One week on the road today, 3,300 miles went by and a first pause to catch up with all I’ve seen and experienced these past days. I’m in Missoula, Montana, where I will have the bike serviced and prepared for the Yukon and Alaska. A day to do laundry, work on a few photos, reply to emails and take a nice walk downtown in “civil” clothes for a change. It’s been an amazing ride so far, way more than I could’ve anticipated, and the first day leaving Florida already seems like ages ago. Lots of highlights, it’s really difficult to pick some to list, but as far as the roads I’ve been through, crossing the Big Horn and enjoying a sunny 40 degrees day at the Beartooth Hwy were everything I could’ve hoped for.
I feel very fortunate to have my friend Tim Drake riding with me from his home in Mitchell, South Dakota to Cooke City, in Montana. Tim is a hell of a rider, and he, his wife Pat and son Chris are simply some of the most generous people I’ve ever met. He proudly showed me his “backyard” as we passed by the South Dakota Badlands on our way to famous Sturgis and Deadwood-Lead (another incredible place to visit). We went together through probably the worst conditions I’ve ever faced on a motorcycle, riding some 80 miles from Gillette to Sheridan in Wyoming: heavy rain, pea-sized hail for a long time and very strong winds. This went on for well over an hour, and there was no place around to take cover, so we just kept going and looking ahead for signs of clearer skies. They finally came and we were greeted with a bright shining sun above the Big Horn and a glorious sunset as we entered Montana on the way to Red Lodge for the night. After riding the Beartooth together, Tim and I said goodbye and he is riding his bike back home now.
Another big thank you goes to Stu Nowlins, a fellow rider and photographer who lives in beautiful Lawrence, close to Kansas City. Stu was kind enough to have me there for the night, hosting a tired guest who had just rode over 600 of very uneventful miles. We still had time to talk until late late at night and he showed me the historic downtown Lawrence.
As for the trip itself, I’m happy to have found my “road rhythm” and I feel 100% comfortable when I’m riding now. It’s impressive to find out that the body adapts extremely fast to long days on the saddle, something I thought it would take at least a couple of weeks to adapt to. It is exciting to wake up early and pack the bike for a full day riding, and as the day progresses, I feel like going further and further. I’ve set daily destinations to help me with a route, but they are not set in stone and I’m free to stop whenever and wherever I feel. It’s a good sensation and to know I still have 7 or 8 weeks ahead of me makes it all more enjoyable. The GSA is performing flawlessly, it’s a totally dependable machine, and besides the GPS (for obvious reasons), I’m happy to have the headset working like a charm: being able to cover the miles while listening to some favorite tunes makes it all more pleasant! Pink Floyd never sounded better…
The plans for the next few days are to ride through the Glacier National Park and visit the beautiful “Going to the Sun” Highway there tomorrow, sleeping in Whitefish. On Wednesday I should cross the border and ride to the Banff/Jasper area, where the first Canadian part of the adventure begins. I don’t know when the next rest day will be, but hopefully I will be able to have a few more photos by then. Time to call it a day now!