Only 485 miles today — much shorter than planned but I am determined to keep within my limits.
Wow, it was hot. I wear an evaporative cooling vest and I wrap an evaporative towel underneath it and I rewetted them at least 7 or 8 times today. They worked a lot better in Wyoming (where I saw the highest heat of the trip at 103F) because there’s much less humidity there. As I ride east, the greater humidity slows down the rate of evaporation and thus the cooling effectiveness. It was 102F at one point today and it felt much hotter, steamier and more uncomfortable than did Wyo (by the way, Wyoming’s current ad slogan is, “Forever West.” Off topic, I know, but FYI.)
I’m so happy that I trained quite a bit for this trip — I lifted weights, spent a lot of hours on the elliptical and lost 20Lbs. That was necessary to get through today’s ride. It’s fatiguing to ride long distances, particularly day after day after day. The experts on long distance riding are the Iron Butt Association (no kidding: http://www.ironbutt.com) and they say that most riders can only go about 65% as far on day 7 of a long ride as they went on day 2. My mileage has been all over the place, with 617 to go tomorrow, which will be around 100 miles above my average over the 12 days. But then, I’ve never been a conformist.
It’s really been an amazing trip. One of the big differences between riding a motorcycle vs. driving a car is that lots of people come up and talk to you when you park your bike somewhere. From the casual, “Nice bike,” the ubiquitous, “Be safe” to the guys (and it’s almost always guys) who want to tell you all about their bikes, there is a stready stream of people approaching you to find out where you’re going, where you’ve been, what your motorcycle is like to ride and to share their own stories.
Yesterday, in the middle of Montana, I stopped at a gas station that was not in a town — two rural highways intersect and some Big Sky entrepreneur decided to build a convenience store there. There were several other motorcyclists there, but the most interesting story belonged to a group of four young men who were “riding the continental divide” from New Mexico to the Canadian border. They were all riding “dual sport” or “adventure” bikes, which are the types of motorcycles that can go off-road or on — which is necessary to ride the divide, since most of it is off-road, I assume.
One young man proudly proclaimed that he’d only had 15 hours of riding experience prior to starting the ride.
“Are you hooked now?” I asked him.
“Oh yeah…I’m hooked,” he replied. If you ride a bike, you get it.
Later yesterday, a guy walked up to me at a gas station to tell me about his two Victory motorcycles (I ride a Vic) and today a guy bragged about the Honda Gold Wing he bought last year.
Sorry for no pictures today (except for the Diet Coke positioned artfully next to the Chile’s logo in my earlier post). It was too damn hot for me to stop and do anything besides refuel and re-soak my evaporative stuff.
Tomorrow: Home. I have had an incredible trip, but the long interstate miles aren’t nearly as fun as touring the mountains of the American and Canadian Wests. I’m ready to see my beautiful and amazing wife, pet my silly dog and see the usual suspicious glances from our cats.
Going into this ride, I said, “I have never gotten off a motorcycle without wanting to get right back on.” I’ve broken that streak — there were two days when I was ready to get off for the day and today was one of them. However, in every case, I couldn’t wait to get back on the next day and that’s how I feel about tomorrow. I intend to enjoy every mile and appreciate that I’m wrapping up a bucket list trip — I will go on other long rides, but it’s unlikely I’ll ride this far in so few days.
Unless I post during the day tomorrow, my next blog entry will be from home. Over the next week, I n addition to summing up some thoughts about the trip, I’ll review the gear I used and post those entries onto some motorcycle sites I follow in case other riders want some insight into using various products in demanding circumstances.
Until then, be safe and stay cool. Nearly everyone says that to me, so I thought I’d say it to you.