My first SOLO Long Distance Ride.
Kansas City to Seattle and Back: $330 in gas and a 4,364 mile ride. I have completed many long distance rides before approximately 30,000 – 50,000 miles worth, however they had always been with at least one other rider. I figured I could pull this trip off because my backup with the SPOT Gen3 incase I ran into any insurmountable issues.
I will point out that there is extreme flexibility when riding solo in that you can stop whenever you want, go as fast as you want and change your route at any time. I also spent a lot more time doing Facebook live broadcasts so that it at least felt like someone was along for the ride.
Monument Rocks (yes in Kansas)
Photo Stop #1 was Monument Rocks in the far north western part of Kansas. It was 105 degrees and in a very remote spot. There are 2 ways to get there, the easy way and the difficult way and I chose the later. Going the path less traveled and 25 miles off course turned into 50 miles as I had chosen what appeared to be dirt roads in the GPS but where actually fenced off ranch land. I also became aware that there are in non-bladed dirt tracks that are actually SAND in Kansas. I would have argued with people that sand tracks do not exist in Kansas and I would have been wrong. Discovering about the sand in Kansas at a high rate of speed is another story – but that’s the fun of an adventure bike.
Photo Stop #2 Pikes Peak.
I spent the night at Manitou Springs which is a lovely little hippy town that has lots of little shops all within walking distances of the motel. Manitou Springs proved to be an excellent launching point for Pikes Peak. I arrived early and there was already a line at the entrance (there is a fee to go up the mountain), Luckily there are restrooms at the entrance. Approximately 3 cars were in front of me, all going extremely slow and there are rangers roaming the area in trucks to make sure you go extremely slow. All that slowness translates into extreme safety but is a complete time kill. While it looks like its only 20 miles on the map it will take you at least 1 hour up and 1 hour down… so count on taking 2-4 hours of time even if your not a tourist. It turns out you no longer need an adventure bike as the entre road is paved and only the parking lot is gravel. The sticker I purchased for the pannier quotes the altitude is 14,115′ and if you smoke and drink the day before you may circum to lack of oxygen and start feeling ill – I sure as hell did. Because I spent so little time at the summit (3 photos and a sticker purchase) meant no one was in front of me on the way down and I just left it in second gear the entire way.
Photo Stop #3 Twin Falls
Everytime I have been to Twin Falls it has been a good time and anyone who grew up knowing of Evel Knievel needs to make a pilgrimage to the snake river. I had hoped to get a picture of the Evel Knievel monument but it had been vandalized. You must go to the bridge because that’s not only where the visitor center is but more importantly on nice days you can see base jumpers as its legal to base jump off this bridge. For some reason a bunch of kids who look like hippies packing parachutes with giant smiles on their faces always makes me feel peaceful.
The 1/2 way Point – Seattle
Tire Update – Michelin Anakee Wild Tires
Highway miles: 2,000
Off-road miles: 150
The only downside is they are loud between 50-60mph,
also they wobble at high speed passing but not as much as the TKC 70 front (quick note I love the TKC 70 rear and hate the TKC 70 front which wobble at high speed in a dangerous manner)
Here is the tire with 2,000 miles
For this trip I did a TKC-70 REAR and Anakee Wild FRONT which was a fantastic combination. I want to take a minute to talk about tires. The combination I had for this trip not only took me from Kansas City to Seattle and back but also did a Kansas City to Atlanta and back plus messing around miles. Right now the tires have 7,000 miles on them and the front is still good but the rear is starting to cup.
From Seattle back to KC
The Testy Festy
During a 2014 ride from Seattle to Sturgis we kept seeing signs for the “Testy Festy” and it became an obsession of mine. Clinton Montana has the a place called Rock Creek Lodge http://therockcreeklodge.com/
The Rock Creek Lodge “Testy Festy” is the rocky mountain oyster eating competition this translates to a place with no cell signal and a dirt parking lot has about 20,000 people descend upon it for a few days out of every year.
The décor of this location is perfect and should be awarded 5 stars, as long as you like blunt people who like to share their opinion which oddly enough I do.
I applied a Testy Festy sticker prominently on the left pannier and had a terrific time.
Earthquake lake exists because on quake hit violently on August 17th, 1959 killing 28 people and creating 190′ deep lake. It is extraordinarily scenic and I found myself stopping for no reason other to just look at the view.
Yellow Stone National Park
Everyone goes to see the geysers. Allow me to translate that – there are long lines of tourists and if you are in heavy motorcycle gear with your cloths strapped to the bike the last thing you want is to smell like boiling sulfur and stand in lines with a crowd. I provide the perfunctory picture here as it may be expected of me.
The Buffalo (I’m sorry I just cant call them Bison) are all over the North Western side of the range and they just walk out on the road trying to lick the windshield of your bike.
Yellow Stone is very large and needs many days to properly explore; in time I will go back and do a proper job of it, however for this I had some places I wanted to get to.
I honestly had never heard of Beartooth Pass and programmed the GPS to take what just looked like a curvy road north out of Yellow Stone.
In my opinion Beartooth is much more exciting than Pikes Peak. Where as Colorado makes you go slow and strictly enforces it the good people of Wyoming and Montana have a more Darwinist approach of putting up signs warning you of 20mph curves on a 70mph highway and allowing you to kill yourself if you are in fact an idiot. The corners are sharp, the road is slick the temperature is cold and if you go off the road they probably wont bother looking for you.
Beartooth pass is absolutely fantastic and well worth the trip if you ever get the chance.
I have been to Devils Tower before and always enjoy heading there. While there are crowds at the visitors center you can find lots of other dirt roads to go on in solitude and get photos in absolute piece.
Deadwood and Deadwood Tobacco
I have never been to Deadwood even though with all my Sturgis trips I have always danced around it. This time I was determined to go to Deadwood and specifically Deadwood Tobacco. I managed to miss Testy Festy, I managed to miss Sturgis but I ended up in Deadwood during one of the largest Rodeo events and was lucky to get a room (Marriott Platinum status for life didn’t hurt).
Deadwood Tobacco was my key destination and I had been looking forward to getting there for several years.
There are very few places where you can still smoke and drink in America but thankfully Deadwood Tobacco is around.
I was finally able to park my bike on the main street in Sturgis, but it was a week before the rally. A couple of friends were supposed to meet up with me, but ended up being a few days out. Getting the news on their delay around lunch time I did 733 miles back home in one shot.
That was the trip all solo with no problems and the people I met along the way were always inquisitive, friendly and supportive as I have found in all my travels.