Motobsession: A transcontinental ride fifty years in the making

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Oron, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    This, my third ride report, is my contribution to stave off North America's motorcycle off-season. Getting this post started seemed like a good way to pass the day, especially as I look out my window at single digit temperatures and six inches of fresh snow. Although I enjoy reading real-time reports from other inmates, my personal en route patience and temperament would not allow it. This RR is from a trip ridden this past late July and into September. Needless to say, I survived the trip (and aftermath) and write this from the journal notes I had kept during the ride. I will try to update this report on a timely basis, interspersed with my best photographs, to keep my audience on the edge of their saddles. This RR briefly introduces my early infatuation with motorcycling, and then picks up the travelogue after retirement, as I embark on my transcontinental adventure, including the Alaskan Highway. Join me during a 12,000 mile journey over two months...


    upload_2017-12-27_10-2-37.png
    The bike

    upload_2017-12-27_10-4-19.png
    The route

    Introduction

    I was ten years old when my neighbor took me for a ride around the block on the back of his Honda CB175. My street had a very steep incline that I dreaded pedaling on my single gear bicycle, but strap on a motor and everything changed. I will never forget the sensation of that little twenty horsepower Honda powering so effortlessly up that hill. Even as a passenger, the noise, the wind, the entire experience was intoxicating. I could not imagine a more perfect mode of transportation. I had tasted a two-wheeled internal combustion cocktail, and I craved more.

    On my sixteenth birthday, I stood in line at the DMV for my learner's permit. A week later, I made a formal presentation to my parents to ask for permission to pour my meager life savings into a used motorcycle. They tried to dissuade me, but I was persistent, and after a month of incessant lobbying, they finally relented. My first motorcycle was a blue Kawasaki H-1 500cc two-stroke, that I bought for $700 off the estate of the man that died on it. I was told he had lost control on an exit ramp and slid into a guardrail. I hid that dark secret from my parents. The damage to the bike from the crash was relatively minor and I successfully negotiated a "death discount" off the sale price.

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    The maniacal H-1

    The Japanese engineers that designed that motorcycle for the American market were evidently seeking revenge for the events of WWII. That three cylinder Kawasaki had the temperament and manners of a deranged maniac, and it is a miracle that I survived that first summer. Reasonably docile until the RPMs hit 5,000, the bike would take off like a scalded cat, trailing foul blue smoke from the triple exhaust. The acceleration tempted you to do stupid things. I once buzzed a Mercury Cougar with out-of-state license plates on a winding road and unwittingly triggered a major case of road rage. After we both ran multiple stop signs, I knew he was fully invested in rearranging my face. This was the only time in my life I rode as if my life depended on it. With home court advantage, I eventually lost him in the maze of residential streets near my parents' house.

    That Kawasaki was an exhilarating terror. If you twisted the throttle with abandon, the front wheel lifted off the ground. If you rode it gently, the spark plugs had a tendency to foul. The gas mileage was atrocious; it had a range of maybe 120 miles. That first summer, long before I fully understood the danger (what's ATGATT?), I routinely rode in a T-shirt and jeans, and once on a hundred miles of highway from Cape Cod to Boston in a torrential downpour...with compromised tires. It was an unmistakable example of the infallible invincibility of adolescence. Eventually, the H-1 bit its master and high-sided me on a reverse camber, damp curve in Cambridge. It was my first experience with a tank-slapper, and the steering wobble felt as if it was orchestrated by the devil himself. After the scabs and psychological scars healed, I decided that it was time for a proper four-stroke power plant. Even possessing only the partially developed frontal cortex of an eighteen-year-old, I was determined not to end up as this psychopath's second homicide.

    After two years of shoveling driveways and cutting lawns, I had replenished my savings. I sold the H-1 to an unsuspecting middle-aged guy. In the Spring of 1976, I searched the Want-Ads and test rode a Norton Combat Commando 850, a Honda 750/4, and a BMW R75/5. All were a few years from new, but nevertheless in great shape. What four-stroke muscle. Jump on the throttle and you enjoyed predictable, linear power; close the throttle and the engine compression allowed deceleration without touching the brakes. These bikes were the top of the food chain and were wet-dream material for a twenty-year-old. The black and gold Norton was too cool for words but seemed untrustworthy for the long trips I envisioned. Even standing still at idle, the motor tried to shake out of its frame. The four cylinder Honda performed flawlessly during the test ride, but lacked a soul. Perhaps the machine was just too perfect. But the BMW hit a chord. The Teutonic Beemer's odd horizontal cylinder heads, shaft drive, and build-quality spoke to me.

    For the princely sum of $1,500, I bought a five-year-old jet black BMW (frame #2980971) with 18,000 miles on the clock, white hand-lettered pin stripping, and an oversized 6.3 gallon gas tank that promised me the horizon. The kiln-fired porcelain roundels on the tank exuded European craftsmanship. A used set of English Craven saddle bags, French Marchal driving light, and US made handlebar-mounted Wixom fairing were soon added. That motorcycle became my new adolescent obsession. One memorable trip included riding back to Boston from D.C. over college Thanksgiving break. I attempted to insulate from the bone-chilling cold by circling my long-underwear-clad limbs and torso with clear plastic wrap that I "liberated" from the dorm cafeteria. Years later, I rode that Beemer to grad school, Boston to Chicago, north of Lake Erie in two days. Not exactly Iron Butt Association worthy, but nevertheless adventurous for a twenty-one-year-old kid riding on skinny tube tires and drum brakes. That bike was a rock. I serviced it myself and drove it year round for thirteen years and eventually added 50,000 trouble free miles to the odometer.

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    Back in the day when I had hair


    Marriage and child quelled the motorcycle fever. In the quest for adrenaline, I took up recreational flying, yet decided after the birth of my son to never introduce him to motorcycling. I carefully redacted any photographs of my proud grin astride my H-1 or /5. My son and I bonded over cars and sports and Pokémon, but never the "off limits" world of motorcycles.
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  2. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    On my son's sixteenth birthday, and quite independently (after circumventing me by asking his mother for permission), he bought a Kawasaki Ninja 250R that he promptly low-sided. Blame the genetics.

    upload_2017-12-27_10-20-25.png
    before the accident

    upload_2017-12-27_10-20-55.png
    after the accident

    Once the proverbial horse had escaped the barn, I sought out a motorcycle for myself and settled on a lightly used 2004 BMW R1150RS. What a difference thirty years of technological advancement makes. It had everything that I craved for as a teenage rider: two extra gears (six speeds), frame mounted fairing, integrated saddlebags, triple disc brakes, and even the exotica of ABS and heated grips. I drove that bike all over New England, and followed routes from decades earlier. I recreated a photograph of myself (we didn't call it a "selfie") on the summit of Cadillac Mountain from forty years earlier. That love affair lasted five years, until the sport riding position aggravated my neck and back, and limited my time in the saddle to only two hours at a stretch. The grabby servo brakes and overly complicated maintenance requirements were also a detriment to complete enjoyment.

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    In my humble opinion, one of the prettiest bikes ever made

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    In my humble opinion, one pretty Pillion
    #2
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  3. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    The GS line of BMWs, with upright riding position and generous suspension travel, intrigued me. I test rode a brand new water-cooled one for a full day in Berlin, Germany, and liked it. The next year, my then twenty-two-year-old son and I rented R1200GS's for a tour of the Alpine regions of Germany, Italy, Austria, and Slovenia, (Advrider: Father and Son Reconnect on an Alpine Ride). The GS was a machine that I could grow old with. The affinity for the GS line was further cemented with another week long rental through the Andalusia region of Spain, with my girlfriend as passenger.

