NC->MABDR->VT->NC: Two Weeks Isn't Enough

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by highcountrymoto, Oct 22, 2018.

  1. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    So here I sit back home in North Carolina after another motorcycle trip in the books. I've never been good about keeping up a live ride report, in part because I'm lazy, in part because sometimes internet connectivity isn't a given, and mostly because when I'm out on a trip riding I just like to be gone. These "post trip" ride reports are almost more of a way for me to relive the journey and act as a sort of personal journal as much as they are a chance to share it with others.

    I left NC on September 28 and got back on October 13 and clocked right at 3,000 miles. This trip is the second longest I've completed so far, the first being a 2016 ride out from NC to Colorado to run the COBDR and back which took about a month. I spent most of 2017 chasing an intermittent gremlin in my 2002 KLR650 and lost a lot of good riding opportunity thanks to that. 2018 was not going to get away without a big trip. This is my escape from the 9-5, my "zen", and one of the only things I've found that feels truly real. This trip had all the qualities of a good ride: great times with old friends, meeting new friends, great scenery, breakdowns, salvation by strangers, inclement weather, and good nights spent around a campfire with beer and/or bourbon.

    The first week of the ride was running the Mid Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route (MABDR) with my friend Travis. We'd been on several motorcycle trips together at this point, including a week riding 125cc Yamahas around Nicaragua, riding the Smokey Mountain 500, and several local trips around NC. We both mesh well on the road, both fairly easy going, up for challenges and changes of plan, and I was glad to take another trip together.

    For those who may not know (probably rare on this site), the BDRs are a series of mostly off-pavement dual sport/adventure motorcycling routes put together by the Backcountry Discovery Routes organization. Most of the rides are out west (for obvious reasons), but this year, they released the MABDR, the first on the east coast. Having now run the COBDR and the MABDR, I have to thank them for spending the time and resources to plan out these routes. They've been some of the most fun experiences I've had.

    The second week of the ride was a solo trip around Vermont and back to North Carolina. Travis could only get one week away from work and I had two... so naturally I thought "well I've never been to Vermont before, and the end of the MABDR isn't THAT far away from the NY/VT state line, and there would be no better way to explore it than on two wheels". So without any real planning other than the previous thought, I just happened to hit Vermont in peak leaf season.

    I'll keep the chronological postings coming over the next days/weeks, but for now here's some eye candy: a picture of Travis and I in West Jefferson NC getting ready to start the MABDR, and one from a detour to Somerset Reservoir on the way from Bennington to Brattleboro VT.

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    #1
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  2. bkendig76

    bkendig76 Been here awhile

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    I'm in. I read and enjoyed your COBDR report. Looking forward to this one.
    #2
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  3. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Days 0 - 1: Beginning
    I live in Raleigh and Travis is in Charlotte, so we planned to meet up in Boone, NC after cutting out of work early on Friday. Fairly uneventful highway riding to save time to Boone, getting used to the weight of the loaded panniers back on the bike after several months riding without them. I try to keep my gear to a minimum, but am not above comforts like a hammock, coffee maker (a new aero press bought just before this trip), a book, etc... nothing too fancy. Some things I won't skimp on, especially after my experience on the COBDR, are a full tool kit, the Clymer manual for my bike, and spare clutch and throttle cables. These add up to a noticeable weight, but for me it's worth it to be as self-sufficient as possible when on the road. I also carry an extra gallon of gas in a Rotopax mounted to my top box. This was a life saver in New Mexico. Probably overkill on the east coast where you're never > 50 miles from a gas station at worst, but I like the idea of that extra ~45 miles if it comes down to it.

    We met at Appalachian Mountain Brewery in Boone and decided where to spend the first night before setting off on Section 1 of the MABDR. Looking around for campsites, we remembered that our mutual friend Jon (my riding partner on the COBDR) was living just up the road in West Jefferson. Jon was now bikeless, but was happy to host us for the night, and we almost had him convinced to quickly buy a craigslist bike and join in on the trip.

