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Day 212 – 8th July 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on July 8, 2009

Wednesday – Billings, Montana

Vstrom down, oh well shit happens!

I woke a few times but in the end I got up and had some breakfast, so did these cute little chappies, they were all over the place eating the vegies!

Last night my neighbours had threatened the youngest that she may have to sleep on my bike, so this morning she found out what that meant, her legs need to grow a bit I reckon 🙂

After packing I went for a walk downhill to the river, I did not stray too far as all the signs kept on mentioning bears and not hiking alone, that was fine by me, it was still quite peaceful though 🙂

I left after saying goodbye, but not before copping a wet kiss from Sassy 🙂

First stop after getting fuel was to see the petrified tree, it did not look real scared to me, huh!

That was pretty neat, but after that I headed back through the Lamar Valley the way I had come in, through all the road construction again, and the waiting game that goes with it but eventually I am out of the park and back on the road again 🙂

I went past the turnoff I had come in on the other day and continued along the Bear Tooth Scenic Highway towards Bear Tooth Pass. Of course there were more stoppages, I am becoming used to it, but it is still annoying the way they do things. I reckon there would be less agro if they had a 5 minute time period each way, rather than the 30 minute period they seem to run to 😦

It does not detract from the fun of riding through the hills, the corners are great, up and down and of course the scenery as ever is spectacular 🙂 The wind started to get up a bit of speed the higher I went, which made things a tad technical on the tighter corners 🙂

I eventually arrived up the top at the west summit of Bear Tooth Pass, beautiful, but the wind was a gale force up here, there were even signs saying the road may be closed at any time due to storms which I can believe!

So, this is when I was extracted from my bike, I started to move from where I was parked, just off the track, but I had a very tight corner to get around when a massive gust of wind hit me from the side, step off time!!

There were people around but no one bothered to come to my aid, so after removing the kayak bags, I attempted to get it vertical, which I managed to do after two attempts, I surprised myself actually, I did not expect to do it so easily!! 🙂

The panniers took most of the brunt but because they dug into the soft ground, it caused the bike to rotate and it rolled onto the front too much and destroyed the left indicator lens. I patched that with some electrical tape but there was some bits missing somehow and there is a big hole in it, it will die during the next rain, but it works for now.

So, slightly miffed, but now aware of the strength of the wind I headed off again, but this time I payed more attention to how I was riding than the scenery. It was still spectacular, but I decided I would not stop again as all the lay bys were loose gravel on slopes, I did not feel like picking the bike up again, so I took moving pictures 🙂

It was a great ride down, I would have gone up for anther go if the wind was not around, but as it was I headed on east towards Red Lodge, or I hoped I was anyway. The reason I say that is because finally the TomTom Rider bracket has failed and is not charging the battery, so it meant riding blind and hoping for the best. I had a small amount of charge left in it, but I wanted to keep that for when I reached Billings for navigation purposes. TomTom have not bothered to respond to any of the three emails I have sent in the past few weeks since I noticed it had problems, it means I will probably have to make an international call at some stage. Do not buy any TomTom product, they are designed for bikes but do not have the quality to survive extended periods without failing, this unit has been a PITA since the day I had it!!!!!! The after service response has been crap quality too, this bracket was brand new before I left Australia and now I have to rely on the AC power pack, which I am glad I brought with me!!!

Anyway, enough of the rage, back to the road, after I added some wet liners due to the cold and a few drops of rain I ended up stopping in Red Lodge for some lunch. Now, I have to say this little road side place made me the best hamburger I have ever had in the USA!!! The price was way below what I expected to pay, it tasted nice and it had real bacon, none of that American crap, this was Canadian bacon 🙂

After that beautiful feed, I continued north east and had a sneak look at my GPS which told me I had about 70 miles or so to go, easy as 🙂 It was mostly flat farm country, blowy as all buggery so not much fun, but eventually I arrived in Billings and found the Suzuki shop quite easily.

The tyres I had ordered had not arrived, bummer, and of course being without internet for the past few days I had no idea where they were, but could track them online if I had connection. I bought some Suzuki mineral oil and an OEM filter for the oil change and then went and looked for a motel, I knew a Vstrom rider here called Chad, he had advised me of the town but he was not available until after 5.30pm, so in the end I just picked a motel, it was not cheap even though it was cheaper than most. I certainly could not afford two nights here, that’s for sure!!! I got online and the online tracking info said they were going to deliver tomorrow, hopefully that is correct. Anyway, after answering a heap of mail and working on the blog for a while, when it was close to 6pm I headed over to Chad’s place. Because of the motel thing I had left my camera behind, it was still in the tank bag 😦 But, he had offered a space to do an oil change, I had bought the oil and very cheap OEM filter(I still cannot believe it was only $10, back home this would have been $30 at least) I did the oil change, so thanks very much Chad, I appreciate the space and tools etc. We did not have a beer, which is strange, but after the oil change I managed to get back to the motel OK, had some dinner and worked on catching up here! Another Vstrommer turned up next door, he was Dave and it turns out he knows Vstrom Charlie from Arkansas, he lives in the same town 🙂 He went for dinner with his girlfriend, but he and I would talk more tomorrow 🙂

Day 183 miles and 295 km
Trip – 23,959 miles and 38,558 km


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8 Responses to “Day 212 – 8th July 09”

  1. Graham Dinning said

    Great stuff Richard !

    Love the photos of you and the Dog getting passionate 🙂

    Oh and make sure that you put up your pick of the Sleeping Strom here…


  2. windinhair said

    Thanks mate,just last weekend did I give good old Harvey Norman $1000 of my had earnt for a TOMTOM RIDER!!

    • travellingstrom said

      I was given the GPS when I bought my first strom, that is why I am persevering with it. If I had paid money for it I would be mad as hell. I cannot afford to buy a new one, but I may have to 😦

      It still cost me over $200au for the new bracket and it is busted! Plus I bought the USA maps, so that was another expense, I would be lost without a navigator, but with the internet and google maps I can get by I guess.


      • TSV-Strom (Pete) said

        That said, my original TomTom Rider v1 is still running fine with only one replacement bracket so far. All up they are a great unit but the mounting system is seriously flawed. They may be suitable for 100% smooth road riding but as soon as you start to shake things up it all starts to fall to bits.

        • travellingstrom said

          Well, I guess you may be correct. All up I have travelled over 120,000km with various GPS mounts, but all TomTom, they have all failed. That is not to say if I had a Garmin Zumo or some such, that may be better, or worse, who is to say.

          Cheers TS

  3. Bruce in WA said

    Sorry to see those photos of your bike lying down, Richard. Especially as I have such fond memories of Beartooth Pass. We rode over it in August last year — it was cold but calm when we did it … luckily.

    I’m getting a big kick out seeing your photos of the places we visited … can’t believe it’s almost a year ago.

    Your trip has got us so fired up we’re talking about riding Alaska in June next year. 😉

    • travellingstrom said

      One low speed drop in 20,000 miles is no big issue, it is a tuff bike, it can handle it 🙂

      I am now back o the road and heading north

      Cheers T

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