The Adventures of the New England VRCC
2004 Trip Reports

 Back from Paducah, Trip Report by Valkrocket
 Trip Report (Long) by Tony C
BEARS TOOTH PASS TRIP by Russ G.
 

 
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Back from Paducah, Trip Report ...... real long post

Posted By: Valkrocket: <rcomperc@aol.com>
Date: 7/26/2004 at 21:53:49


 


 

Sorry for the delay gang. We just got in last night and I only type with one finger. Had to put a few fires out at work too >:( Angry I'm not responsible fer any misspellin'or bad grammah :D Big Grin

Gliding-on to Paducah!

First off, let me say that this was a last minute, impromptu road trip that I wasn't planning on till my schedule opened up at the week before we left. First person I called was TomS and he said "Paducah????? Let's Go!" A lot of you may not know, but Tom and I go all the way back to grade school. Known each other over 40 years!!!!!!

Day 1 started Tuesday at 4:45AM took Illusive my GL1800 cause the seat is much more comfortable for long distance riding. 2Maiden's Corbin saddle turns into a concrete block after about 400 miles, met Tom at 5:45 and headed for Mass Pike then onto Rt. 84W to Hartford by 7:30, NY line by 8:45 and the PA border by 9:45. On rt. 84 in PA about 15 miles into the state I hit a pothole the size of Rhode Island! My view of it was blocked by the car in front of me, he straddled it, I was in the center of the travel lane and caught it full bore at about 80mph. My GPS flew off the dash board and only the power cord stopped it from ending up on the road, I bent my front rim so bad that you could see the inside of about 4 inches of it, one of the fasteners holding my front fender extension ended up in Oz somewhere, one low beam went Kaput ($20 replacement at a Honda dealer) and my trunk lid started rattling like all get out. So, what did I do??????????? Kept on Gliding>>>>>>>>>> I didn't realize I had a bent rim or had lost my fastener until we made a stop about 200 miles from the incident and the front wheel was positioned just right to expose the damage. I hadn't lost any air, so what the heck, I continued on our journey and figured I°¶d work on it in Paducah. Didn't know the headlight was out till Tom mentioned it to me in Paducah. Anyways back to day 1, made Scranton by 11 and rt.80 in PA by 1PM. Stopped for lunch, rode on to the Ohio line by 4PM with intermittent road work all the way from Williamsport exit to Akron OH. All day the sky's would threaten rain, then the sun would peek out until we hit a solid wall of water in Akron OH. Pulled over under an overpass to put rain gear on and I swear the big 18 wheeler's were having sport with us by getting as close as possible to us under the bridge and spraying us with all the water + wind being pushed off their wheels. Finally got to Columbus OH around 8:30 and stopped a little South of Columbus in a town named Grove City at 8:45. Total miles for me on day 1 was 885. We ate at a BBQ place called Hoggers that evening and tossed down a few brews. The waitress there said Tom looked and talked like a NJ gangster :) Smile The gal (looked to me to be around 18 yrs old)at the motel (Motel 6, big spender's that we were) got talking to Tom and said that she had 2 kids home and another on the way, however, her boyfriend didn't believe in marriage. Now this was in the middle of the bible belt of OH!

Day2 Wednesday, started at 8:30, by 10AM we had made Cincinnati then on to Louisville KY by 11:30 (PA, OH and KY are huge states to ride through) We entered Central time and picked up an hour right around where Rt 65 meets the Western KY Pkwy (WKP). Somewhere around Louisville we came up on 2 valks really flying towards KY, I noticed WA plates on them as I pulled up on my wing and screamed "Paducah????" They probably were wondering what this crazy wing rider who had just run them down was screaming at them. I stood up in my seat exposing my Valkyrie patch on the back of my vest and the two of them both buzzed me with a big s--t eatin' grin on their faces. They wanted to play a little so I let Illusive rip up to about 120mph, they started to follow then dropped back. I slowed down to about 85-90 and eventually we all stopped for gas just before the WKP. Turned out to be Rat Dog and Cyclops from Seattle WA, I introduced myself and Tom and apparently they had heard of me too. We kicked tires for a short time then sped off to Paducah. Arrived in Paducah at 3:30 Central time. 414 mile day. Our room was on third floor above indoor pool in the third of 3 buildings of the huge Executive Inn complex on the Ohio river right before it joins the Mississippi. Bumped into Ringmaster(Ted) from MA in the hotel lobby and met up with him later for opening ceremonies. Turns out Ted was the only other person from New England that we found there. Met Oz and many more of my old friends from Inzane 1, lotsa hugs and high 5's. I volunteered to help the following morning at the expo center. Thor's Hammer was driven into the hotel and delivered to Oz. We then had a photo shoot for anyone involved in relaying it across the country. They held the first of many raffles that I was unlucky at (law of averages was due to catch up to me I guess) We then were bused to the Harrah's Casino across the river where we were given tickets for a free buffet dinner, I've had better food before. I then proceded to lose $100 in about 5 minutes and slowly backed away from the Black jack table never to return (I promise) Meanwhile Tom was down to his last $5 when all of a sudden caught fire. He told me to warn him 10 minutes before the bus was to leave, about 12 minutes before I told him we gotta go and to push in his chips so that he either would go home even or up pretty good. Why he listened to me I don't know but the gods of gambling smiled at him and he won the final hand going back to the room a winner! Back to our room to crash, long day.

