K.Ray's Trek to West Virginia on a CRF250L Rally

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Kray, Sep 2, 2018.

  1. Kray

    Kray Long timer

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    [​IMG]

    I leave September 14th 2018 to ride the MABDR on my wife's 2017 Honda CRF250L Rally.
    A hurricane ruined our plans. We're winging it. This is a diary of my preparations and travels.


    FAQ: I sold my Africa Twin so I'm currently bikeless.
    Double FAQ: I love this silly little bike. It's loads of fun.
    Here is the build-up thread I did for my old 2014 CRF250L.

    If this is boring here's my photo album of our 2015 trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway.



    #1
  2. Kray

    Kray Long timer

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    Packing List / Inventory

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    Index (from left to right):

    • MSR 4L Dromedary
    • Wolfman Expedition Duffel (medium)
    • Meals and oatmeal
    • GSI Pot Kit w/ MSR fuel bottle and cloth
    • MSR Pocket Rocket stove
    • TOAKS polished long spoon
    • Giant Loop Pannier Pockets
    • Spare front tube (can also be used in the rear for emergencies)
    • Tools, valve kit, zipties, gloves, air gauge
    • Book
    • Dry bag with my Alpinestar Drystar layer (rain gear)
    • Wet anti-bacterial wipes
    • First Aid Kit
    • 1g freezer bags
    • Toilet paper
    • Clothes in my sleeping bag sack
    • Wolfman Enduro tank bag
    • Earplugs
    • Microfiber wipe
    • Hand sanitize (great for starting fires)
    • Cliff bars
    • Bug net for head
    • Sunglasses
    • Pikka headlamp
    • Benchmade pocket knife
    • Micro flashlight
    • Compass
    • BIC lighter
    • Garmin locking tool
    • Dirtbike gloves for offroad
    • Various SAE and USB wires for charging devices on the road
    • Camp chair
    • Sleeping bag in compression stuff sack
    • Sleeping pad
    • Camp pillow
    • Sleeping bag liner
    • Dirty clothes bag (for my down sleeping bag when it's not being used)
    • REI Half Dome 2+ tent
    • Motion pro tire irons, bead buddy, and rim protectors
    Not pictured:
    • 1x Mini 42" ROK straps
    • 1x 60" ROK straps
    • Chacos
    • Smartwater 1L bottle
    • Wolfman E-12 side bags
    • Eagle Creek Toiletries bag with toothbrush/comb/etc.

    Some of you may be asking how this all breaks down and goes on the bike. It looks like a lot of stuff at first glance but most of it is multi-use and packs down small. I'll list what goes in what below for you.

    Wolfman Enduro Tank Bag
    • Sea To Summit Bug Net (for my hat)
    • Amazon Generic Rain Pants
    • Fox Racing Offroad Gloves
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Benchmade Mini Griptilian
    • Petzl Tikka Head Lamp
    • Tire Pressure Gauge
    Giant Loop Pannier Pockets
    • Various Sockets & Allens
    • Nitrile gloves
    • Tire changing tools
    • Spare front tube
    Wolfman Expedition Duffel
    • Sleeping bag
    • Sleeping pad
    • Bag liner
    • Camp pillow
    • Camp chair
    • Clothes
    • Book
    • Camp kitchen pot/stove/fuel/spoon
    • Toiletries bag
    Wolfman E-12 Side Bags
    • Exhaust side; Meals, camp food, & rain gear
    • Kickstand side; first aid, smartwater bottle, snacks, and toilet paper bag
    Electronics Used
    • Google Pixel 2 XL (photography, communication & sat/topo navigation)
    • Garmin Montana 610 w/ AMPS rugged mount
    • SENA 10S
    • SAE Wires & USB 2.4A Charging Components
    #2
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  3. Kray

    Kray Long timer

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    Prefix // A Note From The Author...

    To backtrack a bit; I did a few trial runs with my gear packed to full expedition mode. Each time I learned a little more. Keep in mind my last bike was an Africa Twin and I was accustomed to having full hard luggage cases to store everything I wanted and the power to move it all at 90mph.

