Final Day & Reflections


May 17 2014 – June 15th 2014 (2014 X Country Solo Trip) if you make to the bottom you will see some stats or you can scroll down not read this wordy post and cut to the chase. ;-)

I got a big smooch from Sierra when I arrived home…

My good luck charm came with me the entire trip and I now wear it everyday too…nice people gave this to me…really nice!

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As most who may have followed my previous rides this one has been different from the get go.  I would call it a ride of adversity.  Initially it was obvious…I was lost after being left by my wife/partner of 17 years on January 30th 2014.  I guess a day never to be forgotten.  I went into fighter/flight mode trying desperately to make sense as to why it felt to me my life was just turned upside down without any recourse.  No chance at a real discussion, no chance at reconciliation.

broken-heart-sad-L

No closure really.

I am pretty honest and it may appear even more so because this BLOG is public. Some say I am too open and honest.  Maybe…but this is how I function.  Tell the truth or shut up.  We all know I have too much to say so shutting my mouth never comes easy.  Last count I had over 500 emails, thousands of comments all mainly supportive and full of stories of their own.  I had one message that said I am a poser, seeking attention by using my problems as a shield.  He went on to say I am wasting my bike by staying on pavement and not utilizing it’s capabilities.  I don’t think so now that I am back.  I think I have proved the F800 can be an excellent touring bike and I still managed in my time frame to do side trips where I felt dirt under my tires.  I feel satisfied with my road choices based on weather and time.  No regrets there.  As for a poser…well…I am accused at times as an attention seeker but for this trip I did not feel that way at all.

These installments, more like little chapters were written for me mainly as my journal and perhaps I will put together a book for myself and add to it.  A book about being a “ghost rider”.  I have been at work for 2 weeks now.  I need to perform at Full capacity.  Which means I have a lot of work to do separating my personal with professional.  My personal situation has not changed one bit since I left.  More complicated and taking longer to settle than I ever thought.  So, no less problems just more pressure to perform as though things have settled down.  Where is my bike and why not just go out another 30 days lost adventure?  In my dreams.

Although this will be my last installment completing my days, I will also follow-up with what I think it cost me, what worked and did not and then the BIG one.  I have received so many requests to compare the BMW F800GS to the Triumph Tiger 800XC.  I now can say I can do that officially.  2011 I put almost 15,000 KM’s on the Tiger 800XC compliments of Triumph Canada going to Alaska and now I have almost 27,000 KM’s on my F8.  I will write a comparison from my perspective…still I am not a technical know it all I just know what I like and don’t.  I can say this my F8 with the set up I had on this trip totally compares to the Tiger 800XC.  But more about that when I can give it the time it deserves.  Including my thoughts about riding on Metzler Karoo 3 tires.  The first time I have ever tried a tire that was not my Heidenau K60’s.

This trip has shown me, even prior to my departure I have such a good core group of old and new friends.  My family checked in more as I got closer to my home.  My sister-in-law in NC was very diligent with her tm.  I appreciated that…my sisters and parents tm and face time me.  Oh, and I will never forget the face time I got the day Cruizer died.  I checked into a real hotel…needed to for me.  My colleague face time me from the office where many of my colleagues were there to help console the inconsolable.

I needed support and still do.  I needed to reach out and I did.  Friends, real friends are a bit foreign to me.  I mean I had the best friend and partner in life didn’t I?  We were not perfect by any stretch but she was it for me. Now I need others.  My new friends have been accepting beyond belief.  One day I should write about how I “picked” my first new friend to share what was going on because I knew I would need help in my neighborhood. I don’t like being alone.  I don’t mind being alone when I thought I would have someone showing up eventually. I got to see my old best friend from college days in Virginia.  I got to see my old best friend from grad school.  I got to see old friends from high school and childhood.  I got to meet virtual friends in real life across the country.  All of this I feel grateful and cherish each visit.  I got to reconnect to a special mentor/soccer coach in Geneva, NY now friend.

