This ride report blog organizes data with the latest posts first. While, you are welcome to surf the site whichever way you prefer, the first post can be found here
So this is what I carried for clothes both on and off the bike.
On bike wear
Klim riding jacket
Klim riding pants
Sidi Motocross boots, don't need anymore foot/ankle injuries
Klim lightweight riding gloves, cut them on some barbed wire while opening/closing a gate
1 pair of mid weight gloves for those cool mornings
1 pair of Goretex gloves in case things got wet
3 pairs of riding socks; one to wear, one as spare, and one to wear after water crossings
2 moisture wicking short sleeve shirts
2 pairs of moisture wicking riding under pants (LD comfort)
Off bike wear
2 pairs of hiking pants; because they pack down very well
1 Polo shirt; in case we wanted to eat someplace a bit nicer
2 pairs of socks
2 pairs of undies
Swim trunks for soaking my aches and pains out in a hot tub, could have used one pair of hiking pants with zip off legs as swim trunks
Also having two pairs of clothing allows me to wear one set while I wash the other set
Don't forget to bring your shave kit/shower kit/medications/over the counter medications
So it has taken me longer to get back to the ride report than expected........but none the less here I am and lets talk quickly about luggage and what we used. Dorito and I have run many different options over the years trying to find the perfect combinations and I have to say it just depends. I have run and used several different hard bags, a Giant Loop which I am not particularly fond of since it always seems to be in the wrong place on every bike and I can't get to what I want when I want it. So several years back I picked up a set of Wolfman Expedition dry saddle bags to use when we did the Trans Eastern Trail (TET).
I mounted these on my DRZ 400 for what turned out to be a 10 day trip. At first I didn't really like them and I thought they were a pain. But once I got the opening/closing down and the mounting and dismounting mastered they really grew on me. I also thought that they were a bit small, 38 liters worth of stuff, but have come to realize that I just packed too much stuff back then. So since then I have learned that I really don't need as much gear as I used to, packing has become easier, notice that I didn't say easy. I also read a lot of ride reports and articles and tried to glean as much knowledge from seasoned travelers as I could all while making it fit my style. Here is a good post which I still use for ideas. The main thing I try to do when loading out my bike is to keep the heavy things down low, distribute the weight evenly, and keep the things that we will use most often handy. My layout changes with every bike but I try to use the same rules.
Along with the dry bags I use Wolfmans stuff sacks which allow me to segregate my stuff and also only take out what I need rather than take the entire saddlebag off the bike every night. It seems like such a small thing but keep my kit better organized has made life on the road easier for me.
One of the other things we did was install "trash can" liners in our bags which made packing our bags easier since we didn't need to continually adjust the plethora of straps. This made them more rigid and allowed the stuff sacks to just slide right in and then just roll the top down and buckle it. We got the idea from Bigdog Adventures website.....lots of great information on there!!!!
I am not a big fan of tank bags as they have always been in my way but I think the problem has always been that I chose a bag which was too big. When I bought the X-Challenge it came with a Giant Loop Fandango tank bag which I thought would be too small but it turned out to carry just the right amount of stuff and stay out of my way.
In recent years I have gotten away from the large dry bag which I used to carry on the back of the seat and switched over to the Wolfman Peak Tail bag which has been performing extremely well.
One of the things I really like about is that it can be expanded when necessary to carry more, make sure you get the waterproof cover.
So this is how my bike looked loaded out.
As you can see there is plenty of room to move around on the seat. And the final storage device is my toolbox which is integrated into the skid plate and made by Scheffelmeier-metall. This one item has really made a difference because I have a lot more room in my saddlebags and also the really heavy stuff is about as low on the bike as it can be. It is not waterproof but then again few things really are so I just pack my tools as best I can and just make sure when I get home to take them out to dry them off and retreat with WD-40. This was another item which was on my bike when I purchased it but we have the same one on Doritos X-Country so I knew it was a nice piece.
Packing is really is an art which is developed over time so just keep working it until it meets your needs and requirements.
Next up will be the contents of each storage device.
