Saturday, May 28, 2011

5/25 Wednesday

I headed back to Skyline Drive in the morning. The plan was to ride down part way then get off and start heading towards Raleigh, NC. Skyline was packed this morning and was excruciatingly slow moving. After 3 hours I had only ridden 80 miles so I got off and started to hit back roads. There were a few nice twisty roads, but most of them were fairly boring and went through a lot of small towns. I got bored after a while and just starting picking random back roads through Virginia. I came upon Farmville, VA and had to take a picture of the main sign just for the Facebookers who were obsessed with that game. There is a a real Farmville, and it was actually fairly nice. Downtown Historical was pretty neat, all red brick buildings that looked like they were kept up really well.

Some of the random backroads I chose were great, rolling hillsides, green scenery new pavement. But some were really bad, narrow lanes, bumpy, gravel ridden and made for some slow going. I bet the people I saw were surprised to see a modern sportbike riding through their neighborhood.

I reached Raleigh around 4pm and went to my old place to see the old roommates. I was greeted by Derek with a awesome authentic Palestinian lunch of malfoof, basically seasoned rice wrapped in cabbage. It hit the spot, I inhaled the whole plate in a matter of seconds. We spent the rest of the day hanging out, playing video games and catching up. then later that night, the other two roommates came back and after some bro hugs all around we laughed the night away. I move around so much I have lived with a lot of people. These guys, Derek, Jamal and Ryan were some of the best roommates I've had. I've missed the hell out of these guys.

Derek, Jamal, Me, Ryan at Times Square

Thursday 5/26

Originally I planned to leave Raleigh around 9 am. But after a late night, (the new roommate that replaced me had some friends spend the night also they had a a lot of drama going on and kept us all up till 3 or 4 am) I started the bike up at 10am and was strapping on the helmet when Derek came outside. "I'm glad I caught you before you left," he said. "How about a cup of coffee?"
Alright, one cup. thats it. An hour later, I was finally on the way, haha. This is going to be a late night. I left Raleigh on back roads with my GPS saying I would arrive home at 8pm. Not too bad, but I decided to jump on the interstate for a little while to catch up some time. Around the Charlotte area, I decided I couldn't take it anymore so I got off and started on backroads again. I rode by the Charlotte Motor Speedway and there must have been a NASCAR race that weekend because the beer and mullets were flowing freely.
South Carolina, not much to see the way I took. A lot of flat straight open roads. There were some nice lakes and bridges but thats about it. One of the roads I took had a bad accident so I ended up having to take a long detour around it which led me to a fairly decent road that led me into Georgia.

Getting close to home, I was tired and ready to put my feet up. About an hour and a half from home, the skies looked dark and stormy. There was not a place to pull off, just open road and no shoulders so I kept moving. A few miles into the clouds, i started to get what felt like 30 mph crosswinds. It was impossible to keep the bike going in a straight line. While struggling to keep the bars pointed in the right direction, the downpour hit out of nowhere. Fifteen miles or so later, I came up on a small town and pulled off into the gas station. The rain had stopped now but a dark cloud was moving towards me at a quick pace. I gassed up and pushed the bike out of the way and started to put the rain covers on the bags. As I was finishing up the last bag, the rain and wind came. I had difficulty putting the last cover on because it kept getting blown out of my hand. Finally, I had everyone covered up as well as I could and I started to put on my own rain gear. Im already wet at this point but the rain suit would help keep me warm at least. When I took my jacket and chest protector off, I started to get pelted with hail. What the hell.
Forget it, I'm not riding in this. I ran inside the gas station to wait out the storm. This was one hell of a storm. The bike looked like it was going to be blown over on its kickstand so I ran into the hail and moved the bike to the other side of the building which shielded it from a lot of the wind and hail. It was sad to watch Jess get beaten up by the wind and hail while I stood inside and watched.

