Day 3: Champaign, IL –> Sioux Falls, SD (707 miles)

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Date: Sunday, August 28, 2009
Route: Champaign, IL –> Sioux Falls, SD
Odometer: 11332 –> 12040

Perfect weather for riding today.  Spent a little time taking pictures in Urbana in the morning, the palce was pretty dead in the morning, the semester hasn’t started yet.  Headed out on I-80, then onto I-380 through Cedar Rapids.  Cut across on the really tiny state road 20, stopping for lunch in tiny Wellsburg, IA which is deep farm country and I got a couple of surprised looks from people who’d likely never seen Connecticut plates, and probably never on a bike.  Met a guy on his way from Des Moines to Chicago on a Kawasaki Vulcan III, complete with speakers blasting hard rock.

Hit I-90 in the late afternoon and rode into Minnesota with a view of lakes everywhere, lived up to the state’s nickname.  I had to stop at the Tail Fins malt shop which advertised classic shakes and malts, and they were excellent, even if the decor was a bit over the top.  I guess everyone needs a gimmick nowadays.

Pressed on to Sioux Falls getting there just as the last rays of light set and I could check into the Motel 6.  Stepped into town to eat the “world famous” barbecue at Farmer Dave’s which was welcome relief from the strip mall hell that most of Sioux Falls is.  As I rode back to the motel I was passed by a couple of Ford Probes with noisy pipes and kids on 600s tearing up the streets.  Ah, to spend a warm, late summer evening cruising around Sioux Falls with friends before everyone heads off to wherever they’re going in September.

Day 2: Willow Hill, PA –> Champaign, IL (642 miles)

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Date: Saturday, August 27, 2005
Route: Willow Hill, PA –> Champaign, IL
Odometer: 10,690 –> 11,332

I was up and on the road by 6:45, big day today, lots of miles to cover.  It rained all morning, but traction was quite good, and the roads were washed clean of oil from the morning showers.  On the PA turnike traffic was held up as they cleared one of the tunnels of a Harley full-dresser which had skid out from under its rider.  I rode up past the traffic to the tunnel entrance and waited till they re-opened it.  Stopped for a quick coffee and to warm up and there was a couple riding matching BMWs in the lot.  We chatted for a bit.  They were on their way to Utah, some long days ahead for them as well.

I stopped in West Virginia for fueld and a little four year old girl at the gas-station with her mother kept looking at me and the bike till I waved to her. She’ll remember the red bike for a while.  Had lunch in Columbus, and as I’d expected I ran into a traffic jam on the Ohio turnpike.  I’ve never made it across Ohio without a delay of some sort.  The entire turnpike was closed and I thought I could ride around it on a country road, but a bunch of other people clearly had the same idea and it took about three hours to get back on the highway.  I was riding alongside traffic on the shaded shoulder since the heat was terrible, and this crotchety old guy in the back of a well-maintained Buick opens his window and yells at me to get back in the lane.  So I tell him to turn off his air-conditioning and stand out in the sun on the baking road before telling me what to do.  He rolled up his window and didnt’ glare anymore.  People can let their prejudices get ahead of their awareness of a situation so easily.  I should have just waited for the wreck to be cleared off the highway.

I got to Urbana around 9pm and called my high-school friend Apu once I’d checked into the motel.  The bike was parked and we rode to dinner at the Courier Cafe in his car.  Had an awesome milkshake and caught up on everything that’s happened since we left Bombay after high-school.  When I got back to the Ramada, there were a bunch of Corvettes and a Harley full-dresser in the lot.

Day 1: Greenwich, CT –> Willow Hill, PA (322 miles)

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Date: Friday, August 26, 2005
Route: Greenwich, CT –> Willow Hill, PA
Odometer: 10,368 –> 10,690

Hopped out of work a bit early so I could cover some mile before the sun goes down.  The riders amongst my work colleagues wished me well and were envious for the most part, the rest of the crowd mostly shook their heads at what seems to them like a dangerous road trip.

I was on the road by 14:45, onto I-95, turned towards Tappan Zee bridge, crossed before most of the weekend traffic had hit it, and was soon settling into riding mode.  I’m elated to be on the road again, it is a feeling unlike any other.  The world seems full of possibilities when you are on an American road, at the beginning of a long road-trip.

The rolling hills or Jersey and I-80 were a cinch to navigate, its my backyard.  Got lost a bit around Harrisburg as the sun was setting, took a wrong turn and had to back-track 15 miles or so.  It was getting dark, but I’d wanted to get out past Harrisburg, and onto I-76 on day one.  Around 8:00 it started to rain and I began looking for a motel.  Stopped at a couple of places and the lots were full of well-maintained Corvettes, turns out there’s a big Corvette show in Harrisburg every year and I’m riding through that weekend.  Clearly most places will have been booked.  I keep riding on I-76, through what is now steady rain, till I see the sign for Willow Hill, and the Willow Hill motel.  It looks hopeful, not a lot of cars in the lot, which is gravel and a bit of a bear to cross on a bike in the rain, but they have a room.

