Taking the Long Way Home - Atlantic to Pacific and back

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Hey everyone I'm Erick, I'm 25 and live in Northern New Jersey. Right now I'm smack dab in the middle of the greatest adventure Ive ever been on. But first let's rewind a bit.

 

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Consciously or not I've been building up to this trip for a very long time. Sometime around 2013-14 I watched long way round on Netflix and ever since then the gears inside my head have been turning. At the time I had no bike, no friends with bikes, and almost no street riding experience besides riding 2smokes on back roads in upstate NY. Truthfully I had very little practical knowledge about motorcycles, so I turned to the Internet!

 

I found out I could take a class locally for $299 and leave a licensed motorcyclist, for which I immediately reserved a spot on the roster and had a great time doing it. Even though I could already ride a bike since I've owned quads and dirt bikes the class was still absolutely worth the investment because of the experience level of the instructors (both were motorcycle police instructors). Some of what I've learned there has already saved my life.

 

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I realized that I absolutely could not at the time afford the venerable R1200GSA as my first set of wheels and that a smaller more manageable bike may be better anyway, so I set to figuring out what bike was realistic for me. As it turned out the 2014 F700GS at my local dealer was the one. She fit right, she was priced right at the top of what I could afford and she rides like a champ. I picked her up on April 28, 2015. (I left on this journey exactly 1 year and 1 day after picking up my first and currently only bike) Put down 12 k miles and Farkled her out over the next year and here we are. Literally living a dream I once had after watching long way round for the 87th time and thinking I could never do an adventure like that. So having no experience, or bike, or living in an over populated area like NJ, or not having anyone to go is not an excuse. If you want it bad enough you can make it happen for yourself any way you can on any bike that you love with whatever gear works for you.

 

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To be honest I had never been so nervous in my life as the day before I left for the trip. Though I spent a week riding solo from my home to PEI Canada in late September and that was a great little 2k mile shakedown but this trip is over 4 times longer in duration and covers much harsher terrain and climates. Needless to say there was a lot of pre trip anxiety about what to bring, how to pack and what sort of things could go wrong.

 

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I had originally planned to leave on May 1st but some good Harley riding friends wanted to go camping together before I set out.

 

Days 1-2 April 29th was the day I left home and me and 4 friends camped for 2 nights in the Delaware Water Gap forest. Going there my gps failed me and took us to a totally wrong destination in pouring rain at 10 o'clock we finally got to the site no thanks to me or my GPS. The whole time I was racked with nervousness about the trip especially because an enormous storm was headed across the Midwest, basically crushing my entire path with 30s-50s and hard rain which would continue to plague me each day into the 5th morning of the journey, significantly slowing my progress. Having my friends there with me on day 1 and 2 was awesome it helped me get over the anxiety of the trip and transition into it.

 

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So far the trip has gone something like this:

May 1 day 3

 

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My first solo day was a total bust. I broke down my campsite in the Delaware Water Gap under pouring freezing rain, said goodbye to my friends and set out working my way southwest hoping to get into Ohio. Within 100 miles my Klim suit, my schuberth c3pro, my Irish setter boots and Mechanix gloves (both probably not the best choices of equipment) were completely soaked through. It was 37 deg F and when I realized my hands could barely operate the clutch and brake lever and visibility was down to probably 10-20% makes for a dangerous mix I decided to get off the road and dry out. I pulled into a gas station/subway restaurant where I met 3 members and a prospect of a widely known and rather infamous MC who were making their way back to Ohio. Turned out they were really friendly guys and told me about the motel 6 down the road they stayed at the night before and recommended I try there first for a room. I got 2 subs and gassed up then took a quick shiver down the road to the motel 6. The guy who owned it was an incredibly nice man he gave me a double room for 40$ and offered to comp me a free night the next day if I decided to wait out the storm. He said he would never turn a motorcyclist away in a rain storm even if they had to camp out in the lobby. He even had me park the bike under the entrance awning and placed cones there to keep cars away from the Furiosa (my bike is named Furiosa) . Once I got into my room I realized it was only 10 am and I had time to clean and dry all my gear before heading out the next day. I washed all the gear in the tub and hung it all around the room and cranked up the heat. Worked like a charm.

