Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day three Fort Collins / Red Feather Lake

Day 3 started at 5:00 am. We got our stuff packed and checked out by 6:30. We stopped off at Walmart and picked some stuff. We decided to head over to the town of Gould to find a campground and ditch our stuff. We took Rt. 287 to Rt. 14 to Gould. Finally, we were off the interstate and heading out of town. We drove into mountains and it was awesome. The roads were twisted up into the mountains for two hours. It was a great drive, some of the most demanding road I have ever driven on a bike. It was a lot of work to stay focused on the road and also enjoy the scenery. We finally got to Gould and discovered at the K.O.A was in pretty sad shape. All the trees in the campground were cut down. It was a stump patch. Apparently, beetles were boring into all the pine trees and laying eggs. The problem is the beetle also gives the tree a fungus that kills it. So the insurance company made them cut all the trees down. We decided to skip the campground and see if we could find Evan's buddy from back in Aledo - Steve Johnson. So we headed over to Red Feather Lake. It sounded like a good plan. So we left the stump patch and headed off on a new quest. We figured we could track Steve down and have a good visit. We found the area that Steve lived in but we couldn't find the house. At 5:00 pm were starting to think this idea wasn’t going to work out either. We called him several times and weren't able to find him. So we decided to head up the road to find a campground. Both of us were getting pissed about the way things were working out. At that moment we turned around and Steve was driving up on his Goldwing. We all started laughing. I was so glad to see Steve. Thank God we weren’t going to have another eighteen-hour day on the road. We when back to his home we finally got good nights sleep.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day Two

Well day 2 started out at 5:30 while it was still dark. We got up and packed our bags and were on the road by 7:00. Mornings are not my strength and today was extra special. I had driven a long way on the bike and then stayed up to shower, blogging and emailing until 12: 30. So not quite a full nights sleep. Today’s travels proved to be a little bit more of the same. From Salina to Colorado Spring is 560 miles. We took mostly secondary roads and saw some beautiful sights of Kansas. The wheat crop is being combined. It was really cool to see all the farmers and workers in the field. 500 miles of beautiful wheat fields gets pretty boring with no activities to draw your eye. So we're in the middle of nowhere, and I saw this metal farm shed and thought I would HDR it. In the next town, I had to take this picture of a ice cream shop. What a name!
The land in Colorado seems to be unable to grow crops. Most of the land was covered in weeds and scrub brush. It was pretty but a lot different than Kansas, maybe do to lack of moisture. Once we got to Colorado Springs We called Adam Patterson (my cousin) and was invited to eat at Chiles. We got our directions scrambled and ended up driving all over town. Once we got to the location we ran up on an accident. A group of Mexican roofers lost a whole load of tear off. Panic is an understatement!! For those of you unfamiliar with a roof that has been torn off of a house, it’s full of nails. That’s bad news for motorcycle tires. Somehow we lucked out, or we think we did. Once at Chiles we had a nice visit with Adam. We discovered that his home that he invited us to stay at did have anywhere to park the bikes inside. So we headed out of Colorado Springs at 7:00 pm. The plan was to stop in Monument and spend the night. We stopped and got gas and decided to just head on up to Fort Collins (100 miles). This would allow us to get through Denver and avoid rush hour traffic. Traffic in Denver was heavy and fast. It was an exhausting two-hour drive. The plan was to get to a K.O.A and crash out as fast as possible. So the GPS was used to triangulate the location. At 11:00 pm we discover that the Lake Side K.O.A. was an abandoned trailer court on the bad side of town. Exhausted and with no place to sleep at the end of a sixteen hour day on a bike is a bad combination, really bad. So we found a hotel - and found that there were no rooms available. More good news! So the lady pointed us back to the hotels along Hwy 25. We finally found a room at the La Quinta Inn and got checked in at 12:00 pm. That was the end to an 18-hour day on the road. Wireless at the hotel didn’t work; just as well I didn’t have the energy to say too much anyway.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day One

Well I made it to Saline KS at 8:00pm. It was a twelve hour day of riding. Thank god for the beautiful weather. It couldn't have been a nicer day. The bad news is that most of the day I drove on the interstate. It is the best way to make time. I had high hopes of getting a super-early start to the day, but a misplaced bike registration forced me to go to the Springfield DMV for a new one. Apparently the Canada border is pretty strict about having a vehicle registration. Not being able to enter Canada could really make it hard to get to Alaska on a bike. I'm pretty creative, but I do have limits to my navigational still set. Well as I said earlier the drive was good. I averaged about 75 all the way. I had lunch today at Brookfield MO. What a wonderful Walmart. :-)

The bike ran really well. I have done a ton of work on it and was a little worried about how it was going to run. New tires, brakes and oil were knocked out by yours truly. I was the first time trying my hand at tires, but with the help of a couple of YouTube videos it proved to be nothing too tricky. I will admit, the back tire took me 2 hours longer than the front. Those fat rear tires are like wrestling a snake. Live and learn. The only really alarming problem I ran into was the oil. I went for a test run to Walmart and when I return to the bike, I discovered a puddle of oil on the ground. The thought of a leaking engine seal can really rain on any one's parade when they are planning a trip. So I went home and removed the fairling. "What a drag!" I discovered that all the bolts and seals were working perfect. In my quick oil change, I forgot to tighten the filler cap and when the bike was running down the road at high RPM it blew about a pint of oil out. Once again, "Thank you god!" I hope that is the only issue I have.

