Eventually on every road trip like this, unless you’re riding the desert southwest in the summer, you will encounter a day of rain. When I awoke this morning in Medicine Hat, AB, it was dark and gloomy, temperature about 6 degrees C (roughly 43 F) and the wind was, to put it like an old and now late friend of many of us would have, “blowing like stink!” Before I had even finished breakfast it had started to spit rain. As I packed up the bike it was spitting more. By the time the bike was packed and I was ready to check out of the motel … well, let’s just say that it was looking like a “showery” day and leave it at that.
The bike continues to perform perfectly. Grip heaters were very nice today. I had an opportunity to see how the automatic traction control works on a couple of very gravelly parking lot areas around gas stations this morning. Works good from what I could feel – though riding on top of gravel that’s on top of pavement when you’re on a heavy bike is never going to be really warm-and-fuzzy generating. I’m still evaluating fuel mileage. I’m less disappointed with it now that I’ve burned a few tankfuls. I’m getting a reliable 200-220 miles from a tank unless I really twist the quick-stick hard, and the “econ” mode does help quite a bit.
I’ve had a couple of questions from friends about how the saddle is on this machine. It’s the standard Kawasaki stock model. Could it be more comfortable? Of course – what stock bike saddle can’t be? That said, for a stock saddle it’s not all that bad. After the first day of squirming a bit trying to find the best position, I’ve settled in and can pretty much ride through one full gas tank before needing a butt break. So it’s working out fairly well. Will I start looking at after market saddles when I get home? Yup!
Since this is the prairie of southern Canada, the scenery for this segment of the ride is pretty much the same all day long. Flat. Straight. Some oil wells here and there. Lots of farms and grain silos. With the variability in the weather today, this kind of sums up the day in one frame:
It rained. It thundered. It was sunny and pleasant. It got cold and nasty. The wind frequently whipped across the prairie with a gusty vengeance that made holding the bike on the road an occasional challenge. I have appropriate gear for the weather, so I was layered up with a nice thick sweater on under my riding jacket, making me look like a cross between a linebacker and a yellow Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I don’t mind riding in rotten weather, I’ve done it a bunch – after all, I live in the Pacific Northwest. But it is fatiguing. I’m three days in to what’s supposed to be an enjoyable vacation ride, with a fair amount of buffer time built in before I have to be in Wheeling on Saturday.
So, I cut the day short after only about 6 hours and 430 km or so of riding. This afternoon I’m in a comfy and cheap motel in Regina, SK, about 3 km from Regina University just off the Trans-Canada highway where it is, for the moment, a nice warm 23 degrees and sunny – but that won’t last long. I’m taking the afternoon to read more of my homework for VMS next week and awaiting a line of nasty thunderstorms that was bearing down from the north as I pulled in to town. I rode through or along the edge of the cold front that’s about to come barreling through this area late this afternoon and last I looked out the window, it ain’t far off.
Track the Trip <– This link takes you to my Amateur Radio call sign on aprs.fi. I’m traveling with an APRS enabled handheld radio which periodically transmits my GPS location, speed and heading. Standard disclaimer – the system relies on a network of club and privately owned digital Amateur Radio stations. The overall success of the tracking is dependent on a whole list of factors, including the fact that these stations don’t exist everywhere I’ll be riding and it’s all done on VHF radio frequencies. When it works it works, when it doesn’t it doesn’t.