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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Ikeya-Seki, May 30, 2019.
Wow, what a read!! Thanks for sharing and for your service.
Really enjoyed following both your travels and your insight. Great trip and great RR. Look forward to the summary! thank you.
Four Corners & a Stinger Final Report
It’s been two weeks to the day since I finished and I feel like I’m finally off my seat and on my feet. It’s a good time to wrap up this ride report.
In order to keep it simple, I’ll stick with a the framing question suggested from Advrider Inmate, chudzikb: What worked, what didn’t ? and then a few last observations.
What worked: knowing the ultimate destination points, studying maps and visualizing the route, noting National Forests / Parks, potential campgrounds and other points of interest.
What didn’t work: Relying on available space in popular campgrounds (maybe not knowing they are popular). Not trying to stay at any Advrider tent space locations - owing mainly to either my not wanting to “drop in” on short notice and and also having no cell service when the need arose.
What worked: the bike, plain and simple. Other than the loose drive shaft boot in the beginning, the bike needed nothing beyond tires and routine maintenance. Dirty Gerty had plenty of power, torque and traction.
What didn’t work: GoPro mount snapped. Lost a plastic bolt cover on the final drive. Leaky starboard side pannier.
What worked: using big ass nails for tent spikes, JetBoil cooking kit including the fry pan, pot, & coffee press. Bringing a cot AND and air mattress - I’ve tried all other combo’s and they pale. Sleeping bag liner. Redverze Solo tent - for this kind of ride, it did a great job of sheltering both me and my gear. Although I wish it were lighter, I’ve learned how to pack it small and set it up efficiently.
What didn’t work: aluminum tent spikes - in anything other than soft ground, they bend instantly. Carrying extra fuel for the Jetboil when it can be easy obtained. In Michigan, I did split the end of one aluminum tent pole - temp fix with zip tie.
What worked: the mix of camping, visiting, and hotel stays was pretty good. 39/10/16 of 65 nights. Philosophy that you can't sleep nowhere worked fine.
What didn’t work: Getting shut out of full campgrounds (found space in 3 of 6), settling for a room too soon when I might have found a campground with a bit more time.
What worked: staying in budget (3$ under daily estimate). cash management, ordering & shipping tires in advance in Oregon, finding discount hotels rates, cooking meals. Not physically losing any funds.
What didn’t work: waiting too long to exchange currency - should have done it in advance at my personal bank. Not securing a better tire price on the last change - It was fair, but I could have planned better. “We don’t take American Express” - I specifically brought a card that doesn’t charge international exchange fees and was let down too often, both in Canada and the U.S. I would have converted more cash.
What worked: My camera was great. I brought a compact, full frame digital camera and it did a fantastic job of catching photos. Drone worked well, though I did not deploy it often. Solar charging panels came in handy. iPad & keyboard held up fine. InReach tracker worked great.
What didn’t work: GoPro mount snapping. Didn’t use the GoPro stuff too much - mainly due to limited space on the iPad for file work. Garmin Nav V was wonky - several times taking forever to find satellites and at times and routing stupid routes.
What worked: Mosko Moto kit - Backcountry duffle, tank bag & molle pouches kept stuff dry and organized. Wolfman Rolley bags were effective and super simple to use. All straps, fasteners and Altrider racks performed well. My homemade insulated bubble wrap cooler kept things fairly cool.
What didn’t work: Leaky starboard side pannier. Rain water would get in requiring attention and drying.
What worked: All my kit did a good job. Boots, helmet & glovers were comfortable, dry and problem free. HEATED SHIRT was AWESOME. Wool layers. Keeping things clean. Baclava head scarf was key to keeping warm and dry. Kidney belt.
What didn’t work: Damaged micro usb charging port on helmet BT, pulled off another 2 or 3 Klim zip pulls. Minor scratches to my helmet visor (to be expected really), wrestled with glove liners when hands were wet (learned a few tricks to deal with it).
