Trip Preparation

For me, the journey begins when I'm fully committed to the trip. This can be a few months out or the night before. The year 2009 in my life was occupied with my knee injury and recovery. It's what set back a few big plans and all attention was focused on recovery and ensuring I could get back to the same physical fitness that I had before the injury. The first three months, after surgery in February, was devoted to letting the surgery wounds heal and to give time for the grafted tendon to take hold in the tunnels drilled in my bones (hamstring autograft). That was followed with three months of physical therapy through the summer. The good thing about this experience was knowing that every day was going to be better than the one before as recovery, with no complications, is an upward trend. Moving from immobility to two crutches, to a cane, to walking free and finally being able to jump was a challenging and eye-opening experience. I learned to greatly appreciate this bipedal mobility mechanism that we humans have been gifted with.

A month before being released by the doctor and my physical therapist, I was confident that I could do this trip. Yes, I would be risking re-injury as the graft can take upwards of a year to fully heal, but I couldn't let a whole riding season go by with no extended time on the road - my other home.

My preparations for my Alaska trip last year helped reduce prep time for this year as I had answered most of my gear questions already. Having already installed all my equipment on my previous bike, auDRey, the install was much quicker on the new gal, sanDRina. She got a fuse box for the electronics, headlight relay kit, heated grips, 12V DC power outlets and handle bar mounts for GPS and radar detector.

A few weeks before the departure date, I had a local motorcycle mechanic friend, Gus (Resurrection on CLSB), make some spacers for my luggage rack to help solve the cracked bolts that I was having on my Alaska trip. While there, he noticed a bump in my steering head bearings and luckily, the previous owner gave me some new bearings when I got the bike. I didn't notice it before, but after he pointed it out, it was bothering me during turns. After some fresh bearings, confidence was back in long turns.

The end of summer, getting close to the departure date, became quite busy for me with a cousin and his family visiting and me having to host my Indian high school class' 10 year reunion in New York City. Being a boarding school, it felt like no one had changed much in 10 years and we all still enjoyed each other's company. Kodai School definitely played a big part in how I turned out, having spent 10 years of my life there.

The week before leaving, I still had the task of painting the fairings as white was too plain and after a little deliberation, olive green was chosen as a mild pleasing color that would nicely blend in with all the wilderness and beyond.

One lesson I've learned repeatedly at the conclusion of my previous trips was that I sorely missed cooking while being out on the road. When I came back from Alaska, one of the first things I did was cook myself a nice chicken curry. It's definitely the Indian in me but also the foodie that I am. I enjoy food preparation and want to be involved with the food I consume. To try and do more of that on this trip, I settled on a simple recipe of couscous, fish, miso soup and mushrooms that would provide me with carbs, proteins and fiber that I would need daily. Obviously not having a refrigerator on the bike, the above ingredients were chosen due to them being available in dehydrated form or travel-friendly packs. I figured I could buy vegetables at towns I would be passing through. Having a small spice jar would help vary the flavors. Breakfast would be mainly instant oatmeal and lunch would be granola and protein bars. I planned for a few restaurant meals, but was trying to see how much I could provide for myself.

I'm surprised I didn't think about taking a water filter on my previous trips and probably spent too much on bottled water. This time, especially with more cooking planned in remote areas, I needed a sustainable clean water supply. Chemical treating is limited by the amount of chemicals you carry, plus the taste isn't pleasing and you're still drinking all the dead microorganisms. I wanted to find a solution that would be as close to being 100% effective against water borne viruses and bacteria. Yes, I would be only in the developed country of America with clean public drinking water, but I was planning on being away from civilization and needing to drink from streams. They might look all clear and pure if you ignore the possibility that there could be a dead moose upstream that you're water is running through. I saw the LifeSaver water purifier on TedTalks and decided it was the best solution for sustained clean water as it simply involved pushing water through 15 nanometer filter pores. With the smallest bacteria being 200 nm and the smallest viruses being 25 nm, there was no chance anything was getting through. The device is being used by military personnel and refugees the world over.

With food, water, shelter, security (in terms of bike reliability) covered, it was time to head out the door.

Next: Day 1 - 3, Chicago to Glacier NP, Montana

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