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  #1  
Old 5 May 2012
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Reload this Page chasing dreams... Maryland to Alaska on a WR250X chasing dreams... Maryland to Alaska on a WR250X

"You've got a lot of balls to ride that thing up here this early. Not a lot of brains, but balls." - Police officer in Tok, Alaska



30 days, 6600 miles, worn out tires, gear failures, rain, mud, snow, ice, dust storms, wind storms, crashes, broken luggage, broken parts... Maryland to Alaska on a WR250X in March 2012.
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Old 5 May 2012
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I guess the beginning is as good as anywhere to start. A year ago I was a very different man. I was physically well but mentally and emotionally I was broken. Has it really only been a year? Almost to the day...

Chasing dreams and the ghost of my soul - ADVrider

I figured out a lot on that ride. First and foremost, stock spark plugs only. :lol: Let go of the planning and just ride. It took me over two weeks of fighting a schedule and itinerary that was completely self imposed before I realized I was being absolutely ridiculous and needed to relax and flow. I refined my pack list and gear wants/need immensely. I have zero doubts about what to bring with me or what to wear and have the necessary tweaks

Most importantly I think I finally found the courage to live for myself.

From my last post in the previous Ride's thread

Quote:
Oh well, everything was still the same. Except for me. Now nearly 6 months later, all them are gone from my life, I'm finishing my final semester in college. She gave me the heartache to love the Blues, and the rest gave me the impetus to travel. Winter's closing in fast again, first snow was actually yesterday. But this time I gotta plan, I've got a direction, and a goal. Next year, anywhere but here... time to get busy living.
I got busy living alright. I busted my ass and graduated in December with a degree in Art+Design. Then I started working toward a life that would never have me stuck again, allowing me the freedom to travel and do work that I like for the benefit of that goal. Being realistic in the fact that making a living as an artist is several years and lots of source material, practice, and hustling away, I want to work in the beverage industry or in motorcycles.

Long story short... I found a job bartending. In Alaska, for a cruise line's hotel. Starting in early April, through the end of September. The goal... well there is no goal. I've got an idea to follow the sun after the season is over and end up with a similar gig someplace warm over the winter... or maybe just hiding out in Baja for a while until the next season gets ready to start. Or not. Or maybe I'll hate it and end up working a 9-5 somewhere.


My trusty steed, as always, is my 2008 Yamaha WR250R. It has since had an X change so I'm running 17" wheels front and rear instead of the usual 21/18. I've also racked up a total of just under 31,000 miles on the old girl with nary a problem. Coolant and hoses were changed prior to departure, so was the oil. Swapped the worn out stock seat foam for a seat concepts foam and cover. Heated grips are installed and a heated jacket and heated socks enlisted for the cold weather, and a dual controller. My trusty Nikon D40 will be doing photo duties along with my not so trusty DroidX smartphone. No routes except my old TAT maps in my GPS, just way points. My mountain hardware +35 bag is getting replaced by a Marmot never summer, and I'm shipping most of my clothes up ahead of me. Otherwise this is the same kit I've traveled with since 2010. In an effort to simplify, I swapped my riding gear for an Aerostich Roadcrafter.

From the time I got the job offer to the time I left I had about 2 weeks. During that period I sold my car, my furniture, quit my job, got out of my apartment, moved everything I wanted to keep into storage or sold it or threw it away, shipped a box of clothes and my laptop ahead to myself, and basically closed up shop in Maryland.

Monday March 5th - ready to ride... almost. Wasted half the day tying up loose ends. Big storm blew in west and south of me, dumping rain and snow on the two routes I wanted to take out of Maryland. More than I knew at the time this set the scenario for the ride perfectly. I decided to delay one day to wait out the weather.

Tuesday March 6th - Ready to RIDE! Taken in front of my grandmother's house, where I had staged everything the day before to get packed as I had spent the night at my mom's.

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Old 5 May 2012
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March 7th

Up kinda late due to running around as late as I did the night prior and from taking advantage of the free breakfast...



Best view of the pack job


I quickly aquainted myself with 200+ miles of West Virginia's finest.













After the first 50 miles of true back roads like the above, the rest was perfectly smooth race track quality pavement that was damn near empty. If this is what we get when we pave the world, pave it! Mile after mile after mile of perfectly smooth asphalt that you could tell was simply dumped and graded 2' thick over the existing gravel road. Amazing!

