Friday, July 10, 2009

A First Time For Everything - By Kevin

The day we left Indianapolis was beautiful and sunny. After a quick round of hugs, kisses and photos, we left to a crowd of friends and family cheering us on to Alaska. As the miles rolled on and I started to relax, I came to a sudden realization. I forgot to kiss Laurie goodbye! She gently reminded me of this later when I called. Talk about anxious to leave!

The first day of riding was the longest trip of my life. Some of you might think I’m speaking figuratively; what riding for eight hours must “feel” like . Yes, my butt was sore after an hour or so of riding. And yes, my shoulders were achy and my legs were stiff. But what I actually mean is that this was literally the longest ride I’d ever done in one day. A couple of hours was my previous record. Well, there were going to be a lot of “firsts” for this amateur rider…

The first day ended without much to-do (unless you count stopping at the world’s largest truck stop). We ended 460 miles later at Backbone State Park in southeastern Iowa. After paying our 11 dollars and setting up camp, Larry educated me a little on campground fires. If you don’t want to make one, crash someone else’s! Our neighbors had one a hundred yards away, so we walked right over, casually mentioned our “Alaska Motorcycle Adventure” to insure instant stardom, and before you know it, we had our campfire and chairs to boot. Thunder in the distance, however, got us scurrying back to our campsite to secure the tents. Severe weather was reported somewhere off in the distance.

There’s something nice about going to sleep to the sound of rain. I heard it start and stop throughout the night and was secure in knowing that I had a nice cozy tent to keep me dry. Waking up to this sound; however…not so nice. Larry and I packed up our gear, donning our rain suits, for over an hour and a half. As soon as we were finished, it stopped raining. Typical.

On our way through Iowa, I got a crash course on riding a motorcycle in high winds. Gusts topping 40mph raced perpendicular to us, trying to tip the bike over. Add trucks and impatient drivers (pulling horse trailers!) and you have a really interesting ride. Kind of like a really cool video game, only a lot more realistic and scary.

Things were stressful, but we were making ground. Did you know they make great pot roast dinners at gas station grocery stores in Iowa? Neither did I. Another first! We gassed up after our lunch and five minutes down the road, Larry’s bike went on the fritz – sputtering and quitting several times over the next twenty miles. I got a lesson on how a carburetor works when Larry finally had enough and proceeded to tear apart and repair the bike.

Larry had made contact with a rider offering us a place to stay in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota that night. After repairing the bike (clogged carb we think), we were several hours behind schedule. It would be almost ten o’clock at night by the time we could get there, if we made good time. Riding at night was something I’d never done before and Minnesota is chock-full of bugs. I had to ride with my tinted faceshield up so I could see in the dark. Three hundred sixty miles later, when we finally arrived in Sauk Rapids, I wondered if my face was glowing. The lighting bugs were out in force that night.

Next post? Sleeping with strangers….!


  1. What an adventure! It's great to virtually be there with you and Larry. Stay safe.

  2. Awesome update guys!! Keep rolling - we're all watching and reading.

  3. Larry if Kevin was that sore you must be crying. Ha, ha, Pool is great. Keep up the good work. Annabelle