After hanging out inside for an hour, the storm died down so I called my friend Matt in Macon to see what the radar looked like. My phone had zero service in that area so the gas station attendant let me borrow her phone. It turns out the storm totally missed Macon so I could start heading back, no cheap hotel for me tonight. I thanked the gas station attendant and headed out. It was getting dark now the roads were wet and it was still raining. No fun. I was expecting deer to pop out at any moment. Getting so close to home, I was anxious to be back. The wind was picking up again and the rain started to come down harder. I could see bright flashes of lightning in the direction I was heading. Crap, I really dont want to ride through this storm. From here to my house, there were no places to stop and hide from the storm.

About 20 miles from home, the wind and rain died a bit but I was seeing more and more flashes of lightning. I made one of the last turns and as I was looking through the corner, a deer jumped out from my right side. I straightened the bike up and hit the binders. The deer passed in front of me by only a matter of a foot. Whew, too close. They say accidents happen close to home, they, whoever they are, weren't kidding. At this point, Im telling myself, slow down, relax, slow down, relax..... Its dark, Im wet, the impending storm is taking away my concentration. I needed to get off the bike, I was so close.

The last road going to my parents house from this direction is a 2.5 miles dirt and gravel stretch. The road was like a washboard, shaking my teeth and bags apart. It was still only damp so it wasn't too slick, I was losing traction a lot but it could have been worse. It probably wasnt a good idea to be moving at 45 mph on it either, but it would be a lot worse if the sky fell while I was one this road. This road turns into a huge mud pit at any sign of rain. Just a couple hundred feet before the drive way to my parents house, a couple of cats ran across the road right in front of me, then a few feet later, a rabbit ran out. Are these animals serious?

I finally pulled up to the door to the basement where I keep my bike and exhausted, I peeled off my gear. Just a few minutes before, there was this huge anxious rush to get here before the shit hit the fan and now that Im here, no rain, no wind, just some lightning off in the distance. All of a sudden, it was peaceful.
Tuesday. May 24th.

After hitting the snooze button a few times, I finally dragged myself out of the sleeping bag. I wasn’t doing myself any favors sleeping in knowing the long ride that lay ahead. Today, I was going to finish the Blue Ridge Parkway and then Skyline Drive leading up to Front Royal. I ended at mile marker 240 last night so that left me with 240 miles of the BRP and then 175 miles of Skyline Drive. Taking the detour around the closed portion of the BRP took only 15-20 minutes. Pretty soon I was already on the BRP and an hour later I decided to pull off and take a short break, check my bag and do some bike maintenance. When I pulled off into the restaurant, there was a Harley rider with all his bags off and tools out. I asked if everything was alright and if he needed any help, apparently his bags were fairly new and had stretched a little causing them to rest on his exhaust. I left him punching new holes in his leather strap and went off in search of the bathroom. On the way there, I saw a BMW GS loaded up with gear. All over the bike were stickers from Australia, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, India, China and so many more. One day that will be me.
After taking a few minutes to lube and clean my chain, I headed north again stopping only when I needed to take a break. I think I have enough pictures of the Smoky Mountains by now, but I did grab a few more when I stopped. At one of the overlooks, the Harley rider I saw fixing his bags came riding by so we gave each other a wave and a nod. That’s what I love about motorcycle riders, somehow even worlds apart, we still have a respect and understanding for one another. I would catch up to him a few miles down the road and he let me pass since I was doing about 5 mph faster.

1 p.m.

I pulled off the parkway at the first Roanoke exit for a drink and snack. When I pulled up to the gas pump, guess who was right behind me pulling up to a pump, that same Harley rider. We laughed and said our greetings once again. I grabbed a multigrain bar and a powerade and chatted with the harley rider for a few minutes. He was from Missouri, been riding for about a month now. He was doing the BRP and then had no real plans after that, maybe New Jersey he said. Apparently he had grown up in the Tennessee area and spent years hiking the Appalachian Trail and the Smokies. He had not been back since his hiking years so that morning was the first time in 30 years he had seen the fog rolling in on the valleys. I noticed he had a sleeping bag strapped to the back of the bike with no kind of cover for it and I asked him about it. Apparently he just didn’t own a cover and slept in a wet bag the other night. I gave him a couple of extra trash bags I carry with me for storing wet clothes, it was going to rain later today and I couldn’t let the man sleep in a wet bag in the mountains, its chilly enough in the mornings without being wet.
After half an hour of sharing stories and just chatting, I had to get going, I was killing too much time. I headed back on the BRP and into the dark clouds ahead.