50+ miles of road like this!





and a little later...









Once again I kept riding until well after dark and made it all the way to Kentucky, where I stayed in an absolutely empty state park with hot showers and real flush toilets for free. Set up my tent, made a little first, and fell asleep listening to the creek that ran through the campsite; all was ok in the world.

Tomorrow... would be less idyllic.
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Old 5 May 2012
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One of my friends back home is on ADVRider, and his signature has the following quotes in it:

Quote:
It quit raining for a minute and we didn't know what to do-mtnflow
After Saturday I am convinced nothing is waterproof-H14
That was pretty much the story of Thursday March 8.

Damn these crowded early spring campgrounds! Somewhere in eastern KY




Weather forecast called for rain, lots of it, starting around 11am. I was up and rolling by 9ish hoping to put some miles on before I got wet. Shortly out of camp I came across this cool old post office


with a big historical marker out front



Soon followed by a cool old covered bridge










Apparently occupied lols


Shortly after leaving the bridge, it started to rain and hence these were my last pictures for the day. It was chilly, low 50's out, and wet but fortunately my Aerostich kept me dry...

For about 45 minutes. Then I started feeling water on my pants, and sure enough I had an acute case of aero-crotch (water leaking past the main zipper where it bunches up at your waist). Then water started coming in near the neck. Eventually the fabric itself wetted out. I was soaked, head to toe, except for my hands which were in my summer gloves under rubber dish gloves. I made a stop at Woodford Reserve distillery hoping for a free tour and maybe a sample, neither of which they had. It was at woodford that I discovered that not only did the suit leak, but the 'waterproof' pockets on the suit did too. Goodbye cell phone!

I slogged it as far as Shelbyville, KY as that was the first town I found with a verizon store. Fortunately my phone was insured, and they helped me through the claims process and found me a hotel nearby that was relatively inexpensive to dry out in. Assurion, the insurance provider for my phone, assured me my new phone would be overnighted and I would be able to get on the road again tomorrow.

I also had the pleasure in stopping in to Derby Cycles in Shelbyville. Great moto shop, first of many that I stopped at, and one of the few brick and mortar bike shops I've found that have as good if not better prices for tires than the online shops. Unfortunately nothing in my size as both my front and rear tire were starting to get pretty thin, so on I went.

Off to bed, full of greasy spoon goodness thanks to the waffle house across the street from the hotel and mostly relaxed thanks to the hotel's hot tub and good, soft beds. (Best Western Shelbyville, if you have to be in this part of the world its a great place to stay!)
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Old 9 May 2012
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Friday March 9

According to the folks at the Verizon store, UPS doesn't usually show until around 3pm meaning I had most of a day to kill in Shelbyville, KY. This is harder than it looks. I bugged the guys at Derby Cycles for a while. Then I wandered around WalMart, got some bbq at the place next to the verizon store, bought a book from the dollar store (lol) and read half of it...

finally 3pm rolls around and no sign of the UPS driver. So I continue waiting. And waiting. And finally... there he is! Drives right up to the shopping center, goes into the store next door, hops back in the truck and rolls out.

wtf.

Grab my helmet, jump on the bike and tear off after him. Ask him about my package... not on the truck.

Long story short... Assurion is located in Nashville, TN, or at least the warehouse where they ship phones from is. They claimed to have shipped my package overnight via UPS. Problem: UPS Ground is effectively a next-day service from Nashville, as its close enough. Bigger problem: UPS gives no ****s about ground packages. My phone was mis-picked and sent to the wrong hub and would be delivered on Monday. About two hours of calling, yelling, complaining, and generally losing my shit over this, I got UPS to forward my phone to the house I was planning on staying at in Oklahoma early the next week. Wasn't particularly happy to be without my only communications device for the weekend and 1000+ miles I was planning to ride, but it was better than being stuck in Kentucky for a weekend.

I had planned to abuse the hospitality of an ADVRider, BigDogAdventures.com aka Mark Sampson. Mark lives about 200 miles west of Shelbyville, so after I got everything forwarded and set up (or so I thought) I hopped on the bike and burned out to southern Illinois.

My WRX in BidDog's garage


Mark and his wife are truly wonderful people. Mark and I swapped stories for a couple hours over an oil change for my bike and some sandwiches inside later, and gave me a place to sleep on one of the comfiest beds I've ever slept on.

