This is the first major trip I've done and the first ride report as well so bear with me! I'm traveling from Kerrville, Texas to Denver to visit a friend, followed by a run up to Missoula, Montana to be with a person who is very dear to me. The route will take me through Rocky Mountain National Park, central Wyoming to Jackson and the Grand Tetons Park, followed by Yellowstone, Cody, and Beartooth Pass. From there the plan is to go west into Montana and up the Bitterroot Valley to Missoula. Thanks to all who gave me route suggestions on the Rockies forum.
Life has allowed me to rediscover my love for riding and exploring. In January I found a used 98 GS and started riding again, slowly upgrading the bike and getting a feel for both the ride and reliability. My intentions were to do a few small trips to areas like Big Bend - shakedown cruises to test the bike and settle on gear and packing. For various reasons my plans did not work out and I find the year slipping away. A window of opportunity opened for me to go to Montana and I decided to go for it.
The plan was to leave Monday June 25 and head north to Amarillo, so Friday I changed oil, prepped and washed the bike and took a short ride. Bike ran great as always. Saturday I spent the day repacking gear and getting the bike loaded. At 5 pm I decided to test ride the bike and take some pics of it. Slung a leg over, pressed the starter and cranked. No start! I continued for a bit, then pulled the plug caps to test for spark and nada, zip, zilch! Greatttttt! Just before I leave on the biggest trip of my life and the bike fails! Oh well, the blessing is that it died in my driveway and not in the middle of nowhere. There is definitely a God and he definitely smiled on me :)
Symptoms seemed to indicate the Hall Sensor, but now the trip was on hold. Rhine West in San Antonio was open on Monday so I was there at 8 am sharp with the bike on the trailer and a sad story. Hank had pity on me and had the bike running by 9:30. Awesome! It was a bad Hall Sensor and luckily they had one in stock. Hank had worked on my bike before and is absolutely a great guy. I highly recommend Rhine West if you're in the San Antonio area.
While Hank was fixing the beast, I decided to see if I could somehow get a set of Ohlins for the bike before I hit the serious mountain roads in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. The bike is not unsafe, it's just that the stock shocks are at their max... I had intended to replace them with Ohlins this summer but hadn't had time so I decided to do the trip with the stockers. After feeling how maxed out the shocks were when loaded I decided to try to get a set last minute
I spoke with a couple of dealers on the phone and turnaround time was several weeks. Dan at Kyle Racing gave me a great price, bent over backwards on getting shocks put together for me and is FedExing them ahead of me to Denver... all in three days! Awesome!! If all goes as planned I'll install them in Denver before heading north.
The beast in pre - launch mode:
All the gear for the trip:
Tools and Parts
Day 1: Kerrville to Amarillo
Having lost a day, the weather was turning crappy and the forecast was for storms the whole week from Texas to Colorado. Greatttt! I left in rain and heavy mist in a combination of fear and excitement - excitement for the ride, cautiousness about the handling and fears about the reliability of the bike (especially after the hall sensor failure!)
I-10 from Kerrville to Junction was wet and rainy, but slowly cleared to light mist and overcast skies. I got into the groove of the handling on the loaded bike and settled into a steady but somewhat busy ride. Gassing up in Junction, the bike attracted a guy who told me he used to ride dual sports and loved to ride Big Bend. We wished each other well and I headed on to Eden where the mist finally let up and the skies began to clear. The little town of Paint Rock was interesting and just north I saw a sign pointing to "Indian Heiroglyphics" but didn't want to lose road time - next time I'll stop
. Approaching Ballinger there was a gigantic steel cross appearing over the landscape. From the road it looked to be 20 stories high (pure guess) and I was traveling too fast to take the side road that headed off towards it. Nearing Sweetwater I passed through a huge field of massive wind generators that went from horizon to horizon. Quite an impressive sight to see. When I refueled in Sweetwater the clerk told me there were several hundred now and still building more.
By now the weather had gotten hot and I was wishing for the mist I rode in earlier
I saw only three other motorcycles on the ride, each one waving as they passed on the opposite side - one was a V-Strom packed with gear and looking "adventurous".
The wind generators still popped up in clusters across the flat plains between Sweetwater and Lubbock, especially visible on the red dirt mesas nearing Lubbock.
I had planned on refueling and eating in Lubbock, but I-27 from Hwy 87 north had no gas stations or restaurants and I finally found a Fina station in New Deal. The somewhat grubby looking station had a small restaurant in it with absolutely great food and motherly attention! It's a great little place to eat.
From New Deal to Amarillo was flat slab with only the winds, heat, blue sky and white clouds to accompany me. I was feeling good and decided to get gas in Amarillo, stretch and then push on to Clayton, New Mexico for the night. I decided to check the weather and found the Texas Visitors Bureau which had free WiFi. As I was asking the attendant about travel to Clayton, a weather alert came on warning of severe storms north of Amarillo to the Clayton area. I decided to find a room and avoid the massive storm. I was glad I did because it hit with high winds and horizontal rain.
Sorry for the long post and since there ain't much to see but flat, I didn't take many pics. But I will as the landscape gets more interesting
Wish me luck, say a prayer for my safety and we'll see what tomorrow brings!
Total miles today: 497
Total bugs killed: 13,837 +/-