An hour later, the rain came. Just light at first with a whole lot of wind. I contemplated not stopping to put on the rain gear. It seems like everytime I put on the rain gear, it doesn’t rain, but when I decide to leave it off, it pours. So I pulled off and threw it on. While I was putting my pants on, the guy on the Harley rode by again. Ha, we would continue this leap frog for quite a ways. For all the time we spent Bsing, I never got his name. I got all my gear on and kept going, and no, it didn’t really rain. I got some light stuff, but nothing bad, I am glad I covered the bags though because the water spray from the tires would have soaked them.

By the time I got to the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the sky had started to look darker and darker. Great, at least I have my gear on already. I pulled off before getting on Skyline Drive to fill up on gas and caffeine and guess who I saw one last time. Haha. He was pulled over in a closed and deserted hotel and was unpacking his things. I think he was going to camp out that night at the old building. I waved and kept moving, it was going to be a late night if I didn’t.

The Meadows of Dan

The entrance station to skyline drive was closed so I didn’t have to pay to get on, although it did say to pay when I got off. So Skyline Drive was fairly desolate at this time of day and with the dark clouds looming over us, tr I managed to ride the entire road in really good time and only saw a handful of people. I exited Skyline Drive at Front Royal and the exit station was closed, ha. So that was the first time I have ever ridden the SD for free. Getting in to Front Royal, I headed straight towards my friend Lou’s tattoo shop. I havnt talked to Lou in several years at this point and had lost his number. I was hoping to just show up and see him hunched over someone with needle in hand. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, the shop was no longer there and the apartment he lived in above it was empty. Too bad, I was really looking forward to seeing him. After a few phone calls to Butch, I found that that Lou was still somewhere in the area, but everyone had kind of lost track of where he was and what he was doing. Maybe next time Lou. I headed over to meet Butch at his apartment. Butch was still the same Butch. Hilarious. He was still driving trucks but no longer for race teams. We chatted about all our old drivers and where they had ended up. A few of them were driving IRL cars now, one in particular just a nasty crash at Indianapolis 500 qualifying but she still managed to make the race. Good for Simona.

Butch informed me that a couple of other guys from the team were still around so we called up KC who was our other painter. He came right over and he showed me all the cars and motorcycles he had since I last saw him. He must have been through 20 vehicles since I last saw him and Im still driving the same car and only two bikes have come and gone. KC had stopped painting was doing a electrician now. He seemed to be doing really well for himself, just bought a house with his girlfriend and was growing up. After an awesome dinner, KC had to head back and Butch called up Matt, another mechanic. We went to see ole Pappa Smurf at his house a few miles away and caught up. I told them that I would be back in July and we should do a 4th of july celebration at a campground. They seemed pretty enthused about it so hopefully we can make it happen. It was getting late at this point so we headed back to Butch’s place and watched Dancing with the Stars with his girlfriend until I passed out on the couch. The next morning, Butch left for work at 6 am and unbeknownst to me, left me a note and some cash. Wow, Butch. I was planning on leaving him some cash for the dinner and place to stay. I wrote a note back thanking him and Debbie for their hospitality and started packing my things. Butch, I’ve never met another person like him. Always good for a laugh. He had the look of a trucker but the soul of Ghandi. I will be glad to be back in July to see him again.