Early (for me) the next morning, BigDog's out in the garage getting ready and I eventually pack up to join him for a day of riding... unfortunately his wife wasn't feeling well and he decided to stay home. Maybe next time! Off into the midwest I go!
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Old 9 May 2012
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Saturday March 10th

Mark told me to head over to the next town if I wanted a decent breakfast. "When you get to the town square, look to your left for the little building that looks like its about to fall down. That's where all the locals and farmers eat" Sounds good to me! Eggs, bacon, biscuits n gravy, all scratch made or locally sourced, now thats a breakfast! Fueled and fed, I headed west out of town. Small town, fields in prep, small town, more fields, small town, more fields, small tow.... wait, did I just see a statue of Wimpy?



Turns out I stumbled across the home of Popeye, Chester, Illimois!







They even have a Popeye museum, housed in the original theater builder where the creator started his career. It had since been turned into a store front with apartments above. Oddly enough, to me anyway, the owner was not a local but moved to Chester to set up the museum when she learned about the history and that the site was for sale, or something like that.





Chester is located high on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, and throughout town there are statues of the other Popeye characters.





The bridge west:






At the bridge they had a big bronze statue of Popeye



Turns out this was also where Lewis and Clark crossed the Mississippi on their way west.





Into Missouri we go!


It didn't take long to get out of the flood plain and head up into the foothills of the Ozarks. Along the way I came across Fort Davidson, site of a relatively important civil war battle









Dat's a big hole!




I had gathered from a few newspapers and weather reports I had been able to find during the day that I was heading into another front promising rain all day the next day. There were ample opportunities for camping, but I wussed out and found a hotel yet again, this time in West Plains, MO. Yet again it had a hot tub and plenty of nearby greasy food and a free hot breakfast, so it wasn't so bad. Especially when I woke up to it pouring cats and dogs outside. Good thing I had grabbed a cheap rainsuit from WalMart the previous day!

Sunday March 11

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Old 9 May 2012
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Sunday was a long, chilly, wet day. It rained *all* *day*. Sometimes a drizzly fog, sometimes down in buckets, but always wet.

Here's where I'm going to plug Warm n' Safe's GenIV heated jacket and heated socks. Without them, I would have been absolutely miserable and dangerously cold on days like today and like the prior Thursday. Because I was able to add upwards of 90w of heat to my core, I was able to stay warm and alert in conditions that would have otherwise made me tired, sluggish, and at worst extremely hypothermic. A heated jacket is the best layering device for any sort of long distance motorcycling.

Anyway, it rained and rained and rained. I had a few 'moments' thanks to a fast balding and flat spotting rear tire and a front tire that was solidly at the wear bars, but compound ultimately triumphed over tread depth and common sense. I only made two stops, once in Eureka Springs, AR to ensure that my infatuation with the town wasn't fleeting (it wasn't, big thanks to Arkansas Adventure Riders motorcycle shop for the coffee and coversation) and once in Fayetteville for food and gas. The roads are simply amazing in the Ozarks, dual sport and motard heaven.

I had planned to maybe ride as far as it took to get out of the rain... which ended up being damn near all the way to the Oklahoma border. I almost didn't make it out of Arkansas however... the local police in Lincoln took offense to my rate of travel through their town. Shortly after leaving the town I see a cop car with lights blazing fast approaching on my 6...

Pull over, bike off, helmet off (thankfully it had stopped raining), and stayed in the saddle with my hands on the bars. Cop pulls up behind me, gets out, and starts walking towards me... then stops as he reads my license plate... then finally walks up.

"How are you tonight?"

Cold, wet, kinda miserable, sir.

"Yeah, I bet. Do you know what the speed limit is here?"

uhh... [**** if I know at this point] 45?

"here, yes, but back there in town its 35 and you were doing 47"

Crap, sorry, must have missed the signs and zoned out a little, been riding all day, was just following the truck that was in front me, etc

"...Did you really ride that thing all the way from Maryland? On a 250?"

Yes.

"Does it belong to you?"

Yes sir.

*looks me over, dripping wet in and under my rain suit* "Is it going to be a complete pain to get to your license?"

No sir, its in my front left pants pocket, *digs out wallet, hands ID to him*

"Where are you headed?"

Tulsa.

"Now?"

Yes sir.

*goes back to his car with my ID* At this point I'm assuming I'm getting a ticket or worse. A couple minutes later, he comes back and hands me my ID.

