I wanted to do some of the TAT. My lack of off-road ability drove me to search for someone who is doing the TAT and looking for riding partner. I have never ridden with anyone other than on day trips so it will be interesting to see how I ride with others. I wonder how good of a riding partner I will be. I dont ride particularly well, and I am not a great mechanic. Really the only thing I bring to the table is my stunning good looks. The Plan: Hitch mount my bike to my 4runner. Ride out from Raleigh, NC to meet StevieG in Tyrone, Okla, and Motor1 somewhere in Colorado. Ride the TAT to somewhere in Nevada. Then go on my own to ride on the Pony Express trail to Provo, then cut through Dinosaur monument and on to the CDT. Ride the CDT down to New Mexico and slab it back to my car in Tyrone. This would be a sort of west sampler tour. The Artlocks Western Sampler Loop. Has a nice ring to it. Ominous Signs ignored: I am riding a WR250R. It has a known issue with the chain sawing into the underside of the swing arm where you can't see it. I checked mine, and sure enough the chain had eaten through the chain slider and put a very small nick in the swing arm. I put on a new slider. I thought about sparing the slider too but decided against it. The first one lasted 8000 miles and I was already bringing too much. I do a full practice load of the bike then ride about 50 feet out of the driveway and it quits. It won't start again. What's going on? The bike has always run great and now it dies a few days before my trip? I push it to the garage. I start it a few minutes later and it starts fine. The next day I ride it again and make it to the first stop sign where it quits again. But this time it starts right away. I had not ridden the bike in the last 6 weeks so maybe the gas was old. I fill the tank with fresh gas and add fuel injector cleaner. I start the bike and ride it a little bit every day before the trip just to be safe. It always starts fine and never quit again. When the bike failed to restart that first time, I never listened to see if the fuel pump was priming. Ride Out: I leave early in the morning and make it from Raleigh, NC to Conway, AR. I stay with ADVer's Tinks and Scoon66 whom I found on the tent space thread. They are great hosts. They treated me to a hotdog and we spent the evening talking bikes. They had a bulletin board in the spare room where other visiting Advriders left notes. I see I am following in the footsteps of two local North Carolina legends, Truckin Thumper and Tarheel Wheeler. I begin to question my worthyness and my spelling too. I leave early for Okla. Holy Moly it is 102 degrees in Ok! Day 1 False Start We start out to a beautiful sunrise. Where is the picture? I am asking myself the same thing. One of several photo ops I missed. There is a deep sandy section right where we are starting out. Many a bike has gone down here. Probably some of you have been rescued here by the nice man in this photo. Or taken a picture of his mailbox. The other nice fellow on the right is none other than Motor1. Steve decided to bypass the sand since this is where he crashed and broke his ankle the year before. I didn't argue. I haven't seen much sand before and didn't want my first mile to be through deep sand on a heavily loaded and underpowered bike. We make it about 25 miles and I notice liquid leaking on the ground below Steve's bike. I tell him I think his camelback is leaking, but it is actually gas from the carb overflow vent. We are thinking the carb is crudded up from sitting around for a year. We try to clean it up on the trail but it still leaks. In the meantime a man and woman on two very heavily loaded Teneres stop by. We talk a bit. They just went through the sand that I chickened out on. Dang. I guess you can spell my name with a capital P. Site of 1st breakdown We decide I will ride into Guymon 20 miles away and bring back some carb cleaner. I get to town and buy the carb cleaner. I get on the bike and turn the key. It doesn't start and I don't hear the fuel pump prime. Now both bikes are down. I call Steve with the bad news. I am now in paranoid mode and think my fuel pump has failed. I contact a dealer in Trinidad, CO to see if they can fix it. I think about putting the bike on the hitch and hauling it up there. All kinds of scenarios are playing out in my head. In the meantime Steve has flagged someone down and is heading into town. Since I will be waiting here awhile, I unload everything and pull the seat and tank. Under the tank I notice the electrical connector to the fuel pump is not fully connected. This is not the kind of connector that just comes loose. I must not have connected it securely when I last had the tank off. I push the connector in and never had a starting problem again. The guy who gave Steve a ride into town offers to trailer the KLR to the ranch where we started from. Steve takes him up on the offer. In the shop at the ranch he eventually gets the KLR purring like a kitten but it is late in the