Not a lot of options food-wise in town, but I’m told the Double Dip Drive-In down the road is a good place for burgers and shakes.  The place is run by a woman and her two daughters, both of whom are giggling as I waddle up to the counter in full-fledged motor-cycle armor.  One of the girls asks whether I ride a “crotch-rocket”, and I wonder how that term made it out to Pennsylvania farm-country.  The burger and malt are stupendous, road-trip food the way it was meant to be.  The place is emtpy, 9pm is late out here and the only other place that will stay open is a rowdy bar further down.  A dairy farmer out with his family on a Friday stops by the table to say hello and we chat for a bit.  People are always more open to chatting with you when you’re on a bike.

The Great American Ride (Preparation)

I’m planning a cross country road trip, it’s something I’ve been thinking about for many years. I initially thought I would do this on a bicycle, but I’m going to leave that for next year 🙂

The trip is planned around visits to Glacier and Redwood National Parks (both of which I’ve been dreaming about visiting for many years now). It’s my birthday present to myself.

My trusty Katana 600 will be the steed for this jaunt through wide open spaces.

Here’s the itinerary. It might change a bit, weather is the big unknown and the times are a little tight. But I get 8 days in Glacier and 5 in Redwood. A total of 11 full days traveling with the little bit on Friday, Aug 26 to kick it off.

  • Aug 26: Greenwich, CT –> Snow Shoe, PA (268 mi)
  • Aug 27: Snow Shoe, PA –> Champaign, IL (630 mi)
  • Aug 28: Champaign, IL –> Sioux Falls, SD (630 mi)
  • Aug 29: Sioux Falls, SD –> Buffalo, WY (556 mi)
  • Aug 30: Buffalo, WY –> Browning, MT (509 mi)
  • Aug 31 – Sep 7: Glacier, NP
  • Sep 7: celebrate birthday biggrin
  • Sep 8: Columbia Falls, MT –> Seattle, WA (537 mi)
  • Sep 9: Seattle WA
  • Sep 10: Seattle, WA –> Crescent City, CA (499 mi)
  • Sep 11 – Sep 14: Redwood NP
  • Sep 15: Eureka, CA –> Elko, NV (725 mi)
  • Sep 16: Elko, NV –> Cheyenne, WY (666 mi)
  • Sep 17: Cheyenne, WY –> Des Moines, IA (628 mi)
  • Sep 18: Des Moines, IA –> Cleveland, OH (662 mi)
  • Sep 19: Cleveland, OH –> Greenwich, CT (495 mi)
  • Sep 20: Order a Red Busa (external link)

Total distance: 6,700 miles (give or take a few). Things to take:

  1. Open Mind and Pleasant Attitude.
  2. Riding Gear
    • Helmet
    • Touring Jacket, Gloves and Pants
    • Armor
    • Boots
    • E-Z Pass
    • Pack of ear-plugs
    • registration/insurance
  3. Luggage
    • Tank Bag
    • Rear seat Bag
  4. Clothes
    • T-shirts
    • socks
    • boxers
    • Jeans
    • Cotton pants
    • Sandals
    • Bathing suit
    • Sunglasses
    • Contacts and solution
    • Neck warmer
    • Winter gloves
  5. Other
    • iPod
    • GPS
    • Paper and writing pad
    • Iyengar’s “Light on Yoga”
    • Camera and charger
    • Cell phone and charger
    • Water bottle
    • Granola bars
    • Maps (including Starmap)
    • Binoculars
    • Flashlight
    • First Aid Kit
    • Tire gauge
    • Chain Cleaner
    • Chain Lube
    • Brake Fluid
    • Knife

Things to ship ahead (to GNP and RNP for backcountry camping):

  • Expedition Backpack
  • Technical pants, t-shirt, jacket and socks
  • Boots
  • Tent
  • Head lamp and Flashlight
  • Spare batteries
  • Maps and book
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Therma Rest
  • Water Bottles
  • Stove
  • Matches/lighter
  • Cup, spoons
  • Pot
  • More granola bars
  • Food: Miso, Dried fish, instant rice, protein shake?, cheese,
  • Water purification
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunblock and Hat
  • Purell
  • Starchart
  • Ice axe
  • Walking Poles
  • Bear bag/container
  • Knife, Swiss Army knife+altimeter/compass

Schedule a service in Crescent City to cover:

  • Engine Oil and Filter
  • Air filter
  • Rear tire replacement (if required)