Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button
Myspace button
Linkedin button

Pictures: random bikes in the Alps

Pictures: Ireland & Scotland 2014

Pictures: Day 27-30, Oct 16-19: Clarks Summit, PA – New York, NY

Full Report: Day 27-30, Oct 16-19: Clarks Summit, PA – New York, NY

Day total: 134 miles
Trip total:  7842 miles

Today is the day. The day that I will complete my 12.500km journey through the entire country. The day that I will ride into New York City. The epic conclusion of my trip. My final destination. This is it.

I am up early. I am curious. I am eager. I am nervous. I am sad. I am happy. I am restless. I am every possible emotion. I feel victorious for completing the journey. I feel sad that it is over. Tomorrow, I won’t wake up anymore to find out what is beyond the horizon. To ride endless roads in the middle of nowhere. It is mixed feelings all morning.

The route I had planned was about 200 miles long today, taking me through some nice scenery in Pennsylvania before reaching New York City. But, I threw that plan down the drain immediately. First thing I did in the morning. Why? I felt like an athlete, running a marathon. At the end of the race, they often find the energy and speed to do a little sprint towards the finish. I had the desire for that sprint to. I was going to get to New York City today, and I wanted to do it as fast as possible. To hell with my beautiful scenic route. Straight to New York City it was!

The mixed feelings I had, started to disappear when I saw the first road signs mentioning New York on the freeways. My sadness that it was over vanished. Excitement took over. Even the fact that I had to put on my yellow safetyvest didn’t change that. The closer you get to New York, the more the people drive like maniacs…

I came closer and closer. It was one huge urban area. Roads, buildings, factories, houses… It was a good sign. I knew I was closing in on my destination. That was confirmed by seeing the Empire State Building on the horizon. And the New York Giants Stadium. I was almost there… I could smell it…

After a little while, all there was in-between Manhattan and me was the Hudson River. Of course, I had to cross it by taking the Holland Tunnel. I guess there was no escaping from my home country; unfortunately. I was politely asked if I was filming by the man in the tollbooth. If I was, I could get in trouble in the tunnel he said, police would get after me… Something to do with terrorist threat. Right. I didn’t really believe that, but to be sure I still put it down. A tunnel is boring anyway to film.

I paid the $11 to get through (ridiculous amount for short little tunnel). I got in, and I got out in no-time. And there it was… The east side of the tunnel drops you right into Lower Manhattan. I was right in the middle of true city life. High buildings, tons of people, crowded traffic lanes. Coffee shops, clothing stores, 7/11’s, copy shops… It is like taking your blindfold off in the middle of a huge metropolis; that’s how it felt coming out of that tunnel. Welcome to New York City.

Along the way, I was suddenly approached by a police officer. As she walked over, I was thinking: what the hell did I possibly do wrong? I couldn’t think of anything… There she was. “Is that a GoPro camera on your helmet?”. Ha! Was I worried for nothing! She told me that those were so awesome and that her photographer at her wedding used it as well… “It are such nifty little cameras!”. Ha, tell me something I don’t know yet!

By the way, thank God or whatever makes you happy for having my Garmin Zumo 550 navigation system… It got me without any trouble towards the Brooklyn Bridge. There, on the other side, lies the official end of USA2011. As I entered the bridge I couldn’t stop looking around me. This is what you see in so many movies. What everyone knows from TV and the internet. What you see on 10.000 cliché pictures of New York. But boy I enjoyed it! Despite the fact that it is a terrible old bridge with about the worst road condition I encountered on my entire trip…

On the other end, in Brooklyn, was my final destination. There it was. Just below the Brooklyn Bridge, where I could take a picture of the bridge together with the skyline with my bike in front of it all. Unfortunately, it was a pedestrian area. No way my bike was allowed there. I noticed a police van on the road next to it and didn’t hesitate a second; I went straight up to them and asked. Turned out that they were motorbike fanatics as well, and one of them had, and I quote, “always dreamed of such a cross country trip”. They were totally enthusiastic about my journey, and were happy to let me ride onto that pedestrian area to do whatever I wanted. “How can we say no to that?”. Thanks to the New York Police Department, it all ended as I had envisioned it.

I rode the last 50 official meters of my cross country trip. 40… 30… 20… 10… 5… I parked it at the end of the pier. It was perfect. With the switch of my key, the engine of the Trophy came to an end. I looked around me. The bridge. The skyline. It was all there. Exactly what I had in mind. I took off my helmet and looked around. I made it. Wow. This is it. From Santa Monica to New York City. 12.500 kilometers. 20 States. 30 days. USA2011 had officially ended.

