pricey digs, I'm taking another dip in the spring-fed pool. So relaxing and
refreshing, I don't want to leave. Had a friendly chat with a nice family
from Connecticut. One of their three fished my room card when I lost it
diving in the pool lasþ night :).
I went for dinner last night in full gear straight from the sunset ride to
Dante's view. It never fails to attract attention when I appear in
ballistic nylon black jacket, black double front dungaree pants, motorcycle
boots, all zipped up to my chin... at 40 in the shade :))
What they don't realize is that I'm quite comfy in my cooling vest and
guaranteed not to get sunburn :).
on the salt. The lowest, driest and hottest place on the western hemisphere
on my own bike and in the hottest days of the summer. That should extend my
"Man card" for a few years.
Last time I was here it was mid-december and I was sad I wasn't on a bike.
Call that dream fulfilled and scratch it of my "bucket list". Artist drive,
just like everything else, is as beautiful as I remember. The intense heat
just adds the real element to the experience - beautiful but deadly at the
It's the time that I spend alone
Sailing on the cool and bright clear water
Lots of those friendly people
And they're showing me ways to go
And I never want to lose their inspiration
Time for a cool change
Well, I was born in the sign of water
And it's there that I feel my best
The albatross and the whales they are my brothers
It's kind of a special feeling
When you're out on the sea alone
Staring at the full moon, like a lover
Time for a cool change
I know that it's time for a cool change
Now that my life is so prearranged
I know that it's time for a cool change
I've never been romantic
And sometimes I don't care
I know it may sound selfish
But let me breathe the air
a sign that says Sea Level and another one, in hi_vis color that says:
DANGER Extreme Heat! It was like someone turned on a furnace - it went to
40 in just a few minutes and then continued climbing all the way to 44.
Cooling vest did the job well and I was pretty comfortable. All strapped
and wrapped so I don't get overheated by the hot air blowing at me at 130.
Trust me, you don't want to open your visor at that heat!
Booked the night at Furnace creek ranch at a ridiculous price and went
straight to Dante's View to catch the sunset. It didn't disappoint,
gorgeous as only desert sunsets can be. On. To dinner, a dip in the pool
and a snore.
Oh yes, the roads! Beautiful and well paved but challenging. No pushing the
limits out here, just a fast cruise in the flats and easy leaning in the
twisties. Gotta keep speed to keep cool though :).
I'm thinking of hanging around in the Valley tomorrow and book a place to
sleep just outside the park tomorrow night. I wish I could stay longer, I
enjoy this wicked place so much. This heat beats being rained on at 9
degrees any time.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I left around noon with a goal to reach Mt. Ranier National Park. It was getting dark and found the nearest campsite I can find which turns out to be an Adult Campground.--No Camera allowed beyond the gate.
overload of breathtaking scenery and amazing roads is hard to process. I
wish I could record every single minute of it so I don't forget anything.
I'm thinking about a voice recorder with GPS tagging so I can save my
impressions as I ride. There's just too much beauty to remember it all.
This blog is just an attempt to preserve as much as possible.
Black Bear diner and I'm ready to crash in bed. If all goes well, a 500Km
ride to Davis tomorrow to see my friend Boris and his family. Looks like I could have gotten there even with the shot chain, but Crater Lake Highway and Rogue Umpqua were more than worth the trouble.
Left with a day to kill, headed straight to Crater Lake. The place and the
road leading to it are simply indescribable! Lush forests, lakes and
rivers, sweepers and winders on faultless pavement were crowned with a
beautiful sunny day with just a sprinkle of clouds. I squeezed every last
drop of life from that poor chain, but joy like this was not to be
blemished by minor possibility of getting stranded in the mountains of
South Oregon. I hope these folks appreciate the beauty that surrounds them.
500+Km, a sheer joy, every one of them.