Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Northwest Ride Week 2 Report

After riding the twisting Highway 12 over to Missoula, Montana, I got a room, walked next door to Five Guys and just hung out the rest of the evening.  On Monday morning I got up, ate some breakfast and headed out southeast on I90 briefly before branching out on Highway 12 again.  This road is 2 lane blacktop for most of it and the speed limit is 70 mph, quite unlike Oregon.  While Montana is pretty scenic, it's a different, dryer landscape than Oregon.  After riding Highway 12, I jumped back on I90 for a while and then Hwy 78 down into Red Lodge for the night.  Red Lodge is a nice little town and I walked down to a local bar for a couple of glasses of locally brewed amber beer.  Good stuff!  There was also a stream flowing nicely right beside the motel I stayed at.  I'd like to spend more time there at some point in the future.

Tuesday morning I got up early, loaded up the bike and headed south for Beartooth Pass, one of my favorite motorcycle roads in America.  I had ridden there last year with Shannon on the back on our way to Yellowstone but wanted to ride it again by myself to hit the curves a little faster.  I had a great time riding it and saw some more great scenery along the way as you can see in this video.

Not quite as extreme as Beartooth Pass but still a great ride is the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway from the south end of Beartooth over to Cody, Wyoming.  I took one picture of my bike near a curve that had some lens flare that actually looks pretty cool.
I also used the GoPro Hero 2 to record some video.  I got a little too confident on some of the curves and a tar snake almost bit me, causing me to drift slightly over the yellow line.  Fortunately, no other vehicle was coming so I got away with it.
After Beartooth and Chief Joseph, I stopped in Cody for lunch at Irma's, an old restaurant and hotel.  This mirror on the bar serves as a reminder how great a country we live in.
After lunch, I left Cody and rode on down to Casper, WY where my daughter, son in law, and grandkids are living.  I spent a couple of nights there and hung out with them.  Walker is 6 and Raegan is 4, they are both growing up very fast.  Michelle is a great mom too.  She took me to Rotary Park in Casper where they have a cool little waterfall where the kids and I posed for a pic.
After staying with them a couple of days, I took off early Friday morning and headed on down to Paonia, Colorado for the Top Of The Rockies Rally.  My friend Ron has a cabin not too far from there and met me.  We spent most of the day Saturday riding highway 550 down to Durango and back.  It was the first time I've ridden in this area and it is some of the best roads I've ever ridden.  Unfortunately, I uploaded the video straight to facebook instead of my computer first so you'll have to check them out there if you want to watch them.
Ron and I left early Sunday morning, he headed to the cabin and I headed 780 miles back to Moore.  The first hour of our trip was pretty scary riding down Hwy 92 in the rain, fog, and local deer convention.  Maybe it was my new lights, but I saw more deer in that 1 hour trip down the mountain, than I've seen in all my other riding combined.  That, combined with rain, fog, and 20 mph curves, made for some tense riding.
Once we hit Highway 50 though things got easier, still some nice curves and scenery but no rain or fog.  Ron followed me over to I25 and left it to me to ride the rest of the way home.  It was nice riding weather until I got to flat, hot, windy Oklahoma.  I made the mistake of coming thru the panhandle and that has to be some of the most boring riding in all the land.
I got home around 9:30 Sunday night, about 14 1/2 hours of riding that day.  I was definitely ready for a cold beer and sleeping in a real bed.
I rode a total of 5605 miles on this little 2 week jaunt and saw some great scenery along the way.  I'd never been to Oregon, Washington, or Idaho before and all 3 states were great to ride in.  The bike ran great, I had no problems, and I'm ready to go again.  I washed the 10 states of dirt off my bike Monday and added 3 states to the little map on back of it to show the states I've ridden in.  The bike has just over 38,000 miles on it now, is out of warranty, and is resting up this week before she gets fresh oil next week.  I  hope you enjoyed reading about my little trip, I sure enjoyed taking it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Ride Northwest Week 1

As I've already blogged about, my trip to Salem, OR for the BMW MOA rally began with a Bun Burner Gold ride to Boise, Idaho.  I returned home last night after riding 5605 miles since July 14th.

After finishing the BBG, I spent a couple of nights in Boise.  My Cousin Randy was kind enough to take Tuesday off and show me some of the great scenery around the mountains there.  I hadn't seen him in 18 years so it was good to catch up.  Here's a pic of Randy with a great view behind him.
I left Boise on Wednesday morning and rode over towards Salem.  Both western Idaho and Oregon are very pretty.  The ride in Oregon was along a nice river with winding roads and big rock formations.  As I got closer to Salem, I started seeing all the mountains.  The trees were so thick along the road, my satellite radio signal faded in and out.  Here are a couple of pics of Oregon scenery.