Monday, May 23, 2011

6 A.M. 5/23/11

After a long hot day at the racetrack it is fairly easy to get a good nights rest. I stayed with my friend Brandon in Cumming last night since I couldn’t camp at the track on Sunday nights after an event. We gorged ourselves on pizza and Newcastle at a local pizzeria then I proceeded to pass out on his couch as soon as my head hit the pillow. The alarm clock rang at 6am and I jumped right up feeling refreshed after about 7 hours of sleep. I quickly packed up my things and hit the road. It was chilly riding up GA 400 so I threw a fleece on under my jacket. Slowly making my way up to 411, I could see the damage the latest storm had caused to the trees and houses in the area. A reminder of the uncontrollable forces of nature that I hope not to run into. After a few hours of riding, I finally came upon the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Cherokee, Tennessee. I took a few pics and it was time to hit the road again. I have done bits and pieces of the BRP the past few years but have never ridden the entire parkway, so I made it the goal for the week to ride all the way up to Front Royal, VA where the Skyline Drive ends. I spent a year in Front Royal in 2006 working for a Formula BMW team so I still have a few friends in the area I plan on seeing. Our painter and truck driver are still in the area so it will be good to see Butch and Lou again. In the short time I was there, those two became like family to me.

Riding up the BRP, its difficult not to stop at every overlook to take pictures and take in the Smoky Mountains. After a few hours, I realized I was making horrible time so I decided to just roll through most of them and keep moving. At every overlook there was always a few motorcyclists and I took the time to chat a little bit with each of them. Everyone had a similar story, ridden bits and pieces and wanted to do the whole parkway, sounds familiar. At one of the first overlooks, I met an older man on a 70s Honda that looked like it had a full life already. It was amazing to think that he trusted that old piece of machinery enough to take himself almost a thousand miles away from home, and here I am worried about my Honda built in 2008. He told me of a few nice places to stay and eat along the way and where to get a free map of the BRP. This would come in useful later on. Not wanting to kill too much time, I left the old man drinking his sugar free Red Bull and went about my way. About 20 miles later at the highest point on the BRP, I stopped to take a few pictures of the landmark and met a father and son duo on their Ducati Multistrada and Bandit 600. They had ridden down from Ohio and were almost all the way done with the parkway. They had been here last year and only got halfway through, so they made it a mission to finish the entire road and then they would take backroads all the way back to Ohio. I always envy the people who have family members willing to do such a trip. Unfortunately, Im the only person in my family with a two wheel obsession so most of my trips are done solo. Not that it’s a bad thing though, riding solo isn’t lonely by any means, it allows more freedom to stop when I want and where I want and go as far as I can push myself. I have a few friends with similar riding styles so when they are able to join me it is always a guaranteed good time. I always said that I would marry the first girl willing to do a long crazy ride with me and after almost finding that girl once, I decided that probably was not the best idea. I spent more time looking in my rear view watching to see if she made it out of the last corner with the rubber side down than actually enjoying my ride and keeping my pace. I don’t mind waiting for people, but when I am concerned for their safety, it’s a different kind of a waiting game to see if they appear around the corner. For now, I’ll do these trips solo.

