Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Red Lodge Vacation

With my family in Taiwan I traveled West for a short vacation.  I have been working on getting in better shape, so I hoped to turn my new fitness level into something adventurous.  After finally getting on the road at noon, I realized that I forgot my helmet and needed to turn around and go the 30 minutes home to get it. I left for real at about 1 pm hauling my DR650 on a trailer without lights.

My first stop was in Miles City, Montana.  I was graciously hosted by my Uncle Al and Aunt Lucy.  I woke early and solved my trailer light issue.  Turns out the frame was not working as a ground like it should. Once I added dedicated ground wire I saw the lights.

Al recommended riding in Strawberry Hill Recreation Area.  I experienced solid riding there and on an area gravel roads.

After riding back into Miles City, I hung around with Al and Lucy during the afternoon and stayed for dinner.  Lucy sent a few slices of left-over ham with me for my trip to Red Lodge.

My cousin Chip gave me access to his condo while in Red Lodge.  I looked forward to him joining me later in the week.

My first motorcycle ride was up Hell Roaring Road,  I found the baby-head rocks challenging at first. I dumped twice.  First tipping over into the road and next bonking into the uphill berm beside the road.  Once I learned to keep my speed up and let the suspension do the work I felt more confident and remained upright.

The next day, I looked on a map and found what looked like a good route.  I went from Red Lodge to Belfry to The Chief Joseph Highway back to the Bear Tooth Pass for the trip back to Red Lodge.  I saw several dirt roads and double tracks to ride.  I followed this for about 5 miles.  The tracks continued much further than I traveled on it.  Lots of big sky here.

Friday night Chip arrived from Fargo.  It is always good to connect with him.  Saturday morning he suggested we play around doing some climbing on a snow field.  

This is the same set of chutes that makes the backdrop for my motorcycle picture taken on Hell Roaring Road.  Cool coincidence. 
 This picture shows the steepness.  I went up as far as I could on snowshoes bearing aggressive cleats.  Chip was able to go higher because he had proper crampons.  This climbing was physically challenging and just the right amount of scary.  Going down was harder than going up.  I used ice axes and kicked in steps on part of the descent.
 Sunday Chip and I road up Bear Tooth Pass on bicycles.  It took me 3 hours of steady climbing in, or near granny gear to go 15 miles and gain 4,000 vertical feet. to the 10,900' top.

I took my first rest break in the parking area below the chutes we climbed.  I still had 10 miles to go.

Shortly before we pedaled above the treeline, we saw this bighorn sheep ewe standing next to the road.  She seemed to wait patiently as I took out my phone and snapped this picture.
Chip rode ahead and took this picture as I crested the summit by the ski lift.  My Surly Long Haul Trucker had lots of gears for the climb and stable handling for the fast ride down. 

Huge thanks to Lucy, Al and Chip.  Their guidance made this a week to remember.  

Grounding seems to be a theme of this trip from lights on my trailer, to connecting with family, to tipping my motorcycle, to proudly huffing and puffing on the side of hills.  

Mountains offer grounding perspective.  I can simultaneously hold pride in my accomplishments and feel insignificant compared to their size, age, and grandeur.  This is a memorable trip.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Wet Ride to Duluth

Jared and I rode to Aerostich's Open House Saturday.  Rain and temps in the lower 50's to lower 40's provided ample opportunity to try out my Darian Jacket and AD1 pants.  I won a MSR titanium two pot set set, and purchased a back protector and a t-shirt.

Sunday morning we had round two of gear testing.  Despite being wet on the outside, I stayed warm and dry inside my jacket and pants.  It was cold enough at home to turn on my furnace to warm the house and help dry out my gear.

Here's some info on the pot I won as a door prize.  It's a sweet titan titanium two pot set from MSR sans handle pliers.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Overnighter to Pipestone

 Hoping for a quick overnight motocamping trip, I pulled up a map of Minnesota looking for a novel destination.  I decided on Pipestone, Mn.  I know about the historic significance, but had never visited.  I called Jared, and he was able to both join me and plan the route.

 The two of us rode through the Laura Ingalls Highway to the West.  On the road, I thought about Mr. Edwards and the US-Dakota War of 1862 that emptied the the region of settlers and Natives though ethnic cleansing.
 The weather was nigh perfect.  Sunny skies, bright moon and moderate temperatures combined with no bugs made for a pleasant trip.
 We arrived at the Pipestone National Monument at about 4:30 pm.  Toured the inside exhibits and went for a 30 minute walk around the ancient grounds.
 We camped 6 miles south at Split Rock Creek State Park.  It was nothing fancy, but sites were available near the lake.
 We took a detour to ride up a gravel road toward a wind farm.  I wondered what geological structure made building wind towers particularly appealing here.  According to the Pipestone Chamber of Commerce.  "This area of Minnesota, called Buffalo Ridge... is a glacier-deposited ridge that runs diagonally accross the state.  Because of its higher eleveation of 1950 feet, the area experiences continual wind speeds of 18 mph.  This and the plentiful open farm and pasture land make it an ideal place for wind turbines."  
We arrived back at Jared's for a special late lunch of foie gras, brie, french bread and other charcuterie.   

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Crutch Jack Stand for the DR 650

Put together a jack stand for the motor bike.  $3 for a set of crutches from the thrift store.  Simple to make, cheap, strong, compact, and light make it a winner.

There are several web pages that show alternative designs, but this one works for me.  I get excited when I find simple solutions to problems that could easily be solved by money.