30 September 2020

CC20 - Day 17: Tail of the Dragon Photos (Part 1)

Photos from 129slayers.com

CC20 - Day 17

One of the bucket list items done:

Tail of the Dragon

I rode the "Tail of the Dragon" – a section of US 129 just East of Knoxville, TN. It's a really fun road to ride, with 318 curves in 11 miles. It would have been really awesome with less traffic though. There were some cars, but these generally pulled to the side when a motorcycle approached from the rear, the "bigger" hurdle were other motorcycles, namely big touring bikes from Harley Davidson, sometimes in groups of 5 to 8 bikes. A single bike is easy to pass, the groups have been rather annoying since they were really slow and didn't pull over because they were not aware of someone following the last one in the group (and probably didn't realize how impressively slow they were). 

On the other hand, these guys are tremendously skilled at slow speed cornering, I was nearly falling over trying to go the same speed through some of the turns. I stopped a few times to let them get ahead, but in the end they were so slow, it took only a dozen curves or so to catch up again. One of the sections I rode twice because I really liked the left/right changes and I had one of these groups in front of me the first time.

But anyways, it was fun, but not something I'm going to repeat, the road is nice, but not nice enough to deal with the other traffic. 

At the "Killboy" store, a photographer selling shots
from riders on the Dragon

I got some stickers, and that was it.

Great Smoky Mountains

Since I'm staying for two nights in the same hotel in Knoxville, I took the case off and put the bike into "hooligan mode" for today – with the master hooligan still on board:

Side Cases off

The Hooligan

It's really a beautiful area. I continued on "Moonshiners 28", a faster, less tight road and onto Cherohala Skyway, another road that is less tight and asks for faster speeds to be fun. There was a lot less traffic on these two roads and so I definitely had some fun there.

Along Cherohala Skyway, near Tellico Beach

It was a great ride today.

Click the image to go to the real map

29 September 2020

CC20 - Day 16

Since it was raining most of the ride today, I didn't take any photos. Also, because of my ear issues, I've only done a short hop to Knoxville, TN. 

The rain was light, but pretty much during the whole ride. Sometimes just some drops, sometimes a slight shower. Wasn't too bad though. The only annoying thing was drinking. My drinking tube is in the tank bag and that was under the rain cover ... so, only during stops today. No big deal, the whole ride today was only three hours.

Trying something new today with the map:

28 September 2020

CC20 - Day 15

No riding today. Had to let my ears recover from continuous ear plug use. Tomorrow I'll ride to Knoxville. If I like the hotel I booked there, I'll extend the stay there for a few days and will do day trips.

27 September 2020

CC20 - Day 14

From Cincinnati, OH to London, KY – it was a lot of fun today. I picked a route that brought me through some beautiful countryside, for me reminiscent of middle European landscapes – lush, green, hilly, rich colors and great riding. 

I was lucky, that the weather held. For a while it looked like it would be raining, but it didn't – it cleared up a bit and the weather was great for riding. 

At some point I was heading into a very promising county:

It didn't hold that promise though ... ;-)

As I was riding one of the many single lane roads, I came upon this very peaceful cemetery in the middle of the forest.

The route took me on a lot of single lane backroads, some turned to hardpacked dirt and gravel for a few miles, it was fine though, no deep gravel or such, which I try to avoid when I'm so heavily packed and have the big cases on. 

Since I had a rather complicated route today, I wanted to try something new and to not just provide a screenshot, but a way to see the real map. Let me know if there are problems with it.

First the screenshot:

And then the actual map: 


Tomorrow is undecided yet, I might have to stay here in London, KY, since my right ear canal has become quite tender and is swollen. I'm not used to wearing ear plugs for so many hours a day. If this isn't significantly better tomorrow, I'll stay here another day and see whether it gets better.

