"I've Been Everywhere, Man" Living the song on two wheels.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by swedstal, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,097
    Sunday, September 1st

    The whole family arrived home in the morning and I got to meet Bennett. I tried to tell him about my cool blog, but he didn’t seem too interested.

    [​IMG]

    It makes me happy to think that I will be a strange little anecdote connected to the story of his birth. They were so gracious to let me stick around during this special time for their family.

    [​IMG]

    Cale let me take his YZ250 for a spin and we talked about riding Baja someday. I definitely wouldn’t take much convincing! I left their house with some more fond memories, some extra cash in my wallet, a nice heat-wicking shirt and one of the best stickers I’ve received:

    [​IMG]

    Thank you for everything, Cale, Jill and family!

    [​IMG]

    Catalina, a little community just north of Tucson, was set to be song place 86 of 92. Some have posited that the official “Catalina” should be the island off of Southern California. While it might be referred to as “Catalina” by locals, it is properly known as “Santa Catalina Island.” I have no second thoughts about this selection.

    The ride south was hot, but still very pleasant. I just love the scenery of the Sonora Desert.

    [​IMG]

    There are many little trails which run parallel to the highway. I had fun exploring these.

    [​IMG]

    This was the final day for the street tire that I’ve had on the rear since Ecuador. When the mechanic there told me he thought I could get 10,000 miles from it I was skeptical. In reality it lasted 15,000, an incredible number for a rear tire loaded like this one is. (It's a Pirelli Night Dragon, in case you were curious.)

    Though it had served me well, it had no traction by this point. Perhaps predictably, I got myself stuck in one of the sandy washes. I totally deserved it.

    [​IMG]

    This actually ended up being about a 40 minute ordeal of pushing, grunting, examining and lamenting beneath the glaring Arizona sun. I eventually needed to tip Annie over to get her rotated and pointed back in the way I came.

    [​IMG]

    I was relieved…and a little disappointed….when I finally got out.



    (I think the heat had made its way into my brain by then!)

    I reached the community of Oro Valley, prepared to make another new friend. An ADV'r named John (@Drybones around here) had invited me to take up residence at his abode. I also used his address for shipping and I was glad to see a new tire waiting for me. Upon pulling into his garage, I was thrilled to meet one of Annie’s sister’s. A DCT version of the NC700X named “Solie.”

    [​IMG]

    He let me take it for a spin a couple of days later. It was hard to know what to do with my left hand while accelerating.

    [​IMG]

    John is a former Navy pilot and worked for years as an engineer at a nuclear plant. It took some time for me to get used to not being the most interesting person in the room.
    GHOC, B10Dave, simbaboy and 13 others like this.
  2. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,097
    Tuesday, September 3rd

    I used John’s garage to complete (knock on wood) the final tire change of my journey. I’ve been running a street tire on the back for about 20,000 miles (due to availability in South America), so it felt good to have something with some tread on the rear again. If we go back to Ombabika, this will be essential.

    John provided an extra hand or two just when I needed it and the changing process wasn’t as bad as some of my previous attempts.

    [​IMG]

    I pretty much always use a strap when doing changes anymore. Ensuring that the opposite side is pushed as far into the center channel as possible really helps with working the final edge over the rim.

    [​IMG]

    It was a productive day of writing as well, though the view was often distracting:

    [​IMG]





    Wednesday, September 4th

    John is also Swedish and had good stories about visiting his relatives in the mother land. We had a full Swedish morning with Swedish pancakes, Swedish egg coffee, and even:

    [​IMG]

    While I had the wheel off, I decided that I was going to change bearings too. I had let my mechanical spreadsheet slide for awhile after I got home from South America, so I wasn’t sure whether these ones had about 10,000 miles or about 32,000 miles. There was a little bit of drag, so I decided to play it safe and change them out.

    [​IMG]

    *I'm going to do a little post-script about this process following the narrative.*

    In the evening we rode out to a Mexican restaurant. When two NCs are riding together, they get around 120 mpg. (I think that is how math works…)

    [​IMG]

    I have been continually searching for the best enchiladas suizas since I came back to the states. The ones I had here were the closest to my mind-blowing meal in Chiapas.

    [​IMG]
    GHOC, B10Dave, simbaboy and 10 others like this.
  3. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,097
    Thursday, September 5th

    Catalina day!

    Visiting Catalina is a little difficult. It is easy enough to locate, but tougher to define. It is not actually an incorporated city or town. Rather it is merely a “census-designated place.” How exotic!

    It was a hot day and I was only going to be riding around town, so I left John’s place in just a t-shirt and jeans. I found it interesting how the pavement would just end on some roads. The trail below was right in the middle of “town.”

    [​IMG]

    I explored the east end, towards the Santa Catalina mountains, finding one of my favorite Saguaros.