Day 3 Thursday, buffet breakfast at hotel then onto the Expo center by 8AM, they decided to put me in charge of the back door where riders would bring their rides in for work to be done. I worked for a couple of hours then hit the vendors. Nice to go to a vendor show that was Valkyrie specific. Bought a great LA wheel chock/lock for my new trailer, black powder coated to match the trailer and 2Maidens. Excellent quality. Watched JeffK change his u-joint out of necessity, Justin from Viking just happened to have a spare in his trailer. I borrowed a rubber hammer and block of wood from Justin (thanks again kid) and went out to the wing to start pounding away at my rim. I was able to bend it a little more back where it should be, but I'm gonna definitely need a new front rim. Now it was time for Tom and I to go riding. Ted had to get some engine work done so he didn't join us on this ride. About 1 PM we started out to see the "Garden of the Gods" national recreation area. The route took us through some real back roads in both KY and IN, the whole way there, about 90 miles I swear we only saw less than 6 vehicles on these roads. We took a ferry across the Ohio river to get to Indiana. Bumped into a nice couple from Lexinton TN on their valk at the ferry and traveled the rest of the route with them. The wife only got us lost twice :D Big Grin reading the map. We also met a nice HD rider that offered us his last water, it was 96 out with about a 95% humidity factor. It was MF hot. We gladly accepted his water as there hadn't been a store for the last 75 miles for us to stop at. Got back to the Hotel and set out for dinner at El Chico steak house and Cantina. Tom ate a big ole steak and I set my arse on fire with a hot beef Chimichanga. (deep fried burrito) Tom had heard about a rock concert on the waterfront so we headed to downtown Paducah. Tom worked us all the way up to the first row, that after sweet talking the local cops into allowing us to park our bikes right at the entrance to the concert. Tom was unbelievable the whole trip, getting us discounts everywhere. I swear he could talk a starvin' dog off of a meat wagon, hence I think we should change his handle from the boring TomS to "the Negotiator" whadayathink? Turns out the band Warrant was playing, sounded like loud noise to me, but Tom was rockin' with the youngins :) Smile All of a sudden the sky turned pitch black and the wind came wipping off the river. I looked at Tom and said "I'm outa here" he started to resist but his senses prevailed and we hauled arse back to the hotel just before the heavy rain and lightening started. Got our rides safely tucked under the hotel (yeah they got covered parking there). Hit the hotel bar where we sat with Rat Dog, Cyclops, Oz and Paris Biker with his lovely bride. Had a ball that night but had to scream over the DJ and his music to communicate with each other. Ended up hoarse the next day. Paris Biker got some great blackmail shots of several judgement impaired people that night, I look forward to seeing his pics. Best line I heard the entire trip was at our table that night when we squeezed Oz in between the two behemoths Rat Dog and Cyclops (Oz is about half their size) Cyclops turns to Oz and says"Ya know there really ain't that much to you, but I'll betcha make good eatin' " Oz looked up at him, hesitated and laughed. (kinda a nervous laugh in my opinion :D Big Grin ) I about fell off my chair laughing so hard. Too many beers & Conga lines later we were off to bed.

Day 6 Friday, breakfast buffet then on to meet Ted at the staging area for 1000 valk + 1 wing march. Estimates had us at just under 400 bikes,,,,,,,,, disappointing. The march concluded in a little town in Indiana called Metropolis. Yep, home of Superman. They had a huge statue of the super hero dead center in the middle of town right next to a museum & store dedicated to him. We took pics and enjoyed free cold drinks and post card contributed by the Metropolis Chamber of Commerce. From there the three amigos decided to ride the TN Ridge run which was an almost 200 mile ride through KY anf TN and finishing up through the Tennessee Trace road that winds between 2 huge lakes that is aptly named "the land between the lakes." Wow, we caught some great twisties on this route, I was smilin' ear to ear after this run. Tom got to sample some real southern fried chicken and I had the BBQ ham sandwich...... Yummmm We stopped by FDR Honda in Paducah on the way home and I picked up my bulb ($20) and extension fastener (free) from them. A mechanic name of Doug came out and rescued me by installing the halogen bulb for me after I was totally frustrated with the thing. (after all, the old one came out easy enough, shouldn°¶t the new one go in just as easy? Not if you're trying to install it upside down, DUH!!!!!!!) Thanks again Doug. He also gave me some special Honda tape to quiet down my trunk rattle. According to Doug, Honda charges $45 a roll for this stuff! Back to the hotel for a great Prime Rib buffet, where we also sampled some Mississippi Catfish and Hush Puppies (don't ask) From there it was off to the oldies nite and Ladie's Tattoo Contest. Live band by the name of Classic Waxx played some great oldies tunes, much better than the noise I heard the night before at the rock contest. :) Smile At the band's second break thet held the tattoo contest where I had wormed my way up to front stage, armed with my digital camera. However, just as the contest started, my camera gave up the ghost as the batteries decided that this would be the perfect time to need recharging. JAP, Piece of Crap :) Smile Too many Jack Daniels later I stumbled my way back to the room to hit the hay for an early start in the morning.

Day 5 Saturday, checked out and on the road by 7AM we really hauled buns averaging 85-90mph all the way to Clarion PA (just NE of Pittsburgh), only problem was Tom had to stop every 95-100 miles for gas. Ate at a Perkins and drank beer at some Mexican joint next to our motel (really stepped up this time and stayed at a Super 8) Glasses where we watched a couple of fights on HBO. Back to room for a good nite°¶s sleep and an early start, which wooda been a great plan if I had remembered to set the alarm. 760 miles

Day 6 Sunday, Oops, who forgot to set the alarm? Woke up to 61 degrees at 8:30AM, checked out, got Tom his eggs and set sail around 9:30. Forcast was for showers somewhere along the way, but the good lord smiled down at us and gave us dry weather for the remaining 540 miles home. The temp also warmed up to the low 70's, at least till I got to Plymouth where the temp plummeted to 62 degrees! July 25 and 62 degrees? Something just ain't right there. Tom and I split up at the 495 interchange on the Pike (lotsa DNC traffic, out of state plates on Pike) Arrived home safe and sound at 6:45PM Sunday night and felt like I had just left the day before on our journey.

