Earlier this year a friend invited me to tag along as she made one of her a dreams a reality. During a fireside chat in the woods on Molly’s family’s farm a few years ago, Molly shared her dream of someday riding the Continental Divide Trail on her motorcycle. I remember at the time thinking how gutsy I thought she was (and she is), and how inspiring she was (and she is), and how incredible it would be to do that ride. Even as she shared her dream, she extended an open invitation for me to ride with her, an overwhelming honor to me. Maybe not everyone feels like I do about that kind of thing, but I don’t normally ride with others. I don’t get the impression that Molly does either, so I’m humbled…and excited.
By the time we talked on the phone this year and the dream had a timeline, I was already working a new job. Having been unemployed and traveling by motorcycle for two and a half years, I was in the throes of trying to adjust to responsibilities and burdens again. Molly’s invitation gave me something to look forward to. My twenty-plus years of managing hotels told me that this year would be a tough one, and having this trip on my calendar was the bright spot I could use to keep myself moving forward.
I posted a couple of short blog entries – Seed of Happiness #3 (about the ride itself), and Seed of Happiness #4 (about my new little bike) to celebrate the occasions.
Molly rides a Yamaha TW200, and knowing the benefit of shared parts, etc., I considered buying one for the trip. But after a test ride, I decided it wasn’t for me. It’s a great bike, just didn’t feel comfortable to me. Maybe two years of riding a heavily overloaded Kawasaki KLR650 had skewed my tastes…But I liked a little Yamaha XT250 I test ride hat same day and debated about finding a little Yamaha 225 or 250. Not wanting to worry about adjusting a carbureted bike at high altitudes, I chose the EFI of the XT250 and started stalking websites for a used one in good condition.
In February I found a great deal just over the border in Wyoming and bought a bike sight unseen. I picked it up in April.
Just before summer, I found out that Molly had invited a mutual friend along for the trip. Tammy is a lovely and generous Canadian who took me and my boyfriend in after I broke my leg in Labrador while traveling by motorcycle in July 2013. There are no words to describe what a life-changing experience her generosity and kindness meant to me. It will be wonderful to see her again. Tammy locates a Kawasaki Super Sherpa, just like the first bike I really learned to ride on, and Molly’s trio is complete.
The ladies plan to ride the entire length of the trail, more than 3,000 miles. As much as I’d love to ride every mile alongside them, my new responsibilities at work won’t allow for several weeks or a month or two of time off. I have to settle on just a section of the ride, but I’m greatful for any part of the experience. I’m in it for the company, motorcycles are just a bonus.
Brian gives my bike a good service helps me choose gear, and then installs everything for me. Top rack, side racks, power outlet, tank bag, tool pack, fuel storage (2.6 gallons is the stock capacity), lever protectors, etc.
I carried a Wolfman tank bag, and an Ortlieb waterproof duffel for two years through the Americas. Naturally, I trust those brands and leaned originally in the direction of staying with them. While stopping off in Longmont on the way to a Horizons Unlimited meet in July, I picked up a Wolfman Beta bag. It’s a great bag and seemed like a good fit. But when I got home and tried it on the bike, it didn’t quite fit the way I wanted.
So I ordered Wolfman Expedition bags to use as side bags. They are incredibly well-designed and made of tough materials.
But while I waiting for the saddlebags to arrive, a local riding friend from Dakota Dual Sport Riders tells me about a local guy in Rapid City who makes waterproof soft bags. How had I not heard about Shep and his bags before?! So I ordered a set and had yet a third option to try.
I weighed out the cost, style, capacity, load disbursement, construction and materials, etc. when trying to decide. And while all of the bags were great choice, in the end I chose to try out the bags made by my fellow South Dakota rider. Matching his Powder River Panniers with a waterproof Ortlieb bag, I am finally kitted out.
This is getting exciting!