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    On the Timmelsjoch with Alex

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    In Spain with The Pillion

    Anticipating retirement, I jettisoned the RS and bought a fully-optioned 2015 BMW GSA from a New Hampshire dealer to complement the next phase of my life. It was time to fulfill a long time fantasy and wander the US and Canada on two wheels. For thirty years, I had focused on building a business and had never been on vacation for more than ten consecutive days. For thirty years, I had worried about my family and career. For thirty years, I had led a structured, conventional life.

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    The dealer's photo that hooked me

    At the age of sixty-one, I realized that it was now or never. The unexpected death of my brother and a nagging health concern heightened the urgency. I could not delay this trip any longer. My previous long distance motorcycle trips had been up to one week long, so this extended ride was uncharted territory. In order to pull this off, I needed the rare commodity of time, a certain amount of physical stamina, and the right equipment. Retirement solved the time issue, I was still young and fit enough to pull it off, and the GSA had been purchased with this type of trip in mind. So there I was, for the first time in my life about to head toward the setting sun and embark on an "epic" road trip without destination and without time constraints.

    During the winter of 2016-17, I dreamt of the open road. I spent a lot of free time on Advrider reading about the exploits of fellow inmates. You guys (and the occasional ladies) were a source of inspiration of what could be accomplished. If a thirty-year-old cubicle worker on a twenty-year-old naked bike can make it all the way to Ushuaia and back, then why can't a sixty-year-old on the latest two-wheeled technology wander the US and Canada for a few months?

    The rough plan was to ride in early August from Boston to Portland, Oregon, meet my girlfriend at the airport, head south together to witness the total solar eclipse on August 21 and then ride up to Bellingham, Washington, to catch the ferry to Haines, Alaska. We would then ride back to the Lower 48. I would drop off "The Pillion" in Seattle for her flight back to Boston, and then proceed south along the Pacific Coast Highway, and then eventually east before the snow flies. I would bring a tent and sleeping bag, and other than the kindness of some friends along the route, would have no planned stops. I would, as they say, follow the front wheel.

    Official retirement began June 30. I had planned to spend much of the month of July decompressing on the beaches of Cape Cod and getting used to life away from the office, but a wrench was thrown into the free-wheeling gears of life. I now had time to get caught up on all the endless tasks of modern life and only weeks before departure, I saw my physician for a long overdue routine physical. For the first time in my life, there were abnormal findings. Without getting into the weeds, two subsequent follow-up tests indicated the distinct possibility of life-altering cancer and my EKG suggested a second problem as well. A definitive diagnosis of the cancer concern would require an invasive test, and the recommended specialist was booked up for many weeks. I did not want to delay this trip, although it might have been the prudent thing to do. I discussed the situation with my primary care physician, and he gave me a green light to deal with these two issues when I came back. Life's uncertainty became the new footnote. The definitive tests to determine my fate were scheduled for ten and eleven weeks later. With a guillotine blade hanging over my head, I began the countdown. I did my best to push it all to the back of the closet.

    Final preparations to the BMW included upgrading the integrated GPS from Nav V to Nav VI (and passing on the older unit to my son) and upgrading my riding suit. After years of traditional leathers and jeans, with occasional rain gear, I went modern textile and sprung for the latest BMW label EnduroGuard jacket and pants. I hoped it would be versatile and waterproof as claimed. My trusty Aerostich Combat touring boots completed the ensemble. I farkled the motorcycle a bit for safety and durability, with enhanced lights and protective plates. I also christened the motorcycle "Orcus," to complement both its large mass and black and white color scheme. I hoped that naming The Beast would impart special protective powers that just might come in handy during our travels.

