One young adventurer, his Triumph, and 2000 miles.

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by Me_Rock, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. Me_Rock

    Me_Rock Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2011
    Oddometer:
    35
    Location:
    Cheney, WA
    I'm going to start off this ride report by saying that I'm a 20 year old college kid who spends all of his spare time money not on beer; but on the nasty, expensive, and antisocial hobby of motorcycling. After a somewhat unsatisfying summer of operating ski lifts in the Northwest, I decided that I needed to go on an epic (epic to me, at least) motorcycle ride to mark the end of the summer months and the transition back in to college life. Unlike many of my other epic ride plans, I actually followed through with this one.

    I intended on doing this ride with a friend and his GS500, but he flaked out in the last few days proceeding the ride. While I was discouraged by the loss of my wingman, I still decided (perhaps against my better judgement, but I'm going to let my youth be a good enough excuse) to do this ride alone. Oh boy!

    This was my game plan - five days and four nights of camping rough, and consuming lots of peanut butter and caffeine:
    [​IMG]

    Ignoring the increased possibility of failure that comes with going on such a large trip with a bike that has definitely seen better days, I threw a bunch of camping gear on the bike (1996 Triumph Tiger) and left White Salmon, WA at around 7:30 AM on Monday, September 10. I was ecstatic to be departing on such a long ride (the longest I've done), despite having all day scheduled on an interstate. I had Boise, ID in my sights for the evening.

    The first 114 miles heading east in the Columbia River Gorge on Highway 14 was marvelous. I had a 35 MPH tail wind the entire way, and I interpreted it as a good omen for the remainder of my trip. There's something uniquely beautiful about the eastern part of the Gorge in late summer - everything is dry, windy, and you can see hundreds of enormous windmills lethargically churning out electricity.

    Sorry about the hideous bike ruining the otherwise nice scenery, but it's a common theme in the pictures I took. I was only stopped for a few minutes, so I don't think I interrupted too many peoples' enjoyment of the scenery:

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    I continued southeast after crossing in to Oregon and getting gas. Oregon is quite possibly the most awkward place in America to get gas, especially while on a motorcycle. State law requires that an attendant pump your gas. Usually for motorcycles they'll just let you pump it, but the attendant is still required to take the nozzle out of the machine and press the buttons for you. On the plus side, I got 47.7 MPG out of the Steamer with the gnarly tailwind in the Gorge.

    I snagged a picture at a rest stop just outside of La Grande, OR. Despite all of the negativity there is on this website towards riding interstates, I was having fun getting in to the mindset that happens when you waft along the interstate on a motorcycle.

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    After a curiously satisfying day of interstate travel, I arrived in Boise, ID, which was much larger than I expected it to be! When I think about Idaho, I think about things like the number of pickup trucks per capita, helmet laws, and cheap alcohol. I certainly didn't expect Boise to have a five lane interstate littered with Toyota Priuses. For my camping arrangement, I wandered in to the nearby national forest and found a suitable place to camp - I love taking pictures that really emphasize the scale of the world that I am riding through:

    [​IMG]

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    I read a book until dark, and spent the night listening to coyotes and thinking about the adventure to come!
    #1
  2. frazman

    frazman Post***ern Redneck.

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,852
    Location:
    North of 40, South of 60.
    :thumb nice!
    #2
  3. UncleMike

    UncleMike How'd that happen?

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Oddometer:
    61
    Location:
    Colorado - Highlands Ranch
    :clap Great start! Looking forward to the rest of it! Good for you for pressing on when your riding partner cancelled. When you get back, show your "wingman" what he missed out on!
    #3
  4. hiADV

    hiADV Island Explorer

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    124
    Location:
    Kona, Hawaii
    It's nice to see a young guy that's got his priorities straight! Make it a journey you're buddy is going to regret not going on.
    #4
  5. The_Scottsman

    The_Scottsman There's Beer here??

