A Journey Across North America

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

  1. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    That was one of the criteria when I was picking out a tent, that and its length when set up. My past 2 tents were not long enough, forcing me to kind of lay sideways to be comfortable. This one seemed to be one of the few on the budget side to be long enough. Figured I would spray paint the tent on the road if really needed.
    #41
  2. Pepe le pew

    Pepe le pew Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2017
    Oddometer:
    45
    Location:
    Near a hollar
    Im all in....loving it
    #42
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  3. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,099
    Location:
    Kingsmill Corner Ont.
    Ship the tire to yourself care of general delivery to any post office. Call them to let them know it's coming and to hold it for you.
    #43
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  4. wardie

    wardie 2 Wheel Power Hour Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    299
    Location:
    Youngstown, Ohio
    ive done the post office delivery and it works well
    #44
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  5. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    August 3, 2019 Sat (Day 11)

    Last night wasn't so bad, but I've set the tent on a slightly sloping surface causing me to slide down when shifting around. Note to self, don't pitch a tent on a sloping surface.

    Yesterday was a really sweaty day and it was a good test for the daily wet paper towel shower. The "shower" along with fresh clothing worked like a charm.

    Today is another good day of fun riding so far. A little pavement, a little nice gravel roads, and then a little beat up and rutted gravel/sand/dirt roads.



    At one point I stopped for a quick snack and I hear someone coming. It was Dan on his packed GS1200. I saw him a day or two ago going the opposite direction, we just exchanged a wave. I was hesitant asking where he was going as I was pretty sure I knew the answer.

    "I'm going all the way" he said.

    We spoke briefly and then he took off. After a while I pass by a gas station and if it ain't the crew from New Zealand. We've shared some road experiences, filled up, and then I restocked my cooler with ice in the shade.

    "You have any fancy currency for me?" asks the gas lady.
    "Sorry, I only have American Dollars, I don't think you want any of that." I say.

    They took off and I made myself a nice little lunch on the side in the shade.

    After a while I've hit Arkansas. A lot of open flat farmlands. It's pretty hot. The gravel roads here tend to be very straight and long. At one point I was flying by going about 60mph in 5th on a nice elevated gravel road. There are ~30deg slanted grassy plains going down into swamp and trees, similar to what you see in here:


    I feel my garbage bag flaying in the wind. I look behind to my left and I try to wedge it between my soft bag and the bike. I'm battling it while and looking back at the road from time to time. Suddenly i realize that I'm going off the road and to my right, into the sloping grassy plain at 60mph. The back wheel and the front wheel start oscillating in opposite directions, back and forth uncontrollably, I feel like I'm going to eat major shit anytime now. I lay off the throttle, but hold on to the steering pretty tight. I'm slowing down, but the wheels keep oscillating back and forth and I'm slowly being forced down into the swampy forest.

    I suddenly feel the front grab. The fucking IRC TR8 gained traction, the badly worn rear then followed and I was able to slowly make my way up.

    I naturally let out the loudest primal scream which was a necessary adrenaline dump. It made me lose my voice haha. I cannot compliment the tr8 tire anymore, I've previously had a a couple of sweaty moments where the TR8 suddenly gains traction and spares me.

    My budget gps phone is malfunctioning as I'm having issues charging it. I'm not sure if it's the hot weather or maybe the vibration causing damage to the cable or the mini hdmi female port on the phone. I have to keep adjusting it in order for it to charge. I've attached a rubber band to the cable and tied it around the phone. That seems to somewhat work for the time being.

    I continue on and after some time I spot a familiar location.
    KIMG0063.JPG
    It's the TAT sign in house with the 2 nice gentlemen. Apparently they have a spotter as they've gotten a call that another one of them TAT boys is coming. We speak for a bit, I sign in, get my photo taken and then I split.

    About an hour later, I'm traveling on a dirt road which has a little bit of sand at sections that can surprise you. I'm messing with the phone as my location does not seem to be centered. Suddenly it happens again.

    I hit a sandy patch and my front and rear start oscillating in opposite directions. I feel like I'm about to high side and fly off. The bike is slowly making its way into the nasty farmland water runoff. As I'm about to hit the wet ditch, the front suddenly magically gains traction and I'm able to regain control of the bike. That fully loaded rear feels really frightening when it moves like that.

