Monday, June 13, 2011

Escape Route

I've finished drawing up the basic outline of my trip; that is, where I plan to end up each night. Now, where I'll be STAYING each night is a bit up in the air. Here is stage one of the trip, via Google Maps:

View Directions to Golden, CO in a larger map

I leave on the 31st of July. Each stop represents a day of travel. The first day is the longest of the trip; I just want to put some miles between myself and Cambridge while I'm fresh, and there is nothing to see that I haven't already seen in 25 years. I plan on camping in Allagany St. forest the first night, then heading out to Ypsilanti/Detroit (8/1) to visit my brother. Then its on to Chicago (8/2) (a city, much to my shame, I've never been in!), St. Louis (8/3)(to see the Gateway to the West!), Topeka (8/4)(because its there), Burlington, CO (8/5) (I don't want to spend TWO nights in Kansas), Golden, CO (8/6) (to be on the west side of Denver in the morning). I'm most excited about seeing my brother, as well as Chicago and St. Louis. Despite my vegetarianism/veganism, I'm sure I'll have to get some ribs in St. Louis...mmmmm

Then the REAL trip begins:

View Larger Map

From Golden, I'll take the scenic route across the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide, staying the night in Grand Junction (8/7). I plan on finding the most touristy, "Old West" tavern in town and drinking whiskey. Then to Utah (8/8)(another state I've never been in) to Bryce Canyon, supposedly one of the most beautiful places on earth. From the natural beauty of God (and Joseph Smith's) own country, I go to the city of Man; Las Vegas (8/9). Neon lights, prostitutes, blue-haired old women humping the American dream at 4 in the morning. I can't wait. From Las Vegas, a straight burn to Los Angeles (8/10), hopefully taking my time riding the canyons to the east of the city.

Then its a lazy trip up to San Francisco, up route 1; Pismo beach (8/11), then Carmel (8/12), then SF (8/13). Hopefully camping the whole way.

If anybody knows some good sites to see along the way, or a place to crash for the night, please let me know!

- Mark

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Esmeralda Villa Lobos, or, The Little Ninja that Could

This is my bike. Its a Kawasaki EX-500.

This is Esmeralda Villa Lobos, a bit character from "Pulp Fiction". Why is my bike named after her? Why not. Just popped into my head, and that's as good a reason as any. Something about the orange stripes.

Anyways, this is not what you'd call a "touring bike". It weights about 430 lbs fulled fueled. It only puts out about 60 hp from its liquid cooled, twin-cam 8 valve parallel twin engine. Its basically a cheap commuter bike with a fairing on it, so I look like a SUPER POWER RANGER RACER when I ride it.

Pictured; what people see when I ride past them.

At any rate, this bike was designed in 1986 as a cheap beginner bike, then basically left unchanged until it was discontinued in 2000 and freaking 8! The engine design is basically half of the legendary GPZ900, the first mass produced bike with a 4-valve, liquid cooled, 4-cylinder engine in it.

Perhaps you recognize it?

What does this mean for touring? It means its going to be hard. Physically, not much can fit on the bike; one or two pairs of socks/underwear, jeans, tiny tent, sleeping bag, spare parts, maps, and that's about it. The windscreen is good if you're in a semi-tucked position, but that's not exactly comfortable when you're doing 500 miles across Kansas in a day. While it doesn't have a super-sport, pretzel-leg, humping-the-gas-tank riding position, it isn't exactly a Goldwing. Unlike modern touring bikes, it has no GPS, no hand warmers, no 12v accessory charging ports. It doesn't even have a freaking gas gauge!

So why am I doing this? I really admire T.E. Lawrence.

Pictured: the most badass badass who every lived.

T.E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia, was known for, amongst other things, being an amazing traveler. He crossed the "uncrossable" Nefud desert to attack the Turkish stronghold in Aqaba, which he took with a tiny Bedouin army; Aqaba had no defenses on the desert side, because, hey, it was uncrossable, right? Not bad for a pasty white Englishman. So, if I admire somebody, shouldn't I, in a small way, attempt to emulate him? Of course I should. Turns out, T.E. Lawrence also loved motorcycles.

Specifically, the Brough Superior. Probably faster than the Ninja.

Wait, isn't there more to the story about his love of motorcycles?...