Friday, May 23, 2008

Day 6: Home: Mile:2361.8

A very cool but clear ride from Sparta down past Madison to familiar roads. We took 90 to US 12 which cuts across lower Wisconsin and upper Illinois. We both know these roads well as they are frequent weekend jaunts to Lake Geneva and the environs. Very nice biking. We are, however, eager to be home. The totals: 4090 Bike Miles; 4647 Total Miles, therein 557 Truck Miles.

As Tolkien wrote in The Hobbit:
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Day 5: Sparta, WI: Mile 2101

We push on across Minnesota and Wisconsin. We stay on 90 though we are a bit north of our destination. We do so to avoid the nasty weather. We had enough rain this morning to last us for quite some time. 90 has lead us through blue skies to Wisconsin. Tomorrow should be an easy ride home. It is interesting to note that today, we rode from the Missouri river in SD to the Mississippi river in Minnesota. The theme today is water; from the sky and over two rivers.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day 5: Adrian, Minnesota;Mile:1826

It is said that the Eskimo have 100 words for snow. Right now I have
20 words for rain none of which can be published here. We have ridden
from Chamberlain, SD to here in a pretty much steady, though rarely
torrential, rain. It is about 44 degrees. This is not fun riding. The
word grinf comes to mind and we will grind it out. We have stopped for
lunch and we see blue sky to the east. We ride like the wind....

Day 5: Adrian, Minnesota;Mile:1826

It is said that the Eskimo have 100 words for snow. Right now I have
20 words for rain none of which can be published here. We have ridden
from Chamberlain, SD to here in a pretty much steady, though rarely
torrential, rain. It is about 44 degrees. This is not fun riding. The
word grinf comes to mind and we will grind it out. We have stopped for
lunch and we see blue sky to the east. We ride like the wind....

Day 5: Chamberlain,SD: Mile:1638

We are still far from home. Wind was the enemy yesterday blowing and
gusting as we crossed SD. Nothing we could do to make progress. Lost
an hour as we entered central time. All that conspired for a short,
low mileage day. This morning we are greeted by rain. Hope lies
eastward and we move on...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Day 4: Mt Rushmore: Mile:1400

From Spearfish we headed into Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. And
scenic it is. Tight twisty road accopanied by an equally tight
bubbling creek. The sky is cloudy and the menacing weather is stalking
us. We must flee eastward. But first, more twists through the Black
Hill National Forest to both the Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore
monuments. A slight detour but worth it not only for the beautiful
roads and vistas but the equally impressive monuments. Now eastward,
Interstate 90 awaits...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 3: Spearfish SD: Mile:1303

What a day! We started out from Great Falls, MT and landed in South
Dakota. From Billings we headed east and south finally picking up 212
east. Outside of Billings, 212 passes Little Big Horn...rolling hills,
a muted shade of green, grass mixed with yellow straw(?). A sign
warned us of unpaved road ahead. It turns out that 100 miles east they
are repaving 9 miles of 212. Nothing like a bit of dirt riding on a
couple city bikes. Then across the SE corner of Wyoming into SD.
Tomorrow, the black hills and maybe Mt. Rushmore...

Day 3: Roundup, MT: Mil 979

Yes, that is the town's real name. A small vibrant community about 50
miles north of Billings. The ride across MT is less monotonous than
was foretold. The terrain is similar yet ever changing. A feeling of
deja vu remains at arm's length. The sweeping curves are intermixed
wiyth long straight stretches where you can see 5 miles ahead. The
colors are selected from a pallette of muted greens below and blues
above. In this part of Montana the hills and terrain mitigate the "big
sky" phenomenon. Onward toward Billings... Then east to South Dakota.

Day 2: Great Falls, MT: Mile: 796

An easy ride down from GNP across MT. Since GTTS road was closed, we
took 2 just south of the park. Equally beatiful it climbs slowly over
rocking curves and hills to the 5261 foot Marias pass which took us
over the continental divide. From there an easy ride over the high
plateau of MT. Endless, hills and buttes covered with far more cattle
than people. But good roads with sweeping curves and essentially no
speed limit. All this, framed on the west with the outline of the
Rockies. Today, a long ride across MT. If luck is with us, we will
sleep in the Mecca of Motorcycles, Sturgis, SD. We'll see...

