Home and back again - NY to OR, a couple BDRs and back

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LazerDanger, Aug 21, 2019.

  1. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    I just defended my dissertation on Monday, finishing my PhD studies. My advisor has given me the go-ahead to take an extended leave, but I'll be returning as a postdoc to finish a few projects. I'm still in a state of disbelief that I'm done and that he is letting me check-out for a whole month. I plan on making the most of it.

    I really debated whether to try to write a ride report for the trip, but I've never been good at documenting my previous adventures. I hate social media (don't have Twitter, FaceBook, etc.) and closely guard my online anonymity, but I'm hoping that starting this will inspire me to keep a running log. Also, I need motivation for documenting and photographing the trip.

    As for background I've been riding for 16 years on and off, almost entirely road bikes. Four years ago my dad, a family friend and I rode from my home in Portland, OR out to Ithaca, NY. I did it on a 1978 Triumph Bonneville. The bike broke down constantly, but we made it and had a great time. I was nearly run over by a buffalo, had to do wheel bearings in Marquette, MI, and came home with more stories than anyone I know wants to hear. After making the trip the bike needed a ground-up rebuild, which I promptly started and am about 1/2 through (grad student hours don't leave time for wrenching). Two years ago I bought an Africa Twin and promptly started riding dirt roads and Jeep trails in the area. Since then I've been itching for another epic adventure. Two years ago I did a big loop around the coast through the Maritime Provinces to Quebec then back through Maine, NH, and VT. Last summer I went through MI to see family then up through the UP and TCH around to thousand islands and down through the Adirondacks. This trip will dwarf them.

    My plans are fluid, I hate reservations and schedules. I need to be in Portland for the holiday weekend then dad and I will take off for the Idaho BDR, crossing over to WA and doing the BDR back down to Portland. From there I'm heading back to Ithaca via some route TBD.

    I'll be taking the AT (keeping it light) from Ithaca through Canada above Lake Superior and down to Duluth. I may try an iron butt from there to Billings, but that's an "if I feel like it" goal. For the first leg it's about making miles to spend some time with my family. Right now I've got everything packed, taken care of all my lab business, cleaned my apartment, and am ready to leave. Only problem is I'm too excited to sleep.
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  2. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    Sounds like a great trip. It's been difficult for me to compose a proper ride report, but I found it very rewarding on my last trip to have the thoughts of one rolling around the noggin. In the past I would just get lost in the ride...which is definitely enjoyable! But noticing themes and other details...... as if I was to write a report, really made for a great experience. A fellow AT rider as well...... Fantastic bike for this kind of journey. I look forward to following along. Safe travels!
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  3. mADVta

    mADVta Adventurer

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    Some other rider I've met along the way once adviced me to write down briefly 2-3 highlights from each day of the trip to overcome logging reluctance and procastrination. It made it simpler and easier for me ;)

    Anyway, waiting for updates :)
    #3
  4. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    Thanks for the encouragement. I'm going to try to follow mADVta's advice and make at least 2 notes per day. A decent portion of the trip will be out of cell service, so they may not all come through in real-time.

    Today was rough. I found 73 things that I needed to do before leaving. I actually didn't need to do any of them, but a month+ away is a much bigger prospect then my previous trips. End result was I didn't leave until after noon. I had a great beginning, but as soon as I got on I90 it stopped being fun. I pulled off at REI in Rochester to pick up a spot tracker, something I've been meaning to get for a long time. Unfortunately they were sold out. I'll have to look elsewhere on my way out to Portland. It needs to be REI, though. I have a few gift cards that I want to use for the purchase.

    Anyway, back on the road I crossed at Niagara Falls and headed toward Sudbury. Around 7 I was tired, sick of traffic, and generally not having fun so I stopped in Mississauga and grabbed a motel for the night. The urban sprawl in this area has turned me off, and after evaluating my time table and a map I've decided that tomorrow I'll head across instead of up and shoot for Gary, IN.

    I have a single picture from today, the bike packed in the parking lot of my apartment before leaving. I made the rookie mistake of adding an extra jacket, some more underwear and socks, and a few other odds and ends this morning. I think I probably added 10 lbs minimum and a lot of bulk. I'm going to ship a lot of stuff back to Ithaca when I hit Portland. It's just way too much and way too heavy.

    View attachment 1852012
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  5. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    hmm, picture is not working. 20190822_123820.jpg
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  6. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    I guess I could give a brief rundown on gear. As you know, I'm on an AT. It's a 2016 with just about 14k miles when I left. I have touratech bars and racks, went up 2 teeth on the rear when I did the chain. I've been on TKC80s for a while now (3rd set). The current set had ~3k miles on it at departure. I'm hoping they make it to Oregon, I've got a new set waiting with my parents. For luggage I have GL all the way around, panniers, duffel, tank bag. I replaced the stock pegs with Fastways, added a camel tank, and done a PDM60 for the GPS (Garmin Zumo 395), extra lights, USB.

