3 Started, 1 Finished - MABDR September 2018

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by erburtt, Feb 15, 2019.

  1. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    Finally getting around to writing something up for this ride I took in late September of this past season. Primary goal is to make all the guys who didn't come with us jealous. I decided after a trans lab trip with a group of 5 the previous summer that I wanted to do another, longer, more off-road focused trip. The MABDR was newly posted on the BDR site, and one end of it an easy ~500 km's from home (Napanee, Ontario). I researched it a bunch and figured a week (9 days) would be ample time to complete it with contingency time, and some time to take it easy and enjoy.

    Only 2 of the 5 guys who we rode with last year were able to pry themselves out of their wives or kids grasp for this trip, so we would be a group of 3.

    First is Kale, a buddy of mine from highschool. He now lives in Ottawa, but we get out for a couple rides each season, he got into riding through his Dad and has a V-Strom 650. Here's Kale with his bike the day we left for Labrador the summer before.

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    Second is Dave, I met Dave first through my boss at work, Dave sells me architectural block for commercial construction, Dave is a fellow crossfitter, and unbennounced to Kale, our trip was supposed to include some Crossfit stops along the way whenever we passed through a big enough town. Dave rides a R1200GSA and loads it with enough gear to support a small town. Here's Dave with firewood for the whole night somewhere on the coast of Newfoundland.

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    Finally there's me, I'm Evan, I ride a F800GSA and spend most of my time defending my bikes adventure touring qualifications to the large group of R1200GS's I generally ride with. I'm a Structural Engineer graduate/Project Manager in the Commercial Construction industry in Eastern Ontario. Here's me looking forward to a nice day of riding through the rain.

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    We're all working professionals, so we had to start the planning and vacation time requests somewhat early. This made it a bit of a gamble weather wise. We picked the last week of September hoping that the colours would be in full swing, I really knew nothing about the weather patterns down along this route, so it was more or less just be prepared for rain and hope it doesn't happen.
    #1
  2. BuiltnotBought

    BuiltnotBought Perpetual Project

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2011
    Oddometer:
    459
    Location:
    Ontario
    More please :)

    Fellow F800GS rider from down near London Ont.
    #2
  3. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    Day one started on a positive note with full sun and a expected high of 23 degrees (celcius). Dave and I planned to meet at my place as he was travelling East from the GTA. Kale was going to ride south and meet us at the Border crossing. Typical Kale was late and resulted in Dave and I waiting at the duty free for about an hour. My scotch collection starts to look more and more like it needs to be added to as I wander around killing time. No extra room for that though I tell myself.

    Dave and the bikes hanging out, a bit chilly still but sky's look great.
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    We didn't really have a set plan on where we'd stay each night, the plan was to ride as far as we could and find a camping spot around ~6 pm each night stopping for food either at a restaurant along the way or grabbing some groceries for the camp fire. We all had full camping gear and could be self sufficient for a comfortable 2 days unsupported, more if food was rationed if need be. We would be riding the trail North to South, so once Kale joined us, we crossed the border and hit the slab for Lawrenceville PA. I always find it funny how little the border crossing agents care about motorcycles, all I had to say was I'm doing a bike trip, camping, and back in roughly a week and I was through. No questions about reservations anywhere, or asking to see in my gear, its common for them to tell me to keep my helmet on when I present my passport too.

    The first hour on the highway was spent trying to get the headsets we all had to connect, mine and Daves (Scala Rider G9's) would both connect, and Kale's (Cardo Pactalk) would come in and out seemingly at random. I have little patience for tech equipment not working, and the headsets available right now are the definition of poor user interface and usability. I was down to only my music and hand signals to the other bikes for the rest of the trip when Daves battery died and the power plug pulled of the unit when he went to charge it.