 

May 2 day 4

 

Much better day today only on and off rain and 55 up to 70 degrees at one point. I met a fellow adventure rider I'll call him Nicolas for anonymity sake. Nicolas has been an adventure rider for 25 years and him and brother both owned 1150gs and he currently has a ktm 950. Not too shabby at all! We talked for 20 or so minutes at a rest area about places he had been that I will be going to. About an hour after talking to Nicolas I realized I had been riding through the rain smiling and thinking about nothing at all just singing along with the music inside my helmet. Absolutely care free for probably the first time since I was old enough to understand English. Potholes and gas was all I had on my mind. I managed to sprain my ankle pretty seriously today by almost dumping the bike like an idiot and planting my left foot then running it over with the touratech pannier. Despite that little incident today was a great day. I've made camp for the night at buckeye lake KOA(37$) the entire tent section is deserted and I've got it all to myself.


May 3 day 5

KOA's are awesome I woke up In a drizzle got a hot shower the use of an immaculate bathroom. I start out the day under lite mist at 8 sharp headed west for NE St Louis KOA. The ride was pretty uneventful some sporadic rain this morning but it passed by afternoon and was in the mid 60s and cloudy most of the ride. I met a lot of nice people interested in my bike because if all its luggage and they would ask where am I coming from, where am I going and how many cc the motor is. The friendliness and kindness people show to a person traveling by motorcycle is incredible! I guess because they perceive it as a more dangerous and more difficult task than it really is and because adventure bikes are rather rare in comparison to other categories. Whatever the reason may be; I have yet to meet one single unkind or rude person in 5 days. Remarkable.
Tonight I'm making camp at the St Louis KOA as planned and it's a pretty sweet spot to pitch a tent. Water electric and wifi for 27 bucks all under a nice aluminum awning with a BBQ and a picnic table beside it. Can't really beat that. Tomorrow should be a big day into Kansas.

Thanks for reading I will try to make nightly updates from here on!

Instagram- @erickbhunter

SPOT Tracker

Oh to be 25 again.... :)

 

Erik, are you going to stay on the Interstate your entire trip?

 

A little something for the start of your trip(and the show that started it all for many of us)

 

Edited by kojack06

Hey kojack06, thanks for dropping in. I plan to avoid the interstates as much as possible once I've reached Colorado. I figured I would blast across 70 west in 3-4 days to maximize my time out west. What is the title of that movie I've never seen it and now I'm dying to know more about this guy! Talk about an epic opening scene, wow.

Subscribed!  :thumbsup:

Oh to be 25 again.... :)

 

Erik, are you going to stay on the Interstate your entire trip?

 

A little something for the start of your trip(and the show that started it all for many of us)

 

 

I can't believe that I've never seen this before!

Wait until you get to Utah!  You'll find lots of great free spots but not likely with hot showers or wi fi.  I loved the KOA we stayed at in Benson, AZ when doing the AZBDR a few years ago.  They had a tent spot with un-compacted gravel and that made putting the stakes in the ground pretty easy.  I've been to a lot of RV lots and the ground is nearly impossible to stake your tent down.

May 4 2016 Day 6

So as it happened the KOA that I stayed at last night just east of St. Louis was located literally next to a train track that was hidden by a hedgerow; and last night I was woken up at 330 am the longest and loudest train I've ever heard rolled past my campsite for what felt like half an hour. At first I had no idea what that tremendous noise was and it scared the hell out of me for a second. I could have sworn the RVs in the parking lot had launched a late night crash up derby by the sound of it. It was a good camp site and cheep but count on being woken up by a train

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So then it rained a little and the train made another appearance just before sunrise. I broke camp and was on the road by 8 and the sky's were clear. I did 550+ miles from just east of St Louis to the Wakeeney KOA about 2/3 of the way through Kansas.

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I had expected Kansas to be a gruelingly boring but it actually was incredibly beautiful and it made a long day in the saddle tolerable. The entire time I wanted to stop and photograph everything but whenever I did I was loosing too much time and the pictures just can't do any justice to the absolutely mind boggling expanses. I rode slack jawed for most of the day just marveling at the endless ocean of grassy plains.

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I met a lot of nice people today. The first interesting character was from Topeka Kansas and he walked up to me at a rest stop on i70 and said in a thick European accent "hello! I love BMW! I ride 1100GS!!" His name was Roland and We talked for atleast a half hour, he told me that he worked in the factory his 1100 was manufactured in and I just thought that was pretty cool.