26 September 2020

CC20 - Day 13

Today was another "just get there" day. The reason is in the map below:

Day 13 Route

The colored lines/areas are roads that are marked as "nice to ride" in the web application Rever. They represent roads labeled with G1 (Yellow, Excellent), G2 (Red, Very Good), and G3 (Orange, Good) – rating them on how nice they are to ride on a motorcycle.

Now, as you can see, between Rockford, IL und Cincinnati, OH, there is nothing mentioned. I thought about stopping in Indianapolis at the race track, but since I got a late start this morning, I just kept on going. The yellow/orange/red blob to the East of the "F" marker in Cincinnati is what I came to ride. Therefore, it wasn't worth spending more time getting here, instead I rather have a bit more time from tomorrow on. I'll ride into the nice area tomorrow and spend a week riding super nice roads, first South and then North to the Washington, DC, area. Then back South again to turn West and head home ... we'll see how this plan works out over the next few days. 

Stay tuned ...

25 September 2020

CC20 - Day 12

After taking a break for a day I was refreshed and happy to move on again. I have to admit that I timed the "break day" with a rainy day, but it made sense anyways. 

Today I went South, partly along the Mississippi river, mostly through back country. The vegetation and weather reminded me a lot of Germany – it was lush, warm, and humid.


Mississippi River

Backroad Riding

It wasn't the most exciting riding, but at least it was mostly backroads and some curves. 

Day 12 Route

Tomorrow will be a more boring day which will take me somewhere in the area of Indianapolis or Cincinnati.

24 September 2020

CC20 - Day 11

Nothing to report today, I took a day off while staying in Eau Claire, WI. Took the time to wash clothes, repack some of my gear a bit better and generally just relax.

Will do an interview about a possible role later today, then have dinner.

Tomorrow I'll take the curviest route South I can find (not much there), on Saturday I should be in the Cincinnati area. 

One of the things I did today was making an appointment to get a new rear tire next week Saturday. I will have seven days of riding, six of them on curvy roads. I might still have some life left in the tire by then, but it was the day that fit my schedule best.

23 September 2020

CC20 - Day 10

Again, not really an exciting day. I rode from St. Cloud to Duluth – at the Western tip of the Great Lakes. Pretty much straight roads and there just wasn't any alternative route to make it more interesting. 

The forest is beautiful though, especially now with fall coming.

Fall Colors

In Duluth I visited Aerostitch to finally find out what size of Roadcrafter Classic I could possibly wear. Interesting enough, a short version, but with adjustments for longer arms and legs was the best fit. Short, since the torso is shorter as well. Will have to think about it, especially since the Klim Hardanger fits better without any adjustments, the downside is that it doesn't have a lined interior, which I would like to have, that's why I'm most interested in the Roadcrafter Classic.

Aerostitch in Duluth

Since Duluth didn't inspire me to stay, I moved on to Eau Claire in Wisconsin. Not that it's that much more interesting here, but it brought be about 220km South and I hope to avoid part of the thunderstorms that were in the forecast for Duluth. 

I will stay here for two nights and take a break from riding for various reasons: relax my ears for a day, not using ear plugs, relax the rest of my body, and maybe avoid some of the rain. Plus I have an interview tomorrow and it's much easier when I'm not riding on that day.

On Friday I will start moving South East.

Route Day 10

22 September 2020

CC20 - Day 9

The motto today was "hauling ass" ... ;-)

Donkeys along the road

Or, "getting across a large chunk of the flat area". I rode from Rapid City, South Dakota, to St. Cloud, Minnesota. Since this was a ride that had nothing interesting in it as you can see in the map below, there isn't much to say. 

Just over 500 miles, lots of bugs, boring roads. I had an audio book on the phone which I had already read in paper form, so was listening a little bit, but didn't need to focus in any way on it. It helped getting through an otherwise rather boring day.

Bugs ...

The photo of the headlight protector was taken about halfway during the ride today, you can imagine how it looked like in the evening ... I cleaned it again, this time without injuring myself.

Route today:

Boring route today

There wasn't a single real curve in the ride today, if something looks curvy in the screenshot above, that's only because the scale is so large that Google Maps already started shaping it into globe shape ... 