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2010
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    On a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
    Looking good so far! :lurk Nice pics!

    You may find motorcycling to be less antisocial than you think!

    You can really meet a lot of nice people when you ride.
    #5
  6. hippiebrian

    hippiebrian Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    4,689
    Location:
    Long Beach, Ca.
    Sweet! Remember, the best motorcycles are ugly motorcycles...they show use!
    #6
  7. westcoasttrekker

    westcoasttrekker Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2012
    Oddometer:
    131
    Location:
    Stanwood, Wa.
    Great start so far, looking forward to more.
    #7
  8. Chewbacca5000

    Chewbacca5000 n00b

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2012
    Oddometer:
    9
    Location:
    Hood River, Oregon
    Good luck and great start!
    #8
  9. ddavidv

    ddavidv Thrifty not cheap

    Joined:
    May 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,268
    Location:
    Elizabethtown, PA
    It's all in perspective. Tigers are cool (I'm likely buying one as my next bike). I've ruined dozens of photos with my KLR. No comparison. :rofl
    #9
  10. manfromthestix

    manfromthestix Lost in Space

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,320
    Location:
    Lexington, Virginia
    Excellent! I think your bike has loads of character (a very good thing!). I've done a lot of solo riding for the same reason you did yours, and there's a lot to be said for it. You can go anywhere you want to go, at your pace, stop when you want, ride non-stop as long as you want, turn around, change routes, etc. and no one will second guess you (well, except yourself :lol3). I've met a lot of wonderful folks while doing that. I did a trip out that way once and travelled the Gorge with that tail wind; it makes the bike rather squirrelly if I remember correctly. I rode Crowsnest Pass (Hwy 3 in southern BC/Alberta Canada, north of Waterton-Glacier Park) once in wind that was pushing me from behind; I was riding at 50 to 60 mph and the wind was faster :huh. I thought I had a flat tire for a while, but it was just the wind pushing me around from behind. It is great for gas mileage!

    While I do prefer the back roads, I can't knock the Interstate for making time. I-80 isn't bad through Oregon and Idaho, but kinda sucks once you hit southern Wyoming. I-90 further north is actually a very fun ride through Washington, Idaho, and western Montana; I used to live in Wyoming and rode Montana when there wasn't a speed limit - I-90 at 100+ through western MT was a hoot!

    Anyway, glad to see you've got your priorities straight and are out there having fun. Please note: there are lots of women out there that love a good motorcycling adventure too, and as Led Zep once said, there ain't no companion like a blue-eyed girl :evil. Oh, I have some wonderful memories... Changes the freedom factor a little, though! :lol3

    Ride on! :lurk

    Doug
    #10
  11. poolman

    poolman Gnarly Poolside Adv.

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    757
    Location:
    Darnestown, MD
    Nice bike and nice pictures... looking forward to the next installment.

    Ride Safe,


    .
    #11
  12. Me_Rock

    Me_Rock Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2011
    Oddometer:
    35
    Location:
    Cheney, WA
    On to day 2:

    I woke up slightly before it was bright and early; it certainly wasn't bright, just early. Those lovely Idaho hills don't really retain that much heat at night, because it was oppressively cold! I kept on having to warm my hands up after touching the Tiger's panniers or top box, because they would just sap the warmth right out. After apologizing to the Steamer after such a cold start, we were off and headed to Evanston, WY.

    I was able to get some pictures that morning that I had been too tired to get the night before - There was this earthen dam with some optimistic words on it... I think they'll need a bit more water than what is contained in that reservoir to make their forest green:

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    They did have a rather green lawn and fountain to contrast the dryness (in the background) of the rest of their "forest"

    [​IMG]

    Before cruising on down to Utah and Wyoming for the day, I stopped by Albertson's to grab some deli food for breakfast. Inside the store I was rather amused to see an entire aisle labeled quite simply, 'Budget Beer'. It reminded me of what a ski patroller said to me this summer; "The difference between good beer and cheap beer is infinitesimal, but the difference between beer and no beer is infinite." I wonder if that ski patroller was from Idaho.