    The next morning, we set off, and electing efficiency we skipped the back track into Damascus from West Jefferson and linked up with MABDR Section 1 a little south of Marion, VA. Already, we were seeing other riders running the trail. A single fellow KLR rider, and a group of four (3 GS's and a KTM 990) on the first day. Beautiful weather, great roads, nice mix of gravel and two-lane paved country backroads.

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    #3
  4. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 1 Continued
    Somewhere along Section 1 we had stopped in a gas station/grill to refill our bikes and our stomachs. The lone KLR rider we saw earlier pulled in, sat down, and we talked to him. Really nice guy named Bill from Buffalo (Buffalo Bill), who rode down to start the S-N route on the trail. His kids were off in college, and he was finally fulfilling a longtime goal to get a long motorcycle adventure under his belt. Shortly after, the group of four German bikes pulled in and snagged some lunch too. We parted ways, and kept on riding to find a campsite near the end of Section 1. At another gas station just before the end of the section, Bill caught back up with us while we were deciding where to camp. The three of us joined forces and rode to White Rocks campground in VA, just before the WV border. Had a great time getting to know Bill and sharing in his newly discovered passion for motorcycle camping around the fire. This was also the start of a theme for the week: wet firewood. Flasks empty, time for bed. Great start to the week.
    #4
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  5. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 2: White Rocks to Sherando Lake VA
    We made breakfast and broke camp at White Rocks. We were riding at a different pace than Bill, so parted ways from the campsite and hoped to meet up further down the trail. Some more great riding today down pretty tame gravel roads and through some scenic Appalachian back roads. Tub Run Road on this section was a little more technical than the previous riding, but nothing more than some occasional slick spots and a few rocks to watch out for here and there. Really fun riding, and there were no driveways or crossroads on this stretch so we could really open it up.

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    We pressed on to Covington, VA, the end of Section 2, where we caught up with the group of 4 guys on the three GS's and KTM 990 at a gas station. Plans to grab lunch with them before starting Section 3 were abandoned when Travis noticed brake fluid running down his swingarm and all over his rear caliper. That would explain why he kept saying his rear brake felt mushy for the last several miles, go figure. An Advance Auto was located just up the road, and we grabbed some more brake fluid and a funnel and tried to bleed the rear brake line. The system wouldn't hold any pressure and kept burping out air. So we did some research and found out that sometimes air can get trapped just beneath the reservoir or around the rear master cylinder, and that a "reverse bleed" could potentially force the bubble out through the reservoir up top. At a walmart just up the road, we found a bottle and some tubing to squeeze brake fluid into the bleeder, but it didn't work after four or so tries. Even with the help of a friendly local in the walmart parking lot, we admitted defeat. No way Travis was going to ride the tracks without a rear brake, so we found a Suzuki dealer in Waynesboro VA. It was too late to get there in time that day, so we picked out a campsite right near Waynesboro called Sherando Lake Campground and rode highways to get there before dark. We would wake up first thing the next morning, ride to Wayne Cycle Shop, and see if they could figure it out.

    Sherando Lake Campground was really nice and well maintained. The campground hosts graciously bailed us out of our wet firewood problem (I told you it was a theme on this trip) by letting us bum some of their freshly split wood, some newspaper, and a firestarter. Apparently this whole campground had been shut down just a few weeks earlier during Hurricane Florence because they were worried the lakes would overrun the dams just above the camps. The hosts said they lost of a lot of trees from the winds and saturated ground. A brave and fat raccoon tried to finish off the residual slop inside my freeze-dried backpacking meal pouch, and we headed to bed.
    #5
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  6. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 3: Back in business and on to West Virginia
    We broke camp and rode the short distance to Wayne Cycle Shop in Waynesboro, VA to try and get into their system early. Travis explained the issue with his rear brake, and they promised to squeeze us in after the mechanic finished up with another bike. He waited at the dealer, and I rode into town to grab some breakfast and coffee (excellent breakfast burritos at Stella Bella & Lucy's if you're in the area). Another burrito to-go for Travis and then we sat and waited, charging all our electronics and checking out the bikes on the showroom floor (the Africa Twin is a top-contender for my next bike).

