I’m completely in the throes of prepping for a big ride. It has kind of sucked the air out of the room, due to complexity and the enormity of the ride. The official* ride length is 3500 miles all said and done, but it absolutely fails to account for five days in New Mexico which might add on another 1-2000 in hops out to places like Chaco Canyon and such.
I’m a prepper in that I make lists and make sure I have information in multiple formats so that I am not completely hosed when things go sideways. I’ve been making a list of security products for the bike, repair and maintenance products, general ride improvement, documentation and access materials, and so on and so on. I’m also building a small field notes notebook with turn by turn instructions to make sure that I can get to my locations without having to pull up GPS or an app on my phone.
I think of this as the big inhale, similar to when the water falls away before a big wave comes to shore. It’s not visually appealing, being mostly stacks of stuff around the house and me checking and double checking safety, redundancy, and overall need for stuff.
Odyssey 2019 is going to be an epic ride, I hope I do it justice in sharing it with people.
This post is one of the behind the scenes posts for that ride where I’ll give you an insight into some of the preparation I have been doing.
So Let’s get to it. First up, the remedy for trouble.
So there’s my tool kit. It’s not everything one would need to tear down a bike, but I can do a lot with what’s in there. Starting at the top, there’s a metric tool kit. (Indian runs metric, leaving HD the only manufacturer in the dark ages of Imperial measurements.) Below that, is a Dynaplug air compressor. I have CO2 cartridges in the plug kit below that, but you only get one or two shots to make it go before you’re out of options.
The tire plug kit below the compressor should let me do tire repairs at the roadside, as long as the sidewall isn’t compromised. This will allow me to get to the nearest place I can get a new tire. Below that is the standard zip tie package, and finally red light sticks for night time issues.
Not pictured are the head lamp, which goes in my tank bag as well as the ASE to Power Plug (think cigarette lighter) cable that connects to my pigtail to power the compressor.
Next up we have the trouble prevention kit, aka. the Security Package.
I wanted to make sure that I could secure the bike at night or while I was away for extended periods of time. I have had the orange disc brake lock since I owned the Sportster in 2011, and I have added a second brake lock for the rear tire and the six foot chain with shackle lock. Even if the bike can’t be physically locked to something, someone will have to work to make off with my ride. (Spare keys to be someplace safe in my crap.)
Finally, the part of the package that makes me worry and yet will yield some awesome results if I do this right. The Tech Package.
With the exception of the red camera (this is why we test our equipment before rolling out…) this is the package that I’ll be using to document the journey. Clockwise from the upper left: Nikon D3000 with a 18-55 lens. I almost opted to bring the 55-300, but honestly, if I cant get a good picture with a base lens, I should just not take pictures. Also pictured are the extra batteries, so I should be able to avoid lack of charge issues. (Skip the red camera,) 2 GoPro Session cameras, I have a bar mount and have added a clip mount to my windshield so I can get some pictures and video while in motion. My Macbook Pro, so I can update effectively from the road with pictures and such. A Kelty cube case to store most of this stuff in, In the case is an Anker 6 port USB charger, so I can charge multiple things at once when I need to. To the left, is my apple watch charger, as well as my SpotX Satellite tracker/messenger. One of my projects this week is to set up a page where folks can see my location while I am out. The SpotX also allows me to SOS call if I encounter something that requires first responders and I do not have cell service. To the left of that is a SD to USB-C reader, a host of cables for charging and data transfer, cleaning supplies, back up ear buds, and above them bluetooth earbuds. In the center are clean SD cards in a waterproof case, a ruggedized 1TB Hard drive, my EZ-Pass and the previously mentioned ASE to power port cable with a USB Charger to go in it.
The rest of my afternoon is going to be spent charging things, dragging out the comfort and ride components and getting those into order. I’ll document those as I go, as they are just as important as any of the aforementioned stuff.
Bigshankhank wrote:The world is a fucking wreck, but there is still sunshine in some places. Go outside and look for it.