Day 2: Glacier National Park

GNP is a fantastic ride. Unfortunately, Going-to-the-Sun road is still
closed. You would never guess it from our arrival. 75 degrees and
beautiful roads. But, they let you in and you can ride 16 miles up to
Avalanche. A spectacular ride with snow melt mountain streams bubbing
down from above to McDonald Lake below, all rimmed by snow capped
peaks. Beautiful. Of note, in mid may, plenty of camping spots

Monday, May 19, 2008

Day 2: Kalispell,MT: Mile 537

Another beautiful ride, this time across Idaho into Montana. Most of
the riding was along the usual fantastic river, national forest and
foothills! Kalispell is the gateway to Glacier Nat'l Park and we are
going to stop by even though the Going-to-the-Sun road is still
closed. Gotta take a look. Then SE across Montana hopefully to Great
Falls tonight...

Day 2, Coeur D'Alene,ID: Mile:330

Yesterday was a perfect riding day: Great scenery, great weather,
great roads. After the thrill oif Steven's Pass we continue on 2
across the high, arid, pateau that is western Washington. We followed
the Wenatchee river for quite some distance then the Colombia veering
off as it approached the Grand Coulee Dam. The farmland of western
Washington was remarkably flat at an altitude of about 2500 ft ASL.
Even US 90 that took us through Spokane was beautiful. Today, we
continue East with a brief stop, hopefully around noon at Glacier
National Park.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Day 1: Leg 2: Steven's Pass, WA: Mile:100

This country will never cease to amaze me. Each part is more beautiful
than the last. We left Seattle under a very warm, blue sky winding our
way over bridges of Puget(?) Bay. We reached the spectacular Steven's
Pass Greenway with took us up to Steven's Pass over the cascade. We
knew we were in for a treat because we saw dozens, if not hundreds of
bikers. Where bikers go, good roads follow; or vice versa. The
Greenway winds its way from 137 ft ASL to 4006 ft ASL in about 45
minutes. Endless sweeping curves spiral up and then, alas, down. The
temperature dropped from 75 to 55 at the same time. It was just cool
and clear enough to chilll the neck and send a tingle down the spine
heightening all your senses. It is great to be alive. Riding down you
pass through pockets of warm and cool until we return to an even 75. A
quick stop in a rest area and we continue.......

The Road Home: Day 1: Seattle, Mile 0

Another great SiiM meeting. Good to see all the usual suspects. It is
a beautiful, 75 degree day here in Seattle. A great day for a good
start. Looks like a crack of noon departure. We north out of the city
on 5 the east on toward sunrise starting with WA 2. More from the

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Day 5, Arrival in Seattle

We made it. Chicago to Seattle. 2286 total miles; 1729 bike miles and
557 truck miles! Our last leg fron the Oregon border (Colombia river)
started off beautifully. If Interstate 84 along the south (Oregon)
side if the river is a 10 as roads go, then Wash 14 along the north is
an 11. It winds close to the river through the appropriately named
Colombia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Forests and foothills on
one side, the mighty river on the left. At some points, I could
literally reach out and touch the rock wall. Great photos and videos
to share at some point.
The bad news is that it started to rain lightly and that rain
accompanied us for the next 5 hoyrs. We tried to take a short cut
through the Wind River and the adjacent National Forest but after a
near absence of gas in the middle of nowhere we returned to a more
traveled route. Note to Garmin users: the GPS was useless in the
national forest; it had roads where there were none (not even trails).
It also didn't have perfectly good texaco station in its lists. Not
trustworthy in remote areas.
so the ride ends not with a bang but with a slog up US205/5 to
Seattle in the rain. At least it was about 55 degrees. A small
confirt. As they say, however, "if you don't ride in the rain, you
don't ride". Seattle keeps its well earned reputation as a cloudy
rainy place.
Overall, a great trip seeing heretofore unseen areas of this great
land. My only regret? The truck and the passes through Jackson, Wy,
skipping Yellowstone. But then again, that leaves a challenge for the
next trip! That trip is just 4 days away. I will restart the blog on
Sunday, May 18th.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Day 5, Leg 1, Pendleton to Wasco,OR

Pendleton is a lovely little town, nestled into a rolling valley.
After a confortable night, we get our usual 7:15 start. It is cooll
but no more so than a Chicago spring morning. It is 45 promising 65
later today. Ironically, next friday they are expecting record, 95
deg., temperatures.
We take 84 north and northwest. At first it is the usual interstate.
Then, when it hits the Colombia river it turns into a terrific scenic
byway. It follows along the beautiful Colombia river gorge where the
green covered slopes tumble down to the water. Beautiful. The bridge
to 97 North is out so we are proceeding westward. We will cross into
washington at The Dalles Dam and proceed north toward Mt. Rainier
(which will circumvent).

