Great Lakes Loop on my Buell!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Mikef5000, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. Mikef5000

    Mikef5000 Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,102
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Vital Stats:
    Start/stop in Columbus, OH
    6 Days
    3211 Miles
    12 US States
    1 Canadian Province
    Planned Stops:
    East Troy Wisconsin Friday Night for Buell homecoming 2010
    New York City Tuesday Night
    With those stops in mind, the plan was to play it by ear.

    The Bike Setup
    3 OEM Hard Bags:
    Left had hard stuff; camping cookware, bike locks, extra bungees/straps, etc.
    Right had the clothes and rain gear
    Top box had the tent/sleeping bag/sleeping pad
    Auxiliary fuel tank is bolted to the back seat. Hold an additional 2.5 – 3.25 gallons.
    2 Operator manual canisters, one with tools, the other with a first aid kit.
    And finally a tank bag holding food stuffs and the ipod/cb radio, and camera.
    Garmin Nuvi 550 for navigation; waterproof and preprogrammed with US and Canada maps!

    Riding gear
    Bicycle Shorts
    Bohn fully armored adventure pants
    Dirt Bike Pants
    U/A Shirt
    Leather Jacket
    Leather Gloves
    Alpinestar Scout WP Boots
    Camel-back

    And the final route:
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    Day 1:
    Rolled out at 6 AM from Columbus hoping to make it to East Troy as early as possible. Open house at Erik Buell Racing till 3:00, then a Buell banquet dinner and concert at 6:00. Todays ride is all about making time, so freeway it is.
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    Indiana brought cool wind farms
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    A single gas stop today at the 270 mile mark, right between Indianapolis and Chicago. Illinois brought Chicago… and traffic
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    Wisconsin got me the heck out of traffic, and onto some great small roads!
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    Made it to the Open House!
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    And met Erik!
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    Cool as heck! Off to setup camp before the banquet and concert. Camp tonight is at a state park about 15 miles away.
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    Sweating my butt off in the 90 degree sun, I hit the road back to town, only to find black clouds and lightning a-plenty. A U-turn sends me back to camp. Now I have to decide what I want to keep in my mostly waterproof bags, or put in my mostly waterproof tent. It’s getting windy, and the storm appears to be only minutes away. This is my first time using this tent, it’s brand new, but was only $15 from Walmart. I fully expect it to not be 100% waterproof. I put some of my vital stuff in my one and only Dry-bag and left it in the tent, dawned my rain gear, and rolled out towards the host hotel, which I now wish I was staying in.
    It thunder stormed for an hour, then cleared up. I stayed for banquet and raffle but another wave of thunderstorms was rolling in before the concert began, I only stuck around for another couple moments, before hitting the road. I decided I don’t mind so much sleeping in the rain, but I’d really like to be dry getting into the tent and ready for bed. Made it back just in time, and crashed for the night.
    The sun got me up at 6, and I was packed and ready to hit the road well before 7. I had my breakfast bar and vitamins (I take vitamins on these rides because I do not even come close to eating balanced meals), and rolled out.
    This morning was decision time, take the short way through the Michigan UP, or the long way over Lake Superior. The main factors were going to be the weather and time when I hit the road. All signs pointed at the long way!
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    Hit the freeway for the first 2/3’s of Wisconsin just to make time.
    I touched into the UP, but only for a moment. The sun was still shining, so I was still taking the long way.
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    I Eventually found Lake Superior! And with it, some odd remains of railroad ‘piers’.
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    Minnesota brought some ominous looking clouds.
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    I could see it raining out over the lake, but never in front of me so I proceeded.
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    Hay!
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    Canada brought more ominous clouds, and I lost one hour from switching back to my original time zone, bummer! But it also brought spectacular roads and views!
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    Just past Thunder Bay I landed in a KOA. It was about 9:30 and they had some empty cabins, so they made me a deal I couldn’t refuse!
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    I slept on the queen size bed, and used the bunkbeds to lay out my riding gear for the morning, and camping gear from last night so it could dry.
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    While checking in, they mentioned a pizza place is just a mile away. I couldn’t refuse.
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    Took a much needed shower, and just kind of hung out till the sun went down. Finally it was dark and I headed to bed. I left the curtains open so I’d get up with the sun again, and checked my clock before I fell asleep… 11:00???? WTF?! I wanted to be in bed over an hour ago! Took me a minute, but then it occurred to me, the further north you go in the summer, the later the sun stays out.
    I hit the road at 7:00 again. Every bend or bridge in the road seemed to bring spectacular views. It was tough keeping the camera put away.
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    Just 75km in this morning I had my first stop.