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    Here is a more detailed list of the armamentarium:

    Camping gear:

    · Kelty 2 man tent - ancient Costco purchase that I hoped would not leak

    · Cosmo insulated Nemo pad - turns the cold earth into a Beautyrest

    · Marmot Trestles Elite sleeping bag - love the extra room for my feet

    · Joey Travel chair and Eno hammock - turn the campsite into a hotel suite

    · Teton camp pillow - imperative to avoid a stiff neck

    · Touratech Ortlieb 89 liter drybag - can never have enough storage...or horsepower

    · DB power 18000 mAh battery charger - to keep the electronics charged while off the grid

    Repair gear:

    · Cruz Roadtech B1 toolkit - everything I would need except the expertise

    · Dynaplug Micropro inflator with tire plug kit - saved my bacon more than once

    · Yuasa jumpstart cables - if I left them home, I would need them


    “It is the journey, not the destination.” Those were the words to define the trip. Other than a few immutable dates and destinations, I would ride at a pace that suited the weather and my mood. This was not to be a journey of extreme hardship or survival. I would not be testing man and machine at the limit. In fact, I hoped for nothing but blue skies, 70 degrees, and trouble free miles. If things became crazy, I had a few credit cards in the wallet that could always bail me out of trouble. I would ride with no specific route in mind, other than trying to avoid boring interstates as much as practical. I would let the compass play a role in deciding specific routes. I would consider riding off tarmac, but with street tires, a heavy bike, and modest ability, it wouldn't go beyond fire roads. I would camp when the weather was favorable, and stay in a motel if not, as I valued my comfort and a good night's sleep. I planned to visit friends with limited notice and “couch surf” along the route. I planned to take all meals in restaurants or with my hosts. I would seek out scenic routes, motorcycle centric roads, and National Parks. I would blend tourism with local lifestyle immersion. I planned to return to Greater Boston some eight or so weeks later, certainly by early October. My girlfriend and riding companion (Betsy, aka "The Pillion," see: Advrider: Two Old Goats Ride Andalusia) would join me on the rear seat for a two-week period during which time we would not camp. I was a sixty-one-year-old dude just doing something that I always wanted to do. Every day would become my Saturday, and every day would unfold facing toward the horizon.
    #3
  4. scooterintexas

    scooterintexas Been here awhile

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    Looking forward to reading the report!
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  5. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile

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    873
    Seems like a great set up, always nice to know the writer is still around to write about it! And that's a good thing.
    #5
  6. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.
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  7. Tewster2

    Tewster2 Long timer

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    :lurk
    #7
  8. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    Part 1

    Day 1

    My bon voyage dinner was Italian takeout with Betsy, my son Alex, his girlfriend Amanda, and my friend Thomas. After a restless night of sleep, I was up at six and left my bedroom in a frenzy, trying to get out on the road by 7:30. Instead of carefully inventorying and packing my gear the day before, as originally planned, I hastily partitioned the large pile into the hard aluminum and soft dry bags. Weight and balance were a consideration. I placed the heavy gear like tools at the bottom of the bags and tried to keep the weight on an even keel. There was a measure of anxiety as I waved goodbye to Betsy and rode westerly down my street. There was now the likelihood that I would not return home for ten weeks, and if the worst happened, perhaps never. I valued the life I had built, and as I pointed west, I contemplated if I was putting it all in jeopardy.

    The weather was ideal, about 65 degrees with cloudless skies, but I soon became chilled. My EnduroGuard jacket and pants were not keeping me warm. The poor insulation was later explained when I realized that I had nearly every vent of the jacket and pants wide open. Also, within the first half hour, I had the nagging feeling that I had forgotten my camera. I refused to stop to confirm whether it was packed. Even with no hard schedule, I couldn't delay progress another minute, and the thought of returning home was unacceptable. I reassured myself that everything was fine and to keep going. When I finally pulled over some two hours later, after passing through the oddly named Florida, Massachusetts, I found my palm sized Canon safely tucked away in the rear bag. First crisis averted.