    What I didn't want was a recreation of my trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway on my old WR250R. Photo Album Here.
    I was constantly wishing for more power and more suspension because I had overloaded the poor bike with luggage.
    [​IMG]

    The first trip was like piloting the Titanic. I had over-packed and under-prioritized. Weight was up high and nothing was placed for logical access. Gravel roads were sketchy. I could feel the bike try to tip over every time I took a semi-sharp turn. The bike was also crippled beneath the weight of everything I had on-board. This was apparent while trying to climb hills and maintain speed on the interstate. Needless to say I learned an awful lot on this first trip and immediately begin pairing down on what I truly needed.
    [​IMG]

    I started watching YouTube videos of how others have packed and really liked this one by Ken Hunter. Sure he's got side boxes but lessons still apply.

    The second major trip was far more manageable. I had learned a lot, bought a lot, and put critical thought into how to pack. By this I mean going for lighter materials, using compression and stuff sacks, and compartmentalizing everything for logical access. The kitchen stuff was all in one sack, my clothing all in another, toiletries and sanitation in another, etc. The bike was far more nimble offroad and able to hold 70-80mph on the highway. It was also far more comfortable having freed up a lot of seat real estate.

    One of the biggest changes I made was getting rid of the hydration backpack. I suffer from C4 through C6 arthritis and years of abuse of the upper spine from various sports and offroad accidents. Just having the helmet on for a full day's worth of riding leaves me in pain and, more often than not, a significant headache. This backpack was the only way I had to carry water so I wasn't sure what the solution was. Wearing the hydration backpack made my pain much worse and ultimately ruined the entire trip for me. I knew it was not an option and I would have to find a way to travel without it. Enter the MSR Dromedary water bladder system. A few ROK straps and a dromedary bladder later and I'm carrying 4L water strapped to the duffel. I've also got my trusty 16oz Nalgene with me.

    I've also reduced my gear even further. I'm taking only down materials or synthetic ripstop fabrics, I've reduced the footprint of all my older style gear with modern smaller gear, and I'm only taking necessary mission critical objects (aside from my camp chair.) All in I'm down to the 1x Wolfman Medium Expedition Duffel, 1x Sea To Summit 35L Big River Dry Bag, the Giant Loop Pannier Pockets, and my trusty Wolfman Enduro Tank Bag. I'm really not sure I can decrease my gear much further without destroying my wallet on ultralight stuff. I'd say my total gear weight on the motorcycle is somewhere around 40-50lbs wet. This is huge because I'm a small dude at 145lbs wet. Adding the luggage on top of that is still under 200lbs of total cargo (not terrible.)

    If I had a few hundred dollars more I'd grab side racks to help get weight lower by strapping the drybags to them and I would purchase a 1-man tent to shed weight and free up even more room.

    Now, as for where to put things I compartmentalized everything. I love this. It makes very happy. The idea is to be able to quickly get to a single activities items with one reach (grouping). Furthermore, I'm thinking about how often will I need to use something or the order in which I will need it. For instance; if I need something anytime while riding or at camp it's going to be higher up in the bag or easier to get to, but if I will only need something at camp once everything is setup it's at the bottom of the bag. Exceptions are for weight - I keep heavy outliers near the frame and low to avoid raising my Center of Gravity too much. It's not a perfect system but it helps.

    Oh and the 4L water bladder rides vertical so that it doesn't slosh while offroad acting as a weird ballast. I can only imagine the funny crashes this might cause. We'll see if it works or if I need to lay it down. (I'm always fiddling)
    • The tent sleeps outside everything by itself but contains the tent, stakes, and footprint. It's often damp from dew anyway so I dont want it inside a bag.
    • The Sea To Summit 35L Dry Bag holds my spare HD IRC tubes and my non-critical layers; e.g. down jacket, rain jacket, alpinestars waterproof layers
    • The Giant Loop Pannier Pockets carry my tools and gloves. The thought here is to keep the heavier metal items up front.
    • The Wolfman Enduro Tank Bag holds the things I need to get to most quickly; e.g. knife, headlamp, bug net, rain pants, micro-flashlight, charging cords, hand sanitize, my hat, and other odds and ends.
    • The Wolfman Expedition Duffel is the real work horse. It holds several other groupings of things and keeps them completely waterproof.
      • Sea To Summit dry-bag for kitchen stuff. My pot/stove/lighter and all of my food. Why dry-bag? Because who likes soggy food and I can throw it up in a tree at camp without fear smells are pouring out of it or rain will get into it.
      • Sanitation bag with toilet paper, ziplock bags, wipes, etc.
      • Eagle Creek dopp kit (toiletry bag)
      • Camp Chair
      • Sleeping Pad
      • Sleeping Bag & Bag Liner
      • Clothes