Total miles driven were approx. 3000. Maximum speed attained according to GPS was 127MPH (musta been when I overtook those 2 WA boyz or when a Mustang decided to play with me on the route home) A couple of observations by Tom and I:

1. his mileage varied greatly with speed and altitude, his worst mileage wasn°¶t necessarily when going fast but more when he was in the hill of KY.
2. Everyone and I mean every age, sex, and race smokes like a fiend in Kentucky. No such thing as smoking prohibited anywhere we went.
3. Motorcycle population on the road is greatly diminished when clouds start to thicken. On the way down, in 1300 cloudy miles, other than our 2 WA valks Tom and I saw only 2 other bikes on the road.

In conclusion I'd like to thank Tom for keeping me company on such a short notice. Not 1 argument or fist fight all week :) Smile and my understanding wife Carol who knows that when the road calls, I gotta answer. Can't wait till next year. And if ever you get the opportunity to ride those roads or visit Paducah, KY********************** JUST DO IT!

GLIDE-ON>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Valkrocket VRCC#401
 

 

 


Valkrocket, the Negotiator and Ringmaster

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Trip Report (Long)

Posted By: Tony C. (Weatherman)
Date: 7/30/2004 at 21:50:07


 


 

A couple of days back I posted that I bailed on a trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway because of the weather earlier this week. Since I was still on vacation this week I was hoping for the weather to break so I could squeeze in an overnight trip to northern New England. Well the weather broke and I was able to get away for a mini solo trip to VT and NH on Thursday and Friday. A trip report follows below for your reading pleasure if you wish. Itís kind of long but I thought some of you folks might enjoy the detail. I havenít made the jump yet to a digital camera, so sorry no pics. Theyíre still inside my SLR Pentax.

Happy Riding!
Tony C. :C) Cool

I left my house in Ashland, MA on Thursday morning around 7:30. At the time the roads were still wet, it was very cloudy with fog and mist in spots. I picked up Route 140 north off of I-290 and followed it up to Gardner, MA were I picked up 12 north into Keene, NH. On the way I passed the Swanzey Dinner and remembered a ride a couple of years ago that V-MAN, Burnt Rubba and some other guys did to the diner. The pics are probably still posted somewhere on the web.

By the time I got to Keene my bladder was bursting from the multiple cups of coffee I had at my house. A quick pit stop at Mickey Ds took care of that. In Keene I took Route 9 west towards Brattleboro, VT. Right around then the sun came out in full force and it was beautiful. I followed 9 to I-91. Right before the interchange thereís bridge construction over the CT River. Route 9 is all torn up there for a short section. No problem though as the Big Cruiser handled it with ease.

Took I-91 north to Exit 6 to VT 103 north. The plan was to take 103 to VT 100 north and ride it until it ended. Thatís what I did. VT 103 was very nice. I recognized some sections from previous Stowe Oktoberfest rides hosted by Bobaloo. Got to VT 100 and followed it north into Stowe. What can I say about VT 100 Ė itís beautiful. Itís got meadows, farms, mountains, and twisties. I t was thoroughly enjoyable.

I got to Stowe about 1:00. I had a quick lunch at the Malt Shoppe just off VT 100 heading over to where the Oktoberfest is held. I was done and back on the road by 1:30.

I kept on VT 100 north. Itís very pretty north of Stowe, with more open fields and dairy farms. I got to VT 15, headed west a bit and then on up again VT 100. This is the Northeast Kingdom part of VT and looks a lot like the pictures you see on calendars. Simply put, it is beautiful with lots of meadows, dairy farms and rolling hills. I noticed a Benedictine Monastery, too, along the way.

VT 100 ended at VT 105. I took VT 105 east for a short ride into Newport. Thereís a big lake that straddles the US-Canadian Border there. I went down to the waterfront and took some pictures. US Immigration is on the City Dock for folks who come in by boat from Quebec. Itís all very informal - kind of interesting.

Got back on VT 105 to VT 191 for a short ride to I-91 south. Then I-91 south to US 2 into St. Johnsbury where I stayed for the night at a B&B. I arrived there about 4 PM. It was nice to get out of my MC clothes and into some shorts with bare feet to relax for a while before I went out to dinner.

I had a decent night sleep at the B&B and started of the day with a delicious breakfast. I was out the door and on the bike by 8:40 on Friday morning. At the time there was lots of low clouds and fog clinging to the hills. I took US 2 east from VT into NH. Lots of the ride was in clouds and fog, which was too bad, because the surroundings looked to be beautiful. Like the VT 100 ride, US 2 had lots of farms and wide open spaces so you can really enjoy looking around during the ride.

While on 2, I was thinking of all the VRCCers who have completed the Iron Butt Association New England Saddle-sore 1000. The beginning of the ride includes a stretch from Maine, through NH and into VT in the early morning darkness. Those guys are more adventurous then me! I was happy to be riding it during the daylight, especially with all the moose warning signs.

The next part of the ride was inspired by a trip Hoy took earlier this season. From US 2 in NH I got on US 3 north and rode to Colebrook, NH. Iíve done this ride before, but not on the Valkyrie. Letís just say I liked it even more on the Valkyrie! Itís very beautiful. I arrived in Colebrook at about 10, which puts it about 1.5 hours from St. Johnsbury. I gassed up and continued up US 3 north. Thereís not too much civilization on US 3 after Pittsburg, NH. I continue north of Pittsburg and rode passed all the CT lakes all the way to the Canadian Border. Man itís unbelievably beautiful up there. The weather was perfect then too as the sun was out but it wasnít that hot yet. Moose warning signs were everywhere, so I watched my speed so that I would have a chance to react. I didnít see any moose, but I did see a deer along the side of the rode. He dashed into the woods as I got close. I was happy about that!

I made it to the border crossing and took a picture of the Big Cruiser at the border crossing sign. In between the US and Canadian immigration offices thereís sort of a neutral zone with a big metal border marking in the ground. The US and Canadian flags are on either side of the marking. I walked to the other side and was officially in Canada, if only for less than a minute.

