Cold, Wet, and Nekked

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by HickOnACrick, Jun 20, 2019.

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  1. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator

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    To begin, thank you to those that put this route together. It is so nice to just plug in a gpx file at the last moment, and begin a ride...

    Last moment realization of time off together in June. Rushing to get a lot organized over a couple of days; bills paid, sitter for the dogs, fuck the lawn! Let it grow, let the neighbors complain. The past 4 years we have done tens of thousands of miles touring on the Fräulein, but this will be our first extended off-road attack. Whittling down the gear to where the panniers weighs only a little less than their contents.

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    His:
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    And Hers:
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    And Ours:
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    Our goal, the MABDR, South to North, 2-up, in 9 days.


    #1
  2. vector6

    vector6 slipstream

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    I'm in....
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  3. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator

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    Day 0: Inauspicious Beginnings

    Bike packed the day before, we wake early with a plan to be on the road by 8AM. Day's route planned to be twists and turns through North Georgia and Tennessee, making Damascus before dark. Rain off and on all week, but hopeful while sipping coffee at 6AM as it is just a little hazy. The weather is apocalyptic by 7:30. Black skies, growling thunder, and rain so heavy our tin-roofed home like the inside of a fast-moving freight car. We raise our voices to be heard as we communicate our concerns and hopes for the day. Do we bail? Do we wait? Do we plan something with a little less mud?

    Finally the rain slows a bit, so we kit up. "Meet me in the shop, I need to prepare for the flood," I say. Electronics stored, water-proof tank cover placed, I turn the key to warm the bike...nothing, nada, zilch. No power. I trouble shoot the easy stuff, kill switch, kickstand switch, battery voltage...

    Zero, zero, then multiplied by zero. The battery was hung from a noose until dead, dead, dead.

    Memory palace? New Li Battery 2 months ago. Bike started 2 days ago, then I put the GPS in its cradle. Did I make sure it wasn't drawing a charge for 2 days? No I did not!

    Text the wife: Unkit, have a second cup of coffee because I need to source a new battery. Early on a Saturday morning, in the rain.

    Find a battery, back at the house and battery replaced within an hour. Key on - lights, camera...click, click, click. Not photos, the sound of a weakling battery. I had purchased a partially charged "new" battery. Hook up the battery tender, blow a fuse, replace fuse, see that the battery is only registering about 50% charge, suspect not enough cranking amps. Pull out the jumper cables, maneuver the truck into the shop and...vroom, vroom.

    Kit up! For today we ride!!

    The twists and turns of the day are common to me, I have been here before. The twists and turns of the road are also common to me, so we don't take photos. It's a day of rain, rain, and a little more rain. Our delayed start puts us in Damascus just before dark and the deluge has lightened a bit, until we start looking for a place to camp. Then it's lights out in a shower. The sun is quickly blocked by the storm, and soon disappears altogether as we probe our way to a campsite. Too dark, too wet, we opt for the back of a Baptist Church where we locate some trees to hang.

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    Systems check: sleeping gear still dry, rain flies up first, then hammocks and sleeping bags. Our lenticular hovels are dry. Shit gets straight comical as we are perched upon a slope, slipping and sliding out of our riding clothes into our sleep clothes. We both go to sleep reasonably dry. Wake in the early morning hours to "Amor! Amor! I'm getting wet!" First hope, what kind of wet??? Then the crashing realization that her rain fly has slipped from its berth. Slippage. Lots and lots of slippage on a sodden slope of slime as I correct her abode. Unfortunately, I did so in my pajamas, which are now sopped and muddy. I clamber back under my rain fly. What to do? Sleep in wet clothes?

    Nope! Nekked! I'll sleep Nekked!

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    6AM on a Sunday morning. I peek out of the hammock, and note that we hung over the dreaded 'leaves of three, let them be'. Just the thought and I start to scratch.

    Calling from my hammock:
    "Babe!"
    "BABE!"
    "What?" her irritated reply.
    "I'm Nekked!"
    "So?" still irritated.
    "It's Sunday morning! The Baptists are coming! We gotta roll!"

    #3
  4. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator

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    Day 1: A War With Water

    "Worst camp I have ever had," I think as we don our wet riding gear and pack up.

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    Kickstand is up by 7AM. Raining so hard I can't wear my eyeglasses. Weak eye closed, strong eye open. Har! My strong eye stinging from raindrops as the visor needs to remain open to prevent a complete white-out.

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    Hours later we find fare and coffee at one of America's ubiquitous "choose your combo" grease mongers; our moto-boots slipping across decades of accumulated oils on builder-grade tile. Jet-blaster driers in the restroom too feeble to dry our gloves, but help with the condensation on the visors and glasses. Our bellies warmed by hot food and a dark liquid dubiously defined as coffee, we load up and ride into the rain again.

