DAY TWENTY-ONE: THURSDAY, JULY 02
I wanted to get going as soon as possible, as the night before I came to the realization that a long push for the day could have me sleeping in my own bed at the end of this day. I believe it was a little after 5 AM when I went to load my bike up in Rob’s garage with the gear I had taken up to their spare bedroom. Rob appeared a few minutes later and we chatted about my final route home. No way I wanted to go through Chicago no matter what time of day it would be, so I settled on the direct south route of I-94 to I-90 to I-39 to I-74 to I-465 as the main roads home.
Breakfast was offered but as usual, I like to ride for awhile before stopping for the first meal of the day, so I declined. I said goodbye and headed out into the foggy morning. Traffic on I-94 was fairly light; a quick stop for a McD’s Sausage Egg McMuffin and fuel was accomplished on the other side of Eau Claire after I was able to put down some quick miles first thing.
When you are one or two states away from home, on the interstate making fast miles, it’s hard to find things to photograph for any ride report.
The entire day was uneventful. Here’s the one photo that was taken that day, just inside the Illinois border:
Wind farms are gaining in community acceptance and are popping up all over the Midwestern states now. These of course signify areas where high winds are prevalent, and today’s journey south would be somewhat windy until turning eastwards on I-74 outside of Bloomington, Illinois and aiming the bike for it’s last big city destination of Indianapolis.
The push home would put me onto I-465, the circle interstate bypass around the city of Indianapolis, right at rush hour. It did not disappoint. Like Minneapolis the day before, I sat in plenty of traffic. I watched the trip odometer hit ten thousand as I barely moved in traffic about twenty miles from home, which was a very cool thing to witness.
Finally, I turned onto my street and worked my way towards my driveway. My wife was out in the garage waiting for me; she had followed the progress on the InReach tracking link. I turned off the key and put the kickstand down. I had made it back home; and the exhaustion just immediately kicked in like I had not experienced before. It was very hard to get off the bike. I was glad to be home, very glad. My wife and dogs made me feel very missed and the rest of the evening was spent mostly chatting with my wife about different aspects of the adventure while sitting in the comfort of our recliners; two dogs lying at my feet refusing to allow me out of their sight.
Even though the ribs were throbbing, and I was exhausted, later in the evening I sat there thinking that I’d love to jump back on the bike and do it all over again immediately. No other trip I will ever be able to do in the future will be able to compete with the adventure that was the journey to Alaska. It was a very expensive trip, mentally and physically taxing, and required pushing my endurance ability further than I ever thought possible. And like I said, if circumstances allowed it, I’d leave tomorrow and do it all over again in a heartbeat.
I have a number of friends locally that have ridden for years. Most thought this trip was crazy or impossible. I figure less than one or two percent of all two-wheel riders have or will make this journey in their lifetime. It is impossible to describe the satisfaction of this journey when it has been completed. Even without the busted ribs, it is one of the hardest thing I have ever done and I think anybody that has completed this trip will tell you that it has changed them, even just a little bit.
For those of you that have done this trip, you are now in an elite club of riders. For those of you thinking about this journey, just do it. Life is too short to waste.
Mileage: 652 miles
Area stopped: Home
Gas: $1,068.37 (I think I missed two gas receipts)
Food: $782.67 (may have missed one breakfast and a couple of snacks)
Lodging: $1,417.02 (just what I paid, not what anybody else expended on their turns)
Tolls: $101.60 (two passes for two through the Canadian parks and the ferry boat ride for one person and motorcycle)
Maintenance: $29.21 (Gallon of Rotella T6 oil at Fairbanks Walmart; Gorilla tape and two snap hooks in Haines)
My total expenses just for the actual trip while on the journey was $3,685.12 when I factor in some small presents and my doctor visit (so far). I had ensured $6K was available for expenses and emergencies and a last-ditch flight home if need be. I advise budgeting in a good emergency fund; accidents, injuries, and bike damages up there happen regularly.
A few days after getting home, I went to the emergency room; my pain had not subsided and in fact was getting worse in a couple of spots. A CAT scan and other tests were performed. Internal organ damage was not found but two broken ribs and two cracked ribs were easily identified. I don’t have a job to go back and give this to but I did get something for a future laminated garage-hanging memento; my proof of my idiocy and resolve:
Already pneumonia had started occurring due to the subconscious shallow breathing; requiring a meeting with a Respiratory Therapist who started me on inhalation therapy exercises; which like a sneeze, is a sadistic activity in itself. Since then, healing has been happening and other than problems with sleeping on my back which makes me feel like my wife is trying to suffocate me with a pillow, I’m getting along a little better every day. There is no treatment for broken ribs; you get a few days to do nothing, but then the doctor wants you to do as much as you can in normal life which somehow helps with healing them better.
Had I known I was so seriously injured, I would have flown home. I do not fault the medical center in Glennallen at all for anything; they went off the equipment that they had available and were able to make a partial diagnosis which none of us thought was critical. The decision was mine alone to ride the 5,200 miles back after the accident. I am glad I was able to finish the ride regardless of the pain encountered on the way home. This was not build “my man card”…it was simple stubbornness and desire to finish what I had started.
I had to decide whether to expend a lot of my unused funds to fix Faith or to part her out and save up for another motorcycle. No way I’d have the funds for a new bike; so unless a anonymous benefactor sends me a new motorcycle (I’d really like one of the new 2015 Vstrom’s please) this one will get repaired over time. Some of the very important replacement items have already installed over the past weekend. The ’07 DL650 Vstrom, which tripped 52,000 miles on this journey, will stay in the garage and be my ride once again after I heal. The torn up windshield will hang on the garage wall as a reminder that safety gear saved my life, as well as a very expensive present to myself regarding the actual adventure.
There’s one more entry I’ll be doing in this thread with some things I learned on this adventure that I’ll share with others, once I get the thoughts together to post. As much as you all enjoyed reading this report, I enjoyed sharing it and getting your comments in return. Doing a ride report is a lot of work; I have found that I enjoy it and hope to share more adventures with everybody in the future.