Now, it was time to enjoy New York City for a couple of days. Relax and enjoy. Times Square, Wall Street, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty… I was up for a good time!

Before I had to fly home, I had to sell the motorcycle as well. And you never believe this: it was bought by someone with the intention to buy a bike to go across the country to… Los Angeles! The Trophy lived up to its promises, and got me here safe and sound. Didn’t hesitate a single second and accompanied me all the way without any problem. Sure, I did have a flat tire, ran out of gas, and had a dead battery, but nothing major. What a bike. My 1996 Triumph Trophy… Besides the hundreds of pictures, hours of video, countless memories of all the great moments, the best souvenir I have from this trip, is the license plate of the bike… Yes, USA2011 was over, but the memories will live on forever. Thank you America!

Pictures: Day 24-26, Oct 13-15: Chicago, IL – Cleveland, OH – East Aurora, NY – Clarks Summit, PA

Unfortunately, this are all the pictures I have from all these days… Don’t ask me why.

Full Report: Day 24-26, Oct 13-15: Chicago, IL – Cleveland, OH – East Aurora, NY – Clarks Summit, PA

Day 24, Oct 13 2011 – Chicago – Cleveland
Day total: 349 miles
Trip total: 7271 miles

Chicago. Cleveland. 2 huge names. The day sounded more promising than it actually was. The area that I had to cross today, was completely industrialized and civilized. Mankind had won every battle against nature here. No such thing as exciting scenery or breathtaking little roads.

No. Today, ‘freeway’ was the way to go. Roads in this area are only going in 2 directions: up/down and left/right…  And I had to go from left to right. Towards Cleveland. Which equals 350 miles on the freeway… No exciting stories, no exciting photos, no exciting nothing. The only cool thing was that I cold park the Trophy right in front of the Embassy Suites hotel in Cleveland. Valet let me park right in front of the hotel entrance. Now that is what I call service! Chicago could learn from that…

Day 25, Oct 14, 2011 – Cleveland – East Aurora, NY
Day total: 203 miles
Trip total: 7474 miles

Today should have been the day of the Niagara Falls and eating Buffalo Wings in the world-famous Anchor Bar in Buffalo. As I said: ‘should have been’. It never happened.

Right as I pulled out of Cleveland, dark clouds were moving in from the North. Not just dark clouds, but clouds so dark you know the shit is going to hit the fan. Clouds so dark you know you are going to be in hell. And there was no escaping.

From one moment to the other, hell was unleashed. Rain was falling out of the sky so badly, who needs to see the Niagara Falls? I was right underneath such thing right now… Besides the rain, the wind picked up dramatically too.

When it begins to rain when you are riding a motorcycle, you are trying to stay in the ‘dry’ tracks from cars. But with rain smashing down on the earth like this, there was no much such thing as ‘dry’ tracks. It was water all the way. In the beginning you worry about the grip of your tires as soon as you hit the wet area outside of the dry track, but since everything was wet anyways, I simply had to surrender to my tires and believe in them…

At one moment it became so bad, on the freeway, that I had to stop. I couldn’t see further than about 20 meters in front of me. I wasn’t too worried about that, but I was worried about the fact that other cars simply wouldn’t see me anymore. I decided to pull over underneath a bridge and wait for the worst rain to pass. I was soaking wet. I worried about my luggage being wet too, but I couldn’t deal with that right now. If it was wet already, there was nothing I could do about it anyway here.

As the worst rain was gone, I decided to hit the road again. After all, I was about to see the Niagara Falls today and have Buffalo Wings in the most famous buffalo wings bar in the world! As I pulled over at a gas station for some lunch (and to dry my gloves in the hot air blowers at the restrooms), I received a lot of comments from other people: “Wow, that most be terrifying”, “Good luck”, “What’s wrong with you to be on a bike in this weather?”…. I’ve heard them all.

It seemed to become a little better, weather wise, but it was nothing but wishful thinking. At about 40 miles from the Niagara Falls, the wind picked up again. Worse then before. The rain was back. Now, wind is one thing… I can deal with the rain too… But I don’t like those two together too much. The wind, coming solely from my 9-o’-clock, pushed me to the right all the time. I was leaning against it at a considerable angle, but with so much water on the road, that is not quite comforting. To make it worse, winds were not consistently. At some moments, it would be gone completely, only to make a huge comeback just seconds later.

