18 days, 15,092 miles, San Jose to Hyder, and the “long way” home,
1 Temporary bike swap.
It started out to be a straightforward trip to Hyder Alaska for Ron
Ayers’s Hyderseek, a chance to meet with some old friends, and find
some new places to explore.
I left home on Thursday, May 30th with 51K on my K12LT, new tires
and a fresh 48k service. I always wanted to set foot in Alaska. I
met up with Bob Hole in Golden, BC and we had a great ride into Hyder,
while seeing the Canadian Rockies. This has to be one of the best-kept
secrets by the
Bob has the reputation for always finding clear weather. I passed
Bob twice only to be greeted by rain and then snow. Each time I let
Bob go in front, it cleared up. Needless to say, I learned to follow
him the rest of the trip.
This is one of those rare rides where I took pictures galore and stopped
numerous times. It was awe-inspiring, around every corner the scenery
changed and the mountains were striking. It was fun being a tourist
without deadlines or an aggressive schedule to meet.
Bob and I met Bob Shelton in Prince George for the final leg into
Hyder. When we got to the Sealaska Inn, I saw the sign congratulating
the new finishers of the 48+. (or 49er as it was called). Norm Grills
and Bill Thweatt were on the list so I made a point of finding them.
Bill had researched a route from Plano, Texas, that was mostly Interstates.
As I saw the map, I thought I could do this backwards and end up in
Texas. the wheels started turning. As Norm and Bill described their
ride, it seemed more doable, all I had to do is follow the map and
I also talked with Brian Roberts about his 48+ route into Hyder. And
of course a call home. Nancy thought it would be a good idea to “get
this out of my system” since I had been itchy to do some sort of long
ride for a few months.
So that night, I borrowed Bill’s map and made some waypoint entries
on my SPIII, checked my gear and tried to get some sleep. A couple
of hours for planning, as much time as one gets during the IBR.
I tossed and turned for a while and then it was time to get up. Half
the riders were gone by 6:30am when I got down to my bike and started
to load it. I joined Bob Hole and Bob Shelton for breakfast. Bob made
some comment about relaxing, as I would not be able to sit down and
eat for the next ten days. Actually my plan was to just finish the
ride and stay in motels every night. I had plenty of time and didn’t
need to make it a “death march.” But he was right, once I started,
meals were stand up affairs and usually done while gassing up.
I wandered over to the ATM machine for an official start time and
Will Lee, Brian Roberts and Cori Phelps all wished me well as I took
This was the morning for black bears; I must have seen 5 of them before
I finally got to Kitwanga. Only one was in the road and a quick toot
of the horn had him scampering to the side. Now that I was in a hurry,
I noticed more wild life. Kitwanga was crowded and looked to be a
popular spot for everyone leaving Hyder. Around the corner
I went, as I wouldn’t need fuel until Smithers, then Quesnel.
Coming down TC1 along the Fraser River, was a real highlight. What
a gorgeous view! Mountains, the river, the road weaving in and out.
The trains on the tracks along the same valley route provided an interesting
scene. Sometimes the tracks were on my side of the river and sometimes
on the other. I could spend a few days exploring this area. This
wasn’t the fastest portion of my ride but was one of the most beautiful.
Gas in Hope, then across the border at Sumas and a stop at the grocery
store to swap out my Canadian dollars. It was dusk and the weather
had been great all day. It was turning colder and at 40 degrees, I
finally stopped at North Bend WA (1060 miles).
In addition to wanting to stay at motels during my ride, I also decided
I wouldn’t use an alarm clock (I has actually lost my Screaming Meanie
and meant to replace it). If I was that tired, then I’d just sleep.
It seems when I’m on a mission I have an internal clock that really
works quite well. I was up in 5 hours and gassing up the bike.
I walked over to the McDonalds, and put my breakfast on the pump while
I moved the hose to the auxiliary tank. From out of nowhere, a raven
swooped down on my Egg McMuffin and knocked over my Orange Juice.
(Birds 1, Paul 0).