What worked: Cruising in the 45-62 mph sweet spot. Tire selections. Weather (even rain was mostly cooperative). Meeting kind and interesting people along the way. Seeing amazing, eye-candy landscape. Gaining a greater sense of the geography, geology, topography, climate, air, economy, and overall sense of where I traveled. Tasting local dishes. Enduring the challenges along the way and maintaining a positive attitude.
What didn’t work: Averaging 370 mies a day. While I did take 10 days off, I would do more next time to take even more. I think though for the nature of this journey - riding to extreme points - it worked well overall and went very close to my intended schedule. I just felt there was more to be experienced. The temporary and expected, but inevitable depression that follows. Also, the physical toll of the ride catching up with me at the end like a caboose catching up with a runaway train. I'm pretty wrecked right now.
Final thoughts & Observations: I’ll leave the admittedly lightly gilded descriptions of my ride reports to account for the details, but one of my biggest take aways from the ride needs a final breath or two. For one, I am still working to take in just how vast and impressive and changing north American landscape is and just how much the people who live there reflect the landscape they inhabit. From pine canopied mountains to palm trees and beach sand, from the mysterious deserts to the comfort of the oceans and all across the plains and farmlands in-between, this part of the planet has a little bit of everything in each part, but at the same time there is a little of everything in all of it. Except Hawaii.
Laslty, On so many occasions along the way, I found myself smiling in awe at just how lucky I am. And and I owe a huge debt of graditude to my family for their understanding and support of my passion for motorcycling without which non of this would be worth it, let alone possible.
For now, sights are set and sleeves are up.
Great trip; lots of nice pictures; comments very readable and wrap up interesting. Thank you for taking me along for the ride.
Thanks Everyone. What follows was intended to be part of my wrap up but I was hesitant about including it. I allude to post ride blues, but this does a better job and it was suggested I add it. This is it though - I am on to new things.
(above from 2017 TAT wipeout)
It’s been two weeks and a day since I completed Four Corners & a Stinger and I finally feel like i have returned. The finish was rough. The ending of a big ride always is. It doesn’t have to be a ride really, any kind of endeavor that takes you away from home for a stretch aways has some kind of pattern to the finish.
When I’m planning something big, in this case a ride, I rarely ever think too much about the finish, about coming home. I might think about having to catch up with expenses or about what work I have to do, but I don’t think this way so much in the planning stages.
For me, I really don’t start thinking about the finish until at best a week out, sometimes a day or two more or less. Even then I am thinking more about the route, the number of fuel stops, how many miles and days will it take. I am usually tired and fixed on logistics. I stink, my body is fatigued and worn. Bits of my gear and bike have broken off or twisted out of place. I’m usually low on pocket cash, out of all of the good food, my clothes are all dirty and I’m just ready to wrap it up and get home.
I seem to ride a bit faster and pass more often on the last leg or two of a big ride and although I still do stop and even take some pictures, I also blow by lots of spots I’d otherwise take time to check out. So there is a sense of haste that gnaws at me in the last day or so.
I also find that I get quiet in my helmet. On a long ride, ten days in or so I usually start talking and singing out loud to myself. However, when I am in the final stretches, I tend to get quiet and stiller on the bike. It’s as if I've gone into full bike and body cruise control. As the miles and hours shrink, I cast my thoughts forward to greeting my family, who will be home or up?, who will I have to wait to see? How’s the cat? I also tend to dangerously begin work on my To Do list…..
It is at this point when I try to remind myself I have the rest of the ride to finish and to stay focused. I don't want to fall into the "last mile" statistic. Still, my mind goes back and forth like a ping pong ball as I reel in the miles.
When I do get home, I usually experience a simultaneous feeling of satisfaction, joy and relief - all riding somehow on this other feeling underneath of knowing something is over, something big has come to an end. I can’t place it really, the feeling - but it’s there like a softly buzzing rail extending somewhere behind me to all the places I’ve just been and on it is a caboose barreling along, closing in and waiting to wallop me into a two week funk and maybe break a few bones for good measure.