    I got the funniest looks in the parking lot of that Albertson's as I was oiling my chain. A 1983 Honda VT500S parked next to me as I was in the store (My first bike was an '83 VT500FT) and he came back out as I was (very carefully) applying oil to my chain. We had a conversation about his bike and how he's lucky to have a shaft drive, and he wished me luck on my voyage before leaving. You certainly do meet lots of people you never thought you'd meet while on a solo trip.

    My spirits were high after being back on the road once more. The loneliness of going on a solo trip really settles in when you're camping all on your lonesome. I snapped a picture while at a rest stop that morning, among my traveling companions:

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    After a few more hours of the deliciously boring Interstate 84, I noticed a large and rather exciting sign with some silly slogan about how action packed Utah is. "Ootah," I thought to myself, "So exciting there's an exclamation point right on their license plate!" Idaho must have been hung over when they made their license plate. Famous Potatoes... really? That's the best you can come up with, Idaho?

    I pulled off at the nearest rest stop because I was desperate for a nice stretch and a drink of water. The rest stop had a good example of an Ootah sign:

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    When I was sitting on the curb of the rest stop, I was continuing a thought that started while on the interstate - comparing states by the quality of their rest stops. Washington was decent, Oregon was pristine, Idaho was also decent, and Utah was quite good as well. "Someone must be paying taxes on these rest stops," I thought. While I had my mind on public restrooms, I noticed something in the distance - Rocky Mountains! I took a picture from my curbside perspective.

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    Onwards and Southwards! I continued south for Park City, UT, and Evanston, WY for the night. My exciting activity for the day was to try Park City's alpine slide - I worked at an alpine slide in Government Camp, OR all summer. It's difficult to explain to the layman what an alpine slide is - a bit like a half mile long water slide without the water. Except you haul ass down the track on a little plastic sled. Here's a video of the one in Government Camp that I made this summer - I put a GoPro on my fastest co-worker when he was on his break: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_Sj1Ngrr3k&feature=youtu.be

    I stupidly didn't get any pictures or videos at Park City's alpine slide, but they definitely had a much classier establishment than Skibowl. Their slide was also trickier to ride. I took this picture after I had ridden their slide:

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    I decided early on that I should "conquer" one more state since I was only an hour's drive from Wyoming. So, I continued east through some beautiful country:

    [​IMG]

    No, I wasn't pulled over - the Sheriff was enjoying the view just as much as I was!

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    I also saw some of these fantastic red rocks - this was one of the most scenic interstate rides I have done!

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    I arrived in Evanston, WY a couple of hours before dark, so I took the opportunity to take a picture of this sign:

    [​IMG]

    I thought that it was ironic how Wyoming's motto is "Forever West", but this is the farthest east I have ever gone on two wheels! I guess your perception of whether a certain part of the country is east or west is relative. I had a little bit of a Lord of the Rings moment, replaying the scene where Frodo takes one last step away from home in my head, except with Frodo riding to Mordor on a Triumph Tiger.

    After getting my contradictory picture of a "Western" state, I went to the classiest of all retail establishments - Walmart! I picked up some necessities that I forgot to pack (soap). At the checkout stand, the cashier - a mid-fifties looking woman - noticed my helmet and asked where I was going. With a smile, I replied "Here!" She seemed amused that I had picked Evanston as a destination on my trip and continued to tell me about her adventurous days when she owned a Harley. I booked a $16 tent site at a mom and pop campground and set up camp for the night, and enjoyed a shower. What a great day!

    [​IMG]
    #12
  13. manfromthestix

    manfromthestix Lost in Space

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,320
    Location:
    Lexington, Virginia
    Lots of familair sights.... :lurk

    Doug
    #13
  14. K5Gixxer

    K5Gixxer n00b

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1
    Location:
    Copperas Cove TX
    Great report bro! and it doesn't matter the bike you ride its the adventure thats important :D I have a small trip planned in the next few weeks myself looking forward to it lol
    #14
  15. Davethestick

    Davethestick Registered Rider

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2011
    Oddometer:
    72
    Location:
    Malibu California
    :freaky

    Looking good so far!
    #15
  16. hippiebrian

    hippiebrian Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    4,689
    Location:
    Long Beach, Ca.
    The further this gets, the more beautiful the Tiger looks!
    #16
  17. Me_Rock

    Me_Rock Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2011
    Oddometer:
    35
    Location:
    Cheney, WA
    Day 3

    When I woke up in the morning, it was once again stupidly cold. I disassembled my tent as quickly as possible, but it was extremely difficult to fasten things down to the bike, as that requires slightly more in the way of fine motor skills than what frozen hands can provide. I eventually got all of my things safely back on the bike and set off for gas and breakfast. My day's destination would be Austin, NV.

    Gas and breakfast were delicious, and I oiled my chain in the McDonald's parking lot before beginning my first voyage west. Returning to Ootah after I had already said my goodbyes was a little bit odd, especially since I would be crossing the width of it that day. I was more than thrilled to backtrack from whence I came on Interstate 80... it was beautiful. I got a few more pictures of the red rocks in the morning light:

    [​IMG]

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    At about the time I got those pictures, I realized that in my morning haze I had forgotten to buy a WY sticker! Oh, well - I'll probably live on without it. I cruised through Salt Lake City without incident, and I don't even recall thinking about anything noteworthy while passing through it. I was mostly concerned with getting out of the city and in to the desert.

    Before too much lakeless, urban landscape, I finally found this crazy lake that everyone's talking about:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The lake was honestly fascinating, and rather amusing to think about what it once was judging from the previous shoreline etched in to the surrounding mountains. Even though I was many miles from any sort of ocean, it still smelled distinctly like salt air, which threw off my senses a little bit. My spirits were very high that morning, and before long I was pushing across to the western side of Ootah to enjoy the salt flats!

    At this point in my journey, I was definitely noticing a pattern of highs and lows mentally. My happiest points were always at the beginning of the day, after I was already on the road. My lowest were always setting up camp by myself at the end of the day. It's probably the combination of loneliness and the distinct lack of daylight to safely continue riding.

    I charged across the flat, salty desert at 85 MPH, crossing the vast expanse of Ootah on Interstate 80W. I remember thinking to myself just how huge these salt flats were. If I weren't on an interstate, I'd have probably snapped more pictures on the salt. After two or three hours of changeless scenery, however, I arrived at the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats!

    [​IMG]

    I really wanted to get out there and wander the salt - perhaps even try to see how fast the Triumph would go. World's Fastest Triumph, anyone? Unfortunately some rain had recently rolled through and the salt was wet. I decided against wandering too far or going fast on the salt. I did, however, park the bike a little ways out on the salt for some pictures:

    [​IMG]

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    I struck up some conversation with a woman who was there scoping out the salt for the next week's race. She told me about how the salt works seasonally, and a bit about how the mining industry is ruining the salt. She told me about being out on the salt and experiencing complete silence, being able to see the curvature of the Earth, and being able to only see salt in all directions. It was a real shame that I was only passing through.

    Onwards and westwards! I had been preparing for this leg of the journey ever since I left White Salmon. I was very excited to get some lonely highway pictures. However, before long I found some roadwork in the middle of nowhere!

    [​IMG]

    I suppose roads need to be repaved periodically - even in the middle of nowhere. The good news is that I was stopped for so long that I had time to get off of the bike, take pictures, and I even topped up my oil!