A couple hours later I was fueling up and a guy came out of the store and complimented my bike and gave me 4 fat bags of honey roasted peanuts out of nowhere! We talked for a few minutes and honestly I forgot his name already but I thought that was really nice of him.

I got to this Wakeeney KOA around 645 and paid for a site then road across the street to pick up some dinner at a subway. I ordered while I was waiting I saw this tough lookin badass trucker man covered in really wild tats tattoos with a beastly beard. He asked about the bike and had seen my plate and asked how the ride from jersey had gone. Being to lone travlers we are together at the subway and Turned out his name was Joseph he was from Edison NJ and moved out west 14 years ago. He has a 70s (forgot what year exactly wish I asked him to send me a pic) triumph that he's modified for desert racing! He showed me a ton of pics on his phone and it's defiantly a cool project bike to have.

Literally 10 minutes later I was back to the KOA from the subway and was setting up this campsite

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When an incredibly nice older lady came out of a huge spaceship full bus motor home and introduced herself as Martha and brought me a big plate of fresh homemade chicken and rice complete with fork knife and napkin. Our encounter was very brief but said I reminded her of her brother who had been a motorcycle enthusiast. I thanked her profusely for the delicious pile of chicken and rice and she wished me a safe journey. And to think one of the things I had the most anxiety over was being alone an having friends or family to talk to. I've never in my life found it so easy to meet people as when my bike is strapped up with all my camping junk.

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Tomorrow morning I've got 250+ miles to Colorado Springs where I'll meet up with some friends from high school who I haven't seen in too long. Sleep ride repeat!

Thanks for reading!

Hey kojack06, thanks for dropping in. I plan to avoid the interstates as much as possible once I've reached Colorado. I figured I would blast across 70 west in 3-4 days to maximize my time out west. What is the title of that movie I've never seen it and now I'm dying to know more about this guy! Talk about an epic opening scene, wow.

 

I do not mean to high-jack your thread.

 

This is the opening for a 1969 TV series called "Then Came Bronson". It lasted one year and had a pilot movie and  26 episodes that were filmed around the country. It was based on a real person. Essentially, the character quit his job, and spent a year traveling and working his around America wanting to see and experience the real America. The stories were about day to day people. The series came on at 10:00 PM Eastern time and I BEGGED my father to allow me to stay up and watch this show. He would always acquiesce and allow me (I was nine at the time) and would watch it with me. My dad drove long distances to work and he had to be up very early. I recall rarely being able to make it through to 11:00 PM and my dad would haul me back to bed. This show started the idea of traveling(and a love of motorcycles) for me and rarely does a single day go by that I do not recall it. My dad has passed now and I have great memories of watching it with him. He liked the character because Bronson WORKED to support himself. This was 1969 with the hippies and counter-culture movement and lots of young people criticizing and blaming mom and dad(particularly dad) while still holding their hand out.  Young people wanting to "find themselves and see the world" is nothing new. The big bike companies were also working to rid the "biker" image from the media("You meet the nicest people on a Honda"). Bronson was introspective and a good person.

 

Anyway, maybe someday soon I'll be Bronson for a year and ride my bike over the Bixby Creek Bridge. However in the meantime, reading about the travels of a young Bronson from New Jersey will suffice!

 

Safe wandering!

Edited by kojack06

I am absolutely going to try and find then came Bronson and add it to my collection. And that's not a hijacking at all I appreciate the story about you and your father sharing that together. Reminds me of my father also passed and when my parents split he started racing motorcycles and was all about Ducati supersport bikes he had and wrecked 3 of em over like 4-5 years, all I knew was that I wanted to drag knee on a Ducati more than anything. Good Thing I wised up and realized and adv bike is a more practical choice!

Great ride report! That's the thing about traveling solo is you end up interacting more with people. You come away with the realization that most people are pretty decent and want to help, ask questions, etc...

I have a suggestion for your spot link... Go to whereamIriding.com and register your spot link and you get an easy to remember link with your user name like erickhunter.whereamIriding.com and you don't have to look up your longer spot url every time. It also has a nicer map interface. In fudgypup.whereamIriding.com

Great stories... Keep em' coming. Making my week better until I can ride this weekend. :) Love the stories of kindness and hospitality of others. Sure beats all the doom/gloom news out there!