Around 2 pm, my butt started feeling the effects of riding a sport bike for 7 hours straight, I sat down at a picnic bench at an overlook and had a snack and just rested for a while. Realizing how far away destination for the night was, I had to kick it into high gear and keep moving. I was averaging just over 50 miles per gallon so I only had two fuel stops after getting on the parkway. This is probably the best mileage the Honda has ever seen. I was planning on stopping at the Doughton campground but I found out from the father son duo that part of the BRP was closed due to construction so I figured I would just play it by ear. Riding through the BRP, there were areas where the asphalt was brand new and looking at the hillside, it was evident why. Recent landslides have torn up a lot of pavement forcing closures which is what I am assuming happened between mile marker 250 and 225 where the parkway was closed. I got off at NC 18 near Sparta and headed for the first gas station. After filling up, I plugged in campgrounds on the GPS and found a couple choices. The first few I called were too expensive at $25 plus. I found this place A and C Campgrounds near Sparta for $15 and it was only 10 miles away so off I went. When I got here, the owner told me I was the only here for the night, sweet! Well, kind of, its nice to have peace and quiet, but I would have like to see some other riders and shared some stories. I decided that if I heard any banjo music, I would pack up and head for a hotel, ha. No worries though, I found a place in the back near the creek and pitched the tent. Ive gotten quite good at pitching the tent off the bike, 5 minutes later I was pulling out the stove to cook dinner. Stove primed, I went to go take a leak and came back to find the fire had gone out. So I primed it again but the stove was already hot and was evaporating the fuel before the wick became wet. So I had to open the fuel valve more than I normally do which caused a nice fireball, fun. Good thing the wind blowing away from me. Note to self, don’t leave the stove until I’m finished cooking. I boiled some water and poured it into my ready to eat freeze dried chicken teriyaki. Not too bad for camp food. I inhaled the sweet rice and chicken and cleaned up my mess. Now its time to finagle with the bags a bit. Early on the BRP, one of my ratchet strap had broken and I almost lost all my camping gear. Luckily I carry a spare so a few minutes later I was back on the road, but now with no spares. After getting to the campground, I noticed that my left hand side saddle bag had been rubbing on the tire a little, hmmm, that’s not good. This must have happened in just the last few miles, hopefully the rear damper isn’t giving out on me and it was just the big bumps on the back road leading to the campground. I adjusted the straps and raised them up a little bit only to find that the same bag has a 6 inch tear at the bottom. Shit. I hope it makes the rest of the week. When I get back, I’ll have it fixed then reinforced with some leather to hopefully prevent this from happening again. Also need to get rid of some weight. I have a lot of extra clothes with me this time since I had to work at the racetrack last weekend so hopefully it wont be as bad for my long trip. I have to consider leaving the laptop at home though. The weight may end up killing the stitching and seams on my bags and end my trip prematurely.

9 pm. Sun has pretty much set and the only light I have is the laptop and my headlamp which I havnt fired up yet. It will be bed time pretty soon. A few pages of my book then Ill be ready to rest. Its been a long day and Im looking forward to crawling into the sleeping bag. Over 12 hours and 400 miles today. Tomorrow will be about the same, but I don’t have to camp tomorrow so I can ride later into the evening. Casualties for today - one ratchet strap, 2 suicidal squirrels, almost a turkey, two cereal bars, one red bull, a bag of Doritos, large bag of premade teriyaki chicken and my saddle bag. The crickets and birds are singing their song and the creek is babbling. I can hear sportbikes in the distance between the clacks on the keyboard. The air has gotten cooler now and the sleeping bag is warm and toasty so this is it for tonight. 6 am wake up call again. Forecast for the rest of the week looks bad, I know I will run into rain at some point. Hopefully all my new dry sacks do their job.

Just over a month left before launch time and things are coming together nicely. There are still lots of routes to plan, people to talk to and challenges to over come but I am getting excited and a bit worried too. Still looking for a place in Minnesota to leave the bike and gear while I am away in Ohio. I think I have found another option for Minneapolis but only time will tell if that idea works. Now, a word from our sponsors and I’ll take you back to regular programming.

In the beginning, this ride around the country was just that, a ride designed to explore this vast country and its people. There was never a plan other than just riding around until I found something I liked. When this journey started to materialize a few short months ago, I decided to bring in a purpose to the ride. I started to look into charities that I wanted to help and it didn't long to decide. In February, my grandfather who had been diagnosed with Dementia went into the ICU again, this time it seemed like it would be the last time. I was able to fly out to Los Angeles to see him one last time. Although it was difficult to see him so frail and thin lying in a hospital bed with so many machines keeping him alive, I am happy that I did have that chance. something so close to home should have been the first and only choice.

A few weeks after visiting him, my grandfather Hou Der Wu( or Ah-Gon, as we called him) passed away at the El Monte Community Hospital.