    The goal was to connect Nevada's Highway 93 with Highway 50 (The Loneliest Road in America). Long story short, I took a wrong turn, and ended up taking Highway 93 Alternative back up to Wells, NV and Interstate 80 East. I was heartbroken, to say the least, as I didn't get to experience Highway 50! I didn't want to backtrack 80 miles just to get to some lonely campground that I had slated for the evening, so I decided to make things a little bit more difficult.

    I had been noticing that the signs for Reno were getting shorter and shorter. By the time I was in Wells, the sign said 339 miles. It was 3:30 in the afternoon, and I had been on the road since about 8:00 that morning. I changed my game plan, got fuel, and decided to race the sun to Reno!

    I suppose my race was doomed from the start, and I would inevitably be riding in the dark once I got there, but I didn't care. I was in go-mode! I absolutely burned across Nevada - scenery that otherwise might have been interesting on Highway 50 was spoiled by how interstates insulate drivers from the very place they're driving through. It was a shame to be 'wasting' so much scenery, but I decided Reno was the goal for tonight.

    As the miles were simply melting away, the main thing that I found myself thinking about were these high-visibility flags on work trucks. I couldn't figure out what they were for! They looked like the kind of flag required on sand dunes, but these vehicles clearly weren't going out to the dunes. When I got gas in some random town, I saw a pickup pulled in with one of the flags and asked the driver what it was for. He told me that the flags were required for driving in and around the mines in the area. A simple answer to a question that had been nagging me for the last 200 miles.

    After darkness had fallen, I arrived in Reno. I was exhausted and the odometer had logged 700 miles for the day. Evanston, WY to Reno, NV with a detour on Highway 93 is quite the journey. I decided to splurge that night and get a hotel room, so I could melt in to some comfortable bedding. The problem is that I couldn't find a hotel that allowed guests under 21 years old! I was close to just driving out to the National Forest, but instead decided to try my luck at one more hotel. I either got lucky or the front desk lady was very merciful, because she "forgot" to look at the birth date on my ID before giving it back to me and simply asked if I was 21. I lied and said yes, and I finally had a hotel room!

    The "I just did 700 miles!" face.

    [​IMG]

    I slept like a rock that night.
    #17
  18. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,142
    Location:
    Inverary, Ontario, Canada
    Great report. Excellent writing! But don't diss your bike - it looks nicely seasoned to me (and anyway, its virtually new).

    Nick
    #18
  19. manfromthestix

    manfromthestix Lost in Space

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,320
    Location:
    Lexington, Virginia
    At about the time I got those pictures, I realized that in my morning haze I had forgotten to buy a WY sticker! Oh, well - I'll probably live on without it.

    I lived in Wyoming for 34 years and never bought a sticker. Familiarity breeds contempt, I've been told, but I seem to have lived on without one. I suspect you'll be just fine too. :lol3

    GREAT photo of all the trucks stopped at the road construction! I also love the salt-encrusted, bullet-riddled, sand-blasted Bonnevile Salt Flats sign, pretty much says it all, eh?

    What is this shite of no rooms for people under 21 years of age??? Your money isn't any good? You can vote or die for your country in the military, but fuck you if you want a motel room? That is just shameful and I can't think of a single valid reason for such a rule. Good for that kind lady!

    I've done a lot of solo touring and really understand what you're saying about the dichotomy of feelings at the beginning and end of the day. Cowboy Junkies do a song with the lyrics something like "I never would have guessed that the world would be so much more beautiful when seen through two sets of eyes". I totally agree, but still maintain the "logistical difficulties" can overshadow the loneliness. Ride on!

    More please.:lurk

    Doug
    #19
  20. Z1_NESTer

    Z1_NESTer Call me Hollywood

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    896
    Location:
    The Hudson Valley, New York
    HOLY SHIT! I ran into you out on the road. I was with a group of 3 other guys who stopped when we saw you had a flat tire. I was riding a red Kawasaki ZR7S, and the other bikes were 2 GS 1200's and a Yamaha Super T. Small world!

    Here's a pic of me from my trip when I saw you.

    [​IMG]
    #20