Riding Blog

This weblog at mikeuhl.com is the personal web site of Michael "Mike" Uhl. Entries to this weblog and web site represent my personal opinions. The site is not owned, operated, or affiliated with my employer or any organizations other than those owned and operated by Mike Uhl.

Photo (right): That's Lisa and me stopped along US 550, "The Million Dollar Highway," in southwest Colorado on our way north into Silverton, July 2017. 

Entries are copyright (c) Michael A. Uhl, as of date of posting.

You are welcome and encouraged to participate in the discussion on this site. Comments are owned by the poster. I reserve the right to remove any irrelevant, inflammatory, or otherwise inappropriate comments. Questions may be directed to me using the "Post a Comment" feature available on every blog page.

FYI: I ride a 2015 Harley-Davidson FLHTK Ultra Limited Special Edition.

Thank you and please enjoy my site!

Entries by Michael A. Uhl (122)


"The Loneliest Road In America" - US 50 in Nevada

(January 2, 2017) As I wrote in my previous blog post, I had crossed into Nevada on a lengthy dirt road called Crestline Road. It was Day 7 of 17 on my ride, Thursday, June 16, 2016. From Crestline Road I turned left onto Nevada route 319, which took me into the small town of Panaca. At the interchange with US 93, I got gas. This was one of those days that when you encountered a gas station, you filled your tank.

The goal of the day was to ride from my mother's home in St. George, Utah to a Kampgounds of America (KOA) campground in South Tahoe, California by way of US 50 across Nevada, referred to as "The Loneliest Road in America." Riding this road was on my bucket list and I was very excited to have the opportunity to see it and grateful to have great weather -- not too hot, not too cold, low winds, no fires. 

When I originally planned this ride, I designed it as a counter-clockwise loop around the continent. However, after looking at many photos taken from this road and made available on Google Images, I realized that I wanted to ride west across Nevada so I would see the Sierra Nevada mountains as I approached from the east. I'm very glad I changed my mind on direction as I really enjoyed crossing Nevada east-to-west. I recommend it to others.

However, before I could get to US 50, I had to ride part of US 93 north. I found that road to be at least as "lonely" as US 50. I stopped for some pictures along 93 between Panaca and Majors Place--or Majors Junction, depending on what documentation you're looking at--and have included them below.

Along this section of highway, I happened to encounter a motorcyclist standing on the right shoulder of the road, leaning against his bike staring at a mountain range across the road. In his left hand he had an empty plastic gallon milk jug. I slowed to see if he needed assistance, but he waved the milk jug at me and did not look concerned, so I continued on. I figured he was drinking water from the jug.

Later, when I was getting gas and taking a break just southeast of Ely, an old beater of a car pulled up and out of the back seat jumped this fellow with his empty milk jug and he began filling it with gas.

I felt bad at first, and then irritated, because I had a can of gas in my saddle bag and would have been happy to share it with him. When I told this story to a friend of mine after I got back home, she speculated that this rider was local and was waiting for his friends to come and give him a ride. I'll go with that explanation because it makes me feel better. :-) 

Majors Place (Junction), Nevada

At the intersection of US 93, US 50, and US 6 -- Majors Place -- I was so impressed by the lack of anything there I stopped to take pictures and capture a video with my iPhone. I've included some of them below.

Lake Valley Summit -- looking west off of US 93 just south of the junction with US 50 at Majors Place.
The sign says "Majors Junction" and my map says "Majors Place" -- It really doesn't matter though because there's nothing there but the two roads (three federal routes) meeting.


Two Short Videos from US 93

The first video below is one I took with my iPhone along US 93 between Panaca and Ely. The second video shows the intersection of US 6, US 50, and US 93. I've never seen an intersection of US federal routes--three no less--with no buildings of any kind present. This is a clue that one should fill up one's gas tank whenever possible.



Ely, Nevada

Though it's only about 120 miles between Panaca and Ely, that's 120 miles of nothing. It was nice to pull into Ely and full up my gas tank. I wish I had had more opportunity to spend time in Ely. It looks like a very interesting place. It's got that classical Western Americana look, a real cowboy town.  