On to Oregon, and a quick stop in Umatilla for gas. Thru Spokane,
and then gas in Missoula, Montana. It was very dark and stormy going
into Missoula, but I skirted what I thought was the backside of the
storm. When I stopped for gas, all hell broke loose! 60mph winds,
sideways rain, and no way to log in my receipt. It didn’t last long,
but it was very intense. I remember the BMW MOA held here a few years
ago and the same kind of intense storm blowing thru, but not staying
Dillon, MT was my next stop then Pocatello, Idaho. One slip had a
bad printing so I went up the road for another receipt. Down to Ogden
Utah, then over to Evanston Wyoming. Another 40-degree night and I
called it quits at midnight. I found a brand new Comfort Inn and the
only room they had was a suite with a Jacuzzi. Too bad I couldn’t
stay longer. This night I slept for 6.5 hours before awakening; I
must have needed more sleep. It was 45 degrees, making the morning
start another chilly one. (2165 miles)
This was actually a very good test for some new gear that I had purchased
before my trip. A local BMW dealer was “pitching” the virtues of a
new line of long underwear based on phase change technology. In theory,
when it was cold, the material made you feel warmer and when it was
hot, it made you feel cooler. I decided to try these under my Stitch
on the way up to Hyder. I found that my normal temp range had increased.
I could ride in colder and warmer temps before I needed to change.
Actually I used this pair for the ride up to Hyder and the entire
ten days of my 10/10th_s. The big advantage was comfort and not having
to stop and change in or out of another layer (which I did not have
to do during my ride). I’d say they gave me another 5 degrees of comfort.
Not magic, but helpful. As I see it, the major draw backs are the
cost and unisex sizing.
Next stop was Cedar City Utah for gas. Thru Nevada and into the heat
as it was 94 going thru Las Vegas. I stopped at Henderson, NV for
gas and a cold drink. Then into more heat into Needles, Ca (104) and
thru Winslow, AZ. I finally stopped at Albuquerque for the night.
It looked like another clear day as I gassed up in Bernalillo, NM.
The weather is always interesting on a trip. Thunder storms can bee
seen for 50 miles and I’m always wondering if it will intersect my
route. Today, the only storm is in southern Kansas. I hit Walsenburg,
Co. and Colby Kansas. Into Nebraska stopping at Beatrice and finally
stopping in Sioux City, Iowa for the night. Mileage: 4558
This was about the time I started thinking about an SS5k or even a
10/10ths, I was holding a good pace and had enough miles in the “bank”
to believe that I could get thru New England and still keep the 1000
a day average needed.
By 8am I was in Brookings, SD. The winds were coming out of the south
at 30-40mph, which made for a smooth ride going north. I cut across
North Dakota south of Fargo to save some miles and time and had to
avoid a closed road and ended up in Hankinson, ND. That wasn’t the
plan, but the detour signs had me going in a direction away from I-94.
Local detour signs are always a gamble for me. I wonder how many get
moved by local kids or get knocked over by winds. I gassed up and
headed for Monticello, MN. I depended on the SPIII to get me thru
Minneapolis, but it routed me south to I-35 South. A couple of U turns
and I was back on I-94 and on to Portage WI. Somebody in Eau Claire
ought to be shot for their mishandling of traffic, as I sat in the
sun and mosquito fields for 2.5 hours only to go by a short patch
of a paving area where no one was working. The highway patrol was
adding to the mystery by ticketing a couple of people that wanted
to turn around. This is the second time in a year I’ve been thru this
area and don’t want to come back for a long time. I gassed at Belvidere,
Ill. I missed my turn in Chicago to the Skyway but finally found US12&20.
Interesting neighborhood, but I have no need to “revisit” unless I
have a “guide.” On to Granger, Indiana and a quick jump
up to Coldwater Michigan.
I was now on very familiar roads and wanted to be thru Cleveland by
rush hour. At 4am I was getting tired and was on the outskirts of
Cleveland so I found a rest area and sleep for two hours. I might
have slept longer but the sun was very bright and I was getting warm.
This was the only night that I didn’t find a hotel.
Erie, Pa provided breakfast and gas. Westmoreland, NY was the next
gas stop. I lost another couple of hours to an accident on the NY
Thru way. I decided to start listening closer to the truckers on the
CB. It was getting to be rush hour time and a Friday evening to boot,
so I wanted to avoid the mess at Albany. I let the SPIII guide me
over to Troy, so I could pick up Bennington Vermont. This was a mistake.
It routed me on 7 where all the local traffic was jammed and the local
temps were in the high 80’s, too hot to be sitting in traffic. Once
across the river I was on familiar roads and enjoyed the scenery and
cool mountain air. I stopped at Bennington and then headed over to
Milford, NH to pick up a quart of oil, down to Hollis, then to Nashua
to stop in and see my daughter. My mother lives in Merrimack (as did
I at one point) so another stop to visit and say hi. It’s a good thing
I wasn’t planning to break any records.