    After a few hours, we saw the mechanic riding Travis' V-Strom out of the shop to test, and the rear brake was working! It ended up being a blown caliper piston seal. If you're in need of service in the Waynesboro area (beyond what's possible trail-side), these guys treated us well.

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    Wanting to make up time, we jumped on the highway for a while, heading toward the end of Section 3/beginning of Section 4. It wasn't ideal missing Section 3 because we would miss several water crossings and more backcountry riding, but with Travis' tight schedule for the first week we had to get some quick miles in.

    We ended up finding a camp site at Big Ridge Campground in Lost River State Park, WV, just south of Moorefield where Section 4 starts. It was relatively cheap and had a much-welcomed hot shower. Business as usual: get out of the riding gear, set up camp, collect firewood, cook dinner, drink bourbon next to the fire, head to bed. Glad to have Travis still in the game after the brake problems.

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    #6
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  7. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Day 4: Lost River State Park, WV to Caledonia State Park, PA
    This day started out as mostly paved backcountry roads. It was fun riding. Popping over small rolling hills, through the woods and farmland.
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    In Maryland, the Oldtown Toll Bridge was above water and open when we passed through, but the water was still moving at a good pace from the recent storms.

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    We stopped at Oak Barrel Cafe in Maryland for some gas and lunch and ran into a big group of probably 10 or so guys on a guided trip of the MABDR. Michael was their guide and owned Arizona Motorcycle Adventures and had apparently worked with the BDR people doing some of the filming and scouting for this and other BDRs. Nice to chat with them! After Oak Barrel, we decided to take the alt section 4 route that bypasses the dogleg south to Antietam. It would have been great to see the battlefield and explore the history of the area, but we were trying to get Travis to the end of the MABDR before his week was up. The alt Section 4 track flip flopped back and forth over the MD/PA border for a while. I almost hit a deer somewhere in MD or PA on this stretch. It darted out in front of me while I was cruising at maybe 45 mph, and barely got out of my path by probably a few inches. Was just able to tap the brakes in what felt like a nanosecond of reaction time. From behind, Travis said over the Sena said that he couldn't tell whether or not the deer crossed in front of me or behind me, it was that close. That would have been a trip-ender, huge sigh of relief, keep on riding! Into PA for good now!

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    #7
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  8. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 4, continued
    The route took us into Michaux State Forest and onto some really fun gravel forest service roads. Beautiful riding.

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    We picked out a campground at Caledonia State Park, but only after making a several-mile detour to the non-dry next county over to grab some beer. A nice couple traveling by RV stopped by our site to chat and ask about our ride. Beer, dinner, fire, on-and-off rain. We called it a night.
    #8
  9. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    Just found this. Keep it coming. I have the MABDR on my bucket list.

    If you see a red Honda NC700X. Bebopping around Raleigh with an OFG on it, might be me.
    #9
  10. DragonJoe

    DragonJoe Don’t know whatcha don’t know

    Joined:
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    You still have the DR? I might do The MABDR early next year. Got a DR and NC700X. Maybe the TAT later.
    #10
  11. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    Sold the DR when I got the NC
    #11
  12. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    I'll keep my eyes out for you! I was out yesterday riding around Jordan Lake. New updates to this RR coming soon, it's been a busy few weeks!
    #12
  13. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    7FD8288B-7D0F-45BE-9789-5390BD8D3860.jpeg I was up by Bahama and Rougemont Sunday. Went looking for the castle

    Looking forward to the rest of the report.
    #13
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  14. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 5: Caledonia State Park to Penn Roosevelt State Park PA
    This day was just more great riding through PA backcountry roads. Up in the mountains it was fun gravel forest service roads and then down in the valleys was ~1.5 lane paved blacktop. We passed several Amish horse and carriages who didn't seem to know what to make of us heathens in moon suits riding loud iron beasts through their pastoral countryside farmscapes. Great views of where we had just ridden from up on the ridge lines.