I felt sorry for myself and still do at times because I am continuously trying to find myself “new” self.  I am hurt, confused, frustrated and now I look back on this trip and seriously wonder how the hell I rode across the country, 14,107 Km’s worth or 8765 miles without actually “killing” myself?  My head at times was so full of despair and I am not being overly dramatic.  Please don’t get misunderstand me.  I am fully aware many have it worse.  I work in organ donation and see every week the traumatic ends of loved ones and then the after math of the family and friends grief and disbelief as to what just happened that took their loved one suddenly away.

I am not trying to compete with another grief and pain. I am writing only about how this separation initially made me feel and then the sudden death of my beagle Cruizer’s (June 10th 2014) filled my head and heart even more.  I refer to my body feeling “full”.  The pressure at times has nowhere to go and I can’t open the relief valve.  I feel literally pressure which equates to stress overload.  I see problems with no solutions and for my type of personality that can create and does an internal struggle and conflict like there is no tomorrow.

My last day traveling from Castelgar, BC to home started out like many of my days, dreary, cool and rain.  Being from the lower mainland of BC rain does not phase me at all.  Sometimes I rather ride in the rain than sun.

IMG_3417

I think this morning was a morning I was dreading.  I mean I had to go home, face reality.  My face in this pic shows lack of sleep the night before, uncertainty and also happy I get to get on my bike and ride. Confusion!

My reality being an empty house, no beagle and less furniture.  I know I have 2 other dogs, my 14-year-old Xander,

Xander

Xander

and 12-year-old Sierra.

Sierra

But I also knew that Cruizer was my special dog who really needed me and I needed him.

Cruizer

Cruizer

It’s amazing after packing up for the last time, feeling sort of sad…once I get on my bike I feel like I can compartmentalized my issues and just well?  Fall in love with my bike everyday and the ride.

Seems like even though I take a lot of selfies, I am always smiling under that helmet.  I guess my true self shining through. 

As I headed to Princeton, BC…like I have many times…there were low clouds obscuring the view of the mountains all around me.  I was going to get a big surprise later.  The pass from Princeton to Hope BC is always for me too wet or cold to ride fast.  it’s full of curves and twisties to die for but I never ever got to experience this over 100 KM ride with freedom.  Weather, cars and road conditions always inhibited me from having fun.  Not this time as you will see…it was like a whole new ride through Allison’s pass for me.  That was euphoric that I had to pull over at the time and post on FB what excitement I just had…made me feel so alive.

I had a peaceful start June 15th to my ride to Maple Ridge.  Hardly any cars early in the morning after I had a quick breakfast at the Fireside motel.  Cool enough for heated gear once again and as I headed west on Rt 3…I could see the clouds lightening up.

I brought on the trip my Canon super zoom bridge camera but only really used a few times to get close-ups to wild life.  My next trip I will probably bring it as well just for those OMG I need more zoom moments even though it’s bulky.  Most of my pics…like 99% were taken with my Panasonic waterproof camera which is a few years old.  It did one hell of a job plus I dropped it going about 100 KM/h because I one hand shots while riding with no tether.  It survived and managed to keep taking decent pics.

Mountains and sort of desert.  That is what the Okanagan is all about in BC.

The neat thing about riding in my own “backyard” is it never feels the same to me.  Always weather plays a big part, season and conditions.  So no matter haw many times I have been on this Rt 3 it looks, smells and feels like a different Rt each time.

If you’re traveling along Highway #3 in beautiful
British Columbia, make a pit stop at
Deadwood Junction.

