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The Postman rides again - GS to America

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by nathanthepostman, Sep 8, 2015.

  1. nathanthepostman

    nathanthepostman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    902
    It's been a while since I last posted but I'm about to embark on a short adventure and thought I'd start a ride report.

    I'm flying a R1200 GS from England into Las Vegas and spending 5 weeks touring the mid-west, two up, before freighting the bike back to England out of New York.

    The bike is a 2014 model and was originally used as a training school bike so it's a knocked up around the edges but so far, touch wood, mechanically sound.

    It's not my first trip. My first bike trip was on a Honda CT110 which I rode 35000 miles from Sydney to London and then from New York to Alaska.

    The ride report on that trip can be found here:
    http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/sydney-to-london-on-a105cc-honda-callled-dot.460631/

    After that trip and after a few more years had passed I ended up working in bike journalism here in the UK, editing Adventure Bike Rider magazine for a short while, where I got to ride all the different bikes.

    I always loved the GS so I bought one. I wouldn't want to ride it back to Australia because I couldn't afford to, and to be honest, I'm not sure it'd make it, not as well as the CT did in any case.

    But for North America and Europe I reckon it's perfect, especially as I'm going to be riding it two up with my girlfriend.

    Conversely, the scale of the trip will also be much smaller this time round. No long distance days or races against time to make a border or visa, it's just going to be cruising around the midwest at a leisurely pace, doing a lot of camping, seeing a lot of national parks, just enjoying the scenery really.

    So yeah, just wanted to get the ball rolling with an intro post. We fly tomorrow night so I don't have much time to pad it out. I'll try and do a few posts on route but I don't want to spend all my evenings desperately seeking wifi, so worse case I'll put some pics up when we get back.

    And in terms of flying the bike in, it's actually cheaper than renting and I like being on my own bike. For me it adds to the adventure, and flying into the US is pretty easy compared to a lot of other countries.

    But yep, definitely a step up in the size stakes. Looking forward to it...
    [​IMG]
    2014 R1200 GS vs 2004 Honda CT110
    #1
  2. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,783
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Looks like another great report coming. Sign me up.
    #2
  3. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Oddometer:
    3,174
    Location:
    Bassett, NE
    Looks like fun! The GS looks to be a great two-up tourer. I am trying to think of where I would go if I only had 5 weeks in the States even as I type this. It gets the imagination going! Best luck.

    Kindest regards,
    John Downs








    johnthomasdowns.blogspot.com
    #3
  4. prsdrat

    prsdrat Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    895
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Yeah, sign me up too. Well, it isn't Dot, and compared to Dot it looks sorta like Bluto. Maybe you could call it Blot.
    Bring it on Nate.
    #4
    RonInFla and GypsyWriter like this.
  5. rboett

    rboett posser noob 205

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2002
    Oddometer:
    2,463
    Location:
    nwa
    Nice to see your touring! DOT 10x+
    #5
  6. nathanthepostman

    nathanthepostman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    902
    Some pics from the preparation stage
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    The screen support arms were broken which were a swine to replace and apparently there's a much easier way than taking off the clocks and headlight. Hindsight. The quality of those components are pretty crumby though I have to be honest, and I think it was just from the vibrations of being ridden off road that they snapped. Hopefully the metal bits are built a bit better.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Fitted new Pivot Pegz which I'm not sure I like yet or not. I think I'd prefer a solid platform but still getting used to them.

    [​IMG]
    I fitted AltRider sump and crash bars, which in fitting the sump you have to replace the main stand pivots, which if you do it wrong ends up with the centre stand springs flying off and the washers in the spring job to get it back on. Ball ache.

    [​IMG]
    Like so...

    [​IMG]
    I also fitted a Wunderlich gear lever as the original had been bent in what was probably some catastrophic GS Trophy crash. The bikes do take a lot of hammer before being sold on, thankfully it reflected in the price.

    [​IMG]
    A replacement fanny pad having snapped the original one off in an off road accident.

    [​IMG]
    I fitted the AltRider bars and sump guard which have already taken a good battering. The sump guard bolts to the engine guards rather than the sump. A bit tricky to fit but solid now it's in place.