"Be careful, pay attention, and slow down. You don't have far to go, but the roads are wet and slick and I'm a rider too, those tires aren't much good in this. Are you going straight to Tulsa?"

Yes sir.

"Ok, again SLOW DOWN and be careful out here. Have a good night."

Thank you sir, you too!

:checkered: :toast:

Fortunately I did have plans to stay at must-go place when traveling, Rancho Highfive, and once again I arrived later in the day than I should have. And once again, Scott (HighFive) took me in, fed me, and gave me a place to sleep.



Tomorrow...
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Old 9 May 2012
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After keeping HF up past everyone's bedtime swapping stories and getting fed, I crashed in their spare bedroom and go to sleep in a bit the next day. HF took a half day at work and came home and told me to put my bike on the trailer, we're going riding.

Heh really?

Yeah, get your bike on the trailer. We're going someplace special.





We load up the trailer, get in the truck, and start driving. And driving. And driving. Then... we keep driving. Scott seems to know where he's going... which is good because I haven't a clue. We can't be in Oklahoma anymore, can we? There's these things... rising from the ground... Scott those can't be mountains can they? Where are you taking me?

Down the rabbit hole we went, Scott making promises of street taco's and bbq and runestones and a more. Street tacos? Nope, the truck's closed. We settled on a nearby restaurant which, to my eastern palette, had some of the best mexican food I ever ate. Soon after we ended up at camp, Campo HighFive, unloaded the bikes, and went for a ride.

You do remember that I'm on street tires right? And I've got a few miles still to go right? "Screw it, they've got tires in Tulsa too"

Onward, mush!







Knobbies? We don't need no stinkin' knobbies! Hell we don't even need tread! Up and over the mountain we go... "By the way... if we can't through the creek crossing at the other end... we're gonna have to come back through the mud." Ok, lets go!

Of course, we couldn't get across the creek. It was flowing fast and deep from all the rains over the last few days, and so we turned back up the mountain.

About halfway up... hmm. The throttle grip is moving... but the motor isn't revving up. Oh no... please don't tell me I broke a throttle cable or something... nothing that bad, just my throttle grip had come loose and was simply spinning on the throttle tube. Fortunately, I could get the heated grip off without breaking off the wiring and made it out by twisting the raw throttle tube. With the sun fast setting, we limped back to camp to get set up, I set up the fire while Scott got the grub going.

None of this freeze dried crap either, but scratch made Beef Stroganof from a recipe from Monty (another ADVRider)





Pics don't do it justice, really hit the spot at the end of the day. The good cold didn't hurt either. Nor did the Son of Jiffy Pop on a Stick. Because everything is better on a stick!

















Ain't many ways to spend a night in the woods, thats for damn sure. "Spare no expense"



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Old 9 May 2012
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Bright and early the next morning (All pics from today are Scott's. I left my dslr in the truck and did not have my phone and therefore no point and shoot)





Campo HighFive



Breakfast! (ok, these are mine)





The day dawned cloudy and cool, but soon the sun came out to burn off the chill and the clouds



Down by the creek before leaving camp







Does this Aerostich make me look fat? Or is it my... fat?



Up we went, alternating between nice open twisties along the crest of a mountain and some small bits of easy single and one-and-a-half track.





Notice me looking at the rear wheel. For some reason the bike felt funny, wasn't turning in as well as I was used to and overall kinda riding funny. Nothing looked out of place however, and the tire pressure was fine...


[Later in the day... We switched bikes for a short while. While we both are techincally on the same motorcycles, 2008 WR250R's... mine's stock except for the full exhaust and the sumo wheels. Scott's bike, R², has a dialed in Athena 290 kit, head work to complement, has been dyno tuned via a Power Commander V (with autotune), and has had the suspension reworked to perfection by GoRace Suspensions in Virginia. His also has the Safari 3.7 gallon tank while mine makes due with the IMS 3.25 gallon tank. Up the gravel road back to the paved highway, I relearned how damn nice it is to have a 21" front tire off pavement. Knobs too. And torque, R² comparatively had gobs of it and easily pulled up the steeper grades that would have me madly downshifting in a bid for greater forward motion. Back on the tar... I missed my sumo wheels greatly and really noticed the increased vibes from the big bore. R² was no longer a nice pavement friendly dual sport... it had gone to the gym a bit too hard and was now more of a dirt bike dual sport than a lightweight adventure touring bike. Not that there's anything wrong with that, especially seeing how it slots in nicely between Scott's Husaberg 390 and F800GS, but I was definitely happy back on my RX. With 30,000 more miles on it. "Man... your bike's motor is really really running smooth. Don't mess with it, it's running too good!" But... "How do you ride with the rear wheel hopping like that?" What? Yeah, your rear wheel is bouncing all the time, how do you not feel that?" Hmmm... sure enough I noticed it now too. Tire gone out of round maybe? It was damn near worn out after all, and we haven't been treating it nice at all. Shock going bad? Dunno, couldn't find anything... yet...]

