NC to CA and back on a KTM 690 Duke

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Sneeze Juice, Apr 18, 2019.

  1. AngusMcL

    AngusMcL Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    104
    Location:
    HRM, NS, Canada
    Yeah, on a Duke. Was planning on using the passenger grab handles and pegs to secure. Bags should show up tomorrow. I'll play with them this week and take a little trial run on the weekend.

    A.
    #21
  2. Sneeze Juice

    Sneeze Juice Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Oddometer:
    566
    Location:
    Charlotte,NC

    I have no clue the capacity of my bags, but they are rather large and have the option to fold out even more. If you’re not adding a lot of weight, things will be fine. Just make sure you have some space near the muffler.
    #22
  3. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Great report!
    #23
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  4. Sneeze Juice

    Sneeze Juice Been here awhile

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    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Started today off excited to visit NASA space center here in Houston. They didn’t open till 10, so I decided to explore around the area of my Airbnb and then grab some lunch.

    Found a lunch spot that touted how fresh all of their food was, organic this, fair trade that, etc.

    I ordered a turkey burger and broccoli, which took 40 minutes to come out in a dead restaurant. I could tell it was a frozen turkey patty, so much for fresh.

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    Getting to NASA was a 35 min ride, with almost no traffic which I was thankful for. After coughing up money to park, this was my first sight.





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    Upon entering, my excitement started to dwindle... Endless hokey fake exhibits, angry birds this and that. Meh


    So I took the hour and a half tram tour, which you’re stuck on till it’s over. You’re told to be quiet during various sections and of course no one listens. Group of extremely loud and rude Brazilians, and multiple screaming babies. I was on a tram ride from hell! To top things off, you climb up roughly ten flights of stairs during one stop, mission control. It’s an empty room. Literally nothing in it, but two construction workers. I guess they are going to remodel this room. Absolutely pointless to even hurdle everyone up to it.


    The last stop was mesmerizing though. You cannot understand the scale till you see it in person.



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    Spent a few hours there, explored the outskirts of Houston and stopped for dinner where my faith in humanity was restored. I was getting on my bike after finishing dinner, and a guy came up to me and complimented my bike. He saw my NC plate, and asked if I really rode this far. I explained I was heading to CA, and then wandering around the U.S. afterward. He offered to buy me dinner, and couldn’t have been a nicer human. Today ended on a positive note!



    Now currently deciding where I’m heading off towards tomorrow? The weather is looking grim in this area of Texas. I would love to swing by Austin and San Antonio and spend a few days between the two, but it’s looking like endless rain. I could pop up to Dallas, and possibly avoid a lot of it, and make my way towards the Grand Canyon? Undecided as of now!
    #24
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  5. Sportrider

    Sportrider n00b

    Joined:
    May 7, 2019
    Oddometer:
    2
    Location:
    So Cal
    Highway 36 in Northern California is 130 miles of twities and just amazing scenery. If you can make it there it's amazing to say the least. I just got back from riding the whole route on my KTM 1290 SA. If you start from Red Bluff you will end up on the 101 a couple of hours north of San Francisco. Love the updates, keep them coming as we are all living the ride through you!
    #25
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  6. Sneeze Juice

    Sneeze Juice Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Oddometer:
    566
    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Well, it was raining when I woke up in Houston this morning. The forecast in Dallas and San Antonio we’re both showing thunderstorms.

    Ended up picking San Antonio


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    I left Houston with it light sprinkles. Shortly into the trip, the thunderstorms started. It was like that for the whole trip. Tons of epic lightning. Luckily the rain wasn’t too bad, and I was still able to keep the 690 at an 80+ MPH pace. Being in a full tuck for 75% of my trip so far, is really starting to kick my ass!

    I passed Hennessy Performance on the way. No clue it was directly off the highway, if it wasn’t raining I would have pulled off to check it out. But I did pull off to take shelter at one point, and check my rain covers that go over my side bags and grab some water. Not a minute later, a fighter jet flew past. Wish I could have snapped a photo, but it my day! Not often I get to see any military aircraft like that.