    For camping I carry my Brooks Range backpacking tent, a light pad from REI, and an REI bag. I have a micro stove (canister type) and single combo pot/mug. Headlight, toiletries, and some dehydrated backpacking meals (last resort, prefer something fresh if possible).

    I just switched to Gaerne SG12 boots because my Formas were too soft for real dirt/offroad. I'm wearing Klim badland pants and jacket, but I have packed away a Leat armored shirt and Klim jersey. Helmet is Arai XD4.

    I have some odds and ends, like this tablet I'm typing on. Most of the electronics, the badlands jacket, clothes, etc. will get left in my parent's garage for the BDRs, and when we get back I'll ship anything unnecessary back to Ithaca.

    There's a lot I've left out, but I think I've hit the critical notes on my pack.
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  7. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    I missed updating yesterday. I was too tired.

    I made it to Portage yesterday after fighting through traffic on the QEW. It was a long slog, not much else to be said. I stayed in a cheap motel, which was a big mistake. There was constant noise and a lot of suspicious activity in the parking lot. Oh well, bike was still there in the morning. I did stop by REI and get a Spot, which I eventually will figure out how to link to a live map.

    Today was much better, after I cleared Chicago. Getting through the city was not fun. I'm sure that it's routine for the residents, but the toll booths were a killer. I had to duck the gate on 2 of the "self service" ones because they wouldn't take cash or a card. The "help" button is useless, nobody answered and after several minutes I'm pretty sure the people in line behind me were ready to get out and mug me.

    After that the ride was great for interstates. I made it to St. Cloud MN, where I grabbed a slightly nicer hotel room to make up for last night. My rear tire now has about 5.1k miles on it and it's showing. Fingers crossed it makes it to Portland. If not I'll be looking for the cheapest option I can find in Montana/Idaho.

    Once again, no pictures. I was too busy clicking through the miles. Here's a map of the ride so far:
    mapimage.jpg
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  8. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    A few thoughts from the last 2 days:

    I started the trip with a brand new pair of Revit Sand 3 gloves. I ordered size 2XL from revzilla to replace my Klim induction size XL. I love the Klims, but they were a size too small from the get go and are wearing out. The new gloves felt 2 sizes too small when they arrived, but after wearing them for a while around my apartment they started to feel OK. Big mistake. They stretched to fit my hands, but the finger length is really short. Like absurdly short for a 2XL. Yesterday morning I cut the tips off all the fingers. By the end of the day the seams had split to my second knuckle on 3/5 fingers. Last night I tried to sew the seams, but that was a lost cause for an amateur. I settled for stretchy athletic tape. Today the tape plus tip-less fingers were great. I'll have to re-tape every couple days, but oh well, comfort is king.

    The stock seat on the AT is miserable. I've known this for a while. It's great for a day trip doing 50/50, but for hundreds of miles? Forget it. I thought Moto-Skiveez would help, and they do, but not enough.

    I don't like doing more than 75 mph on this bike. I don't like doing more than 2 hours without a break. For these reasons, plus the crap seat I'm not even going to try an Iron Butt on this trip. I also can't seem to catch up on rest after the last couple months of dissertation stress, and I'm not going to risk it when I'm not feeling 100 percent from the start.

    With all that said I'm shooting for Glendive MT tomorrow. An easy ride that will give me 1 day buffer to find a place to get off the bike in MT, ID or WA. I'm looking for something new, so Yellowstone and Tetons are off the list. If you have any suggestions let me know. I'm thinking maybe a 1/2 day in Craters of the Moon and 1/2 day ??? I'm also thinking of camping a night in Glacier and making up for the time I rode through. I'm open to suggestions for a day off in Western MT.
    #8
  9. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    Today I made it to Glendive, MT. When I left this morning I had all the vents open in my gear and just a T-shirt on under my jacket. About an hour in it got cold (62ish) and drizzly. I eventually stopped and found a diner to warm up with some corned beef hash and coffee. After getting the blood flowing I put on some insulation, closed the vents and headed into the worst storm I've ever ridden in. There was a 30+ mph (I'm guessing close to 40) crosswind, hammering rain and hail. I was fine just poking along with traffic that slowed to 35 mph because of the visibility. Here's a shot of the "Wall of Hurt" from the parking lot of the diner. The picture doesn't do the ominous feeling of knowing I was headed straight into it justice.

