CA to WI and back again
I've been planning a trip to WI to visit family, and I started today. The plan is to blast to WI in 3-4 days, hang out there for a while, then take a full week to come back through South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon.
Despite a late start (10-ish) I made it through California (88 through the Sierras was nice) and Nevada (50 most of the way), and I'm currently in Delta, Utah, which is pretty much the first place with hotels along 50. With the switch to mountain time it's late now (2AM) so I'm not going to write much but I'll follow up with pictures and stuff later.
Tomorrow I probably won't get an early start, but I hope to make it through the Rockies, then Monday should get me into Iowa, and Tuesday I'll arrive in Wisconsin early in the day.
The GT has been great. I'm traveling with the sidecases, BMW's 50L top case, and my smuggler. ESA on 2-up, seems to work out pretty well. I invested in a kidney belt (Dianese, $30!) for this trip, and I think it's making a difference -- my lower back is still sore like it always is after a long ride, but sitting on the bike for 12 hours wasn't bad at all.
Nevada sure has a lot of flat. And parts of 50 had "fresh tar" and "loose gravel" signs out which slowed me down a little, but most of the loose gravel had already washed/blown away, so the surface wasn't too bad. I love the way the speed limit goes from 70 to 25 over the course of half a mile when you go into the small towns along the way. I learned my lesson there 10 years ago (written up for 34 in a 25 in Eureka) so I putted through Austin, Eureka, and Ely at parade pace ... fun.
Averaging 42.7 mpg, not bad for 70+ and mountains. The bike has been performing flawlessly -- this is a great touring machine!
I've got a SPOT tracker (my family worries too much when there's no cell coverage), if you want to follow along you can look here: Bonafidebob's public SPOT page.
Day 2: Utah, Colorado
Well, I made it through the Rockies. I knew this already, but Utah is so much nicer than Nevada. I went farther North than I've been before. Provo on a Sunday morning is ... quiet. Provo Canyon to the North was really fun.
Today I switched from US 50 to US 40. They're pretty similar roads. Mostly two lane, slow through towns, some curves. 40 Through Uinta National Forest was really terrific. Light traffic and a great road. Then I hit some repaving work, yes on a Sunday!
Steamboat Springs CO is a nice little vacation town -- mobbed right now. I blew through it and didn't stop, but wouldn't mind going back for a closer look some day. Lots of cops on the road up into the mountains, but no trouble.
I decided to go through Rocky Mountain National Park -- looked good on the map. It was beautiful, but a huge time sink. Narrow windy road, 35 limit, lots of cars driving erratically whenever a critter is nearby... Saw several Elk in the park, including one male with a nice rack above 10000 feet. I only got a picture of one that was wandering in a parking area though. Still, fun to get up to 12000 feet, the GT is fine at altitude.
Looks like I'm done with mountains until the return trip. Bummer.
Day 3: Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa
Flat, flat, and more flat. Why anyone around these parts would get a motorcycle is beyond me... you have to drive 100 miles to find a turn! The number of other bikes around has dropped way back, I think I saw less than 10 today, compared to dozens per hour through the western states.
I got to follow a cattle truck for a few miles... fun. Lots of construction too, following pilot trucks is at least cleaner than the cattle trucks. I noticed at one point I was only 1 mile from Kansas, so I took a quick detour across the Republican River (yeah, they're red states) and briefly visited another state... just long enough to make a U-turn, but I'll count it.
The Dub drive-in (Benkelman, NE) was actually crowded and the food was good, the service friendly, and it was cheap too! The picture is kind of bleak, I took it just after a bunch of pickups had pulled out.
Overall I made decent time. Once it started to get dark I bailed on the scenic route (US 34 mainly) and jumped on I80.
Had a GPS issue (BMW Nav III) today. I'd input the whole trip to WI as one route, but it was too long. When I first started navigating it I saw a message saying the GPS was out of room for the routing info and more would be calculated later. Well, today I hit the end of the calculated part, in the middle of nowhere, and nothing I could do would make the damn thing compute the rest of the route! I finally gave up and just created a new route for the remaining part of the trip.
