Getting out west. 15 years in the making.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by windblown101, Aug 6, 2016.

  1. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    I've been trying for several years to get in a motorcycle ride out west to Colorado where my mothers side of the family has ranched and called home for multiple generations. I got to visit once as a teenager many many moons ago. The years went by and life got in the way of me making a return trip, but this would be the year to change that and I blocked out 21 days to make the ride from here in VA and make it happen!

    Having not been out west since I was a young teen and not knowing much about riding out in Colorado I made some inquires here on ADV. Matt McCabe from RMAR http://www.rmariders.org/ posted a response that they were hosting the Silverton Rendezvous ride during the timeframe I planned to be in Co. Seeing as how I would be a noob to the area and a large chunk of the entry fee would go to TPA http://www.coloradotpa.org/ it was a no-brainer to sign up. It also gave me a reason to not let anything get in the way of making the trip happen since I had now invested cash into the trip before even leaving. ;)

    I spent a few weeks getting myself and my Triumph Tiger 800XC prepped for the long ride out and back. Now there was nothing left to do but throw a leg over and get to riding.

    Life would take several twists and turns on this ride, but telling it now would be getting ahead of myself... I'll just say that events would do their best to see this ride cut short.
    #1
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  2. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Day 1 - The departure and push west. I wanted to make good miles today so I swapped back and forth from secondary roads, highway, county roads, and interstate to keep things interesting yet moving along. Made my way thru VA, WV, OH, and into Indiana. Didn't take many pics because the name of this game was "Keep the tires rolling".
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    Views started to open up as I get into the croplands of the US. Quite a change from the Blue Ridge Mountains I call home.
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    Towards the end of the day since I made good time I treated myself to a bit of the endless unpaved farm tracks once I hit Illinois. Was nice to get off the pavement for a bit.
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    I had camping gear but it was stifling hot and I was tired so I found myself a cheap motel and called it a night. Tomorrow would be another big mileage day, at least that was the plan.
    #2
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  3. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

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    I'm in. :clap
    #3
  4. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Day 2 comes and I'm up early with anticipation of the day to come. Quickly ran through my pre-ride checks - Tires, check. Chain, check. Oil... WTF? Why is there no oil in the sightglass? I'm instantly gutted as thoughts of all the work that had gone into making this ride happen flood my thoughts. I take a deep breath (actually several, and a couple of cigarettes too) and start thinking things through.

    I searched for signs of an oil leak but none are to be found. Then I wondered if I didn't fill the bike properly with oil after the oil change I did before leaving? I highly doubted that was the case since I knew I had checked the oil level the morning I left but at this point I was grasping for any straw that presented itself if it meant my ride wasn't over. I walked to a nearby store and bought a quart of oil and poured it into the bike Well crap... needed more still. I walk back the the store and buy another quart and fill the oil to the center of the sightglass. Almost 1.5 quarts of oil had disappeared in just 600 miles.

    Dejected but hopeful I set out for the closest large city to me which was Decatur Illinois. I wanted to be somewhere that offered options rather than my current location in podunk nowhere. About 100 miles later I pulled into Decatur and the oil level had dropped. It took 1/4 quart to get back to mid-way up the sightglass. At this point I was mad, sad, and generally frustrated beyond belief. Colorado was way too far away to even think about making a run out there with this kind of oil consumption.
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  5. ROAD DAMAGE

    ROAD DAMAGE Long timer Supporter

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    An amigo of mine rides one of these Tigers and his is consuming more oil than he thinks it should (he's a career mechanic).
    His only has 40-45K miles on it.
    Not like his is a high mileage machine.
    Careful examination of your spark plugs and muffler will probably tell the story.

    Hope you get this squared away ................ and that it's not what it appears.
    Good luck.
    #5
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  6. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Day 2 continues...

    I was now in Decatur Illinois and mentally shot. The bike had started to run rough, the clutch seems a little off, and the exhaust was sooted up badly. My trip appears over and I start to ponder how to get home.

    I was sitting in a McDonalds parking lot using their wifi to try to locate another nearby autoparts store to get some more oil and feeling particularly low when a fellow walks out of the McDonalds and proceeds to open the door to the car next to me and I asked him "Do you know where a closeby auto parts store is? He proceeds to tell me where one is just a few blocks away. I thank him and he gets into his car. After a moment he gets back out of his car and says "I'd like to give you something if you don't mind?" Curious and perhaps a bit guarded I say "Sure". He reached out his hand and places a cross made out of twine into mine. With that he then said "I hope you find what you're looking for, God Bless" and without another word gets back into his car and pulls away. Now honestly, I consider myself more of a spiritual person rather than a religious one but I'm struck by the moment. I feel my spirits lift a bit and I know some how things will work out. Maybe not the way I wanted, maybe not the way I planned, but it would all work out one way or another. I place the gift over the mirror on my bike and decide at that moment that it will remain with me for the balance of the trip. Perhaps just a trinket, but a sign of generosity at a time when I needed a lift.


