A Journey Across North America

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by rudy4pl, Nov 12, 2019.

  1. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    139
    [​IMG]

    Around 2 years ago I've set out on my first cross country trip on my DR. The plan was to ride south along the coast from NYC and when I couldn't go any farther, I'd ride west along the coast to Cali. I did, but it was mostly pavement, motels, fast food, visiting all national parks along the way. The little dirt/trail riding I did, I really enjoyed. All together around 15k miles over like 1.5 months.

    I've gotten the itch again, but this time I wanted to change things up. The plan is to ride the TAT, then head north and explore Alaska and on my way back home to NYC ride the TCAT starting from Vancouver east and then break off once I see NY south of me. I'm going to ride as much off-pavement as I possibly can. I'm going to camp for free 6 days and get a motel room once a week to freshen up. I won't dine in restaurants, I'll buy groceries and prepare my own food on the road. I purchased a cooler that I will refill on ice to keep my perishables cozy. I want a really rugged adventure, not no motels and fast food like last time.

    The physical preparation took a couple of months, I mainly worked on the bike long hours on weekends and had done almost everything on it to make sure that I won't face any major break downs. I've supplied on spare parts and about 1.5 months before the trip told the boss that I'm quitting as I'll be gone for about 3 months or so. It turns out that he was willing to giving me a leave of absence if I give him an extra month. We settled on a 2 week offset which ended up being 3 weeks as I decided to take apart the top end and then the bike would not start, great... At one point I've put my soft bags on my bicycle to see if they would work, they would. I was not going to go out without a fight haha. Luckily I found what was the issue. Along with the top end disassembly and inspection, I've cleaned out the carb and replaced a couple of worn components which I must have installed incorrectly as I later found out that the engine was flooding, it was not me putting together the top end incorrectly, it was the carb, phew. The bicycle will be utilized another time for another trip, I'm taking my trusty DR650 with me.

    The departure date was initially planned to be beginning of July, but I ended up leaving on July 24th. My plan was to ride through the TAT in about 3 weeks, head to Alaska and back to Vancouver in another 3 weeks, and then travel the TCAT for about 1.5 months to NY. My planning was extremely rough, I did not want to spoil the trip for myself by researching the routes, I just wanted to be prepared for anything.

    It took me some time to finally get to start writing this ride report, so it will probably take me a while to finish it as well.

    What I took minus the drone (which I specifically purchased for this trip) as I did not have enough space for it

    IMG_20190724_074229.jpg
    #1
    black 8, Chillis, bike and 17 others like this.
  2. kkja13

    kkja13 Dodging cages

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2017
    Oddometer:
    17
    Location:
    Tyler, TX
    I'm in.
    #2
    rudy4pl likes this.
  3. eemsreno

    eemsreno Super Tenere Rider.

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,576
    Location:
    On your way to everywhere, IA.
    In here.
    #3
    rudy4pl likes this.
  4. TropicalDale

    TropicalDale The Adventures of Peter Pan

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    Oddometer:
    304
    Location:
    Cleveland,Ohio
    :lurk
    #4
    rudy4pl likes this.
  5. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    21,069
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    I'm in.
    #5
    rudy4pl likes this.
  6. overlander

    overlander Gravel Travel Tours Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2003
    Oddometer:
    932
    Location:
    Wicheetaw, KS but longing for Texas
    I have had this same plan for some time now. You might just convince me to retire early and go for it! IN!
    #6
    rudy4pl likes this.
  7. gpthis

    gpthis Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2009
    Oddometer:
    302
    Location:
    western mass
    Hmmm,,, the TCAT very ambitious...... Looked at the same route east to west on a big dually solo and quickly decided it was NOT a good idea.
    This is gonna be a good one~ IN..
    #7
    rudy4pl likes this.
  8. OTBP Moto

    OTBP Moto n00b

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    3
    Location:
    Prince George, BC Canada
    In, looking forward to it.
    #8
    rudy4pl likes this.
  9. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    139
    This song has been stuck in my head for a while already, hyping me up for this adventure that I had laid out before me.



    July 24, 2019 Wednesday

    I've prepared as best as I could have, or maybe not. I thought that navigation was going to be easy. I simply download the tracks onto my phone, plug 'em into the app and have turn by turn navigation. It turns out that it does not work as such, as the tracks have have different turn-offs and alternative routes, which results in a buggy route when turning the navigation on to follow the gpx track. Here I am, I want to finally depart tomorrow after a 2 week delay and I can't get something so vital to work.

