Seattle to Argentina on a KLR650

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by OZYMANDIAS, May 7, 2006.

  1. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

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  2. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan aka SkiddMark ;^)

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    Ten years went by fast.
  3. NoobYorker

    NoobYorker n00b

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    Wow. Just came across this thread and I'm more or less speechless. I was interested in buying a KLR650 after several bikeless years now that my kids are a bit older. I'm in my late 30's now and I thought it might be wise to have a preemptive mid-life crisis in the form of a multi-country motorcycle trip. I think this ride report and Clayton's book has come close to curing me of that inclination. I've taken the Motorcyle safety course like most people, but Clayton's history resonates with me in a way that brings home what is truly being placed at risk when throwing a leg over a motorcycle. Having read this ride report I'll either not ride again, or ride with a very different perspective towards safety.

    I think what makes Clayton's Ride Report so powerful for those of us who never met him is that we see in Clayton a kindred spirit, and the best of ourselves, only more-so. I have a sense of adventure, but he was more adventurous than I. I am bright, but he was more intelligent than I. I am ambitious, but he was more so; not just attending law school, but also planning a Phd.

    He was a better man than I, and I wish the universe had been more kind to him. He was a kindred spirit and I wish I could have known him, or have helped him, or something...
  4. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

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    @NoobYorker,

    "only the good die young"

    Might as well ride.

    Just don't rely on the msf class as a prep for safe riding. It takes a lot more than that. Know your capabilities on your bike, be able to stop within your sight, and expect dangers like assassins in a video game. Get some dirt riding in before much road riding, practice sliding, spinning, panic stops, wheelieing over stuff, etc. And of course be lucky, as with everything.
    Max Wedge likes this.
  5. bross

    bross Where we riding to?

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    Life is dangerous
    Life is dangerous, if we stopped doing things because something *might* happen well, there's no point leaving the house, or staying in the house for that matter. I followed Clayton's story from the beginning and while a tragedy, personally that's not a good reason to give up something you love. Scroll back to the top of this page and see a link to another riders story after a horrific crash. Same start but very different ending.

    Motorcycling has brought so much into our lives (my wife's and my own) that we'll both be riding until we physically can't anymore, and at that point I'll just take the Ural. Besides, it's impossible to NOT have a good day when you look over...

    [​IMG]

    Riding isn't for everyone, and if you're not comfortable with the risks, then you are right, probably not the best hobby to pursue. For a lot of us the rewards far outweigh the risks.
  6. dirtdreamer50

    dirtdreamer50 long time rider

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  7. Dracula

    Dracula breathe

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    What gets a man on a bike is testosterone and dreams. What keeps a man alive on a bike is first and foremost great instincts, and a hell of allot of common sense, the latter is usually acquired after surviving several near death calls.
    JaxObsessed likes this.
  8. dirtdreamer50

    dirtdreamer50 long time rider

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    Amen to that...

    FWIW, the RR I posted was written by a lady rider. She's tougher than I, and much, much younger, too.
  9. Dracula

    Dracula breathe

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    Youth is the perfect time when we are drawn to our destiny. If we get old, we think are smarter. But we're just slower.
  10. MisterShandy

    MisterShandy Been here awhile

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    It's been five years since I read this, but it affected me powerfully.
  11. oneway

    oneway Long timer

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    I remember this story and how it affected me also. Clayton was a special guy. If you want a wake up call read his book.
  12. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

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    One thing I've discovered over the decades is that one man's "surviving several near death calls" is another man's routine ride. :dunno Sorrry.

    And that common sense has more to do with how an individual processes experiences rather than the sheer magnitude of experiences.

    When it comes to riding, instinct is gained from experience, which is precisely what I was counseling the man with doubts to develop, hence the advantage of practice.
    So the practice is first and foremost; instincts follow.
    Sometimes to get old, we have to be smarter! Smarter when we're young, that is.

    So then using this meaning of smart, "8. having or showing quick intelligence or ready mental capability: a smart student.", it's evident that human beings are smartest as young children and there's some rate of decline over the years. But then there's wisdom, "1. having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion." which increases with age in most humans due to amassed experiences smartly processed.

    Slower is a result of a combination of deterioration of neurological system motor capabiltiy and conscious effort as a result of being wiser.

    To paraphrase a story an old friend once told me (RIP Chuck):
    ;)

    @dirtdreamer50 Thanks for the report reccommendation; it's now on my list to check out. Should be interesting. Nicely styled bike. This girl is practically a neighbor, too.

    @oneway Do you have a link to Clayton's book? Or Title and full Author's name would do. Thanks.
  13. oneway

    oneway Long timer

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    Clayton Schwartz two arms and a head.

    I have a few things in common with Clayton:
    I ride a KLR, I was in an accident that fractured my T5 and T6 and I'm lucky to be alive, luckier still to be walking, and luckiest of all still riding. His story speaks to a lot of people. He was deeply insightful and very intelligent (no similarity there). You'll figure that out immediately.
    SkizzMan and ONandOFF like this.
  14. oneway

    oneway Long timer

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  15. hardroadking

    hardroadking Been here awhile

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    I feel indebted to Clayton for sharing his story. It has many different layers worth exploring. His story has protected me many times when riding in “open range” areas of the western U.S.


    Understanding risk is important and different areas have different risks associated with them. My first take-away from Claytons story many years ago was the risk of animal collision and how to increase my odds of survivability and damage control. Clayton has added to the body of knowledge to use extra caution when people, dogs, and donkeys are noticed on the side of the roads. When traveling at 40mph, better to have miscalculated, and then hit the “object” because you slowed down to 20mph than to have miscalculated, hitting the object by speeding up to 60mph.


