I meant to post this several months ago but somehow forgot. For those of us missing summer, maybe it will pass a little bit of time.
Edit: Photos are huge but I did them as a batch out of Apple's current version of iPhoto or whatever it is called. The next size smaller was too small. And while I consider myself to be a pretty good D-SLR user, the post processing on the iPhone images sure looks good . . .
The time was right to hit the road on a trip just long enough to make me feel like I was far from home but not so far as to require so much planning as to suffer from process-paralysis. Many of my ride journeys start with a goal as benign as, "I'd like to ride around Lake Tahoe some day." Well that was the crux of this trip. To ride from Washington State to Lake Tahoe and back and just see what needed seeing along the way.
My only real concern on this trip would be the extreme heat of SE Oregon, NE California and pretty much anywhere in Nevada. I started a thread here at a ADVrider about coping with 90+ degree temperatures. I'll ride a single day in high temps or pass through them, but have never taken an entire trip where 7+ days may see temps in the mid to upper 90's or even 100+. Most of the advice I heard I had heard before but there were a couple ones many emphasized and I took that to heart.
Keeping cool and keeping hydrated were the biggest priorities like they would be for everyone. Prior to a multi-day ride in high temps, I would just down water at gas stations, soak my long sleeve, beneath my mesh jacket in water and arrive home a bit dehydrated and sweaty, but safe. For this trip I added an evaporative cooling vest as well as actually using my hydration pack. Both of these made a world of difference.
I normally sweat a LOT and dehydrate very easily. I would say much more so than the average person based on how much I sweat at the gym compared to everyone else I have ever seen workout. The concern about hydration and keeping somewhat cool really caused me a lot of anxiety before I left. But having ice water to sip throughout the day really made a big difference in comfort and peace of mind. Once the temps hit the mid 80's I would stop for gas or lunch and soak my hydration vest in water. Placing that under my jacket kept me plenty cool for as much as 2 hours if it was only 85 or so out. Each 5 degrees seemed to take about 30 minutes away. When temps hit the mid 90's in Reno I would only get about 45 minutes out of this cooling method by 3:00 every day I was off the road anyway. Keeping my lower body cool amounted to nothing more than just pouring water over the mesh and that would last for at most 20 minutes in the heat.
But the amazing thing is that I never once broke a sweat inside my helmet and felt great the entire ride. In fact I would dehydrate more walking around in a cotton t-shirt if the late afternoon sun than the equivalent time on the bike. Long story long, I am now confident I can ride for extended periods of time in temps up to the mid-90's and be perfectly comfortable. I won't quite cross Death Valley in July but I think my point has been made.
The bike would be a nearly brand new V-Strom 650. My bike was a new 2015 held over that ended up marked down by over $2,000 since nobody wanted it. Great. Almost 60mpg with a 5.3 gallon tank gave me an easy 250 mile range and probably 275. I can't believe all bikes don't have at least this range. I had all my camp gear with me but never used it. Someday I'll man up and camp but not this trip. I really like the bikes lower seat height but comfort leads to contempt. Twice the first day I tipped the bike over and it fell onto it's right hand side. I can't tell you why it happened the second time because I still can't figure out how it happened the first time. Had I been on my sky high F800GS that requires tippy toes to touch while balancing 100 pounds of cases and gear I most certainly would not have fallen as I would have been more careful. Some days I cannot win . . .
In addition to the typical long distance ride items we all take I brought a nice D-SLR and my laptop. One of the cameras fell in Oregon and is now awaiting repair. I can't believe the padded camera case fell off the seat while getting something out of the top case but is surely happened. And for the lamest of reasons. I had the camera in a brand new case and didn't want it to get dirty! Well I paid the price because the repair bill will be at least $400 if it can be fixed at all.
So I set my alarm for 4:00 in the morning and after a restless night, awoke to see the mighty Panthera Onca staring me in the face telling me to, "Relax, you'll have a fantastic journey!"