Today's magic word: Damp
I left just before sunup this morning, in a light drizzle. I was trying to get going before the slow moving line of storms kept me home until 9 am or so. I managed to make good time until Benton Harbor, and I had to ride through rain and clouds so thick that it seemed like dawn had stalled out.
I almost bit it in Gary shortly after the rain had moved on. Traffic went from 80 to 0 in about 50 feet. Partially because of the rear end collision that happened in my lane three cars ahead. Thank god for the riders safety courses. I managed to stop the bike with a few feet to spare and not have myself pressed into the car in front of me. Always be looking!
After extracting myself from the left lane hairball, I decided to check my shorts and double check the load on the bike to ensure it had not shifted. (It was also time for a gas stop.) I started to log my mileage and noticed we have finally broke the 10000 mile mark! Go me!
I got a few good hours of riding in with no rain, and then the clouds started to move in again. I was making good time so I decided to take small chunks of old 66, which runs along I55 in southern Illinois.
I made good time and the last gas stop before St. Louis was still along old US 66. I got gas and met this little guy. He was protesting the misting and wind. Me too, dude. Me too.
I made it to my destination, unloaded and decided to go get dinner. The hosts suggested Zia's on the Hill. I was not disappointed.
Zia's feels much older inside than it actually is. The dining rooms feel like something out of the thirties. It felt like stepping through a dignified time machine.
I came for the toasted Ravioli, and spied cheesy garlic bread on the way in. Yup. I got them both.
I may have devoured the Ravioli and crushed most of the garlic bread. (I definitely did.)
I chose to have the Tortellini Piselli for my entree. The pasta was perfect, and tasted like it was fresh made. The prosciutto and peas complimented the pasta perfectly.
After crushing my way through dinner, I retired to the shotgun style house nearby and started drying gear. I also noticed they had a bat house out back!
See you tomorrow!
Day 2: Drier, But chilly.
I got on the road at 8 this morning, slightly later than I wanted, but early enough that I had a good amount of time to get to my destination for the day. It was dry, but the wind continued to come out of the North kept the little bit of sun from actually being warm. One can hope tomorrow will be a better go. As I moved deeper into Missouri and across Kansas, the fields just kept being waterlogged. Not just flooded or muddy, just morasses of mud and water. Food costs are going to skyrocket this summer.
I was amused at the name of this gas station/fireworks store in Missouri. I thought of one of my friends from Maryland, and his propensity to make things go FWOOM.
I Finally made it to Wilson, Kansas. (The one in the middle not the one in the south east corner. No shit, I swear there are two.) It's mostly a ghost town (or so it seemed at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon.) It has interesting buildings in the "post stone" style. (Quarried Limestone blocks, from local sources.)
I wandered around a bit, the town was fairly empty in a Children of the Corn kind of way. If you don't hear from me after this, that is what happened.
They are preserving their original opera house, which was damaged in a fire in 2009. It appears they are going to rebuild the structure as sort of an outdoor amphitheater.
I took a peek down into the basement area and saw a new Friend.
I don't think it was the trusting sort. I wandered a bit farther and saw the world's largest Czech Painted Egg. Wilson claims to be the capitol of Czechs in Kansas. I wasn't aware there was debate.
Walking back, I made another friend. I encountered this guy a few times while walking around town.
I also encountered a few abandoned time machines. (Relics of the past!!)
I found the old jail. It was built in the same style as the opera house.
It also appears that even buildings that *don't* appear to be built using this technique, are actually built that way.
I wandered back to the Hotel for Dinner (They said their Chicken Fried Steak was almost famous. It *was* pretty good.)
Today I also decided it was ok to have dessert. So I had their Bread Pudding. It was delicious. (I wish we had someplace close to home that made it this well. I'd be 500 pounds, easily.)
I'm staying at the Midland Railroad Hotel, which dates from the 1890s. The hotel feels like a classic traveler's hotel, with a downstairs parlor, dining facilities, and a gorgeous interior.
The rooms all have a ventilation shutter for the door. I knew they existed but have never seen any installed in my lifetime.