I had to make a decision. Do I push on to the Niagara Falls, adding a 80 miles to today’s itinerary and making me arrive in the dark with this weather, or do I skip them… In other words, would I give up? Last time I was about to make that decision, I pushed myself to go on.

But for once, my brains took over from my heart. As much as I wanted to ride, it simply wasn’t safe. There was so much debris on the roads, and so much water. The winds were terrible. That was it. I decided it wouldn’t be smart to go on. I have had such an amazing trip already, why would I risk to go down? Deciding to pass on the Niagara Falls sucked, but my cross-country trip would still be amazing.

Yes. That was it. I was looking for an hotel. As soon as possible please! I just wanted to get inside, dry up and heat up… Working for an international hotel chain (Hilton, you might have heard of it), I get good deals on rooms in all kinds of hotels, but the catch is that I have to book them in advance. When I saw a Hampton Inn, I went straight for it. It would mean I only rode 200 miles today (the shortest day in the whole trip so far), but any mile more would be an invitation for another near-death experience at zero cost!

I pulled off my ‘poor little biker out there in the rain’ act. Their normal rate was $199 a night… Let’s see what I could make out of that! I ran into the Hotel Manager and explained him the situation. I also told him that I was fully aware of the policies and everything, but that I was just hoping to try out their hospitality. Help out a team member you know. Telling them that I was working for a hotel with 1234 rooms (compared to their 80) also worked miracles. I got the room for $59,99… “It is not safe for you to be out there, so we are happy to help you out”. Now that’s what I call hospitality! I was stranded, but at least in a nice place! Kudos to the Hampton Inn in East Aurora!

One more quote to finish the day: one of the girls behind the check-in desk, while I was talking with the manager, agreed to the fact that the weather was ruthless. “Yeah, they were talking about 40 foot waves on the radio for Lake Eerie!”. That’s waves of 13 meters. That is huge. As I looked over to her with a ‘really?’-look on my face, the Hotel Manager replied that “she likes drinking, so don’t believe everything she says”.

As I got to my room, I turned on the news. 40 foot waves on Lake Eerie, the Weather Channel said. The girl turned out to be right…

Day 25, Oct 15, 2011 – East Aurora, NY – Clarks Summit, PA
Day total: 233 miles
Trip total: 7707 miles

Yesterday was terrible. As I woke up, I could only hope for better weather today. But that hope was killed instantly when I opened up the curtains. It was still pouring outside. But, the good news was that the wind was pretty much gone!

With so much water smashing down on the motorcycle, I was afraid my luggage would have gotten wet yesterday. But, as I opened everything up, all was still dry! And it couldn’t get any worse than yesterday. So I wasn’t worried at all about the rain today. But I did put some of my electronics in plastic bags, just to be on the safe side… It is like going ‘Double Dutch’ haha.

As I was ready to ride for the day, it was still raining pretty badly. But, I knew there was no wind, and my stuff was all dry… So what could possibly happen to me? A little water is not going to kill me… I was in a good mood, despite all the rain coming down at me. Tomorrow, I was getting to New York City, and I was excited about that. I rode the whole day in massive rainfall again, but with every minute, I gained more faith in my tires. The bike didn’t let me down at any moment and handled very predictable at every move I had it make.

Although I wasn’t enjoying the scenery that much because of the rain and the low visibility, I felt like I was closing in on my final destination. It was like I could almost smell New York City already! I had been riding for about 4 weeks just to reach that city! As I was riding today, I thought of the many highlights that I had come across already: leaving the pier in Santa Monica, riding the old Hwy 66 in Nevada, being in the absolute middle of nowhere in Utah and Arizona, the mountains of Colorado, Antelope Island near Salt Lake City, Yellowstone National Park, my ‘almost-speeding-ticket’, the Beartooth Highway, the terrifying winds in South Dakota, meeting the same people after hundreds of miles, Las Vegas, Chicago… And so many more. What a trip.

I reached my destination in the late afternoon. As I got off the bike, I realized that I barely made any video with the GoPro camera the last couple of days. I also didn’t take out my Canon camera. Why? I don’t know… Maybe I was too focused on keeping the bike on the road. Maybe I was overwhelmed by the weather. I have no clue.

The day ended with doing laundry, getting an amazing to-go salad at a local fast-food place and watching baseball (the World Series) on TV…

One more day, one more. I was over 7700 miles away from Los Angeles. And only 140 away from New York city.