    We can predict, based on past experience, that 99% of the time, a donkey on the side of the road or a kid or a drunk will not suddenly dart out in front of us while riding south of the border. What we cannot predict is when that other 1% will happen.


    I’m guessing that Clayton, like myself, have/had little or no experience around Donkeys in a setting other than a petting zoo. Extrapolating the observed behavior of a domesticated animal in a fenced in environment is not helpful for the situation Clayton found himself. I also had the same lack of experience with cows. I had preconceived notions on how they would react when I came upon them on my motorcycle and I was wrong.


    I’ve learned from more experienced riders (and memories of Clayton) how to ride the Open Range narrow and isolated dirt roads. If there is tall grass, trees, shrubs or large boulders within 15 feet of the edges of the road, there is potential for an unexpected large cow to suddenly be right in front of me. I ride slower now when that space along the sides of the road is not visibly open and empty . Instead of donkeys, out west the big, slow, statuesque animals on or at the side of the road are cows. I would estimate half the time they just stand there looking docile or dumb or however you choose to interpret their behavior or they show some minor physical movement and agitation. The other half of the time, they make a concerted effort to vacate the area but they don’t all go the same way and at any time they may make a change in direction that makes no sense, if as we think, they are trying to avoid us or put distance between us. They are quicker than they look. I’ve had occasions where they are lying in the shade of a tree, unseen right next to the side of the road and they suddenly jump up and step into the road as I am coming by. Frequently when approaching a group of cows, one will decide to “escape” by running down the narrow dirt road in the same direction I am traveling. Eventually it will stop or veer off the road into the brush but it may take awhile. It is best not to pass them when they are running even though they are slowing you down. I cringe at videos showing bikers zipping past cows on their bikes in this particular scenario. I’ve seen cows in this scenario suddenly veer left or right and if you were passing at that moment you’d be knocked off your bike. From experience, the only thing predictable about a scared cow is that their choice of course is unpredictable. Unless you are a donkey expert, I’d assume they are the same…and best to apply that same assumption to dogs and people along the side of the road.


    Deer, Antelope and Elk are a different story. Unless you have very good eyes and have trained yourself to be looking for them, the ones close enough to be a collision threat will be noticed so late there will be little you can do to effect the outcome. I’m not a hunter so I tend not to see these animals that blend in so well to their environment. I pretty much just accept this risk during the daytime and I try to be off the road at dawn, twilight and night time.


    Like many off road riders I get enjoyment out of pushing the limits of my skills and the bike’s capabilities. I just have to be careful to only ride this way when the other potential risks are not present. The balance of how we divide up the attention potential we have is constantly changing due to the constantly changing environment we ride in. All the different risk elements get a piece of that attention pie but some of the biggest pieces go to appreciation for the beauty of a scene, or shutting off all the “noise/distractions” to revel in some peaceful Zen moments. We all need to decide how we balance the size of the slices of that attention pie. Hopefully, through our experiences and those shared by others, like Clayton, we will not miss the awareness of a particular risk or how important it is at each moment.
    ONandOFF likes this.
  16. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan aka SkiddMark ;^)

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    "I suppose my advice for the living might just be: Live! And when it is time to die, die!" - Clayton Schwartz

    Like many inmates I carry Clayton with me when I ride, especially in Mexico. After the tenth anniversay of the start of his adventure I found myself thinking about him once again - about the whole question of living life fully while
    managing
    risk. During my May Mexico ride I asked myself the question: how many of the days remaining to me would I exchange for how I am living my life right now? I could only answer 'all of them'. That's not to convey wreckless
    disregard for life or a cavalier attitude towards risk or mortality but to simply acknowledge that I have only so much control over any of those things and trading quality of life for the illusion of having greater control than I actually
    do is something I must reject.

    So what is it of Clayton that I carry with me? It is his only expressed regret of getting caught up in the adventure and not practicing sound judgement with regard to road conditions. No telling how much grief Clayton has spared us
    by sharing his account the way he did.
    DittyBag likes this.
  17. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

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    Yep. Getting caught up in the adventure is akin to reveling in Zen moments while riding. I don't have extras cpu cycles for anything when riding. 100% is dedicated to the task. The whole pie. That doesn't mean i can't get nailed but my chances increase if i let other things into my thoughts. We all need to get caught up in Zen moments, catch amazing views, etc., I just have to stop to do it. And sometimes i have to remind myself of that.

    When the bear popped out in front of me in the forest at about 80 mph, i maneuvered around it. It was a complex series of events involving braking, throttling, and sliding in dirt but i didn't think about it, i just reacted. It wasn't until well down the road that i realized it was a close call and could have ended badly. But that's where instincts developed from practicing come to the rescue. Not that they're infallible at all, thus risk. But exchanging freedom (to ride) for safety (cage, walk) yields neither. When it's our time, we are called home.
    DittyBag and TonyKZ1 like this.
  18. 10 Man

    10 Man Long timer

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    woke up this morning thinking about this thread ....it was my introduction to ADV rider :cry
    RIP Clayton
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  19. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

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    excruciatingly painful. Clayton's journey.
  20. dirtdreamer50

    dirtdreamer50 long time rider

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    It's a shame that things can't go as planned in our lives, but seems somehow they normally don't. A couple of seconds either way, and Clayton's RR would have probably had a great ending, with wonderful tales to tell, but it just wasn't to be. I'm sure we all come close every time we ride, but sadly, he came closer than he expected and it cost him everything. This RR should be a learning event for all who read it and ride. I know it has been for me. tp dd50