    The slab riding took us until roughly 3 pm, I was navigating for the group with the GPX file displayed on my iphone (with data off) using the Pocket Earth Map. It lets me download the entire US offline so zoomed in it'll have all the road names and lots of detail. No stores or POI's shown on it though, so once we reached Lawrenceville, it was clear we'd have to backtrack to the last town to get some groceries and beers for the night. A quick stop at a Walmart back in Corning NY resulted in plenty of food options and some of the cheapest beer I'd seen in a long time, lucky we had top backtrack because I find it really difficult to track down anywhere to buy beer in PA. Back on the trail it was only a few km's before we hit our first dirt. We had been itching for this all day, so things were fast and tail happy around corners. It was mainly farm roads with lots of stops and turns, about 5 km's into the first forest we entered it was getting dark so I tried my luck going up a little logging path. Cleared and with all the wood still piled there this was perfect. Generally I'm confident off road, so I get sent to investigate trails and stuff first, I also camp with a backpacking cot, so exposed bedrock means nothing to me in my tent. I didn't hear complaints from the other guys though so I guess it was all good. The first night was cool, but the fire was big and lots of beers were had.

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    With further inspection in the damp foggy morning, we were just outside a high fence area, I guess for keeping deer out? or in? there was a one way gate in it as well. Things were misty and a bit chilly that morning, but no rain, I was nervous about my phone battery dieing, no gps on when we were stopped for the night, so I can't look up the coordinates, but we were about 2/3rds the way through section 9.
    #3
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  4. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    Following my iphone as a gps, with no turn by turn directions was a bit annoying at first, but the app I was using let me zoom all the way in, and follow my position, with my heading as the map direction. Missed turns were few and far between. Day 2 was a chilly start, with damp roads, but I think it was just from the fog, no rain actually fell the night before. We all set off by about 8 am with heated grips on high excited for the first full day on the trail. The forest in section 8 & 9 felt like a west coast rainforest. Moss everywhere and so green and damp. The roads were slow and windy, a mix between hardpack gravel and poor asphalt. We didn't stop much until the first POI on the gpx file. IMG_1814.JPG

    Great view out into the valley, capturing the topography responsible for the switchabcks and constant ups & downs we were traversing. This little campground was all but deserted, and the small loops made it confusing when Dave set off in the wrong direction and we tried to track him down.

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    #4
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  5. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    The route was hard packed and very fast through the rest of section 9 and into 8. We were going around switchbacks thinking they were tight and frequent but had no idea what was to come. Since Dave and I both have GSA's, the fuel stops were dictated by Kale, it must have been just because we were following the route, but it felt like we rarely came across any real civilization, and when we did, it was locally owned. no large chains or creature comforts out there

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    America! first gun related sighting, and the last actually. Guess this is how the locals keep themselves entertained. We actually see this out in the boonies in Canada too.

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    Dave wanted some action shots, but we thought it was a video hense the blurry takeoff with heavy acceleration. By 10 am the day had warmed and the roads were dry, the light mist kept them moist enough to keep the dust at bay. Something we were all happy about after the dusty trip we had last year on the Trans-Lab.
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  6. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    We were making great time and were about halfway through section 8 by 11 am when the trail bit its first victim. I actually saw it happen in my mirror, Kale had been following a bit close, and I think this decreasing radius corner caught him off guard. A trailside fix last year had rendered his ABS useless, so a handful of front brake ended in a lowside with the front end sweeping out on him. Always unnerving seeing someone go down in your rearview mirror, but he was on his feet instantly. You can see the slide marks in the gravel and Daves tire marks weaving around to avoid him.

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    Crash bars did their job and kept the plastics and tank untouched

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    The real victim was the (cheap) stock suzuki side case, it looked to be broken open, but with a bit of gorilla tape and heavy handed smacks, we got it to close and stay put. The rear bag frame was also tweaked slightly, and it looked to be partly because a bolt had vibrated loose before. It was long gone, so some heavy pulling and zip ties got it back into position and solid enough to continue.