Also installed are working frosted glass transom windows. (I tested mine, even though we are probably not supposed to.)
Tomorrow will be the relatively short run to Denver, to see an Otter about a Pug.
Day 3- Back in the High Life?
I left Wilson around 8. (This is getting to be a habit, though its a late night tonight...) Kansas west of Wilson opened up into vast green landscapes where you could see for miles, but there would be a lot hidden in valleys criss-crossing the landscape. As a fan of TV show Supernatural, I felt it would be an injustice to leave Kansas without having a slice of pie...
When I reached Colorado, the rolling hills took over. I always thought them beautiful from the air, but they are more so from the ground.
I got about 80 miles outside of Denver and I could see Pike's peak to the Southwest. It took my breath away. Enough so that I had to make a gas stop and collect myself.
After reaching Denver and stashing my gear at the AirBnB, I met up with the infamous Dr. Otter, and we went to Black Sky brewer, where I watched him enjoy beer while I ate some garlic puffs and drank water. (long term followers will recall that I had a very bad time with altitude last time I was out this way and I really don't want to revisit the embarrassing and horrible incident.
After a short hang out, we went to a Gnostic Mass at Crux Ansata Oasis (OTO). They have a lovely space and I always enjoy meeting new Thelemites.
After the mass, we ran off to a place called the Brutal Poodle. I was intrigued by the name of the place. It was a fun visit.
I chose to have the GWARled Cheese, which was actually quite tasty. I also had the "Sweet Tots" which were sweet potato tots with cinnamon and sugar on them.
I dropped Dr. Otter off to tend to his Pug and I'm now back at my lodging and looking at a very late evening. I hope to mount Pike's Peak, even for a partial ascent, but it's an 8 hour total drive to Albuquerque, which stretches out to about 10-12 with gas stops. If I get too late of a start, I'll probably scrap it for this trip.
Day 4- No Mountain High Enough
Despite the extraordinarily late evening on day 3 I was up at 5:30 the next morning. (Let's hear it for time zone differences..) I was moving slow but got the bike packed and was out the door at 8AM. I was feeling a bit excited because I had called the Pike's Peak hotline and they were open to the summit the day before. I was off!
After a short jaunt I arrived at the highway start, paid my $15 and started my way up the Pike's Peak Highway. At only 2 miles in, the views were fantastic.
I had attached the Go-Pro and had my Nikon out, but I haven't gone through the cards yet to see what I have, so this will be a bit abbreviated. I wound my way up to just above 11,000 feet and the summit was closed for a bit while they cleared it. (I wound up spending about 2 hours there, but I acclimatized a bit thanks to it, and I feel that it helped me when I got to the Summit.)
After a while, they opened the summit, and everyone wound their way up the last six miles of road, with lots of tight switchbacks and hairpin turns. I was the most fun I've had on a motorcycle at 20 miles an hour. We made it to the summit, and it was very busy.
I got my donut and water, and enjoyed the view. (The donuts they sell are the old fashioned cake style, but the outsides are super crisp. Between that and them being warm and fresh, It's amazing!)
I ran into a cryptid!
I also enjoyed the view, it was even more stunning with snow on the lower peaks. I was feeling the effects of the altitude and I was a bit sore, so I said my good byes and headed toward Albuquerque.
My AirBnB here is in an artist's compound in the heart of the city. It's like a quirky little island in a busy town. I swapped to the kitchy digs, as my host had a bunch of family over.
I finished my day off with the first Green Chile Lotaburger I've had in 28-ish years.
Hard to say what tomorrow will bring.
Day 5: In the sky
This morning I ran a few errands after sleeping in for a while. I picked up a few things, and then got a bit of gear together, and hopped the highway to Acoma Pueblo to visit Sky City. The Acoma tribe have opened their pueblo to tours, despite it being an occupied and working place for them. The drive out was beautiful, and I had lunch when I got there.
After eating I went on an afternoon tour. The tours are set up so that they are guided, and you need to stick with your guide. Also the general rule is no photos of the church interior or graveyard, and ask permission before taking pictures of someone or what they are doing or selling.