    Epic Ride 001.JPG
    the view while frantically searching for the camera

    I rode Route 2 along the Mohawk Trail and then transitioned through the Pioneer Valley. It was a lovely scenic two lane road lined with forests and the occasional expansive vista. From North Adams, I took Route 8 south to Pittsfield to then pick up Route 20. This route is the longest road in the United States and had I chosen to, I could have ridden it all the way to the Pacific Coast.

    I stopped for lunch at the Skyline Diner, just before Albany. I was the outlier among the patrons at the restaurant, and felt a bit on display in my motorcycle gear. While ordering my food, I wondered how many times in the next weeks would I be sitting alone at diners across the US and Canada. Would I feel lonely? Would I be tired of restaurant food? Would there be regional differences in what was offered? Hours and many miles later, the restaurant sent me an electronic message asking me to rate their service. The intrusion was a little creepy, since I didn't think I had left a digital fingerprint.

    The New York state capital, Albany, was unable to entice me off the saddle, and the cut through on Route 20 was stoplight hell. Beyond the city, I continued on Route 20 without impediment half way across New York state. Route 20 was listed as an official scenic byway, with rolling pastures and picturesque farmland. There was always something interesting to look at as the miles rolled on.

    Epic Ride 004.JPG
    Big iron face off

    My first night's destination was in Manlius, New York (just southeast of Syracuse). I visited an old family friend, Jen, her husband Matt, and their adorable two kids. Their home was a refuge, built among the tall corn fields. Jen was visibly pregnant with what she called her “tie breaker.” The menagerie included the family dog, five hunting dogs confined down the meadow with their half-dozen newborn pups, a free range cat, and a bunch of chickens. Their older child, five-year-old Ryan, showed off his considerable skills riding a four-wheel ATV and a two-wheeled motorcycle. Dinner was Ironwood Pizza in sleepy downtown Manlius. Although I felt guilty for the indulgence, Jen and Matt graciously gave up their bedroom for me and I slept soundly in their plush bed.

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    Matt & Jen

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    Ryan: future advrider showing me his current ride

    Today’s mileage 302.
    #8
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  9. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    Day 2

    I left Manlius the next morning at 7:40 with a steady drizzle. I wondered if this rain was just a sampling of what I was to encounter the rest of the trip. The rain soon escalated to a major downpour that lasted for over two hours. I wanted to get around Lake Ontario (and eventually Lake Huron). I decided to travel on Highway 81 rather than Route 11, and other back roads. My logic was that I would rather try my chances in the torrential rain on a slowly undulating, well-drained highway at moderate speed, than have to manage unpredictable traffic and surface conditions on twisty back roads. As I slowly increased my speed, hurtling down the highway in heavy rain, I felt at peace. I could see well through my visor, I was warm and dry, and the bike was well-controlled. At that moment, I naively felt I could handle whatever nature threw my way.

    The EnduroGuard suit performed reasonably well in the rain, but any leaks that did occur may have been due to waterproof zippers that were not fully zipped. Time would tell. There were so many vent zippers on the jacket and pants that you needed a scorecard to keep it all straight. This was just another example of German over-engineering that just may prove it's brilliance.

    Seeing the sun break out after 2 1/2 hours lifted my spirits. I crossed the border into Canada at Wellesley Island. The Canadian customs officer didn't ask me to remove my helmet to verify my identity. He was, however, a little skeptical when I told him I wasn't exactly sure where I was headed. His biggest concern seemed to be about whether or not I had any weapons. The question was initially phrased, “How are you defending yourself on the road?” I told him, “with my fists.” He smiled, but then drilled down and asked about specific weapons including knives and mace. I guess we Americans have a reputation of arming ourselves to the teeth. I learned later that the Canadian border officers use your background to help them determine the likelihood that you would be carrying a firearm. Current or former law enforcement or military are more likely to be searched than, say, a barber.