This time I got hit pretty hard. Two or three days after I get home my back just lit up, my legs went into warp spasm and my knee loosened up like a boiled chicken leg. I was elated of course to make it home before my daughter left for school, but I did so barely enough to drop everyone at the airport and then spend the next two weeks bouncing around in an empty house. The good news is that it takes just about two weeks in my case to turn it back around and maybe it was good for everyone else not to be around me. I felt pretty off. I spent the last two years completely focused and dedicated to completing this goal and then at the culmination, I kinda fell off into emptiness.
I’ve landed now. I got the grass mowed, I washed a car, put a cord of wood away and I’m about to tackle some hedges. My gear is all cleaned up and I’m even back in the pool swimming laps.
I am not 100% settled on what is next, but I am thinking it may be a KTM 790 and at least the TAT again. Maybe the TCAT as well, maybe New Zealand, who knows.
What I do know is that in the mean time, I have a shit ton of things to do and a year or so of body mending to get underway. Tally ho motherfucker.
Over and Out, Ikeya-Seki
Been there and done all of that...except paying for the bus ride to get my toe in the ocean in Prudhoe Bay. I rode nonstop from Fairbanks and back to save some $$$. You will have a blast. I look forward to the ride reports.
Hawaii next? Let me chime in a bit, having been born in the Territory and living in the Aloha State. I love it here but...
There are 8 major islands, two not publicly accessible, leaving six, briefly described below.
Generally: Don't carry anything you can't afford to lose - dope/meth/heroin etc. has permeated the local population and there are ripoffs everywhere, most particularly from rental cars and at scenic points of interest. Locals can be great or iffy and sometimes it won't matter if you're friendly. The general population is majority asian, and the culture is tinged throughout. There is an unspoken adherence to the old saying that the nail that stands up gets pounded down, this is evident all the way to the top of the political structure. Don't get me started... Off season is September-October for best rates. Transient rentals (less than 30 days) recently banned, even via Airbnb etc, and a clampdown is beginning to happen. It remains to be seen how this will actually work out but it bodes poorly for the visitor just passing through. Roads generally some of the poorest in the country. There has been something of a resurgence in "Hawaiian Culture" but to my 66-y.o. thinking most of it is made up and fed to the lower strata of society who gobble up the Kool-Aid, not knowing better and having little education (public schools stink) only the capability to say NO! like some child throwing a tantrum. As father of two I've been through that. There are vanishingly few legal places to camp, statewide, and few hotels that aren't concentrated in small areas, so they tend to be pricey IMHO.
Bike riding in Hawaii: Because the islands are relatively small and isolated, there isn't a touring scene here. Lots of mopeds, squids and Harleys. You'd be better off with a medium sized dual sport in almost every way. I bought a K1300GT in Portland OR three years ago and brought it here... now I commute 4 miles each way to work, five days a week. Except that the wife loves to ride pillion and won't get her own bike, I'd likely have sold it somehow. There is only one interisland barge freight operation which offers a discount if you book a round trip within 30 days. Labor Day weekend is the major interisland time for bikers. Hook up with three others, rent a 20-foot container, it's cheaper than sending your bike alone. Interisland airfare rates are criminal but most of us can't swim the channels and are stuck with it. Until recently there was only one interisland airline and they priced accordingly. Now Southwest has moved in and I hope for a long, vicious fare war. Wish me luck, along with the other million victims.
Kauai: can't drive all the way around but slow traffic and many photo ops suggest not to do the entire island in a day. Windward side (northeast) can be wet, south and west dry. Polihale Beach is huge (island scale) and open, though not as much as it used to be. I've been there when the surf is flat, and when it's huge. Huge in Hawaiian scale is twice or three times as huge as elsewhere. As the beach signs say, when in doubt, don't go out. Lihue, the main town, isn't much. Waimea Canyon "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific" is great for hiking and general sightseeing and the road in/out is twisty.