    [​IMG]

    These cacti are very slow growing. After 10 years, they are usually only a couple of inches tall. They do not grow their first arms until they are about 75 years old. This specimen is probably over 150 years old.

    [​IMG]

    I stopped into Catalina State Park which has some nice hiking trails. It was not the right time of day for a hike, so I didn’t see very much there.

    [​IMG]

    There was no visitor’s center of Catalina, but I was interested in learning more about its history and culture. I decided to go to the library. A nice librarian helped me as best as she could and I also met a nice guy in the parking lot who pointed some things out to me. But don’t worry, I’m not going to go into full “history mode” like I did with Winslow.

    I grabbed some grub at a local joint called “Claire’s.” Besides being a restaurant, it was also a gallery for local artists. Nice place!

    [​IMG]
    GHOC, B10Dave, simbaboy and 10 others like this.
  4. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,097
    I knew I wanted a Saguaro themed picture to represent Catalina, but I hadn’t found the one just yet. On the map, I’d seen a little line called the Charloux Gap Trail which ran towards the mountains. There were plenty of signs for “4 WHEEL DRIVE ONLY!!! HIGH CLEARANCE VEHICLES ONLY!!!”….but I’m pretty used to just riding right by these. I did let some air out of my tires, but I wasn’t too concerned about the road ahead.

    The trail got progressively rougher and I began wishing that I was wearing my padded gear. I’ve been pretty conscientious about having this on, even on hot days.

    [​IMG]

    The hills became steeper and more covered with loose rocks. I was just about ready to turn around, but I wanted to see what was around the next corner (famous last thoughts…). The following steep downhill had a hairpin curve at the bottom and the slope was covered with loose rocks. Though I tried to creep down it, I eventually started sliding. I rode it out for as long as I could, but got tossed off pretty hard at the bottom of the hill. (I accidentally deleted this moment from my dash cam. Dang it!)

    [​IMG]

    This was definitely my hardest hit since the crash in Mexico (page 36). I can’t believe I wan’t suited up. I got just what I deserved. It wasn’t my bloodied elbow or knee that caused me the most concern though. I looked back up whence I came and the ascent looked nearly impossible. As always, pictures do a poor job of capturing “steepness:”

    [​IMG]

    Because of the turn at the bottom, I couldn’t get a running start at it. My first attempt at it went pretty well though, and I made it almost half of the way up.

    [​IMG]

    From here though, it was slow going. I had to push from alongside of Annie while trying to feather out the clutch. We made progress by the foot, but a couple of times I had to intentionally tip her over to keep her from sliding down the hill.

    Then I made a BIG mistake.

    On one of my attempts, I was pushing and let the clutch all the way out. I thought the rear wheel was spinning as I revved the engine. Suddenly, I realized that the wheel was not moving. I was mortified, as the smell of burning clutch plates wafted through the air.

    [​IMG]

    I waited for about ten minutes, letting everything cool down and trying to convince myself that I wasn’t stranded. These were tense minutes. I knew I wouldn’t have many more opportunities, so I gunned it hard, popped the clutch and blasted the rest of the way up. I’m still not quite sure how I made it.

    [​IMG]

    I rode pretty hard the rest of the way back. I was more worried about taxing the clutch than I was about crashing. Ascending the final hill was a real relief!



    (Sorry for the sunscreen on the camera lens)

    I don’t take too kindly to a road getting the best of me, so I fully intend to come back here. Next time, however, I’ll probably be on a machine which is 300-400 pounds lighter. For now, I decided that this would be my last off-road experience of my journey. We will be sticking just to asphalt from here on. I can quit gravel anytime I want….

    Back on the pavement, I realized how much of my clutch was gone. I readjusted to get some free play back in the lever. It was a relief to get back to John’s place and be able to clean up my wounds. About 2/5 of the hair follicles on my left knee were left in Chiapas, Mexico. Another 1/5 or so remain in Catalina. Though I feel bad for my knee, this has given me a great song idea to rewrite the words of “I left my heart in San Francisco.”

    I still needed my Catalina picture though, so I headed back out after John made me supper. I decided to find a place in Catalina, at Catalina State Park, with the Santa Catalina mountains behind me.

    I have no qualms with environmentalists, but if they were really committed to their cause they would go beyond tree-hugging. Other plants need hugs too, especially those in the cactaceae family. I give you, Catalina:

    [​IMG]

    There is nothing simulated about the facial expressions. I really tried to get in there.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    These cacti are well engineered stabbing machines. I got what I deserved.

    [​IMG]

    @WYO George has been a great mechanical consultant for me on my journey and I gave him a call in the evening. He was great about giving me advice for how to proceed. He also didn’t scold me too severely for being such an idiot. You’re a good friend, George.
  5. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,097
    Friday, September 6th

    It was time to get back on the road. John crossed off Catalina for me and added a signature in Swedish.