Monday, May 12, 2008

Day 4, Leg 5?, Boise to Pendleton,OR

The weather improved as we hit Boise. We actually took off some layers
for the first time. Bright sun but the key word was windy. We took the
interstate (82) to Pendleton, Oregon. We were going to go north
through Idaho but changed our plan out of redpect for the weather.
82 from Boise to the Oregon state line is just OK. The fight against
the wind at highway speeds was brutal. 82 in Oregon, on the other
hand is beautiful. Farmland with mountains in the background. The road
itself runs over two passes and the Blue Mountains. The foothils are
steeply chiseled to the edge of the road and the angles cast the
continuos felt like ground cover into a hundred shades of green. When
not climbing and descending in tight motorcycle, friendly twisties,
the road follows a number of rivers; its curves tight up against the
lazy bends in the water. A very pleasant ride. Tomorrow the end run to

Day 4,Leg 4, boise, Mile:210

Another great ride over US20 to finish in Boise. Back to blue sky with
fair weather (hah) clouds. No precip. Great mountains and lots of
twisties some with 15 mph wind gusts added at no additional cost!
Now we turn NW to Pendleton Oregon.

Day 4, Leg 2, Arco to Fairfiled;Mile 153

A spectacularly cold (35-45) ride through spectacularly beautiful
country. We passed Crater of the Moon National Monument and stopped
for a photo of this bizarre surface feature. Mountains (with snow)
surround us and in fact just after Sun Valley (we didn't stop to ski)
a squall crossed our rode. Amazing how quickly blue sky turned dark.
We pointed the bikes toward the next patch of blue and rode through
it. The road stayed dry. Now to Boise.

Day 4, Leg 1, Idaho Falls to Arco:: Mile:60

Back on the bikes! Idaho Falls was disappointing. Cold, threatening
clouds and an overnight rain. This morning it's cold, no more than 40
in town, dropping to 35 in the open.
Speaking of the open, we are riding out of IF into the high plains of
ID. We are at about 5000 ft. The scenery is as spectacular as it is
cold. Flat plain with scattered buttes and vast snow covered mountain
ranges to the north. The sky is now crystal blue (after the snow
squall coming out of IF. We passed the Idaho National Lab (Nuke stuff)
and the site of the EBR-1 (the first breeder reactor), very safe in
the middle of nowhere here. It is now a museum. Very appropriate that
the XRAY bike passes by.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Day 3, Truckin Dubois to Jackson

After stopping for gas in Dubois (I now remember why we ride bikes;
the truck is gulping very expensive gas), we head up into the
mountains through the shoshone national forest. Sculpted red rock
ravines yield to snow covered tree line peaks. The weather is still
holding the pass is eminently ridable, though there is a disconcerting
amount of snow (snowmobilers) in the woods. The road is dry and clear.
We cross the continental divide but the sign is covered by snow so no
picture :-(. The pass peaks at 9658 feet. The grades are about 6% up
and the same down; easy for truck and bikes. Now we are in Jackson,
then an hour more to ID Falls.

Day 3, Casper to Jackson

The day continues beautiful. The drive is fantastic. We are going to
get across as fast as possible to get back on the bikes. That means
Casper to Jackson to Idaho Falls. Casper west to Shoshone is dry and
brown with sculpted washes and some stone formations. In the far
distance mountains. At Shoshoni, we head south, then northwest, to
Dubois (pronounced as English not French). We pass throygh the Wind
River Reservation following the Wind River for quite some miles. It
has brief segments of beautiful shallow rapids that look tempting for
dip until you notice the small snowbanks that remain even now in May.

Day 3, Truckin to Casper

Well, it turns out they day is perfect for biking. We are still
nervous about what lies ahead. It started out at 40 degrees but by
noon was over 70. The drive to casper was beautiful and uneventful.
Casper is a very nice town of about 50000. We stopped to look for some
heavier riding gear. Found a huge camping/hunting/ store. Some good
gear but not what we're looking for. Onward. [REL:4]

Day 3: The Truck: Chadron to Idaho Falls

After the snowfall Saturday morning in Chadron, NE, and a sketchy
foredast, we decided not to risk riding over the mountains. We rented
a truck to truck the bikes over the mountains. Luckily, there was a
UHaul with one 10' truck in Chadron. Of course, that meant we needed a
ramp. As luck would have it, we found a Honda dealer in town. He had a
wooden ramp in front for loading/unloading bikes from trucks. But
would we find a ramp in Idaho Falls? The place was already closed. Lo
and behold the owner sees us and comes out to see what's wrong. He
sells us a nice, aluminum, 7' ramp to take with us (more on the ramp
later). Of course, this means we need ratcheting tie-downs, so on to
Walmart. Loading the bikes was only mildly eventful. I have
experience with my Dad's trailer. So at 6 AM Sunday morning we left
Chadron, headed for Casper and the west. [REL:15]