day so we decide to start again in the morning. Day 2 The Real Deal (Tyrone to Trinidad) We try it again. Today it is about 62 degrees. What a difference. I was really enjoying the wide treeless nothingness of OKlahoma. At the same time I was glad I only had to ride through one day of it. On to New Mexico. This was in that old garage. Who knows what kind of creature lives down there. It was completely dark. Oddly enough I felt a strong pull to go down there and look, but my P factor kicked in just in time. . I did my first camping in Trinidad. I stayed at the South Trinidad lake campground. Looks like there could be bears here. I camped on just my cot. I used a bivy over the sleeping bag to keep the wind out. I wanted to avoid setting up the tent. During the night I heard some rustling and sniffing right in my face. I waited until it went away before I investigated. There was nothing there but I noticed my sleeping bag was all wet on the outside. I thought maybe I got pissed on by a bear. But it didnt taste, I mean smell, well you know what I mean, like pee. Actually my breath had nowhere to go and just condensed on the inside of the bivy. The night was cold and the bivy did keep me warm. Note to self: make vent holes in bivy. DAY 3 Trinidad to Salida Steve runs over a big fencing staple and gets a flat. Of course it is where there is no shade. Whats up with that!? The only shade available is from the massively packed WR. Ha!, my packing job isn't so dumb now. I met Rick (Motor1) in Salida. He picked up a stray WR250R rider (Zack) thinking he was me. We ended up splitting a hotel room 3 ways. Rick said he and Zack were doing Hancock Pass tomorrow. I heard Hancock was very challenging and thought about bypassing it. But I folded under the peer pressure and decided to do it. DAY 4 Salida to Lake City P1030994 Today Hancock Pass is on the menu. Steve had the good sense to take the bypass around Hancock. I heard Hancock was a challenge, but little did I know. And this was the easy way up! Rick Stevens, making a mess out of Hancock Pass! At the top. I made it up unscathed but if there was any justice in this world I would have crashed 3 or 4 times. That was one long uphill rock garden. My arms were so pumped I could barely hang on. That poor loaded little WR was bogging down even in 1st gear. . Back down. You can see where it goes way off in the distance. Day 5 Lake City to Monticello This is the start of an incredible day of riding the Colorado Passes. Its all eye candy today. In my short riding career I think this was the best day of riding I ever had. On to California Pass. Where we came from Where we're going Top of California Pass On to Ophir Pass The TAT is getting civilized. Leaving the mountains. Another Raleigh homeboy way out in Monticello, UT. Day 6 Monticello to Moab Porterhouse transducers on the road. Moab camping by the river The plan tomorrow was to ride the White Rim Trail. I dumped most of my stuff so the bike will be unloaded for the ride. We all had dinner at the Moab Brewpub where I had a really good burger. Afterwards I rode through town to my campsite. I was feeling good thinking about riding the WRT on an unloaded WR. Life is wonderful! As I head out to the campsite I noticed the bike bobbing up and down ever so slightly. I thought it was just the road. Then the road turned smooth but the bike was still bobbing. Maybe a tire is low on air. I pulled over and checked the air. It was fine. For some reason I checked around the front sprocket. The brand new slider was already worn through and the chain was sawing into my swing arm. I have only ridden 1,000 miles on it but who knows when the slider actually went south. It may have been like this for a long time. Now I am thinking my 17 planned riding days may be over after only 5 days. Life sucks! Day 7 Today (Friday) I went to Moab Powersports looking for options. I know there is a snowballs chance in hell of finding a WR chain slider but I was hoping for at least an aftermarket one. I thought going up to a 14T front sprocket might help too. I couldnt find any chain sliders or sprockets for a WR in MOAB. Rocky Mtn ATV was 4 hours away but they didnt have a slider either. Because of the weekend, it looked like I couldnt get going again until Tuesday or Wednesday. That was too many days to lose with my limited time. Even with new parts there was no guarantee it wont just happen again a couple hundred miles down the road. Moab is one of the mountain biking mecca's of the world, but I cant do that due to recent hip surgery. I really didnt want to wait around, I wondered if there was a limit to how much the chain could cut the swing arm. I was willing to sacrifice the swing arm if it meant I could finish the trip. But I just didnt know, and I didnt want to get stranded in the middle of nowhere. Rick offered to trailer my bike to my car in Tyrone, OK for little more than gas money. He was leaving right now so I had to make a quick decision. It was a hard decision to make but I took