We have gotten quite a few questions about riding the the Eastern part of the TAT and the few posts about it. Quite frankly once we got out of Oklahoma it was a lot like the riding we do regularly at home (PA, VA, MD, TN, NC) so it didn't really excite us that much. It's not that it was bad riding but it was nothing new to us.....unlike the Western US
Who knew Elk lived this far eat, in North Carolina
Blaster said he'd never been so close to a live bachelor herd. They almost look fake. This one is sneaking up on me as I photograph
his pal. Hoping this doesn't end with an Animal Planet starring of "when animals attack"
We traveled the cool mountain breeze, above the clouds...almost heaven
Just a quick few words about the bikes on the trip. Both of them worked great except the 250 just ran out of power at really high altitude and other than that it worked great for her. Super reliable, used no oil, not a single flat, and did it on one set of tires (Dunlop D606's on the front and Mitas E09's on the back).
The hard days really stack up after a while though! Good meals and plenty of sleep I think helped a lot as well.....and plenty of Tylenol to keeps the aches at bay. We just got in a routine with everything we did which made sure everything got checked, charged, cleaned, and prepped for the next day. Then every morning we would fuel up and check tires and adjust pressures as necessary for the days riding. Good, hard, fun, and interesting trip!
Our little tropical disturbance/storm Julia, has altered our plan a bit. We have plotted a shorter path via the Blue Ridge parkway. Hopefully, this will skirt most of both emerging weather systems.
As we've ridden quite a bit of the tasty sections of TN, we have been scouting some new tasty sections today.
People lament about all the loose dogs chasing bikes. I would have rather had the warning about the 600 lb pony that was wondering the trail.
Arkansas is apparently huge in hydroponics farming. Here we have the newest designer Cow-Lilly. Apparently, when you remove the legs they float well. Even comes complete with a rescue egret in a rowboat
There have been countless reminders that indoor restrooms cost money to maintain, do kindly support the establishment with a purchase on your way out. It is sad to see these remote towns withering on the vines, but every so often we find one that has reinvented itself and found a niche. This guy knows his market.
I have know idea what these berries are, but damn even Yogi bear would think they are tasty
This guy had the whole yard covered in kitsch.... kitsch in the sense he never held a yard sale since the turn of the last century
One man's trash is another's treasure. Here we see more hydroponics farming. The farmer is growing minnow fish in these manmade ponds. Meanwhile, the egrets are raising a family.... on high quality minnows.
We chalked off Arkansas and also Mississippi. Western Arkansas is home to the Ozarks, and well worth riding. However, I think the zeal to a include a scrap of dirt often interrupted the flow of the ride. And we haven't really been seeing much of anything that doesn't happen in my own backyard.
On a interesting observation, Mississippi has had the most roadside trash we have seen in the last 3weeks. Judging Arkansas by the homes alone, the state is wealthier than Redneck jokes allude.
Bruce told me they were Grasshoppers but apparently that didn't stick like all the dead bugs did.
So we stop today so Dana can get a picture of these cows standing in a pond. When I get a whiff of antifreeze. That is never a good smell for many reasons and none of them good. So I lean over and notice one of my radiator hoses with a stream of coolant coming out. Luckily for me it was a loose clamp and the hose had almost pushed it's way off the nipple.....caught it just in time. Pushed it back on with my gloved hand and tightened it down.
Nearly 2/3rds done, we've debated if riding east had more pros or cons. I think we ended up winning. First, many people crash out as the trip progresses. It really just a stacking error. every day you ride all day and sleep somewhere new. If you had ridden west, this tiredness would occur at the same time the trail gets more technical.
New Mexico, we don't need a welcome sign, we'll just toss you a rather furry Tarantula spider to welcome you
So, we now have Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma (8 states) in the rearview mirror. Remember when you were a kid and you had Mr. Potato Head toy? Who know why, but you had this insatiable urge to put the parts where they didn't belong. The ear went in the eye pin, the nose was on upsidedown.
I mostly feel like Oklahoma rode like this for us. To date, the TAT has been phenomonal riding. I get that you can probably do just so much with the terrain you are given, but riding grids all days makes me feel quite frankly, "boxed". And boy, there is a whole lot of Oklahoma that is going to be just like the last inch.