The pueblo is recognized as the longest continuously inhabited settlement in North America, with carbon dating supporting evidence back to at least 1100AD, but the possibility of longer occupation exists. (The original buildings were flattened by the Spanish in retaliation for a humiliating defeat and subsequent embarrassment of their local military forces.)
The views are beautiful. It is easy to understand why their ancestors settled here.
The pueblo has no running water or electricity in the homes, but they have recently added composting toilet systems to the mesa, which helps with sanitation. The Acoma society is matriarchal, with the eldest woman in a family owning the property. The members of the tribe are free to come and go as they please to the homes here.
I found myself feeling overwhelmed by the fact that the Acoma have been here for so long, suffered so much, and yet here they are and here they intend to continue to be.
After the tour, I headed back to Albuquerque for some street tacos and to go through photos from the last several days. I felt like this was one of the better places I have ever visited out here, as it was Acoma voices telling the Acoma story. I wish I had visited years ago.
Day 6, Egg on my face
I don't want to write this post. I don't want to be honest in this post. But I am going to do those things. Today, I was headed out to Chaco Canyon, and was making decent time to get there early and get up to Farmington for some tasty Navajo eats. I need to make a fuel stop, and as I was turning in, I found a patch of loose pea gravel that wasn't bonded with the road, and my rear brake locked while in the lean of the turn and the bike rotated away from my preferred riding position. Bluntly, I crashed. It was a 5-10 MPH lowside, I smacked the hell out of my helmet, roughed up my leather jacket, damaged the bike, and really beat down my pride.
It may not be obvious in that picture, but the bar is pushed back to even with the brake lever. Barely drivable.
In falling, I also smacked the hell out of the back of my helmet, but it did exactly what I wanted it to do.
I limped it to the local Indian dealership, Indian Motorcycle of Albuquerque and they fit me in. (they were really really awesome, and got me back on the road today. I still haven't heard from my claims adjuster.
You can see the bend in the bar mounts in the picture above. The inset in the upper right is how that piece is supposed to look.
A few hours later, they got me out the door and added a new farkle for the long ride home.
Day 7: I got a case of the Weird
After yesterday's debacle, I decided to take an easy run to Santa Fe instead of the ass kicker of Farmington. Of course every good day starts with a stretch in the sun...
I then hustled over to Central Ave. for some local grub at Garcia's Kitchen. Huevos Rancheros and Lemon Cream Pie.
Having sated my hunger, I headed up north to a place called Meow Wolf. They have an interactive art installation that is called "The House of Endless Return" There's a narrative and damn near everything can be interacted with.
After three hours of intense sensory overload, I found the escape hatch and made for Albuquerque and Marble Brewery. I like most of what I had, but the odd ball ones like the Rye and Ginger Lager and the Rita! (Margarita beer) felt lost on me. They had a food truck doing food and I got nachos and a fruit salad. I finished neither.
This being my last night in Albuquerque, I need to pack and curtail my fun, sadly. I'll probably have some beer by the pool after packing.
Day 8- Off to Lincoln.
This is a bit late, as I had a hard time with internet access, and then a very long ride home. I rolled out of Albuquerque around 8 (seems to be a pattern...) and headed south on I-25 and slipped off toward Mountainair. I stopped a short while to look at the Abo ruins in Salinas National Monument. I then cruised over to Capitan and ate at Smokey Bear Restaurant, which was delicious.
After lunch, I arrived in Lincoln to my overnight location, the Dolan House. This is the house that Jimmy Dolan built *after* the Lincoln County War.
The house was opened to the public after 2007, when the previous owner passed away. The current owners have been renovating since and have a small restaurant and a single bedroom for rent.
One of the highlights of my short visit was finding out that a craft brewery has been started here and serves the local population as well as visitors. Their beers are quite good, and the owners are friendly.
Bigshankhank wrote:The world is a fucking wreck, but there is still sunshine in some places. Go outside and look for it.
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