Greenwood, BC.  How many times have I missed this little stop?  Many…I needed gas so I stopped and while gassing up I looked across the street and saw this…

Surprise!  This place, Deadwood Junction 

Has been in this area for quite sometime.  How many times have I just blindly ridden past this quaint, friendly little joint? Too many and I am embarrassed to admit this because let me tell you…you need a good cup of coffee in the morning and owners who LOVE their job and establishment…stop here. This is a cruiser bike hang out and my bike needless to say made a statement.  There were a few riders inside and had to ask me, “What kind of bike is that?”  I have heard this question no matter what state or part of Canada I was in.  I always say the best kind of bike there is to ride.  ;-)

Would love to go back for their outdoor BBQ. But this morning I had a delicious poppy-seed muffin and a cup of joe.

Inside is just as quaint as it is on the outside.  One of the owners who makes the coffees wears authentic clothing from the historical era.  You are greeted with a huge good morning and smiles.  This can not help to make your day.  So, I am glad I needed gas…I am glad even though I was not hungry or in need of coffee I stopped here.  I will return even for an over niter.  Not far away from my house about 450 KM’s.

Off I went, full and wanting to get back here one day…that makes it a must stop spot for anyone who travels in this area.  Trust me it’s worth it.

Weather is showing promise for the pass I need to go through.  You never know what to expect even in June.  My colleague Trish who lives in the interior warned me of possible bad weather getting to Hope.  Turns out the weather couldn’t have been more perfect for me.

26,000 KM’s

My last capture for this trip when my odometer hit 26,000 KM’s.  It’s been fun catching every 1000 km achieved on this trip with a pic.  Solo entertainment I call  it. :-)

Notice the road…getting drier and drier…a good sign but in no means does this predict the road conditions up in the mountains I need to cross to get to the west side heading home.

Still hardly any cars…where are they?

Sun has broken through but I did not take my heated gear off…just turned it off.  I knew I would be climbing in elevation soon.  I asked my neighbors, 2 of them if they were around to meet me when I arrived home.  I know I am a big baby but I did not want to walk into my house alone.  I was told that Cruizers ashes were there and at this point was also told that the necropsy I asked to be done when I was in South Dakota showed no conclusive cause of death.  I reached out…and I was not disappointed.  Man, do I hate this reaching out stuff.  Feel so weak and dependent.  Never has anyone made me feel this way it’s just me.  I feel so needy.

I guess even an old tunnel covered in graffiti can be considered art?  It was cool to look at and again never noticed this riding through this area before.  I wonder if I am awake when i ride lol

looked like a submarine to me

Who wouldn’t stop here for a Kodak moment? The east side of Osoyoos Lake, BC.

Great road leading up to this view and again I could enjoy it because there were few cars.  Seemed to be my day avoiding cagers.  Good Karma this day.

I think it was at this point I realized I just rode across the country. It dawned on me how much control I have had over my head because riding with too much emotion of any kind is a huge distraction.  I managed to ride over 14,000 KM’s relatively safely and by myself.  I sort of felt proud but I always want more.  I wanted to head south at this point.  There is a USA crossing near here and I did not want to keep heading west.  I wanted to go south to anywhere.  Anywhere to avoid reality. My life was never “simple” but it was rooted.  I like things that way…I am uncomfortable to too much induced changes.  Makes me feel really unstable and I knew once through this area is was just a matter of time before I would be pulling into my driveway.

All farms to me a beautiful and worthy of pictures when on the road.  Almost everything I see on a daily basis seems more beautiful when away.  No mater if it’s in Canada or the USA…what may appear as mundane is not to me.  Weird but makes sense to me.  just a better appreciation for things I suppose.  Your senses are heightened when riding rather than driving a car.  maybe that’s why?

Some one-handed shots just for fun…

Should send this to KLIM and Alpinestars… ;-)

Heading down the mountains to the actual town of Osoyoos is very curvy

Pretty eh?

Who is that geek in this pic?

Next few pictures are just of what I saw of my last leg….final day….

Hard to take one-handed shots when I was flying through the curves…but trust me I was more interested in riding and taking advantage of this pass than taking pictures and it was well worth the omission.

Once I got to this point of any trip on Rt 3/7 I know I am almost home…

So after a great ride through the mountains…I get to the other side and rain begins again.