Great ride report! That's the thing about traveling solo is you end up interacting more with people. You come away with the realization that most people are pretty decent and want to help, ask questions, etc...

I have a suggestion for your spot link... Go to whereamIriding.com and register your spot link and you get an easy to remember link with your user name like erickhunter.whereamIriding.com and you don't have to look up your longer spot url every time. It also has a nicer map interface. In fudgypup.whereamIriding.com

Hey great suggestion I was wondering about that actually, I signed up and made a profile thismorning under username AdventureHunter but can't seem to find where to get the site to issue me my link? Or do you just do like www.AdventureHunter.whereamiriding.com?

that works!

May 5, 2016 Day 7

Today was another great day, only mild wind today in Kansas and high 70s and sunny all day. Western Kansas is even flatter than the eastern half and somehow even more beautiful to ride through.

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The ride was made even better by the fact that I only had to cover a little over 250 miles from the Wakeeney KOA to Colorado Springs. I crossed the Colorado border sometime in the early afternoon.

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I took my sweet time on the ride and still got in before my friends were out of work, so I decided to check out the Garden of the Gods. The approach to Colorado Springs on hwy 24 is absolutely stunning country side and the mountains are just beyond my words. 9904ed36c2ce9f6014d58a99880e8a75.jpga5f8d5a3e1efd82fd1e7321d80657b85.jpg844178e2c7827c19285c84b175352909.jpg

I walked around there for a while it's very beautiful but very touristy. It felt great to just be cruising around a new place seeing the local sites instead of blasting past everything trying to reach a destination. I left the garden and headed to my buddies house. we ate drank and had a lot of good laughs. It was really great to hang out with guys I haven't seen basically since highschool.

Tomorrow I think I'm going to head for Great Sand Dunes NP and try to get a camp site there. Hopefully it's not to crowded tomorrow is going to be a beautiful Friday to go camping.

Been to Garden on the Gods. It really is amazing. It you have time, ride up the canyon and tour cave of the winds. I think it's worthwhile personally.

http://caveofthewinds.com/

 

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Man, I miss living in Colorado!

Great journey so far. I also picked up a ADV bike after watching LWR. I now look forward to reading your daily reports and watching for pictures on Instagram. Following you from Calgary Alberta Canada.

May 8, 2016 - Day 10 The last two days have been by far the most incredible and action packed days of my life. It started two days ago leaving my friends in Colorado Springs headed for 24 west and Pikes Peak. Colorado Springs has easily some of the worst car drivers I've ever encountered. Everywhere people are driving Junkers like they've got nothing to loose and all the roads in springs are very strangely designed so it makes for a volatile mix. On my way out of springs a Mercedes suv pulled off the road into a gas station parking lot then reversed into me and my bike. I saw his reverse lights come on and had no forward path to escape and was on a hill and could not push backwards out of the way so all I could do was lay on the horn. The rear bumper contacted my right side pannier just as this idiot driver finally applied the breaks so it just bumped me really hard and knocked me down to the left. I honestly am glad I didn't have my GoPro rolling because: 1- I screamed like a wild animal when I realized Furiosa and I could be getting backed over and - 2 I will only say that my initial physical reaction was very aggressive I was not proud of how I responded at all. That really ruined the morning until I got on 24 west towards Pikes Peak. I had been sure it would be closed but I was able to make it to 13,000 feet and change. 30 degrees with very strong wind. 211cfd6ecedee05b95b07e59a4017f19.jpg6a6fd0d063496a0bc7d357fe7f404333.jpga71cc5d180fed4dd573215d356e6f033.jpg2685fb6fadd19ea26b715b779a63567b.jpg742596f9a9346f041f73d7e85fd7be63.jpg45303213d96f71f812fb1dbb7cc38b38.jpg

I met another rider at the turn around point somewhere just after 13,000ft. Doug on his husky was a very nice guy and it was fun riding up with him.