Pictures: Day 22-23, Oct 11-12: Gaylord, MI – Chicago, IL

Full Report: Day 22-23, Oct 11-12: Gaylord, MI – Chicago, IL

Day total: 356 miles
Trip total: 6922 miles

Today is the day I have been looking forward to. It is around 350 miles to Chicago. A city I’ve never been to yet, but that was very high on my list of cities to visit. The city with the characteristic Chicago River. Today would be the day! Actually two days, as I am lucky enough to spend two days in the Windy City!

Last night I finally stayed in a Hampton Inn again, a hotel chain that I really started to appreciate during this trip. Once again, I ate breakfast for two, so I can skip lunch and drive straight to Chicago. At least I had no trouble with the waffle maker this morning; the one characteristic of a true quality hotel!

The beginning of the day got me into some small towns. Nothing to exciting. The one thing that did catch my attention was the parade of old-timers! Classic cars from the 1950′s and 1960′s… Sweet! Furthermore, the road towards Chicago couldn’t be any more boring or straight forward: it purely consists of highways and freeways. I had to smile when I saw a big billboard that said ‘Dutch Farmers Market’. Soon, I saw many more typical Dutch names of local towns: Holland, Zeeland, Overisel (for the Dutch readers: that was not a spelling error)… Turns out there’s a huge Dutch community in Southern Michigan. But I wasn’t here to get enriched by the Dutch, so I quickly rode by it. Lower Michigan is not the most exciting region to ride in unfortunately. But, with these speeds, it is just past noon when I reach the suburbs of Chicago. It doesn’t take long before I see the skyline in the far distance.

I have been riding pretty much in the middle of nowhere for the last three weeks. I have avoided major cities and came unto places that made me think I was the only person to be still alive on this planet. Places that made me believe again that it was Mother Nature who ruled the planet, and not mankind. Where rivers were finding its paths in the valleys while the elk and bison were grazing on its meadows. Places where I could stop, shut off the engine of the Trophy and couldn’t hear anything but the wind. Where the horizon was only blocked by the huge snow-covered mountains.

I just got my wake-up call. This was Chicago. This is the place where 9 million people live. Where everyone is on a schedule. Where time is money. Where the only jungle there is consists of nothing but a maze of concrete freeways. Where nature is nowhere to be found and where mankind makes the rules. I was back in the city.

The first sign of this was finding myself on a 6 lane freeway, with an army of kamikaze drivers that would have made Japan bite the dust. I had one of those near death experiences when a local Michael Schumacher decided to change lanes… At about 3 feet in front of my motorcycle at speeds of 65mph. If he could have heard me afterwards, he would be speaking a decent word of Dutch now. And we all know what the first words are that you learn in a foreign language…

It was busy on the freeway. I was happy when I got off. But then, the fun started all over again: taxi-drivers with a death wish, bicycle riders that think they are invincible, pedestrians that truly believe they don’t have to stop for traffic lights… My oh my. Yup. I was in the city again. On the bright side, with so many people around, there were also tons of people pointing at my GoPro camera, mounted on top of my helmet. Now I know how a deer feels when he is being observed by tons of people in a National Park…

My hotel was within the so-called Loop-area, the financial district of Chicago, surrounded by an elevated track of the metro; hence the name ‘the Loop’. When I got there, they only had valet parking available. Obviously, I won’t let anyone ride my motorcycle anywhere. But it seemed like they had never dealt with a motorcycle. Other hotels always let me park right up front on the driveway, but that was out of the question here. Finally one clever valet driver assisted me in locating the parking garage they were using. $36 a night. I started to realize Chicago and I started off on the wrong foot.

After a lot of hassle, I parked the motorcycle and dragged all my luggage into my hotel room. I stayed in the TheWit hotel. A very modern hotel with a perfect location. Perfect for the business traveler. Not so much for the die-hard biker… All the beautiful design furniture and stuff in the bathroom looked absolutely fabulous, but was far from practical. After being on the road for such a long time, I don’t want having to find out how something works, or be careful that I don’t make the entire bathroom a swimming pool when I am just washing my hands. I want comfort… Not a fridge that I can’t even put my own stuff in since it is completely electronic; anything just as much as moved a little bit in the fridge would automatically go to your bill. I should have seen this coming when I checked into the hotel: I didn’t quite fit with the other guests that were all in perfect business attire with shiny shoes, Rolex watches and Louis Vuitton purses…

