A Few Notes:

—These entries have been posted in reverse order to preserve their chronology when viewed on blogspot.
—Some of my live Twitter updates and various text messages have been incorporated into my original travel notes.
—Some entries have been redacted, though I have made an effort to preserve coherence (when originally present).
—Pictures will be posted.

Leaving Today

On the Road: We gotta go Sal, and not stop going til we get there. Where we going? I don’t know, but we gotta go! Ready for some fun? 0.0
This is not a complete account. It’s not meant to be. Sometimes it’s enough, sometimes it’s better, just to live life.

“I pictured myself…with all the gang, and in their eyes I would be strange and ragged and like the Prophet who has walked across the land to bring the dark Word, and the only Word I had was ‘Wow!’”—On the Road

Day 1

PDX 09286.2
Burley, ID 09896.9
610.7 miles

Crawled off the bike and into an expensive but nice Best Western. If anyone wants to give me a massage I’ll be in the Starlite Lounge.

I didn’t feel any fatigue during the riding. Tiredness, sure, but no more than during any other day, brought on by lack of sleep, sunlight, and lack of coffee. But as soon as I had a place to sleep and knew I wasn’t moving the bike til morning, all the aches and pains and fatigue materialized. I could barely walk straight to get from my room to the restaurant, I was suddenly so light-headed.
     At times it seemed like regular riding, just longer. At other times, it seemed more like long-haul road trips from my past, taken in a car (I kept thinking that I recognized spots along I-84, then realized that I did not).
     I finally relaxed in Idaho. I felt a loosening after more than 300 miles into the trip.
     Listening to Metallica (“Fuel”, “The Call of Ktulu”) while climbing a curvy pss—it was just fucking cool.
     At other times, I felt, a little bit, the exceptionality of the situation—all of a sudden I smiled widely, laughed, glanced at the landscape, kicked it up another few mph, put my hand on the tank, and sang along to the Foo Fighters.
     Once, I seemed to try to verbalize the specialness; I noticed the landscape (Idaho), the music (the Foos), the road, the bike, the wind, the shadows, and I told myself, This is my whole world at this moment, (I can’t possibly care about anything else), nothing else matters at all right now.
     I don’t think I believed it—I never do believe me when I have to explain me to myself—but the visceral reactions and intakes before the intellectualizing screamed Fuck Yeah.

I didn’t think about the bugs, or the wrist pain. Tomorrow, I’ll do a full wrap on my hands. My ass—so sore.

I got apprehensive, and felt tired and lazy, whenever I thought about crossing the same roads on my way back from New York. I told myself not to think about it; I told myself it’ll be worth it.
     Maybe the first day is premature for judgement, but—so far, it’s worth it.

Sleep well—-5 AM wake-up call.

Day 2

Burley, ID 09896.9
Denver, CO 10569.4
672.5 miles

Leg 1 Done
Portland, OR
Denver, CO
1283.2 miles

I beat the big long desert of Wyoming and finished the first leg.

The question arose—why the hell am I doing this?
     It’s easy to come up with answers—reasons—justifications—after the fact, but that’s not the same as knowing the reason.
     So why am I doing this?
     Hell if I know.
     And the first day is too soon to judge the merit of a thing. I’ll have to wait, to see the whole thing, wait til it’s over, to be able to say if it was worth it. I don’t yet know the costs, nor the outcome.

Things never go as planned. But maybe one day they’ll go as hoped.

Day 3 - Rest, Vacation, Life, Denver

No riding today. Denver. I haven’t been on the bike for more than 12 hours, but part of my ass is still numb. Weird.
     Right now, I’m on vacation time.

Every so often I do something because I don’t think I can do it.
     Sitting in a cafĂ© today, almost 24 hours off the bike, I thought of the miles behind me, and I thought of the miles ahead, and the soreness of my bones, and the tiredness of my head, and it sounded an Herculean task, just to go, to make it, to consider going back. I didn’t think I could make it.
     Which is why I’ll do it.
     I don’t know why I started—it seemed like the thing to do, I suppose—but now I have a reason to go on. A flimsly, poorly-thought-out reason that has nothing to do with what lies at any of destinations, but sometimes any reason can be a good enough reason. So call it an excuse.
     I like to push myself. As I’ve said before, in other places, I’ve tried to push myself to my limits, but I couldn’t—I never found my limits.