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    Kale was a bit shaken, but unhurt, and perfectly fine with continuing. I think the most scratched part was his ego. All in all, only a 20 minute or so slowdown. As we continued we came across a road closure, a quick survey of the site found us a way around. I was a bit irritated this was all closed and locked with no signs for a detour. I guess our way around was done by others on the route too, which ended in the construction workers getting pretty angry. We didn't encounter anyone though and didn't damage anything so I don't feel bad.

    #6
  7. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    As we neared the end of section 8 we came across the first "expert section" Kale and Dave elected to take the longer route around but I decided to give it a go and meet them at the junction. Things started out fine, it was a somewhat tight road with 2 tire ruts, mostly grass with dirt in each rut. There was way more rocks than the normal trail, and they bounced me around quite a bit. The wet grass in the middle kept me going slowly. As it continued though the dirt turned to mud and things got harder and harder to keep in control. I run Shinko 705's and have never had excellent luck in the mud, its probably my least favorite riding medium second only to sand maybe. Soon enough the inevitable happened.

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    I'd get it upright and end up dropping it in the other direction as I lost my footing. All drops were intially a result of losing the back end sideways either into a rut or out of one. Every time I'd try to move to the drier side of the trail it would catch me and pull me down.

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    A very sweaty ordeal that got my deadlifting quota in for the week. I'm lucky to have the health and ability to spend some real time training in the gym, so lifting the bike was never a real issue. Finding a good footing was always an issue, and when the bike decided to nap uphill meant some dragging it by the crash bars to a better spot to lift from. This kind of mud and terrain made it very difficult to pull backwards back down a slope. I know I was taking a while, but I also knew I was the only one with the GPX file and was in charge of the navigation, so the others had no choice but to wait for me. After my last drop I decided to just pick a side rut and stay in it, no more trying to avoid mud puddles or standing water. This technique worked and I got out with no further drama. Ended up making them wait a full extra 30 minutes! When we met up finally I had to strip all my layers down due to being so sweaty.

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    #7
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  8. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    We hit the end of section 8 in Harleton where we fueled up and tried to decide on a plan of action for the evening. It was relatively early still, so we went off track up the road to Mifflinburg PA to grab some food and hopefully beers. We ended up eating at an actual restaurant, who were nice enough to sell us a 12 pack of beers as well. I know you pretty much can't buy alcohol anywhere but at a liquor depot in PA, and this being a Sunday had me thinking our options were slim to none. We were back riding by 5:30 and still had a couple hours of daylight, so we decided to just keep riding and see what we come across for camping options.

    We entered the revered "Bald Eagle State Forest" knowing it had some of the more technical riding but didn't really know what to expect. Once you pass through a little campground in Po Paddy State Park things get hairy on a rock covered hill. I rode up first with Kale tight behind me, it was a 1st gear all the way hill for me, just point and shoot instead of trying to dodge rocks. I winced every one I hit worried I was going to pop a tire or dent my stock GSA rims. Kale has cast wheels but I have no idea what was going through his head. We didn't slow or stop until reaching the first switchback where things leveled out. That's when we realized we were alone. We waited a good 5 minutes listening for the sound of Daves bike before starting to walk down the hill. It felt a lot longer on foot, and even though we yelled out and would stop to listen, couldn't hear a single yell back or bike noise. As we descended, looking out over the sharp drop off on one side every couple meters, our yells were finally answered, and we found Dave at the bottom at the first turn with his bike on its side, him standing beside it. I guess the forest just absorbed all the noise. He had dropped it and wasn't able to pick it up himself. Once we got it upright, he requested it be rode up for him and he'd walk, so I jumped on and re-did the hill. I found the 1200GSA very planted and had more low end tractor like power. Again just point and shoot, no avoiding obstacles here. A rogue stearing input could send you off the side and it was not a small drop off. We set off again, and Dave was able to do the next steep part on his own. Another sweaty ordeal. We reached the Penn's view lookout, and seeing signs others had camped here before decided it would be a great place to spend the night.