    [​IMG]
    I've been running Continental TKC80s for a while as I've been using it quite a bit of road but have switched to the TKC70s for this trip, being more road based. Hopefully the tyres should easily last the 5000 miles or so we expect to cover

    [​IMG]
    I've fitted the screen mount braces to stop the arms snapping again...

    [​IMG]
    And with the Metal Mule panniers she was all set to go. The bike's done just over 7000 miles. I'll aim to get it serviced out there as it's about 3000 miles away from one.

    [​IMG]
    And this the last time I saw the bike, dropping it off at the James Cargo depot near Heathrow. They mount it on a pallet and build a box around it, with the panniers still on and the next I see of it the bike will be in Vegas. Hopefully shouldn't have too much trouble getting it out of customs at the other end.

    Part of the reason for buying the GS was partly because I really like the bike and partly because I was sick of seeing it get bagged out by people who've never ridden one. I also got tired of the big bike, small bike debate and just the whole bullshit that goes with the adventure bike sector. So I thought, 'sod it, I've had my postie, I'll go for the complete opposite this time.' And I'm keen to try and get more people using their bikes a bit more. The GS is the best selling bike in Europe and the UK, believe it or not, but there's still a lot of them that don't get out much, so I thought I'll take mine to the states and hopefully show it as a viable option to not going, or renting a bike, or going as part of a guided tour, which I think are great, but you also miss out on so much.

    Like the last trip it's another credit card adventure. Worry about it when I get back. For now I'm going out riding!

    (and to prove it does get mucky)
    11025956_10154084557134688_2085829099731252941_n.jpg
    #6
  7. nathanthepostman

    nathanthepostman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    902
    Actually, I'm being bashful, but there was an online mag over here (www.brake-magazine.com) that just did a feature on small bike large bike and used my bikes as an example. They're great pics so I may as well share them here....

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    11885681_914902718555477_3820666830274146005_o.jpg
    #7
    CanuckCharlie and Banksbird like this.
  8. misterk

    misterk Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    706
    Location:
    DFW Texas
    im in! did you upgrade the converse sneakers also lol
    #8
  9. nathanthepostman

    nathanthepostman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    902
    I've had to. Those Pivot Pegz chew up a pair of Converse in no time. Actually, footwear's been the hardest thing to decide, because we want protection, but we also want something comfortable enough to walk around in without having to switch shoes all the time.
    #9
  10. OregonFlier

    OregonFlier '79 XL185s, '89 Transalp

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2015
    Oddometer:
    64
    Location:
    Fernwood, OR
    I liked the magazine article's content, but the typos and grammatical errors were pretty obnoxious.
    #10
  11. nathanthepostman

    nathanthepostman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    902
    One man band and no proof reader made for late nights, lots of worry and still lots of typos. Thankfully I have nothing to do with it anymore.
    #11
  12. vagueout

    vagueout Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2010
    Oddometer:
    4,573
    Location:
    sydney, east
    Nathan, like many others that followed your sydney to uk ride, i rate it as one of the great motorcycle adventures of all time . Safe riding and happy trails.
    #12
  13. nathanthepostman

    nathanthepostman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    902
    Evening guys, not much of a running commentary on this trip but just to update that the bike landed safe and sound in Las Vegas. It took about 3 hours to get to the airport, find the cargo area, get back to customs, back to the cargo depot, be wheeled out the big box, crowbar it open and finally ride away. I've flown into JFK and this was much easier. The customs lady knew the score about temporary imports, stamped the form and we were on our way. We had one last night just off the strip in Vegas and then headed out the next day. The only reason for flying the bike into Vegas was that I know from memory that out of the airport you're almost straight into the desert, and with a new pillion rider I thought that better than trying to navigate out of San Fran or LA.

    From Vegas we headed to Death Valley where it peaked at 48, so pretty scorching. We were kind of dressed for cooler climates with our regular textiles on but hopefully the happy medium will play out as we move into cooler climates.

    We camped that first night out in Death Valley at the free site just on the rise. Stinking hot and really windy. Not ideal, but stunning views and then back through Vegas the next day to our second night on the shore of Lake Mead. Another stinking hot night but the good lady slept soundly so that's the main thing. Today we stopped off at Hoover Dam on our way to Kingsman and along old 66 to where we are in a motel tonight; Seligman, where there's just been a killer rain and lightening storm. Tomorrow Grand Canyon.