    Slab, dirt gravel. Slab, dirt gravel. Opportunities for expansive vistas crushed by heavy leaden clouds, like socioeconomic prisoners, unable to rise to their potential, and imposing all around them a sense of ennui.

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    #4
  5. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    In!
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  6. Mikenbern

    Mikenbern Adventurer

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    following
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  7. tag3

    tag3 Doofus

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    Like the writing. In!
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  8. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator

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    "The green tunnel". Words used to describe the Appalachian Trail. The same words could be used to describe the MABDR. By mid-day, my partner is complaining that everything looks the same. From her perspective, I understand. However, I am less focused on the scenery than I am on keeping us upright.

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    It's still raining, but has let up a bit when we arrive at a 50-yard section of clammy clay. Gravity not being just a theory, but a law; dually cited for opposing the laws.

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    A slow-motion sleep, low speed, like watching a tree felled. Knowing it's inevitable, but unable to stop it. Difficult to see from the picture above, but both front and real wheels are off the ground, the right case wedged in the rut like a door jam. 20 minutes later we have extricated die dicke fräu from the Earth's embraces and have her on two wheel again, just as 4 riders approach from the opposite direction. A 1200 GS, 650 GS, 800XC and some kind of Triumph Scrambler with the rider wearing shopping bags around his legs and boots. They kindly wait as I remove the cases and my pillion, then navigate the remainder of the mud. I return to help a couple of them, feeling guilty that I crushed their momentum. They ask about the road ahead. I ask them about the road behind. For them, it's smooth riding to the next town, for us, they warn of a similar moto-eater about 2 miles ahead. I watch them navigate the treacherous mud, helping where I can. I am particularly impressed by the scrambler's ability to get through..."may have to try one of those," I think.

    (When I get home, I learn the dude on the Tiger 800 XC is a friend of my neighbor. My neighbor says none of them completed the ride due to injuries, mechanical issues, and time constraints. They were soooo close).

    The yellow beast has been our two-up steed for the last 30K of her life. This was the first time we've had to pick her up....won't be her last.

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    The forewarned moto-killer does not get us, but I request my wife walk it so I can get up on the pegs. When she returns to the bike, I explain that I may be standing up sometimes, and when I do, "hold on tight."

    4:30 PM and we have just reached some tarmac when I spot a campsite. We agree to stop as the rain has let up considerably and we can set camp sans deluge. A far better campsite the second night, but it rains hard off and on through the night.

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    #8
  9. td63

    td63 Been here awhile Supporter

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    You had me at “I’m getting wet.”

    In.
    #9
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  10. SOLOKLR

    SOLOKLR Back to work

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    Is that a hole in the valve cover on that pic?
    #10
  11. DCrider

    DCrider Live from THE Hill

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    nekkid was part of it too:lol3
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  12. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator

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    there is hole in the aftermarket valve protector....no hole in the valve cover.
    #12
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  13. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator

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    Heavy rains throughout the night, clothes I left hanging to dry are wetter now than last night, donning wet riding gear in the morning. We drink our coffee while breaking camp, eat some leftovers from the MREs we consumed the night before, filter some water for the day, then saddle up just as the rain begins again.

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    A short break in the rain, we stop for a snack. This is the closest thing we have seen to clear skies in three days. Our riding gear, in spite of being Gore-Tex, is so wet we can feel the excess weight as we mount and dismount the bike.

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    My lovely wife...with her eyes closed.

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    We bounce and buck through some tricky mud, but keep it upright until a simpler right hander. I drop the bike when the rear wheel spins out in some clay.

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    The weather is slowly improving throughout the day so we keep pushing. We both agree a roof over our head tonight is in order as our sleeping bags are the only piece of kit that is not soaked. The drops have damaged the aluminum panniers to the point that water's ingress is inevitable.

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    We pass some really cool lodges, thinking that the next town will offer gas, food and lodging. As we hit the town, it begins raining hard again and the food and lodging options are very limited. The whole town reeks of silage and we pay way too much for a marginal hotel room. Donning our only dry clothing - pajamas - we walk to the one of the few food options being offered, a buffet-type restaurant. My wife tries to order fish and I encourage her to steer (see how I did that?) away from "seafood" this far inland. We opt for cheeseburgers instead.

    Back at the hotel room, it's a yard sale. Camping gear hanging to dry, I am able to find a place to do some laundry to wash and dry all base layers and socks. The hot shower very welcomed after 3 days and 2 nights in the rain. Perpetually wet boots, sodden socks, all day next to the heat of the motor and exhaust have left my feet looking like steamed chicken flesh. Futile attempt to dry our boots with the hotel's hair dryer only serves to fill the stale hotel air with emanations of funk. Other than the shower and laundry, we both agree we would prefer to be camping.