    Note to self: Stop being a fucking idiot, side note: I have to learn how to ride in sands and loose terrain. So far it has mostly been tightly packed gravel/dirt roads.

    After a while of riding, I come across another major obstacle.

    The road is badly flooded. I do not want to risk getting stuck in there while all by myself, plus, I don't even know how deep it is. I'll have to re-route.

    It's getting late and there are not many accessible forests around. I decide to resort to freecampsites.net and find a free campground not far. My gps leads me through a rough 2 track which is blocked by a large fallen tree. I manage to get around it, but then I'm surprised by the swamps which were hidden by tall grass. I still manage to back out a I find a different way to the campground. It looks like there is only 1 other person here with his dog. I set up camp, make myself some dinner and manage to catch a boxing fight as there is decent phone reception here.
    #45
  6. Golden955

    Golden955 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2016
    Oddometer:
    174
    Loving this, thank you.
    #46
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  7. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    August 4, 2019 Sun (Day 12)

    I slept in as the delivery date for my tire switched from Monday to Tuesday. I have a bunch of time to kill. I went to explore Little Rock a little bit. Once again, it felt good just doing my own thing and breaking the daily routine of following the damn line. I've come across 2 different people that brought up the fact that they saw 3 bikers fully packed earlier in the day. Hmm, I wonder who's that. I've visited Walmart to wash my hair and buy a couple items. I then explored a forest west of Little Rock that also had a campground in which I camped out.

    2019 Trip (142).JPG

    I wish I could go for a swim, but my wound has not fully healed yet, so I don't want to infect it.


    2019 Trip (139).JPG
    #47
  8. Shekinahglori

    Shekinahglori Tired of winter

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2018
    Oddometer:
    49
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    I'm in!
    This may get me through the winter!
    #48
  9. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,242
    Location:
    SW. Idaho
    we carry Neosporin- antibiotic, wally worlds version I think is tri antibiotic but Neosporin will heal up most minor abrasions without a scar, keeps from sticking to he bandage. get some good bandages that are waterproof- sweat proof. also carry a bite kit for stings n snake bite. enough room for the other first aid needs in the box.
    #49
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  10. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    Good tip, you live and you learn. I'll have a nice little reminder of the trip on my body forever :)
    #50
  11. Cobra5150

    Cobra5150 What? Where?

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2012
    Oddometer:
    541
    Location:
    N.E.Jawja
    Chicks dig scars.
    At least that's what I tell myself but I'm think one from open heart surgery isn't too impressive to them.
    #51
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  12. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    August 5, 2019 Mon (Day 13)

    Another lazy morning today, I have a lot of time to kill.

    The bike is making an odd noise when running, a metallic clinging sound. I decide to check the valves. The valves seem in spec, but I try to get them slightly tighter. It's still making the same noise after.

    I pack up, head out, and decide to follow a "scenic" dirt road. Nothing really scenic about it, just forest and dirt. Soon it gets a little bit rougher and wetter.


    And then it started pouring. The emotions are at an all time high when the foreign language comes out haha


    I stopped at a gas station to buy some ice and oil. Before leaving on the trip, I've taken apart the top end and the cylinder walls had some wear. My bike is either burning oil, leaking oil, or both. I was able to fill up about 450ml to get it to the middle mark at the glass window. I've also found some oil in the airbox, probably from the multiple drops so far. The oil was black, maybe normal, maybe not. The bike still is making the faint metallic sound, I decide to drain it and put in fresh oil (I told myself I was going to do that right after my first day crash).
    KIMG0066.JPG
    Nice find in the oil, I wonder if it was after the first crash on the highway. It looks like a piece of a snap ring. Well that can't be good, how far can I even get before this bike self destructs?

    I checked my tire delivery and even though it said it was going to be delivered tomorrow, the status was "out for delivery". I call up Cooper Music and the tire has already arrived. Yay a day early. I ride over, pick up the tire and leave a $20 tip with him. I decide to go do my laundry and exchange the rear tire in the laundry's parking lot. I changed a couple tires in the past and it was a hit or miss experience. I decide to leave the tire out in the sun for a while so that it's more flexible, it's later in the day so the sun is not as strong. I put on the first side and then the battle starts. I'm using lube on my spoons in hopes that they would prevent me pinching the tube and I spray windex on the tire. This is taking an extreme amount of effort, is this normal? I ask myself. I assume a position that would allow me to apply the most pressure to the spoon and somehow I manage to put it on. Phew, what a battle it was though.