    [​IMG]

    I’ve been putting off getting some “real” motorcycle gloves since I like having my fingers exposed. I had ordered a pair with my tire to reach the threshold for free shipping. John also had a pair that didn’t fit him that he gifted me. Now I have lots of options!

    [​IMG]

    I’m trying to work them in slowly…but they still feel unnatural…like a cat wearing socks.

    We weren’t parting ways just yet, though. We were going to do some riding in the Tucson area. I lived in an AMC Pacer in this city for about 2 months while I was in college. It was a strange, confusing chapter in my life, but one that I am thankful for. It was here that I learned it was possible to eat on about $1 per day. It was here that I first experienced the kindness of strangers. It was also here that I found my passion for homeless outreach which would eventually become a seven year career for me.

    Also here was the best thing that I had ever seen in the history of things and stuff. I just hoped it was still there. John and I rode to where I had last seen it and…….



    Yes, drink it in. An AMC Pacer used as a prop in the (terrible) movie Good Burger. Perhaps the biggest “never tell me the odds” moment in my life happened in 2006. Upon arriving in Tucson, I slept in the Kmart parking lot in my Pacer across the street. When I woke up, this monstrosity was the first thing that I saw.

    [​IMG]

    Note the crinkle cut fry bumper:

    [​IMG]

    It is an advertisement for a diner which is in the adjacent shopping center. I had to inquire and it is currently not for sale. It really should be kept inside as it is deteriorating quickly. I have a phone number, so I may make some more inquiries.

    [​IMG]

    John and I rode up to Mount Lemmon, the highest peak of the Santa Catalina mountains. It is a fun, winding road to get up there.

    [​IMG]

    There is a huge contrast in climate with the arid desert below. Up above 9,000 ft, there’s even a ski area at the top.

    [​IMG]

    John treated me to lunch at the diner with the Pacer and we parted ways. He did invite me back for one more night if I needed. I rode around the city for a bit, seeing some things that awakened long forgotten memories.
    GHOC, B10Dave, simbaboy and 9 others like this.
  6. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,097
    I left town heading west and did a ride through Saguaro National Park.

    [​IMG]

    The variety of the cacti offer many great photo opportunities…

    For beginners:

    [​IMG]

    For intermediates:

    [​IMG]

    …and strictly for professionals:

    [​IMG]

    In the park, I decided to leave the paved main road and ride on one of the trails. This meant that I achieved somewhere around 26 hours of sobriety since swearing off of off-road riding. For anyone attempting to abstain from a certain chemical or behavior, anything over 24 hours is pretty good for your first attempt.

    [​IMG]

    The trail was closed about 3/4 of the way through, meaning that I had to back track. This cost me some time. Additionally, I had some electrical gremlins invade my dash camera and my topside charging port. I decided to head back to John’s for one more night.



    Saturday, September 7th

    Though I was up before 6, John still got up to make me breakfast. He was such an amazing host and I can’t say enough about everything he did for me. Arizonans cared for me so thoroughly throughout my visit. It was a tough state to leave. People there were so….”supportive:”

    [​IMG]

    6 to go!

    Stay prickly, yet huggable, everybody

    BA
  7. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,097
    Realtime update: I am still in the Sacramento area. Though I maybe could have gotten free lodging at Folsom Prison, Mom got me a hotel for a few nights so I could relax and get some catching up done. Reno will be up next, either today or early tomorrow. Then Winnemucca, then Crater Lake, then up to Vancouver for a bit, then (hopefully) another swing at Ombabika, then Nebraska, then nap.
    GHOC, B10Dave, simbaboy and 4 others like this.
  8. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,097
    Emergency Wheel Bearing Change Procedure

    Yes, I'm calling this "Emergency" because I don't think this is probably a good thing to do every time. I mostly wanted to share this to get people's opinion on how bad of an idea this is (I haven't even asked @WYO George about this yet!). Of course, you should always use the right tools when you can, but sometimes on the road that is not an option. This is a technique I've found which I don't know if I've seen others use before.

    As always, consult your mechanic before proceeding and ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough for sex.


    Especially on my rear wheel, the hub is wide enough that trying to use a long screwdriver is a really bad idea. Essentially, what I do instead is disassemble the bearing on one side. I use a punch to pop off the outer plastic cover and fracture the bearing "cage" (not sure about this term...it's the ribbon of metal that holds the balls in place).

    [​IMG]

    If you get lucky, you can pull on the cage and it will come free from both the top and bottom side of the balls.