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    There was just enough deadfall for a decent fire, and we had a second great night of camping with little to no traffic passing by.

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    #8
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  9. BaldKnob

    BaldKnob I Wanna Ride

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,822
    Location:
    SENC
    In! but have a sneaky suspicion that this ends in a hurricane named Florence.
    #9
  10. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    Day 3 started with an overcast sky. I was up by 7 am and joined by the others soon after. Not as much mist as the morning before, but enough to make it somewhat gloomy. Breakfast was instant coffee (starbucks via) and oatmeal for me. my jetboil is invaluable to me. We set out at a reasonable pace not really knowing what to expect. Weather checks the day before on Wifi gave us mixed signals, but not enough concern to don my full rain gear. I had my first close dear encounter of the trip as we exited a more populated area. No heavy braking needed, but I made sure to honk and try to alert the guys behind me. As we continued along the route it was clear the fog was getting thicker. As we'd ascend via switchbacks we'd get more and more limited visibility. descending out of the clouds was always a relief. Moisture would build up on my shield but we weren't going fast enough to clear it. The roads were still hardpack gravel and relatively fast. A lot more elevation change though than the day before. By 11 am the route turned to more road focused as we got close to the end of section 7. The rain had fully started, so we stopped and put on full rain gear. It was an okay temperature, but the light rain made visibility quite difficult. My Bell MX-9 Adventure really fogged up badly inside, and when I'd open the shield a crack to vent better my glasses would get peppered with raindrops. It wasn't uncommon for someone to stop to adjust something, or because I missed a turn and they noticed, so when I looked in my rearview mirror and saw no one, I wasn't particularly concerned. Coming up on a scene like this though makes your heart stop.

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    There was debris thrown everywhere, and a thoroughly torn up yard. It was very clear quickly that this would be the end of the trip for Kale. The best feeling however is seeing him standing comfortably beside such destruction, no injuries or complaints of pain. We tried to make him sit and rest while we gathered the pieces and figured out what to do, but he wouldn't have it. We slowly assessed the scene and tried to make sense of what happened. Handlebars were bent, windscreen, crash bars, and luggage torn off, and lots of other unknown damage. The bike also had a check engine light on, we didn't bother trying to start it.

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    Pretty ironic sign in the persons front yard, only one person was home and was sleeping after a night shift, so it took a while for them to answer the door and let us use their phone to call a tow truck.

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    #10
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  11. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    As far as we could tell, the slight hill and curve on the road caused Kale to lose the back end, an over correction and target fixation (probably not wanting to hit the pole or box culvert) made him clam up and go off the road down the ditch.

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    It looks like (from the grass divits and skid plate packed with dirt and grass) that upon exiting the road, Kale bottomed out and went airborn, when he landed (who says V-stroms cant jump?) he lost it and high sided, the bike flipped and skidded out into the driveway, where he was or where he left the bike I have no idea. All I know is that he managed to miss a hydro pole, concrete box culvert hidden in the ditch, and the metal lawn ornaments. Extremely lucky. In good spirits, but I think that's the adrenaline speaking.

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    A police cruiser pulled up eventually (apparently you have to call them no matter what if there's an incident here), they got called by the tow company. The youngest constable I've ever seen got out, he couldn't have been older than 19 and I think we intimidated him a bit as he really just took our lead on how to handle things, seemed very awkward. He checked Kale's info and made sure no alcohol was involved and waited with us until the tow truck arrived and loaded up. Kale got in with the tow truck and we followed behind to their yard in Carlisle PA.

