So, this is my last post of the blog. Below is everywhere I went, ignoring the detour I took from northern OK to Fort Worth then back. In total, I rode a little over 8000 miles.
A few parting words:
I didn’t exactly do what I was planning to do (ride to the Oregon coast), but I’m happy with my choice. Time wasn’t really on my side, and I’m glad I was able to ride all the way down the California coast versus suffering through several more days of the trail to ‘say’ I got to Oregon. Ultimately, this trip was supposed to be fun, and I think my decision made it more enjoyable.
Was it what I thought it would be? Yeah, for the most part. It was full of highs and lows, hot and cold, exciting and boring, scary and fun. The ride through the eastern US was overall disappointing. The only parts that were really all that great were western North Carolina and western Arkansas. The western US was definitely much more suited to this type of riding.
Which bike did I like better? Definitely the Yamaha WR250R, without a doubt. It was better in every single possible way except for gas tank capacity. The fuel pump never did give me any trouble, and it was powerful enough for everything I needed.
Any regrets? I’ll always wish I hadn’t had to skip that section in Utah. Maybe someday I’ll go back and finish it. I’d also like to finish the Oregon section just out of curiosity. There were a few things I wish I hadn’t brought to save weight, but if I would have left them I’m sure Murphy’s Law would have forced me to need them. Part of me wishes I had done a different route, but I think what I really want is just to do another ride entirely. This time, I’d like to ride one on paved roads with some kind of sport touring bike, and do more hotel stays so I could carry less. I’d like to stop at all the sights I had to pass on this trip, and spend more time walking around and talking to people and seeing things. This trip was more about seeing wilderness I suppose. I’d like to spend more time in the small towns besides just filling up with gas, and meet the people who choose to live in them in some of these remote places, along with seeing some interesting things.
Would I do it again? I’d do something similar, but I’d change a few things. I obviously wish I had someone with me to keep me company, keep lodging costs down, share the load of some of the common items like tools, and take some of the danger out so I could ride a little more aggressively. Going by myself had it’s own reward I suppose. It was testing physically and psychologically. There were definitely some scary situations, and its sobering to know that there was no one nearby to help if something went really wrong. But I survived, and I’m hopefully better for the experience.
I had a lot of time to think since I was by myself all day with no music or anything, although granted most of my brain capacity was focused on staying alert on the trail. People that haven’t ridden a dirt bike a long way can’t really identify with how mentally exhausting it is. They think, “oh well I can drive my car hundreds of miles in a day no problem, and you barely crack 200 on your motorcycle.” But in a car on the highway, you can barely pay attention and be fine. Eat a sandwich, sing with the radio, look at stuff on the side of the road. On the rougher off-road sections of my trip, you have to have razor sharp focus every minute that you’re riding. The road is twisty and hilly so you can never see more than a few hundred feet in front of you. The road is full of surprises: hairpin turns, ditches and gullies, deep sand, gravel, mud, cows, gates, cliffs with no guardrails, and more. The worst is in rocky sections, where inches can make the difference between staying upright and tumbling over. Focusing on the terrain immediately in front of you and compensating with your handlebars, body position, and throttle all day long really wears out both your mind and body. I suppose I didn’t really appreciate how much that was until I did it.
The other thing I thought about a lot when I wasn’t thinking about the terrain feature coming up next that was trying to kill me was people a few hundred years ago. In our day and age, we have to be so secure. Everyone told me my trip was so dangerous by myself. “What if something happens, who will be there to help you?” It’s interesting to think of that question 200 years ago. Did a fur trapper going out into the woods to make a living and feed his family have a cell phone or satellite communicator to call for help? Did he have an interstate nearby to bum a ride? Our society is really insulated in a lot of ways, and I don’t know that it’s all good. Sometimes I think about what if a huge bomb went off and everyone had to ‘start over’, fend for themselves. There are grown men and women in America who have never caught a fish, gone hiking, changed a tire, built a tree house, etc. I’m certainly no expert in living off the land, but I like to learn more about it. And I do pride myself on trying to be self reliant. This is kind of a rant I suppose, but I guess part of my trip was proving to myself that I could handle some adversity. And let’s be honest, I wasn’t completely on my own 1800’s style, I had security blankets like my satellite communicator. But I really wanted to challenge myself and try to solve the problems that would inevitably come up myself. It’s satisfying on many levels to face a challenge and overcome it. And it’s human to face a challenge, try your best, and come up short. I did both on this trip.