    I spent the latter half of the day fiddling with it, trying to get the navigation to work, but I would have to split the tracks into different "layers" so that alternative routes are separated from the main track. Shit, that seems like a massive hassle. 11pm hits and I simply decide to turn the gps on and see if simply following line on the map and constantly checking the turns will work. I go for a short ride around the city and it seems to be working great. Awesome, now I get to get some sleep and hopefully depart tomorrow at 10am.

    I get up 8am, pack all my bags in my room and realize I have to still purchase a couple of miscellaneous items. I come back after 2 hours, repack everything again and load everything on my bike. I planned a overnight test ride 2 weeks back, but with me wanting to take apart and inspect the top end, that never happened.

    At about noon, I am finally ready to head out. I say my good byes and snap a photo before departing. Everything looks so nice, fresh and clean.

    2019 Trip (1) ps.jpg

    At the second intersection, I find out that my voltmeter does not work as intended. I opted for a voltmeter + usb charger combo. It displays battery voltage fine when no usb is plugged in (that's how i initially tested it), but when I plugged my phone into it, it started displaying the amperage going into the phone. Great... I'm planning to charge all my items off of the bike and I do not want to accidentally drain the battery dead, especially on a trip of this nature. I decide to go back home and wire in a dedicated voltmeter that I had laying around.

    A month ago, electrical work would have been a daunting nightmare for me. My dumbass messed up my first bike while installing a power commander and from that time on, I was wary of doing anything electrical. A couple of weeks back thought, I did a bunch of research and wired many things into the bike bike successfully. A relay, and to the relay a gerbing plug, sae plug, aux lights and switch, and a usb charger. Installing the dedicated voltmeter took about 45 minutes now, that's light speed to me. Ok, I think I'm finally ready.
    #9
  10. OTBP Moto

    OTBP Moto n00b

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    3
    Location:
    Prince George, BC Canada
    The bike is so clean, bags so new looking. :)
    #10
    rudy4pl likes this.
  11. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    139
    July 24, 2019 Wednesday Continued

    At 2pm I finally set out, again. Everything seems to be finally working. It is humid, late and I'm slightly frustrated, anxious and impatient to get out of the city and slab it out west until I link up to TAT/MABDR. There's heavy traffic everywhere in the city. I take my everyday route to work through Brooklyn Queens Expressway, to then split off onto Williamsburg Bridge and head out west. Bumper to bumper traffic on the BQE.

    I never drink coffee in the morning because I get my "wake up" through a dose of adrenaline when lane-splitting like a hooligan through there to work everyday with my single metal pannier. Today is different though, I'm fully loaded with 2 soft bags which are offset by 4" from each side due to the fuel containers. I take my time lanesplitting due to that fact that my load is much wider than normal, but I'm still too cocky doing this. Soon I come across 2 box trucks that I attempt to pass and I finally pay the piper. While I'm between the two trucks, I suddenly clip the left truck with my soft pannier and am uncontrollably sent to the right, clipping the truck on the right, then left, right again and I somehow end up laying on my left side in front of the left truck's bumper.

    "Owww" I scream out as my right calf is burned by the engine case as I'm laying there. In panic I get up limping and immediately try to lift my bike. It's fully loaded and I try to pick it up on the wrong side which ends in failure. The fuel is leaking from the tank. I adjust my positioning and with a lot of effort, I pick it up. The man gets out from the truck while I'm trying to push the bike to the side of the freeway in order not to further impede the traffic.

    "Stop, look." he says while pointing at the front wheel which has a cable tangled into it.

    "Fuck, is that the front brake cable?" I think to myself.

    "Are you ok?" He asks.

    I take a couple of seconds to respond all shaken up, "Yes, I'm all right. I'm sorry, I'm an idiot, it's totally my fault. Is your truck ok?"

    He walks back to inspect his truck's side. In the meanwhile I start untangling the cable from the front wheel. It turns out it's the speedometer cable that got ripped out from the bottom and tangled in the front wheel. I start untangling it and I temporarily tied it to the handle bar so that it doesn't get stuck in the front wheel again.