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    #11
  12. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    Dave and I had lots to do with carting Kale and his gear to the motel we found for the night, so not much time to reflect on the matter. Dave went for a beer run while Kale waited at the tow yard to finish processing his paperwork and give payment. The drive from the crash site to the yard was approximately 15 minutes and ended up costing $200 USD! Needless to say, the motel room Kale and I shared was on me that night. As things wound down, I left Kale to contact his girlfriend and tracked down a crossfit in town. I get pretty anxious if I can't workout, and this days ordeal wasn't helping. Two Roads Crossfit in Carlisle PA welcomed me in for a WOD, and let me buy a T-Shirt instead of
    paying a drop in fee. Win-Win

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    We ate dinner at a nearby diner, highly recommended by the somewhat odd woman working the hotel front desk. The menu was 15 + pages long (always a red flag) but the food was good. I don't find the food in this part of the country particularly interesting or good. A lot of fried food, and usually everything accompanied by fries. We usually ask what they recommend and for something local, but generally we found the servers didn't care and had nothing interesting to say or recommend.

    Over dinner Dave finally addressed the days events and said that while he was shaken up, he was okay to continue with me. Kale would stay in Carlisle, and his girlfriend was going to leave Ottawa first thing the next morning driving his truck down to pick him and the bike up. We had somewhat of an early night and I enjoyed showering and getting a real bed after 2 nights in a tent and 3 sweaty days. Not wanting to alert Kale's family to the crash before he had the chance to, social media posting was kept to a minimum.
    #12
  13. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    Day 4 started with rain rain and more rain. It was a bit daunting, but at least we were able to get ready in the motel, and not have to pack up wet gear. Getting all the gear on inside and sealed up is key. I wear my regular riding clothes with Arcteryx Gore-Tex shells overtop. I have never found "waterproof" riding gear to work very well, and even with a waterproof liner, the saturated outer layer gets uncomfortable and heavy. The real worry was my face shield and being able to navigate though. My iphone is a 6s, so not fully waterproof, and the GPS app and screen being lit up full time means I need the power cable plugged in the whole time. I tried to rig up a system of plastic bags that sort of worked, but resulted in a lot of condensation. This video shows some of the rain we rode through from Daves point of view



    Section 5 felt like 100% asphalt, and to be honest I didn't enjoy it that much. It was long, and a missed turn that took us down the scenic route to Harpers Ferry meant it was longer than it needed to be. Dave and I pushed on with nothing but a quick fuel stop for most of the day, the rain never letting up. We stopped for a late lunch in Shepherdstown WV. A wet wooden bridge crossing caught Dave by surprise and he lowsided, nothing broken or injured so we carried on. As we rode I could tell Dave had partially lost his nerve, I was slowing more and more to let him keep up. He agreed that the crash yesterday, and his lowslide today had shaken him a bit and he wasn't feeling that confident. The rain started to break late in the day, and let us start to dry out. We met the first couple of riders on the trail that we had an opportunity to actually talk to, they were riding South to North and warned of numerous water crossings in our future. They said the low bridge crossing was fully flooded and would require riding to paw-paw to cross in another spot. Our second detour of the trip was a result of this:

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    It was quick going around it though and we were back on our way, we had been seeing high water in all the rivers and ditches up to this point so we knew it was going to be inevitable at some point. Hurricane Florence had hit the week before. We arrived at the Oldtown Toll bridge to find that it indeed was flooded out, we decided to detour slightly north to Cumberland, and then slab ride south to pick the trail back up. It was starting to get dark, so we pushed to Romney WV where we decided a hotel would be good for another night as we were thoroughly soaked. Outside the hotel I tried to take some glamour shots for Instagram. I always try and give a shout out to the gyms that welcome me in for a drop in class and give me stickers for my bike. They let us park under the overhang too, which gave a great spot for some security and chain maintenance. We weren't that hungry, so dinner was some trail mix and a random bagged salad from the nearby grocery store. We went to sleep with our boots clipped over the A/C unit, hoping they'd be dry by the morning and not stink up the room too much.

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    #13
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  14. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    Day 5 started with... dry boots! The hotel A/C trick had worked. We were a short way from re-joining the trail, and had only missed probably 20 kms total of it. We entered again at the midpoint of section 4. When we left the hotel it was fairly sunny and the views in the West Virginia hills were fantastic. It was still mainly asphalt riding, but much more interesting than the day before with tight switchbacks through the state forests. The leaves on the road kept the pace somewhat slow through all the tight corners. Lots of picture opportunities but we were having too good of a time riding. Only stopped for the essential shots.