Form Merrimack, I was off to Kittery, Maine then down 95 to pick up
Danvers, Massachusetts and stopping in Pawtucket, Rhode Island for
the night. (6477 miles)
It was now Saturday morning and I decided to shoot straight thru NYC
after a gas stop at Madison, CT. Amazing....traffic was traveling
at 80, everyone in a hurry to be at a soccer game or some activity.
I made much better time than I had planned thru NY. Even the NJ Turnpike
was cruising at 75. Toll on Delaware Bridge gave me Delaware, gas
at West Friendship Maryland, and then to Martinsburg, W Va. Virginia
maybe for lovers but they do not like radar detectors! Fortunately
it was a Saturday afternoon, and the troopers were all in other areas.
I stopped in Max Meadows, Va. for gas and looked at the map as I needed
to pickup Kentucky and Tennessee. I had to ride the Cumberland
Gap, which used to be a narrow set of roads and nighttime didn’t help
my attitude. I was surprised to find the roads well paved, double
lane, and well marked. I was thinking what a nice ride this might
be in the daylight. I got to Middlesboro, KY and turned around. I
decided to stop early in Tazewell, and get up early to ride thru the
gap at daybreak. (7423)
Sunday morning was cool and there was some low hanging fog, but the
ride thru the gap was worth the wait. No traffic and the sun breaking
into the valleys made it a pleasant ride down to Enka, NC. Where I
stopped for a quick breakfast and a receipt. Greenville, SC was the
stop for gas and then across Georgia to Newnan for the next gas stop.
I stopped in Greenville Al next and then off the Interstate to Century,
Fl for a snack receipt. Back on I 85 to I 10. The heat was making
me drowsy, so I pulled over for a short nap. Getting back on the bike,
I noticed the rear tire making noises and thought it might be time
to change it. At that point, I had about 10k of hard running. When
I stopped at Moss Point, MS, I check the rear wheel bearings while
it was up on the center stand. Nothing, it was as smooth and quiet
as it could be.
When I stopped at Beaux Bridge, La for more gas, I called Norm Grills
to see if he could arrange to have his Dallas dealer swap a tire for
me on Monday, as it was getting noisy.
I-49 is a quiet road, not much traffic on a Sunday night and not many
towns along the way, almost peaceful. Rummph, I was awakened from
my dreaming as the noise from my rear tire got significantly worse.
I slowed down and pulled over. I put it one the side stand and got
out my flashlight but could see nothing, then, gloop, a small amount
of oil emerged from my final drive and I knew what had
happened. I had a final drive fail. I was devastated, all that time
invested and I was stuck on the side of the road on a Sunday night.
This would not be a quick recovery. So I got on the CB to flag down
some help, but no one responded. It took about 45 minutes to get a
tanker to stop. He was across the median, so I started across; Have
you ever seen the medians down south? Some of them have their own
ecosystems. I started to walk very carefully hoping I wouldn’t hit
water or mud. I was lucky to hit a dry area and the trucker let me
borrow the phone for a quick call to my wife. Another truck stopped
on my side and offered me a ride into town. So back across
I went and grabbed a couple bags.
He dropped me off at a hotel, and I quickly sent an email to the K12
and LDR lists, hoping someone knew the Shreveport BMW dealer. I then
called Progressive for a tow. They said the local guys were coming
and knew how to load a K12. Sure_ When the driver arrived, I asked
if he had ever loaded a K12, and he said no but he loaded a Gold Wing
last month. An empty Flat bed tow truck is about as rough a ride as
anything I’ve ever been in. I had visions of getting the bike loaded,
and having the truck shake the bike into pieces.
We loaded the bike, strapping it carefully. The driver wasn’t dealing
with a huge ego and responded to suggestions quite well. The flat
bed didn’t ride any better on the way back to town, but nothing fell
off the bike. We unloaded it at 6am at the dealer’s side door, and
I went back to the hotel.
I heard from Don Arthur at 7 and he had forwarded my plea for help.
There are some people you can count on in this world and Don is truly
one of them. I dozed off and at 10, I got a call from Gary Rollins,
who said he knew the dealer and was trying to work something for me.