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    I read about this place in the latest Road Runner magazine (recommended!). Seemed pretty cool, and worth a stop for sure! I was disappointed to find the road here was paved. I thought I read it was dirt. At least it was a blast of a ride in!
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    Apparently Provincial Parks aren’t too popular at 8 in the morning.
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    I paid my $2 and went for the 1km loop trail.
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    Worth the stop for sure! But now back on the road. Some messing with the GPS and I found a better way back to the main road!
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    Better way might be an understatement; these roads were a fricken blast!
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    And eventually back to the main road…. But I don’t mean that as a bad thing.
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    Now it was about this time… 100 miles into my day…. 100 miles from Thunder Bay, the only real city up around here… and at about the furthest possible point from my house I could possibly get…. That I felt a little wiggle.
    Instant denial. There is NO WAY something is wrong now. I kept riding.
    Turns don’t feel right. Can’t lean more than 10-15 degrees. Front end is weaving back and forth.
    NO WAY something is wrong here. Proceeding.
    A million things are going through my head.
    To much weight up high with my Aux. fuel tank? No way, it’s been on the whole trip.
    WHY did I take that dirt road??? I bet I caught a rock and punctured a tire. But that was 50 miles ago.
    Finally a gas station, and I give in and park it. Hop off and this was starring me right in the eye.
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    Notice the melty looking rubber all the way across. I probably took 1000 miles off the life of the thing by keeping riding it after it went flat.
    I did the required “stare at the problem for a few minutes”, then proceeded to get to work.
    A never been used before tire plugger kit and air pump are stashed under the seat, but the fuel tank is bolted over the seat. Open “operators canister number one” and retrieve the tool kit. Unbolt the fuel tank and swing it over the side bag. Pop off seat, and retrieve tire stuffs.
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    My mini wire cutters pulled the nail out without issue, and the tire hissed for about 3 seconds. Probably had less than 5 lb’s left in it.
    I had a hell of a time reaming out the hole, the cords and carcass are tough! Loaded up the gummy worm with rubber cement and fought with that for a good ten minutes.
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    But eventually I was victorious!
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    Plugged in the air pump, and let her rip. It was taking awhile so I started the engine, and walked around taking pictures.
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    Eventually it reached 38 PSI, and was holding air like a champ! Caption to this photo: I AM ALL THAT IS MAN!
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    Packed everything up, bolted everything back down, and proceeded on my way, it was an hour delay.
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    Apparently there was a forest fire around here years ago
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    Yay, the lake again!
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    I hit Sault Ste. Marie in the afternoon, and it was not a welcome sight in the least. After an amazing day of great mountain/lake roads and views; a big city, with traffic lights, Walmarts, and civilization in general was not was I was wanting to see.
    The goal today was to get close to Sudbury before I setup camp. I reached Sudbury late in the day, but I decided I’d rather camp after the city, than risk any rush hour crap when I leave in the early AM. Well 40 miles after the city I realized this was no longer like the Lake Superior roads I was on earlier in the day. Up above lake superior, the roads are made for tourists. There are spectacular views, scenic overlooks, and every 20 or 30 miles you pass a mom and pop gas station, motel, campground, and/or general store. Now that I’m next to Lake Huron, I’m seeing none of that. The road has turned into more of a “get you to the next big city” road. I’ve been next to Lake Huron for 200 miles now, but I’ve only caught glimpses of it between buildings or trees. Never once has there been a scenic overlook, and any great views. The riding is still good, the road is small and winds nicely, but not what it was over Superior. I began to get a bit worried about not finding a place to setup camp before dark. The few campgrounds that had signs were quite a ways off the main road, and they tended to be on gnarly gravel roads that appeared to have not been traveled in ages. If it were 1km up the nasty road, I’d risk it, but 10km is not worth my time to find out they are potentially closed.
    Eventually there was one just off the main road, Campground and restaurant… Perfect!
    I was greeted with an ultra creepy sight, a campground FULL of campers, but not a sole around. It was closing in on ten, the sun was very low, but there wasn’t a sole out at a campfire, or walking around or anything. The restaurant had a big sign that said “Come on in, we’re Open!”, yet all the lights were off.
    Interesting.
    I parked and proceeded up the stairs to the front door. When BAM! Creepy dude meets me at the door! Oh man! Uh, hello! He was nice and all, so I secured a tent site. The building smelled of deep fryer oil that had been cooling for an hour or two, so I didn’t even ask about food.
    I was setting up my tent when I heard the shrill spring noise of an old screen door. Turned around to see an older beer-gutted guy looking at me from a camper in a spot across from mine. Damn. Thoughts of anti-rape tactics are now flowing through my mind.
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    And that’s where I’ll end it for now! I’ll write the rest of it tonight or tomorrow. Scroll down to the big red PART 2 below!
    #1
  2. exoff-roadgoat