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    The forecast had warned of heavy rain coming, but we managed to make it all morning before seeing any at all. This section had 7 or so water crossings, most were harmless and looked like this:



    Neither of us had much trouble with these. Dave seemed better on his bike through them than me, he just powered through while I felt the front wheel get pulled around a lot with the current and the underwater rocks. Definitely not my favorite riding though. The trail here was great however, lots of tight forest riding through switchback after switchback. Really the only traffic we saw was hunting trucks and the occasional group of bikes. The largest, and what we thought was the last water crossing did not go as smoothly as the others, this one was quite a bit bigger and deeper than the others. I went through first and got stuck in a hole, I managed to get out on my own with some heavy throttle and wet feet. I pointed out the bad spot and told Dave to avoid it, of course he ended up in it too, but with a different result:



    You might be able to hear me yelling at home to "shut the engine off" but he stumbled away and fell into the water. We don't know what ended up killing the engine, if it was a tip over sensor or water, but we had to try starting it to get it out. When I tried the starter it chugged a bit but came to life. Good I thought, as I rode it out for him. Being pretty far from any help and not wanting to backtrack through the same river we decided to push on and try to see how things went. The bike ran fine and sounded normal, so I figured we were good to go. I took off again, and like the previous day found myself alone on the trail again. I turned around and returned, Dave had made it about 2 kms before his oil light came on. He had turned the bike off immediately after seeing it and waited for me to return. A quick look at the sight glass confirmed what killed the engine in the river. Chocolate milk had replaced the oil!

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    We had zero cell reception and no idea where the nearest town would be, we didn't want to split up either, so we elected to ride slowly, Dave could get a couple km's before his oil light would come back on, so he'd stop and wait for it to cool before proceeding. I rode ahead searching for a town, and would backtrack to let him know the progress. I know these bikes are made to survive incidents like this, but this seemed like an excessive amount of water in the crankcase. We really had no choice but to continue. A tow truck probably wouldn't make it through the river crossings, and I wasn't keen on dumping his oil on the side of the road. A phone call to his mechanic nephew confirmed to Dave he needed to stop riding and change that oil ASAP. Running the engine was NOT recommended. Finally after what felt like hours I managed to find a small one horse town, the only store, an extremely dated post office/general store confirmed there was a garage just 2 miles away. I returned to Dave and we decided to make a (slow) run for it.
    #14
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  15. Oldschoolrocker

    Oldschoolrocker a.k.a. EZE Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2017
    Oddometer:
    3,116
    Location:
    Reardan, WA
    Man o man...harsch trip so far. Supposed to be fun. Cant wait for the rest. Cheers!
    #15
  16. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    The harder the going gets the fonder the memories will be! Things seem bad in the moment but it’s always the adventures with stories like this that I look back on with great excitement
    #16
  17. Oldschoolrocker

    Oldschoolrocker a.k.a. EZE Supporter

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    472E1A7B-5C94-4A6F-A69C-888ECC1D8D78.jpeg And I agree with you 100%!! Keep it coming!
    #17
  18. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    We managed to make it to the garage, crazy how long 2 miles feels like when you think the engine is a ticking time bomb. We also accidentally went down a driveway to a chicken farm, which ended with numerous "No Trespassing" signs, knowing we were in the land of legal concealed carry we high tailed it out of there. By no means was it a modern looking facility, but they had plenty of oil in stock and some time to help us out. They weren't familiar with BMW bikes, so Dave had to use their computer to look up all the correct specs

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    When the oil was dumped and looked like this we decided a sacrificial fill and second dump would probably be helpful.



