The motorcycle trip of a lifetime – summary and awards

A few statistics

  • Total mileage: 10,688.36km (Approx 6,626 miles)
  • Average moving speed: 95.95 km/h (59.5 mph)
  • Total elevation gain: 55,947m (183,553′, or a little more than 6 times Mt Everest)
  • Highest elevation: 3,160m (10,900′)
  • Top speed: 144 km/h (89mph)
  • Total duration: 12,214 minutes, or 8.48 days
  • Total distance riding without a helmet: approximately 3000km.
  • Number of times I died because I was not wearing a helmet: 0

These statistics were extracted from my actual GPS data and computed in the Viking GPS software on Linux. Since any point is susceptible to be off by ±3m (10′), and my track is made of a total of over 35,000 data points, this data may be off a bit, but still very close to my odometer / speedometer readings and topographic data.


Ride map

This ride map has been generated directly from my GPS data and imported into Google Maps. This is why there is a slight difference in presentation from my other rides maps.


The motorcycle trip of a lifetime!

To get some deeds done, you have to get out of your comfort zone. This is exactly what I did. Before I left, I must say that I was pretty intimidated by the length of the ride. Even though I got some experience in long distance riding, this was the first time that I left on a multi-day, multi-thousand kilometers motorcycle trip. Moreover, since I had a fixed departure date and an appointment I couldn’t miss on the West Coast near Seattle, WA, I couldn’t mess up with the first 3 days and I had to stick to the plan, whatever the weather, traffic jams, roadwork or hours of sleep I got each night.

Weather

I have to admit that I have been extremely lucky on the weather side of my trip, having encountered only the following notable meteorological events:

  • 1 hour of rain at night between Regina, SK and Moose Jaw, SK. This one freaked me out cause rain and night are a very bad mix on a motorcycle.
  • 1 hour of hard packed fog in the morning in South Dakota after I left Wall, SD towards Green Bay, WI
  • 3 hours of rain between La Crosse, WI and Green Bay, WI

I have dodged some pretty big thunderstorms in northern Ontario on the way back, but I only had wet pavement, and not a single drop in the windshield.

What I liked the most

The best part of the trip was definitely days 4, 5 and 6, where I checked everything in my bucket list, and more!

  • (Day 4) The Mount Rainier road between Seattle, WA and Yakima, WA. A beautiful mountain pass and a trees tunnel worth going through.
  • (Day 5) US Highway 12 from Lewiston, ID to Missoula, MT, where Lolo Pass is. A nice curvy road along the Clearwater River and Lochsa River in Idaho.
  • (Day 5) Crossing part of the Yellowstone National Park, packed with herds of bisons and a dramatic landscape
  • (Day 6) The Beartooth’s Pass, Northeast of Yellowstone. It was called “The most beautiful drive in America” by a CBS correspondent and is frequently cited as one of the most beautiful motorcycle roads in the world
  • (Day 6) Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills National Park and Highway 16A. This highway 16A was my favorite drive, with its very tight curves, the road doing some 720°’s and the lanes splitting as two single lanes in the forest, you really feel like you are in a special place.

Awards, good and bad

Apart from the province of Quebec (which has a very special kind of bad roads…), the worst highway I went through is the Interstate 90 crossing Minnesota from West to East. There were bumps that were hard enough for my cruise control to disengage (a security feature on my bike) and cracks everywhere in the pavement with lots of bike-dangerous filling stuff.

The best highway pavement award goes to Interstate 90 in South Dakota. Beautiful sleek concrete all the way along from west to east, and a healthy 80mph speed limit, no helmet required.

The coolest highway award goes to Highway 5 between Kamloops, BC and Hope, BC in Canada. A very curvy 4 lanes highway with a speed limit of 120km/h. Doing it at 125-130 was my personal limit, I had to tilt my bike a lot to negociate all these curves, it was pretty scary, but extremely fun too! The pavement was of exceptional quality by Canadian roads standards.

The worst roadworks nightmare award goes to the Trans Canada highway between Canmore and Kamloops, BC. They are 4-laning it all the way from Calgary to Kamloops, and there is A WHOLE LOT of construction around Glacier National Park. It took me 2 hours to cover 50km in the worst part. It will certainly be like that for a while, since there is no official timeframe yet for the completion. I have read somewhere that it will be one of the most expensive stretches of road in Canada, with one part costing more than 440 million dollars for 4 kilometers, or 110 million per kilometer!

The worst tourists trap award goes to Cooke City-Silver Gate, just out of Yellowstone at the Northeast entrance. The cheap motels costs you 160$ USD per night (Super 8), the beer costs 7.00$ for a big glass, and all the town is built around tourist-trap-style shops.

The second worst tourist trap award goes to Mount Rushmore. It cost me 10$ to park my motorcycle for 15 minutes even though it was not packed at all. There are no other places around where you can park your bike or car, and the parking garage is just big enough to hide the Mount Rushmore memorial, so that if you do not park, you do not see it. A plain scam.

Summary

Even with these little kinks and snags I have had, this trip was a bike rider’s dream, doing three world class motorcycle routes in a single trip. Now that I have done this, I have no precise plan for the future. But I will sure keep you posted on my next rides!

It’s been a pleasure being followed all along this trip!

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