I was given the heads up by friends that it was raining at home.  I guess as I got closer my mood after the euphoric ride I had through the curves that seemed endless did drop.  Now, I was sad, apprehensive and actually nervous to pull into my garage,  I get hit big time on the bike with a dose of reality.  I also was thinking about what I just did over the last month.  Part amnesic to be honest.  Parts of my trip seem to go by so slowly yet I really don;t remember other parts.  Although I was riding I wonder how in the moment I really was?  not a safe way to ride a 560 pound bike but I did it.  My first SOLO ride and I actually LOVED it.  Not the reason for the ride…hate that…but that I achieved my goal and not to diminish what it takes to do a trip like this by yourself, it was easy????  It was in a way…I am told I am officially experienced as a rider now.  Not only that but a Long Distance Rider (LDR).

Perhaps, but with everything in life you never stop learning.  So, yeah I agree in away I am experienced now.  Over 85,000 KM’s since 2010 on trips alone…over 140,000 KM’s of riding on two wheels all together by the end of this trip.  I suppose I ride a lot compared to some.  It feels good and is only making me crave longer trips now.  So, let’s see after all my legal stuff is settled what I can pull off for 2015…

video-e_WHZzdru7Y

hmmmmmm

No homecoming pic this time…I met my neighbors as they promised…I got off my bike…the house was quiet.  No barking dogs like usual.  I thought that was strange. Spent about an hour outside chatting to my friends before I got the courage to go inside.  Final odometer read

100 KM’s = 62.13 MILES you can use this as a reference for my mileage ;-)

Starting ODM = 12350 KM
FINAL ODM = 26, 457 KM

Final mileage 14,107 KM or 8765 miles

Not as far as I thought.  I saved mileage by taking the Bridgeport ferry from Long Island to CT and save quite a few mileage by taking the Fast Ferry across Lake Michigan.  I suppose if I rode versus took the water I may have hit 16,000 KM….So, I went into my house with friends in tow.  Sierra and Xander were quiet.  No Cruizer. Very quiet.  No howls, no jumping on me, nothing.  I let them outside and they casually obliged me.  I saw Cruizers urn…OMG sad.  I went and looked around to see the holes left in the house with the furniture that left the day I left.  My first impression was this was not my house.  I am grateful I had escorts because I was broken inside.  This was a foreshadow into my next few weeks of struggling with grief, vets, no cause of death and the continuous legal stuff I am dealing with to just get separated legally.

It’s been a tough adjustment getting back into work, trying to find dog care for my on call work but i am trying to resolve some of the issues that might be in my control for now.  I am constantly being told it will get better…the ride helped, all the comments virtually have helped and the support of my family and friends.  I am probably the most needy person out there right now and I am encouraged to keep reaching out on those dark days.

 

Separation sucks.  But it does not have to mean my life is over.  I do at times feel I have a lot to look forward to…now to just get back that feeling down deep in my gut.  So, to end this final installment….I really NEED to thank the virtual world.  Comments from all over the world about my losses and the encouragement.  I need to thanks my family, friends co-workers and perhaps me?  I am sure this will be to continued in other blog posts but for now…this trip comes to an end…I will add a post dedicated to my favorite 2014 trip pictures too…highlights.

My Route 2014 X Country Solo Trip

My Route 2014 X Country Solo Trip

 

I am proud of a few things.  I got my diabetes under control on the way west, I faced my adversity throughout the trip, my demons but I had help…I tented 9 nights, was housed 9 nights and motel, cabin and Hotel the rest.   I was able to keep up the report live until the end.  I learned to travel and navigate by myself.  I was a lot smarter for the most part about where I should park my bike without getting into too much trouble.  I was bumped by a car from behind and didn’t drop my bike, I was hit with hail at times the size of golf balls and only suffered a little bruising on my chest, cut my hand a few times and only had one infection, rode through pouring rain, thunder/lightning storms, avoided tornadoes but got hit with winds from hell…had beautiful weather heading west throughout the South Dakota and Wyoming areas.  Went to 21 states and 2 Provinces.  Dumped my bike twice.

