The first day

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July 20, 2010

The past few days had been busy, so I didn't finish packing the bike until early in the morning. I had two Pelican 1520 cases mounted on the sides, and a Storm iM2750 case mounted on the rear. For the tank bag, I had borrowed a very large bag made by River Road. It was actually two bags, one of which zippered to the other. The larger bottom bag zippered to a base which was strapped to the tank and triple tree. Fully loaded, the luggage weighed about 160 lbs. I was carrying a pretty good collection of tools, including wrenches, sockets, hammer, large pry bar, tire iron, compressor, soldering iron, dremel, and other tools I thought might come in handy should I break down.

Clothing-wise, I brought a couple changes of clothes (with extra socks and boxers), rainsuit, sneakers, riding boots, textile jacket, leather jacket, windbreaker, and a towel. My helmet was a Scorpion EXO-400, with both a clear and a reflective visor.

I left work early in the afternoon to have a goodbye lunch with a couple friends from a local sportbike forum. It was the first day I'd had the bike fully loaded, so I was still getting used to the weight of the bike.

After a solid lunch, I made a couple more stops before heading west on highway 54, hoping to reach Colorado before setting up camp. The ride out west isn't particularly interesting. The road is straight and flat, with little to look at, but it was still exciting to be at the start of a big trip, and the length of the trip started to sink in as the miles slowly crept up, seemingly insignificant in comparison to the estimated total for the trip. As I rode further into western Kansas on 54, one thing very clearly stuck out: the smell of manure. I imagine it's something you'd get used to if you lived out there, but it was powerful and ever-present to me.

As the day came to an end, I crossed the border into Colorado, surrounded by storms and lightning in every direction but somehow spared the rain. After a quick dinner in Lamar, CO, I set up camp in a field next to an industrial area. The mosquitoes were thick, but the mosquito net I had bought proved to be a lifesaver and I don't think I was even bit once. I quickly ducked into the tent and went to sleep.

Stopping for gas Western Kansas Entering Colorado

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