Monday, September 16, 2013

THE CIRCLE TOUR: Part 2 - The Comfort of a Forest

- Some weeks ago we made a 913 mile trip around Lake Michigan, known as the Circle Tour. These are our trip logs. -

(Catch Up: Part 1 Here.)

Part 2: The Comfort of a Forest
Leg: Manitowoc to the Hiawatha Forest
Route: I-43 > M-35 > US-2 > NF13

Log Entry: Kara P.

The day that I told Dave “I might want my own bike” I had an email full of craigslist finds and by the next day owned the SR 250. Without really trying to become a motorcycle person, it just happened to me. Maybe it’s because I had dirty nails for a year in the garage, or because I poured lots of time and money into her details, but I really love this machine. As an animal lover I can only compare it to how people feel about pets. You love them and they love you back in their own little way, even if you can’t prove it. It brings experiences that you wouldn’t have otherwise, some you will love and some you won’t, but they will form a relationship between you and your machine. Riding a motorbike will quietly change you.

Maribel Caves 'Haunted' Hotel

When this road trip around Lake Michigan kicked off I had only clocked in a couple hundred miles of riding around Chicago. That quickly multiplied as we logged over a hundred miles a day for eight days at a max speed of 54mph. We camped when we could and got lost a lot. The best part of each day for me was waking up and riding to a diner for breakfast and coffee and then having absolutely nothing to do or think about beyond hitting some mile marker. It’s amazing how fast the time goes; the best indicator being how bad your ass hurts when you stop. Riding through the Hawaithan forest was the highlight of the trip for me, even though I was soaked to my socks. The long stretch of beautiful black road tunneled through the dense forest and we had it all to ourselves. The rain brought out the forest’s poignant pine aroma and I relaxed into Minnie’s cushion. At one point I was singing MIA ‘Sunshowers’ in my helmet. Even when things kind of suck on a motorcycle and you’re exposed to the elements or uncomfortable, it’s still pretty okay. Like Robert Pirsig said, “I argued that physical discomfort is important only when the mood is wrong. Then you fasten on to whatever thing is uncomfortable and call that the cause. But if the mood is right, then physical discomfort doesn't mean much.”

This trip was my ‘last hurrah’ before grad school and I anticipated the hours on the road would be a nice time for self-reflection. This didn’t happen… at all. Being on a motorcycle is not, for me anyway, a time to think. It’s actually a complete absence of thought, like meditation. I can see why most guys like it and even if only for this reason I recommend it to females. Let’s be real - we think too much. I found the physical escapism and taste for adventure that I expected from a motorcycle trip, plus a freedom from everyday mental stressors, and in a sense, myself.

Kara and the SR250: are shown carrying the One Man Tent by Poler Stuff and the Pickwick Day Pack by Brooks England, supplied by Kaufmann Mercantile.
Dave and the CX500: are shown carrying the Pathfinder Sleeping Pad by Field & Stream, the Boulder Pack 2.0 by Lexdray and the Explorer's Cap supplied by Huckberry.
Both helmets are the Gringo by Biltwell.


  1. Nicely written Kara! It's almost impossible to explain what one can get out of riding a motorcycle; they just have to experience it for themselves.

    We've got to get Dave a decent pair of motorcycle boots. His dainty ankles are too exposed

  2. hey guys. great pics and great bike build. i really dig the levers your using, can you tell me anything about them? are they stock yamaha? are they specific to the front drum your using and where did that come from? again, great build, nice read and good job...

    1. Seth, they're just stock Yamaha levers sandblasted to raw aluminum. But yea, the SR is drums front and rear so no need for a master cylinder.

    2. gotta love that clean bar look...

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  4. a very cool read and a great insight into the riding experience. you summed it up beautifully Kara!

  5. what type of helmets do you guys have? How's the ventilation?

    1. In hot weather I usually wear glasses so that the air comes through the face. I never had any fogging issues along the trip, but I've yet to test it in the cold weather.

  6. Helmets are the Gringo By Biltwell, i have the same question about the ventilation with the bubble shield