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: 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. Indiana brought cool wind farms A single gas stop today at the 270 mile mark, right between Indianapolis and Chicago. Illinois brought Chicago… and traffic Wisconsin got me the heck out of traffic, and onto some great small roads! Made it to the Open House! And met Erik! Cool as heck! Off to setup camp before the banquet and concert. Camp tonight is at a state park about 15 miles away. 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! 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. I Eventually found Lake Superior! And with it, some odd remains of railroad ‘piers’. Minnesota brought some ominous looking clouds. I could see it raining out over the lake, but never in front of me so I proceeded. Hay! 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! 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! 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. While checking in, they mentioned a pizza place is just a mile away. I couldn’t refuse. 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. Just 75km in this morning I had my first stop. 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! Apparently Provincial Parks aren’t too popular at 8 in the morning. I paid my $2 and went for the 1km loop trail. 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! Better way might be an understatement; these roads were a fricken blast! And eventually back to the main road…. But I don’t mean that as a bad thing. 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. 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. 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. But eventually I was victorious! Plugged in the air pump, and let her rip. It was taking awhile so I started the engine, and walked around taking pictures. Eventually it reached 38 PSI, and was holding air like a champ! Caption to this photo: I AM ALL THAT IS MAN! Packed everything up, bolted everything back down, and proceeded on my way, it was an hour delay. Apparently there was a forest fire around here years ago Yay, the lake again! 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. 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!