    I fill up the tube with my electric pump to 30psi and then I can hear the pump struggling. I stop even though the tire did not seat yet, I'll have to use a pump at a gas station which will allow me to pump to a higher psi. As I'm packing up my tools, I hear a pop. Yess! It seated haha! I then take a look at the other side and I notice a massive bulge in the tire where I applied the last spoon bite. :( I go for a quick ride on the parking lot, the rear is jumping up and down. Damnnnn... All this effort to buy the tire and put it on, and it's all for nothing... It's getting late so I figured I'll ride to a camp spot as it's not too far and I'll deal with this shit tomorrow.

    *In hindsight, my tire changing knowledge was poor, I was missing one crucial trick."

    A couple miles in while still in town, I get a flat. I check it out and the tire bead is totally destroyed, I see wires sticking out. I push the bike over to a gas station and take off the rear wheel. Tire is shot, the tube has multiple large holes, garbage... I have a spare rear tube and I kept the old worn tire just in case. A fellow biker named Dustin rolled up on his 250 cruiser and provided some help. The old tire was a struggle, but then I flipped it so that I was putting on the other bead last and that made the process much easier for some reason. I pump it up and luckily I did not puncture the new tube. The whole ordeal took a while, it's 11pm already.

    I ride north of Russellville into Ozark National Forest and I get there at around 11:30pm. The starry skies are dangerous as I'm tempted to keep looking up. I'm making my way through the forest in pitch darkness and I'm going fairly slow as I had deer cross the road just in front of me twice. There's a lot of them here. I never am able to find the dispersed camp spot that my gps was taking me to, so I just decide to camp by the road that had a little open flat area. I set up my tent, make myself a quick late dinner and knock out pretty quickly.

    Attached Files:

    #52
  13. Cobra5150

    Cobra5150 What? Where?

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2012
    Oddometer:
    541
    Location:
    N.E.Jawja
    Well crap!
    #53
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  14. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    August 6, 2019 Tue (Day 14)

    I broke camp pretty earlier.

    Yesterday I had to turn on the reserve and rode about 10 miles in order to reach my current location. At an average of 45mpg, that means i would be only able to do 15 miles on the .3 gal reserve. The nearest gas station on my gps is showing 20 miles away. That's 15 miles too far, I might not make it. I have not been filling up my 2x 1 gal rotopax yet as I had intended to have them for the TCAT sections.

    I ride out trying to minimize resistance and travel at low rpm going about 45mph, that seems to be the most mpg-friendly speed. I make it to the pavement and head towards the gas station. I cut out the engine when going downhill. Soon I spot a gas station to my left. Nice, google maps did not have this gas station marked. No way I would have made it to the other gas station which was 10 more miles away. My tank supposedly holds 5.3 gallons, I was able to fill up 5.6 gallons (maybe the pump wasn't accurate).

    I decide to head back to Russellville and order a new tire. I accidentally left my laundry detergent at the laundromat yesterday.

    "You mean the fabric softener?" says the laundromat lady.

    :bash That's why my clothes didn't feel fully fresh out of the laundry haha

    I again scout out a town 700 miles west along the TAT. Liberal, Kansas. I call up an inn and the lady has no problem with me sending my package over. Phew. The tire is set to arrive in on the 8th on Thursday.

    I then rode to autozone to recycle my old tire and do some maintenance. I clean and relubed all my air filters, lubed the chain and took apart the carb to inspect. The carb was fine. It seems now the bike is running better, the metallic noise might be less audible and it only happens at certain rpms. Maybe the tip of the snap ring was only damaged during original installation and the rest is still holding. I'll keep monitoring the oil upon every oil change.

    I feel like I've been at a standstill for too long. Not many miles put on in the past 2 days. I'm finally ready to put on some major miles on the tat tracks towards Liberal, hopefully this old rear tire can get me there.

    2019 Trip (169).JPG
    2019 Trip (170).JPG
    2019 Trip (174).JPG
    On one of the downhill 180 degree turns, I hit a rock with the front and drop the bike hard. I pick it up, but something feels off. I either bent the handlebar or the forks are misaligned. Either way, I'm riding with a crooked steering, I'll have to figure out how to address this.