That weekend, I went home and contacted the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and browsed their website. After feeling confident of the AFA’s mission, I made a contribution page on their site that would accept donations in my name, but the donations would go straight to the AFA. I have added the link to my donation page at the bottom of my blog. Please take some time and visit the AFA’s site and see for yourself what they have been able to do for people and their families who suffer from Alzheimer’s or Dementia. I would like to structure the donations in such a way that would make things interesting for people. For example, a dollar for every state I visit, or x amount for every thousand miles traveled. Not sure if that makes any sense or if I should just take one time donations. The goal is to involve people on my trip and keep them updated and interested as I travel. I guess we will see how it works out. I also plan on taking lots and lots of pictures, so maybe I can sell some high resolution pictures for $1 donations. If someone wants to give me a cardboard cut out of themselves, I can set up their cutouts in my pictures, haha.

Through the AFA’s website, I was led to another organization called Project Lifesaver’s International. Basically, this organization was designed to help those with Alzheimer’s, dementia, down syndrome, autism and other illnesses that affect the cognitive capacity. Essentially, those who are afflicted with cognitive conditions may wander or become lost and the goal of the Project Lifesaver organization is the search and rescue of those who have wandered through their tracking wristbands using radio frequency. Not only is search and rescue important, but the education for those with these illnesses and their families and caregivers is vital as well for prevention. There is only so much I can explain here in my blog so please take have a look at their webpage for much more information.

Project Lifesavers have become an integral part of my travels. Currently, we are planning some exciting things that will spread the word of not only my trip, but of Project Lifesavers services and contributions. In doing so, we hope to reach out to a larger audience so please, tell everyone about the Project Lifesavers organization, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and also my journey.

I realize that not everyone can make a charitable donation and that is perfectly okay. Just spreading the word and telling others of these foundations and organizations can do so much more than one realizes. Also, if you do plan on making a donation, please donate to both the AFA and Project Lifesavers equally, they are both of equal importance to not only me, but the people who they are able to help.

Traveling the way I plan is an extremely expensive venture. In no way do I plan on taking any donations intended for AFA or PLI to use for own trip. Those donations will go directly to the respective organization. However, I have been lucky enough to find the gracious people of Zero Gravity windscreens and also D.I.D. motorcycle chains. These two companies have donated their outstanding products for my trip allowing me to travel for that much more time in not only more comfort but more confidence of my machine. Having used both of their products for several years now, I am sure of their quality and know that they will not let me down. The new windscreen is going to save me a lot of neck pain and other fatigue by creating a larger air “bubble” for me to ride behind. Having used the stock windscreen for the last 10,000 miles, I can’t wait to try out the new screen.

I’ve used D.I.D Chains on all my motorcycles and the race team I work for, West Race Cars, uses them for all their motorcycle powered race cars. Normally intended for vehicles much lighter and with less power, the D.I.D. chains have been outstanding in the extreme conditions that these race cars put them through. There is no other chain I would use for over 20k miles and through the ridiculous condition I am about to put myself and the bike through.

By my next update, I will have taken a short preparation trip to work out all the bugs in my gear and equipment. Hopefully it all goes well as time is running out. Also, I hope to have more details on the route and media plan for Project Lifesavers. Who knows what is coming, you might even see me on the local news. Ride safe and remember to take a few moments out of your day to peruse the AFA and PLI’s websites to learn how you can help.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's near 5am and I've spent yet another sleepless night reading. Sleeping for me is a love hate relationship, it always has been. Far too many nights have been spent deep inside the pages of a story whisking me away from my own thoughts and into a life that is not my own. Another sign of escapism? Probably so. The latest adventure is Bear Grylls' account of his summit of Mount Everest as the youngest Briton to see the curvature of the Earth from atop the highest peak in our world. When I think of the absurdity of what I will be doing in just over a months time, I chuckle to myself and think that it surely must be easier than attempting to reach 29,035 feet with a backpack and oxygen tanks weighing almost as much as myself while struggling to breath at an altitude that provides much less oxygen than what the body requires to survive. Of course it is, I can't think of anything else that punishes and pushes the human body and brain more than months of climbing in the harshest of environments. Since the alarm is set to ring in just a few short hours, I'll make this short and leave with a short excerpt from Walt Unsworth.

