Adventure 2011 — Trip West

This is a review of my trip across the country.  I traveled on my 2011 R1200RT, departing on May 8 and arriving in Sacramento five days and 3100 miles later.

Day 1

I rolled away from 1803 Roxboro at 05:45.  I arrived at my Hampton Inn home for tonight at 4:20 PM, 620 miles later.

The first almost issue was the pair of deer that tried to spoil the trip on the 2-lane section of MD32, just south of Stefan’s house — I saw them in plenty of time and complete avoidance was handled.  I had to think about Lisa Hecker’s encounter that ended her big trip last fall — I guess it was good to put Bambi behind me right away.

Today was mostly slab.  I did wander US250 across WVA rather than riding up I-79 to I-70 from I-68.  US250 was once a great road, but is currently needs some serious repair to be fun.  There were spots where the GS suspension would have been better.

Weather was cool to almost cold this morning; I almost dragged out the Gerbings.  It only got to the mid-60s by afternoon.

Tomorrow is another mostly slab day up to Fairmont, MN.

Day 2

The on-road routine is settling in.  I got up at the same time this morning, did a little Hampton treadmill exercise session, quick breakfast, load the bike and rolled out at 06:45. Once I’m on the road, I stop about every two hours for some reason.

About 630 miles today; a mixture of major highways and interstates.  There is ZERO traffic out here in the heart land (you’ll notice that I didn’t go anywhere near that ugliness on the Lake).

Weather was an an interesting mix — cloudy most of the morning.  I found rain near Peoria, but my timing was good — I missed all the storms with yellows and reds on the radar.  I was under the mistaken impression that the wind normally blew from west to east — NOT TODAY.  I had a 30+ mph East wind, with MUCH higher gusts, from the time the rain ended.  The wind made the trip north really challenging; it reminded me a trip across the desert last spring; bike leaning, wind trying to rip my helmet off, way too much work for my tastes.  If you look on the map, you’ll see the route would go west for a bit, then swing back north — I really enjoyed the rest on the westerly legs!  I even took an extra break before the final push up into MN and I-90 over to my Hampton Inn in Fairmont, MN.

BTW, the Mississippi is out of it’s banks as far north as Davenport.

The bike is running well.  Mileage is great — 270 miles on less than six gallons is typical even with a 70+ running speed.  I finally put a quarter quart of oil in this evening — the fist oil I’ve added.

Today was probably my most states day — IN, IL, IA, MN — states now start to get harder to ride across 🙂

Tomorrow I’m in the Bad Lands and staying in Custer.

Day 3

Routine was about the same this morning, exercise, breakfast, on the road.  I wasn’t exactly as organized and hit the road a little late.

The wind had shifted and was now a 20-30 mph head wind which zapped my fuel mileage!

I think God made western MN and eastern SD as a test — IF a body makes it though those planes, they are rewarded by being allowed to play in western South Dakota — I could love this area.

The Bad Lands were super neat!  I did the tourist thing until a got almost to the end of the loop and then I turned left on the gravel road for very long way.  The gravel in the park is true wilderness, complete with park own Bison grazing the way they didn’t before we screwed everything up.  These big guys don’t much care about cars, but the noises coming off a BMW concerned them greatly.  Their reaction is to run in the same direction as the bike is traveling — about 10 feet off the road.  I had ten of them running next to me for 250 yards at one point.  All I could think of was the Sioux braves, riding bare back, spears in hand — what a kewl scene!  I really wish I had been ready to film it.

Once I got back on paved roads, I headed back north around a big area without roads and over to the base of Custer State Park and the run up to Mount Rushmore.  There are a couple of roads, but I picked SD16A, and I picked well!  SD16A is a GREAT road, pure Euro quality.  I managed to ignore the speed limits and had a blast all the way to Mount Rushmore, which looks exactly like the post cards.

My geography wasn’t good enough to understand that Custer is over a mile high — tomorrow mornings departure will be a good clothing test for Sunday’s AToC event.

Tomorrow I’m off to Ogden and Dinner with Cindy and Jim.

Day 4

Day 4 dawned cold, but clear in Custer.  There aren’t any interstates near Custer, so it was local roads for most of the morning — actually most of the day.  The weather started to slip as I got down near Casper — ceiling was coming down and spots were showing up on the windshield, and the temperature was slipping.  I got some gas (it is a LONG way between stations out here) and a quick bit and headed down the road.  The rain started, got heavier, it got darker, visibility kept coming down, then I started hearing the sound of ice hitting my helmet, then the snow started.  It did get down to under 30 on the bike!  The ground was covered with more than an inch (although I never stopped to measure :).  Why did I continue to ride?  There was absolutely no place to stop!  Checkout the attached picture.  I guess the good news is that I don’t think I missed much by not being able to see anything — there just isn’t much to see!

Did I mention that it was cold?  I didn’t bring my Gerbing pants — perhaps a tactical error — but I did have the Gerbing liner and gloves.  I’ve never used this stuff on max settings, but I was grabbing every BTU I could find!  And still freezing.

I finally stopped in Rock Springs for a cup when I noticed a Starbucks on the Garmin — now we’re talking.  As I approached Utah, conditions improved, the showers were further apart and finally ended.  It was in the 60s when I got to Cindy and Jim’s for the evening.

Tomorrow is a slab run into SAC and the longest day of the trip.

Day 5

I had a great evening, good dinner and fantastic breakfast with Cindy and Jim in Ogden — beats the stuff out of another Hampton Inn (not that there is anything wrong with Hampton Inns).

This morning’s launch was about 7:00.  The weather was clear and crisp.  It was interesting to drive with some minor traffic — I’ve spent the past couple days on the road by myself.

I’d forgotten how much nothing there was in western Utah — just fat salt lakes; some with water, some without.  Winds were calm and the lakes just before the mountains made for some interesting reflections — I probably should have stopped for a picture, but…

I’d gotten pretty good about calculating how many miles before I needed gas.  There’s even a computer to help me.  But the computer doesn’t take into account the fact that the head wind really kicked up.  With 40-60 miles between stations, one can screw up.  I was within six miles of the exit for gas when the bike stopped!  BMW’s super road side assistance thing took an hour to tell me that they could only send me a tow from Sparks, about 50 miles down the road.  I discovered that the bike would actually start after sitting on the side stand for an hour — I ran up the shoulder to the exit and got within 250 yards of the gas station — leg power the rest of the way.  As you can probably guess, the station was on the OTHER side of the four lane street.  And, if anyone ever asks, the R1200RT tank holds 6.665 gallons, according the the Shell station in Fernley, NV.

Lots of construction coming across the mountains after Reno and the temperatures dropped back down — I had put all the liners away back up in Nevada.  The roads that weren’t under repair really needed repair.

Total trip to my hotel in Sacramento ~ 3100.  Tomorrow is the clinic and a run back up the mountain to South Lake Tahoe for AToC preps.  It looks like my snow experience will be put to good use on Sunday — there is a snow event planned for Day #1.

More on the Race, including the Snow Storm and the Crash later.  And then there is the trip from Thousand Oaks to Salt Lake to look forward to 🙂

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