It was a long day today. Although I am posting this late by EDT standards, I am in mountain time. But it is still a little late. My ended at a very quaint KOA campsite near Las Vegas, New Mexico. This is not too far from Albuquerque.

It was a long haul today considering I started a little late. I spent a bit of the morning reorganizing my gear. Things are starting to come together. I have a Wolfman Explorer Lite tanks bag which I use for my cameras, iPod, maps, and “quick grab” kit which includes things like flashlights, a Swiss Army Knife and so forth. I am using two Pelican cases as panniers.

These are organized so that the left one fits my camping gear: -20 degree Celsius sleeping bag, silk liner, mini-pillow, MSR Hubba Hubba tent, small pot containing a Whisperlite Internationale stove, pot holder, and wash-up kit — picture one of those clown cars where a dozen close get out…that’s what it reminds me of. My other pannier houses spare parts (chain, sprocket, bulbs, nuts and bolts), various lubes, tow strap, mini-jumper cable, extra tools, mini-air compressor, camera tripod, mini tripod chair and a couple Lonely Planet guides, and more than a dozen maps — my second clown car. Note that the sides are deliberate — I am unlikely to need to get into my camping gear on the highway so that faces left. In the event that I have a breakdown (see earlier post about broken chain), I can get into my gear without having my back facing traffic. My rack carries a large dry-duffel bag. This holds my clothing (which is rather sparse), light hikers, a couple kitchen/cuttlery items, a little emergency freeze dried food, a small survival kit and various loose items. It is strapped down *hard* with ratcheting straps. In front of this sits another dry bag with houses my day to day items which I need to get into in short order. Riding jacket liner, pants, rain gear, sun hat, various chargers and so forth. Right about that sits a small dry bag containing my first aid kit and netbook. It works out as a perfect slanted back rest which comes in quite useful when I sit back on the super slab and use the footpegs on my KLRuiser.

As mentioned earlier, this morning spent doing a little reorganization. Included in this was some testing of my large stainless steel backpackers net. Having purchased the biggest on I could, I was a little disappointed that it *barely* fit over my dry bag. Not what I had envisioned. That said, I did a little hack in which I removed the main “cord” — it closes like a grape or onion sack. I can now throw the net over my whole mess and feed the cord back through the circumference of the net and locking the net and cord on the various pad locks on my panniers. I was rather delighted as this is the configuration I pretty much had in mind. This offers a little more piece of mind in terms of leaving my gear unattended when I pop into a store. While surely not foolproof, it certainly should prevent a slash and grab attack. While slightly inconvenient to set up, it turns out that it helps secure loose items. Inevitable some items don’t get packed. I like to leave my Teva-clones out for when I stop and the 30 plus weather proves uncomfortable in my riding boots. I also find myself doing laundry regularly as I am sweating a lot — I have yet to find a store that sells a pair of ventilated pants to my liking which is a big part of the sweating problem. Anyhow, I have been air-drying my laundry as I ride during the day meaning that I have clean dry clothes in the evening.

All things said and done, I am starting to develop a rhythm. Part of that, however, seems to be searching for things. Riding gear, spare chain links, new tire(s). I should note that I got my rear tire replaced (finally!). The “Mefo Explorer” tire’s lugs were starting to crack and this was really starting to worry. Mefo Explorers are *not*, in my opinion, suitable for long distance road touring. So having replaced the rear, today I have noticed that the front is literally starting to shed layers. Perhaps it is a combination of the speed and heat, but the tired is close to its end. I can see changes each time I stop for gas. Now it is starting to worry me. Had I seen how it would be affected by the heat, I would have had it replaced yesterday while I did the rear at the House of Kawasaki in Oklahoma City. I should note that the people at HOK were a pleasure to deal with and I would recommend dropping in if you are in the area. I ended up with a stock Dunlop tire for the rear, which wasn’t my first choice, but HOK, like many business, are affected by the economic times and are not keeping as much in stock at the moment. Thanks guys for letting me use your space to change my oil — note first oil change of the trip 🙂

On that subject, my 685 kits seems to be working quite well. I don’t have any apparent gasket weeping and it looks like my oil burning days are over. I am also not complaining about my fuel consumption. I wouldn’t say that it is too bad considering that I am riding at high speeds with a lot of wind and a reasonable load.

I would say that today was my best day so far. Leaving the Oklahoma City area I faced heavy cross winds. Let’s just say the north side of my tires got a good wear today. I must say that these were some of the toughest winds I have dealt with. Crossing into Nova Scotia was close however. I must have spent a good couple hours with my head half cocked to the side as my bike was in a near constant lean. This isn’t too bad except with you factor in having to pass tractor trailers which tend to mess up the air stream even further. That said, luckily it wasn’t windy all day long and as I crossed several different ecological zones I actually got to enjoy myself. I went from grassy plains of Oklahoma to scrub brush and various cacti thingies in Texas which later turned into gullies and table top small mountains in New Mexico. OK folks, it is getting late and I still need to have a shower and do my “laundry”.  I’m knackered.