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Discussion in 'Vendors' started by byways, Dec 2, 2012.
Thank you so much, Bill. Same to all @ the Butler Gang!
I was planning on doing the TAT, but this looks sooo much more like what I really enjoy. Thousands of miles of Gratuitous Gravel that say I've driven coast to coast OR beautiful scenery everywhere I look the entire ride? I've been coast to coast on my motorcycle a couple times on pavement and the honest truth is there's not much to see between the Atlantic Ocean and Denver. Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri ...... Boring...
Take the TAT to Utah and then jump on the H.O.W.
That's kinda my plan anyway.
So I rode Tony's Heart of the West with a friend a few years ago and absolutely loved it. Was it challenging, dam right it was on a fully loaded adv bike. Most of it was easy beautiful 2 track roads with some rather knarly unexpected section that had me whining like a baby at times.... Loved it! Did it have beautiful scenery? Holy cow did it ever, I still dream about it every day. In fact my riding partner and I were just exchanging pictures of the ride again yesterday. We'll often just send the other a cool pic of the ride for no reason other than just remind ourselves of what a great trip it was. We added a few variations of our own just so we could go look at some other place or go camp along some beautiful lake. We also skipped a couple section like when it was 115 in central Utah, or raining like hell for the next week in Colorado (I'm still bummed about that). There were so many cool, beautiful, scenic, and remote places that it's nearly impossible to pin down a favorite day or section of the ride, but I definitely have a few.
I want to say Tony was always available for a phone call when call to bitch about a section or ask about a route around. He was absolutely great to work with and an awesome source of information. Thanks Tony for some of the best memories of my life! Still hope to ride it again in a couple years so I can enjoy the Colorado sections.
Bikebuster56, thank you so much!
It is gratifying to share the H.o.W. experience with so many travelers like yourself, riders who appreciate the landscapes, wildlands, chapters from American history -- and yes, occasional challenges -- that Mother Nature and I weave into it. I hope you can find your way back one day soon to complete the segments you missed.
Now, folks ... I've been away from this thread for a while, I know. But I've been behavin'. I've been delving into the worlds of Instagram and Facebook (@backcountry.byways), responding to four-wheeled overlanding enthusiasts, revisiting routes in my dirt-roads guidebooks, building custom routes, and facilitating those who are planning for H.o.W. and Sierra to the Sea/Sea to Sierra (S2S, my 825-mile trans-California route) in '18.
And, it's still kinda wintry out there ...
For now, I'll leave you all with a reminder of how H.o.W. has grown -- with this community's encouragement and support -- to become America's evolving "roundabout" of wildland travel routes ...
X2 on this description of the ride and Tony's great attention to detail. If you're on the fence about what ride to do, this is it. If you do this you will remember it for a lifetime. September is the best month so it's time to start planning. Tony has already got the hard stuff figured out, all you have to do is figure out your starting point.
Thank you so much, guys. Those are generous comments indeed, and I certainly appreciate them.
I've been away from this thread for a while. At 78 pages now, it is becoming difficult to say something new. But also, winter here in the northern Rockies wasn't long ago, and there is mud and snow in the high country (I was stopped by both in Montana just a week ago).
It's been a rainy June (as usual), and the mud from the snowmelt, rain and flooding takes time to dry (although some don't wait, and leave roadbed damage in their wake) ...
I've been especially busy fielding inquiries from travelers who are eager to launch onto H.o.W. asap. I always advise waiting till about mid July at the soonest, and to consider mid to late September into early October if possible. Frustrating, I know, but my own season doesn't get underway, really, till after mid July.
Some September H.o.W. moments ...
An October view ...
And the third week of November (note the snow in the mountains) ...
The long off season does provide time to draft personalized routing -- including connections to the BDRs -- for ADV veterans who increasingly order "off-menu" ...
Then, too, word is spreading among ADV riders and four-wheeled overlanders about our relatively new Sierra to the Sea Adventure Route, an 825-mile wildland odyssey across Northern California that requires monitoring and a revisit now and then ...
Finally, I hope eventually to announce a major upgrade to the H.o.W. map pack, the popular printed guide to the dozens of primary, optional and alternate tracks that comprise America's convenient roundabout of interconnected ADV loops 'n routes.
P.S. You also can follow our wildland travels and updates on Instagram: @backcountry.byways
Are lots of people doing your routes in four wheeled vehicles; what kind of equipment would you need?
You don't necessarily have to say anything new, just a few of those awesome pics every now and then would be enough.
The short answer is that, in my experience, no other mode in the wildland-travel genre compares to the energy, enthusiasm and commitment of adventure riders. For all the jokes about hanging out at Starbucks, ADV riders do it.