    The Hispanic truck driver comes back and waves it off with his hand and says with an accent "it's fine".

    I wave it off with my hand as I'm fine (?) as well and give a head nod. These gestures were a mutual understanding that we both do not want to go through the hassle of getting the cops involved. I pull in the clutch as I cannot find the neutral and push the bike to the shoulder. I try to start it a couple of times, and like after the third attempt it starts up with the clutch pulled in. I briefly inspect both sides of the bike and attempt to ride to the next exit to pull off in a safe spot, calm down and assess the damages. I try to shift it into first, but it either did not want to downshift, or it shifted into a higher gear for some reason. I pull off and stall it. Fuckk.

    I fell on the left side hard. Did I damaged the internals when the full weight of the bike + the momentum of the crash unloaded all that force on the shifter? I try again and I cannot shift it into first. I pull off with the bike in 2nd or 3rd and ride slowly, with the traffic this time. I keep playing with the gears to try to get them to work, but it's not happening.

    I'm such a fucking idiot. It took months of preparation, research, countless hours taking the whole bike apart, checking everything, just to throw all that time away plus a 3 month, 20 or so thousand miles journey, not even 3 miles away from home.

    ID-FUCKING-IOT.

    On my way to the exit, I figure out how to change the gears. To downshift, I have to apply force outwards and downwards. To upshift, I have to apply force outwards and upwards. It shifts most of the time.

    I make it to the next exit which ironically happens to be the same exit that I take to work everyday. This day was supposed to break the everyday mundane office cycle and I was supposed to go past this exit. Yet here I am. I get off and find a quiet spot to pull off and regain composure.

    I park the bike and immediately start assessing all the damages sustained. I lift my right pant leg and I see a badly burned calf with my sock melted into the wound.

    KIMG0005.jpg

    I lift my left pant leg and I see a bruised shin.

    My brand new left boot is no longer waterproof as the front is torn up.

    2 straps on my soft bags have ripped off.

    KIMG0014_01.JPG

    Of course my speedometer cable is toast.

    KIMG0013.JPG

    The bike has gotten a couple of new scratches and of course something is up with the shifting. The shifter seems to have space to move, especially when downshifting, no reason for it not to downshift, I think to myself. If it's only a bent shifter, then it should only have trouble upshifting as I have installed a case armor that might be interfering when sliding the shifter is sliding up. I try to bent it out as best as I can without causing more damage.

    I unscrew and take off the speedometer cable. I think a speedometer cable is not necessary to operate? I should be fine. The only issue I might have is with the trip meter which I used as my range meter. I don't really want to run out of fuel in the middle of nowhere.

    After assessing all the damages, I think I'll try continuing forward. Tomorrow I'll change the oil to see if I see anything unusual. If the shifter rod has bent, there would probably be some excessive shavings? Or some chipped components? Fuck it, I'm going to go as far as the bike takes me, I'm not going to give up on the first day. Not like this.

    I packed up again and headed for the tunnel. I could still only shift with my "tricks". It was such an exhilarating feeling making it through the tunnel to New Jersey. I was so happy I made it this far, roughly 10 miles west of home...

    Next 200 miles were a massive adrenaline dump. I could not cool off, my body was shaking even after hours on the highway. Shaking out of joy for what has happened, and out of fear what could have happened. This could have ended much worse, I feel like I got off pretty easy. I could have fallen with the bike under the wheels of the truck with the driver not even being able to see me and running me over. Instead I somehow ended up before him and he was able to see me and stop in time.


    My highway range with only my main tank is about 180 miles on the highway. I stopped prematurely at a gas station as I did not know how many miles I've done. I've downloaded an app onto my phone that I use as a gps, which records my movement and has a trip meter. No speedometer cable, so this will have to do. On freecampsites.net, as advertised, I found a free dispersed camp spot in Bald Eagle Forest in Pennsylvania.

    KIMG0002.JPG

    Not a single soul around. Even though it was a rainy and a thunderous night, I got a good rest on my first night camping. The rain hitting the tent was very calming as it slowly lulled me to sleep.