The selfie I've included to the left, I took as I was leaving Ely. I was a little surprised and bummed how quickly I passed through town. I was beginning to appreciate civilization more and more. 

Austin, Nevada

I didn't bother to get gas in Eureka (just 77 miles west of Ely) because I had just filled up in Ely and I figured I'd fill up again in Austin, which is about 150 miles from Ely. Are you sensing where this is going?

It turns out there was only one gas station in Austin and it was closed for remodeling. I made it to Fallon Station, Nevada, about 250 miles from Ely. I was comforted by having a spare gallon of gas in my saddlebag; but still, I'm obsessive about planning and I hate surprises like this--as I mentioned in my last post, about my Crestline Road experience. 

I've included three videos, below, two taken as I entered Austin from the east -- a steep descent into town, and the third video as I was past Austin on my way to Fallon/Fallon Station, Nevada for that precious petrol.

I captured the video above using my GoPro camera rather than my iPhone. It's views such as they that motivate me to ride cross-country.

Fallon, NV & Carson City, NV

The first encounter of what looked like real desert to me occurred east of Fallon, NV where the US Navy has large training facilities, including Naval Air Station Fallon, where its TOPGUN school is located. Fallon, NV is dominated by the Navy installations.

I've included some videos below, which I captured using my GoPro camera.

Notice how people have carved letters in the sand along both sides of the road. This goes on for many, many miles. People also created words and patterns by carefully placing small stones on the sand. There are so many of them that you realize they've probably been placed there over many years. The climate and composition of the sand is such that there is little to disturb these impressions and stone works over many years. Interesting. 

In this video you can see that the nice clean sand beds are gone. Now it's merely a scrubby-looking desert.

Here you can see me entering Fallon, Nevada, my first real town since Austin, about 110 miles to the east. You can see the Fallon City Limit sign on the right just before the video clip ends.

I included this video segment because the overhead road sign reveals that I'm crossing US 95 on my way to Carson City. Just west of Fallon, US 50 splits into 50 and 50A (alternate). Taking US 50 requires a left turn, which I missed. After only a few hundred yards I figured out my mistake and a U-turn solved that problem.

Here the desert is not rapidly receding as I approach Carson City and the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Four seconds into this video reveals on a road sign on the right that tells me that I'm only eight miles from Carson City at this point.

And finally, I included this video because you can now see the snow-capped peaks I shall soon pass by on my way to the Lake Tahoe area. That night, I camped at a KOA in South Lake Tahoe, California at an elevation of more than 6,000 feet. The surrounding moutains rise to well over 10,000 feet at some peaks. By comparison, Fallon is at an elevation of just under 4,000 feet.

In my next blog post I'll write about my entry into California and the Tahoe area.

As always, keep the shiny side up and pray for a short winter.

-The Long Rider 


"Pavement Ends"

(January 1, 2017) My Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited touring bike is designed to roll on paved roads. Sure, my machine and I can handle some gravel; hell, I even managed a couple hundred yards on a beach. (Stay off the sand!) But, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

When you're planning a ride -- and God knows I spent a lot of time planning this one solo across Nevada, California, up the Pacific coast and then east on US 2 -- one item to look for is if and when roads on your route turn from pavement to gravel or dirt. Somehow, in all of my Google Maps tracing and research, I failed to notice that Utah 219 becomes a dirt road about 15 miles from the Nevada border and stays unpaved for about 30 more miles until it reaches Nevada 319, just east of Panaca, NV.

(The photo at left comes courtesy of Google. I failed to stop and take my own photo of the "Pavement Ends" sign as I was in shock from the experience of arrving at this circumstance in such a remote place. The many bullet holes in the sign provided no comfort.)

I wanted to get from St. George, Utah to US 50 west across Nevada by the shortest route. The idea was to ride Utah 18 north to Enterprise, UT and then UT 219 west into Nevada. This experience proved to me once again that just because a route looks good on a map doesn't make it a good one in practice.