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    The rain covers for the bags are a pain, and only semi work. Oh well, better than nothing I suppose.




    The drive to San Antonio was easy and short. Rain has been hit or miss since arrival, but I did check the Downtown out for a few minutes. It looks promising. I will roam around tomorrow, and possibly spend some time here.



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    It was closed by the time I made it. Currently not sure what tomorrow will bring? Either spend another day in San Antonio or I will move on towards San Diego? Still a lot of miles to go, just to hit San Diego. .


    Side note, I’ve been paying $3.08-3.40 a gallon for 93 octane. It was only $2.83 here in San Antonio though. The duke has a very small tank, and doesn’t return stellar fuel economy numbers at the speeds I’ve been maintaining 80-95+ MPH. . . A lot of stopping for fuel on this trip. I’ve been warned about the ride towards San Diego, and that I might not be able to make it without a fuel can?

    +


    People have been extremely curious about a weird looking smaller bike, loaded down with luggage and an NC tag. Lots of convos the past few days, from some really nice humans.
    #26
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  7. garfey

    garfey Scruffy Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Deep East Texas
    https://www.gasbuddy.com/TripCostCalculator will help you figure that out.
    #27
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  8. Sneeze Juice

    Sneeze Juice Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Today was pretty laid back. I just explored in and around San Antonio, while getting rained on a few times.


    While in the downtown area, I parked in what was a legal spot but a valet came up to me, and said he has seen people getting ticketed for being there lately. He let me park in the valet area of the hotel he worked at, which was very nice of him. I locked my gear up to the handlebars and took off.



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    Upon returning this was discovered....



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    Definitely not the first time I’ve done this, nor will it be the last. Looking at this pic reminds me, poor bike is in desperate need of a bath due to all the rain.



    Currently sitting at my Airbnb debating tomorrow’s plans. I’m thinking Big Bend National Park for a few days, while on my way towards San Diego?
    #28
  9. Sneeze Juice

    Sneeze Juice Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Oddometer:
    566
    Location:
    Charlotte,NC

    Currently taking a break in the middle of nowhere Texas.

    Here are the photos of how everything is strapped down. You shouldn’t need the Rok straps, if It’s loaded and strapped down good. I have it there for added support.


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    #29
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  10. Sneeze Juice

    Sneeze Juice Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Oddometer:
    566
    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Last night my phone started doing something weird. Pop up from an app wouldn’t leave my screen, and I couldn’t select anything behind it. Hard reset on the IPhone wasn’t working either. I couldn’t research anything either, as I didn’t have a working phone! I left it alone, hoping the battery would die overnight.

    I woke up in a panic, as it was doing the same thing with well over 50% battery life still. I debated putting it into a freezer to hopefully turn it off, but realized it probably wouldn’t get cold enough. Debated taking a hair dryer to it as well. Took the more rational route, and went out seeking a cell phone repair place. I actually found one, but they didn’t open till 10. It was almost 8AM when I noticed this.... Across the street was a Verizon dealer, but they opened at 9AM and I have Sprint. Decided to grab breakfast and head to Verizon after. . .



    I walked in right as they opened, and they didn’t even hesitate to help. I was out of there within 5 mins. Life savers! So with that behind me, it was time to say adios San Antonio and make my way towards Alpine,TX


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    Up till this point, I-10 has been miserable. But there was minimal traffic the whole way, and the scenery was a change from everything behind me. If I had any reasonable bike, it would have been pleasant. Instead I was full tuck at 90 MPH for the whole ride. 6/10 on the torture scale today.

    Along the way I saw mountain goats walking the shoulder of the highway, pretty cool sight! Not so cool, a swarm of bees in the middle of the highway. I’ve never seen anything like it. My jacket and helmet were coated. The bike got off lucky.


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    There was a 100+ mile gap without fuel, I was a little nervous the duke might not make it!