A quick shower, and a call to the HD dealer to see if they rented
bikes (heck, if a rented HD can do the IBR, then it would work for
me). As luck would have it, this dealer would be doing rentals in
another month. Every other dealer was closed.
Sean Smith called and said he almost missed my post because no one
stops in Shreveport! He offered to take me back to the dealer, which
I gladly accepted. Then a call from Don Roarke, the owner of Shreveport
Motorsports (the BMW dealer), he offered to loan me a used K12 for
the next couple of days. No charge, no obligation, just finish! There
weren’t enough words to thank him.
Sean gave me a ride, and I shifted some gear to the new K12. I took
my clothes, maps, water cooler and SPIII. The aux tank, the V-1 and
the CB had to stay. I was ready to roll about 1pm. I now had 1700
miles to cover in the next 42 hours, more gas stops and a more vigilant
speed. Doable, if nothing else happened. Sean guided me out of town
an on the way to Texarkana, where I needed to pickup Arkansas and
Texas. I then headed for Haworth, Oklahoma for my last state.
My plan was to then head to El Paso and return to Shreveport, passing
the 10k mile mark (on the GPS). I stopped at Garland, Tye and finally
Sweetwater for the night. I needed some good sleep if I was to finish.
The next morning, it was very warm, not a good sign. I hit Odessa,
then Van Horn. Shortly after Van Horn, I was thinking about how well
the trip was going. Suddenly, there in the road was a 50lb red dog
snacking on some road kill. It turned to the left and growled as it
heard me approach and I passed it on the right, hoping to get by it
before it could react and run. I started to think about what would
have happened, a collision, a wrecked bike (I didn’t even own). Then
all of the possibilities started to play in my head. How about getting
stopped? as I didn’t have a registration or any proof that the owner
had let me use the bike. Or if I had a flat, or if... and the litany
went on. When you are tired, the paranoia can really set in.
I turned around at Sierra Blanca. It had been in the mid 90’s for
the past 3 hours and was getting hotter. By 1pm it was up over 100
and I was starting to really tire from the heat. There was a billboard
with the picture of that red DQ sign (Dairy Queen) and the caption
read “Texas stop sign,” oh how true. At Odessa, I stopped and spent
a half hour in a DQ just to cool off and regain consciousness. More
cold water down the suit and off to Tye, and the Flying-J, for another
cooling off session.
The sun was finally loosening its grip and the temps were in the low
90’s By Dallas it had cooled off to the mid 80’s, and finally I made
Shreveport by 11pm. 10090 miles by GPS and I was beat.
I awoke early nervous that I was short on miles. I wanted to head
south and pick-up my break down spot on I-49 but there was an accident
so I headed east and stopped in Minden where I turned around. My deadline
was 9:30 CST and I stopped for gas in Shreveport near the dealer at
9am. The GPS had 100180 miles, and the combined bike speedometers
had 10626 miles. The disadvantage of not planning mileage for a 10/10ths,
is that one never really knows when you’ve broken the 10k mark.
The journey wasn’t over, but at least I was off the clock and could
get some sleep and sit down for a meal. They had ordered a new final
drive and planned to have it installed by Thursday evening. So Wednesday,
I slept, did laundry and got into my email. Sean and I had lunch on
Thursday. He is another helpful person that just wanted to help, and
a kindness I hope to be able to repay. I packed and waited for my
K12 to be finished.
There are so few ways to thank an act of kindness and selfless giving.
Don Roarke had come thru at my “darkest” hour which means more to
me than words can express. His comment was “We gotta help each other....”
I’ve made a suggestion to Mike Kneebone that he consider establishing
a dealer (or Friend of the IBA) recognition program. Don will be my
I heard the bike is ready and start to get on my gear. I still need
to ride 2k miles to get back to San Jose. I’ve been on the road for
16 days and it was time to get home. Then Ron, the technician, comes
forward and says. “When I changed your oil, I found a bird and had
to clean him out” (Birds 1, Paul 1).
Another 2 days of heat, and some strong thunder storms. I actually
refused a gas receipt and sat down for one dinner. I made it home
on Saturday. As Don Arthur once wrote me,
"There’s no place like home.”
In summary, I was very lucky. I had a well prepared bike and I was
mentally up for the challenge. The route was simple (and well thought
out by its designer, thanks Bill T). I was snapped from the jaws
of defeat by a few folks on this list and an act of kindness that
could have never been planned. Thanks to everyone that helped!