    exoff-roadgoat Will ride for food

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,780
    Location:
    West Mitten
    Sweet bike! I like the route your taking. I've wondered if the riding was any good around Huron? Thanks for the pics. Be safe.
    #2
  3. thecynic

    thecynic Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2010
    Oddometer:
    48
    Location:
    People's Republic of Minnesota
    Great trip and great pics!!:D I have played with the thought of a trip around the lakes like that, or maybe just around Lake Superior. That is beautiful territory for sure!!!

    Looking forward to seeing the rest of the trip. Liked the cliffhanger ending there. Left me with banjo music going through my head.:eek1
    #3
  4. RickyBilly

    RickyBilly Mentally Retired

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2010
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    198
    Location:
    Wallyworld, Ontaxio, The Colonies
    Hi

    Lived in the Soo and now in Owen Sound , between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. There is a Harley dealer in town if needed. Not that this is on your route, but check out St Joseph Island or Manitoulin if you have time.

    Rick
    #4
  5. eddie98

    eddie98 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    651
    Location:
    Kennesaw, GA
    Man what an awesome trip you are having. My girlfriend and I did that last year. We stopped at Ouimet Canyon but didn’t go in. there are some awesome views. Did you see lots of bicyclists? We did and they were pedaling from coast to coast. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    #5
  6. RickyBilly

    RickyBilly Mentally Retired

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2010
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Wallyworld, Ontaxio, The Colonies
    Try Hwy 11 to 118 to Haliburton the Bancroft if you want to avoid Toronto. Its a zoo, 2nd busiest freeway system in N.A. next to San Diego. Then go south to 401. Nice bike rds and side rds are even better.
    #6
  7. NitroRoo

    NitroRoo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    390
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    argh the suspense! You aren't going to make me wait all weekend until I get back to work to find out what happens are you? :lol3
    #7
  8. Mikef5000

    Mikef5000 Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,102
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Just an FYI to those suggesting routes and stops... I'm already done with the loop and back home in Columbus. Part 2 should be up late tonight. To those wanting to do a similar loop, Lake Superior is a must. Lake Huron and Ontario aren't. Upstate NY is back to the good stuff tho!

    But alas, that's all for Part 2.
    #8
  9. myrwon

    myrwon Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2009
    Oddometer:
    178
    Location:
    Tampa, FL
    Thanks for the sneak peak..I'll be doing this loop in about 2 weeks from Florida - can't wait :clap -
    #9
  10. MikJogg

    MikJogg Weekend Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Oberkirch/Blackforest/Germany
    :lurk :thumb
    #10
  11. Mikef5000