Day 4

Denver, CO 10569.4
Burlington, CO 10736.0
166.6 miles
Tow to McCook, NE (148 miles)

I tried to prepare myself for the big long nothing of Kansas. But Kansas wasn’t coming. I kept waiting to cross the border, but Colorado just wouldn’t fucking end. It was already boring as hell, and I hadn’t even gotten to the vastness of Kansas.      The landscape is quite beautiful—abandoned farmhouses, rolling hills of green and brown, the simple, minimalist lines of road, horizon, and sky, the sun filtering through the clouds in rays of darkness against the day—but the wonder is short-lived. It’s a fifteen-second loop that ceases to hold interest once you realize you’re seeing the same thing over again.
     For a ten- or fifteen-mile stretch I saw no traffic going my direction. Lacking turns in the road, I gently weaved across both lanes, letting the sounds in my head, good and painful, fill the gray blue of the wind noise.

I filled up in Limon, 89 miles out, had a talk with a Harley rider who admired my bike. He said the Shadow, in his opinion, was the best bike ever designed. They’re bulletproof, can ride ‘em to shit and back and they’ll keep going.
     I kept on. Knowing my options were limited on this route—interstate travel wasn’t really designed with 100-mile tanks in mind—I stopped for gas at 80 miles in Burlington, CO, still wondering where the damn border was.
     I finished filling up, and…nothing. The bike didn’t start.
     The starter button stuck in and did nothing. Cursing the phasing-out of kick-starts, I wheeled into a parking spot. The electrics were on, thankfully, except for the starter and headlight, unfortunately. I took apart the starter, figured I was out of my depth, and asked the clerk if there were any motorcycle mechanics in town. No, but he suggested one place (one of the mechanics has a motorcycle…).
     Mile and a half down the road, no, try this other place. Another half-mile. Got a broken bike. Bike? …motorcycle. No. Back to the bike in the heat, call for a tow, to the nearest Honda dealership. Which is in Nebraska. So, change of plans, apparently: I’m getting towed from Nowhere, Colorado to Nowhere, Nebraska.

Get the tow, get the bike into the shop, get on-the-road priority, get a ride to a shitty motel, throw my gear down, make coffee, chain-smoke, call a few friends.
     I call my Dad for directions for tomorrow for a revised route, and go to the bar.
     I talked to a friend before the tow arrived—he raised the question, “Are all adventures only adventures in retrospect? Aren’t they all just a pain in the ass while they’re happening?”
     Breakdowns, dive bars, Nebraska, struggling to understand anything, accept or crazy, fuck. New York maybe Friday, plans, good, hope.
     It’s a cheesy, pop-psych line of thought, but thinking that the trip is bad will only make it worse. But my problem with pop-psychology was always that it conflicts with reality (and it relies on self-conditioning: 100,000 repetions equal one truth). Such long hard riding is not that enjoyable—maybe I’m better for shorter rides, why deny my nature?—boredom, adversity...Adversity makes us stronger? Maybe more tolerant, but if I already know and like what kind of a life I prefer, why test it? Why do I test myself? The only reason I can think I’m doing this is…just to do it? To push and test myself? I don’t know. For fun. When I think about how emotionally masochistic I am, a great deal more makes sense.
     I briefly talked to my brother—If you already knew what was going to happen, why would you go? His suggestion, go to a dive bar, have a shot and a beer, and try to experience something.
     What would it take for me to experience something anymore? I get my enjoyment from being torn apart by music, from conversation with people I care about, from creating—manifesting the contents of my mind—and, apparently, from emotional pain.
     Hope. I will continue to praise and curse Hope.
     Beauty. My utmost enjoyment comes from Beauty.
     Anything else, I feel I have to continue to push myself, my limits, and—most dangerously—my circumstances.
     But what the hell happened to me? I used to say I thrive on change. I think I believed it. I think I still believe that. But I get into difficulty, under various circumstances, and all I want is to be home, alone, in my bed, gathering what little comfort there is in my house. I live simply, spartanly. I live in my head, not in my house. So why would traveling have become difficult for me? It’s as though I actually became the introverted hermit loner homebody I always thought I was (and still do) and made myself out to be, and any deviation is taken as an affront.