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Day 2, No Legs. Chadron, NE: Mile:860

We have met the enemy and it is "SNOW". We persevered through freezing cold into Chadron, in far west Nebraska. Waking up late it was still snowing. Tomorrow, they are predicting 70 degrees! Crazy. The moutains to the west (Yellowstone and Grand Teton) do not look good, however. We are, therefore, changing plans. We are going to rent a truck and drive to Idaho Falls, Idaho. We'll pack the truck today and drive tomorrow. Then Idaho Falls to Boise to Oregon to Seattle. We should still make it by Tuesday evening; check back for updates.
For those with pledges on the line, we will NOT count truck miles toward the pledge.
Oh, yeah, about that embarrassing episode. Nothing as exotic as a ticket for speeding. I just ran out of gas. Strange, as it was way below my expected tank range. Maybe bad gas, though Alex wasn't affected. Anyhow, Alex rode and found a good samaritan who drove out and filled my tank. Even with gas prices where they are, he wouldn't accept payment. That is the America we all love but often don't know.
We go now to get the truck.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Day 1, Leg 7, valentine NE:Mile:721.6

We made great progress through the evening. Now to rest.

Day 1, Leg 6, O'Neill, NE: Mile:641

A beautiful ride into evening. The sun poked through a few clouds
gloriouslky highlighting them. Nebraska is actually hillier than Iowa
and I note the elevation climbing to around 2000 ft. [REL:7]

Day 1, Leg 5, Jackson, NE: Mile: 496.4

We have entered the breadbasket. Nebraska. Looks a lot like Iowa.
Farms and fields as far as the eye can see. Still not too cold.
Threatening clouds appear but then back off as we advance. [REL:5]

Day 1, Leg 4, Rockville City, IA: Mile:391.1

We're making good progress to western Iowa. One embarassing episode
(that I won't post here) cost us 30 minutes or so...onward to recoup
our loss. [REL:22]

Still in Evansville


Day 1, Leg 3, Evansville,IA, Mile:261

Well, finally, the sun makes an appearance. A lovely ride across the
Mississippi and through one sun lit farm after another. Now, as we
stop for gasd, the clouds gather. We will make our run.

Day 1, Segment 2 , Stockton, IL, Mile: 133.9

The sky remains stubbornly overcast and a chil persists. We made good
time just about reaching Galena on our first tankful. Now across the
Mississippi. [REL:12].

Day 1, Leg 1, Mile: 0; Des Plaines Oasis, Des Plaines, IL

The sky is covered with high thin clouds. It is cool, probably high
50's yet not to the point of the heavy gear. A good day for many
miles. [Rel:9]

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Day -1, Preparations finished

We leave tomorrow. The mission is defined: Chicago to Seattle, arriving in time for start of the SiiM meeting on Weds, May 14. The rough plan for the outbound ride is to ride US 20 straight across Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska to Casper, Wyoming. Casper northwest to Yellowstone, then 20 across lower Idaho to Boise. From Boise, we go north on ID 95 to Lewiston, Idaho. Lewiston to Clarkston, WA then across the lower tier of Washington to Mount Rainier, then north to Seattle.
View Larger Map
There are DOT interactive maps and web cams for Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington. Also, you can check out Safe Travel USA. If you catch us on a web cam let us know.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

3rd Annual Ride-to-SiiM About to Start!

You may have heard about the Ride to SIIM (now in its third year), an exciting and fun cross country motorcycle trek from Chicago to the SIIM Annual Meeting. You can read about the first ride to Austin in 2006, here. This year, you can participate by making a pledge to help us raise money for the SIIM Research Grant Fund. We’re looking for as many per-mile pledges as we can find! Since we estimate the round-trip from Chicago at over 4,000 miles, a 1-penny-permile
pledge will translate into a $40 tax deductible donation to SIIM. Ten cents a mile will raise $400. A onedollar- a-mile pledge will not only get you a $4,000 tax deduction but also an autographed glossy photograph (and DICOM image file) of you sitting on one of the motorcycles, surrounded by the riders. Send pledges by email to SIIM at Please be sure to send complete contact information with your pledge; SIIM will contact you after the ride to make arrangements for payment and to get you your tax letter. Contributions to the SIIM Grant Program, a 501c(3) organization, are taxdeductible to the fullest extent allowable by law.