So... on we went!



The view's were terrible





The roads were worse.







And the weather beyond awful (beached whale warning)




Man this is pretty bad Scott. Lets get something to eat. Street taco's closed again?! At least there's a place advertising that they always have burgers... except for when we get there and they're out of propane. At least the is cold



The wings were pretty good too.

"Ok, remember that ridge trail I showed you?" Yeah... "Well, time to go ride it" Ok... but I thought you said it was a really really long and pretty difficult trail? "Not this part, don't worry." Ok, let's go!









And the payoff...









So yeah, I rode my motard up the K-trail. Even climbed up into the rickety old fire tower (I didn't stay long, the lack of floor structure kinda spooked me)







On the way back down the mountain, Scott let me lead and I turned the X loose on the long perfectly smooth paved sweepers back down the mountain, leaned her over as far as she would go (no chicken strips here damn it!)

Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday.

Back to camp, loaded up the truck, pretty good BBQ on the way home, and pulled in to Rancho HighFive in my usual fashion... late and stinking of the trail. :lol3 Oh well, he's a lucky guy with a very understanding wife at home.

We did notice something after unloading the bikes. Remember those problems? Not turning in, and the bouncing? A few days prior, I had made a chain adjustment using my Motion Pro combo tire spoon and 27mm wrench to undo the rear axle nut. Today... after unloading and giving the bike a quick once over, I noticed my chain slider was half worn through and my rear axle nut was barely finger tight on. :eek1 How I didn't lose the bolt is beyond me. It must have been loose all day, at best, because the issues went away when it was tightened. I don't want to thing about how bad it would have been for it to let loose with the way we were riding it, especially on those twisties.

On the less than lucky side, my replacement phone had not shown up yet. UPS tracking showed an exception, unable to find correct address. It was too late to call, but I must have given them the wrong address when I was in Kentucky. Sonofabi... In any event, they held it for me to pick up at the customer center in Muskogee. Which opened at 4:30pm. Looks like I'm spending another day and night in Tulsa... which turned out to be more than alright in the end.
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Old 9 May 2012
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No pics from today, didn't feel like dragging the SLR around.

Wednesday March 14, putting around Tulsa. Decided to spend the day seeing the sights and taking in an unfamiliar city. But then I got sidelined at Brookside Motorcycle Co, Tulsa's Moto Guzzi dealer. I wanted to stop in anyway as they had a 2011 V7 Classic in black sitting on the floor and I wanted to go ogle the bike I'm still somewhat planning to replace my WR250X with. Here's a pic of said italian temptress for those not aware of them:



And here's the actual devil from Brookside's website



I've been lusting over this bike for about a year now, especially when I realized its basically exactly what I want from my next bike: about 50hp, about 400 pounds, nearly 0 maintenance (shaft drive and air cooled, change the oil in the motor, trans, and shaft every couple thousand, screw type valve adjustments), good gas mileage combined with a 4.5gal tank to give a 160-200 mile range. It also looks the best of any of the retro standards (i.e. Shadow RS, Sportster, and Bonneville), has the best stock suspension, range, seat, blah blah blah. Its a cool bike.

As I'm sitting there staring, starting to drool a little, one of the salesmen comes by and asks if he can help me with anything. Nah... just looking, explained I'm on a big trip on my WR250X, from Maryland to Alaska so just passing through, but like to stop and look at these since I'd like to get one for my next bike. Ridden the Sportster and a Bonne, haven't ridden a V7 yet thoug...

"Oh... well do you want to test ride it?"

*poker face* Uh, yeah! You know I'm not really in the market right now though? I mean, it would be crazy if I swapped bikes mid trip and... Oh your back with the keys and already made a copy of my license.

