Hancock man hits all four corners on motorcycle
Terry Nohl has seen all four corners of the continental United States from the back of his motorcycle. And he did it in 20 days.
Nohl, of Hancock, rode his 1996 Honda Goldwing to the corner of Washington, California, Florida and Maine in July. He rode 12,700 miles. "I pulled in at 6 p.m. on Sunday and I was back to work Monday morning," Nohl said.
Nohl had been planning the trip since the summer of 2016. He's been preparing for it nearly every since he bought his motorcycle in 2010.
Long road trips are a staple of his riding. Nohl and his wife Peg often ride several hundred to a few thousand miles on weekend or three-day trips. Nohl made several long distance trips of a few thousand miles in the weeks before he left for the four corners trip in early July.
"It puts your body and mind to test, plus it tests your bike," Nohl said of the long-distance trip.
"We've always enjoyed traveling long distances," Nohl said. "I really lilke to see America. I think the U.S. so much to see. The chance to do that on a bike is an entirely different thing."
Riding on a motorcycle not only allows him to be up close to the scenery but also "the smells, the breeze..."
"You see everything from a different perspective," Peg Nohl said. "You are more aware of your surroundings."
Peg Nohl knew Terry wanted to complete a four-corners trip but she didn't have the same desire. She was content to let Terry take the long ride.
"It's something he's always wanted to do," Peg Nohl said. "And since we are not getting any younger..."
Nohl started his trip going west to Washington, then down through California. He traveled through southern states before reaching the edge of Florida. From Florida he headed north to Maine and, then, back to Minnesota.
He used a GoPro to record roughly 80 hours of video on his trip. And he has dozens of photos from the trip. Friends and family tracked his progress through Spotella. Spotella is a navigation program linked to satellite feeds. Spotella recorded his progress, including stops for gas and nightly stops. Nohl would record a stop and include a message that he was safe.
The tracking system was good but the couple still talked by phone daily.
A couple of trip highlights included Beartooth Highway, Glacier National Park and the Pacific Coast Highway.
"The Pacific Coast Highway was spectacular," Nohl said. " I think that's the No. 1 ride in the U.S."
The most dangerous stretch of the trip? "Highway 550 in Colorado. "There are no guard rails and there are 1,000-foot drops. It's narrow roads and you just hope you don't meet a big truck."
But Nohl said he's comfortable driving in such conditions as well as in cities, on interstates, at night and in rain.
"When I'm riding now, it feels like I'm in my backyard," Nohl said. "I'm really comfortable no matter where I'm driving."
But, Nohl said he still needs to be attentive to traffic around him. Vehicles can still pull out in front of motorcycles, he said.
He loves the scenery and the feel of the road but curves are the favorite. "Riding on curves, I love it. It's just like being at home for me," Nohl said.
The only dangerous moment came on a curve during the night while riding through Lolo Pass, a stretch of highway in Idaho and Montana. Nohl had picked up a young man hitchhiking. "It's probably not something I should have done," Nohl said. But the guy was out hitchhiking in the middle of nowhere after a fight with his girlfriend.
The hitchhiker and Nohl had traveled about 100 miles and were rounding a corner and just missed a deer, Nohl said. "I'm sure he (hitchhiker) won't forget that."
Nohl said he left the hitchhiker in Lewiston, Idaho, the end of Lolo Pass, with $40.
Although he had traveled in hot weather, the soaring temperatures in Kansas were hotter than he expected.
"It got hot, 106, 104, " he said. "I should have conditioned more for the heat."
The heat and humidty were the worst in Florida, Nohl said.
The heat required him to drink more water and make a few more stops each day.
While traveling through the Los Angeles area, he needed to stop with all traffic for two accidents. "At least seven people offered me water," Nohl said.
Nohl tried to stay off interestates in favor of two-lane roads. He usually made 200 miles before stopping for gas. "I'd get to 175 to 200 miles and I'd start looking for fuel," he said.
While he knew how many miles he wanted to make each day, he didn't reserve any motel rooms in advance. Sometimes, it meant traveling 100 miles before he found a room.
He made his benchmarks each day but there were some days, or at least parts of some days, when Nohl could feel his time on the seat.
"It's not an option to quit. Whether you don't feel good or you are stiff, you get on the bike and ride," Nohl said. Regular stretching and stops also helps, he said.