Decision mad. After 5 days on the road on day 6 I’d make the home run.
I could still do the final loop through the forests on my road trip or I could hit the freeway home. The weather appeared better than the previous day but was still windy. When the guy on the front desk at the motel mentioned that the wind had caused fires to double in size in the Wenatchee National Forest (my original route home) it was decision made. After 5 days on the road, on day 6 I’d make the home run. My route back would be freeway all the way to the US-Canada border. First stop Seattle, then straight up I5 to BC.
I’d spoken to another biker the previous evening who’d travelled from Seattle over the Snoqualmie Pass. He’d mentioned that it was chilly, so it was definitely inners in the riding gear before setting off. Although not as bad as the previous day, the winds were still high and gusting so I braced myself for another endurance ride. Within the first few miles I made my first big call of the day. I was not going to be overtaken by a house.
Glancing in my mirrors I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A large tractor trailer was gaining on me doing around 65-70 mph (110-120kph), not so unusual as these rigs really travel over here. What made me take a second look was that it wasn’t a 53′ container being lugged along, it was half a mobile home. Even though the wind was blowing hard and I was riding cautiously, I was not about to be overtaken by a house. I eased the Ducati away from the gaining residence and it would not get near me again.
The ride to Seattle wasn’t as challenging as the previous day’s experience but did add very chilly temperatures over the pass. Another biker hassle that had to be negotiated was grooved paving. The road surface was just concrete finished in what I can only describe as raked line along the length of the carriageway. In a car you’d probably not notice any change in driving conditions. On a large cruiser bike with fat tyres there may be minimal impact, but on my bike that has relatively thin tyres I was running along tram lines that varied in width. Throw in the gusts of wind and the experience interesting to say the least as the bike would suddenly wobble as tram lines were changed. Another learning for me.
After a final pit stop I was on the I5 heading north and by late afternoon had arrived home.
Final reflections from a road trip noob.
I’d covered around 1350 miles (2130 Km) over the 6 days. My previous longest ride over a day was a total of 120 miles (200Km). I’d ridden about twice that distance for each of 6 days on the road. Physically and mentally I felt fine. No saddle sores or bandy legs and most importantly, no back ache. In fact the only stiffness was in the shoulders and that subsided fairly quickly after taking a break. The day after the ride I feel totally okay. I’ve impressed myself. Maybe as not as couch potato as I thought I was.
Did I enjoy the experience? Absolutely. An 8 out of 10 that given better weather would have been a higher score.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. Riding is such an all senses experience and is probably the best way to do a road trip for that reason alone (I’m sure the guy I met at Crater Lake that was on his his back from Alaska would agree).
What could be better? More planing, more defined places to visit would have added some structure, having said that, the freedom to just replan and do whatever I wanted really has it’s attractions. I’d also like to share the experience with someone. There comes a point when having someone to talk through the day with would be the best end of day.
So, am I a changed person? Probably not. No tattoos, piercings or other questionable mid-life ‘choices’ made or indeed desired. There is a sense of satisfaction, of rising to a challenge. Okay, motels are not a challenge, but the bits in between were.
Now, about that cruiser……