    The last stretch till Alpine,TX


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    But we made it! She didn’t let me down.

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    #30
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  11. Sneeze Juice

    Sneeze Juice Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2017
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    566
    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    I really need to find some curvy roads! This was a new tire when I left. How wasteful :(


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    I was starving upon arrival, and asked my friend Google what this place has to offer. There was a place called Guzzi up, sounds good enough for me.


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    No other bikes in sight, but that’s okay! Up till this point I’ve been doing fairly decent on trying to eat healthy. Well, as best as one can while traveling.

    Let loose here with spicy sausage and bell pepper linguini



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    To finish it off...



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    Now, I’m lactose intolerant. . Not 5 mins after finishing this I had to high tail out of this place. It was absolutely freezing when I walked out. Heated grips on, and a made rush back to my Airbnb where I’m currently relaxing and writing this!


    Tomorrow is either hiking in Big bend, or hang out in Marfa. I’m here in Alpine for 3 days.
    #31
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  12. staticPort

    staticPort Meditrider Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2001
    Oddometer:
    484
    Location:
    east tn
    Subscribed to this one because of the Duke; not everyone's cuppa, but I love mine. Just a suggestion, but it seems to me the best part of the Country is far, far away from the Interstates. GoogleMaps thinks the best part of a trip is the destination, and prescribes the shortest, quickest way to get from one city to another. But bikes prefer meandering; for them the best part of a trip is *between* destinations. And for meandering, I prefer paper maps. Or just a compass--"let's go more or less that-a-way . . . "

    The Michelin Atlas packs the whole country in a convent size. Look for the older US highways, numbered State routes, and county roads. Once you get west of the Mississippi river the population thins out and you can cover a lot of ground on two lane highways, with far less stress than pounding down the Interstate. Used to do it just like you, jump on the four-lane, pin the throttle, and hang on till I was falling off from fatigue. I thought "making good time" meant going fast, but I've found "good time" is best made at varying speeds with many changes in direction.
    #32
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  13. Sneeze Juice

    Sneeze Juice Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Oddometer:
    566
    Location:
    Charlotte,NC

    I hate the interstate, just trying to get to San Diego, then it will be all non interstate roads for the majority of the trip. Fuel concerns in this part of the country are real, especially with the duke.

    I’m using a Garmin Oregon 450T. It has a setting for motorcycle routes as well, which I will be using. I just post google routes here
    #33
    staticPort likes this.
  14. Sneeze Juice

    Sneeze Juice Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Oddometer:
    566
    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Well today took a turn!

    Woke up to rain and temps in the low 40s

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    It hasn’t stopped raining. What a wasted day
    #34
  15. jimmydteach

    jimmydteach Living the Dream

    Joined:
    May 3, 2013
    Oddometer:
    40
    Location:
    Valparaiso, IN
    Enjoying your rr. Hope you are enjoying the adventure.
    #35
  16. Sneeze Juice

    Sneeze Juice Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Oddometer:
    566
    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Yesterday at 4AM the worlds loudest cat outside my window woke me up. Took me forever to fall back asleep! Once I was actually up for the day, I was very sluggish but determined to finally head to Big Bend.

    Started off with a decent breakfast.

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    Saw this on the way towards Big Bend. . .



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    The ride was roughly an hour and a half. Smooth sailing.



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    Immediately after paying to get in, I thought it would be a good idea to take some off road trails.



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    The only experience I have riding off tarmac is with my Ural, but keeping the Duke upright at any decent speed was challenging. Any little rut almost wanted to wash the front out. I started to build confidence though, and would slide the rear around corners. After this almost biting me a few times, I called it quits and rode more sensibly.



    Here is something I never expected to see!