So, I rode it. And it was sublime. The only nit I had with it was the legroom, the pegs are in between dirt bike pegs and sport bike rear sets, reminded me a lot of the seating position of my friend's Monster S2R1000 but with a shorter reach to the bars. The handling was light but confident, nimble yet stable. The motor, which is underpowered on paper, feels strong and healthy on the road. Its a stump puller for sure, but likes to rev and breath too. Flexible. And the sound, the pleasant rumble from the twin lafranconi pipes alternating side to side on the back of my helmet, was one of the most beautiful motoring sounds I've ever had the pleasure to ride with.

Harley Davidson and Triumph are very lucky there aren't more Guzzi's dealers and bikes out there available, because its a better bike by half than either.

Its a good thing it took my bank 36 hours to get back to me and I was already halfway across the state, as I would have been very tempted to try to get a bike with temporary tags through Canada. In the end, it was good I had the WR250X but... for the first time after a test ride, I was no longer perfectly content when I got back on my little Yamaha and I often found myself daydreaming about the Guzzi over the coming weeks while riding the WR.

It was starting to get late in the day, so instead of touring more around Tulsa, I made tracks east then south towards Muskogee to pick up my phone from UPS finally. The pickup went without issue, then, following some directions left by HF to some nice twisties, ride a nice 10-15 mile stretch of long sweepers and tight corners worthy of any good mountain or river road before cruising back to Rancho HF for dinner and a good long soak in a hot tub. Alas it was time for me to gather my gear and get back on the road, but my time in Oklahoma had been wonderful. "Spare no expense"
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Thursday March 15

*knock knock knock* "No sleeping in at Rancho Highfive, get up and ride my Husaberg!"

Scott's got a Husaberg FE390 he's mighty proud of. And he should be, 'cause its a real sweet bike. A real dirt bike, that happens to have a freshly minted Oklahoma license plate and some vestigial turn signals, tail light, and head light to make it a 'dual sport'. Oh poor R²... you've been exposed for the dual sport that you are. Scott's got a small MX track in his back yard that has a new woods section now on the back half. Threading through the tree's the Husa just floated and rode effortlessly and quick where the WR would be bashing and mucking about. Perfectly composed in the dirt, happy in the tight stuff, happy on the open stuff, happy on the jumps, happy to wheelie on command. Not as happy on the pavement, but hell its a dirt bike dammit.

"Ok, I gotta go to work. Meet me for lunch at La Hacienda [or something like that] and I'll see you off proper. It won't be street taco's, but it'll be really good." Sounds good to me!

The carnitas just melted when you ate it, and the taco's were 'the closest I've seen to real street tacos I've yet seen in a restaurant". Now that's a lunch! Spare no expense after all...

Food pics? Nah, you're gonna have to get off your butts and get your own.

After eating... Scott tells me he's got a great route across Oklahoma. Just follow me... so we ride, and ride, and ride, up a bluff, along a river, and finally out in the flat country and the wide open plains. "Just got that way, stay on this road, until it ends. Turn right, then keep going until you hit New Mexico. Once there, go north into Colorado and check your GPS. You'll see the road north, cut west, then drop back south, and across that there's a dirt road that will save you about an hour".

BTW, remember, there's nothing out here in Oklahoma. The food is terrible, the people are mean, its hot dry dusty and flat. Nothing to see here, nowhere to ride, just keep going...

Quickly after we part ways, Scott back to work and family and life, me onward and westward, the road goes from a divided four laner to an arrow straight 2 lane highway. For something like 200 miles. Dead straight, only variation are the tree's which slowly became scrub and sage brush and the rolling hills of the eastern plains. And the temperature, which steadily rose to the mid to high 80's through the afternoon.


Oh Oklahoma... I don't think those words mean what you think they mean.


Did I mention the roads were straight? And flat?



Wait... whats that in the distance?



Welcome to the Glass Mountains, a ripple in the great plains so named because of the crystals found in the soil that makes the hills glitter like glass in the distance.















