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MABDR September 2020 (2) DRZs and a WHAT?

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by dartnmartn, Sep 17, 2020.

  1. dartnmartn

    dartnmartn Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2015
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Avon, Indiana USA
    Well, this post, if it passes muster with the Forum authorities will be a log of our trip in September 2020 North to South.

    My friend Jim and I on our Suzuki DRZ400s and Joe in his lifted Mazda Miata. Yeah... Lifted Miata.

    So some of this post will be car related but mostly travel / bike stuff.

    Here goes. No pictures yet as we don't form up as a group until we get to the start on Saturday night.

    The back story:
    So it was 40+ years ago. Brad’s (me) wife sez…. “I work with this lady, her husband likes motorcycles, you two should meet”. We do, and Jim and I become great buds. We’ve toured together, road raced against each other for many years and were endurance race, team mates for a few too. Somewhere in there Jim sez, “Hey we should try this new adventure touring thing”. We both get DRZ400esses and have a go at learning a little about dirt. Up till now, at least for me, dirt was something corner workers were supposed to sweep up in between races. Jim had some experience on the trails as a teenager, but that was long ago….We’ve since been to Utah, Colorado twice, and Michigan’s upper peninsula doing the ADV thing.

    In 2006 I met Joe. Joe drives a Miata. I invite him NUMEROUS times to attend a weekend of riding with Jim and I and friends in South East Ohio, where the roads are crazy nice, the pavement mostly smooth and the cops non-existent (along with the traffic). This ride Jim and I have been doing for MANY years. Joe always deferred. Most people that DO come along, don’t return for a second weekend. Either Jim and I are bad company, or they are afraid of all those curves or maybe it’s the brisk pace that sometimes happens. But then there is Joe. After MANY YEARS of bugging him, he finally gives in and comes along. His three epic quotes of his first foray into a weekend of super curvy roads (Michigan has almost ZERO driving roads) and chasing motorbikes.

    #1 “I’ve been smiling so hard for two days, my face muscles hurt!”

    #2 “I have a bruise in my right foot from trying to push the throttle thru the floor for the whole weekend”.

    #3 “I didn’t even know this 15 year old Miata HAD a rev limiter. Now I use it as my shift point”!

    So a couple of years ago, Joe and I went to a theatre to watch the MABDR movie. I was interested in doing it. I figured Joe might be entertained by the movie. Somewhere in there it said the route was “mostly doable” by a light duty 4x4. Joe is all in. He’s going to get a cheap little 4x4 and tag along behind us bikes some more. But that would be too easy….

    Enter some crazy YouTube video that Joe ran across. Hey did you know that there is a kit you can buy to lift a Miata? And the race is on. Race??? Yeah, we had penciled this trip in last fall for September 2020. Joe was planning on using the family Subaru back then…. After Joe learned of the off road Miata thing he had to…

    1) Buy another Miata (his is too nice to LIFT).

    2) Recover from an unexpected shoulder surgery and its 6 weeks of therapy.

    3) Install the lift kit.

    4) Sort out all the gremlins that happen with a project like this. The last of the issues (hopefully) were handled with a die grinder on 9/15.

    Jim and I pretty much had all the kit required for the bikes. Jim and Joe had some GPS stuff to sort. Today Thursday 9/17/2020, it looks like a GO.

    Here is the plan. Jim (from Grand Rapids, Michigan) comes to my house in Indy on 9/17. We load up a trailer with the (2) DRZs and leave Friday 9/18 for Moorefield, WV. Near as I can figure, that is about the halfway point on the MABDR. We leave the trailer rig at a campground and head North to the start/finish of the MABDR at the Pennsylvania / New York border. Joe climbs up into the Mee-Onster on Saturday morning in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and heads for the same place. Hopefully we all meet up in Mansfield, PA on Saturday night and start the MABDR going south on Sunday morning the 20th.

    That’s the plan anyway. Hopefully Covid and Hurricanes and ??? don’t make this TOO much of an adventure!!!