    20190825_124551.jpg

    Eventually it let up, but the wind wouldn't quit. It was always a head wind or cross wind, so my mileage was terrible and I was filling up every couple hours. I didn't mention it before but I put a camel tank on the bike, thankfully. I would guess that I was averaging 30-35 mpg most of the day. Of course the 75-80 mph speed limits, larger rear sprocket, poor aero profile and tires all contributed.

    20190825_223620.jpg

    Speaking of tires, mine have 5863 miles on them now. The rear is getting pretty low, maybe 2 mm from the wear bars. I'm at about 1900 miles so far, and have about 1500 to go before I get to the new tires.

    I'm planning on heading to Enterprise, OR, doing part of the Hell's Canyon scenic byway then to the fossil beds. I have 2 extra days before I need to be home, and I'm going to spend them in that part of the state exploring.
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  10. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    Day 5 - 568ish miles, 2575 total so far

    It was chilly this morning, and after about an hour I saw another big storm on the horizon. Not knowing whether I'd be going through or around on I-94, I pulled over, zipped up and put on the waterproof gloves. It turns out that the edge of the storm was right on the freeway, so I spent a few hours riding with blue skies to the right and dark clouds to the left, with light rain falling on the road. Here's a shot when I decided to close the vents.

    20190826_125834.jpg

    I made decent time, but the front tire was getting squirly. Getting on and off the freeway I could feel it sliding, especially when accelerating out of a turn. The front has cupped to the point where it's no longer safe, in my opinion, and the rear is on the wear bars. I called ahead and I'll be getting fresh tires in Missoula tomorrow morning. I limped into Missoula and grabbed a motel, had a burger and that's about it for today. The end of the ride was nice, but I was so worried about the tires in the milly turns that I couldn't really enjoy it. Enough of that, it'll all be fixed tomorrow and I'm headed for Enterprise, OR and the Snake River.
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  11. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    I visited Five Valley Honda in Missoula this morning for new tires. They had K60's, TKC80's and Motoz Tractionator Adventures. I went with the Motoz, always wanted to try them and they were a lot cheaper than the other options. With the new rubber I set off for Lolo Pass. It took quite a while to get the new tires broken in, but that didn't detract from the scenery.

    21503.jpeg
    I headed up to Lewiston via a circuitous route (thanks Garmin for not being helpful). From there I headed down Hwy 129 to the Grande Ronde and into Oregon. I didn't know what to expect, but it turned out amazing. For perspective here's a topo:

    hwy129.jpg
    On the way up the other side I finally got the picture I've been wanting since I bought the AT:

    20190827_191759.jpg
    So now I'm in Enterprise, OR, trying to figure out what to do for the next couple days. One part of me wants to go explore the dirt roads around Hell's Canyon, while the other want's to find a dirt route from here to the John Day area. I'm going to sleep on it and make a decision in the morning.
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  12. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    So, it's been a few days since I updated. I'll summarize in a couple posts.

    On Thursday I rode up to Imnaha then took the Upper Imnaha road south past the salmon weir. The fish trap was very interesting. I ran into one of the employees and he took me for a private tour (I think we were the only two people there). He showed me around, pointed out some fish below the weir and some in the trap. According to him they move the trapped fish to a hatchery off-site, and once the hatched fish are large enough they bring them back to acclimate before being released. I lived in Oregon for 15+ years and never knew how the process worked. The road in was hot at 98 F, but fun and the views were great.

    20190828_133703.jpg
    After that I took some gravel roads around the area and eventually made my way up to the Hell's Canyon overlook via the gravel backroud. Totally worth it, the road was fun and the views along the way were better than from the official overlook.

    20190828_152005.jpg
    From there I headed back to Joseph and had lunch with some guys from the midwest (I think?) who were riding in a large group, starting with the WABDR and heading southwest, although I don't remember their exact plans. After that I made a fast dash to Baker City for the night.
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  13. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    On Thursday I headed out from Baker City toward Bend. I had contacted an old friend from high school and he offered to put me up for the night. I found a nice dirt connector between Hwy 7 and 26 that was easy and fast. When I got to 26 I ran into construction that was happening on 7. The flagger let me go through, since I wasn't heading through the construction zone.

    20190829_112859.jpg
    I made it to Bend in time to pick up some air filters from the Honda dealer, then backtracked to Redmond. I enjoyed a night of steak, beer and old stories.
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  14. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    Friday through Monday went too fast. On Friday I got a bit of a late start, after stopping by Atomic Moto to talk to Brian. I've bought two pairs of boots and various gear from hi over the phone, so it was cool to finally meet him. He sent me over to Giant Loop, where I had the opportunity to meet the founder/owner. They wanted pics of my bike after they heard I'd ridden all the way from NY.