"But there are men for whom the unattainable has a special attraction. Usually they are not experts: their ambitions and fantasies are strong enough to brush aside the doubts which more cautious men might have. Determination and faith are their strongest weapons. At best such men are regarded as eccentric: at worst, mad.....Three things these men have in common: faith in themselves, great determination and endurance."

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Now that you’ve met Jess and know a little about the basics of my trip, I guess I should tell you a little about me and some more background information on the trip. On October 19, 1984 I was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil to a Taiwanese family who consisted of my dad(Owen), my mom(Amy) and my brother(Willian). Like most immigrant families, my parents left their motherland in search of opportunity and they ended up with a small grocery store and a family run mushroom farm near Sao Paulo. I guess it wasn’t what they were looking for because we eventually moved to Los Angeles, California where we lived with my grandparents in Alhambra. It was there that my parents started working in a restaurant with family. A year later, the four of us once again decided to pick up and move. We piled into a 1990 Honda Accord with little more than our clothes and a few possessions and made a cross country drive to Sebastien, Florida to live and work with family. Another town, another restaurant and another small home with two families each piled into a single bedroom. Just a few short years later, we made one more move. This time we ended up in Macon, Georgia. I’m sure by now you can guess, but another small town, another restaurant and this time a small apartment. There must have been something about Georgia that my parents liked because at the moment, they are still working in Macon and living just outside of town.

The Jang family in 2009. Thats me second from right.

I don’t know if it was the constant traveling as a kid that gave me the hunger to travel or if I was always destined to be a wanderer. I never could stay in one place for very long, I tell people I get bored easily but I’m sure there is probably some other reason that makes more sense. Accompanying my nomadic lifestyle is the need for speed and adrenaline. This combination lead me to race cars and a career twisting wrenches on several different types of race cars. Plenty of speed and traveling, but lots of early mornings with late nights can be tiring. The plan for the trip was to take the rest of the year off work, but realistically I needed to work just a little so I can have some money when I return. When I was asked to do fly-out events for the remainder of the 2011 IMSA Prototype Lites series I realized that the race schedule somewhat followed my travel plans. After some thought, I decided to work the 6 races even though it would put me in Alaska way later than I had originally planned. This might end up being a really bad idea, I‘m imagining a massive snow storm as I‘m stuck on the side of the road on the Alaskan Highway.

Sebring International Raceway 2008, I'm the one with the headset.

The plan is still to leave in Mid June, but my first major stop will be in Lime Rock Connecticut for the first event, then two weeks later is the second event at Toronto, Canada. From there it gets a little complicated and I will have to ride ahead and fly to the remainder of the races if I even want a chance of riding Alaska. The logistics have been challenging but things are moving along nicely. I’ve almost completed the major challenges like finding places to leave the bike and gear while I am working. Still finalizing things in Seattle and Minneapolis. I can’t thank my friends and family enough for letting me crash on couches or leaving my motorcycle in garages. I apologize in advance for stinking up the place.

Now with a work schedule to maintain, it is almost easier to plan out the route. There is one section of the country that I will now have to just zip through, but luckily it’s a section that I don’t feel too bad about rushing through. With the basic schedule outlines, I’ve started to finalize packing and equipment. Ive laid out all the tools I plan on taking and all the camping equipment has been checked and double checked. All I have left in the packing department is deciding how much clothing I can realistically fit and purchasing a few small thing to complete the kit. I will probably end up leaving the tripod this time, I know I’m going to regret it, but I think it will be better in the long run. This is it for now, I’ll leave you with some pictures of some of the prep work and also some pictures of the type of race car I’ll be working on.

Contents of tool bag.Hope not to use this bag.

Contents of equipment bag. Stove, cookware, fuel bottle and bike maintenace.

Jess in the workshop with the map of the US. I feel like the map is just staring us down waiting for us to conquer it.

All loaded up. Okay, I'm not taking the tires, thought about it though.

West WX-10