We met this lad on the trail, we were uphill and just watched him jump and powerslide his way up. He mentioned skipping 400 miles of OK because of some weather. It will make more sense to us in about 4 hrs.
Mile after mile of just high speed, flat, straight ranch roads
The only thing remotely entertaining was watching the crickets commit suicide on your bike. I think Blaster's lower pantleg will forever be stained with cricket goo. To add insult to injury, That night at the hotel, the birds are going ape-shit for the bikes. Seems they are tracking great pride in eating all the cricket carcasses off the bikes. Circle of life and all that I suppose.
The temps are warmest they have been in Oklahoma, and early afternoon we are in the middle of thunderstorm. It's a big one too. So we get off the trail and find some tarmac. I guess the only good thing is that we are now paralleling the trailing by less than 800 feet. Blaster says if he sees a storm chaser vehicle or a flying cow he's turning around. Luckily, he only gets hit by some errant tumbleweed.
That night at the hotel there is a even a bigger storm. The trail is so soggy we skip the next 100 miles of trail again. But now worries, again we mostly parrellel it and probably see the same sights! So happy to be out of Oklahoma.
So now much in front of us at this point. Wondering if we'll replace the tires somewhere in TN or just trek home. Haven't really scouted a convenient dealership yet....
The continental divide sign yesterday, was a bit of a bad omen. Gone are the days of butt kicking hill climbs to amazing vistas. Today's ride was felt like breaking up with a high school sweetheart. The mountains are now melting into the distance. We still rode some nice twisties, but slowly we are dropping elevation. With each elevation drop, the roads are getting flatter and straighter.
We all know that this town is a hoax? The real Cotopaxi is t is the second highest summit in Ecuador, reaching a height of 5,897 m (19,347 ft). It is one of the world's highest volcanoes.
This is Sammie Dinner in La Veta, CO. If I ever build a house, it is so getting this staircase.
Drats-gone are the mountains, the curves, and now they took the trees too!
You know those metal hoops at the end of gas pumps so you don't drive into them? Some high-country pizzazz
We had to backtrack a bit and take the easy option. Seems the ark service as closed the trail head by placing these trees across the trail head.
I was a bit remiss and didn't clean off one camera while we were in Ouray. Adorable town!
Talking to many folks before we left, there is no reason to have to carry camping kit. There are plenty of motels along the route at all price points.
Ouray Inn was delightful and highly recommended.
I will never swim in the ocean again. Should this claw be nearly the size of my paw?
Good bye dear Colorado.
We thought that we might score a really good repeat Mexican restaurant from our 2012 adventure. Turns out that that the really good Mexican restaurant was in Cuba, NM and the hotel that evening was in Salida. Sigh. Well, maybe next time.
So after a somewhat taxing day yesterday, I am relieved to know that Engineer Pass *should* be easier. Easier in the sense that if you ascend from the eastern front, you could ride a rukkus up it.
However, you know that we still haven't learned to try the easy side. Not 5 minutes into our track boy does the trail have some nasty surprises...from our famed Western slope ascent. There is loose rock, but it's not quite as steep as Ophir and Imogene. The little WR really struggled for power about 13000 feet yesterday, so I am happy that we'll only be a bit over 12000 today.
I told you we'd run into these blokes a few more times
Looking back, Imogene is very scenic. Well scenic if you could take your eyes off the track for a milli-second to enjoy it. Engineer is more like high-prairie grass land.
We find yet another herd of about 25 Mountain Goat Kidds. These are giving the road holy hell, by striking their hooves then licking up the dirt. Must be some sort of mineral (salts?) they are after. Cute nonetheless!
We find this California plated bike on the trail. Looks like he got onto the shoulder of the road and went as*-over-teakettle. The front end is pretty mashed up as is the left side pannier. Nobody appears still around, so we press on.
Well, we are officially "EAST" now. Nothing left to do but go home.....
We might finish up Colorado today, if not we should be right near the border. About 2600 miles so far out of the estimated 4500. 10 days remain.