    Mikef5000 Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Part 2


    Alright, I left you in the suspense this morning. I’ll pick up from there. Remember the creepy campground with my special friend in the camper?
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    Well we exchanged greetings, and he said “If you happen to need anything, just let me know!”. I said thanks, and went back to setting up my tent. He seemed nice, possibly too nice.
    I went vondering, and found this view just a hundred yards from my tent. Cool as heck! View at sunset:
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    I found a vending machine, but nothing looked interesting. Went back to the bike and busted out a snickers marathon bar. I love these things, but they’re my lunch every day out on the road, so I wasn’t looking forward to it as dinner as well. I also had a jumbo bag of trail mix, so I was munching on that too. I didn’t really care; I’ll eat again the next day, it’s closing in on crash time anyway.
    Out comes my neighbor again…
    “That restaurant open?”
    “Naw, doesn’t look like it.”
    “Well come on over here, I’ll make you a sandwich.”
    Now I’m a risky kinda guy, so I went for it. That’s right, I followed the guy into his camper. Why the heck not, I could use a sandwich, and meeting people can make a whole vacation (unless molestation is involved).
    In his little camper was his wife (that’s a good sign). They turned out to be, honestly, some of the nicest folks I’ve met. Absolutely blew me away. They handed me some cash, and when I asked what this was for, they said a sandwich tomorrow on the road! I couldn’t believe it! (left it on their table). I ended up enjoying a ham sandwich and conversation with them for close to an hour. Turns out they live in Cleveland OH and come up here for the summer every year. They offered me the use of their cell phone and laptop (with internet).
    Eventually I went back to my tent and fell asleep. If only it lasted very long. Sometime in the middle of the night a train went by what sounded like about 4 feet from my tent. Scared the hell outa me! Then it dropped down to the forties; a bit much for my summer weight fleece sleeping bag. I ended up in fetal position in the bottom of my sleeping bag, with the top rolled up all the way to me. If some friggin bear would’ve come by he would’ve found a sack lunch! Ended up getting up early again to take a hot shower and thaw out. Here’s the river again in the early morning:
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    By the time I was packed up, the sun was blazing and the temperature was comfortable already! I was a bit worried I’d be riding in the rain suit just for warmth.
    Heard a train again and headed back to the river, I liked the reflections.
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    I hit the road again heading south, but it wasn’t too long before I turned east. I had the GPS setup to avoid the whole Toronto area.
    I realized shortly thereafter that I never got a good look at Lake Huron. No pictures or anything. Disappointing.
    As disappointed as I was around Lake Huron, Lake Ontario was even worse, I had my choice of two main roads heading the way I wanted. A freeway with no views of the lake, or a busy state route that streams it’s way through one busy city after another, and still, no views of the lake.
    I didn’t want to leave without a picture of Lake Ontario, so I headed towards a Provincial Park on the coast. Turned out they wanted $13 to go in the park! I told them I just wanted a picture and a 5 minute break, they told me to go check out the residential area near by. On an interesting side note, the beaches in the area were closed because of bacteria in the water.
    Found a spot in the residential area for some pictures:
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    I hit the freeway to get the heck outa there. I don’t like freeways, but I don’t like traffic jams and busy city streets more.
    After my GPS originally took me to a Ferry to get back to the USA, I eventually found the bridge over. This bridge was the most scenic area I’ve seen since Lake Superior.
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    Upstate New York brought me back to the scenery I was looking for. This area is just gorgeous.
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    This would be my last night before heading to New York City to meet up with the girlfriend, so I was thinking about getting a motel room and showering and getting a decent night sleep. As it turned out though, I landed in Cooperstown, which apparently is popular these days? I stopped and asked some fellow biker folk about finding a cheap hotel room, they laughed. I headed to their recommended crap-hole motel, only to find out a single night would cost me $140. Well problem solved, off to the campground.
    I had camp setup early, so I went back into town to get a good dinner.
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    I had made it further than anticipated every single day, so I decided I’m going to try my hardest to sleep in this morning. These early mornings were starting to catch up, and I was a bit exhausted.
    Well sometime in the middle of the night, I figured out I could curl up the top of the sleeping bag, and sleep with it covering my eyes. When I finally decided to get up in the morning, I checked my phone and it was NOON! DAMN! Didn’t want to sleep in that much!
    Now I didn’t have time for the petting zoo! (No joke, the campground had a free petting zoo, and I was going to go get some awesome pictures. Too bad)
    I hit the road at one, and took the scenic route towards NYC.
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    I needed to be on the east side of Manhattan, so I decided to cross the Hudson way north and follow it down. That way I didn’t have to cross Manhattan at all. It worked flawlessly.
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    Spent the evening with the girlfriend, had a nice dinner, and crashed once again.
    I had planned a route home that would get me off the freeway about half way there. 300 miles of freeway is better than 550. Problem was, I’m leaving at 8:00 AM, and I need to head straight west. Meaning, I get to go through Manhattan during rush hour.
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    Going through downtown wasn’t too bad, but then I hit the tunnel under the Hudson. It was me and a tunnel full of busses and trucks. It was a 120 degree furnace of diesel exhaust, for half an hour.
    I eventually made it the heck out of there, hanging on to my few remaining brain cells.
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    I eventually hit Route 50, which was my 2 lane road that took me the last 300 miles into Ohio.
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    This day was hotter than hell. Pushing 95 degrees all day long. I wouldn’t have made it without the camel-back.
    Hit a forceful thunder storm in West Virginia, which luckily only lasted 15 or 20 minutes. Just enough to add humidity to the equation.
    The goal from the get go was to meet friend at the local taco bell between 8:00 and 8:15. I ended up arriving at 8:10. Can’t beat that!
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    Things to note:
    I saw 4 deer, 2 turkey, 1 red fox, and 1 black bear on this trip. All running along the side of the road as I rode by.
    The tire is still holding air just fine, 2000 miles after the plug.
    Longest day was from Thunder Bay to a bit past Sudbury; 670 miles. This was the same day that had the 1 hour stop at the Canyon, and 1 hour tire delay. I really wasn’t hurting either. I think a 1000 mile in 24 hour Iron Butt ride would be cake.
    I rode with a Alaska Leather Sheep Skin Butt Pad almost the whole time. I had a beaded seat cover as well, but only used it once, it is NOT for me! I have two pressure points that I can feel after a long time in the saddle, and the beaded seat cover felt like those two points were now sitting ontop of a single bead, man was it painful. The sheep skin pad felt great.
    The Longest stretch without a stop was 275 miles. The tank gets me closer to 325 miles before I need to stop, but I never pushed it that far without some sort of break.
    My favorite part was the road over Lake Superior, no question. The second best part was upstate New York. I’d do the ride again in a heartbeat, but I’d find an alternate route over Lake Ontario and Huron.
    I’m sure I’ll remember more later. I’ll keep adding tidbits to this thread.