 

So, in the end….this was a very successful trip but the most impressive conclusion…I LOVE MY F800!  It functioned famously, the Metlzer Karoo 3 tires still have tread left were incredible on and off-road.  My bike was extremely comfortable and I gave my sheep pad away once I realized it was staining my pants.  Paul has it now. ;-)  My stock low seat worked great to my surprise.  The bike handled so well on the road and I am in total LOVE with this bike.  Wished it had a larger tank and perhaps the ADV F800 will be my next bike.  All in all this bike was comfortable…I was never sore and very rarely other than being tired did I feel the need to get off the bike or even out of my gear.  My KLIM Altitude, although I have some pet peeves worked out perfectly.  Never once did I get wet and I felt safe and covered.  See?  I have ended on positive notes not negative….sign of healing?  I sure hope so.  Thanks for following along it was fun.  Oh, my SPOT Gen3 is 100% top-notch for reliability and battery life.  Ok…now this is really the end!

 

 

 

 

29 thoughts on “Final Day & Reflections

  1. Thanks for sharing your trip, best wishes with all that you face and to quote Neil Young- “Long may you run” Peace, Jimi

  2. Good to see you’re back home Leslie. You’ve gone through a lot since we met up in Illinois. I have followed your adventure all along. You have done a lot of traveling and growing with it. And you’ve done a fantastic job of documenting your ride along the way.

    Keep moving forward. Start planning another trip. Even if it is not as long as this one was, it will still be fun. And your many new friends will be eager to see you again.

  3. “What day is it?” asked Pooh
    “It’s today.” squeaked Piglet
    “My favorite day.” said Pooh

    Time ,and one day at a time, healing will come.

    Great following you on your trip Leslie. Your black and white world will have colour return to it. Don’t let the negative emails get you down. Respond with kindness and be the person you want the world to be. I know this note is full of cliches but what the hell. Next time you feel bothered tell everyone. “I am going to stand outside, so if anyone is looking for me I am outstanding”

    A little smile to see you through another beautiful day. Peace to you, travel on.

  4. Just read your post. Amazing. Regarding the poser issue. You are NOT a poser. Some people just don’t have anything nice to say mainly because of jealousy. You’ve put more miles on than most put on in a lifetime ! ! You made it back and on your own. That’s what counts.

  5. I too, have the F800 Kalmata. Coming from the GSA1200, the fuel capacity on the F8 is a little worrisome; I’m with you on thinking about the ADV8 next time. Let’s save the other details.

    Regardless of what you do, there will always be haters. Keep doing what brings you happiness. You don’t need other people’s approval. I’ve really enjoyed following along with you on your trip, especially as my 10 day ride was cut short!

    Thank you for letting everyone share in your experiences. Some of us have to live vicariously through you ☺

  6. Amazing trip. You loaded a bunch of new good memories in your bags. Old ones still there at the bottom. You don’t want to forget them. They are as important as the new ones just not as relevant today. Hope this summer brings you joy and love.
    Thanks for including us in your trip.

  7. Leslie, thank you for sharing your trip/adventure with all.
    The guy that called you a poser is the poser. He is obviously jealous and or intimidated that a woman would do a solo ride such as the one you just got back from. I see no other reason for his rant.
    I’m proud of you for taking this trip and the strength you have to endure what you have in the last few months.
    Keep posting. There are many of us that look forward to your adventure and thoughts.

    Take care.

  8. Congratulations on a fine trip and ride report. Be patient with your grief over the loss of your partner and your dog. It will come over you when you least expect it and will eventually diminish. In the meantime, you must live your life for yourself each day, and it appears that your trip and reaffirming old family and friend connections, has helped to set you on course for a beautiful future. Hang in there, kiddo!