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    Near the border crossing


    This day transformed into near-perfect riding conditions, which was very welcome because I wanted to cover a lot of distance before nightfall. I took Route 401 over the top of Lake Ontario, then bailed out on Route 12 near Oshawa to avoid the Toronto traffic. This led to Route 400 along the Georgian Bay to arrive in Parry Sound, Ontario, by five p.m. The location was confirmed by the town's name painted on the massive water tower as you approached from the east. This was the hometown of the greatest hockey player of all time and had personal significance. After asking for recommendations at a gas station, I set up my first campsite of the trip just south of town at the Trailside RV Resort in Seguin. I clumsily assembled my tent amongst overzealous mosquitoes and then sought out a badly needed shower. Riding the bike a half mile to get to the bath house definitely interfered with my relaxation. Next time I would make sure to ask for a campsite closer to the shower and bathroom.

    Epic Ride 012.JPG
    Hometown of the greatest hockey player of all time


    Upon return to my tent, I was approached by two women walking in from a neighboring campsite. They were the only other tent dwellers at the resort. They were a mother and daughter (kind of looked like sisters) that breathlessly told me a bear had just minutes earlier traipsed through their campsite, and by the way, would I please come over and help them if I heard any screaming? The mother, for some unknown reason, also admitted that they'd both had a bit too much to drink. Her comment was a curious non sequitur. I assured them I'd be listening for their screams, but I soon rode off into town for some dinner. I met some local bikers at the restaurant parking lot that were impressed with my ride and photographed her extensively. I rode back to my tent just before dark, zipped myself inside, and listened for the heavy breathing of bear or human. I felt secure behind my zipped-up fabric wall. The only unexpected sounds during the night were the rumble and whistles of frequent freight trains.

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    The campsite

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    After dinner, Orcus attracted the local motorcyclists

    Miles today 437.
    #9
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  10. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    Day 3

    I broke camp by 7:30 and relished the blue skies as I pushed north and made my way along route 69. Temperature was only into the high 50's. At the Magnetawan First Nation convenience store, I fortified myself with an egg sandwich and my heated jacket liner. The cold was easily quelled with the liner and Orcus’s heated handgrips. I rode with contentment and a smile through desolate untamed landscape on perfect tarmac, from Route 69 to the TransCanada Highway through Sudbury. The entire region was a massive wildlife refuge. The highway was void of all but the essential elements of travel. No billboards, no businesses, minimal traffic, just raw nature and a perfect divided road. I traveled in increasing temperature west, among numerous pristine waterways along the North Channel of Lake Huron through Blind River. I ate a picturesque lunch with other retirees at the Carolyn Beach Inn and Restaurant in Thessalon. As I gazed out at the placid strait and bantered with the waitress, it struck me that it was mid week, I was not working, and I had become one of them, a retired dude going out for a leisurely lunch. I rode past fields scattered with giant rolled bales of hay and proceeded into the St. Joseph Channel to Sault Saint Marie.

    Epic Ride 024.JPG
    lunch stop at Carolyn Beach


    The US border crossing was stressful, with a very slow moving queue and temperatures in the high 80's. Once I finally reached my turn for the inquisition, the unhurried US border official asked inane questions that taxed my patience. I didn't see the point of chit chat when there were a hundred vehicles waiting in line. Perhaps if I were in an air-conditioned car, I would have felt more social. I was finally allowed entry into the Motherland, crossing over the St. Marys River. Like the audience leaving the parking lot after a Fast and Furious movie, I grabbed a wrist full of throttle well beyond the posted speed limit. The big Beemer could run like a greyhound if you unleashed it. I raced down desolate Route 75, transecting the Upper Peninsula. There was barely a vehicle to be seen.