What really surprised me is that the speed limits in Oregon are 55 mph on almost every road.  As an example, a nice smooth road in Oregon has a limit of 55 mph while a 2 lane country road in Montana has a limit of 70 mph.  Oregon also requires gas station attendants to pump gas but for a motorcycle they can hand you the pump handle.  
I got to the rally and checked in Wednesday afternoon.  I was surprised at how many people had already set up their tents.  I have a nice little Nemo Morpho 2 that is very easy to set up and take down. Here is a pic of my camp set up with my nifty Kermit chair that I wrote about before.
The rally was fun and I attended several seminars on various topics ranging from using the GPS and Basecamp to slow speed maneuvering.  I also got a set of Clearwater Krista lights installed on my RT.  These things really light up the night.  The good news is you see animals that you never knew were there, the bad news is you see a lot of animals.  I bet I saw 20-30 deer while riding back to Oklahoma. I think they look pretty slick on the bike too.

While at the BMW rally, I rode over to the Oregon coast and north on Highway 101.  It was chilly and windy along the coast but some great riding.  I camped at the rally Wed thru Sat nights, then loaded up and took off early Sunday morning for Missoula, Montana via Wallawalla, Washington and highway 12.  This sign is on highway 12 and when it says 99 miles of winding roads, it means it.  Here is a video taken near the summit of Lolo Pass.  Look for the deer near the end of it. I made it to Missoula and checked into a local motel to celebrate the end of week one of my road trip.  Week 2 will be posted shortly.  I also took a few videos of riding along the coast.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Longest Ride Of My Life

I've been thinking about trying to ride a Bun Burner Gold,   A ride of more than 1500 miles in less than 24 hours. Since this years national BMW MOA rally is in Salem, OR and I have a cousin that lives in Boise, ID, it was the perfect opportunity to give it a try. I did a little planning and decided to leave at 8:00 PM on Sunday, July 14. The reasoning behind this was I thought it would be better to get the night riding part over first on roads I was fairly familiar with. 

Sunday finally came and wouldn't you know it, it rained most of the day. I thought about waiting a day but decided to just stick with my original plan. I have good riding gear, an Aerostich Darien Light jacket and pants along with BMW Touring Pro boots that keep me nice and dry. The day dragged along and although I tried to take an afternoon nap, I was too wound up to be able to get any sleep. 8 PM finally came and I pulled into the gas station to fill up and get my starting receipt. Wouldn't you know it, the receipt printer at the pump malfunctioned and I had to go inside to get one. This was not a good feeling for the start of the ride. But as I jumped on I40 and headed east, a rainbow spread across the sky signaling the end of the rain and maybe a sign for a good ride ahead. 

The ride north on I35 was uneventful with pleasant weather and just an occasional sprinkle to keep me nice and cool. The sunset to the west was pretty and dusk slowly turned to dark. I haven't done much night riding and I was a little apprehensive about it. As I crossed the Kansas border and managed to pay the toll without dropping my bike I was approaching my first gas stop. When I pulled into a station just north of Wichita my bike's engine died for no apparent reason. I coasted to the pump and started it again. It started fine and I have no idea why it died other than to give me a near heart attack. I gassed up and headed on up I135 to Salina then started the dreaded long trek west on I70. If you've never ridden across I70 thru Kansas, let me tell you, it is the most boring motorcycle ride in the world. To help pass the time, I listened to an Audible book titled The Man Who Would Stop At Nothing, by Lisa Holbrook Pierson, .
This book is about her motorcycle riding, long distance riding in general, and long distance riding legend, John Ryan. It kept me entertained all the way across Kanasa and north on I25 thru Colorado. This stretch of road was problem free and I only saw one deer cross the road in front of me. He was moving about as fast as I was and neither one of us cared to meet each other. 