    More to come (with some pics).
    #1
  2. Clem Fandango

    Clem Fandango Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Totally in.
    #2
  3. AwDang

    AwDang Enabler

    Joined:
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    Can Joe flick?
    #3
  4. dartnmartn

    dartnmartn Adventurer

    Joined:
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    31
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    Avon, Indiana USA
    Jim's Fried Egg Sandwich IMG_3883.JPG IMG_3885.JPG First off, sorry I couldn’t keep this Blog current. I knew it would be hard to spend the time to tap it out in the hotel room each night. But it was just too much. Long days, 3 guys in a hotel room, no lobbies in hotels (covid stuff). Before long….Hey it’s been 3 days of this MABDR thing and I haven’t posted ANYTHING! Oh well, here goes the “After the flag” version…..

    Departure day Friday 9/18/2020

    Jim arrived with the trailer rig at my house in Indiana on Thursday night as planned. Loaded everything onto my bike trailer/van. Got in a good night sleep for our early Friday depart. Had to start off with our traditional “Fried Egg Sandwich” (you old Duct Tape Readers may recall Ed Hertfelder’s main food staple).

    Uneventful 9 hour road trip into Moorefield, WV. I had called a couple campgrounds to see if we could park the rig there. Just Plane Adventures (a campground for airplanes) was up for it. We parked, transferred everything from the van to the bikes, suited up and were on our way north! Wanted to get as many miles under our belts as possible on Friday to shorten up Saturday’s trip into Mansfield, PA. Don’t remember where we spent the night, but it left us around 150 mile ride on Saturday.
    #4
  5. dartnmartn

    dartnmartn Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Saturday 9/19/2020

    We all arrive in Mansfield, PA in the late afternoon. Miata Joe and the 2 DRZs. We chose to stay in Pennsylvania as it seemed that New York might have some rather draconian Covid rules in their hotels. We didn’t want to sign in and get the 2 week quarantine imposed on us and then be “On the Run” from the pandemic police for the next 1000 miles. Although the whole Smokey and the Bandit thing may have added a bit more flavor to the trip!
    #5
  6. dartnmartn

    dartnmartn Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Avon, Indiana USA
    Sunday 9/20/2020 MABDR Day #1

    The day we start our long planned MABDR trip! Well…. Not so quick there. First off, it’s in the low 40’s when we wake up. We had discovered a breakfast joint the night before so we head there to get some food, burn some time, and drink some coffee. Burning time was not a problem for them. The words “Order UP”, were the least spoken thing in the place! Forever plus an hour later, our food arrived, we gobbled it down and bolted from the place. It was now 10am. Packed up and headed for the start on the PA/NY border.

    It was an incredibly gorgeous day! (Albeit, a bit chilly) I’ll take that ANY DAY over blistering hot! Got the starting line picture and started the 1100 mile purple line chase on our GPS’s.

    Things learned…. Miata guy had never really done any dirt type tag along trip before. He soon learned the windows should be UP. He may never fully get the dust out of the car.

    The Miata does not really like Hot Starts. After parking and having a snack, it would not start. Hmmm….we poked around in the fuse box and switched two fuses (One was the fuel injector fuse). Don’t really know if that helped or it had just cooled down. Or it just wanted to keep us on our toes for the next 7 days. After that, Joe left it running. All day, every day! He said “I’ve got PLENTY of gas”!! No real issues with the car other than that.

    Note: We are all old guys. We’ve all taken many trips and along with that, many pictures. We all have oodles of pics that we either…
    A) Never looked at again after snapping the photo.
    B) Can’t find the picture we KNEW we took, dang it all.
    So, there were not many photos of this trip. If you are looking for a beautiful expose’ of the MABDR, better look elsewhere.

    I had guessed that around 150 miles of trails a day might be enough for us. A few miles to get to the MABDR trail in the morning and a few miles off trail to get to the hotel at night would add to that total. It all mostly sorta worked out as we did end up staying in my planned town each night. So, our first night was spent in Lewisburg, PA. All of section #9 and 75% of section #8. Pretty close to my estimated 175 miles from the start.


    The "Must Have" starting picture. IMG_3892.JPG IMG_3893.JPG

    Attached Files:

    #6
  7. dartnmartn

    dartnmartn Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Monday 9/21/2020 MABDR #2

    Another crystal clear, chilly morning! We hung out until the mid 40’s showed on the thermometer and rolled. The roads were mostly gravel and fun. Pretty darn smooth. Jim and Joe are from Michigan and both think that PA gravel roads are smoother than Michigan paved roads.