    • Patience I am being forced to learn Sharon…always learning throughout this new experience but some say I will be a “better” person. Not sure I like that…was I that bad to begin with? LOL JK….thanks for ALL your comments made throughout my trip…or shall our I say OUR trip!

  9. Hey Leslie, Friend, and non-poser – good stuff! We kept up with your ride report on our ride. Was hoping we would meet up at some point, but it was not to be on this trip – perhaps on a future ride. ;-) So sad about Cruizer – you know, we think about and miss Duke every day – we understand how you are feeling in that arena. The path through life is different for each of us, and I think you are doing what is right for you – so take the unsolicited criticism of the haters with a grain of salt – you should have been surprised if they didn’t speak up. ;-) It only means you have a broad spectrum of audience, nothing more. Enjoyed your ride report on many levels – your maturity in dealing with personal loss, vicarious education of your travels, gear & equipment evaluation, and the intangible cool factor of your adventure – you did many good things, for which we thank you.

    • I think the hard part about Cruizer is I wished I was home when he got ill. The most difficult part I’m having is no conclusive cause of death. Theory? Stressed induced cardiomyopathy aka broken heart. Too much stress, chaos for the little guy consumes me with guilt.

      You guys looked like you had a great trip. Are you home?

  10. Wow, what a good post here. I’ve enjoyed following your blog during your trip. What a nice ride and quite an accomplishment you’ve made. Very nice.

  11. Awesome blogging and inspiring. Take comfort in your accomplishment under adverse circumstances and use it to inspire others. Keep traveling in your dreams until you can hit the road again…

    • I like this comment…I do take comfort I think….and from the private messages I have received I think some may have been able to relate to me so much it just may have inspired a few and I know from the sounds of some messages perhaps even saved a life. I have felt those dark days..still do but this BLOG…my passion for riding and I know I will regain my passion for work all keep me looking forward. Comments like this do too…so, I thank you!

  12. Hi Leslie, I enjoyed and looked forward to every post. You did a fantastic job of allowing us to take this virtual tour with you and I thank you! I hope you will soon get back to feeling “normal” (whatever that means)?

    As for the haters of the world….. just know there are a lot of mentally ill people out there. Not that that’s any excuse for bad behavior or lack of manners….BTY, what happened to “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything”? :)

    Wishing you all the best,
    Maria

  13. I echo all the positive comments expressed here and despite Cruizer passing, this ride was a Good Idea. It’s going to take time to get through all that’s happened, and you won’t erase the years with Cheryl or forget Cruizer, nor do you want to.

    As you know, “No matter where you go, there you are.” Nothing wrong with that. Just keep on keeping on.

    • Agree but one day Cheryl will be the past. Cruizer I need to bring his ashes back to South Dakota where I had a memorial for him and I will hopefully next spring

  14. Hi Leslie, I’ve now had a chance to finish reading your posts and what a fantastic trip! Would love to a similar route one day. As for the negative comment… meh, can’t please everyone. Did this individual expect you to do the route on dirt the whole way? These bikes are made for touring by whatever road you choose—last year I took my 800 on everything from snowy Alpine passes to top speed on the German autobahn and all round it was the right tool for the job. If you had an adventure (and I can clearly see you did), then it was an adventure.

    I know it may be instinctual to feel guilt about Cruizer but remember that death is the most normal and inevitable thing (yet the thing most people fear most) and is always met with rebirth in one form or another—energy is never destroyed, only changed, so he will always be with you through memories and perhaps in other unexplainable ways. It is also important to recognise the good and full life you gave him. Therefore there is nothing to feel guilty about, and our thoughts are with you through your grieving process.

    I very much enjoyed reading all the posts about your trip and look forward to the next one!

  15. Thanks from me also for sharing this trip. Loved the updating map. Was like my old days doing naval navigation, except yours was on land instead of water, except the ferry crossings of course. ;-) Each new trip, will just get better and better. :-)

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