After I crossed the Wyoming border just after sunrise, I turned west on I80 and set the cruise a couple of miles over the 75 mile per hour speed limit.  It took a while but it was smooth sailing across the  wide open country with only a little bit of fog and temperatures in the high 50's with light winds.  Just before Salt Lake City, I turned northwest and the temperature started to climb as I left Utah and entered Idaho.  This was my first time riding in Idaho so now I can add that state to my little US map on the bike showing what states I've ridden in. Did I say the temperature started to rise?  It got hotter and hotter and I began to lose both energy and the will to continue.  I kept thinking to myself, if those guys  can ride over 11,000 miles in 11 days, I can finish the 200 miles.  It seemed like the odometer clicked off 1 mile at a time but I grew closer and closer to the magical 1500  mile mark.

I finally made it to Boise right at 4:45 but decided to ride on to Nampa just to be sure to have enough miles for anyone reviewing the ride certification I will submit.  As I pulled into the gas pump it was 4:59 pm local time or 21 hours and 59 minutes after leaving my starting point in Oklahoma City and 1528 miles.  I had made it on my first Bun Burner Gold attempt. After gassing up, I rode back over to Boise, found a motel and checked in.  I took a cold shower, walked over to a nearby restaurant and had a steak.  I was in bed by 8 pm and although I was sore all over, slept better than I do most nights.  All and all it wasn't that difficult of a ride since it was all interstate and good riding conditions for most of the trip.  I can now submit my paperwork and look forward to putting that license plate backer on my bike.  Now it's on to Salem, Oregon for the nation BMW MOA forum, at a more leisurely pace. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Chair

The Kermit Chair is very popular among motorcycle campers and I bought one at last year's RA Rally in Copper Mountain, Colorado.  They pack down very small so they're easy to fit on a motorcycle with my other camping gear.  In fact, I can get my sleeping bag, air mattress, jetboil stove, pillow, hatchet, tent, and coffee making equipment all in 1 Helen 2 wheels large drawstring sack.  The Kermit chair with leg extensions and cup holder fits in a smaller sack and both strap onto the rear seat of the bike easily.
One service Kermit offers is embroidery of your name and a motoman on the chair back.  I had asked Shannon to use her super duper new sewing machine with embroidery attachment to put my name, forum handle, and blog address on the left side with a picture of my R1200RT on the right.  She did a great job and I'm sure I'll be the envy of all the campers next week at the BMW MOA Rally in Salem, Oregon.  Here are a few pics of her handiwork:

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Short Twisty Ride

Fun little road out of Devil's Den State Park in Arkansas.

Where is LngRdr?

One device I use while on long rides is a Spot tracker , a device that tracks my progress and also has a messaging function for normal updates or to send the cavalry in case I have an accident or am pinned down by a group of Hell's Angels and down to my last magazine.  Most of the long distance riders use them as a tool to let loved one's know they are still ok and also to document their rides.  In fact, the Iron Butt Rally is currently in progress and as you can see from this link showing their progress, they are making a fast track across the country, picking up as many bonus locations as they can before the end of Leg 2 in Sacramento. IBR public Spotwalla .
I'm nowhere near the accomplished long distance rider of these guys but I do occasionally put a few miles on Bridget the Beemer in a day.  Yesterday, I rode over to Arkansas, met up with my friend John in Ft. Smith, and he led me on a tour of some twisty back roads up to Eureka Springs where we had a nice lunch before riding back down highway 21 to I40.  I decided to ride on home and made it in about 9:45.  Not a bad day of riding from my 6:30 am departure from home.  Maybe I might make a long distance rider yet.  Here's my spot tracker route from my little ride to eat.  Thanks John for a nice day of Arkansas twisty roads.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tulsa BMW Summer Adventure

The BMW dealer in Tulsa,  Iron Lightning is having a summer adventure contest where you ride your bike to several places around Oklahoma as pictured in the passport book they handed out.  Some of the locations are named and some are up to the rider to figure out what and where they are.  Once you ride to the location, you take a picture of the location with you and/or your bike included.
The contest runs from July 1 until September and is a fun way to see some of the sites in Oklahoma.  Today, we rode to the roaring metropolis of Gene Autry, OK to take a picture of the bike with the Gene Autry museum in the background.  It was a good day for a ride and we took the long way down, Hwy 9 east to Hwy 102 south, Hwy 39 east to Hwy 177 south, to Hwy 53 west.  On the way home we rode Hwy 77 north thru the Turner Falls area, stopped for a fried pie, then hit I35 north for the rest of the trip.  A total ride of just under 200 miles in just less than 4 hours.  I ran my gas gauge all the way down to just 10 miles remaining and hope I can make it to the gas station in the morning before I run out.  Here's a picture of yours truly and Bridget The Beemer in front of the Gene Autry sign.