    We had our Breakfast in the hotel lobby, scraped the frost off the bikes before leaving. Destination Lewistown, PA. 160 miles away. What was left of section #8 (approx 29 miles) and all of section #7.

    Just up the road we encountered the biggest "on road" challenge of the trip. We are south bound on this MABDR and it appears the VAST majority of bikes do it north bound. We passed bunches of north bounders but only met two doing it in our direction. Anyway, that means this Poe Paddy section for us was uphill. Tough sections are tough in either direction. Just a LOT harder on your Miata’s clutch going UP! Jim and I spotted the Mee-Onster thru some sections that would have taken out some of the Mazda’s delicate under parts. At one point he was on two ledges that were conveniently the same width as the car’s wheelbase. He couldn’t go left or right to get around it. Could not do just one wheel on the ledge as it would have leaned him such he would have creased the entire length of the car. So straddle it was. He had about 30” between the oil pan and the ground at that point. The “I wish I’d have taken a picture of that” moment of the trip. Not really too much of a problem for the DRZs….

    That night we started learning of Joe’s directional challenges. He took us to his hotel choice in town…. It was a tumble down shack of a joint. Ooops, no wait, THAT’s not the place! It was up around the corner. Not Joe’s fault but that Super 8 had the most used up wash cloths/towels I’ve ever seen in a hotel. I would have thrown them out of my garage rag stash! Maybe all us MABDR riders stop there and sully his linens. So when he sees bikes, he puts you in the “Dingy brown, see thru towel” room. I know that using hotel towels on your vehickle is a hanging offense in many states so I didn’t even use HIS crappy stuff to wipe off the day’s grime. Anyway, Joe then took us to a closed BBQ joint for dinner (again, not his fault). We found a family restaurant and had dinner and Tuesday’s breakfast there.
    IMG_3897.JPG IMG_3898.JPG
    #7
  8. dartnmartn

    dartnmartn Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Tuesday 9/22/2020 MABDR #3

    Colder than the day before at wakeup time. Go to last night’s dinner place for breakfast. Never had “Baked Oatmeal” before so had to give that a try. Good rib-stickin food for our planned 165 mile ride to Waynesboro, PA. Chatted up a guy that had the line of the week. “I worked in that state ***** for 3 years. The birds there fly upside down cuz there ain’t nothing there worth shittin on”!

    This day was the only real wrenching of the trip. Jim was leading on a nice smooth section of pavement, me following along at around 50mph in second position. I was probably a little too close, a little too inattentive, and a bit too interested in that…. “Is it a rock, or a pile of Amish horse dung, or some leaves or a …. ROCK”! Of course since I was STARING AT IT, I hit it. Pretty hard hit but this is an OFF ROAD dirt bike. Hit way bigger stuff than that a zillion times. At a stop sign I take a peek at my rim. No bends. At the next town things don’t feel right. I jump off at a light and squeeze the tire. Dead flat. A quick turn into a mortuary’s parking lot. (THAT didn’t feel like a good sign!) Four tire irons, 3 sets of hands and the spare tube we brought fixed me right up and we were on the road in just under an hour. The tube had a ¼” tear, right near the valve stem on the rim side. No spokes poking thru. Was running 25psi. Who knows why it went flat??

    Bunked in Waynesboro, PA for the night after all of section #6 and approx. 45 miles of section #5. Everyone’s call/texts backed to their friends and loved ones elicited the same response. “You’re STILL in Pennsylvania?” Got in early enough to get some laundry done.
    #8
  9. dartnmartn

    dartnmartn Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Wednesday 9/23/2020 MABDR #4

    Another cold start. Found a breakfast place. Another “Never had that before” on the menu. When we asked the waitress what it was she screwed up her face, stuck out her tongue and said “I’m not really sure WHAT it is, but I don’t like it.” The other waitress told us that “Scrapple” is something the locals make of all the pig parts that don’t have other uses…. Like hot dogs and leather belts. She made us a small piece. It wasn’t nasty but I’d never order it again! Talked to folks on the rest of the trip. Many said “Oh my granny makes the BEST scrapple. She puts bacon, and chocolate bits and strawberries and whipped cream and raspberry jam and whatever else on it….” Heck CARDBOARD would have tasted good with what their grannies doctored the scrapple up with. I think that any food with the word CRAP right in the name should be avoided!