    Epic Ride 032.JPG
    stuck in the border traffic


    I crossed the impressive Mackinaw Bridge into the mitt of Michigan, exited the highway and followed the Nav VI's directions to my friend's cabin on Burt Lake. Far earlier than expected, the voice commands led me perpendicularly off the asphalt and onto a two track that disappeared into the woods. Who was I to question satellite authority? I proceeded down a reasonable gravel road that after one thousand yards narrowed and turned into loose sand. Before my brain could register the improbability of navigating over the unstable surface, both tires slid out like a fat man slipping on ice. (I would not have taken that trail, but my friend told me that dirt roads were required to reach his cabin.) Once Orcus tipped beyond forty degrees off vertical, there was not much to do other than step away and avoid getting crushed. Given the benign nature of the "crash," I wasn't too concerned, at least until I realized I was not able to get myself out of this mess without assistance. I attempted to upright the Beast. It was like trying to lift a Buick. I debated stripping off one saddlebag and the dry bag and trying again, but rather than risk blowing out my fragile back, I decided to hike back to the tarmac and flag down some help.


    Epic Ride 034.JPG
    Is this trail really the way?


    Epic Ride 035.JPG
    I think I'm gonna need some help


    There was a sense of abandonment as I hiked back to the road. I glanced back at poor Orcus napping in the woods. After emerging into the sunshine, I waved at any driver under the age of fifty with off-road capability. Fortunately, two Good Samaritans promptly pulled over and were willing to drive their 4x4 pickups into the woods and help me upright The Beast. I hitchhiked back to Orcus on a tailgate. With six hands, it was an easy lift. I was a little nervous that the pungent leaked gasoline could ignite a fire upon sparking the engine, but she started up with little more than a blue cough. Our new concern was backing out the two trucks on the narrow path. With three 30-point turns and a lot of backwashed sand, we all returned back to the main road without so much as a scratch. One of the wives yelled, "Welcome to Michigan." I thus became the dinner conversation for two families. Appreciative and humbled, I thanked my saviors and motored on.

    I called my friend, Craig, on the cell phone. He came out, met me in his SUV, and led me for several miles on dirt roads until we reached his lakefront cabin. I never would have found his place on my own. If adventure means some hardship, then I had found it only three days into the trip. The first beer we shared was a celebration of invincibility. Mileage 385.
    #10
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  11. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    Day 4

    I spent the next day relaxing on the lake, water skiing, and catching up with Craig and his family. Craig recently bought a new KTM 1290 Super Duke R, but his knee was still recovering from last month's crash aboard his mangled Triumph, and it was not a day to ride. Mileage zero.

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    The roads leading to the cabin were not a problem


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    Craig and family


    Epic Ride 050.JPG
    Orcus' overnight accommodations in the snowmobile shed
    #11
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  12. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    The Hub (of the Universe)
    Day 5

    The next morning, Craig and his wife, Martine, helped me pull Orcus out of their snowmobile shed. I raised the kickstand at eight a.m. to perfect weather and retraced my track through the winding dirt roads. I backtracked north up Interstate 75, and transited along the south coast of the Upper Peninsula, with magnificent views of Lake Michigan off the left shoulder. The lake extended on three sides to the horizon with the sun at my back. It was a freshwater lake with the occasional personality of an ocean. The U. P. was an outdoorsman's paradise. Yooper traffic was very sparse, with pickups and campers peppering the two lane, and immense wilderness to the north. I rode Route 2 to the edge of Michigan, passing through the little town of Norway, and then dropped down to Route 8 westbound toward Rhinelander, Wisconsin. In the tiny town of Armstrong Creek, I passed a custom butchering shop specializing in bear and deer processing. In my neighborhood, I was used to buying all my meat in cellophane-wrapped packages from the supermarket. I stopped for lunch in Argonne at Main Street Ed's. I was struck by the overwhelming majority of the patrons wearing camouflage and many had driven up in all-terrain vehicles. I just assumed that this was their Sunday attire and how they rolled.

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    Main Street Ed's

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    ATVs were the Sunday ride of choice


    I was weary by this late hour and decided to camp again, but poor directions led me west instead of north to a well-manicured residence rather than a state park. I was frustrated and needed more specific directions. I walked up to the porch and ignored the “go away” sign staked into the ground. A small dog alerted my arrival. Before I could knock, the middle-aged homeowner came out onto his porch. He eyed me suspiciously.