Oh, and while I'm complaining about the GPS -- why the hell do I have to tell it what time zone I'm in!? My phone adjusts to local time automatically, you'd think a $1000 GPS that's got a microsecond accurate clock and knows where it is to 1cm could figure out the freaking time zone!
Looks like you made it to WI. Thanks for the post. I need to show it to my wife. This is how I plan to see my family in WI on my next trip.
The SPOT tracking is pretty cool. You need to use the SPOT radio to do this, right?
How are you taking the pics while riding?
Day 4: Iowa, Wisconsin
Then it was a quick ride to my sister's lake house, and chill time. Tomorrow I make a run to Mischler's BMW in Beaver Dam for a new rear tire, the BT020 is well worn now, belts starting to show through! I've got a PR2B waiting for me. Also starting to have low voltage warnings when starting the bike, so they're going to check and hopefully replace the battery for me.
You do need a SPOT radio for the tracking. It's $150 for the unit and about $100/year for the service. Couldn't be simpler to use, press a button to turn it on and leave it on all day, press another button to send an "OK" message with your current location. (There are two more buttons, for "Help" i.e. send a tow truck, and "911" i.e. send an ambulance, but I've never pressed them!)
I'm taking pictures with my Canon 870, it's a great camera for shooting while riding. 8 mega pixel, image stabilization, and 28mm equivalent wide angle lens. I keep it in the tank bag and can pull it out, snap a shot, and get it back in in under 30 seconds. I should have brought a tripod though! There have been a couple of places where I wished I could get in the shot, but had no way to set it up. Maybe I'll go buy a cheap collapsible one before the trip back.
I start home on Sunday, taking the long way. I have 7 days to do what I did in 3 1/2 on the way out, so instead of riding 12+ hours a day I can explore more, set up camp, etc. I'm really looking forward to that. (Also going to South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho!)
Your trip out looked like a nice balance between riding some fun roads, and not spending a lot of time. I wonder how fast you would've made it on superslabs all the way?
If you wouldn't mind, could you send me your route? Nothing too detailed, but it looks like a good plan for my trip.
Am enjoying the ride Bob. :)
Can't wait for the return trip
As far as the route, I think if you go to the SPOT page (link in my first post) you can pretty much figure it out. 88 through the Sierras, 50 across Nevada, 40 through Colorado, 34/6 across Nebraska, then I80 for a bit, and 151 into Madison.
My tire didn't arrive at the BMW shop today. Or rather the service guy wasn't there when UPS came by and they didn't leave the tire (what?) Anyway, looks like it'll be tomorrow, or I need to find a different BMW center that has the tire in stock -- there are a couple around Milwaukee (sprinkled in with all the Harley dealers) so I should be OK.
I'm also looking forward to the trip back. ...still got a couple more days of relaxing at the lake first though. :)
Tire change: BMW of Milwaukee
Well, after some trouble with Mischler's in Beaver Dam (turned out they ordered the wrong tire) I went to BMW of Milwaukee instead. Nice little shop, Eric the parts guy (?) was able to track down the right PR2 for the KGT after some effort, and get it there the next day, and they squeezed me in for the service.
Met a couple of nice guys shopping there too -- someone even took their used KGT out for a ride while I was there, but didn't seem interested at the end -- too much horsepower. :) Another guy was trading his KGT in on a nice looking GS. I guess the KGT isn't for everyone, but I sure love mine.
Anyway, my BT020 has the steel belts showing all the way around the center of the tire by the time I got there. Dang, I've never worn a tire down that far before!! The new PR2B is much better, but since I'm still breaking it in I can't comment more than that it's nice to have a tire that isn't severely flattened in the middle -- the bike leans over much more predictably now.
As for the battery, they tested it and the charging system and everything is up to spec, so even though it's turning off the accessory circuit when I start the bike they think the battery is fine. Maybe I'll look into an aftermarket battery when I get back home.
Keep us up to date on the trip back. I'm especially curious how that tire handles on the road.
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