I enjoy both modes -- SUV and moto -- and I'm not alone in that. Each travel mode has its appeal and advantages. It isn't a matter of one or the other; it's apples and oranges. So I have been drawn over the past year to the greater latitude to address both modalities that Instagram and Facebook provide (@backcountry.byways).
The four-wheeled long-distance wildland-travel genre -- an old genre abroad -- is relatively nascent in the USA, and it seems to have a ways to go to match the activity and energy levels I find among ADV riders. There is no comparison in the numbers of contacts I receive; moto wins hands down. That may simply be an exposure issue, for there also is no ad-free, enthusiast-driven online SUV community that compares (in my view) with Adventure Rider.
But things are changing. With every new season SUV-oriented outreach to me increases, particularly from couples, families with young children, and seniors ... this season more than any other. I also get ADV riders who bring an SUV along to haul the hardware and non-rider companions, and want to be sure my routes are suitable. They are.
Yet my observation is that four-wheeled long-distance wildland travel in the U.S.A. remains, at this stage in its development, more aspirational than actual, more about equipping for it than doing it.
All of my routes are suitable to two- and four-wheeled travel, some more so than others. The same is true with most if not all of the ADV routes chronicled on this forum. But this is a moto space, so folks rarely post about SUV travel on these same routes.
As for what sort of equipment is best, most any body-on-frame 4WD SUV or pickup/camper combo will do, although as with motorcycles "less" is often better than "more."
Modifications can be helpful, but also can be the source of problems. They should be modest. Basics would include all-terrain tires, two spare tires, purposeful skid plates, a couple of additional inches of ground clearance, a portable toilet, a Trasharoo garbage sack, and a cooler of non-Utah IPA. By no means does one need to go to the extravagant lengths one sees at, say, Overland Expo. As with adventure motorcycling, good judgment is the best bit o' kit.
As for photos, thank you for the compliment, and for the invitation to keep 'em coming, even if I don't have a single new thing to say. I've tried to include new and useful information with each post. But heck, I just might do as you suggest, for I'll be deep into Nevada soon, and then revisiting Sierra to the Sea ADV Route across Northern California after that. Then it's north through Idaho, Montana and on into Canada. So stay tuned, Laconic. I'll try my best to stir your spirit anew ...
In the meantime, I'm feelin' a multi-modal Heart of the West ADV Route retrospective coming on ...
Thanks for the reply. The wife and I plan to do some exploring in the next couple of years and frankly, doing this stuff two up on a motorcycle isn't going to be an option for us. I can, however, see us traveling these routes and dry camping out of something like that blue Toyota without any problem.
I hear that more and more, Laconic, particularly as boomers' nests empty out, the dog dies, they retire, buffness fades, and spousal units want to do more together rather than solo ...
... or with their wild and crazy old frat brothers ...
In the mid-'80s into the '90s, when I was getting deep into writing SUV-focused dirt-road guidebooks, the market was boomers who'd been '70s backpackers, but now had toddlers, teenagers and two weeks' vacation. We didn't want to give up the wildland experience, so our SUVs replaced our backpacks and the kids got stuffed in the back ...
But when they were grown and gone, some of us discovered the ADV moto thing. And now we do both ...
You'd have no trouble in a capable SUV or pickup/camper on HoW, S2S, the BDRs, the TAT, etc. That doesn't mean adventure motorcycling ends. It means only that you've two (or in my case, three) rewarding modes to get you out there.
We did the HOW a couple of years ago with our sidecar rig:
It is a GSA based sidecar, we had done the CDR the year before. I would say that it will pretty much go where ever an experienced driver could take a 2 wheel drive pickup.
I have a 3/4 ton 4x4 Duramax I would have no hesitation doing the HOW with it. Here it is on a trip to Central Nevada:
Its a 4 door long bed so I have to be careful with approach angles and high centering. Not many places on the HOW would require 4x4 but you may need to think about how you approach a technical place or two. I carry a full sized shovel but no winch and 4x4 is used to get out of a bad spot not to get into some place. I have no additional ride height, just heavy duty shocks and not real aggressive off road tires (BFG AT radials). I have to admit that I'm a retired Geologist who spent his carrier driving off road and spent many years off road racing in Baja, so I've got more than a little bit of off road driving experience.
Tony's routes are really awesome, if he leads you through an area there is a reason to go there, you'll enjoy it.
That's the kind of thing I had in mind, I have no interest in "building a rock crawler". The wife and I have been watching Voyage of the Continents on Amazon, I noticed a lot of the geologists on there are using Toyota pickups with caps, some with snorkels, but mostly they look unmodified except for tire racks or extra gas cans. Too bad I just bought a 2wd, regular cab, long bed Ram. It might work with some bigger, more offroad style tires, I grew up in Maine and have never owned a 4wd.