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    That is the same dealer I purchased my bike from! There were two GS here, both from SC. Spoke to one of the guys for a brief second, and think he said they trailered them? It’s weird to see bikes like this trailered places, along with big cruiser style Harley’s. I saw a lot of this yesterday. Although, I did meet a younger guy on a V Star. He rode all the way from Indiana in something like 3 days?
    #36
    staticPort likes this.
  17. Sneeze Juice

    Sneeze Juice Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Oddometer:
    566
    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    From there I made my way to the Hot Springs

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    Which lived up to the name, and proved to be uncomfortable in yesterday’s climate. Only spent a few minutes here.


    I most spent the day hiking, and exploring roads with the Duke.


    Spotted horses at one point though!


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    The scenery is absolutely breath taking, and photos do it no justice.


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    Ended the day at a restaurant inside the park. It takes 15 minutes or so, of climbing a mountain pass to get up there. I was stuck behind a guy on a Harley. No helmet, T-Shirt, and bandana. Every single turn, without fail he would cross the double yellow. Full on into oncoming traffic. Fuck that guy


    I ordered a rather Texas meal.

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    This is carrot cake . .


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    Both tasted exactly how they look.......




    The ride home was rather cold, but uneventful. Only interesting thing


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    Today I leave Alpine, TX and heading towards El Paso, TX.
    #37
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  18. Sneeze Juice

    Sneeze Juice Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Oddometer:
    566
    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    I woke up extremely beat. Hiking, and being in the sun all day really took a toll. Not to mention riding a naked bike this kinda distance.

    So today’s destination:El Paso, TX


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    Nothing was opened for breakfast aside from fast food in Alpine, so I just left without eating. Luckily, a 45 min rode to Marfa had some options.

    I was glad to find something other than fast food.


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    No veggies though! Not sure what the deal is with Texas, but finding them as a side is near impossible.



    Had to take a photo here.....



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    On and off storms the whole ride. Nothing bad though. Lost one of the condoms that go over my bags though. :(



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    Does anyone know what that blimp in the background is?



    It was a windy ride though, and I’m glad to be resting at the moment.
    #38
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  19. garfey

    garfey Scruffy Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2010
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    8,918
    Location:
    Deep East Texas
    Aerostat, radar stuff inside, looks for border crossers & etc.
    #39
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  20. Sneeze Juice

    Sneeze Juice Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Oddometer:
    566
    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Woke up this morning well rested, and ready to put El Paso behind me. My Airbnb was cool, but the city left a bit to be desired. . I didn’t want to stick around for longer than the day, so off to Tucson, AZ!



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    But first I needed to get my bike out of the backyard I locked it in... Again, the Airbnb was cool, but the neighborhood left me a little nervous. This is the first place I was concerned about the bike possibly getting stolen.



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    It barely fit through the gate to the backyard, and it was a real chore pushing it backwards through stones and rocks. Wanted to just get out of El Paso, I didn’t even eat anything before leaving.


    The first hour into the trip, I was stuck in traffic. Construction, and a minor accident. Once the traffic cleared, I was soaked in sweat and starving. Pulled off at the first exit, and nothing sounded appealing. I went with the best option, Jason Deli.



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    That didn’t fill me up, so I decided to get a little dicey. (Lactose intolerant)


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    Not 20 mins upon getting back on the road, I had a VERY close call. Coming around a corner at 80 MPH (Speed limit) and there was dead stop traffic. Luckily I didn’t panic, and thank god for ABS. Under perfect conditions, I prefer no ABS, but street riding is another story. Fortunate to have it, as the added PSI for the weight has reduced braking capabilities.


    After traffic cleared it was smooth sailing till New Mexico



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    Somewhere in Arizona, I came across a car that flipped over.. It was upside down in one of the lanes. The driver was sitting against it, with EMT surrounding. Scary stuff.


    Shortly after this scene, a semi decided to turn directly into my lane. Pushing my into the shoulder. This has happened a handful of times on this trip already. I consider myself very good at constantly being aware of my surroundings, and reading traffic. But, this guy got over for no reason. No one ahead in his lane for miles. No oncoming merging traffic from any on ramps. Strange stuff.



    Currently sitting in my Airbnb in Tucson, and the 3 hour time change is getting to me!
    #40