Oahu has a million people and more cars. I've lived there since '70. Crowded. Can't drive all the way around. Hiking from the west side <2 miles out to Kaena Point at the northwest corner is a must as is Yokohama Bay/beach at the end of the road. North Shore in winter has huge amazing surf and a persistent daytime 3-hour traffic jam. The rest of the year it's only a 45-minute jam as everyone has stops at Laniakea to see the turtles. Main roads basically a figure 8. The Pali is a must; Makapuu Beach a great place to spend a day. Sandy Beach breaks necks and creates paraplegics frequently. A third degree sunburn will ruin your vacation even if it's your last day. Pearl Harbor, Battleship Arizona, the Bowfin (sub), Punchbowl (National Memorial Cemetary of the Pacific) are must see points for any vet. Highest rate of homeless of the 50 states due to mental illness (much of that exacerbated by meth) and high cost of living. Night life in Waikiki is probably typical of any resort city. Drive around in a day. Drive the other way the next day.
Molokai: can't drive around. Small island, see it in a day. It's a backwater that once had a future but the locals have decided against that and blocked the now-defunct interisland ferry, and cruise ships. Not much to see unless you mule ride or hike down the 2000-foot cliff into Kalaupapa, the former leper colony. Once there, you'll have to have a guide reserved to get around. Has a (very) small airport, but still need a guide to get off the airport proper. I've been once on a day trip for work and got the full tour, quite liked it. Now under the jurisdiction of the Nat'l Parks, they may yet make something of it.
Maui: most popular, really crowded, nice place though. Get up Haleakala (legendarily the House of the Sun) but seeing the sunrise requires advance reservation (too many cars). Road to Hana on the west side is to be driven once only, though I understand it's better than it used to be. 54 bridges, each with stream and waterfall, will have you stopping at the first three, slowing for a few, then breezing by the rest. Hana town itself may be infested with wealthy recent arrivals. Resort areas in Kaanapali and Wailea for the high-end crowd.
Lanai, the "Pineapple Island" because that's all there was there back then, is 98% owned by Larry Ellison. Hotel rates very expensive, not many places to go/see. Due to crackdown on transient rentals, it remains to be seen whether there are any alternative ways to stay there.
Hawaii (the Big Island, where I grew up) is my favorite and has 7 of the 8 major climate zones. Hilo the former entry point has been very much supplanted by Kona on the drier west side. Fly into one of two airports, get your vehicle and spend minimum two days on each side. Go up Mauna Kea if you can, but know that local activists blocking construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope have blocked public access for over a month now. The culture of mediocrity has it such that the local mayor won't intervene, passed it off somewhat to the governor, who has completely and likewise made an ass of hisself. Get up to Pololu Valley on the north end and take an easy 1/4 mile hike down for a venture. West side generally dry and hot, east side cooler and wet. Figure 8 roads cover almost the entire island. Volcano Nat'l Park is good for minimum half day. See the newest earth on earth on the east side where 700 homes were recently reclaimed by the Lady in Red - Madame Pele, the volcano goddess.
That's enough of a rant for the time being. I'll take questions as may occur, they can be done on this thread or otherwise.
Wow! I just returned from 44 days on the road, following the western half of Lewis and Clark (Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon) and back home in east Tennessee, 9,600 miles later. I feel EXACTLY like you have described (edited with your unsolicited permission). I did 42 days and 14,500 miles last year and went through the same doldrums last year. Every year ends up with the same postpartum depression. But at the end of the day, a year later, I am off again. The euphoria at the outset outweighs the depression of parking the bike for a while.
Glad you made it safely home.
Very good posting and thread.
i wish I were talented like you so that I could share my trip
Thanks for your thoughts. I've put a few miles on Dirty Gerty since I've been back and my headspace is clear and looking forward. My back however is not as cooperative and is trying to throw a wrench in my planning. I'm aiming for another Trans America Trail ride in the summer of 2021 and if my body and bike can take it, possible adding the Trans Canadian Adventure Trail for the return. First though, a mid weight two cylinder is in order.