Got back on the bike and headed back down south on US 3, but I didnít take 3 all the way back to Colebrook. Instead in Pittsburg, I took NH 145 south to Colebrook. You should consider putting this rode on your must ride list. Itís awesome Ė like a roller coaster! Up and down and sideways with blind crests and steep down hills. In addition the scenery some portions were spectacular with NH 145 running along a ridge and with farm and dairy land in a bucolic valley on the right. For all the beauty of the route, thereís some severe poverty along this stretch with run down houses smaller than my two car garage. Makes one happy for what one has.

Got back into Colebrook around noon and was ready for lunch. The place to eat in Colebrook is Howardís Restaurant. Itís at the intersection of US 3 and NH 145. I ate at the counter and had excellent service and food for a fair price.

From there it was off to ride through the Four Notches, Dixville, Pinkham, Crawford and Fanconia. From Colebrook I took NH 26 east through Dixville Notch to NH 16. I like this ride. Itís got sweeping curves, farmland with good views and twisties through and around the Notch.

I took NH 16 south to Brettís hometown, Berlin. NH 16 is not in that great a shape so I got bounced around a bit. However, I did enjoy the ride long the Androscoggin River. I could tell I was getting close to Berlin when I smelled the Kraft paper mill. To the folks who live there itís the smell of employment and lively hood. To me it was just smelly. South of Berlin I started to run into more traffic and notice a lot of bikes out. But I didnít see another Valkyrie the entire trip.

South of Gorham, NH 16 gets real pretty, especially the view of Wildcat Mountain. Years ago when my kids were small we did the obligatory visit to Storyland and also a gondola ride to the top of Wildcat. I thought of that while I rode past.

I made a quick stop at the Pinkham Notch base for water and to cool down some. It was very hot by then.

Back on the Big Cruiser down NH 16 to US 302 west through Crawford Notch. What can I say? I love this ride and I love Crawford Notch. Isnít it funny all the things that go through your head as you ride? I rode past the Dry River Campground and was reminded of one of but a few times my wife and I went camping before we had kids. We were at the camp ground in the tent during a big thunderstorm. The thunder was bouncing all over the mountains and was going on forever. Of course I thought it was freakiní awesome, but my wife didnít enjoy it at all.

I rode straight through Crawford Notch without stopping. I did ride through slowly, though. At that point I want to make some time.

I stayed on US 302 west instead of picking up US 3 south because I wanted to join I-93 far enough north to get a spectacular long distance view of the Cannon Mountain Ski Area. You donít really get a good view if you join I-93 at US 3. The ride through Franconia Notch was beautiful, but I must admit I miss not being able to stop and look at the Old Man of the Mountain. Iíd been doing that since I was a kid.

South of the Notch and on I-93 heading south, the best of the ride was done. From there it was interstate all the way home. I stopped at the Irving on NH 25 in Ashland to gas up and get my dollar bills ready for tolls. I thought of Hoy and the times that spot as been a meeting place for VRCC rides.

US 3 in Massachusetts is almost ready to be opened up to 3 lanes from the NH border to I-495. Itís been a long time coming. Back in the late 1980ís I did a meso- and micro-scale analysis of air quality impacts from the widening. As expected air quality got better because traffic flow is better than traffic congestion. Nevertheless, we had to prove it quantitatively to the Mass Department of Environmental Protection.

I hit I-495 at around 6, which was the tail end of rush hour. Needless to say, it sucked. Traffic was backed up from the Mass Pike interchange all the way to US 20 on I-495 south bound. I got off on US 20 west and did a back rode route to home.

I got home at about 7. The ride totaled 740 miles over two days. Not really that much when you consider many guys in the Club do this in a day. But boy except for the ride home on the interstate, these were very fun miles. And as expected, the Big Cruiser performed flawlessly. AhÖ. Iíve scratched my itch. The Blue Ridge Parkway can wait for another time.
 

 

 

 

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BEARS TOOTH PASS TRIP

 

 

AUGUST 2004

 

 

How this trip came to be:

 

Somewhere around the year of 1999 or 2000 I read an article in a motorcycle magazine of a riderís favorite ride over the Bears Tooth Pass. I was so intrigued by that story that all I could think about was how to make that trip happen for myself. I thought that it would be the trip of a lifetime. I started looking at maps and possible routes for the next four years. Then in the early summer of 2001 I was able to make a ride out to Sturgis, SD with one of my older brothers. He makes this Sturgis ride every year. So I started thinking that I could incorporate a ride over Bears Tooth Pass into this. Once we got to Sturgis and I saw how much there was to see there in the Black Hills I never made it to Western Wyoming where I had hoped to. There just wasn't enough time. Every day for a week we made day trips into new areas of the Black Hills of South Dakota and then our time was up. We had two weeks to ride from New England, out to Sturgis and Back. Through out that whole trip my thoughts were still on Bears Tooth Pass. So I kept on with the planning and dreaming of possible routes and dates for this dream trip. During the winter of 2003 I decided that come summer of 2004 I was going to make it happen. The original plan was I would ride to Sturgis along with my brother Roger and then I would continue on to Cody Wyoming on my own. As time grew closer Roger decided that he would skip Sturgis and go the whole trip with me. We would stop at Sturgis for one day on our way through. It was done! The date was set and a plan was in place.  We would leave on August 4th.  The plan was to camp as much as possible to save on motel costs and to stay off the super slabs unless we really had to make up lost time.

            We got to shopping for camping gear and settled on down sleeping bags for the sole reason they can be compressed real small to save space and I got a 3 person back packing tent.  It was a Eureka Apex 3XT. It had two separate zip down doors, one on each side and had 2 vestibules, one also on each side over the doors. It packed small and was light but of good quality in case we had to spend some time in it during bad weather. Finally we both bought Thermarest sleeping pads and I bought a book listing camping areas. I had loaded my Valkyrie with all my stuff packed onto it and made some practice rides to check out how it would all ride. We were ready!

