Route: Vermont – New York – Montreal – Vermont – New Hampshire – Maine – Massachusetts – Connecticut – New Jersey – Pennsylvania – West Virginia – Ohio – Michigan – Wisconsin – Minnesota – South Dakota – Wyoming – Montana – Idaho – Washington (18 states, 2 countries). I shipped the bike to New Hampshire, flew there, and rode it back.
Total Miles: ~5800 miles. I averaged about 300 miles per day.
Bike: My 2001 naked SV650. Why this bike? Because it was either this one or my XT225 and I wanted the power of a 650. I also wanted to ride what I already owned rather than going through the expense and effort of getting a new bike and setting it up for touring. I had already toured on the SV and while it wasn’t perfect, it had adequate power, was relatively comfortable, and had a hacky touring setup that would do. Not to mention, there aren’t very many touring bikes out there for a person my size, so it was up to me to rig out a bike that worked for touring. I comforted myself with the fact that compared to women who rode cross country a hundred years ago, this bike was still close to rocket science.
Time Taken: 1 month (mid-July to mid-August). I didn’t ride all day every day. I took a few days off to hang out with friends and see the sights.
- Visiting the east coast for the first time ever and riding up to the Atlantic Ocean.
- Feeling the thrill of seeing the skylines of the great east coast cities of Boston, New York and Philadelphia for the first time.
- Camping on Lake Champlain and riding through the Adirondacks.
- Spending time in Montreal and riding through a bit of Quebec.
- Vermont – my favorite state of all, so green, so picturesque and such perfect motorcycling roads.
- Riding through all of New England and on the coast of Maine.
- Seeing people driving buggies in Pennsylvania Dutch Amish country and spending a night at the historic Gettysburg.
- Visiting the AMA Motorcycling Museum in Pickerington, OH. I wouldn’t make a trip especially for this, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you are in the area. I sat on Will Smith’s bike from I Robot and saw Neil Peart’s bike!
- Riding the M22 along Lake Michigan.
- Taking the Mackinac bridge to the Upper Peninsula.
- Walking through the Badlands of South Dakota.
- South Dakota in general. Contrary to what I had heard from other riders, some of my favorite riding was through here, starting with the vast, tranquil cornfields to the east through miles of vast prairie in the middle, and
- suddenly out of nowhere lush green forest to the west, with Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse.
- Riding through some amazing roads in Wyoming to Devil’s Tower.
- Mostly good, calm weather in the Great Plains. I had been dreading this stretch after hearing stories from friends who rode through winds that threatened to blow their heavily loaded GSes into the other lane.
- Seeing the skyline of Seattle after what seemed like an eternity and forever seeing the city with new eyes.
- Meeting cool people along the way, like the BMW rider in Portland, from the BMWMOA anonymous book who was kind enough to give me shelter for a night after I was trapped in torrential rains and couldn’t find affordable lodging anywhere in the city; the old Korean war veteran Harley rider in New Hampshire who took my picture and showed me his medals; the crazy kid from Ohio on a Honda 919 pulling a gigantic trailer who was doing his own solo x-country ride; the cool biker boys in Rhinelander, WI; the crusty old bikers riding back from Sturgis; the riders whom I had only ever known online and finally met in real life; and so many of those out on the road that I met and chatted with over cups of gas station coffee and cigarettes.
- Seeing and experiencing a little of everything – big cosmopolitan cities, historic little towns, artsy towns, rural forgotten villages, hostels and campgrounds, winding, twisty roads, iconic roads, roads that went straight for days on end, big, polluted interstates, rivers, lakes, forests, mountains, prairies, glorious sunny skies, 100+ degrees sweltering heat and humidity, torrential rains, thunderstorms…
- Doing this alone and making it back to Seattle alive and in one piece. For those of you acquainted with the incidents from last year, this was a bit of a big deal for me.
- Weather: Being plagued by bad weather for the first two weeks. They say this was the wettest summer the east coast has gotten in the past ten years. Riding through torrential downpours got very old very quick. I soon learned to start scanning weather reports and radar maps to map my route for the day. I had to make some hard decisions like completely avoiding riding through Virginia and Tennessee. I had been looking forward to riding the Skyline Ridge and Deal’s Gap, but alas, those areas were plagued by ugly thunderstorms and it didn’t make a sense to be miserable and ride through there just to say that I had done it. When it wasn’t raining, it 90+ degree temperatures. Closer to home, I gave both Lolo Pass and Glacier a miss because of pouring down rain and running short on time.
- Tollbooths: F***ing tollbooths. Waiting in line for miles in 95+ degree weather in full gear to pay toll. Losing ticket and being forced to pay the entire toll. I f***ing hate tollbooths.
- The Sick: Falling sick in Columbus, OH. I lost 4 whole days of riding and forced myself to ride while sick for three days afterward because I was afraid I wouldn’t make my deadline. Riding when you can barely stand kinda sucks. This also meant that I had to miss going south through Colorado like I had planned and I never really got to ride through the Rockies.
- Gremlins: My bike’s electrical gremlins coming back to haunt me where on two different instances the bike refused to start. I thought I had taken care of this before I had left by replacing the starter, but I was mistaken.
- Sturgis: Missing Sturgis, that is. Hokey as it might sound, it seemed appropriate to experience it on a ride like this, but I missed it by a day.
- Bike down! Having the bike go down on a gravel pullout and being unable to pick it up, predictably on a little travelled road in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming.
- Being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic near Sultan 30 miles away from home.
VERMONT, NEW HAMPSHIRE
NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY