A dirty blonde's first time, a solo loop out of the comfort of south bay LA

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by PeterKaa, Oct 29, 2015.

  1. PeterKaa

    PeterKaa Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2015
    Oddometer:
    399
    Location:
    Copenhagen
    How's that for a title to get your attention?

    Any feedback and/or questions are welcome :-)

    Intro:
    I’m Peter, from Denmark, I’m young and stupid.
    Work sent me to LA for 6 months, I bought myself a ’09 990ADV with my sights set on some weekend rides and then this "big" ride.
    !Spoiler alert! I made it back to LA last Thursday in one piece..

    Disclaimer:
    My first dirt bike in 10 years, old(!) sport bikes since I was 18, a short stint with MX bikes in my teens and some sheep herding on an XR in Australia about 9 years ago.
    My first motorcycle trip, a lot of issues I encountered could and should have been avoided, I know!
    My first encounter with navigation on roads that aren't; paved or maintained and do not have signs everywhere.
    My first encounter with anything as deserted and remote as this, I’m European after all.
    Units are all mixed up, have the bike dash in proper metric and the GPS in gibberish (imperial), will try to translate. Except for temperatures, the Fahrenheit scale is ridiculous and it is not worth using.
    The RR is made up of bits of "diary" I wrote each night, why it might seem I have more sense of drama than the great Ewan himself - I expect to get hired whenever they do LWU ;-)
    This will be a whole lot of pictures of bike and landscape, few of me and other stuff - solo trip remember.

    Goal:
    Go ride a lot of dirt in some remote places, see some national parks and ride all the way to Moab - have fun on the way :-)
    I didn't quite work out like this though, but that was part of the adventure - easy statement to make as I'm typing this having a fancy coffee...
    Until the RR is completed, one can sneak into my instagram profile @PeterKaa for some snapshots.

    Day 1, LA to Valley of fire, state park NV:

    360 miles of horrible I-15. Blasted through - boring in a, well let's admit it, not very safe way.

    Got out of LA a few hours later than I would have liked to, cleared traffic and stopped in Upland to check air pressure in my tires, which was way off.

    The big girl in all her glory, all loaded up and ready to get dirty:
    BHBS3503.jpg

    I must say the 990 is a beast, able to do just eat up freeways for days on end at 80 mph if that is what you desire.

    Things got pretty hot when I rode through the desert phew, actually boiled of some coolant when parking to fuel in Barstow, I think it was. Was initially a bit worried about this, was thinking it could be a bad water pump overhaul (by me) or air in the coolant.

    I tented in the dark in Valley of Fire, cooked up some camp food on my small burner, had a scotch and looked at a clear night sky.
    Having no idea where I had camped really, looking forward to the next day which should involve some more exciting riding.

    Day 2, Valley of Fire to Toroweap via Mesquite.

    200 miles, about 190 miles dirt.

    Headed out of valley of fire at 8:30, even though I got up early, getting coffee, a small breakfast and packing stuff just took time.

    Camp ground in VOF:
    GOPR0961.JPG

    I rode the Valley of Fire HWY to Mesquite:

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    Nice road/area if you are heading east beyond Vegas and need a stop in that area it is not the worst option.

    I stopped in Mesquite for fuel, food and water. Full Rotopax/tank, lot's of water, full stomach (second breakfast - Hobbit style).
    Ready to head out on @wbbnm s GPX track that should take me on dirt roads up and out of the desert at Mt. Bangs and to Mt. Trumbull wilderness where I would eventually hit the "School House crossing".

    But first I realise that I have completely forgotten to bring the spare tubes that I had prepared at home, so out to find a set in Mesquite, went relatively easy but the time is 10:30 before I head out of town.

    Yes, on dirt! on the first part of the road I meet up with a grader preparing the road. I thought to myself that a bit more challenging road would have been nice. Soon after I take this back.
    To get over the first pass, I'm taken on an unmaintained Jeep trial. The bike is full of gear and fuel, it is heavy and I'm struggling - really big rocks, steep climb switchbacks and ruts.
    I drop the bike soon after on a downward slope and I'm simply unable to get it up, it must have been 35 deg C and everything smells like the fuel that's pouring out of the bike.

    I get the bike up only after having unloaded it, this sucks:
    GOPR0987.JPG

    Next 12 miles, same kind of road :-( this was tough - had another small get off but was able to get the bike up quickly.

    Then things started to improve:
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    Reached the summit and things started to cool down and I could enjoy the ride:
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    Even did a selfie while coasting down the switchbacks:
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    Continued on this road down, amazing! Had a blast! finally this is ADV-riding I thought; mountains and road that is not killing me, life is good :-)


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    Hit the plateau and roads were even nicer :-)
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    The track took me through a few forks in the road (backroad navigation is not that easy, who'd have thought?) and led through a few gates, nothing major though and again @wbbnm s tracks were spot on.



    Then I hit some really though road along a dry riverbed, felt like the GPS was playing a cruel game of "road or riverbed" with me. I don't have any pictures of this unfortunately, but speeds were significantly lower here I tell you..

    Since must have lost about 10 litres of fuel in the sand of that first get off, the fuel light came on about 12 miles before Trumbull school house, however I didn't know how far the school house crossroad was, I was quite quite shocked and actually I almost had another get off just after, bottomed out the front in a ditch that crossed through some dried out mud. Maybe a bit panicked by the fuel situation and clearly fatigued - I just did not see that ditch.
    Decided to continue on the trail since the GPS told me that was the closest way to civilisation, fuel and water, I had not met a single person since heading out of Mesquite that morning.

    In case you are wondering how deserted the "Arizona strip" and Mt. Trumbull is, you can read the first few lines on this page: http://www.summitpost.org/mount-trumbull/154115

    Just after the school house crossing I met some Jeepers, I have never been so happy to see a lifted Wrangler in my life.
    The Jeepers were part of a larger group that were headed from Toroweap to Bar10 ranch to spend the night. I was told there was fuel at Bar10 and headed South at the school house, the Jeepers radioed ahead and let the rest of the group know I was coming.

    I get fuel (7 usd/gallon! beggars can't be choosers) at Bar10 and chat a bit with the Jeepers, a really nice bunch who ride EXCs when not Jeeping.
    Unfortunately no pictures or names - I'm a terrible person.
    They guide me the way back and highly recommend Toroweap, off course I make a wrong turn, hit a sh*itty road and fall of again.

    Soon though, I'm back at the school house and at the Mt. Trumbull road T-intersection, where it is either South to Toroweap or North to Fredonia.

    South for a glorious view or North for civilisation and fuel:
    [​IMG]

    I'm a bit torn here whether I can make it to Toroweap in daylight or if I should just head North.

    I decide to head South to the lookout, imelapse, try HD:


    At the Tuweep Ranger St. The ranger was very helpful and explains that there is a reservation only camp ground available at the Toroweap lookout, and that it is all mine after a bit of paper work, "..I'd take that deal.. - GOOD DEAL!"
    Well actually he has to convince me what a good deal it is, since I have no clue, but I sure am glad he did.
    He warns me about a rocky climb on the last part of the road to the lookout, but not about the deep sand that almost launched me over the handlebars, but it's all good :-)

    How is this for a place to stay for the night?


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    Based on the direction of the shadow, this must be the next morning, but you get the idea :-)

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    I hike about 1,5km to the Toroweap lookout to see the sun set.
    3 retired gentlemen are also having a scotch and I join their conversation of general BS :-)

    They offer me a ride back to the camp site in their car, we all forget about the tailgate on their Land Cruiser and the bumpy trail back makes sure we loose about half of their stuff on the way, good laugh :-D

    Day 3, Toroweap to North Rim via Kanab.

    220 Miles
    Around 180 Miles dirt.

    Had a cup of coffee at my awesome campsite.
    [​IMG]

    I hiked to the lookout to take a few pictures and enjoy the amazing view once more:


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    Another shot of the awesome campsite:

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    To get up to the road from the camp site I carried my stuff up to the road and had one of the guys from last night, help spot me over some rocky steps, went fine with surprisingly no drama at all - it really does wonders to unload the bike.

    The road from Toroweap to Tuweep offered a bit of excitement; deep sand and some steps to descend that I didn't recognize from the day before, I must have not realised it racing to see the sunset. Met two fully loaded KLRs on that road, which were the first ADV and bikes I had seen so far, I thought I would have seen a lot already, but it turns out that the American west is a pretty big place.

    From Tuweep to Fredonia the Mt. Tullub Rd. is in very good condition, it is about 60 miles long I'd say, but it is all 50-60 mph stuff.
    It was very tempting to go fast and I'm a weak man..

    The "hiway" Tuweep to Fredonia:


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    Video, stupid music included:



    And suddenly "civilisation" and a rock formation, I think it is called pipe springs.
    [​IMG]

    I rode the extra 10 minutes from Fredonia up to Kanab (UT) as it is a bigger city, to get a burger, coffee, food, water and fuel. It was burning hot (33 deg) when I was loading the bike outside the grocery store, the locals did give me a friendly smile, with a look of either pity, "What's this f'ing idiot doing" or both :-)

    After some GPS misunderstandings I figured out that I have to go back South a few miles to Fredonia (AZ) make a left and then go on "Ryan Rd." (22) South in to the Kanab Wilderness (a very suitable name btw.). The road was paved for the first 10 miles or so and the turns in to well maintained dirt. My trail took me of 22 soon after and west through a valley with a very decent road as well:

    Rd. 22, the brightest of you will see the shadows in the video and think; "What the hell, this dumbass is going east."



    I had not yet understood that my Garmin would recalculate my route to the GPX track if it was not precisely where it thought the track was, I did not notice this while riding, so often at a fork in the road it would suggest some alternate route on pavement. It took me a lot of going back and forth before I figured it out, hence the video of me going East.
    I probably wasted a good 1,5 hrs with this... 90 minutes that would have been very useful later that day.

    The switchbacks take me up and in to the wilderness, the roads and scenery here is really amazing and it takes some whoopsie moments to shake of the 990s rally feel and face the brutal reality of a loaded ADV-bike.

    The gpx file is taking me to @wbbnm s “secret lookout”, I doubt that it is secret, but I cannot remember what it is called. Kanab creek maybe?

    Roads look like this:

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    Quite near the lookout I encounter a very steep, rutted out descent. Not really keen on turning around here, since I'm very close to the lookout..
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    Kickstand down, note awesome flag on dash.
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    Yeah it does not look bad, but the picture is not really representative. Walked all the way down the hill to find a good line and kick some rocks out of the way.
    [​IMG]

    I unload the bike , transfer the fuel from the rotopax in the tank (does not make any sense right now) and put my gear next to the road. Yes, I did mark the location in my GPS, it would be a pretty big disaster to loose the stuff here.

    [​IMG]

    Boom, I'm at the lookout a few minutes later, now how is that?
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    The bike made it there as well :-)
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    I head back, make the climb up the steep rocky stuff, with no drama and find my gear, great success! Sun was pretty bright at this time and I'm a pale Scandinavian, why I'm wearing a pretty awesome combo of headgear.
    [​IMG]

    So this is halfway through day 3...
    At this point it is worth mentioning @dave6253 is riding this exact same area at the same time on his 990adv.
    He seems to know where he is most of the time, has experience with riding the area and he takes way better pictures than me.
    See his RR here: http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/alone-on-the-gcbar-again.1103256/

    After returning from the lookout, I was on the road, which was somewhat all right, a bit rocky but otherwise easy, on my way to Crazy Jug Point.

    Here is some unedited video from that stretch, it's only a few minutes, the weather is nice, I have gained some altitude so it is greener and cooler.



    Yes, that is a pretty close call in the end, seems the big girl had not forgotten her rallying heritage completely, and had to be reminded that it is a fully loaded ADV bike far away from mechanics and medics.

    This is actually only my second day of riding the bike on a real knobby front, previously it had some worn out Shinko.
    Now knowing the bike/tire better, watching the video, I'm pretty sure I could have just leaned it in and grabbed a handful of throttle to save it. But hindsight is 20/20 and maybe I have forgotten how the bike feels with all the gear strapped on to it.

    Anyway I make it to Crazy Jug Point.

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    At the lookout I bumb in to two retirees in RVs were very interested and jealous of the whole ADV bike concept, made me realise how lucky I am to be able to do this sort of trip.
    I'm sure these are the guys @dave6253 refers to as "Looney Tunes" in his RR :-)
    They were nice enough and we chatted while I mounted up my axillary light on the crashbar.

    As you can see this turned out to be a pretty good idea.

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    Yes, that is a cow.
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    Headed back in to the forest onwards to North Rim, it got dark, cold and scary in those woods very fast, had not realised how much elevation I had gained though the day. 4 deg C pitch dark for 2.5 hours.

    I'll admit I was rethinking my definition lost of while riding that trail:
    Technically: Not lost, had a compass and a fully functioning GPS.
    Realistically: Clueless, I had no idea where I was, I had no idea where I was heading, I could not see a thing but forest roads criss-crossing in front of me while dodging water, mud, cows and coyotes.
    WMNBs GPX trails had been solid up until now and honestly that was pretty much what kept my spirits up. Just follow the little blue arrow and try not to hit a three, or a big rock.

    Here is an unedited video of a long ascend, it does not do the road conditions or my increasing state of panic any justice.


    It turns out @dave6253 has been nice enough to take some pictures of this road in daylight as he rode them going west, see this post: http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/alone-on-the-gcbar-again.1103256/page-5#post-28000915

    I finally see some lights after riding in what seems like forever, it is a couple in a Jeep, it turns out I'm only like a minute from HWY67 than goes south to the North Rim and North to Jakob Lake.

    Quickly pitched the tenth at Demotte camp ground, still shaken by the the ride through those woods, cooked another bag of delicious camp food on my little gas burner and killed of my last sips of scotch.

    Delicious.
    [​IMG]

    There are quite a few people at the camp site, even though it is the last night before the camp site is closed up for winter.
    At about 3:30 in the night I realise why, I'm camping at 2670m (8760f) it is quite literally freezing, there is ice inside my tent. No more sleep that night, just wait for the sun to rise.
    #1
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  2. BuffHunter

    BuffHunter Been here awhile

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    Good to see a different viewpoint on the Great West of the USA.
    #2
  3. PeterKaa

    PeterKaa Been here awhile

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    Thanks, I'm curious as to how it is different?

    I still have 9 days of notes, pictures and videos to post up. So if there's something that'd be interesting to focus on, let me know and I'll keep it in mind.
    #3
  4. BuffHunter

    BuffHunter Been here awhile

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    I'm not sure exactly how it's different, Peter, but the fact that you are new to the off-pavement game and to the American West in general comes through in a refreshing manner.
    #4
  5. RumRunner

    RumRunner Sit there, turn that

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    Liking the report so far but I'm a little biased as I too take an overloaded LC8 into spots I really shouldn't be in. :thumb

    DW
    #5
  6. PeterKaa

    PeterKaa Been here awhile

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    Added another half day of overloaded LC8 riding, hope you like it.
    #6
  7. bigdon

    bigdon Long timer

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    N
    #7
  8. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper

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    Nice adventure!
    #8
  9. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    We must have passed each other out there somewhere... Nice report. Signing up for the rest.
    #9
  10. chassr

    chassr Adventurer

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    Enjoying the report, Peter. It's nice the see that helmet put to good use. Glad to know that you made it back to SoCal in one piece. I' m looking forward to the rest of your adventure!

    Chuck
    #10
  11. boristhebold

    boristhebold Been here awhile

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    Great read, keep it coming
    #11
  12. PeterKaa

    PeterKaa Been here awhile

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    Thanks, trying my best.

    It was so crowded out there :p

    Yeah, well I mean as long as good use is not it's intended use :-) Couldn't be happier with it.

    Thanks, glad you like it, added another half day today.
    #12
  13. PeterKaa

    PeterKaa Been here awhile

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    Day 4, Demotte to Page
    110 miles, 20 dirt.