I sometimes struggle to remember why I used to like what I did.

The Harley rider in Limon—this guy was on his way from Fairbanks, Alaska, back home to Alabama, and I got the impression that he made trips like that at least once a year: “The first day, I’m tired. The second day, I’m angry. The third day, I’m horny, daydreaming about my bed at home. The fourth day is okay, the fifth day I don’t care, and after that it’s fun.”

Seriously though—what the fuck am I doing here?

Day 5

McCook, NE 10736.0
West Branch, IA 11292.9
556.9 miles

When did shitty motels get so expensive? Kind of a shitty motel here; decided to take non-removable saddlebag off the bike for the night.

I had a 5 AM wake-up call and an alarm set. I woke at 7. Anyway, the shop probably wouldn’t open until 8, so I had breakfast and started (re-)reading On the Road.
     At 9:30 I got the call, the bike’s done. The starter button had been replaced, and I hit the road at 10, a two-lane highway with a 65 limit, a very nice ride.
     I got really tired after a while on the freeway. I took off the headphones, better—I think the music is too loud, more fatiguing.
     Pushed on, I wanted to get as many miles in as possible.
     Iowa City, night’s fallen town’s full up. Pushed on, night riding. Brights—well, bright—turned on. A shitty motel, dinner at McDonald’s, 550 miles. Pretty good distance, especially considering the late start.

The riding was easier today, but my left ass cheek is still completely numb.

Day 6

West Branch, IA 11292.9
Youngstown, OH 11898.7
605.8 miles

The moon is red tonight. I find it very soothing, though my arms are too shaky to get a good photo.

No music today, I wanted to try it. Since I have to turn the music so loud just to hear it, it must be destroying my hearing. Without music, my fatigue levels fluctuated about the same, but it was quieter, less distracting. I’ll probably listen to music a bit in Pennsylvania tomorrow but I’ll definitely have it off by the time I get close to the city, in the evening sometime—450, 500 miles left (easy day, right?).
     The riding is definitely easier, I can more easily push myself and ignore my aches and bruises.
     My overall mood until late afternoon was anger. I don’t know why, I was just kinda pissed off all day. The shitty motels, the shitty food and sleep, the riding—this is a lot of riding—and special today the shitty highways. Interstate 25 from Fort Collins to Denver was bad. Every state has had bad stretches. But Indiana—really bumpy. The whole state. I had my left hand off the controls for one I didn’t see coming—it’s hard to tell the difference between cracks and cracks with bumps—it was nearly a very bad situation. Experience, instinct, whatever, kicked in, had a fast reaction, my hand shot out and straightened the handlebar before the front wheel hit ground.
     Ohio was a bit bumpy, but far less severe than Indiana, and more consistent. Still, when I pulled into town tonight I heard a grinding noise from the rear when accelerating. But only when accelerating—what could that be? Hopefully it’ll diminish tomorrow, touch wood.
     I wanted a short(er) day tomorrow, so I kept pushing it til 600 today. I got a late start again, and didn’t roll until 8:30. I did a bit of night riding, but traffic was slow, better. Plus I only had to go one further exit to find a motel room.

I knew I’d be okay—I saw on the map that I-80 goes near NYC; I figured, okay, there’ll be signs. There was a sign as far back as 20 miles into Ohio, three states away.

I need to get acupuncture or a deep tissue massage in New York or Portland. I think I might be losing feeling in my right ass cheek now, too.

I couldn’t clear my head today. Every so often a song would rush in, I’d sing the few bars I could remember from favorite songs, and then the cacophony of thought would take over. It just made me angrier than I felt already, that my head was such a boring, noisy clatter with no focus or energy or anything redeeming. I just kept riding. A friend thinks I’m hitting my stride. I think he’s right.

I’m tired of this food, this riding—so much riding—all of this.