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34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada
34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada
13,000 Miles Beyond Incredible
Published by Helmetdance
Page 3

Night of Departure – Friday, July 29th
A Minor Delay

The bike has been packed for over a week. Like a little kid on Christmas eve, I’ve been almost too excited to sleep for days. I’ve been itching to put in my last day in the high-stress corporate world of downtown Chicago and slip into the more peaceful and relaxed world of the open road. Having finished my last day of work on Thursday, all that I need accomplish today is to ensure I haven’t left anything behind, then wait for Seth, my riding partner, to get off of work.

Seth and I have planned a night ride across the entire breadth of the Great Plains, riding straight through from our meeting spot in Joliet, Illinois to Denver, Colorado. A one thousand-mile straight shot down Interstate 80 to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and then a short distance further to Denver via Interstate 25, our trek will qualify for a Saddle Sore 1000 Iron Butt ride. Sleeping all afternoon, I awake at 6:30pm to find a message from Seth on my cell phone. He has left work early and is already on his way to Joliet, having left his house at 5:40. I am ready for departure in thirty minutes and estimate that Seth will arrive ahead of me in Joliet by forty-five minutes to an hour.

The bike is ready. Clean oil, new air filter, and brand new Dunlop Elite 3 tires, all installed just a few days earlier. Even the Gremlin Bell has a new mounting strap. The bike is so clean it would put a white glove to the test.

Look Ma, no bugs!

Garmin 2610 GPS and Passport X50 radar detector

I even ordered a Chase Cam for a little video experimentation

A Pakit-Rak for storage, just installed at Wing Ding in Fort Wayne, Indiana over the July 4th holiday weekend

The moment has arrived. One last check with the tire gauge and finally, at long last, it’s time to go

Garmin 2610 GPS at the starting gun

A rendezvous in Joliet - Time to Roll!

Yours truly

Seth has been waiting less than thirty minutes. The traffic on I-55 was very heavy this evening, slowing Seth down quite a bit. Seth rode the shoulder on the way to our rendezvous in order to make progress through the heavy traffic. Otherwise, he would have not arrived until much later. The same thing had happened to Seth last year when we met at the same location. Strangely enough, we had just talked the night before about how slim the odds were that the same thing could possibly happen two years in a row. How wrong we were to under-estimate Chicago rush-hour traffic.

We had a quick cup of coffee and explained to each other our excuses for not being there earlier. We’re finally ready to saddle up and ride. We depart for Denver at 8:30pm, even earlier than we had originally planned. Rolling onto I-80, we gleefully commence our long-awaited journey. However, as the best-laid plans often do, ours soon goes awry, only 48 miles down course. A flat rear tire on Seth’s Goldwing hints that a night-ride across the Great Plains just isn’t in our deck of cards this year. Struggling to repair the tire with fix-a-flat by flashlight on the side of a very dark Interstate 80, the tire is too badly damaged to hold it. It quickly becomes painfully obvious; its time to call HRCA to the aid of Seth’s crippled Goldwing.

While waiting for the tow truck, an Illinois state trooper on patrol stops to check on our situation. He expresses more than a little concern upon hearing the name of the towing outfit. The officer doesn’t have much to say about them, except that they aren’t particularly known for having a great “sense of urgency”. We are about to discover the real reason why they're called "Waite's", and are about to do a lot of it!

Not the way we planned it!

The tow truck driver leaves instructions to be at Leipold Motor Sales, the closest Honda Dealer in the area, at 8:00am the next morning. As Seth pays for the tow, the driver assures us that the day-shift man will be at the dealer bright and early. Before the truck pulls away, Seth grabs some gear off his bike, hops on the back of mine, and off we ride, backtracking almost 30 miles to Ottawa, Illinois. By the time we get checked into the hotel it’s already after midnight. Although the hotel is only 79 miles from my house, the actual mileage covered from my house was to the hotel is 176 miles, including shopping for fix-a-flat and backtracking to Ottawa. Not an incredible start for an anticipated incredible trip. Yet knowing this sort of thing is just part of the sport, we settle for the only thing we can until morning – sleep.

