Friday, November 8, 2013

An Incredible Day in Idaho

After a fast paced two weeks getting across the country and an amazing experience riding around Yellowstone, when we finally got to Idaho, our bodies and the bikes were ready for a rest. Roel and I had spent most of the nights since we left Michigan, camping in our tent. Cooking and packing up the bikes became more and more of a chore as the temperature plummeted as we crossed the country... neither of us felt like washing pots or plates with on-the-verge-of-freezing-water and because we needed so many layers to keep warm and needed to keep things inside the tent to keep them from freezing, more and more stuff was coming off of the bikes every time we stopped. So when we pulled into the driveway of my best friend's parents' home, it was like arriving at our own home: Anita and Rajiv threw open the front door, enveloped us in hugs and welcomed us warmly.  

We enjoyed catching up over dinner and insisted that we load the dishes into the dishwasher (you have no idea how much Roel and I appreciate modern appliances after being on the road for a few weeks), and then retired for the evening, ready to crash. The funny thing was, as much as we were looking forward to a warm bed and hot showers, after a 14-hour day on the road, we had a terrible nights sleep. Even though the room was very comfortable, we were so used to sleeping outside that we had trouble adjusting and were hot and kicking off the covers all night long. And since we had grown accustomed to having the bikes right next to the tent, we were nervous to be so far from them, even though they were parked safely in the driveway in a nice neighborhood.

Nonetheless, it was great to finally land and the next morning we began to work through our monster "To Do" list by visiting the local Honda shop, Action Motorsports, to see if they could procure all of the necessary parts for the bike maintenance we planned to carry out while in Idaho Falls. While there, we noticed that they had an awesome selection of KLiM motorcycle apparel and the associate working with us said we should take a 10-minute ride to their North American Headquarters in Rigby, Idaho, where we could get a tour of the Klim facility and hear about their new collection that will be released in February. 

I was extremely excited about this because I'd heard from Cathy at Dual Sport Plus that KLiM was coming out with their first women's protective riding suit next year. So off we went to Rigby, excited to check out where the magic happens for one of the top motorcycle apparel companies in the world. 
KLiM North American Headquarters
Upon arriving, we were told that we could definitely be shown around and Mark, who is responsible for the sales and marketing of KLiM motorcycle gear, met us to take us on a tour. The facility itself is truly impressive and employs at least 70 people between the corporate offices, the distribution center and the apparel creation/repair center. The staff really made an impression on us: each one of them is truly passionate about their role at Klim and about the company, in general. I got to meet Rachel and Heber, the designers of the new women's suit and chat with them about all of the effort and attention to detail that went into the creation of this female-specific suit... and let me tell you, ladies, the suit is a stunner! It even has zippers at the hips so that when we are standing, we can zip them and slim our hips and when we are seated on the bike, we can unzip them to give ourselves a little more room. There are adjustable waist straps so we can cinch the waist and look like women if we want to, or loosen them and blend in with the guys while our helmets are on. Oh, and on that matter, there are no silly flower decals or embroidery or frilly details - just classic lines and serious safety features. 