    Like I said, this day starts at about 4 in the morning by me realising how cold it is at 2650m.
    So when the sun finally rose I jumped in all my gear to try to get warm, chucked down some coffee and oats and thought about the big ride ahead of me.

    Planned to go to Jakob Lake for supplies, fuel and second breakfast, then North on "House Rock Valley rd", then from Big Water to Escalante via "Smoky Mountain rd." across the grand staircase monument.

    However, first things first.
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    Had a camp that needed to thaw, so I run around and try to arrange my stuff to keep it out of the shadows as the sun is rising, must have looked pretty stupid.

    finally 9o'clock it is side stand up and away.
    I head through the meadows on a nice smooth hwy (89a), it really is a beautiful stretch of road.

    I stop at Jakob lake, re-fuel and have to wash some mud out of the radiator.
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    Then on to Jakob Lake Inn for some very good pancakes, or maybe I'm just tired and pathetic at that point, who knows :p

    At the Inn I talk to some jeepers that have gone on some of the road I've planned that day, conditions should be good and weather forecast is good as well, so I head North-West quite optimistic :-)

    Just before heading down to House Rock, there is a lookout, so I stop.

    It's not too bad :-)

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    House Rock rd. goes between the hills to the West and the rocks to the East:
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    House Rock Rd. is very easy to ride (when dry), has some cool views and is about 20 miles long.

    Here is a small time lapse:
    "


    About half way in, my front brake lever starts to feel soft, in case you are wondering - that sucks.

    The left line and speedsensor wire has been chewed up by the knobbies:

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    I'm not too sure how this has happened, as I have not really touched the brake lines for the past 900 miles. I must have hit the line with the hose when washing the cooler, I don't know.

    At least it happens in a scenic location:
    [​IMG]


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    There is not much I can do than to keep going, so I do the last part of the dirt take Hwy 89A and head East to Page, AZ with no front brake.
    It's all right under the circumstances, it not like the roads are crowded out there...

    I ride around page, looking pretty clueless, and an older gentleman who owns a barber-shop waves me over.
    Turns out he rides a BMW 1150, but "not much" according to himself, "It's only got a 120000 miles on it". This guy is quite the character I tell you.
    Anyway I explain the situation and he calls up the town motorcycle mechanic - Limey.

    Limey's is a proper bike shop, with anything from Harleys, Brits to a Honda 3-wheeler and even a suped up FZR600 hiding in there.
    I can already sense that I am way better off than I would be at any generic Honda dealer.

    We have a look at things and start to call around to dealers, 990ADV brakes lines are not easy to come by, so we discuss quite a few alternatives - nothing good really comes up.
    I ride up to town and check in to a motel and get a much needed shower.
    Then it's touring the auto and hydraulic shops around town, no luck.

    I make a post about my situation here on ADVrider, and within a couple of hours I'm in contact with @DeepSea who has a spare line, that he will sell and mail to me as soon as possible.
    However this happens Thursday evening, so it wont show up until Monday.

    I get the bright idea that I will try to do a temporary single caliber setup (mixed up piston area ratios, lever will require a lot of force) at Limeys the next morning.
    This means that my original itinerary is toast and that I will have to take the pace down.

    "Last part is probably OK! Fatigue is kicking in, as I’m typing this I have yet to gain any feeling in my left thumb since day 2, I’ve bottomed out the front suspension more times than I can remember and haven’t slept a full night for 3 days."-Quote from diary.

    I even dropped the bike outside of Limeys shop, as I was about to leave, kickstand up, bike on the side, me looking stupid…
    #13
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  14. PeterKaa

    PeterKaa Been here awhile

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    Guys, let me know how you like the "time lapse" videos, are they a waste of effort? Is it better i just choose some good pictures from that stretch of road?

    I've edited the first post a bit and added some more videos.
    #14
  15. wilmar13

    wilmar13 Long timer

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    Time lapse is good... Music sucks though. :lol3

    Time lapse is probably better for general feel of terrain over the distance for casual observer, except for exciting sections where you were power sliding through turns and jumping water bars 1m high at 60mph ;) What is the image frequency you are using?