            Then I got a call a few days before the start of the ride from Roger saying he couldn't make this trip. That wasnít a problem as I originally had planned on making this trip alone anyways. I was actually more excited then knowing that I could stop wherever and whenever I wanted too for as long as I liked. I would feel no pressure to keep to a schedule or anotherís expectations of this planned trip. I got my maps back out and rethought my route. I decided that once I got to the Western part of Pennsylvania I would look for route 36 in Eastern Ohio and stay on it until I got into Colorado then turn north and end up in Cody Wyoming. I no longer had to stop by Sturgis. The only planned reservation I had was for 2 nights at the KOA in Cody. The last thing I did to get ready was to post on the NE Board looking for someone I could use as a contact in case I needed to use the VORTEX. I didnít want to print out the whole list of people along my planned route. So I was pleased when some one named Dalai Lama gave me both his cell and home numbers to use. Thanks again Brett for being there if I needed you.

 

 

Day 1 August 4th 2004:

           

            The plan was to leave early AM but when I woke I decided to hang around the house some with the kids. I was anxious to get going but then again one never knows what could happen either to the kids or to myself while I was gone and I wanted to spend some extra time with them before I left. The weather forecast was good for most of the day with some showers coming in late in the day in Pennsylvania. After that the weather looked good for the foreseeable future.

            I finally left home in Colrain at 11:15 AM. My starting mileage was 34,111. It was great riding weather until I got to Pittston, PA around 5:15PM. There I hit the rain so I decided to stop there and motel it for the night. My ending mileage for the day was 34,365. 254 miles.  I had traveled over Rt. 2 west into Williamstown then took rt. 43 into NY onto rt. 22 south. When I got to rt. 44 I took that west and then took the Taconic Parkway south until I reached rt. 84 which I took west into PA.  The ride was going nice and I was traveling familiar routes. Just before I reached Scranton at about where rt. 380 meets with rt. 84 all the traffic stopped. It took quite sometime to get through that stretch of highway. They had one lane of a bridge closed for reconstruction just after rt. 380 and rt. 84 met. So we had to go from four lanes down to one. Thatís when I could see the rain coming and it was heavy traffic time. Once I got through that and the rain started I found a Super 8 motel and called it a day. I would get an earlier start the next morning.

 

 

Day 2 August 5th 2004:

 

            I woke early, packed up, had breakfast and was back on the road by 6:30 AM. It had rained all night but the roads had dried. The skies were still dark and overcast. I took rt. 81 west to rt. 80 and stayed on that all the way until I reached rt. 8 south. I was glad I started out early. There was a lot of one lane bridge reconstruction going on and I was out early enough to have little traffic with me. I stayed on rt. 8 south for a short distance then took rt. 108 until I reached rt. 79 south to rt. 68 through Beaver PA. That ride through Beaver was the worst of the whole trip. The traffic there and all the stop and go through the lights took what seemed like hours. I would surely bypass that area next time through. I stayed on the north side of the Ohio River and finally crossed into Ohio. I took rt. 7 south a short distance then got onto rt. 39. That was an awesome ride along 39. Beautiful winding rolling hills all to myself. I stayed on rt. 39 until I got to Roswell then cut across south to rt.36. I was now on the route that would take me all the way into Colorado. The Valkyrie started to pick up the pace and act a bit punchy just as I was coming through Marysville. She knew she was riding through her birth place. I stopped and camped for the night at the Drake County Fairgrounds in Greenville, Ohio. It was a place I had seen on my list of campgrounds. The time was 7:30 PM and my ending mileage was at 34,945. 580 miles for the day. The grounds were nice there and so werenít the people. The facilities were horrible though. I wouldnít camp there in a tent again. I found a restaurant within walking distance and had a good supper and a few pints. The few pints was a mistake. Having to get up several times during the night was let out the rented beer was a pain. I had to get out of the sleeping bag, get something on as there was lights on all night at the fairgrounds, unzip and get out of the tent and make my way to the horrible facilities. Then back track back to the tent and do this at least once more during the night. Remember, we only get to rent the beer!

 

 

 

Day Three August 6th 2004:

 

            I woke at 7:30. I found that I had indeed slept good. It was nice to be sleeping out in a tent again. I had breakfast while waiting for the dew to dry off the tent then packed up and was back on the road at 9:30. It was a nice sunny day. I took rt. 465 around the north part of Indianapolis and right back onto rt. 36. I stopped at a rest area and took some pictures in a place called Dana before leaving Indiana. It was the home of Ernie Pyle and I saw a lot of damage done by a tornado earlier that week. I crossed into Illinois at 12:00 noon. My odometer said 35,119.  I continued on through Illinois and was able to pick up the pace some once rt. 36 and rt. 72 combined until just before crossing over into Missouri. I stayed on rt. 36 through Missouri until I got to Cameron then found Wallace State Park just south of there where I camped for the night. I stopped for the day at 8:00 PM central time. My ending mileage was at 35,494. A 549 mile day and a great day of riding it was. Rt. 36 was working out great. There was not a lot of traffic and it was a two way two lane roads like weíre used to around here but the posted speed limits were usually 65. Camping at Wallace State Park was a treat. It was a really nice place with each camp/tent site pretty much secluded. I think the fees were less than $12.00. And the facilities were really modern and nice. I got some firewood and made a fire and just sat up for quite awhile thinking about how great a trip this was so far.

 

 

 

Day Four August 7th 2004:

 

            I started out on the road at 9:15 am. Iím still on rt. 36 crossing through Kansas now and itís some awesome scenery. I stopped and visited the Pony Express and the Oregon Trail sites at Hollenberg Station. Then I stopped at the Geographical Center of the US.  I could see a bad storm approaching off to the west of me so I took rt. 27 north into the very south west corner of Nebraska and got onto to rt. 34 into Wray, Colorado.  Thatís where the storm and I met. I pulled off the road and got a room just as the wind and large rain drops started. The time was 5:45 mountain time and my ending odometer was at 35,953. 459 miles for the day. It was so open and flat out there that there just wasnít any place to hide from it. I got one of the last rooms available and unloaded the bike. I was watching the TVĎs weather channel showing that tornados had been spotted in the area. At that moment I was a happy guy knowing I missed that. It wasnít 20 minutes later though that the storm was gone and the sun was back out. I had planned and riding to Brush, Colorado that day. I still knew I could easily reach my destination of Cody, Wyoming the next day and it was good to sleep in a bed after camping the last two nights. My gas mileage had gone down a lot. I donít recall now what it was but the bike sure was running richer as the elevation increased. Riding along you didnít notice that change except for each little town I came to had its name and elevation posted on their signs. That evening I had some free time so I got my maps out again and changed my planned route. I was going to go on rt. 34 into Greeley just North East of Denver then go up rt. 85 into Cheyenne. Instead I decided to take rt. 71 north out of Brush just east of Fort Morgan, Colorado. Cross back into Nebraska then west into Wyoming.