Yikes! I found something new to say!
This year is the 50th anniversary of the USA's National Trails System Act, which calls for establishing trails in both urban and rural settings for people of all ages, interests, skills, and physical abilities.
This year also is the 40th anniversary of the addition of the National Historic Trails component of the act. It recognizes original trails and routes of travel of national historic significance, including routes of exploration, migration and military action.
Both H.o.W. and Sierra to the Sea ADV Route include substantial segments of historic emigrant trails. So I thought I'd spotlight the Reno, Nevada-based non-profit organization Trails West, whose work on emigrant trails enriches the H.o.W. and S2S experiences.
Here and there wildland travelers come across Trails West's unique steel-rail "T" markers, which denote and interpret the old trails.
This one is along H.o.W., near Utah's Pilot Peak, which served as a landmark for those true overlanders ...
This one is in Northern California, along Sierra to the Sea ...
Trails West's members and their families work hard to locate, mark and interpret emigrant trails leading to California and Oregon. The organization also publishes guidebooks (substantially discounted to members) so anyone can follow the trails from beginning to end.
So far, they've placed more than 700 markers on more than a dozen historic trails, beginning in Idaho and Utah and extending west across northern Nevada into Oregon and Northern California.
You can add your support to Trails West by becoming a member. Check 'em out at: https://emigranttrailswest.org.
Thanks for the input on Laconic's inquiry, Strongbad. No one is wiser about these things than you.
I would caution that H.o.W.'s optional segments tend to be more rudimentary than the primary track, particularly in the desert of Nevada and Utah. There, summer storms can cause substantial washouts. Those washouts can be deep, and can create high and sharp cutbanks across roads. That's when a bit of supplementary clearance, and high, short tail-end overhang have advantages.
A washout along an optional H.o.W. track in Utah ...
Another recommendation I make to four-wheeled folks is to carry a second spare tire. There is no law of physics, nature or humankind that limits flats to one per day; and once you get a flat tire and have to mount the spare, you no longer have a spare -- if you carry just one.
Tires aren't just punctured, but often are damaged beyond repair by sharp rocks and stones. Destroyed tires are so common in my experience that they pose a significant annual expense. Below, I mourn the demise of a pricey Michelin all-terrain tire in eastern California's Sweetwater Mountains ...
My solution: a second spare tire and wheel mounted on a Toyota 4Runner using a convenient swing-out, high-clearance, hitch-mounted carrier (with a RotopaX mount and a Trasharoo), by Wilco Off-Road. It includes a second hitch mount I can use for the trailer I use to the haul the KLR ...
This looks familiar!
Hark! Something NEW!!!
A major upgrade to the optional H.o.W. map pack ...
In partnership with Benchmark Maps, familiar to many ADV riders as America's premier publisher of accurate and detailed travel-and-recreation maps and atlases ...
... the optional ($60 shipped in the USA, via USPS Priority Mail) H.o.W. map pack is now comprised of a wall-mountable 36 in. x 46 in. (91.44 cm x 116.84 cm) color, folded-paper Benchmark Map produced exclusively for licensed H.o.W. travelers. It depicts all of H.o.W.'s tracks (including primary, optional and alternate tracks and BDR connectors).
The tracks are indexed, numbered and colored to match our proprietary H.o.W. track file, making it quick and easy to gain a high-elevation yet detailed perspective of one's progress. The map also makes it easy to plot bypasses and go-arounds should impassable obstacles be encountered.
Typical of Benchmark Maps, the highly detailed H.o.W. map depicts dirt and paved roads, highways, landmarks, public lands, national and state parks, campgrounds ... and a great deal more.
Vital to your trip's success: The pack includes both large and small H.o.W. STICKERS!!, and a weather-resistant translucent pouch with a roll-top hook-and-loop closure.
We offer this benefit at close to our cost, as yet another component of our unique traveler-support package. Supply is limited, so when you sign up for the H.o.W. experience consider the advantages of having this resource-rich companion in your tank bag.
And with the patina of wrinkles, tears, mud stains and scribbles the map is sure to acquire, it will be a cherished ADV diploma on your man-cave wall for years to come ...
The next newsletter for this season's H.o.W. travelers will bear sad news.
A routine inspection of an optional track today found that storms and runoff essentially destroyed this favorite. Sadly, we must issue an indefinite "No-Go" recommendation.
Personally inspecting H.o.W.'s condition each season requires substantial expenditures of time and resources. Yet it must be done. It's just one thing we do to help you all have successful trips.
That is one of the main factors in your routes,
the personal touches make the real difference.
Good Morning Tony