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Riding Dirty - A North American Motorcycle Tour

I learned quickly that it's damn near impossible to ride a motorcycle in the snow. The snow would cover my visor so I couldn't see the road, and as soon as I wiped it away, I was blinded again. We pulled slowly to a stop on the side of the road and Cyrus told me he couldn't see a thing (he didn't have the luxury of a visor, just glasses and a handkerchief).

I looked over my shoulder and saw a building a few hundred feet behind us, the only thing in sight. Cyrus turned around and headed for the parking lot, and as I started to turn around in the middle of the road, my visor covered up with snow again. I came to a stop and tried to put my left foot down, but not being able to see the ground, I misjudged its distance and lost my balance. The bike tipped slowly onto its left side, coming to a rest on the left foot peg.

I was now in the middle of US 50 on a curve in the road, immobile, blind and deaf (I had earplugs in). "This sucks", I thought. I flipped my visor open, and luckily was able to pick my bike up, which was quite heavy with all the extra gear loaded on it. I jumped on and took off down the road. As I parked the bike, a semi truck roared by at 50 mph. All said and done, things probably could have gone worse.

The place we'd stopped turned out to be a tavern called Major's Place, which worked out nice. It had been a stop on the Pony Express and was owned by a guy who'd been a Major in the Spanish-American War. We covered the bikes with a tarp, ordered some hot chocolate and started warming up.

We were both pretty soaked, and the lady that worked there was nice enough to put some of our gear into the dryer. We shot some pool and had a couple drinks, waiting for the snow to stop and our fingers to thaw. Eventually it cleared up and we got back on the road. No more snow, but it stayed extremely cold and wet as we made it over the next pass to Ely, Nevada. We'd both had enough of the cold and found a room for $35. We were able to pull our bikes underneath an awning to get them out of the weather.

The next day was better. Still cold, but at least the sun was out. My fingers went numb regularly and I'd try to warm them up on my engine, one at a time. As it turns out, that's not good for my gloves. We rode through a lot of small towns, frequented by people traveling via motorcycle. I always enjoy riding through the desert. It's so peaceful for something that takes up so much space.

That afternoon we made it to Reno, but we continued into northern California where the scenery changed considerably. I'd been looking forward to this part of the trip for a long time. The vast forests and mountains, small towns and clean waters are just my style. We stopped at a general store and managed to strap a box of beer to the back of Cyrus' bike for the ride to Cold Creek Campground, somewhere on 89. We chilled the beer in the creek and set up camp. We were the only ones there; it was perfect.

The next day we rode through Lassen national park, which still had lots of snow, but the roads were clear. I never expected to be riding in conditions this cold, and we hadn't even made it out of the states yet. The elevation dropped to 560' above sea level as we headed towards Redding. It was a dramatic change from where we'd been riding. It was very dry, and everyone seemed to grow fields of dead grass.

From there we headed west on 299, back into the hills. The road snaked upwards and along the Trinity River, which was a lot of fun. Its curves were banked, so we could corner at higher speeds. I'd love to live up in those hills and work in Redding so I could ride that road every day. The Trinity River was spectacular. Bright blue and clean, running through a tall canyon. It looked like it would be perfect for a canoe trip.

The only thing I didn't like about California was the gas prices. At the time of our trip, California had the highest prices in America at over $5 a gallon; Alaska was second. And you don't even want to know about Canada.

Comments


Chopperjake says:

Awesome article!!! Very inspiring and sounds like one helluva good time.
Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 11:26 AM

DrAlloway says:

Excellent !

June-July 2010 I started on US-50 in Ocean City Maryland. Put my rear tire in the Atlantic Ocean and rode US-50 all the way to San Francisco where I put my front tire in the Pacific Ocean.

Then up the coast into Canada; back into Washington State; and home on US-2 along our northern border.

60 days, camping and cooking, just over 12,000 miles.
Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 6:09 PM

Puddlejumper says:

Great story telling. It is an adventure you will remember your entire lifetime. My husband and I are both retired Army and from one vet to another, thank you for your service. Not many are willing to risk all as you did. Well done and welcome home. Keep those wheels turning!
Fri Dec 9, 2011 at 9:13 PM

NC_En4cer says:

Awesome story bro. I enjoyed reading about your adventure. That's my kinda riding. Great trip and pictures.
Fri Aug 26, 2011 at 11:34 PM

tortuga-mike says:

Great trip...Great story!!! I'm leaving Afghanistan in June, will start my trip in Aug...I plan on taking
about two months also, but I'm going all the way up to Prudhoe Bay, and down to Anchorage, threw Fairbanks, and maby a ferry one way there, and drive the other way...THEN, I'm doing the 4 Corners Tour, with the Great American Motorcycle Adventure together, and plan on hitting all 49 states before I'm finished.