 

 

 

Day Five August 8th 2004:

 

            I was on the road at 6:30 am. I did get a much earlier start when ever I stayed in a motel. I think that in the tent I was content to sleep in and let any dew there was dry before I packed it up. I started out on rt. 34 West into Brush then took rt. 71 north. Crossing north through the Pawnee National grassland was an awesome site. I stopped beside the road and just gazed all around me. I could picture the Indians there roaming the grasslands along with the buffalo. I took pictures and video clips with my digital camera. There was a nice steady gentle breeze blowing and I just stood there watching the tall grasses moving in the winds. I finally snapped out of the trance and got back on the bike and made it into Kimball, Nebraska. There the tranquility of the trips past few days stopped as soon as I got on rt. 80 heading west into Wyoming. It was back to the fast paced busy traffic. I got onto the super slab to make up some lost time as I knew it was going to be a haul to get to Cody when I wanted too. I had had rt. 36 from Ohio and then other roads to this point almost all to myself. Well not any more. There were trucks and lots of them plus the cars and a lot of other bikers now too. All going at 85 plus mph. Man oh man did I suck up some fuel now. I was having to switch to reserve at 100 miles. Once I got to Cheyenne I took rt. 25 north and my mpg didnít improve any. I was now going against a strong head wind. Looking back on it I should have stayed on rt. 71 North in Nebraska until I reached Scottsbluff then taken rt. 26 over to rt. 25 in Wyoming. I stopped at a rest area on rt. 25 to stretch and noticed a motorcycle with Vermont plates. At this point there were motorcycles everywhere. I walked over to the rider and asked where he was riding from. He was from Brattleboro, Vt. That was right near home for me. We visited for awhile and he told me of his trip so far. He had been where I was going to and was making his way back home to Vermont via Denver, Colorado. I got back on the road and had to stop for gas twice more before leaving rt. 25 in Casper and onto rt. 20/26. I was sweating it gas wise when I got into Shoshoni 100 miles later. This was some awesome country here along rt. 20 through the Wind River Canyon and Indian reservation. I stopped and topped off just 33 miles later in Thermopolis. I could see the Rocky Mountains to my west and I knew I was gaining in elevation. When I would really get on the throttle there really wasnít much response. Just sort of a deeper humming sound. It was starting to feel like I was riding with it at full choke and it was going to be another 85 miles before the next available fuel stop in Cody and the elevation just before Cody was at about 6000 feet then back down t about 5000 in Cody itself.  There was a lot to see along this part of the trip since leaving Casper. Places like Hellís Half Acre and the Wind River Canyon recreational area. I stopped and took lots of pictures. This was all new country for me and I couldnít get enough of it.

            I got into Cody, Wyoming at 6:30 pm. The ending odometer was 36,549. 596 miles for the day. It was a long hot day but through some beautiful country. So far this trip was everything I had hoped it would be. I was finally at my destination. Tomorrow would be the Bears Tooth Pass into Red lodge, Montana.

            I found the KOA camp ground and got checked in. I was so disappointed at how it was there. I had been camping at roomy parks and campgrounds. Here it was like being jammed into a packed parking lot. I had to take it as there was not going to be any refunding the $$ now. There was a lot of Harleyís there also but on their trailers. There was this one Harley rider standing just outside the check in office. I noticed how clean all his leathers were and how he was trying to talk to everyone who passed by him. He was watching me as I got off my bike so I looked right at him and walked right directly towards him. He just sort of stood back and said hi and I returned the greeting and went inside to check in. When I came back out he was standing by my bike. He was so surprised that I rode all the way there from Mass. Well, his story was that he had just recently bought a brand new Harley Road King and a new trailer to haul it on plus all his new Harley Brand riding duds. He stopped just outside of Cody and rolled it off the trailer to ride into to town like most of them (real bikers do) and his new HOG wouldnít even fire up. He was pissed. He got a hold of the nearest local Harley Dealer and took his prize bike there. They told him what was wrong. I forgot what the part was that failed but I guess they told him that it was a common part to fail and that hey were all out of them. He would have to wait at least a week for the parts. So he was pissed and was telling everyone who would listen to him how he felt about it all. He truly was a nice guy and I did feel for him. 

            I got my tent set up and rode back into Cody to find a cold pint and some good food. It didnít take me long to find both. There were bikes everywhere. I asked a local if they were on their way to Sturgis. He says some are but itís like that almost every weekend there. All the riders wanting to travel by bike through Yellowstone and few over the Bear Tooth Mountains and the Big Horns where I was going the next day.

 

 

 

            Day Six August 9th 2004:

 

            I was glad I had bought a down sleeping bag. It was cold there at night. I slept terrible. There was such a dysfunctional family camping not but 6 feet away from me. A woman and her two teenage children. One boy and one girl and from what I could tell was her boyfriend. The boy was an idiot, there was nothing but constant yelling and screaming and fighting. This kid was taking his sisters game boy and stuff like that and smashing it. And all the mother wanted was someone to feel sorry for her for having kids that acted like her. Finally the kid ran off and then the mother threatened to go back home to what ever hell hole she came from and the tore off in the car. The daughter and the motherís boyfriend sat there and visited quietly for most of the night. When I got up at daylight the car was still gone. What a downer after having such a great trip out to there so far.