    TL;DR The main idea was getting smart about what I'm bringing and where I'm putting it based on how often it will be used.
    #3
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  4. Kray

    Kray Long timer

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    The Itinerary

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    I had to take an unusually large amount of time off work but my boss was kind enough to see it in his heart to let me out of his sight for more than a week. Thanks Jimmy! Most of the inmates here see these wealthy people take weeks or months off from work to travel to the far reaches of the continent or globe. I am neither wealthy nor self-employed so this is my take on a big trip.

    I probably spent weeks if not a full month in preparation. Many late nights peering over the map, searching gear, packing, unpacking, repacking, etc. One aspect of my preparation was building a customized MABDR google map that I can hit from my cell phone. I set custom icons for all the stops along the way that we may need. Most importantly I spent extra time finding camping locations along the track because I cannot afford to stay in $100 hotels each night. I knew that we'd be tired and hangry at the end of the day and wouldn't want to waste time trying to find somewhere to sleep. This should help mitigate some of that fear, I hope...

    So here's the rundown:

    • First thing's first; I took a Friday through the entire following week off work. That's 6 total days or 48 hours PTO. You may notice I'm skipping the first two sections. Yep. I've already done a portion and it's honestly pretty boring stuff. Not worth blowing precious PTO on.
    • I'll leave Knoxville, TN on Friday Sept-14 and make the day-trip up to Covington, VA to meet the others. We're expecting 10 riders for the first section. Most live in the Lexington, VA area. I'm not looking forward to this dash up but I'll have two mates with me so hopefully it wont be a boring slag (It will be.) That night we plan on staying at one of the rider's family farm on the river. We'll camp out and start the trip the next morning.
    • Saturday Sept-15 we plan on doing 100-150 miles. We have a number of newer riders with us so we'll play it by ear.
    • Sunday Sept-16 we plan on trying to make it to the Maryland area at which group A will break-off and head south back to Lexington. A number of folks are only taking a long weekend and need to be back to work. We expect about half the group to break-off.
    • Monday Sept-17 it all goes out the window. We have no idea what kind of progress we'll make. It all depends on the weather and group's moral. We've never ridden together before so should prove to be interesting.
    • I personally have to be back to work the following Monday. My drop-dead turn-around-stupid date is Friday. If we haven't made it to New York by then I just have to turn around and slag home on the Rally. She can only hold about 65mph comfortable on the interstate so it's a very long way home. My hope is that we can manage 200ish mile days while not feeling rushed and arrive in NY by Wed or Thur no problem. This leaves plenty of time to bomb south to Knoxville.
    We'll see how it goes. I've planned all I can and prepared all I can. From here on out it's in the hands of the motogods and weather gods. More to come...
    #4
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  5. Kray

    Kray Long timer

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    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    I grabbed an Emperor Racing radiator guard off the fleamarket from a fellow inmate. I knew I wouldn't want to deal with a busted radiator on this trip and wasn't about to let that happen. These are made for the regular CRF250L so I had to customize it slightly to make it work. I had to drill a few new holes and grind off material at the bottom edge where the mid-fairing is. It's a tight fit but it works. Big thanks to Steve at Emperor Racing for taking my late afternoon call and walking me through ideas on how to get it to work on the Rally.
    #5
  6. Kray

    Kray Long timer

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    [​IMG]
    As of today Sept-2 I'm in what I believe to be the final form. I ran to REI and grabbed the MSR Dromedary 4L water bladder and then down to Cycle Gear for the ROK straps.

    It's honestly a ton of weight way up high and way out back but I have no other options. It's a week long trip and I need the gear to make it happen. I looked very closely at Side-Rack from Dirt-Racks.com but couldn't swing the cash when I had bigger priorities. Maybe one day...