    [​IMG]

    Since nothing is holding the balls, they can all be pushed to one side of the bearing. This allows the inner race to be tapped out in the opposite direction.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now the spacer in the middle of the wheel is easily accessible. Tapping on it will drive out the bearing on the bottom side. After that, just the outer race from the destroyed bearing is still in the hub. Without all of the other junk to work around, this is pretty easy to tap out too.

    [​IMG]

    Installation is the easy part, of course. I always keep an outer race with a notch taken out in my tool pouch.

    [​IMG]

    So is this a terrible idea? Maybe. I hope it was worth sharing though in the event that someone has a bearing go out in an inconvenient location. This is coming from someone who had one go bad in Yukon, Canada and Tocantins, Brazil. :-)
  9. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,941
    Location:
    Banámichi, Sonora, Mexico
    Looks good from here
    swedstal likes this.
  10. BarryB

    BarryB Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Oddometer:
    543
    Location:
    Texas Hill Country
    Where did you learn that bearing trick? Never saw that one before. Pretty neat.
    interceptor1972 and swedstal like this.
  11. rider1150gsadv

    rider1150gsadv Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Oddometer:
    8,075
    Location:
    Ft Likkertail , USA
    Nice job as they way you disassembled that bearing is exactly the way they are put together. I worked in a miniature bearing plant during my summer vacations when I was in high school. This is really the easiest way to pull them apart and remove them. The piece holding the balls in place is called the cage.
    interceptor1972, swedstal and DC950 like this.
  12. WYO George

    WYO George witness protection file #7236

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,097
    Location:
    left of nowhere, WY
    That bearing trick is a new one to me and I’ve been turning wrenches for a few decades now. I don’t see any issue with it, but I usually just use the “proper” tools:D

    In the future just plan your route better so that you loop by my shop every time you need maintenance. I’ll import some monkeys to keep you company.

    On another note:
    This makes the fifth time I’ve been highlighted in this quality publication. It reminds me of the time Burt Reynolds thanked me in his acceptance speech after winning an Oscar for Smokey and the Bandit, except in this case it wasn’t one of my dreams.
  13. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    992
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    As one to always encourage everyone to explore new career options (although Saguaro Mime doesn't seem to have a lot of demand right now, you just may be at the forefront of the new industry), would you please then do your impression of this cactus (the taller one).
    [​IMG]
    Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, south of Ajo AZ.
  14. derblauereiter

    derblauereiter Mostly made of cheese Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2016
    Oddometer:
    441
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Love the saguaros!
    In bicycle mechanics I always called those ball bearing retainers “spiders...” but it’s a suspicious name :D.

    I chuckled at the idea of swearing off dirt, and was glad to see you back at your old habits.
    interceptor1972 and swedstal like this.
  15. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,759
    Location:
    Fly over zone
    Haha! Of course. I should have thought of that. I’ll tentatively hold the date. Holy crap, that’s just 3 1/2 weeks. Go Chiefs!
    swedstal likes this.
  16. Specularius

    Specularius Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2017
    Oddometer:
    235
    Location:
    Louisiana
    I believe the correct technical name is cage.
    swedstal likes this.
  17. 7t9cbx

    7t9cbx n00b

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2019
    Oddometer:
    7
    Location:
    lancaster ky
    i have been watching your trip for several months now. One of the wonderful things , among many, is the general goodness of most people. Of course your personality and your general goodness draws people to you . You now know more about yourself because of this adventure than most people will ever know about themselves . Congratulations
  18. simbaboy

    simbaboy Lansing MBS Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    5,004
    Location:
    Lansing, MI
    Just pure fantastic. :clap

    I keep going backwards and forwards on this thread. I don't want to rush it.

    Simba
    swedstal likes this.
  19. africord

    africord Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2016
    Oddometer:
    32
    Location:
    Norfolk, NE
    I've made the trip to Lincoln every other weekend for the last year (long story). I could probably make 10/19 in two-wheel style. I finally have the electricals sorted on the VFR. But I agree, Swedstal needs to get to the finish, solo. If he decides to go see Wingmom after the finish, well, who rides with him is up to him, but we will be headed to the same town.
    swedstal likes this.
  20. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,097
    Desperate times, desperate measures and creative problem solving. :-)

    I need maintenance pretty often, so it might be easier for you to just move to Nebraska. "Nebraska George" has kind of a nice ring to it. You've only been featured five times? Wow, I'm a bad friend!

    Are you trying to get me banned here? We try to keep this quality publication family friendly! I have to say I am tempted though. :lol3

    My sobriety is challenged down the road too.... :thumb

    In Mahomes we trust!

    Thanks so much! You really hit the nail on the head about why this journey is worth it. If nothing else, I'm getting a real education about who I am and what makes me tick.

    Yeah, Mom has provided some of the best quotes from this journey. :-)

    I'll hopefully make a decision on this soon. It would be great to have you!