Let me be clear, I'm not saying you shouldn't take your Harley on this road. If like me, you want to get from St. George, Utah or parts nearby to western Nevada by way of US 50 ("America's Loneliest Highway"), then this is the way to go. I'm simply trying to warn you that it is very helpful to know in advance what you're going to be dealing with. These kinds of surprises are no fun, to me anyway, especially when I'm riding alone, as I was in this case.

You should also know that this road crosses Open Range, which means cattle and other animals are free to wander across at any time and any pace. I actually had to weave my way through a group of cattle standing in the middle of the road. The older animals just looked at me in annoyance but the younger ones were spooked and began running, often times in the same direction as me! (I've included a short video at the end of this post.)

The lesson learned here is to use Google Maps Street View whenever in doubt about road conditions. 

Keep the shiny side up and pray for a short winter!

-The Long Rider


What Worked (and Didn't) on My Recent Cross-Country Ride

(December 31, 2016) I’ve been away from writing about my riding for about six months as I was busy with a series of short, multi-day rides, recovered from hernia repair surgery, studied for my Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) exam, and co-authored a proposal for my group’s follow-on contract with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With the end of the year, I am now able to return to writing about my rides.

As I prepared for my cross-country ride to Taos, San Francisco, Seattle, etc. earlier this year, I constantly had in my mind the painful experience I had in 2014 when I suffered permanent nerve damage to my feet and temporary damage to my spine on a ride to British Columbia. This time, I decided to throw money at the project. Fortunately, most of my investments paid off. In this post, I want to identify which items proved helpful and which did not and why.

Corbin Saddle with Backrests

In March, I purchased a Corbin Dual Tour leather saddle with heaters (HD-FLH-14-DT-E) along with a matching trunk armrest and rider backrest. The three pieces cost me $1,461, with $67 of that for shipping. This was well worth the money for several reasons: (1) the set looks great, as it is color-matched to my bike and Corbin does a great job on style; (2) the heat feature proved very useful when I was at high elevations in northern New Mexico and northern Nevada; and (3) it was very comfortable for my backside over the entire journey, especially important on the final three-day, 2,100-mile sprint from Havre, Montana to my home in Cary, NC. This is my second Corbin saddle and I highly recommend them.

HD ElectraGlo Tail Lights

I made an important purchase just before I departed on my ride: HD ElectraGlo Tail Lights (part number 67800241A). In addition to unexpectedly riding in the dark as I made my way from Mount Rainier to Bellevue, Washington, I  also got caught in some severe thunderstorms—including one during that ride in the dark. These super-bright saddlebag-mounted tail lights made me feel much more visible and thus a little safer in very unsafe conditions. They were easy to install and at $229.95 provided me some peace of mind at a reasonable price. I highly recommend them.

In the video above, I show how useful these lights were as I was forced to stop under a bridge near Elk City, Oklahoma to avoid high winds. The rain and lightning were scary, but the strong gusty winds were blowing me across the highway making the end of my life seem immiment. 

GoPro Camera & Beaucoup Accessories

I decided to try something very new for me on this trip: take video with a helmet-mounted camera. I decided to go with the proven technology and purchased a GoPro HERO4 Silver ($319) camera, along with a whole bunch of accessories, including but not limited to:

I was able to capture video that I could not have otherwise gotten. However, I was disappointed with two critical aspects of using the GoPro camera: (1) control of the device and (2) wind drag on the camera when it’s mounted on my helmet.

The biggest bummer for me was the difficulty in controlling the camera while riding. I purchased the remote control but it’s very hard to read while riding, not to mention dangerous. Of course, you can stop the bike and start the camera recording and resume riding. But then you end up with a lot of video you don’t necessarily want. You can use the remote control to toggle the camera's recording mode on and off but then have to be careful that you (1) actually toggle the pause/record mode, and (2) remember which state the camera is in. I missed capturing some great video of riding in San Francisco because I thought the camera was recording when it wasn’t.

I've included two examples, above, of video captured with the GoPro. The first is my crossing the Golden Gate Bridge at 7:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning, which is a really good time to cross because of the very low traffic volume but with sunlight. The second example is part of my ride along California 1 north of the Bay Area.

In 2017, I plan to try mounting my iPhone to the handlebar and controlling the camera with the phone. That application works very well. I recommend the GoPro camera with the caveats listed above, but I do not recommend the remote control.