    Some down time while we waited for the oil to drain, refill then drain again meant it was an opportunity to check the map, have some snacks, admire the mud on my bike, and pet the shop dogs. Talking to the mechanics gave us some incite into the type of folk down here, they definitely like their guns, and fishing, a couple of them had actually been on a fishing trip to Ontario, and knew where we were from. Nice people, but a bit prickly when we used metric measurements. I didn't dare mention politics or any other polarizing topics even though I was curious.

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    As we looked at the map I figured out how to get back on the trail. Dave was sort of pushing for a slab ride to the next city for the night, but I wasn't phased. This setback was just part of the adventure and I wanted to be able to say I finished the whole route. It looked like we only missed 2 miles or so of it, and a nearby forest access road would get us back on track, hopefully now with the water crossings all behind us. When Daves bike was done (for the second oil change) they let us know that while the filter fit, it wasn't the spec'd type, so there could be an issue with it. I figured it would hold up fine. Dave went to pay and was a bit shocked at the $120 USD they charged, I guess the double oil change added up, still, you would have thought this small shop in the sticks would be cheaper. Oh well, the cost of an accident I suppose. We set off with rain gear on as I could see some coming on the radar.

    As I crested the first hill on the forest access road I once again found myself alone. I walked back down and found Dave with his bike on his side again, skidded out on some damp grass, this time with a fog light dangling from its wires. He let me know he was done for the day, he'd lost his off-roading nerve and was going to hit the highway. I made the call that I was going to continue the trail alone, despite my engineering brain telling me that's a bad bad idea. We agreed to meet in Covington VA, easily reached by highway and the start of section 3 (or end for the direction we were riding). I told Dave to not worry if I didn't arrive until late (or at all) I had food and gear to survive a couple days alone if needed. We split ways, me nervous but excited for the adventure on the trail to continue.
    #18
    SuperChuck, snglfin, tjzondrz and 2 others like this.
  19. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    As I started back on the trail things felt quiet and alone, you're hyper aware of every stick or pointy rock you ride over, praying that I wouldn't get a flat. Things get vastly more difficult and complicated when trying to fix things in the middle of nowhere alone. When we were stopped at the garage I had found a slash in my rear tire sidewall, I figured it was from an underwater rock in a river crossing and my heavy handed throttle work to get out. I don't know how thick the sidewall on a 705 is, but it had me worried.

    Riding through the forest I started to feel raindrops within about 10 minutes. Very quickly this turned into heavy heavy rainfall, turning the surface of the switchback road very slick as the fine sediments were getting washed along. Approaching right hand sharp corner, with a very steep ~ 50 ft drop into the forest off the left side, I realized I was going too fast for the conditions. The clay top layer was very very slippery and a light touch of the brakes resulted in my ABS kicking in. I knew the shoulder was more gravelly and would give me more grip, so I tried to steer over towards it while maintaining a safe buffer from the edge. As i got closer and closer to the corner still with too much speed, I put the bike down on its side, sliding about a meter before stopping just hanging off the side. I tumbled off but was unhurt. My bike was laying parallel with the road, wheels just off the edge, any attempt to pick it up from that position would slide it down the hill. I resorted to dragging it by the crash bars back onto the road, struggling greatly to get a good foot hold on the still slippery road surface. Finally I had it in a position to pick it up and inspect. It was a slow get off, so no damage to the bike, maybe one more scratch than before on my pannier and crash bar. Only damage was to my gore-tex shell, with a few razor cuts on the arm from tumbling off.

    I continued, not really phased, but still very aware of how alone I was. As I exited the forest the sky's opened up for the second time, this time with thunder and heavy crosswinds to boot. The next section was a pea gravel mountain road, which with all the rain was riddled with deep ruts parallel to the trail. Wanting to get past the storm, and get through this without drama, I opened the throttle and stood up. It was the right call as the speed powered me through the ruts and kept me moving in the right direction. The rain was heavy enough that it was flowing off my visor instead of misting and gathering. The only difficult part was gauging the depth of each rut as they were all filled with sediment rich water. This section was extremely repetitive, it felt like I was in a loop of riding the same uphill - left switchback - downhill - slight right corner - uphill again over and over again. Everything looked the same, I probably spent a solid 1.5 hours riding that.