At pikes the light for my high beams went so I decided headed west on 24 again to a motorcycle shop on 24w. I took the bulb inside thinking they would have one, turns out it's a car bulb and they didn't have it. The owner or the shop, Peter, is an incredibly nice man who was very interested in my journey and shared with me some stories of his adventure from Amsterdam to cape town on an R80. He also had done the services for the bikes in the new film a story worth living which I really want to see. Found the bulb I needed a little further wear on 24 at an O'rileys. From there I headed back east to 25 and took 25 S to 160 W to 150 N bringing me to great sand dunes national park. The entire ride was absolutely spectacular, sunny and 85 the whole way. As soon as I got got Great Sand Dunes NP I found the last available tent site and set up shop. As soon as my tent was set I heard a BMW boxed coming and looked up to see Isaac crusin through lookin for a site (there were none) so I waved him over and offered to share my site. 41ec7dd1bd1f532c7f480fbf9cbce4d6.jpg

Isaac is an awesome dude and serious adv rider who's also the same age and we hit it off pretty well so we decided to make for Ouray together the next morning. We checked out the sand dunes then headed out. Great sand dunes is an absolute must see. 87297c6ed0e3680c69c2e4c693eafad6.jpg

Isaac and I headed out 150S to 160W across wolf creek in 30 degrees with snow and ice coming down like crazy. Long story short we got halfway from silverton to Ouray before the storm forced us back and we couldn't stay in silverton because we could be stuck there if the storm gets worse so we decided to head back to Durango. At which point the conditions deteriorated to being borderline unable to ride. 26 degrees with sleet hail and snow. I've all over the road surface. We staggered into a Hampton inn in Durango happy to be alive but marveling at the conditions and roadways we had just crossed and lived to tell the tale. The 50 miles from silverton to Durango were the most tense moments of riding I've ever had by far. Tomorrow we will part ways and I'm headed west in to Utah and Isaac is headed back home. It's been great riding with a buddy and I am so glad I had a friend there for the ride to silverton and back to Durango because it would have been catastrophic if something had happened there while I was alone. I had seriously underestimated the harshness of the high altitude climates and had figured by this time that would have been much more mild. Tomorrow I'll upload some pics from the past 2 days. Hopefully Utah will be a bit warmer than colorful Colorado

Love it. Keep em' coming!  :thumbsup:  Hope you don't mind, but we're sending a member newsletter today and we featured ride.  :)

Love it. Keep em' coming! :thumbsup: Hope you don't mind, but we're sending a member newsletter today and we featured ride. :)

Don't mind at all can't wait to see it!!!

May 8 day 10

Yesterday's trip with Isaac up the million dollar highway and last nights stay at the Hampton inn in Durango was the perfect way to end my time in Colorado. 550 is easily the craziest route I've ever been down. It can only be described as sublime in the true sense of the word, it was incredibly beautiful but also terrifying at many parts. It exposed my gloves and boots as a weak point in my riding suit for my hands were soaked and freezing but did not ice thanks to the heated grips. My boots soaked through and froze still on my feet. It was pretty scary to be honest but ranks amongst the greatest times of my life without a doubt. The Klim suit held up like a champ and kept me dry and relatively warm. So did the schuberth C3 pro I have. The pinlock visor maintained visibility as long as phisically possible but was eventually overwhelmed by a sheet of ice and I rode the last 10-15 miles with my visor open to see the way. 316656b7572e1c9b3cc3238f1d756413.jpghttps://vimeo.com/165808489c310411821dcfdc8e00b109b4be2780c.jpg

So you can imagine how excited I was this afternoon to reach Utah where I had some lite rain on and off but it was 50-60s all day. I've had enough cold for this trip already.

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I took a ride through arches, it was a lot different than I had expected and the arches we're cool but no one had ever mentioned to me how long the road was and how high a concentration of absolutely astounding stone structures is. I road slack jawed for most of the route took some decent pictures but my GoPro died on the way in. And the park was pretty crowded. 21a6202d333bc68776f378590db9c2c5.jpg334b0e4c53c85b4316ed068dd283bcf3.jpg5f5a8d769a0efffeb6902b3dd030e916.jpg5c082e173b7755d328a2f7ce38c1899d.jpg5c082e173b7755d328a2f7ce38c1899d.jpgf3d060d37a8fe357ed13d8cf04e637ee.jpg

Tonight I've set up camp at the slick rock campsite and I'm getting ready for tomorrow.

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I'm going to give the white rim trail a go if it doesn't rain too bad. Any advice for white rim is welcome guys feel free to chime in. Thanks for reading!

Click below to see my tracks

http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0vOdQ17Gkzl75o9nCrbjzbmjyUZI7hDtx

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