Unscheduled stop – tire problem.
Location: Ottawa, Illinois
GPS Mileage = 176 miles

Route Map: Night of Departure

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By Chocoholic on 07-21-2006, 09:20 PM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

great story and trip...thanks for sharing it with us. Give me more chill wanting to go cross country......
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By G8ESCAP on 07-22-2006, 06:48 AM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

What a great job you did putting all this together Mark, and I'm only on page 12 so far! Has to be the finest post on the forum. Well worth the wait! Makes me want to get on my bike and go, if only it wasn't going to be 110 degrees here today!
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By goldwinghen3 on 07-23-2006, 04:58 PM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

THAT was one incredible ride...Your pictures are fabulous !!!! it took me 6 hours to read and look at your trip....You should publish this with some one...That has got to be the most amazing picture story around...I can't imagine how long it took you to publish this on here...How did you remember all of the names of the pictures and you amaze me that your spelling wasso good.......I am going to read it again when I have more time,,,I loved it !!! Isn't the Western U.S. GORGEOUS ??!!!!!!!!.......If you are ever in California again...look me up.....Thanx for the wonderful trip !!!!!....Henry
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By Helmetdance on 07-24-2006, 03:19 PM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

Fenny - That's great that you have been inspired to do some long-distance touring by reading my story. Even if you don't do that right away, you are lucky to live in the land of the best motorcycle roads in the world.

Dale - Thanks for the kind words. Still working some bugs out of it with Gary's help, but its nice to have it up on the board where the Pashnit gang can finally read it.

Henry - Thanks for the compliments. My intention is to eventually condense this down into a book. I didn't keep track of the hours, but there were many all-day as well as all-night sessions. There are a lot of hours wrapped up in this piece. Remember the names? If only I could do that, the amount of work would have been a fraction. I identified the names from maps, info on the internet, google earth, and lots and lots of internet searching. Tagging the pics with names required a whole lotta searching.
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By JimmieS on 07-24-2006, 07:55 PM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada


Truly a spectacular way to spend 30 + days and nights. You have seen the best of the best with the best of the best out there, and I have to give huge Kudos to you for the execution of this most amazing trip, and the all out perfect photo essay to accompany it. I can't imagine what it was like for you to take on such a huge ride, and still be able to communicate your daily excitement a year later. Well done. Well done indeed.

As I mentioned on another forum to you my wife and I just completed our 30 day circumnavigation of the US, and I am just beginning to put that story together to share here on Pashnit. I'm humbled by your style and class. Next time your in Ca. you had best remember to include me in your ride plans along with DaleC and Dorian - (man am I irritated with those two for not letting me in on the time they spent with you....)

Great job!
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By gpickren on 07-25-2006, 09:57 AM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

Fabulous ride pics and commentary, Mark. We live in So. Cal and as soon as we are able my wife and I will ride most of your route. Omitting the Kansas and eastern Colorado part I think.

We have been unable to travel for a long time do to caring for her 94 year old father, but when his race is finished we will plan to go. Thanks for the inspiration.
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By Michael Bishop on 08-06-2006, 07:14 AM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

Mark you did a great job giving a us a taste of your experience. I have been waiting for this from the time I read you was doing the trip.
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By harryvbr on 08-13-2006, 10:40 AM
Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

Great trip! I enjoyed the beautifull pictures. I was so lucky in 2002 to make almost the same trip by Goldwing. That Goldwing I could rent at Everett Motorsports.
Every now and than I look at the pictures I took.

Harry Vanbruggen
the Netherlands
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By bangladave on 08-13-2006, 11:04 AM
Clapping2 Re: 34 Days Through the Western United States and Canada

Mark, GREAT POST I have followed Pashnit for that last couple of years and your story is truly a great one. I have been looking at some of the same areas to ride through one day soon. We would be heading there from Minnesota so we need some extended time to do it. Keep following you dreams.

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