I am riding with a high school buddy named Evan Norton. Evan lives is Edmund, OK and was interested in riding partway up into Canada with me. I am glad to have the company.
Riding alone is nice for a while and then it is a little boring. Salina KS was the chosen merge point to start the trek together. We are crashing at a K.O.A. tonight. It's a nice, family owned campground. I'm just happy they have wireless. It's the little things in life that keep me going. Tomorrow, we are headed out for Colorado Springs, CO. I have a cousin that is stationed there at the Army Base. I chatted with him last night on facebook and he invited us to stay with him for a night. Way cool! Don't get me wrong, I love camping but AC, a shower, sheets, no mosquito and free. Sounds great to me. I am also looking forward to the visit - Adam is a great guy that I just haven't had a chance to visit with in quite a while. Hanging with family is always good.

Well I had better call it a night.

Leaving today

This morning I am heading out for Alaska. The first stop is Salina KS and then on to Colorado Springs CO. I have packed and repacked my stuff several times and finally got it all on the bike. I know you're asking "John how did you get the tripod on?". Simple - I left the ironing board and the wheelbarrow behind. Yes, I am bringing a lot of stuff but for those of you who know me, food, clothing and electronics are all equal. It is a package deal. Ok, I am only taking one digital camera. That was really hard on me, but I found room for a torque wrench. You never know when you are going to need it. :-) The cool weather clothing has proven to be very hard to squeeze down into the allotted space, but I did it - rain gear and all.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Today is the 22nd of June and I only have 6 days left this summer of sleeping in a comfortable bed. I am not sure how I feel about that, however, I am going to ride to Kodiak, Alaska. I still have work to do on the bike to get it ready for the trip. I pray that my family and I will both be safe. 5000 miles in two weeks is not bad. That least at this point of the trip.

Camping Gear
Packing is still in progress. It's a little tougher than I thought to pack for all summer on a bike. I wonder how much stuff will just get left behind somewhere 'cause I'm tired of dragging it around. I still remember hiking on the Appalachian trail. It felt like I had packed a piano. Well I figure three changes of clothes, bike jacket and pants, rain gear, tent, sleeping bag and bunch of electronic gear should do me. The hardest part is planning for cold weather in the summer. When I leave the temperature in the midwest will be 80-100 degrees and Canada/Alaska will be 50-70 degrees. At 55 mph, I am thinking longjohns in July sounds pretty good.

Nerd Gear

I am very excited about the trip and the chance to explore and do a ton of photography. I purchased a GoPro camera to document my trip. It is this tiny 5 megapixel camera that can shoot HD video and timelapse photos every 5 seconds. I plan to use it each day to log my view as I drive. At the end of each day, I will convert all the photos into a 2-3 minute video. I have already experimented with it. To see my first attempt go to Details about the camera can be found at

Bike Blathering
I am riding a BMW K1200 GT for this trip. I purchased it last winter off of eBay and have spent all spring getting comfortable on it. It's the first big bike I have ever owned. So far I have about 7500 miles on it. I bet you can figure out that I really enjoy riding it. The only problem that I have is that on long rides, anything over 400 miles, I get a little sore. The bike is what they call a sport/touring bike. In town it feels a little sporty and on the interstate it feel a little touring. I have made a couple of adjustments that have helped a ton. I got a beaded seat cover. It looks a little funny but after the first time I took a long ride with it I knew it was a good investment. The other issue is that the hand grips felt like broom handles. I got new soft grips and then wrapped them with tennis rack grip tape. Once again, it was like night and day. The fatigue in my hands and wrists is almost totally gone on long rides.

I am very thankful for four accessories on my bike.
  1. Electric windshield - It helps to drop it in town to cool off and put it up on the highways to keep the wind off you.
  2. Heated hand grips - I rode back from Oklahoma over spring break with one burned out and it hurt a lot after the sun went down.
  3. Heated seat - Cold weather driving can suck the energy right out of you. The seat really does help to keep your body core temp up.
  4. Reflective vinyl racing stripes - I teach students how to design and cut vinyl as part of my job. That being said, I really thought jazzing up my bike and making it stand out would be pretty quick and easy. In daughter speak "OMG". I spent at least two weeks designing, cutting and applying this design. I learned a ton about creating stencils and matching body marks.
  5. Modulating headlight - I just added it to my bike last week after a couple of people got a little too close. It works really well. Most people really aren't aware of other people on the road and if you don't stand out well, it can be painful. With a blinking headlight:
  • people can't figure out what you are
  • they think there is something wrong with your bike
  • they think you are a motorcycle cop.
No matter what they think, they give you the extra attention you need.

Well enough about the toys. I have spent a ton of time riding and have to do some maintenance before I leave on the morning of the 28th.
  1. brakes
  2. tires
  3. oil
Well, hopefully I haven't put you to sleep. I just felt the need to start putting a little info on this blog.