After I got settled in, it was time to explore the city. Today and tomorrow, as I would stay two nights here. This is where I started to like the city for the first time. I could take pictures at my own pace, stroll around, enjoy dinner in a nice Irish Pub, get a couple drinks afterwards, climb the highest building and enjoy the view (the Sears Tower)… The only thing that sucked was that I missed half of the next day as I slept until 1pm. Remember I said everyone was on a schedule in the city? Well, I wasn’t, so I slept in and just enjoyed my days in Chicago as they came at me…

I also realized for the first time, that my trip was about to come close to the end. Over 3 weeks and 7000 miles ago, I started my trip in Santa Monica, California. And now, less than a 1000 miles to go to New York City…

Pictures: Day 21, Oct 10: Ironwood, MI – Gaylord, MI

Full Report: Day 21, Oct 10: Ironwood, MI – Gaylord, MI

Day total: 374 miles
Trip total: 6566 miles

Ok. I’ve now had it officially with cheap hotels. Again, I have a shower that sucks. But the worst was that my waffle got stuck to the waffle baker… So here I was, getting all tempted by the smell of the fresh waffle, with a nice fresh strawberry dip. The next moment I found myself scraping off pieces of waffle and having an amount of loose pieces that would even make a 1000pc jigsaw puzzle jealous.

I finish breakfast as quickly as possible and get to my Trophy that’s been awaiting me outside. The route today will take me to one major highlight of the trip: the Mackinac Bridge, connecting Upper Michigan with Lower Michigan. Originally, I wanted to go straight to Chicago from Ironwood. Would have saved me a couple hundred miles and a day. But as soon as I learned about this bridge, I had to ride it, even if it meant getting an iron butt on the motorcycle.

But before I got there, the road took me along the Southside of Lake Superior. The route carried me through several large forests, but it never got really exciting. I wasn’t too excited about Lake Superior yesterday either. But that was about to change…

I decided to give the lil’ lake one more chance. I exited Hwy-28 to take a look at the beach. Beach?!? Yes. Beach. I was just as surprised as you. This is the place that accumulates just about the most snowfall of the entire United States and they have a beach… And I was even more surprised to find out it was a beach that wouldn’t look bad between a couple of Caribbean beaches! I almost fancied having a Bounty there…

After getting back to the real world, I continued my way. More forests, little hills, but nothing too exciting… I was about to fall asleep (not literally…), until I was roughly woken up by a lot of sirens. They were all over the place. Then police on the middle of the road… I quickly found out there had been some kind of car crash up ahead, claiming two fatalities. That’s never good.

I continued my way towards the Mackinac Bridge. I crossed over to the Southside of Upper Michigan, reaching Lake Michigan for the first time. Somewhere, at the far, far other end, lies a city by the name of Chicago. I’ve been to the States many, many times, but I never got to this city. So I was kind of excited to reach it tomorrow. But for now, I could see the Mackinac Bridge for the first time!

Me as I am, I wanted to get a close shot of the bridge with my Canon camera. So of course, I had to go off road… There were huge potholes in the road but it wasn’t too bad after all… And there it was!

What a huge bridge it is! Golden Gate, eat your heart out! It is the third longest suspension bridge in the world, but the longest on the Western Hemisphere. It was envisioned since 1880, but wasn’t completed until 1957. To show you how huge it is: there’s 42.000 miles of cable used for this bridge. To build it now, it would cost you just under $750 million! The towers are 168 meters above the water, and another 64 meters below the water. Its length is just over 5 miles (8km). And the road hovers about 200ft (61 meters) above the surface of the water… Now, that is what I call a bridge!

As it is a toll road, I had to pay $3,50 to cross it. I felt discriminated, as I had to pay as much as a normal 2 axle car… Anyhow, once riding it, you realize how huge it is. And here comes the crazy part: in-between the two towers, the center lanes don’t consist of nice regular tarmac or concrete… No, it is a metal grid! An open see-through grid! Yes! In a car you don’t realize it that much, as you don’t look straight down. But, on a motorcycle… You could look straight through the grid, and see the water 61 meters below you! One of those so-called ‘WTF’-moments to say the least. I look down again, and am just as much amazed by seeing the water as I was the first time. Insane.

Once I reach the other side, it is only a boring freeway ride to my hotel. A Hampton Inn today again, and I am looking forward to some luxury, after all those wonderful (that was sarcasm) hotels I had the lasts couple of nights…

I got so confident on my motorcycle, that I was playing around with the camera again while riding the freeway… After an hour or so I reached my destination, called Gaylord. I challenge you to make a joke about that…

QR Code Business Card