Very pretty, but it was getting late and I was getting antsy to keep riding. The clock was tick tick ticking after all, and it dawned on me that I had been out for 10 days already and only had another 15 days to get to Washington with unknown weather, unknown problems, and over half the country yet to come. But sometimes its hard to move with sunsets like this:



Made it as far as Guymon where I grabbed a cheap hotel on the edge of town for the night. Tomorrow, push for the front range and the furthest point west I had yet been via motorcycle, Salida.
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Oh yeah, you might have noticed the new addition to my muffler. Somewhere along the way, and for the first time in many thousands of miles, the FMF pipe got hot enough to melt a hole into the hot side saddlebag. It also melted my spare front tube. As a stop gap until I could make a more permanent solution, here's my front tube and duct tape heat shield:

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Old 12 May 2012
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Leaving Guymon early on the morning of Friday March 16, I headed out to Boise City for gas and breakfast before heading north into Colorado. Sage brush and scrub had given way to nearly open desert:





Desolate is the only appropriate word. There was evidence of man's presence here from the road itself existing, from the fences that (mostly) contained the few head of cattle I was able to see from the road, and a bunch of signs stating that "This land is NOT for sale to the ARMY!" but... there basically was nothing out here. Towns were an easy 100-150 miles apart, and consisted of a gas station and maybe a few other smaller businesses. There's really nothing out here but land and sky and sand and scrub and cattle.

Sure enough, I came to HighFive's cutoff. It worked, thankfully I had the range needed to bypass the long leg north then west then south and could instead simply cut west on the well maintained gravel. It rejoined the pavement right where the paved highway turned back to the west.






My only real road companion for today was the same that had rode with all of the previous day since leaving Tulsa: wind. Lots of wind. I was riding mostly due west, and, of course, the wind was sweeping down out of the Rockies from the west at 30+mph, gusting as high as 60mph according to the various weather sites. It was so bad that I was unsure what was worse, the direct headwind that made my top speed somewhere around 55mph, or the nasty gusting crosswinds that blew me all over the road whenever I turned out of it its direct path. I promised myself on this day that I will never cross the plains again on a motorcycle that can't do 70mph into a solid headwind.

The only saving grace of all the wind was the altitude. While the ground appears to be flat, in truth it has slowly been climbing in elevation since leaving Tulsa as I approached the Rockies. I was already near 5000ft and would be over 7000ft when I reached my destination, Salida, CO. While it and the wind effectively turned my bike into a rolling chicane, it also meant I was at least getting decent gas mileage.

Stopped for food at Boss Hogg's Restaurant and Saloon in La Junta, CO. Easily in the top 10 best burgers I've ever had, it didn't last long enough to get a picture of it. Gassed up after riding through the wastes of eastern, CO and continued northwest until....



Closer, and closer, and closer, slowly the front range of the Rockies rose into view. And not just the front range, but some of the highest mountains in the lower 48, many of which scrape the skies at a towering 14,000+ feet! In La Junta, I hopped on US 50 W once again, the same road I had ridden so many thousands of miles ago, and followed it into the heart of the mountains. Got gas in Canon City, and made a phone call to my host in Salida, Rick Ramsey (aka ramz) to let him know I was close.

A little over an hour later, with the sun starting to dip behind the Continental Divide, I pulled into Rick's garage and got settled in for the night.

The view from Rick's front yard sucks (taken in the morning)




Tomorrow... maintenance day. My tires were beyond worn out. Chain was starting to get enough sideways play to chew into the tire, meaning it was going south, so it and the sprockets needed changing. Oil was old and dirty too. And I had to do something about my muffler, as the make shift heat shield was melting and stinking under the heavy load that the motor had been running.

But first, Rick had a treat for me... YUENGLING!:toast: :aj::toast: Cold, delicious, wonderful YUENGLING! Special ordered from a shop back east and shipped to Salida just for me, a whole case of it! Up too late bs'ing about bikes, formula 1, art, politics, and tomorrow's tasks, exhausted from beating into the wind all day, I slept like a stone.
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Old 12 May 2012
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Saturday March 17

This is what happens when you put 5000ish miles on softish compounded motard tire (Bridgestone BT003RS rear tire)



And its replacement, a Continental ContiForce Sport Touring in 150/60-17.



Or at least its supposed to be a ST tire, I think I might have ended up with the sumo version as the tread is very similar. Tires were ordered from Motorcycle Superstore and shipped to directly Salida ahead of me, as was my replacement chain and sprockets (from Sprocket Center).

Plenty of clearance



Front was a stock BT090 with something like 15,000 miles on it. As an R, it ate front tires like nothing but now as an X the fronts wear like iron.



Replaced with a Continental ContiMotion sport touring tire in the stock 110/70-17 size.