Ricks generous offer and ended my trip. I spent the next few days second guessing myself and beating myself up for not being more resourceful. Heading home StevieG sends his regards. Rick Stevens, making a mess out of Silverton. I think he was just trying to cheer me up. It worked. WR250R Chain Investigation 9-24-11 The Facts: 1) bike was lowered with factory adustment (about 3/4 inch) just before this trip. 2) My chain was not in good shape. It was not stretched and was tight against the rear sproket. This led me to believe the chain was still good. The shop at Moab told me it was bad. The links did not move smoothly, like maybe the o-rings were shot. 3) I started with a new chain slider. At the end of the trip it had 1000 miles on it. 4) Chain was set looser than factory because I was aware of this problem on WRs. 5) My previous chain slider was worn through too but I only had a nick on the swingarm. The bike had 8000 miles. I thought a new one would last me another 8000 miles. This picture shows the damage. There are 4 grooves caused by the chain's inner and outer plates. It looks like the chain cut until the rollers came into contact with the swingarm. At this point I suspect the chain rollers would have kept the chain from cutting much more. I wonder when it started looking like this. The damage may have been done in the first couple 100 miles then went hundreds of miles more with no additional damage. New/old chain slider I moved the wheel through it's full range of motion. The chain got no closer than this. I stretched the chain so the tension is on the bottom. I moved the wheel through it's full range of motion. The chain got closer but was still more than 1/2 inch away. Conclusion: Hell if I know! From what I can simulate, it looks like it was impossible for the chain to cut like that when the bike was under mormal motion (chain tension at the top). The only possibilty is if the the chain on the bottom (no tension) is slapping underneath. Under engine breaking (chain tension at the bottom), the chain can be tight against the chain slider. But the other end of the slider kept the chain from forcefully touching the part of the slider that wore down. I am sure the force on the chain during engine breaking is much more than I can simulate. Whatever is causing it, I can't reproduce it with the bike on a stand. This leaves me uneasy. If it is engine breaking, it doesn't matter (within reason) what the chain tension is. It will always be tight on the bottom. Is the solution to not use engine breaking? Could the bad chain have caused it? Maybe since it was kinky it was more saw-like than a good chain. I bought bigger sprokets (14/50) and an x-ring chain. I will try riding and avoiding all engine breaking and see if there is any chain slider wear. Then I will ride using a lot engine breaking and check the wear, Other than that I don't know what to do. I am thinking there are a lot of people riding who had this problem and solved it. Lessons Learned: Dont pack so much stuff! Yeah, every ride report says that. I guess good advice is useless if nobody listens. I almost bought bigger side bags but I didnt because I knew I would bring even more stuff. Tool kit was too heavy. I can eliminate some tools. I even brought a torque wrench so I can torque that 90 ft-lb rear sprocket. Bring phone numbers of inmates who are experienced with your bike. It is good to have another brain to pick. Gear review: 1. AFX dual sport helmet I bought the newly redesigned AFX dual sport helmet for this trip. Last year I tried one on and thought it was a piece of junk. This year's redesigned one is much better. I think it was around $139 shipped. At first I had trouble getting my glasses stems between my head and ears with the helmet on. I discovered if I rolled the helmet around on my head a little, I could fit my glasses stems. This is my first dual sport helmet so I can't compare it with others, but I am happy with this purchase. 2. Kanetsu electric bib ($67 from Aerostitch) I got this because it is rated at only 30 watts. I wanted something I could use with my DR650. The DR has an anemic stator. With a polypropylyne shirt underneath and a snug shirt over it I could really feel the warmth. It packs small and lightweight. Afterthoughts: As for riding with others, my first experience was a positive one overall. I will ride with others again, especially if the terrain is difficult. That said, I am still basically a solo rider. I thought it was harder to camp when others are hotelling it. Mainly because of the time it takes to find a camp site, then set up and breakdown camp. Perhaps I was premature in ending my trip. But I didn't know what was causing my problem. Looks like I will have to wait until next September to complete the first ever Artlocks Loop. But by that time someone else will have done it and gave it their own name. I think Zach made it to the Pacific. Maybe as he gazed at the ocean he remembered me and thought Now who was that old geezer I rode with again?