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    It was then that I hatched the beginnings of a plan. I'm in a big city, I've worked hard most of my life and take very few vacations, I've got a little money squirreled away and perhaps I could find a bike to continue my "Trip of a lifetime" on? I'm intrigued by the notion and decided to go bike shopping....
    #6
  7. Eastview

    Eastview Been here awhile

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    OK, you are no where close to me but I think it is time to post on the regional thread for your current location and ask for assistance. I know if you were close to me I would have your bikini my shop looking for a solution. God bless and all will work out for you.
    #7
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  8. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    I appreciate the thought. I just got home. I'm just recording it all here to share while my memory of events is still fresh. ;)
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  9. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

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    In, totally sucks to have mechanical issues early on in your trip. That, sir, would be my luck as well.
    #9
  10. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    I did a bit of searching and found a Honda/KTM dealer in Decatur and decided to make it my first stop. It was a good sized dealership and I browsed through the selection of used bikes but nothing they had in stock would be appropriate doing the things I had envisioned doing on this trip. I then wandered over to the new bike section. They had a leftover KTM 1190 Standard, and a brand new 2016 KTM 1190R on the floor. I was hoping to spot a new Honda Africa Twin as well, but sadly they didn't have one. Having dealt with KTM issues in the past I wasn't sold on the idea of buying another one but when I was offered the keys to the brand new 1190R how could I say no to a test ride? I took the bike out and was impressed with it, in fact I actually liked it a lot, not as smooth as my Tiger but the power and handling were impressive for a stock bike.

    However, I was still not sold on the whole KTM ownership thing and I went in search of a new and at the time hard to locate Honda Africa Twin. I located a dealer about 70 miles away with a brand new one on the floor! I made a late day run on my sick Tiger to check it out (after pouring yet more oil into it). I got to the dealer and was immediately offered the keys to take it for a spin. Side note: Folks sure are friendly with test rides when they know you are serious about possibly buying a bike! :)

    Anyway, I took the Honda for a spin and was quite pleased with it. It did some things better, some things not as good as the big KTM. Now it was time to take some advice my father gave me many years ago, he had told me "Son, never make a large purchase decision without sleeping on it first." The insanity (to me) of even entertaining the idea of buying a new bike mid-trip and the cost associated with it had my head spinning so it seemed a fine time to make use of his advice now. I needed some time to let the reality of my current situation sink in and decide whether to attempt to continue west, or let sanity prevail and tuck tail and head home. It was a fitful nights sleep.

    Would I get to continue on one of these bikes? Or would sanity prevail and I'd find a U-haul in the morning...

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    uhaul.jpg
    #10
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  11. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Woke up in the morning and knew the answer. I made the 70 mile ride back to Decatur and did the deal on the KTM. They weren't interested in a trade but that was ok, I wasn't interested in what their offer would probably have been. As part of the deal they agreed to hold onto the Tiger until I could make arrangements for it. It took most of the day to get all the new bike paperwork done, sort out the items I could leave behind since I'd be making the rest of the trip without sidebags and get the electronics wired.


    Working on making the KTM mine slowly but surely. The Tiger sits in the background looking lonely. Hey Mr. Tiger, step up or step off. You pissed me off.
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    #11
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  12. modette

    modette Rider

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    I'd probably pick the African twin, but I like to be different. More importantly it was nice meeting you at the event so I'm glad you continued on your trip.
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  13. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    Good luck. I hope this all works out to carry on.
    #13
  14. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    After moving things over to the other bike I managed to eek out some miles.

    Passing over the Illinois River I spotted the biggest barge I've ever seen. Look how big it is compared to the 18 wheeler passing overhead on the next bridge! It was moving so slowly up river against the current it surprised me it's still used as a form of commercial transportation.
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    Barges aren't the only thing big out here. They have these supersized Silos every few miles along the railroad tracks. My bike is the ity-bity dark spot near the center/bottom of the frame next to the biggest Silo. When they call the plains states the Breadbasket of the country they aren't kidding!
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    I got through Illinois and rode over the Mississippi River and pulled into Hannibal MO for the evening. I had no Idea that Hannibal MO was the birthplace of Mark Twain, but I know now. That might come in handy if I'm ever a contestant on Jeopardy I reckon. But seriously, it was kind of cool. Who didn't read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a kid? I surely did. Maybe that's where I got a bit of my wanderlust from.
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    #14
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  15. Ol Man

    Ol Man Long timer Supporter

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    As a KTM guy, I bet you made the right decision.
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  16. BillUA

    BillUA Las Vegas, NV

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    Also a KTM guy that passed on the 1190R due to airbox issues that were NOT fully cured on the 2015's...
    I sincerely hope that it gave the OP good service.

    How many miles were on the triumph?
    #16
  17. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Not enough to expect any problems. It's not led an easy life so I'll reserve judgement until I've torn it down and inspected the motor. Likely a wintertime project for me at this point.
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  18. ROAD DAMAGE

    ROAD DAMAGE Long timer Supporter

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    Good to see that you "got back on the horse" after being sorta' bucked off. :thumbup
    Hell, you had 21 days off ............... you could've done a top end rebuild and still had a 2 week trip! :brow :lol3
    Safe travels.
    RD
    #18
  19. Zepphead

    Zepphead Ride,explore,camp Supporter

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    1190-R! You'll be glad you made this choice ! Get her off on to some dirt ASAP !:lurk
    #19
  20. dano619

    dano619 Long timer Supporter

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    Im IN!!
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