Chain and sprockets were RK XSO x-ring and JT steel sprockets, replaced with another RK XSO chain, a JT 13T front, and a SuperSprox 45T rear. Going up 3 teeth to a 45T rear from a 42T along with the shorter rear tire would hopefully help me get some pulling power on the rockies and high plateaus of the western mountains and deserts. I had a 14T with me for when I got back to the coast at sea level and wanted to stretch her legs for a higher cruising speed (14/45 gearing is very close to the stock 13/42 ratio on the shorter tire and I generally liked the stock gearing).

We also ended up changing out shifters to my spare which I had ordered a few days prior to leaving. Somewhere along the line the stock shifter got loose and its splines where it locks down on the shift shaft got loose and worn down. I need to pay more attention to this as its the second shifter I've worn out this way.

Rick also helped me fab up a new heat shield for the FMF muffler using header wrap and a flexible metal and asbestos (or something similar) backed metal panel. So far so good, it works perfectly! You can comfortably rest your hand on the shield even after running the bike for hours at speed.

All buttoned up


Took it for a quick test ride and once again, she feels like a new bike and eager to ride! I love fresh tires.

Unfortunately... the weather was going to take a turn tomorrow. That wind I had been battling for the last few days were the precursor to a massive storm front that stretched from Canada to Mexico, dumping a few feet of snow in the northern rockies, projecting about a foot in my direct path if I went due west, and much colder temps... unless... I went south. How south? Way south. Like I-10 south, and cross the Divide at Lordsburg, as that was the only place that was predicted to get rain instead of snow and have temps above freezing for several days.

And of course, the storm was being fed my moisture off the gulf. Of Mexico. Meaning I'd be riding into stiff 35+mph headwinds that were violently gusting to 60+, 70+ in places. Sunday was going to be a long day... better drink some ...
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Old 12 May 2012
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With the weather having taken a turn for the awful (and quite frankly, dangerous), Rick and his wife loaded me in their van and gave me a ride south to the Colorado/New Mexico border.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramz
Here are pictures of Dave getting the bike loaded and his departure from Alamosa, CO on Sunday, Mar 18. I don't know how he was able to ride with the load the bike was carrying.












That sky is not our normal CO clear blue color, but instead is obscured by the dust from NM blowing in at 40-60 MPH.

Bon Voyage, Dave.

Hindsight, I probably should have taken up Rick's offer to stay in Salida for a day or three and wait it out, but I was in a moving mood and had to keep going. I followed US285 south to Sante Fe then to Albuquerque and finally to Socorro.

Several times during the day the dust and sand created near brownouts on the road, the sand coming up under my helmet and coating my visor and face with dust. I stopped for lunch in Oja Caliente at a little diner/gift shop (Mesa Vista Cafe), had a great buritto smothered in green chili. While I was sitting and eating, a massive gust blew up outside and when the dust cleared, my little windscreen was gone, probably halfway back to Colorado. A blessing in disguise though, wind blast was a bit smoother without it.

I stopped in Santa Fe briefly, mainly putted around downtown and swung past St. John's campus to get a look at it (I had applied and been accepted there several years ago, but decided not to attend). Seems like a cool town, kinda reminded me of an adobe, upscale, and larger Eureka Springs.

After Santa Fe, I decided to head in a more south westerly direction and eventually followed rt 14 out of town. Soon I came up to a little town that looked strangely familiar... looked a lot like the town from Wild Hogs actually. Madrid, NM... aw hell, it IS the town from Wild Hogs! :laugh1: The wind was blowing bad with lots of dust and the weather was turning so I didn't bother playing tourist with the camera. The roads in and out of town were wonderful though, and the new Continentals were great through the rolling hills and canyons. As I rolled back up in elevation, the weather turned cold and colder, then slowly it started snowing. Great. Fortunately I was near a town, Cedar Crest, and pulled in to a bar, the Lazy Lizard Bar and Grill, to see what the weather was supposed to do (if I had cell service).



As I pulled my helmet off a couple guys were hanging around out front. "Wow, riding out in this weather? Where you coming from?" Maryland. "Hell, Maryland?! On that! If you come inside, I'll buy you a ."

Hell I need to wait this snow out anyway.

The guys at the bar


Fortunately the snow cleared quickly before it stuck to anything, and I made it to Socorro without further issue. The best thing about Socorro was the nicest cheap hotel I've ever stayed in, a $35 econo lodge with a bed as comfortable as ones I've seen in hotels costing 10x as much plus a full hot breakfast in the morning. Tomorrow... big radios, big country, and more weather.
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