Starting at Fort Hood Tx, and Ending in San Diego, Ca. But probably have to go it alone. Should still be fun!
Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 5:35 AM

UtahDave2 says:

Great read - I've ridden from Alabama to Utah via South Dakota and Yellowstone, and need another long trip. You have inspired me. I've been chained to my desk for too many years.
And, most importantly, THANK YOU for your service to our country! We have the freedom to be able to ride because of you and all of those like you. An Air Force vet.
Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 6:35 PM

SoapSuddzin says:

I was at a point where i was debating getting out of the service. ive loved every minute of it but am ready for a change. reading this article was a great influence. to be able to go out whenever without having to take leave. awesomely inspireing. thank you for serving.
Go Boilermakers!
*indiana born and raised
Wed May 19, 2010 at 9:47 AM

jwittner says:

Really great travel log Trevor - truly inspiring. Thank you.
Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:45 AM

trev1300 says:

Thanks for all the comments guys, I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Check out the video at: www.trevstravelblog.com

I'm riding the Dragon in TN next week, and might be heading to Mexico this summer; best of luck to everyone taking on their own adventure.
Tue Mar 9, 2010 at 9:38 PM

Nowheels says:

Awsome, reminds me of Redline America
check it out if you haven't yet. Definately worth it.
Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 10:53 PM

davidtn says:

Excellent, excellent, excellent!'

I'm riding from Key West Florida to Homer Alaska this June and I vicariously already made the trip thanks to your great article.
Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 7:21 PM

kshief50 says:

I had many such adventures thirty+ years ago. Well told on your part, live large. I'm thinkin perhaps I have one more left in me. Don't get chained to the wants of life, it will destroy your best. Ride, Ride, Ride!!
Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 9:29 AM

Doc2nd2 says:

Im glad you got the opportunity to pull off an epic ride like that. I try to do that every couple of years. And now you have fired me up for my next ride! Very well written, I could relate with the different aspects of your ride as I am sure others can too. I often felt as if I were on the road with you guys. Im old Army and want to thank you, from one soldier to another, for your service. It seems vets really can appreciate the freedom of an epic ride for what it REALLY is, a chance to enjoy the freedom that we fought for and our buddies died for. Ride safe, ride long and always remember to ride for those who can't.God's speed brother.
Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 9:08 PM

zgun says:

Again, a great story. As I wait here in Georgia to get thru one of the coldest winters on record, I dream about getting on my new Yamaha vstar 1300 and doing something like this. I am glad you were able to do this after serving time in Iraq. Welcome home!
Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 9:42 AM

mitrocop says:

A buddy of mine and I are in the planning stages of an approx. 6-week trip from Charleston, SC to Denali park in AK and back, with lots of off-road routes through the wild wild West.

Great story - thanks for the insight on good stops through Canada, it gives us food for thought before we head out later this summer. Keep on with the Roads Less Traveled, they're definitely WORTH it!

*BTW, we are leaving my Honda VT800 and his HD Road King at home for this long ride - we're guessing about 10k+ miles roundtrip - and taking our new BMW dual sports bikes instead...F800GS & F1200GSA, respectively. Don't think our road cruisers would handle the trip as well as the Beemers. Also hope to post a good story & pics like yours when we make it back.
Thu Jan 7, 2010 at 6:50 AM

DonutmanBob says:

Just wanted to say what a great read. I've ridden further in one day but the riding conditions were about as perfect as could be. P.S. I hate being cold and wet!
Thu Dec 24, 2009 at 9:14 PM

BDKrivit says:

Nice job, dudes.
Sat Nov 28, 2009 at 3:13 AM

larrykennis says:

Thanks for the ride friend. Felt like I was with you.
Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 4:53 PM

redhogg says:

Sounds like the trip of a lifetime. It's been on my list of trips I want to take but will have to wait until retirement for the time needed but your story rekindled the fire.Great story and pictures, Thanx
Sun Sep 13, 2009 at 7:22 AM

Teehaml says:

Absolutely fantastic journey! Memories for your later years. Keep riding and ride safe!
Sat Sep 12, 2009 at 6:02 AM

DR_STRANGELOVE says:

Dude, thank you so much for the temporary escape from my desk. I am an Army vet and a native Montanian so I didnt have a very hard time relating.
Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 5:28 PM

RoadGlider06 says:

Ride on Marine and great story! Semper Fi!
Mon May 25, 2009 at 8:01 AM

SocialOutcast1313 says:

Looks like fun. Reminds me of what I have been cooking up in my twisted head for after I get out of the Navy in a year....
Sat May 23, 2009 at 4:07 PM

felon says:

Outfrickin'standing!!! great journey, people, scenery, pictures, a brother to do it with and I'm sure lessons learned for the next ride!
Wed Apr 8, 2009 at 11:16 AM

troy30455 says:

Great story, Great trip. That makes me want to pack!!!
The pictures were awesome. Hope to read some more of your adventures.
Tue Mar 31, 2009 at 6:20 PM

Anonymous_Motorcyclist says:

I'm inspired - well done
Tue Mar 31, 2009 at 5:32 PM

biskitdg says:

I hope to get the chance to do a ride similar to this one day, after reading this it might be sooner than I planned! :) Loved the article.
Mon Mar 30, 2009 at 5:43 AM

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