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Archive for August, 2009

August 16th, 2009 - Wet and wild

Many doubts rushed through my mind when I watched Bill Ryder ride away. I asked myself this question as I rode off in the opposite direction toward Whitefish, MT: “What the hell am I doing?” My doubts were not of my own abilities, they were of the uncertainty of following years. Going around the world on a motorcycle is not a walk in a park, let alone taking on a global issue such as World Hunger.

The night before the expedition started, the bike broke down yet again. This time the voltage regulator/rectifier went bad as they are prone to do and at the most inconvenient time. I called up Bill Ryder and he rode his Kawasaki from the other side of the town in rain to come to my rescue with a unit off of a Honda. Tom Blankenship offered his garage and we worked on it until it was running again. I went back home and started gathering my stuff till I passed out. At 7 am the alarm went off and I kept on packing but it was a race against the clock. I had to be at the capitol building for the send off at 10 am and had no time to actually fit everything in the boxes so I shoved it all in as best I could and headed to the capitol.

It was an emotional time to see all the people I cared for standing and waiting to see me off. If there is one thing that I hate the most, it has to be saying goodbye. Hugging everyone, kissing the good looking ones, and off I went with 4 motorcycles in tow. We rode out of town towards McDonald Pass and I cursed the wind every second. It blew at 40 mph constantly, and my motorcycle having the aerodynamics of a brick, was thrashed about with every gust and I held for dear life. I said my goodbyes to Lonnie and the rest of the Harley gang and headed west toward Avon with Bill Ryder for lunch. The cafe at Avon was the last familiar place and Bill’s the last familiar face.

I have to admit, I do not like riding in rain. High winds and wet roads are also nerve wracking to say the least, but I had to press on towards Whitefish to meet up with Pam Gerwe to visit her farm. I got rained on every mile of the way, but my rain gear held up. I stopped a few times to clean my goggles, but it went smoothly the rest of the way. With all the gear, I am still getting around 43 mpg which is pretty good considering the wind and mountain passes. At 6 pm I arrived in Kalispell and went to a coffee shop to check my emails and get Pam’s phone number out of my laptop. I called Pam and arrived at her farm, the “Purple Frog Gardens” at 6:30pm.

Pam Gerwe is a small organic farm owner, alternative energy activist and a very bright person. She read my article in the newspaper and emailed me and offered a tour of her farm. We all gathered up in “Commons House” with other farm workers and had a hearty dinner of vegetables from the garden. We stayed up late into the night and discussed world hunger and I immensely enjoyed our conversations. I pitched my tent in the yard and crawled into my sleeping and before I knew it, the sun was coming up.

I spent most of the next day re-organizing the boxes on the bike and had to send back some clothes and extra gear that were unnecessary. Now I can fit everything in the boxes and nicely close the lids. In the afternoon I called Progressive Insurance and got the bike insured for Canada. I am meeting some business owners in town tomorrow and possibly a newspaper interview and will head towards Glacier National Park late afternoon.

The start of this expedition was hectic and could have been more organized but it all worked out. I am more prepared after my Whitefish stop and the weather forecast is favorable. Till next time….

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August 8th, 2009 - Motorcycle Safety Course

When I decided to take the motorcycle rider course, I was very much in denial on how it could further improve my riding skills. 15 hours later, riding a Kawasaki Super Sherpa around loops under unbelievably knowledgeable instructors Ken Conrad and Udell Sharp changed all that.

The first day started rather boring with a couple hours of classroom lecture and 2 hours of walking the motorcycle around without even firing it up. Around 1 pm we were off to lunch and upon return the real deal started. From that point on, it was probably the most fun I had practicing useful techniques and was instructed after each run on how to make it better.

The second day was the most intense and we rode for 7 hours until we completed our riding test and written exam. Those of us who passed the course were awarded with a certification of completion. I strongly recommend taking this course no matter how experienced you are. There is much to be gained and I am a living example of it.

I would like to thank the Montana Motorcycle Rider Safety Foundation for sponsoring this expedition and giving me an opportunity to take advantage of this masterful step by step instruction. I would also like to thank Ken Conrad for offering me a spot in his class and for his wonderful advice and suggestions. He is a top-notch rider and a caring teacher. Thank you, Ken.

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