If I had to pick between taking a planned vacation or just winging it, I choose winging it, hands down. Last summer, I really wanted to go to West Virginia and some the fun corners. I recruited Stiffy to go with me, literally days before - told her the plan was leaving at 6am, heading east. We met at the gas station and I check the radar... 70% chance of heavy rain and high flood potential every day for the duration of our trip. Screw that. I don't mind riding in the rain, but I don't want to spend 5 days in it if I don't have to. We gas up and I casually mention the sudden change in plans - and off we go west. Without even a hint of shock, Stiffy reached in her bag, and laughed as she handed me a plastic bag with papers inside. Iron Butt paperwork. Well, that upped the game - can't just let perfectly good paper go to waste! We hit the road at 7am - destination: East. West. There is NOTHING exciting, interesting, or fun between Minnesota and Montana besides tornado like sidewinds to fight.
So while blasting through North Dakota, staring at wide open spaces and appreciating the occasional vehicle or animal to give us a break in our blank stares, I had plenty of time to think of a destination to head towards. Going to the Sun Road. I remember going on it as a kid, in the truck. My mom had motion sickness really bad so she was napping. My dad is a lot like me. We both like photography. And we both like challenging roads to ride on (or in this case, drive on). Not one to miss the chance, my dad takes out the Camcorder - the ORIGINAL style camcorder - the put it on your shoulder, swing the eye hole out, put the blank VHS tape in, and record. There we were, soaking in the adventure and the sights -corner after corner, cliff after cliff. Suddenly, there was a shriek, followed by, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING??????". Oops. Mom woke up. And not one to like cliffs or sharp turning roads, she was less than pleased to look over at my dad, who was driving along without a care in the world, with a ginormous camcorder on his shoulder. He replied, "Well, you were sleeping." I don't remember the events that happened after that, but I am guessing there were some wide open, piercing eye contact, and an overall sense of displeasure blatantly plastered on my mom's face. As Stiffy and I are blasting through North Dakota, something triggered the camcorder memory. And that moment sealed the deal. I aimed the bike west and off we went towards Going to the Sun Road.
A couple hours later, after a quick rest stop, I got a second wind. This ride was going smoothly until I passed a semi, which flung a rock in the air and straight towards my face. I tried to duck, but my chubby-cat like reflexes weren't fast enough. I failed and the, now ginormous looking rock, heaved itself onto the bridge of my nose. It hit right where the bottom of my sunglasses meet my nose, which happened to be the skinniest, bony-est part of my exposed body. I had instant
tears as I was blasting down the freeway at 85 mph, with sidewinds coming at me at '100mph'. All I envisioned was a
broken, dangling, and bloody appendage (nose)(not an appendage, I know) hanging off my face while trying to maintain shiny side up and keep the blood from streaming from my mangled nose, straight back across my cheeks, over the little hump of cartilage just before my ear, and into my ear canal. Dramatic, yes. But it hurt. Then it stung and throbbed. Not wanting to
stop (we had just stopped to pee) I just grabbed my nose repeatedly to ensure it was still intact
while wiping away blood on my jacket sleeve. Yep, it’s as attractive as it
sounds. If any guy was in any way checking me out on the bike today, I couldn’t even
see them if I wanted to behind the tears, blood, and sweat combo I had going on
my face. Oh, and the now dried, wind swept blood on my jacket sleeve. ATTRACTIVE. I don't have a picture of this scene. This is the best I can find to clearly explain the aftermath that I envisioned:
After several hours of boredom, the tiniest hint of humor made me giggle and take a picture.
I love that the speed limit in North Dakota is 75 and in Montana it's 80mph. This helped fuel the last few hours of riding - destination: Just over 1,000 miles from MN. We made
really good time winding up in Great Falls Montana at 11 PM. 16.5 hours and 1,031 Miles. Not too shabby for not having planned on doing an Iron Butt and not having the slightest clue where we were headed when we left Minneapolis at 7am, other than East. West.
I don’t know if any iron butt ride can be considered “easy“ but if I had
to pick one, this is the easiest one yet. Great weather, no traffic,
no bike issues, and there was only a two hour span in which I was super tired
and probably borderline sleeping. Our windburned eyes are definitely ready to close for awhile...
Part One: How to pack a lot of gear on a motorcycle... and keep it there for the duration of the trip!! How the heck do I get ALL the gear I need on the bike to ride long distance and/or camp?? Where there is a will, there is a way! I started riding and camping with my Suzuki Boulevard M50 - Love that bike, still own it. I had two gallon size saddlebags on her and the rest was pure strategy. I bought a Saddleman luggage pack and a bunch of bungees - which quickly got traded in for LOTS of straps and then a net on top. I first went long distance riding and motorcycle camping with a good friend, nickname HD, years ago. Let me tell you, she was a GREAT teacher in the art of packing a motorcycle. I would make the effort, get to the meeting point, have to retighten every since strap, ride, and repeat. She probably felt both sorry for me and annoyed by me for the extra time I took at stops to make sure my gear wasn't going to wind up on someone's windshield. So between her expertise…
Remember when you first started learning how to ride a
bike? It’s a struggle to keep your balance and if you start to tip over your
first instinct is to jump off the bike, hands first, planting your wrists
against the ground with force, while your skin is soaking up the gravel, one
tiny pebble at a time... and then you run crying the whole way home? Well, when
you’re on a motorcycle do NOT do that. Nothing will go well if you try to jump
off a 700-pound metal beast with flammable liquids between your legs and think
that you’re going to be able superman your body farther than your bike will
land. You can’t fly. Your bike can. You won’t win. The best thing to do is
opposite of what your instinct might be – when you start to tip over, think of
the bus lady yelling the rules at you on the first day of school. “Keep your
hands and legs IN the bus (aka on the handlebars and foot pegs) while in motion”.
And motion includes that of tipping over. At least on my Suzuki and my Victory,
the bike …
A lot of people hang up their motorcycle keys once temps get into the 40's. Those people are kind of smart. I, however, choose to ride until Mother Nature makes it physically impassable to do so, aka snow falls and stays on the ground. In order to ride when its in the teens, 20's, 30's, or even 40's, there is some gear that is a necessity to try to keep remotely warm while riding. And thanks to this gear, I have only gotten frostbite once while riding motorcycle. And to be honest, I doubt ANY cold riding gear would have spared my fingers from riding 70mph in temps of NINE (9) degrees. Yeah, that was stupid. But I was on a mission..... I WAS going to ride to Daytona!! And naturally, it had been in the 50's the week prior, aka when I decided I was going to ride there. Anyways - here is my GO TO cold riding gear!
<--- In Iowa, on way to Daytona. It warmed up to 24 degrees!!! There is no solution for frozen eyeballs.
Tour Master Synergy 2.0 Electrically Heated Leath…
Ah, the annual fall trek to the Bikes, Blues, and BBQ Rally - in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas is my ALL time favorite place to ride in the USA. Four of us girls took off after work to get a head start on the (easy) 11 hour ride. The more daylight we could arrive in, the better, since 3 of us were going to need to set up camp when we arrived to Arkansas.
Sporting my Nomadic Gear thanks to @NomadicMichigan
We all look so bad-ass in our leathers!!!
We stopped for the night just outside of Des Moines - get a few hours of sleep, and back on the road in the morning!
After an easy 7 hour ride to Eureka Springs, we debated between heading straight to camp to set up, or heading straight to the Cat House bar to park and walk over to Aquarius for THE BEST TACOS in the entire region. In the end, Tacos clearly won! Aquarius is a cute little place on Main Street in Eureka Springs, AR. I don't even think the name of the place is on the outside - they get straight to the point …