    This day would have us doing the rest of section #5 (around 75 miles) and around 85 miles of section #4. And finally we could tell the folks we were out of Pennsylvania. Planned stop Cumberland, Maryland 175 miles down the roads.

    At lunch in Harpers Ferry, I gave the waitress my card. She sez “You want to put your tip on the card”? I said “Sure, 20%”. Jim goes next…. He sez “Yeah put 21% tip on my card”… Joe of course was forced into a 22% tip on his bill. He paid first next time I think.

    The weather was still crazy nice. The locals all want to chat you up, especially when they hear about the Miata. My memory is nasty but it seems like today had the biggest percentage of pavement.

    In regards to that, not meaning to bust Butler maps TOO much but…. It sure would be nice if there was a little better breakdown as to what the sections held in store road surface-wise. Lots of flowery write ups and the tourist stops descriptions but very little about what you might encounter under your knobbies. Oh… and the color choices make the map almost unreadable in a Super 8 by some 65+ year old dudes, with 25w bulbs in the fixtures that DO have bulbs in them. I had brought free paper state maps and they got a LOT more use than the Butler $15 item.
    #9
  10. dartnmartn

    dartnmartn Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Start the day in Cumberland, Maryland. The plan is to finish section #4 (around 60 miles), and do half of section #3, 95 miles. This is the only place on the MABDR we had some difficulty with lodging. The town of Monterey, VA was not far from the trail but the only hotel was “Under construction”. So, we opted for a trip over the ridge into Staunton, VA. An awesome road, but still 30 miles tonight, and 30 miles Friday morning. Started the day off in a foggy/drizzle. It never REALLY rained but it was damp. Best part was, the dust was non-existent!

    The Mee-Onster, Off Roadster, 4x1 tackles its first water crossing. Don't think the snorkel was required for this trip.
    IMG_3908.JPG
    Brad tries to get his rims wet.
    Joe Brad water cross 4.jpg

    Jim does it with the chin bar up.
    Joe Jim water cross 5.jpg
    #10
  11. dartnmartn

    dartnmartn Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Friday 9/25/2020 MABDR #6

    Plan was to ride from Staunton, VA to Blacksburg, VA. Finishing up section #3 and all of section #2. Should be around 210 miles. Sure would have been nice if Monterey had some lodging!

    Anyway the day dawned much warmer, but wet. A steady drizzle/mist. We put on our wets, Joe put on his windshield wipers. Off into the forest for what was MY most fun day of the trip. First…. I was leading so you get to go your pace. Second… Apparently it had rained a bit up on the trail. There were rivulets of water on all the downhills. Big puddles to splash thru. Traction stayed great and of course….no dust!

    I’m guessing the guys riding this section in the next few days would have had a much harder time of it. You could see the erosion happening pretty quickly as we passed over it.

    We did encounter a road closure north of Covington (10 mile south of the Oak Ridge Station gas stop) which forced us into a backtrack drive around. Ended up taking 220 south and picked up the trail again in Covington.

    Critters. We did not see a large selection of animals on this trip. We DID see whitetail deer, especially in the south. Turkeys turkeys TURKEYS! (2) Bald eagles, one with a still wiggling dinner in its talons. A Bob-cat or Lynx kitten. Thot it was a house cat until I got right up to it. Dang THAT was cool.

    Today's puddles were deeper than yesterday's water crossings!
    IMG_3909.JPG
    #11
  12. dartnmartn

    dartnmartn Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Saturday 9/26/2020 MABDR #7

    Start in Blacksburg, VA and finish…. At the FINISH in Damascus, VA. 150 miles away.

