The Top of the World is cold in August. Within the last week of riding I’ve gone from blazing heat in Kansas to the rainy cold of Montana. And I’m so tired.
This has been a Bucket-List trip. Today we rode the pass and now…well, you’d think the goal has been completed. Nope. Now I need to finish this trip and get myself home safely. I still have 4 or 5 days riding home. I’m taking a couple days off the bike for a side trip to Bozeman. Checking off another Bucket-list item of flying in a small private airplane. Then I’ll head out riding again. This time through Wyoming, Nebraska, and then Kansas to make it home in time to go back to work.
Things I’ve learned riding to the center of my American Universe:
Nothing worth telling anyone about is easy.
Life is 98% drudgery on your way to the highlights.
The good bits will always come, learn to appreciate the drudgery.
I also learned that the first center of the US, in Kansas, was the original, before making Alaska and Hawaii full states. It now serves as the center of the lower 48. So I’ve been to the two centers…how about you?
I was as far away from all the oceans as I could possibly be today. It sort of defined the term “land-locked”. The Center of the Lower 48 States, just outside of Lebanon, KS. Riding there today passed me through some of the most desolate and infinite prairies. It’s not so much that the land goes on and on, in fact it sort of rolls out of sight…it’s the sky that is the infinite. There is more blue than land.
Very near this center lives the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. And let me tell you, it does not overwhelm. It’s sort of a “meh”. Unless you’re really into the Roadside Attraction kitsch, then it would be really cool. Or maybe if it wasn’t 100 degrees in the shade.
Seriously…could I have picked a worse weather day to start a motorcycle ride? Not a cloud in the sky, but WAY too much sun. As I was leaving the Center of the States my thermometer read 100 degrees. It was time to call it. I needed a rest and some cooling down after 7 hours in the blistering heat.
I would pull over every 30 miles or so and dump another bottle of water all over my shirt. It cooled for a short bit, but then needed a refill. Finally the heat and exhaustion got to me, so I stopped in Smith Center for the night. Checking the weather for tomorrow…looks to be far cooler. Hopefully I can make up some miles and suffer my way across the Nebraska prairie.
This begins the 3000 mile motorcycle trip from Kansas City to Montana. I’ll be quickly passing through Sturgis before all their festivities begin and on to Billings. There I’ll be meeting up with old friends and we’ll ride the Beartooth Pass (which is a Bucket-list item for me)
After that, we’ll just wing it. Could be riding around Yellowstone, could be mountain riding day trips and hopefully some hanging in Bozeman. There are even rumors of a possible small engine flight.
But first is a solo ride up through the Great Plains. I’ve never really spent much time in Nebraska and tomorrow I’ll be cutting right through the most desolate part. I’m hoping to get to Billings in three days, but am perfectly willing to extend that on account of weather or painful butt issues(we’ll see how comfy my seat really is).
Stay tuned for more. My goal is to post nightly with the day’s recap. Spoiler alert: Today’s trip will include World’s Largest Ball of Twine.
It was a long hot Saturday. A test run for things to come later this summer.
My idea was to day-trip it from Kansas City to Carthage, MO…about 300 miles round-trip. I wanted to try and do that all in one day, and take all back roads, on my KLR 650. My questions were, could my butt take that sort of saddle abuse? Could I properly navigate long distances via nothing back deep back roads? How often and where to stop for food and rest? What would my average speed be and how many hours would it take to do the full 300?
First thing…yes, there is life away from the Interstates. An amazing world of country roads and muddy hidden barely passable dirt tracks through some of the worlds best farmland. It’s the most scenic way to travel, but surely not the fastest.