    #11
  12. el tortuga

    el tortuga Been here awhile

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    :lurk
    #12
  13. trevd

    trevd n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
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    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Great report Mike! I'm from Sudbury, so I know all about that Sault to Sudbury road... Actually, you seemed to think of it a bit more positively than I do.

    Next time, do yourself a favor and head to Manitoulin Island off of the 17, ride around if you have some time, and take the ferry across the lake to Tobermory instead of going through Sudbury and taking 69 down to Toronto. Much nicer ride.

    Trevor
    #13
  14. jhawes

    jhawes lost in space

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
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    14
    Location:
    Beautiful Kalispell, Montana
    Nice ride and report! I just rode from Montana to Maine and back and took the road up over Superior. It was one of my favorite areas of the trip. Not exactly the best place to catch a flat. Thanks for the pics.
    #14
  15. eddie98

    eddie98 Been here awhile

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    Kennesaw, GA
    +1 on that. We did that last year and it was really nice.
    #15
  16. L.T.

    L.T. Adventurer

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    Apr 6, 2010
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    Central,New York
    :lurk Look's like a good ride overall,but a flat tire will alway's make you a little nervous :huh . Nice R.R. .
    #16
  17. thevanrat

    thevanrat 2009 KLR

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2010
    Oddometer:
    53
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Cool trip, any hassles coming into or leaving CANADA?

    What's the box on the back of your seat?

    Too bad about the tire issue, sounds like you came out on top though... tubeless, right?

    You went alone on this adventure?
    #17
  18. Mikef5000

    Mikef5000 Long timer

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    Columbus, OH
    No hassle's at all at the border crossings. Took 2-3 minutes each time. I handed them my passport, answered some simple questions, and moved on.

    It's an Axillary Fuel Tank on the back seat. Holds 2.5-3.25 extra gallons (depending on the grade of the parking lot)

    Yes Tubeless tires, and I checked it again today (about 2k miles later) and it's still at the exact pressure I filled it to in that parking lot.

    I was alone this time. I met Buell folks in Wisconsin on day 1, and my girlfriend in NYC on day 5, but all the riding was done alone.
    #18
  19. thevanrat

    thevanrat 2009 KLR

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2010
    Oddometer:
    53
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    Minnesota
    Thanks Mike!

    I am planning a modified version of the same trip, but just the lake-loop. I am in Mn north of the mess (Metro) and it wont be as far as you rode, but I am hoping for a memorable adventure just the same!

    I was going to guess "aux. fuel tank" but thought it could have been a home-brew boom-box....

    thanks man, semper fi.
    #19
  20. (none)

    (none) poser

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    2,684
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    Middle of nowhere Georgia
    Mike, looks like you had a great time. That has to have been a great trip. Glad to see the Uly is still treating you well, she looks good with that front fender.
    #20