    The rest of the day was spent in and out of the forests, this was by far the most "real" off-road encountered on the route so far, too bad it was all done alone. Not wanting to stop or unearth my phone from my waterproof pocket to check kept me guessing as to when i'd arrive at a town, I would intermittently check it to make sure I was on the right path and try to memorize the next couple of turns. It felt like I was out there forever and was concerned that even though Dave knew where I was and that I was equipped to survive he would still be concerned. It took me until about 7:30 pm, dark in the forest but not bad out in the open, until I arrived in Covington. I went to the first McDonalds I could find to jump on the WiFi and get a status update from Dave. He ended up being right across the street and had booked a hotel room. I was definitely happy to roll into a dry room with a cold beer handed to me on arrival. Dave confirmed fairly quickly that he was done for this trip. He was going to ride to a BMW dealer the next morning, get a proper oil change, then ride home on the highway. He was worried about his bike and the oil filter on it, and had lost his nerve with off-road stuff. We had a last dinner together that night in town, I did my best to lay out all my gear in an attempt to dry it out for my final push the next day on section 1 & 2.
    #19
  20. erburtt

    erburtt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario
    The next morning was pouring rain, no signs of slowing down or stopping. I had breakfast with Dave at the hotel and I set out by by 8:30 in damp gear but with better waterproofing on my phone for navigation. I was going to try and get through section 1 & 2 all in that day. Doable I figured based on my pace the day before when I was alone. The riding was really much of the same, rocky switchbacks with very steep descents into the valley below off the side. I tried not to think about what i might do if I accidentally went over the edge, I figured best case I could ride through the forest and try to rejoin he road when it dipped back down, it wasn't super thick with brush. The real concern still was my tires, I hadn't lost any pressure, but I didn't have any tire irons with me now that Dave was gone. I'd be in for a long walk if something happened. Every jarring bump over a sharp rock had me paranoid.

    I didn't bother stopping for food until nearly 2 pm, just rode and rode, the rain eventually let up and some faster bits helped me dry out. The route had turned to asphalt in section 1 and took me through some bigger towns so I stopped at a McDonalds to grab some coffee and consider my plans for the night. The end was only 60 kms away or so, and now that I was alone I was finding it hard to decide where to stop and what to do for the night. I didn't want the route to end and for me to just return to normal civilization. I stopped in Damascus for the obligatory finishing pictures, pulling into the abandoned parking lot that my GPX track ended at. It was a pretty anticlimactic ending. I was happy to have finished it, and there was some pride with being the only one from the group to do it, but I was feeling pretty alone and anxious over where I'd try to stay that night.

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    I knew I'd be riding Interstate 81 most of the way home, so I decided to just head there and start driving north. I set a solid pace at maybe 75 mph and just kept on trucking. It's amazing how much more gas my bike used on the highway at that speed than on the trail. I felt like I was getting incredible mileage when off-roading and probably averaged 4.2 l/100 km. Out on the highway though fully loaded that went up to 5.8 l/100 km. I stopped at a sheets to get some gas (holy hell Americans have nice gas stations!), and set my sights on Salem VA as a place to find a hotel at for the night. I pulled in to a motel 6 a little before dark, and grabbed some food at the Walmart for the night, this was the nicest motel of the trip so far, and best price too. I guess getting off the beaten track has its costs. A guy stopped me in the parking lot and said "Holy hell I can't believe you're here!" and shook my hand, I was a bit confused until he explained that I had passed them on the highway earlier, he didn't know "dirtbikes" could go that fast, I guess I was exceeding the speed limit a bit, something normal for us up in Canada, I explained the type of bike, and the trip I was on. I checked in with Dave over the WiFi, he'd made it to a BMW dealer and was in a motel off 81 as well, if I'd ridden an hour further I would have caught up.
    #20