From the sounds of it, you had a great summer ride. Each of those states and especially Tennessee are among my favorites to ride.
Awesome ride report, thank you for sharing. It was nice to meet you about 3 weeks ago in Lone Pine.
I was the smelly guy at Carl's Jr having breakfast on the black GSA coming back from Alabama Hills.
Great writing style and pictures were outstanding. Thank you for your service !!
QUOTE="Ikeya-Seki, post: 38196536, member: 392846"]Day 66: Four Corners & a Stinger Complete.
Nuts & Bolts: 33 States, 53 National Parks/Forests, 3 oceans, 3 oil changes, 3 tire changes. 3 tons of rivers, dams and bridges. Total Mileage: 20,666.7 Dirty Gerty passed 71k.
Naturally, I was squeezing the last bit of gas out of the tank as I made the final approach into Paducah, KY and naturally my GPS led me to the Brookport bridge, which was naturally closed bridge. Luckily however, the 24 crosses the Ohio River at nearby Metropolis and I made it to my destination with a few miles in reserve. I spent the next two days visiting Ted, a Navy buddy, his wife Kathy and their family. We took a ride to the top of the Land Between the Lakes, had lunch by the lake and otherwise just took it easy catching up and kicking back roasting marshmallows on the patio. They are good people, fun to be with and a pleasure to visit. They've kindly hosted me every other year on my big rides. Southern hospitality is a real thing.
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My youngest daughter was set to leave for college on the west coast mid week and it was important to be there to see her off. Her major school events this summer - graduation and beginning college - to my delight have bookended my ride. However, at 1279 miles away, I was looking at a solid three days of riding to make it home. I made it in two. Sometimes motivation helps the wheels go round.
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I knew from experience that some of the best riding is found in Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. My two day blitz up western Appalachia did not disappoint. I road across tight twisting mountain roads, long valley straights, two lane and some four lane mountain highway, through mellow cruising farmland, along lakeside and small town communities.
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Most of the speed limits are in the 50-55 camp, perfect in my mind for those types of conditions. I made time by limiting my stops, somehow catching lots of green lights and taking advantage of the long travel and truck passing lanes - not to mention long days.
I stopped the fist night in Clarksburg, W.V. and continued on the next morning through Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont and then finally New Hampshire.
Even though much of W.V. was met in darkness, stoping where I had was a lucky for me as the last stretch over the mountain in the morning lived up to its reputation for tight mountain riding. The smell of truck brake dust was in the air. Maryland kinda made me laugh though with its multitude of enormous warning sighs, twice the size of barn doors. I’ve never witnessed such an overkill of signage. It only left me disappointed when the curve was.... meh. When Kentucky, West Virginia or Tennessee put a warning arrow up, you better pay attention, cause they mean it.
On the last day I let my GPS and phone duke it out for direction and I rode pretty hard. I really wanted to see my family and to finally sleep in my own bed. I knew I was pushing a bit and maybe passing by some stops I’d otherwise like to make, but really the riding was excellent. The weather was absolutely perfect with bright blue skies and white cotton clouds. I saw plenty of wildlife, lots of farming activity including the horse powered valleys of the Amish and often had the road all to myself. I stopped too at a couple produce stands and had some great peaches & brought some veggies home. I found at least two diners that were pretty good too.
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As much as the trip was incredible, it was an equally satisfying feeling to be home with my family.
I plan to take 10 days or so to let this experience settle in and then I’ll conclude this ride report with a short reflection and a few shots that didn't make the cut. In the meantime, please feel free to ask any questions, offer any comments or share your similar experiences particular to this ride and I’ll do my best to address or comment on them. Thank you all for “riding along” with me and allowing me to share my Four Corners & a Stinger experience.
Thanks for the great ride report.
Thank you for the RR. Interesting and informative. I enjoyed it very much.