    All of my icy water also spilled out upon the fall, there's not much actual ice in the cooler and I have a lot of perishable food in there. Now it's a race to the next gas station for ice.

    About an hour in, I come across a road with a dead end sign, I decide to proceed. It started off easy and then it has gotten rough. Pretty steep downhill with lots of large loose rocks that redirect your front wheel. This would have been okayish on a lighter bike with less load, but on a dr650 that's overloaded, it's tough. I drop the bike multiple times upon descent. The trail then gets lighter until I am able to hit the pavement. I ask the locals for the nearest gas station as I'm running on reserve again. Filled up on gas and was able to purchase ice for my cooler, I think the food should still be fine.


    The sun is setting and i still don't have a place to camp in mind. I decide to continue on riding the TAT west hoping I'd find something along the way. Even though I'm riding through a forest, every turn off is inhabited. It's already pitch dark and I don't feel very comfortable riding with crooked steering at night. I decide to verge off onto another turn off of the main road. Houses to the left and right in this forest. I push forward and come across a little stream in the road. It appears that beyond it, the dirt road ends and it's private property. I decide to turn around, but the dirt road is pretty narrow. I cross over onto the grass in order to complete the turnaround, to my surprise, there are large rocks hidden underneath the grass. My front slips and I drop the bike. I turn off the bike and it's pitch darkness. The dogs start barking. The lights in the home in front go out. I feel like someone is about to come out with a shotgun. The bike fell at an unfortunate angle, it is extremely hard to pick it up. I try a couple of time, but cannot. The dogs are still barking at the invader of the night. I manage to pick up the bike, just to drop it a couple seconds later. I'm exhausted. The dogs are barking. I take a short break and try again. With a lot of effort I'm able to pick up the bike and make my way back to the main gravel road.

    All these turn-offs lead to private property. Soon I come across a turn off to my right. About 50 feet in, it's swampy and badly flooded. I don't think anybody comes here regularly. This'll have to do.
    #54
  15. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    August 7, 2019 Wed (Day 15)


    I got up at dawn and started packing up. Two vehicles pass by before I am ready to head out.

    I proceed onto light gravel roads and soon find a nice spot to pull over by the road to make myself a light breakfast and fix the steering issue. I placed my front wheel so that there is a tree trunk blocking the wheel's movement to the left. I then proceeded to kick the right side of the handlebar. Voila, the steering is now straight. Looks like it's only the forks that became misaligned from the drop yesterday.

    2019 Trip (180).JPG
    It's still early and the fog in the distance is mesmerizing.

    A lot of uneventful flatland in Oklahoma.
    [​IMG]

    The past 2 nights I've set up camp very late, I wanted today to be a little bit easier. Finding a spot for the night might be tough in these open fields, I resort to my phone app at around 5pm. On my way there I'm blasting through these gravel roads, pass across a concrete bridge which was sunken in the middle and bottom out the bike badly, bending my metal chain guard in the process. After rebending it back into place, I take off and my tent dislodges and drags on the gravel for a few seconds. The bottom tarp and the tent has gotten ripped up a little, hopefully it's not bad. I'll assess the damages when I get to the camp.

    I arrive at the location pretty early. The tent has gotten slightly torn up, I patch it up with some duct tape on both sides and make myself some dinner.

    [​IMG]

    2019 Trip (182).JPG
    2019 Trip (183).JPG

    At dusk, I can see a lightning storm in the distance. It must be far as I cannot really hear the thunders and based on the wind direction, it looks like it's not going to hit me.
    #55
  16. CavReconSGT

    CavReconSGT Just the right amount of evil.

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,327
    Location:
    CT/NH
    Great write up. Really enjoying it. This video was not loading though.

    KR
    #56
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  17. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    Should be good now
    #57
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  18. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    6,314
    Location:
    Maine
    Curious what your dinner is.

    Great report. I'll be here as long as you're posting.
    #58
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  19. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    Salmon, some left over chicken, bread and tomatoes :) The fried salmon was delicious
    #59
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  20. misterk

    misterk Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    633
    Location:
    DFW Texas
    I am digging your ride report, keep up the great work
    #60
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