Okay, on to planning tomorrow.

21 September 2020

CC20 - Day 8

It was a short day today since I didn't want to plan too much with the cut I have on my right hand. I didn't know whether I could stand riding, but it worked out okay and I'm going to keep moving tomorrow.

Today I rode some very nice roads in the Black Hills, Custer State Park, around Mount Rushmore and so on. It all started out in a motel in Lusk, Wyoming, where I saw something I didn't think I'd see again:

"Back to the Future" on an old TV

The hotel was old, but very clean and nice enough for a night. This morning I "glued" the cut on my right hand again with "Liquid Bandaid", basically like a super glue with an antiseptic component in it. For riding I put an additional normal band aid on top and it worked out okay.

Cut from the Headlight Protector

I had some discomfort and pain today, but it wasn't too bad. Didn't hold me back much and I hope that it'll heal fast. It's not a long cut, just deep.

Rode into South Dakota today:

South Dakota

There I enjoyed riding some very beautiful parks, see route below. The state parks were great, Needles Parkway, is really enjoyable. The main problem there are the speed limits (25mph or 40km/h) and the cars going even slower. It was an exercise in slow riding, going around a hairpin turn at around 3mph was ... interesting. As soon as I left Needles I also left most of the tourists behind and went back to normal riding. 

So, visiting the parks for the nature is absolutely worth it, it's very beautiful. Visiting them for the nice twisty roads might not work out, which was okay for me, since I wasn't in a hurry. 

Bisons in Wind Cave State Park

Needles, South Dakota


I also rode past Mt. Rushmore and actually did something Andrea and I were always laughing about since we saw a presentation by Iron Butt rider Steve McCaa about Long Distance Riding: he said he's the type of rider who just keeps going, saying "Hey, there's Mt. Rushmore" while zipping past ... did exactly that today. When I saw the people there, the logistics for parking etc, I didn't want to stop and instead rode to one of the viewpoints where you can see Mt Rushmore in the distance. I have no long lens with me on this trip, so the phone with the "tele" setting was the best I could do.

Mt. Rushmore in the distance

From there I rode backroads to Rapid City and checked in for the night.

It was a nice contrast to yesterday's ride.

Route Day 8

I'm still figuring out how to create the route picture for the day in the simplest way for me that is still acceptable looking. I'll keep playing with it, but if you like a specific style more than others, let me know.

20 September 2020

CC20 - Day 7

Somehow this tour is not under the best omen, I think. Today I tried to do a nice route before heading North and through Wyoming. I researched the route and avoided the closure on 14, but my alternative route was closed as well, open to residential traffic only, and I had to turn North towards Laramie. 

Now, on 287 from Northern Colorado to my destination in Wyoming today, it was one of the most miserable rides I can remember. The side winds had me sit nearly next to the bike, my right knee on the crashbar, looking over my right mirror, just to get out of the wind and noise a little bit. I remember days on end riding in rain, sleet, cold, miserable heat – you name it, but for me personally, strong side winds are the about the worst, since I absolutely can't stand the noise, I have enough hearing issues already, I didn't need that today.

To top it of, I cut myself while cleaning the bike from bugs. I should have either shipped the low quality headlight protector back or gotten a different one to start with. The one I bought, an AltRider lexan headlight guard, looks like it was cut by a five year old with a jigsaw. But since it arrived just a few days before I left I installed it, only to give myself a really deep cut on my right hand today in a place that will definitely hurt badly with gloves. 

We'll see how it goes.

Today, there was nothing worth taking photos of, so here's just the route, this time with a track from my satellite tracker (Spot):

CC20 – Smoke following me or ...?

And I thought, I'd get out of the smoke:

Smoke over the US, today

My route so far ...

I actually do notice that my nasal passages are getting more irritated by the day. It might have been the dry air in Nevada and Utah, but it should have gotten better over the last two days. Nope, got worse. It's not too bad right now and I hoped it would get better the more I left the West Coast area, but that plume seems to "follow" me around ...