Klock Werks Windshield

I quickly realized what a great decision I had made in switching from the stock windshield to a 6.5-inch Klock Werks ($179.95). On my previous bikes I looked through the windshield and on my new Ultra Limited I found the top edge of the windshield right in my line of sight. Wow, what a pleasure it is to not have to look through a windshield or stretch a little to look over the top. The flared shape of the Klock Werks faring directs the wind (and most rain) over my head. However, one will still get an occasional bug in the face. I recommend this product.

T-bags Dakota Rack Pack 4 Harley Tour Pak

I was grateful to have purchased this T-bag ($192.59), which mounted very nicely on my Tour-Pak. It has really nice features and is well designed. It’s expensive but worth it. I recommend this product.

Camping Stuff

Therm-a-Rest LuxuryLite Mesh Cot - (Large - $209.13) - In combination with my Therm-a-rest inflatable sleeping pad, this cot was as comfortable as a decent hotel bed. And it’s really nice to be off the ground if it rains heavily and your tent lets some of the wet stuff in. When I camped in Havre, Montana it did rain heavily and though no rain got into my tent, I slept well knowing that even if it did, I was going to be dry.

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Denim Large - ($23.98) - This is totally a luxury item as you can construct a pillow with a sack and laundry. However, I had room and enjoyed it. I recommend this item only if you have the space.

TrekUltra Tour One Camp Chair - ($74.95) - I finally remembered to take a chair with me. I used it only once — in Spokane, but I really liked having it along just in case. It’s pricey, but worth it if you plan on camping more than a few times. I recommend this item only if you plan on camping more than three or four times in the next few years.


HD Mesh Jacket ($150) - This was a very comfortable riding jacket that offered good protection while looking very nice. I recommend it.

MotoSkiveez shorts ($59.95) - These have been so kind to my spine that I purchased a second pair and took them both with me on my cross-country ride. I highly recommend these, despite the steep price. I rode well over 7,000 miles in 18 days and felt great when I got home. I credit that to the excellent Corbin saddle and these shorts.

MotoSkiveez socks ($24.95) - Whereas the shorts are great, the socks are only OK. I own two pair and that may be the end of it. One of the socks developed a hole after only several wearings. The company promised me a replacement but never delivered.

Other Products

Arrela® Selfie Stick Wired Portable Foldable Self-portrait Monopod with Remote Shutter for iPhone 6… ($19.95) - This proved to be a very handy selfie stick for my iPhone 6. I recommend it.

Harley-Davidson Indoor/Outdoor Cover ($149.95) - I like to cover my bike for security reasons when I travel across the country. This is a very good cover. I recommend you buy the plain black version so as not to advertise the brand and draw undesired attention. 

RedaGas Can ($33.78) - I own two of these, one for each saddle bag. On my cross-country trip I took only one and fortunately never needed it. However, when riding in places like the Utah-Nevada border on Crestline Road, I appreciate having 0.9 gallons of additional fuel. I recommend this product to Harley touring bike owners. (It’s designed for those style saddle bags.)

iPhone 6 ($300?) - The beauty of having a really nice “smartphone” with you on a ride is that it serves so many different purposes in a very compact package. I very much appreciate having a phone and camera in one handheld device. I especially enjoyed making quick little videos along my travels and then posting them to Facebook. I highly recommend you take a smartphone with you on long-distance rides.

Keep the shiny side up and pray for a short winter!

-The Long Rider


Back from a Ride to San Francisco and Seattle

(July 4, 2016) Last Sunday night (June 26) I returned home from a 17-day, 7,494-mile ride through 22 states (including ten state capitals):

  1. Arizona
  2. Arkansas (Little Rock)
  3. California (Sacramento)
  4. Idaho
  5. Illinois
  6. Indiana (Indianapolis)
  7. Iowa (Des Moines)
  8. Minnesota (Minneapolis)
  9. Montana
  10. Nevada (Carson City)
  11. New Mexico
  12. North Carolina
  13. North Dakota
  14. Ohio
  15. Oklahoma (Oklahoma City)
  16. Oregon (Salem)
  17. Tennessee (Nashville)
  18. Texas
  19. Utah
  20. Virginia
  21. Washington
  22. West Virginia (Charleston)