    The day started foggy and misty again. It did clear up. Dust was down so we let Miata man lead some bits. We rolled into the mayhem which is Damascus, VA on a Saturday. Bicycles EVERYWHERE. Like looking for a parking spot in the middle of a carnival. We rode to our “Finish” (which is really the Start) of the MABDR and discovered it was at an intersection…. So we found a restaurant and raised our celebratory sweet tea’s to a ride well done. Went back to a nearby gas station for the “Picture”.

    Suggestion to the BDR folks. A park or rest area or eatery as a start/finish might make the beginning/completion a little more memorable. Just sayin….

    So that was that. We were done. We said our goodbyes to Miata man as he was headed back to Detroit, and Jim and I had to get the bikes back to Moorefield, WV where the trailer was parked. One more minor adventure for Jim and Brad… We wanted to get as many miles done on Saturday so we could get back to Indy, and maybe Grand Rapids on Sunday. Well…. Just cuz it’s on the Virginia paper map doesn’t mean it’s a REAL road! We gas up… By the way, other than HAVING to stop to fill my little DRZ peanut tank (Range 110 miles to reserve) FINDING gas on this trip was never a problem. I did fill several times with 50ish miles showing on the ODO but never hit reserve once. ANYWAY…. We look at the map and think, “We can get us a room in Covington, VA… It looks to be 60 ish miles away.” “Hmmm wonder why google maps sez it’s going to take us 2 hours to get there?” Uhhhhh…. Cuz half of it was a 1.5 lane road with no lines, and it’s getting cold, and it’s dark and twisty and your DRZ headlite might be dimmer that the flashlite on my I-phone. Oh… and we had seen more deer than “Vote for Trump” signs the last few hours. (NOTE: If the election was to be won by lawn signs, my last 5500 motorcycle miles thru the back roads of America Indy-Denver, MABDR would have the Donald winning by 1000 to 1).
    Well, we made it into Covington without incident. 120 miles on Sunday to the van and home to Indy by 9:00PM. Jim had to wait to see his sweetie-pie until Monday morning.

    All in all. It was a blast! We are all glad we took the time to do it. We got really blessed with the weather. No crashes. No injuries (when you are this old, you don’t have to crash to hurt yourself). No breakdowns that were too bad, other than the flat on my bike. Great folks to chat up.

    The last comment…..

    Was sitting in a restaurant Sunday morning in Covington, VA. This old timer walks over to my table

    Local: Hey, you riding the motorcycle?
    Me: Yes, sure am.
    Local: Well, I live up on Snodgrass hill, and several times a day these same guys ride their BMW motorcycles by my house. You know em?
    Me: Uh…no… I’m not from around here.
    Local: One time I got a look at their license plate. One was from Tennessee, the other 2 were from North Carolina. Sometimes there’s like 8 of them. You know them?
    Me: uh… Sir, I think what you are seeing is guys like me riding the MABDR route (I try to explain what it is and how it works).
    Local: I don’t think that’s it. It’s the same guys. They are always on BMWs. I’m sure it’s the same guys…
    Me: Well, sir, I think you are mistaken and if I were you, I’d put out a sign that sez “ATTENTION MABDR RIDERS, GOOD COFFEE SOLD HERE” you’d make a fortune!
    Local: walking away I’m SURE it’s the same guys every time, they’re ALL on BMW’s.


    Thanks for reading

    Brad, Jim and Miata Joe


    IMG_3914.JPG
    #12
    SwampyDeadHead and AwDang like this.
  13. Hanshan

    Hanshan Seeker of Knowledge

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    Oddometer:
    28
    Location:
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    Great write-up...thoroughly enjoyed the read and pics!!

    Getting ready for a early November solo run from mid-section 3 (local boy) up to Sec 7 or so...
    #13
  14. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    8,130
    on the side of the road in BFE Oklahoma fixing a flat when a dusty pickup pulled up, 30ish couple, they wanted to know if i needed help. i had things under control, and we were chatting away when the woman said..."Help me with this, we're on a ranch off a little road way out in the middle of nowhere, but I see these motorcycles passing the ranch in both directions almost every day. For the life of me, I can't figure out where they're coming from or where they're going."

    she described where the ranch was located, and that confirmed what i had already guessed. the ranch entrance was right on the TAT route, i had been by the ranch myself earlier in the day.
    #14