    #11
  12. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    139
    Hey Scott :), hope all is well
    #12
    OTBP Moto likes this.
  13. btrrtlwtr

    btrrtlwtr Been here awhile Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2014
    Oddometer:
    138
    What away to start a trip ! Glad your not injured too badly . Looking forward to the rest .
    #13
    rudy4pl likes this.
  14. Otroo

    Otroo Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2017
    Oddometer:
    26
    Looks fun
    #14
    rudy4pl likes this.
  15. OTBP Moto

    OTBP Moto n00b

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    3
    Location:
    Prince George, BC Canada
    Doing good, took my last ride until spring. Lots of snow, -10C. :) Looking forward to your posts.
    #15
    rudy4pl likes this.
  16. bkendig76

    bkendig76 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2016
    Oddometer:
    558
    Location:
    Conestoga PA
    :lurk Looking forward to more.
    #16
    rudy4pl likes this.
  17. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    139
    July 25, 2019 Thursday

    After a very rough first day, it felt good getting the much needed rest in the wilderness. It still felt surreal to me that I almost ended my trip yesterday. Lucky for me, I have a burned calf to remind me that it did indeed take place. I got up around 6am, the rain has stopped. It was a little bit chilly, but I had to get going. Before leaving on the trip I had packed a couple of goodies into my cooler, and so I had a nice breakfast of granola and kefir. I then addressed my wound. Got a good sized pad from my cheap medkit and secured it with black electrical tape. This'll have to do.

    Then it was time to see if a "wet towel shower" will work. Yes, I'll have to get used to those if I'm only planning on hoteling it once a week.
    It doesn't seem to be bad, I feel fresh, especially after putting on some clean clothes. I guess it doesn't hurt that I don't naturally sweat that much. I've got a week's worth of clothes, and then it's laundry time. This will work.

    Upon packing up, I turn on Osmand and loaded up MABDR and Kevin's TAT tracks. Haha, I accidentally camped along MABDR.

    The day started off with some light forest gravel roads. I love riding through forests. The lack of vehicles + pavement made these roads even more enjoyable.
    DSC_0191.JPG

    Passed by some beautiful rivers

    DSC_0189.JPG

    After a while I saw my first red detour. I told myself I was going to go for every red detour to keep it interesting on my overly loaded DR650.

    DSC_0196.JPG

    Rocky, muddy and wet after last night's rain. It was a lot for me to handle considering that I'm an extreme novice at riding off-pavement. It was fun nonetheless.



    The trail only got rougher and rougher



    After about an hour I stopped mid-trail to rest for a while, enjoy the lush green surroundings and have an apple. It felt good doing what I wanted and when I wanted.

    At late afternoon I had found a nice spot to have some lunch. Picnic tables on the side of a dirt road with a forested mountainous backdrop. I whipped out my pot and made myself some ramen noodles with a side of tomatoes. Soon a couple on a TW200 pulls up. It is Jeff and Marie. They were out on a sunny ride through the forests. We spoke for quite a while and Marie gifted me an amish apple pie. Cannot deny free food, plus it was delicious.

    DSC_0198.JPG
    DSC_0199.JPG

    After lunch it was time to head out. Rode a couple more nice gravel roads, paved roads until I decided to call it a day at 6pm. I rode for about 10 hours today and covered about 150 miles. Earlier in the day I stopped at a store to get some kale sausages, fruits and vegetables, and refilled on ice, so I was ready for a nice dinner. I found a nice dispersed campspot at Tuscarora State Forest. It's like I don't even have to search for them, they're all along these gravel/dirt roads and I can pull off when I want to and camp. Freshly cooked dinner of sausages with lettuce and tomatoes on the side was delicious.

    DSC_0194.JPG
    DSC_0204.JPG


    The sounds of the forest remind me that this place is filled with permanent residents, I'm only a visitor. Off to sleep I go
    #17
  18. RJ44

    RJ44 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2015
    Oddometer:
    331
    Location:
    Thunder Bay, Ontario
    What a start to the trip. Glad to hear that it didn't slow things down.

    Rob
    #18
    OTBP Moto and rudy4pl like this.
  19. Cobra5150

    Cobra5150 What? Where?

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2012
    Oddometer:
    629
    Location:
    N.E.Jawja
    Waiting for the next installment
    #19
    OTBP Moto and rudy4pl like this.
  20. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    139
    Haha yeah. It definitely set the mood for the trip right off the bat
    #20
    OTBP Moto likes this.