    "Sorry to bother you. I'm looking for Northern Highland state camp site."

    He paused a moment, and then replied, "Not sure what you are looking for. But if it's just to pitch a tent, you are welcome to the back yard."

    When I mentioned the need for a shower, he paused again and said, “Then why don't you just take the bunkhouse.”

    Within ten minutes of arrival, I was invited into the kitchen for warm blackberry pie, a la mode, with wife Jill, and the homeowner's brother and wife visiting from Green Bay.

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    Mmmmmm


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    the library... there seemed to be no project beyond my host's talents


    Even bad jokes about their lampshades crafted from human skin did not dissuade me from wanting to take them up in their offer of overnight accommodations. There was lively discussion about the Patriots and Packers. For the next several hours, my host Jeff displayed his extraordinary talents with first rate home renovations, construction of a “library” out-building, intricate furniture fabrication, and agricultural innovations to his berry and pumpkin farm. He even had his own saw mill and fully equipped machine shop. We rode around the farm on his golf cart and surveyed his crops. I was also treated to a viewing of his gun collection. We talked a lot of politics. Jeff explained in inauspicious detail how Washington policy had failed him in his quest to more fully succeed as a small businessman. My hosts later fed me dinner. Their bunkhouse was crude, but effective. I slept near the reloading station and under the bear's head. It rained hard in the very late afternoon and Orcus stayed dry under covered parking. It was a wonderful and generous happenstance to overnight there. Mileage 324.
    #12
    EZMoney, juno and mbanzi like this.
  13. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2016
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    The Hub (of the Universe)
    Epic Ride 063.JPG
    The sawmill


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    Orcus was spoiled with another night of covered parking


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    The bunkhouse...

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    ...apparently the location for some pretty good parties
    #13
  14. juno

    juno Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Oddometer:
    2,039
    Location:
    Jupiter
    Number 4 Bobby Orr! Love the reference!
    Looking forward to the rest of this trip. Not many folks would keep their plans after the check-up you had. Good on you!
    #14
  15. ponytl

    ponytl even my new bike is old

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2017
    Oddometer:
    413
    Location:
    memphis
    well written... Thanks for sharing... just curious if you got a vibe or mood of the country as you traveled that you may or may not get from the national news... and if it varied by region will keep you in my prayers for your health...
    #15
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  16. Speedtrap

    Speedtrap Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2014
    Oddometer:
    37
    :lurk
    #16
  17. dovetailredux

    dovetailredux Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    167
    Location:
    Ottawa
    It's a pleasure to read a well written ride report. Thanks for sharing your story and I look forward to future instalments. All the best.
    #17
  18. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2016
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
    The Hub (of the Universe)
    I grew up watching the Big Bad Bruins of the 1970s. It was thrilling to watch him charge the length of the rink.
    The delay in getting an appointment with a top specialist had a lot to do with my decision. I also worried that future treatments could permanently mess me up.
    #18
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  19. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2016
    Oddometer:
    213
    Location:
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    Thanks!
    To be candid, I did spend quite a bit of my time discussing politics with some of the people that I met on this trip. I was curious to learn about the sentiment that caused the presidential election to turn out as it did. I will just mention that the middle of the country has vastly different opinions that the coasts, and I was able to hear political views that challenged my perception. I may subtly skirt regional differences in future posts, but for better or for worse, I will abide by the rules of this forum and keep politics out of this ride report.
    #19
  20. juno

    juno Long timer

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    Oct 22, 2014
    Oddometer:
    2,039
    Location:
    Jupiter
    Yes, I grew up in Salem NH, exit 1 on 93. 8 years old when they signed him. His rushes from around his own net transformed hockey. I remember Gordie Howe just transfixed as Orr came around his own net at full speed. Best of luck to you!

    #20