    After that I rode up to Detroit and hopped on the Breitenbush Road to 224. The pavement got a bit boring, so I decided to scout a cutoff on the logging roads. Unfortunately that turned into a big gravel loop, but it was a fun excuse to test the MotoZ's on some loose surfaces. Anyway, back on the pavement I picked up the pace and rolled into Portland late afternoon.

    20190830_145039.jpg
    #14
  15. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    Saturday and Sunday were about spending time with the family and prepping the bikes for the upcoming BDRs. On the AT I changed the air filters, oil and filter, cleaned the spark arrestors, and re-plumbed the camel tank to fix a fueling issue.

    On that note, I will have a new bike for the rest of this ride. My dad has given me his 1090 adventure! I've been riding it around this weekend and it's a great bike. He will do the BDRs on my AT, after which he plans on selling it and buying a 790 next spring. Today (Sunday) we spent some time setting up his TW200 for my brother. He'll be joining us for a couple legs through the WABDR at the end of our ride. After the bike was sorted we did a quick ride (me on the KTM, him on the TW) through some logging roads on Mt. Hood.

    Back at home this evening we packed up and did our final inspections of the bikes. We're ready for launch tomorrow (sort of). I'm looking for a set of Rox risers for the KTM that we can pick up tomorrow morning or in Bend Tues/Wed. The bike fits me great except the bars a bit too low when on the pegs.
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  16. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    Tuesday we took off from Portland headed to bend. Me on the 1090 and dad on the AT. After stopping for lunch in Detroit I decided we should take a cutoff on some gravel. That turned into a bit of a mistake. I was riding out in front and one of the times I stopped my dad didn't show. After a while I got worried. I found him a mile back with the AT dusty but upright in the trail. He managed to snag the right fork leg on a log, dumping the bike onto the left side. He got it back up right as I showed up to help.
    Sorry about the bad photo. It was a last minute shot before we started moving again. We eventually made it to Bend.
    20190903_150256.jpg
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  17. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    Wednesday we started with an off-road adv bike riding course in the area around Bend. We had a great time brushing up on some basic skills and got to try a few pieces of more advanced terrain. Probably the most valuable part was having an instructor familiar with the IDBDR who could give us some pointers on what to expect.

    After that we rode to Nampa, ID. I had the Rox risers shipped to our hotel. Along the way we found a leak in the camel tank on the AT. It turns out the rear tire had been rubbing on the side of the tank. We looked closely and the Touratech rack had been bent in the crash on Tuesday. It was much, but just enough that the tire would contact the rack occasionally. The leak was very small, so we drained the tank and disconnected it from the main. I bent the rack back enough that the tire cleared and we took off.

    Here's a shot of my dad packing up Tuesday morning. 20190905_082326.jpg
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  18. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    Thursday - disaster strikes twice on the way to Jarbidge.

    Forgot to mention that after Tuesdays crash we decided to get some intercoms (Cardo).

    We set off thinking we would have an easy day getting to Jarbidge. Plan was to avoid the freeway by heading south out of Nampa, the catching 78 to 51 and the dirt road into town. About 30 miles out of town dad disappeared from my mirrors. I pulled over and waited a bit, and eventually de Ides to backtrack and look for him. I found him a couple miles back at a turnout, looking at the rear wheel. He had blown the tube. We got the wheel off and it was smoking hot. When I pulled the tire the tube was melted and the tire was massively deformed. The rack had shifted back and the tire was rubbing on the tank again. While I swapped in the spare tube he pulled the camel tank off the bike. We limped into town and got a new tire and tube then set off again.

    Once on 51 we thought we had plenty of gas. It turns out Google lied to us and the fuel stops along 51 were all closed. We decided to head to Elko instead of continuing to Jarbidge. We ended up pulling over at a roadside bar about 25 miles north of Elko when the AT was on fumes. Luckily a hot rod club was there and a very kind man have us a couple gallons to get to Elko.

    After fueling in Elko we made our way to Jarbidge, doing the last 30 miles of dirt road in the dark. By the time we got in the restaurant was closed, so it was chicken gumbo dehydrated backpacking meal. 20190905_095752.jpg 20190905_100227.jpg 20190905_171313.jpg 20190905_171347.jpg
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  19. LazerDanger

    LazerDanger Adventurer

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    A note on the camel tank. It's a great product, very well designed and made. It was my fault for not pulling it off as soon as we noticed it rubbing, but I thought we had bent it back into position. That being said, I wouldn't t put another one on a bike. The potential consequences of a failure and tight clearance to the tire are too much risk for the benefit. From now on I'll be using a gas bladder and only filling when needed.
    #19
  20. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

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    Talking to Tim at Happy trails, you need a minimum of 3/4" clearance at the closest point to allow for such adventures. RTWPaul has an article regarding a bike inspection after a drop.
    #20