We leave Deer Creek, CO spritly early as we know we have a big day ahead of us. Yes, not a long day in the way of mileage, but a long day in terms of finding out who that person is that looks you back in the mirror. We also realize that for the first time in our trip, riding West --> Eastbound will finally haunt us and haunt us big. You see, there is about 5% of each track that seems to be really nasty stuff. Stuff that makes me so happy that I trot along on my little WR250. However, our luck is about to run out. We are approaching 3 notorious passes, and apparently all will be more formidable to ascend from the western front. Nonetheless, I find who is that person in my helmet and descend each pass as a better rider.
But first, we realize that Colorado has the same vivid colors of earth that Utah has, but it's much like someone dumped it out of the heavens instead of chiseled like Utah
Back in 2013, Blaster wanted a day off on one of our trips. I thought this meant he wanted to see the sights of Gros Morne UNESCO World Hertiage site. So, I made reservations for a ferry ride around the land locked Fjord. The only hitch with this plan was we had to hike about 1.5 miles in our riding kit to the boat launch. Needless to say, Blaster has affectionately referred to this day as "the forced road march" ever since. I think he wanted to get even with me when he wanted to very a mere 5 miles off course to summit Ophir. Not only will we summit from the hard side, why not "save" some miles and turn around and ride down the hard side too?
Ophir Summit View
We run into these blokes from Utah at least 4 times over the next 24 hours. Yes, they too summited all of the passes on those big bikes. The waft of clutch smell as they passed made me certain those bikes were more of a handful.
We fuel both bikes and humans in Telluride.
Architecturally, it's an adorable little town. It's sad that is has apparently attracted every eccentric weirdo and high-roller residents. After the last time the eccentric resident with the one of kind dog tells the story the millionth time, we have got to get out of this place. Anybody remember Steven King's Langoliers?
Waterfall into Telluride
No shortage of Aspen trees
We leg up and head out to summit Imogene Pass, from the western slope. Again, we have apparently chosen the gnarly side to ascend. Blaster had an excellent ride up, while as you can tell from the above post, I flipped and flopped my way. But the victory was earned nonetheless. Imogene from the western slope is not be trifled with. She's an angry trail and you'd best bring all your A game. The eastern slope had some ledges, but it seemed you could pick your way through and probably have an easier ride.
You aren't a coward, until you have been tested they say. Sitting about 1.5 miles short of the Imogene Pass summit, I was flat out struggling. Got off the bike and watched a few Jeeps summit.
What is the worst that can happen? Other than barrel roll your sled down this ravine
Imogene Summit View
I doubt mail goes here..
Today was a bit of repositioning day. Partly because we are heading into the passes of Colorado on tommorrows ride, so we wanted a bit extra time to lolly gag. Secondly, this should be one of few remaining legs that have sparse accomodations.
Nonetheless, we accomplish our goal for day--checking off another state this list of D.O.N.E.....Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah. 7 states remain.
Colorful it is.....Who knew the desert fostered so many colorful blooms
All that color has me all artsy feeling. How about shopping for a new hooch too?
We head out spryly early to catch the first light at Arches National Park.
Apparently, first light also means first storm.
While we were upset to learn that leprechauns bury their gold under some very large rock structures, it did make for some nice shots. I don't think the park service would appreciate us knocking over their rocks looking for the pot of gold at the end of a rainbows.
Bikes and (Rain)Bows
We leave Arches National via the back dirt road, which coincidentally is a good way to avoid the traffic jam at the main entrance. Of course, if you don't riding in some more mud. Riding Arches added about 50 miles to our day, and hindsight, their were better view s on white rim. Alas, this park is far more notable since it's paved.
I feel a bit misled, as the park service apparently claims any arch, whether it occurs vertically or horizontally.
We also rode through "Garden Of Eden". Not sure what is up with the name, as it just looks like more rocks to me. Blaster and I thought were should scurry fast through this area, lest we be "blessed" leave with a cherubim.
The off to White Rim trail. Today was probably the first day which we baked under the desert sun. White Rim is 100 miles long with no kick out, and it's slow going, all said about 7 hours. We rode it clockwise. We entered from US313 via the visitors center. This lets you drop down Schafer Trailer with amazing views.