Trying out the super-warm KLiM mid-layers

For those of you unfamiliar with the awesomeness that is Klim, their protective motorcycle apparel features a 3-layer GORE-TEX shell (read: waterproof and windproof), abrasion/tear resistant Cordura panels in common abuse areas (knees, cuffs, elbows, etc.), D30 armor, 3M Scotchlite Reflective material, excellent venting and stretch panels in all of the right places to ensure your comfort. I got to try on an early prototype of the women's jacket and I found it to be truly exceptional. I had tried on as many women's jackets as I could find in every motorcycle store we encountered between Florida and Vermont, throughout Canada, etc., and I have never tried on anything so light, comfortable or flattering. Because Klim jackets/pants are made with GORE-TEX, you never need to worry about a pesky/bulky waterproof liner, or any of that business. I've found that most overland travelers also ditch their thermal motorcycle jacket liners in favor of other more versatile layers that provide more warmth and can be worn with or without the motorcycle jacket, and still be attractive. (Oh, and KLiM already has an awesome array of mid-layers available to fit this bill.) Anyway, the jacket fit perfectly and really looked and felt amazing. There was room in all of the right places and none of the wrong places and they have thought about everything... even making the YKK zipper pulls on the back vents long enough that you can open them while wearing the jacket with your gloves on. I also got to see a pair of the pants in the light grey/orange color that the suit will be released in, in February, and they looked really good, as well (I didn't try them on as they weren't in my size). 
The boardroom at KLiM, where some of the newer goodies are kept :)
We got to see some additional products KLiM will be releasing next year that they keep hidden away in the offices upstairs, and while there, Mark brought in one of Klim's most recent additions, an Aussie named Brett. It was nice to be able to incorporate some Australian slang into the conversation and the four of us talked about riding, traveling and our journey for quite a while. Before we said goodbye, Mark and Brett shared a pretty comical exchange about "taking care of us" before we left. Not knowing exactly what they meant we were a bit perplexed until Mark came back and handed us a pad of paper, a Klim catalogue and told us to each pick base, mid and outer layers and that we could return the next day to pick them up. We couldn't have been more shocked. It wasn't just like Christmas had come early, it was like Santa Claus himself had walked in and hand delivered gifts we hadn't even imagined we could ask for. 

Pinching ourselves, we flipped through the pages of the catalogue, as if we were living a dream. We selected our soon-to-be gear and agreed to return the next day to fit everything. 

Roel hearing firsthand how KLiM was created from Founder & President, Justin Summers
Upon our return to KLiM the next morning, Mark arranged for us to speak with Justin Summers, the Founder and President of Klim. He is a super nice guy, extremely humble and was very interested in what we're doing. He told us the amazing story of how he created KLiM and brought it from being a company that made state-of-the-art ski apparel to state-of-the-art protective snowmobile and motorcycle apparel. After Justin left for a meeting, we spent about an hour with Edward, who is the Product Line Manager/Developer.
Learning about state-of-the-art protective padding from Edward
Our time with Edward again highlighted what I feel is the main strength of KLiM - the passion of Klim employees for the apparel they develop/make/sell comes from the fact that they're personally invested in how it performs - each employee rides or loves someone who rides, so of course they want only the best. And when it comes to the development side, Edward told us how much effort they put into every little aspect of each suit to ensure it provides the highest level of safety and protection. One of the examples he provided of KLiM's quest to be the best, was the reflective material they use on all of their suits:

KLiM worked with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to determine how long it would take a car traveling at 60mph to stop. It was determined that it would take a car about 2,000 feet and so, in order to further protect motorcyclists from other vehicles on the road, the reflective material utilized on Klim suits would need to be seen from at least 2,000 feet away. The NHTSA recommended Scotchlite 3M, top of the line reflective material, so that's what KLiM uses. Additionally, to reduce the time it will take for a driver to determine that what is in front of them is a person (and not a mailbox, for example), the Scotchlite 3M reflective material has been placed on the gear in a manner that makes it apparent that it is a human form. 

As the women's suit will not be available until February, I will have to wait to see my suit, but it was really amazing to see Roel's transformation... he walked into KLiM wearing a suit that had served him well but no longer zipped up, barely snapped up, was devoid of all protective padding and was torn and shredded in several places. He walked out of Klim in a spectacular looking suit, that he feels he could fall from the Moon in and still get up and walk away. 

Christmas, our birthdays and every other holiday took place in the Klim conference room that day. And seeing Roel in such amazing protective gear was enough to bring tears to my eyes. 
Before: virtually no jacket closure, burned/ripped pants and you can't see it, but no protective padding
Looking like a new man, thanks to KLiM!
 So, a huge thanks to KLiM for their amazingly generous support of our journey. If you ever have the opportunity to ride through Idaho, on a bike or a snow mobile, we encourage you to visit KLiM. The work these guys do and the passion they bring to their job every day will reinvigorate your passion for whatever it is you do. And who knows, perhaps you will walk out with gear that may some day save your life or that of your riding partner.  

As if it hadn't already been an incredible enough day, from KLiM, we were leaving to pick up my Mom from the airport as she was flying in to help celebrate my 30th birthday. And we were looking forward to returning to Yellowstone to share that experience with her, wondering what surprises Nature had in store for us on our next visit!

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