            It was cold when I got up and going at 6:00. Everyone else was still sleeping in as I dressed up in all the warm clothes I had with me. I headed into Cody and got a quick Breakfast then gassed up and was off along rt. 120 and then onto rt. 296 the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. With in a matter of about 22 miles I went from an elevation of 5016 in Cody up to 8,048 at Dead Indian Pass. I decided not to go into Cooke City and instead turned onto rt. 212. This is what I had waited years to do and rode thousands of miles to get to. It was still real cold and hardly anyone else was out there yet at that early a time. This was great. The scenery and the roads were breath taking. This was in fact a trip of a life time for me. It was stopping often and taking lots of pictures and video clip. As I was riding up over the Bears Tooth Pass I was looking out for a dirt side road that I had read about. It would lead me up to a fire tower with awesome views. I found the dirt road and turned onto it. It was rough washed out gravel. It also said it was closed. I though bull after riding all this way I was going.  I made my way up it winding along then I came to an opening and there were several trucks with their horse trailers attached. They must have been out packing back farther into the mountains.  I rode up to where a gate blocked my way and there was no way to get around it. I parked the bike and grabbed my camera and started hiking. It wasnít long at all before I was out of breath. I was hiking at over 10,000 feet and I couldnít get enough air in. Now I knew how my Valkyrie was feeling. The hike up to the fire tower was worth every step of the way. What a place and what a view. I decided to hike higher up the mountains and look back down and take pictures of the tower. The sign on the tower said 9,811 feet. I walked back to the bike and continued on. I had yet to reach the pass.

            Once I got to the top of the pass at about 11,000 feet there was still snow beside the roads and ice on the lakes in some spots. This was almost mid August and I was cold. I took a few more pictures and decided I hadnít better be stopping so much. I still had places I wanted to get to that day. The views and the roads there are just hard to describe with words. You just have to go there and see it all for yourselves. Pictures donít do it justice. Not at all!

            Well, I made it into Red lodge with gas to spare. I was surprised. The trip from Cody up and over into Red lodge was about 100 miles. But half of it was all downhill. That was it! I had done it! I made the ride that I had dreamed about for four years. It was worth every bit of the travel to get there and do it.

            One other thing I wanted to do was to have a brew from the Red Lodge Brewery. The Brewery itself wasnít open yet at that time of the morning but I did find a place open and had a pint and a burger. I well deserved treat for making the goal.

            From Red lodge I took rt. 308 through Washoe and Bearcreek and into Belfry. Along that road as I was descending I saw an old eerie building off to my left. I stopped at the roadside marker and read about how this is the Smithfield mine and how there had been a tragic mining disaster there. I believe the worst in Montanaís history. It was sad and eerie at the same time. I had since  bought the book about that from Red Lodge Press. From Belfry ďI donít believe there was but two houses in that whole townĒ I took rt. 295 back south into Wyoming and into Powell. From Powell I took Alt. rt. 14 east through the Big Horn Basin and then up over the Big Horn Mountains. Again the roads and the scenery was awesome. It was so hot down in the basin but cool up in the mountains. Along that route I passed by the Medicine Wheel National Historic Site. When my rt. met up with rt. 14 I took that back into Cody. I didnít track times but my mileage for the day was 360.

            My original plan was to ride the Bears Tooth Pass then come back down it and down through the Grand Tetonís and back to Cody. Then go out Alt. rt. 14 on my way back home and stop at the Little Big Horn National Monument and ride rt. 212 back through the Black Hills of South Dakota. The rider I had talked to the day before from Vermont had come out that way. He said that the road reconstruction along rt. 212 in Montana was the worst of his whole trip. So I rethought my route once again rode this plan instead. I was happy. It was great.

 

 

            Day Seven August 10th 2004:

 

            Well it was another horrible night at the KOA in Cody. The dysfunctional family was gone but I had a new neighbor now. One with a yappy dog. At some point during the night this woman finally takes her dog out of her car and brings it in her tent with her. It shut up. Then a few minutes later I could hear this dog start puking in her tent. Then she starts puking too and at this point Iím really starting to enjoy this. Then she gets out of her tent and starts up her car with the blowers on inside trying to dry out I guess. This car thatís running is but six feet from my tent. Finally both her and her dog settle down for the night. I woke early and packed up the bike. Enough of the KOA in Cody, Wyoming for me! I had to make new plans for the trip home. Rt. 212 was now out of the picture. I decided I would retrace my route back down through Wyoming for starters then get onto rt. 20 East just below Douglas. I didnít make note of my starting times but the starting mileage was 36,911. The scenery along rt. 20 at the Wyoming/ Nebraska border was awesome. There were lots of trains along the north side of rt. 20. Lots of them! All were hauling coal and lots of it. They were lined up for miles and some were stopped and the engineerís were out talking to each other.                                                                                                          As I was coming through Nebraska I saw what looked like a really interesting camping area. So I stopped. It was only late afternoon but I had plenty of time. By skipping the Black Hills I was taking a day or so off my trip. That was OK at this point. Funds were starting to run low. I had spent two nights so far in a motel that I hadnít planned to. Plus I spent way more on gas at the higher elevations that I had planned also. I found where to check in and found that I was at Fort Robinson State park. What an awesome place that turned out to be. There is so much history at this one old Army Post. Camping there was cheap and the whole area was great. The food in the old military hall was good too. I could have spent days there and one summer I will. If you have a chance Google it and check it out. I really enjoyed camping there that night. I also hung around that next morning and checked it out more. Thatís where Chief Crazy Horse was killed. And POWís were kept there in later years.