It also sets you up for the nicest part of White Rim. My adrenaline junkie would have preferred to ride out this first section 20-30 miles then track back. The last 30-40 miles before the turn for HorseTheif has some challenging ascents/descents.
It's amazing how close you get to the large crevasses. It's like we have a free pass to run with scissors.
The wind through much of White Rim is filled with sand particles. I guess how else would you carve things like this over 100's of millions of years..
The menagerie of critters trail side.
Mountain Goats kidds
Big Horn Mountain Goat
Sadly, the last 2 days of riding have really been a treat for the visual senses. We will have a quick 1/2 day ride into Moab, and we'll lolly gag around town. Tomorrow, off to White Rim. Then we'll hit Slick Rock on Monday on the way out of town.
The money shot.
This area was marked as conservation recovery. I can only imagine that means they will be filling in these holes..
Out of the sand..
Into the rocks..
Anyone want to name this trailside tool and how to use it?
I can't believe nobody got this gimme. You see, the knucklehead you bought your bike from thought he "fixed" the starter button by reversing the back plate. While this did in fact prevent the switch from moving, it also introduces a large as* hole for all sorts of things to enter your non-potted switch.
In my case, who knew that a single flower pedal could snorkel through the gapping hole.
Yes, a.single.pedal can apparently prevent one of three major things from occurring on an internal combustion engine. And how exciting a bike that won't turn over could be in the middle of a 100 mile stretch of desert.
If you were an old MOPAR dude, you would just whip out your screw driver, and dead short the starter relay. As this is the closest point to the battery, it is an excellent place to start chasing the electron flow...that is before you find that.single.pedal. You did remember the cardinal rule, that everything you pack has two purposes right?
I want to give a big shout out to the only Powersport dealer in town.
Even though it turned out to be an easy peasy fix, it was comforting to noodle through the issue with another brain. Certainly, made fast work of the issue.
On a side note, he also does recovery services. He said on a normal year he rescues 10-12 Big Adventure bikes from Bunny hill Apparently, we are heading out that way. This year, he has done over 30! I was wondering if the Utah BDR might be the reason so many more big bikes?
No really Blaster, that first step is going to hurt..
Since we bury the rest of the bodies here, let's name it!
The trees are already getting some fall color. Nice accents against the Aspens
If you were going to name this road, what is the first word you think? Castle Rock it is
This sign should be Oregon to Oklahoma.
What do you suppose the ground speed of this storm might be? What do you suppose the ground speed of a WR might be?
Great Western Trail
No shortage of rock markers!
Under the interstate we will go
You could be anything, but are you a cow in a sandstone hole up to your hocks grazing?
Caution: what goes up to 11,000 feet,
must also come down
Shaffer trail is more iconic, but this is nifty! Where's Blaster?
Gas in Kanosh
Gas in Richfield
We depart Ely this AM. We decide to book east on the slab to catch the nearest trailhead, as our diversion to hotel last night was about 20 miles off the trail.
Nonetheless, we find this cherry sign, so we should be good
I am weird as I find solace and beauty in the desert. Surrounded by mountains...and until they did this
Western Rednecks are far more ingenious. Remember those games when you were a kid guessing how many gumballs were in a jar? How many antlers does this entrance have?
We found the missing half to the more popular Yosemite's Half Dome
Today, was the time fore seconds. For the second time in my life, I have ridden a bike down a runway. The only reason we knew it was runway was because it was a really, really wide dirt road with a wind sock. We then left to go 60 miles across the Great Basin. And for the second time across the Great Basin, we chased (were chased?) by a lightning storm. But the road was excellent gravel, and we made some excellent time which was welcomed given the big mileage we were facing today. At least it's nice a chilly!
But the plains give way to this sandstone gem
Before 1300, we ended up on an ATV trail into Kanosh. Again, good footing but a bit curvy
As there is no formal restaurant in Kanosh, the old man at the Gas station indicates he has some frozen pizzas for sale. Blaster wants more, so we push on. However, Richfield in 60 miles in our future. So we end up eating trail grope. I am not sure how this is any fancier, and we have scorned a gift. Last time I scorned a gift, it was Jevovah's Witness trying to give me literature at a gas station. A few hours later, I nearly caught the bike on fire as the rear brake seized up. The time before that, @EOD3MC didn't give the woman $20 for a hotel room at a gas station, and from then on his bike was vexed. Really, NEVER EVER scorn the requests on the road.