    I see now you have raised fender which makes more sense to me how the brake line issue happened...when you said fender didnt get torn off, i couldnt figure out how brake line got problem (I imagined rock lodging in low fender tearing it loose and breaking brake line when it happened).

    Will have to go check out your edited first post later as I am late for a little bike ride in the desert. Braaaap!
    #15
  16. chassr

    chassr Adventurer

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    I wouldn't call it a wasted effort, however I personally think photos would work as well or perhaps better.

    Good RR, Peter—looking forward to the next chapter...
    #16
  17. PeterKaa

    PeterKaa Been here awhile

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    Day 5 Page
    25 miles, 5 dirt
    So where we left off, our hero was stuck in Page (AZ) with a busted front brake, feeling tired and defeated.

    Headed straight to Limeys shop after breakfast and explained my plan:

    1. Dismantle existing setup, use the hose that goes from the master to the ABS unit to do a temporary single caliber setup - with pretty messed up piston ratios.
    2. @DeepSea from ADVrider, shipped a complete front brake line to Limey's shop, arrival Monday. Again thanks a lot Steve for getting up early and shipping this shipped out early!
    3. I'd stop by Page again and mount everything up so I have proper brakes for the long haul back to LA.

    Limey was nice enough to let me use his lift, shop and tools so I could do it myself. He is a nice guy and I am really thankful for the help he offered.
    His girl Rene was even nice enough to bring me some lunch :-)

    The big girl on the table for a quick repair:
    [​IMG]

    During the day, Limey got a hold of a guy from the local air strip, to hear if they might be able to help out with a Y-connector and some hose. He (again, I'm terrible with names) dropped by and picked up some of the old brake hose, but unfortunately no luck.
    I was really quite overwhelmed with how much effort was put in to trying to figure out a solution for my problem, the whole town must have been involved at this point :p

    I continued wrenching and by afternoon I was ready to take the big girl for a shake down ride.
    All was good considering the situation and I went out to explore what was around Page.

    Exploring what's around Page:
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    Lake Powell was created in 1959 when the dam was built and Glen canyon was flooded by the Colorado river:
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    Few cool rock formations just south-west of town:

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    I was so happy with my new brake setup that I rode the bike into lake Powell

    Stupid biker:
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    Braaaap’ed it all the way up the 250m boat launching ramp. You know to make sure the guys on the way-to-clean GS’ parked out there could feel silly about their bikes, but really I was just very excited to have the bike running again and getting on my way the next day.
    Dinner, supply shopping and then to bed.

    In many ways having the break down proved to be a relief, as the schedule I had set was just not realistic. I never got proper sleep camping and 400 miles of dirt riding (and tipping over) had just worn me out, I would never would have made it all the way to Moab (UT) on time.
    Realising this, made me much more relaxed and happy about just exploring the area around the Grand Staircase monument were I was.
    #17
    dave6253 and goodcat like this.
  18. DeepSea

    DeepSea electronically challenged

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    Hey there Peter. :wave

    Glad to hear you made it home in one piece.

    Love the pictures and story.
    Keep em coming. :lurk

    Steve
    #18
  19. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    I liked the time-lapse since I've been planning to ride that road to get to The Wave. I have been told it had really deep sand. Doesn't look like it in your time-lapse.
    #19
  20. PeterKaa

    PeterKaa Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2015
    Oddometer:
    399
    Location:
    Copenhagen
    We're talking House Rock rd. Here? Post google I kinda wish I had stopped there, but with no brakes..
    If so that stretch was easy, even fully loaded, but they had some rain about 4 days earlier, so all was firm and good.
    3 days later it was huge washouts and sticky clay.

    I have the pics to make a full timelapse of "smoky mtn. Rd." In wet conditions.
    I'll include that in the next post, with no sound so @dave6253 can scout out the road and @wilmar13 can enjoy the sights with his wierd nordic TV shows as background noise :p
    #20
    dave6253 likes this.