    We wake the next morning to bad coffee and a continental breakfast. Load up and kit up. Weals and flares from the first day's poison ivy have erupted all over my body - face, chest, arms and legs. My dry socks from last night's laundry chore are immediately damp as soon as I slide them into my boots. We start our fourth day, again in the rain.
    #13
  14. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile Supporter

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    East coast! Rain, more rain, and then some more rain. Your wife is a trooper, mine would have been long gone and threatened to end my existence at first opportunity.
    #14
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  15. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator

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    The rain lets up pretty early in the morning and we find ourselves on some bony dirt roads. After stopping for a break to soak up some rare sun, we mount up again. Within a few hundred yards, the bike is feeling squirrelly. There is some gravel on the road, so I first think that is the cause, but my better judgement takes over. I stop, get off the bike, and see that I have a rear flat.

    I have probably logged a 100K miles on bikes with tubeless tires, and this is the first time I have ever had a flat. I start searching for the cause, suspecting a nail or screw...nothing. Inspect the bead and sidewalls, they look fine.

    Finally I use a CO2 cartridge to inflate the tire, then follow my ear to source of leaking air.

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    It's the white mark just below the tread.

    "Can you fix it?" my wife asks.
    "Not sure, I have never needed to fix a flat on this kind of tire, but I have the tools."
    "Have fun!"

    She relaxes in the sun while I get to work.

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    When I bought the bike, the PO had a tire plug kit that used some mushroom-style plugs. Fortunately I kept the laminated instruction card because the whole system was needlessly complicated and I destroyed 3 or 4 plugs before I finally got it to work. Blow a fuse while trying to inflate the tire with the electric Slime pump, replace fuse with a larger capacity fuse, then the pump overheats and stops working. I use another CO2 cartridge to finish the deal. The sun has come out in earnest and I am sweating balls by the time I get us loaded up again.

    By the time we get back to tarmac, it's clear this repair is not going to last. We spend the late morning and early afternoon trying to get a mechanic to plug it, but no mechanic will, but they let me use their compressors to top off before we head to next tire store. After three tire stores refusing to plug the tire, and looking at the condition of the tire, I start looking for a motorcycle shop. I find a new tire at Velocity cycles and they squeeze me in. We are back on the road by about 2PM with a new tire.

    We hurry back onto the route and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening crossing east-to-west running mountains in Pennsylvania. The foray into town sourcing a tire has left me sluggish and tired and I drop the bike when I stop in an awkward position. We agree it's time to find a spot to camp, finally stopping just before dusk at a pretty sweet spot next to the route, at the crest of a mountain. As we are setting up camp, 3 KLRs pass by, heading in the same direction. We end up leap-frogging these guys for the next few days.

    Camp is set under the sun. Base layers laid out to dry, dehydrated food for dinner.

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    Explaining to my wife that a campfire will likely produce just smoke after so much rain.

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    I was very excited about our camp that night, there was a substantial breeze blowing from the West and I was hopeful that my riding gear would dry by morning.

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    I scouted this site thoroughly looking for more poison oak and ivy, but did not see anything to worry about.

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    After dinner, but before going to bed, we took a brief hike down a trail nearby. My wife smartly puts her riding gear under her rain-fly. I leave mine hanging out in the sun, a triumph of hope over experience. In the middle of the night, the skies let loose. I wake and consider pulling my gear under the fly, but become apathetic knowing this trip is just destined to be wet.
    #15
  16. DCrider

    DCrider Live from THE Hill

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    Ditto, props to your wife and you
    #16
  17. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile Supporter

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    My buddies and I did section 6 and 7 on Saturday and Sunday. Of course got rained on 2X. Another reason my wife would never do this stuff with me, consider yourself lucky, very lucky indeed.
    #17
  18. tomass

    tomass Been here awhile

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    +1 my wife says she has the right to cancel any camping trip, no opposing argument is allowed. Your gal is a trooper.
    #18
  19. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator

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    I am very fortunate. My wife is as hard core as I.
    #19
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  20. ishirock

    ishirock Adventurer

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    Great story. I did this last fall and had a blast. We had rain and lots of heavy fog going over the mtns in PA. Last Sunday WV got some major flash floods in the Seneca Rocks area. I'm leading a group next week on a 200 mile loop in that area. I'm curious to know if the gravel roads are passable, especially the forest road north of Rt 33 just past Brandywine. That was one of my favorite sections of the whole MABDR and I'm taking this group thru there N to S on Sat the 13th. My wife will be on the back. I have her trained to do 2up standing up when it gets technical. give it a try.
    #20