One of the few vehicles we pass on the trail all day. This guy hops out and picks up a dead squirrel off the road, then puts it in the passenger floor board. I admit the squirrel was big enough for a meal, but still not seeing it.
We pass a bunch of these flowers. They are pretty as they dance in the wind
I think the flowers inspired this video
And this AWESOME Christmas gift
But remember that rain storm earlier? We'll our little outing is about to get really rough. If it wasn't bad enough, it will take us about 1 hour to get off to a bigger trail. You see this trail has recently been graded, so it's really soft. Soft like it will soak up all the 10 rain drops and make sticky mud.
However, unlike the 2012 excursion on sticky mud, we now have high fender bikes. Blaster jumps onto a cow trail to get some traction, meanwhile, I lollygag walking/falling over/and watching him ride my bike. Nonetheless, our lessons in sticky mud have been well learned, and soon enough we make town. Having chased longing cows off the trail for the last few days, I am really hankering for a good stake.
into Ely, NV
So, day 6 we will affectionately be known as our first Zero day. A day where nothing should get done not ridden. Except Blaster is convinced he is the pit crew. The bikes are fueled, exoskeleton of dust is high pressure washer off, the new drive chains are ready for their first adjustments.
Gas in Battle Mountain and Eureka
Today we were estastic to get to ride a few parts of the pony express
This mine was giagantic. Looks like an emp went off. Notice the stridations of color from the unwanted ore.
Not your typical commute sign
Who knew Eureka was a little mining town stuck in time
And the track to date. Not too shabby. Should be over the NV border tomorrow.
Would you like your ruts with a side of moondust alkaline?
The really nifty part of this route, is that If you don't like somethibg, don't worry it's no longer than 10 or 20 miles...
We dip in and out of canyons
The clouds dance around the summits
Compared to the bloody hot summer Maryland had in '16, Nevada has been chill.
Theme of the day is hill climb.......long hard day today!
Well, we made Winnemucca tonight. If Nevada is going to make us work hard for our wheeties, then I am riding 20 miles out of my way for a change comfy bed with chilly a.c. We should be in Nevada for the next 3 days give or take. I have to say you know you are in the wild west, when you jump off the two track to take the "smoother" cow trail option.
If the hot tub doesn't melt me, a proper ride report later.
Daily Mileage 234
Gas in McDermitt
No Gas in Denio (Confirmed with locals in Fields and sign outside of Fields said 82 miles to next gas)
If I had to say one thing, I think most of today's ride was a text book example "how not to make a trail system" For the most part, all the hill climbs went straight up the face of the hill with no switch backs, when traversing hills you just rode off camber. The GoPro flattens all terrain. And yet this pic still has vertical ascent to it. Yikes!
And apparently what we think of as moondust, would be more accurately referred to as Alkaline.
I rode through my first dirt devil, whilst Blaster conquered the tumbleweed blockades
Does this tumbleweed make my BMW butt look big?
But, we are now remote enough that the animals even wonder if we are lost. Look at those BIG ears on that mule deer. She could probably hear a mouse fart at 1 mile away.
Baby cows are so excitable. I think they are practicing to jump over the moon!
This wild horse herd probably numbered 80 head. They looked very healthy with nice round barrels and shiny coats. And very sound looking. Certainly there is a whole lot of desert out here, and I wish that the ranchers could make peace and save some land for the horses. I am so tired of hearing how the wild horses are "abusing" the desert, yet we free-lease public land by the thousand acres to for-profit ranchers.
No reason to think you could get lost and die in the desert...
The sage bushes give way to some magnificent buttes
When it's 80F out, dunking your boots to feel out the unknown water XCings isn't so bad
And I swear some of these valleys you could see for 100 miles across! I guess atleast we know where this trail will take us.