 

 

Day Eight August 11th 2004:

 

            I was on my way at 9:30 am. Starting mileage was 37,284. I stayed on rt. 20 east until just beyond OíNeill. It was a long slow and horrible day. The scenery was ok but I think I was in scenery overload. There was so much truck traffic coming towards me and a real strong wind blowing from the north. I was having to really constantly lean heavily to my left side into the wind. As I would meet a Semi truck the blast of wind from it would stand me back up straight and almost off the right side of the road. They were going 70 plus mph. Iím trying to do the same in the other direction. As the truck passed I would be leaning for all I could to my left to stay on the road then the blast of air was gone in a second and I would be in the oncoming lane facing another truck. It was like this almost all the way across Nebraska. Add to that the road conditions. Then most of it was the Ka chunk Ka chunk of what used to be cement sections and my suspension was about bottoming out each time. I was beat by the time I got to where rt. 275 split off from rt. 20. I decided to take rt. 275 over to rt. 77 south a bit then onto rt. 91 into Iowa. I needed to make up some lost time and was going to jump onto the super slab of rt. 80 and boogie. I was tired and was done with the scenery thing and was wanting to get back home. The weather had been great the whole trip with the exception of that first day in PA. I had been thinking of the kids a lot and how I wished they could have been with me to see all I had seen. I used to take them with me on the bikes to Rolling Thunder and that 450 miles in a day was almost too much for them. Never mind what I was doing now. I got into Iowa at about 5:30 and gassed up and ate. I decided I was going to ride as long as I could then find a motel. 

            After getting past Des Moines it started to rain lightly. It was dark now and I was getting real tired and chilled. I started stopping to look for a room. All were full already. Then I remembered what my brother Roger had told me. If youíre traveling out in the mid west and want a room you had better stop early for one or make a reservation earlier in the day. The rooms a few and far between if you wait too late. Well it was too late. I had stopped at several exits in a row and they were all full. Some even had sighs written on card board in the window saying so.  I decided that I would try at one more exit and if nothing then I was going to ride on through the night. I got lucky! I got the last room at that motel just east of Iowa City. I was so cold I could hardly write to fill out the paperwork at check in. It was midnight exactly when I stopped. My ending mileage was 37,956. 672 miles for the day. And most of the seat time was the first part trying to get across Nebraska along rt. 20.

 

 

Day Nine August 12th 2004:

 

            I slept good and felt rested. But I was getting pretty weary from being on the road so much. I was on the road again at 8:30 am. The day before was not enjoyable at all. Today I had to either pick an enjoyable route or just boogie for home.

            I got back onto rt. 80 and stayed on it until I got to rt. 74 south in Illinois then got on rt. 24 east near Peoria. I took rt. 24 east until I got to rt. 224 near Huntington, Indiana. I had wanted to cross way below Chicago. I crossed into Ohio on rt. 224 then got onto rt. 30 near Van Wert. Crossing through Ohio on rt. 30 was pretty good going. It was depressing though. The farther east I got the more congested it got and the more arrogant the drivers were. I wasnít sure how far I was going to travel this day. I was getting road weary and was no longer planning my ride for the day as well as I had been. I was no longer eating right either. Once I got to Mansfield I started looking for a camp site. This was going to be my last night on the road. I hadnít planned a head and it was getting dark and misting and I had no idea where I was going to camp at. I saw a sign for a camp site and followed it. It wasnít too far off the highway maybe about 5 miles. Just before I pulled off rt. 30 I was seriously considering just riding right through the night for home. I could be there by mid morning in my own bed. But I reasoned with my self that I was already tired and it was misting. The mist was making it hard to see the road in the dark and I knew if I was to push it now I could very easily hit something on the road during the night like a piece of tire from a semi. My plan from here was to take the super slab all the way to Albany, NY. I decided that I had to make the right choice, be smart and stop for the night. I had had a safe trip so far. No really close calls at all other than the trek across Nebraska on rt. 20.  The camp ground was a private one but it was nice with nice facilities. I stopped at a little after 9:00 PM. The ending mileage was at 38,544. About 588 miles for the day.

 

 

Day Ten August 13th 2004:

 

            It had rained during the night. I was dry and warm in my tent. I donít recall what time I got out and got going but I know it wasnít too early. It was only a light mist falling of and on when I got back on the highway. I was now on rt. 71 heading towards Cleveland. I turned onto rt. 271 and then onto rt. 90 north of Cleveland and into PA. Thereís no more mention of scenery in my notes. All that was back west of me. I was getting back into the depressing congested traffic of the North East. It was a dark dreary day and light rain and mist off and on but really not bad traveling. Once I got past Erie I got onto rt. 86 and into New York State. Near Binghamton I got onto rt. 88 and was headed towards Schenectady. I had traveled this road before and was going to cross over to Troy and bypass rt. 90 and Albany. Somewhere along there I missed my turn and ended up going through downtown Schenectady before I got myself to Troy. And it was about the evening commute time. So that was frustratingly slow going. When I got into Troy along rt. 7 the skies opened up. I got drenched. It rained so hard I could not see. Coming up out of Troy along rt. 7 they were doing road construction and had dug down into the gravel. Those areas were full of about two feet or more of water and I had to go though them.  I couldnít believe it. I was so close to home and in such horrible weather. In Brunswick I crossed over to rt. 2 along rt. 278. I stopped at the Stewarts there and waited for the storm to let up. I waited about a half hour.  I shouldnít have. Only a mile or so up the road the roads were dry. Go figure. I got home in Colrain at 8:00 PM soaked. The ending mileage was 39,167.I believe that was 623 miles for the day and 5,056 for the whole 10 day trip.

 

 

            Despite the lousy weather at the end of the trip, over all it was great. It truly was a trip of a lifetime for me. It is my hopes that one day my kids will save this trip report and travel the same route and enjoy it all as much as I did. And then their children after that. I realize that this was a long report and I hope you enjoyed reading it. It was a joy to relive this from the notes I had on my PDA.  I have lots of pictures and video clips. At some point in the near future I will post this at my own web site with hyper links to the pictures through out the report. Until then I will ask Ron if he can post the text part to the clubs site.

 

 

Russ Gilbert

VRCC # 639

 

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