The primary goal of the trip was to ride the Pacific Coast Highway (CA 1 - US 101) from Half Moon Bay, CA into Oregon, thus completing my goal of riding to and through all of the Lower 48 states. I achieved this goal and then some. Secondary goals included:

- Spend a night in Taos, NM
- Visit my mother at her home in St. George, UT
- Ride US 50 across Nevada to Carson City
- Spend a day in San Francisco with my cousin, Ray
- See Mount Ranier up close
- Spend a day with my niece and her family at their new home in Bellevue, WA
- Ride US 2 across Montana, Idaho, and North Dakota

I also achieved all of these goals. The only objective I did not manage to complete, due to dangerous weather conditions, was riding US 2 through Minnesota from Grand Forks, ND to Grand Rapids, MN.
I had quite an adventure and will spend the next couple of months documenting some of that experience on this web site. Among what I want to share with you is what products worked well at keeping me comfortable and functioning for so many miles over 17 days, especially the last three in which I rode from Havre, Montana to Cary, NC -- nearly 2,300 miles.

Here is a final summary for the itinerary and mileage (a new ride duration record for me, both in days and miles):

Day 1 - Friday, June 10: Cary, NC to Hendersonville, NC (270 miles)
Day 2 - Saturday, June 11: Hendersonville, NC to Marion, AR (540 miles)
Day 3 - Sunday, June 12: Marion, AR to El Reno, OK (520 miles)
Day 4 - Monday, June 13: El Reno, OK to Taos, NM (530 miles)
Day 5 - Tuesday, June 14: Taos, NM to St. George, UT  (609 miles)
Day 6 - Wednesday, June 15: Rest day in St. George (0 miles)
Day 7 - Thursday, June 16: St. George, UT to South Tahoe, CA  (570 miles)
Day 8 - Friday, June 17: South Tahoe, CA to Redwood City, CA (213 miles)
Day 9 - Saturday, June 18: Redwood City, CA to San Francisco, CA  (65 miles)
Day 10 - Sunday, June 19: San Francisco, CA to Langlois, OR via the PCH (500 miles)
Day 11 - Monday, June 20: Langlois, OR to Bellevue, WA (523 miles)
Day 12 - Tuesday, June 21: Rest day in Bellevue/Seattle (0 miles)
Day 13- Wednesday, June 22: Bellevue, WA to Spokane, WA via US 2  (346 miles)
Day 14 - Thursday, June 23: Spokane, WA to Havre, MT (513 miles)
Day 15 - Friday, June 24: Havre, MT to Grand Forks, ND (649 miles)
Day 16 - Saturday, June 25: Grand Forks, ND to Peoria, IL (813 miles)
Day 17 - Sunday, June 26: Peoria, IL to Cary, NC (Home) (831 miles)

Keep the shiny side up!

The Long Rider


P.S. My experience with Crestline Road at the Utah-Nevada border deserves a blog post all by itself.


HD Electra Glo LED Lights

(June 4, 2016) Since I purchased it last July, I've been dissastifed with the visibility of the rear turn-signals on my 2015 Ultra Limited Special Edition (FLHTK) touring bike. So today I added Harley-Davidson Electra Glo LED Saddelbag Mounted Run/Brake/Turn lights -- part number 67800241A. I chose the version with red lenses in a chrome housing because I felt they best match the existing rear lights.

I was able to install them myself with little trouble in less than an hour, and at least ten minutes of that hour was just to empty my saddle bags. :-)

The wiring is all modular and plugs into existing cables. The instructions provided in the box are very clear, including the illustrations. Be careful to position the lights where you want them before removing the adhesive cover. Also be sure to have the saddle bag covers closed and the bags mounted so you can work the lights into position without having the bags move around on you.

These bright LED lights retail for $229.95. So far, I recommend them. (Let's see how they hold up in bad weather and long miles.) I've included a video (below) to show you how bright they are.   

As always, keep the shiny side up!

-The Long Rider



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