    I'd also like to comment on how well the Giant Loop Pannier Pockets work with the Rally. Loads of mounting options and they don't get in the way at all. This is a far cry from the regular CRFL's mid-fairing that leaves them right where your knee would be. I highly recommend these packs for any of you other Rally folks out there looking for a spare 2L of storage space. Great for tools, a front tube, or whatever.​
    #6
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  7. Kray

    Kray Long timer

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    Quick update. One of the guys joining us for the trip found a Dark Sky Park in PA that we are now going to see while we are up there. This is a Park registered and protected from light pollution. They claim you can see the milky way on a clear night. We'll see!
    #7
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  8. DragonJoe

    DragonJoe Don’t know whatcha don’t know Supporter

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    #8
  9. DragonJoe

    DragonJoe Don’t know whatcha don’t know Supporter

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    I am new to ADV riding but not to camping. Used to backpack. Emphasis on USED TO. Much more fun to have the bike doing the hard part. I’ve done two small outings in the G Washington NF.. just returned from three day trip covering MABDR section 3 from Brandywine north. I have a thread posted here on it. https://advrider.com/index.php?threads/sampling-mid-atlantic-bdr-on-a-dr.1338313/
    I appreciate your detail on packing as I need to prioritize and lighten too.
    Hope your trip is all you want it to be. The section from Brandywine was really enjoyable. Even if it was solo.
    #9
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  10. murdock84

    murdock84 Been here awhile

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    Are you guys heading to Cherry Springs Park
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  11. Kray

    Kray Long timer

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    Thanks for sharing your thread. Looks like you stumbled upon some really neat places!

    Yes, that's the plan. We hope to make it happen after completing the MABDR.
    #11
  12. Bkadv2

    Bkadv2 Been here awhile

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    man that park was like 1.5 hours away from some oil field i was training on. I still havent been there!

    I think in mid fall ill make a trip to niagara falls and go down to this cherry springs and ride back to nyc on the rally of course if i put a 300 in it :D
    #12
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  13. Kray

    Kray Long timer

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    New rear tire went on yesterday. I knew this trip would hold far more miles than the old shoe had left in it so went ahead and replaced it. I actually quite like the stock IRCs for the type of riding I do and just threw another one on. No real drama other than the ridiculous heat and humidity we are currently having thanks to the hurricane.

    Speaking of hurricanes...we are watching Florance very closely. Looks like the storm is predicted to hit the North Carolina and Virginia coastal areas which means it will track inland right over the MABDR. Wonderful.

    If that's the case I will ditch most of my camping gear and do as much rainy hotel/motel travel as I can muster.

    [​IMG]
    #13
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  14. Kray

    Kray Long timer

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    You should definitely make those plans. That's funny - my wife and I were talking about doing th exact same trip next year. Maybe also hitting Cedar Point near Cleveland.

    300 swap is at the top of my list of things to do right now. I will start ordering parts soon for a winter swap.

    Good luck!
    #14
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  15. Kray

    Kray Long timer

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    Weather update.....

    Possible massive hurricane imminent. Crap.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    #15
  16. Kray

    Kray Long timer

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    Well, hurricane Florence ran right through our plans. The entire trip has been postponed indefinitely due to the devistating storm and a large number of parks closing due to the record rainfall. We want to practice tread lightly ideals and insure no one gets hurt while trails are tropical storm levels of wet .

    We hope to regroup in the fall or spring to get this thing done. I may also try my hand at soloing sections.
    #16
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  17. DragonJoe

    DragonJoe Don’t know whatcha don’t know Supporter

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    Too bad. Let us know if you go out on a section solo.
    #17
  18. Kray

    Kray Long timer

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    Right now I'm considering soloing a few routes next week. We'll see how it shakes out with the storm, wet ground, and park closures. I may stay a little closer to home and run the SM500 or the Damascus to Augusta route.
    #18
  19. Lostb4found

    Lostb4found wrk2ride

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    bummer on the cancelation. was looking forward to the report. ill be heading out on the trail 24th this month to get what I can get in 4 days. ill be starting up around Pittsburgh pa.
    #19
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  20. semi_driver

    semi_driver Adventurer

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    Damn Florence!
    #20