The week leading up to the trip was full of the usual checks and repairs that most bikes will need before setting off on the road for a long trip. I'd bought the bike ~9 months ago and since then had put 16,000 miles on it, and there were some consumables that needed to be replaced. A new chain was in order, and as long as I was in there I went up a tooth (to 16) on the front sprocket, for a slightly more relaxed cruising RPM.
The valves were also checked, and a screw that was found in my rear tire was fixed. As long as I had the rear tire off, I got about to making something that I should have done a while ago: A tool tube.
This bike has so much more storage then my old Virago that I'm not quite sure what to do with it all. I'm not taking my SLR camera on this trip, which reduces my load by a bit, but even looking at my bike as I set off it looked so un-cluttered. Maybe I should strap a bunch of extra crap to it, just for the hell of it.
The first day out was uneventful. I super-slabbed in east from Chicago heading for Detroit, catching some light rain along the way. By the time I got to Detroit it was 9pm, so I had dinner at a seafood place with a girl I'd met and then got a room at a Motel 6 for the night.
The next day was largely more super-slab, due south from Detroit. I realized that in my haste to leave I'd forgotten some camping supplies, so I hit up an Outdoor World for some basics.
Northern Ohio is your usual crap-fest of straight midwest roads, but once you get into the south-eastern bit, there was actually some pretty kick-ass roads around there. Could probably have had a lot of fun in that area if I'd explored more.
I kept pushing south until I made it to Wayne National Forest, and headed off down some ATV trails in search of a place to camp.
Compared to the places I took my Virago, off-roading even on a D/S bike that's as road-oriented as the V-strom was a joy.
Eventually I came to a trail junction that had just enough of a clearing for the tent, and I made camp for the night there.
A couple of ATVs and maybe a dirtbike went by at some point in the night, but overall it was peaceful. And COLD. My sleeping bag was warm enough, but I discovered that my sleeping pad had a leak and the night was almost completely sleepless, tossing and turning trying to get comfortable on what was basically gravel. The night was so cold that I woke up to a layer of ice on the inside of my tent from condensation, and a lot of frost to scrape off the bike's seat.
Besides a few packets of hot chocolate mix, I hadn't brought much in the way of food. I fixed that with a stop at Aldis for the staples of any motorcycle camping trip.
I was sore and from a night of no-sleeping on what was essentially gravel, and made it my top priority to find an REI to exchange my sleeping pad at. But it seems there wasn't a single REI in all of West Virginia; the closest one that was even vaugly along my route was in Fairfax, just outside of D.C. I burned miles all day there along Rt 50, which actually had some pretty good bits. It was cold, maybe 40 degrees during most of the day, but the sun was out and the road was nice. It could have been much worse.
By the time I got to Fairfax, and the REI, it was well past dark and I was famished. I got a hotel ($80/night, yeow), ordered a pizza, updated the internet quickly and went to sleep.
Unfortunetly, I think this is going to be it for this update. I've got a ton of videos and many more pictures I want to upload, but this hotel that I'm in (Just outside of Knoxville) has some super-shitty internet, and I've had enough trouble just getting the few pictures here uploaded. Let alone any chance of video.
I should be in Austin in a few days with some decent internet access, so there should be a big update then.