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    #14
  15. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 5 Continued: Caledonia State Park to Penn Roosevelt State Park PA
    We eventually picked out a prospective camp site at Penn Roosevelt State Park during a lunch break. There were about 20 sites at this spot, and several of them were tucked back in the woods away from the main drag. Only one other family was camped out here, so once we disappeared back into the woods, it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. This was one of the best campsites of the trip. Hammocks up, fire going, wet/musty clothes drying, life is good.

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    #15
  16. jeepman63

    jeepman63 daplumber

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    wow, waiting for the next update...in
    #16
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  17. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 6: Penn Roosevelt State Park to Little Pine State Park, PA
    This day started out a little cold but with beautiful weather. More great views from up on the ridge lines, fun fast-paced riding on well-groomed gravel forest service roads.

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    Eventually we were on some slightly more technical riding in Poe Paddy State Park (but still nothing more than some steeper grades and cobble-size rocks to dodge on the track). I wish more of the route had been like this, but it's hard to string together these types of roads on the east coast so kudos again to the BDR crew.

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    There were two "expert sections" that we ended up missing thanks to my poor choice of color settings on my Garmin track files. The red tracks that showed these expert alternate routes ended up being hard to pick out on my tiny GPSmap78. Oh well. I noticed the second of the two expert sections too late, at the end where it spit back onto the main route. Thinking this was the start of the section, we pulled over to scout it out and I realized we had missed it. Just down that trail though, we saw another rider stopped on his Super Tenere, slowly reassembling his bike and gear. So we hopped off and walked down to check on him. Bryce and his riding partner, Jeff (on a big GSA 1200, who was still further down the expert section 8 route) had apparently had a rough go of this stretch that was basically water-filled ruts and slick granite. Bryce had caught a hidden ledge in one of the ruts and gone slightly end-over, becoming pinned under his bike on the side of the trail. When we found him, he had just wrangled himself free of the bike by shedding his boots and pants and was getting everything put back together. He said that the last he had been in touch with his buddy Jeff via their communicators, Jeff had also found some trouble on slick granite and his status was unknown. The three of us (Bryce, Travis, and myself) walked the trail to see if we could find Jeff. It wasn't long before we rounded a corner and found him getting his bike and gear sorted too. The fall had dented one of his panniers making it hard to re-mount, but eventually he got it hammered out with a few good kicks and moved on up the trail to the end of the expert section. We said goodbye to Bryce and Jeff and kept on going up Section 8 as the rain started picking up.
    #17
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  18. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 6 (continued)
    In between rain showers, we were getting our first look at some good fall colors on Section 8.

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    We saw a family of black bear cross right in front of us somewhere along this section, a mom and three cubs, pretty awesome surprise! They disappeared into the woods and we kept riding, finding some more fun *slightly more technical roads.

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    Eventually the bottom fell out and we were getting poured on. Quickly threw on the rain gear and pushed on a little ways before turning onto some paved roads. Neither of us could see that well between the fogging visors and relenting rain, so we found shelter under the front porch of McConnell's Country Store.

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    After about 30 minutes the rain let up just enough and we made the short wet ride to Little Pine State Park where we set up camp for the night. Luckily the storm passed by the time we were setting up camp, but again we had to deal with soaking wet firewood. Some nice neighbors who stopped by to ask us about our trip took pity on us and gave us a few firestarter chunks, which eventually got a small but nice little campfire going.
    #18
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  19. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 7: End of the MABDR & last day as a duo
    It was the coldest morning of the trip so far waking up at Little Pine State Park, but the rains had passed and the sun was shining. As some others in the MABDR thread reported before us, there was some road work happening which had closed the route just north of Little Pine campground, but it was an easy detour up Boone Run Rd to Okome Rd to rejoin with the end of Section 8.

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    Done with Section 8, into Section 9. We stopped for lunch at Old Antlers Inn probably about halfway through Section 9. Pretty good food and a nice place. Back on the bikes and cruising through farmland to the border.

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    #19
  20. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 7 (continued): End of the MABDR
    We made it! NY/PA border at Lawrenceville, PA

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    Continued on the next page!...
    #20