19 September 2020

CC20 - Day 6, Snowmass, CO to Fort Collins, CO

Since today was one of the days where I had the chance of riding some curvy roads, I planned a super nice route from Snowmass, CO (yes, that's really the name) to Fort Collins, CO.

Focus was "curvy" and a general direction of North East. First I rode through Aspen and over Independence Pass:

Independence Pass

It was a beautiful ride up there, not too much traffic and a dry and clean roads. I came through some really beautiful country.

And fall colors are in full effect here already:

Fall Colors in Colorado

My original plan was to ride through the Rocky Mountains National Park. Unfortunately, I wasn't aware that the park requires a timed reservation to even drive through. Hmpf. So, I changed my plan and since I had to make a 120km detour, I tried to make the best of it:

Different maps style today since Google Maps didn't let me create the route I actually rode for some reason. This is a map from the planning software I use, Rever

Also, something I realized later – the part that has the "3" marker on it is part of the "Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway", a route I had on my my bucket list of "Roads to Ride" for a while. It really is beautiful and majestic. Well worth it!

The day took me about 1.5 hours longer than planned, but I definitely had some fun on 119 and 72. I rode about 650km / ~400 Miles today, about 130km more than originally planned.

18 September 2020

CC20 - Day 5

After yesterday's late night dash to Grand Junction, I decided to take it really easy today. I only arrived at the hotel around 2AM in the morning and it then took me a bit to get my stuff sorted again after I packed in a hurry in the previous hotel. I also had to pack some wet clothing I had washed just a few hours before. 

I went to bed before planning today, only knew that I didn't want to set an alarm and still arrive rather early today to have a decent dinner and some time for my typical housekeeping. 

The route today was a bit to offset the ride yesterday night: under 200 miles and a lot of curves. I needed some mental relaxation and that worked quite well:

Day 5 Route
 Dinner tonight:

Keeping it at least somewhat healthy

When I arrived, the hotel staff directed me to the "motorcycle landing pad" for parking:

Parked smack in the middle

Yes, this is how they wanted me to park since the sprinklers come on at night and won't reach the bike if it's parked in the middle of the concrete pad. 

Now, on to planning tomorrow, more curvy routes and a general direction of North East.

CC20 - Day 4, Part 2

After I got fed up by squashing bugs that were clearly out to get me (no, I'm not paranoid), I got on the bike again and headed to Grand Junction, fastest way, since it was dark and didn't want to risk too much in my super tired state and in an area with lots of wild life on the roads.

Went okay though.

Day 4, Part 2
A fast highway/freeway run to the next hotel

17 September 2020

CC20 - Day 4

This will be a short one, I'm super tired, have to fight some weird bugs in my hotel room and are on the verge of packing up and go some place else.

Today was probably the last day of riding in areas I've been before with a motorcycle when Andrea and I were on our trip in 2013. 

The route took me from Cedar City along Cedar Breaks East to Bryce Canyon and on to Grand Staircase Escalante, through Capitol Reef and to Monticello, UT. 

Red Canyon – on the way to Bryce

Bryce Canyon

It was an interesting day, temperatures ranged from 10C/50F to 36C/97F. The afternoon was tough again due to heat and not having slept well the night before. We'll see how it goes today.

And it's important to be fully alert at all times since you never know what awaits you around the next corner:

Sheep ...

I had ample time to stop and it wasn't a problem getting through. 

Beautiful Nature in Utah

More "Red Stone"

And some straight boring stretches as well

At some point in time I had to stop, be in the shade for a while, eat a granola bar and just relax. The day was long enough to take a few breaks and about an hour before I arrived at my destination, I really needed that break.

Overall, it was a beautiful ride. Especially Capitol Reef was mesmerizing. Southern Utah is definitely beautiful. I did ride into Bryce Canyon National Park, but didn't do any of the other parks here since we stopped for them in 2013 and my goal was "East" ...

Day 4