    Finding it a completely different experience to when I crossed America - and many of these roads - on the CT110. Then I was on a mission and could ride all day. Now two up on the GS I'm finding 200 miles a day is enough for both of us. We're stopping more, sightseeing more, just enjoying it more. The bike is holding out okay. It's got some weight on it but with cruise control I'm just sat at the speed limit and it's easy. Met lots of bikers on guided tours on Harleys. Hopefully when I get back home I can do what I can to show that shipping your own bike and doing it alone is not so difficult. And when we heard one of the riders when they would be stopping for lunch, as they were hungry, it made me wonder why ride a motorcycle that embodies the true spirit of freedom, only to be told when you can eat and take a shit. Alas, we've already met some very nice people. Only yesterday we stopped at a McDonalds in North America and got chatting to Bob and Lowa; Bob the oldest flat tracker at the age of 78 and who, with Lowa, had shipped their bike to Europe and toured all around, just before the Berlin Wall came down. People say why eat in McDonalds? I say you always meet interesting people in McDonald's!

    Anyway, a few pics of the trip so far....

    [​IMG]
    The bike went through James Cargo who as an agent use Virgins cargo company so that's where you find your bike. The staff there disposed of the crate. The customs stamp was free, there was just a $60 processing fee to the cargo company. They didn't take cash or card so we had to get a money order from Walmart across the street.

    [​IMG]
    We stayed in a cheapish Motel 6 just off the strip that night then the next morning hit the road. Never was a fan of Vegas, it's just convenient for bringing a bike into as as soon as you leave the airport you're almost straight in the desert, no big cities to navigate.

    [​IMG]
    48 degrees in Death Valley but well worth it. We just took the kit from home so not best dressed for heat but wasn't going to go the tshirt and open faced route, not worth it.

    [​IMG]
    Passenger melting by this point.

    [​IMG]
    It was like this for most of the day. Nice bit of aircon at the Furnace Creek visitor's centre.

    [​IMG]
    Not having a problem getting fuel. Some of it is a bit low octane.

    [​IMG]
    Free camp spot in Death Valley. Hot but great views.


    [​IMG]
    Just incredible rock formations

    [​IMG]
    Too windy to put the tent up for a while as well. Needed rocks to weigh it down.

    [​IMG]
    Leaving Death Valley

    [​IMG]
    A random scouse fellow took this shot. They were on a lads holiday to Vegas and at Hoover dam for a day out.

    [​IMG]
    Later on along Route 66, lots of guys on Harleys.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #13
    BuffHunter and Old Downeaster like this.
  14. ride4321

    ride4321 Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,792
    Location:
    Binghamton, NY
    I'm in! Great to see you "posting" up a new report.Love the pics of the two bikes together.
    #14
  15. prsdrat

    prsdrat Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    895
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    There's a reason Scouse rhymes with louse. The damned things are everywhere. I know, one scrounged from us for years.
    Enjoy your trip.
    #15
  16. BeemerBOI

    BeemerBOI Dirt n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2012
    Oddometer:
    137
    Location:
    Boise, ID
    In !
    If this RR is anything like the last one, I'm never going to get any work done.
    #16
  17. nathanthepostman

    nathanthepostman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    902
    Hello. It's been a little while since I last updated and I'll have to keep this relatively brief as it's my wedding night and we only have the room 'til 11am.

    We're back in Vegas, where earlier this day we broke up this American adventure by motorcycle to get married by Elvis at one of the chapels on the strip. It's quite short notice as I only proposed just the other day near Page and the Grand Canyon. Keen to crack on with it we backtracked west from Zion to Las Vegas - our original point of departure - got the marriage licence yesterday and booked in the wedding for today. All went well. Over and done with in a flash then back out in the heat.

    Below is just a quick round up of pics from the last few days; from Grand Canyon, Sedona, Lake Powell and Zion. Having great fun so far. The bike's running good, weather a bit windy but not terrible and the scenery spectacular.

    [​IMG]
    This is Bob and Lowa who we met in a McDonald's on the north side of Vegas. Bob was in his seventies and still racing Flat Tracker. They'd toured Europe on their bike in the eighties, before the Berlin Wall came down, and we spent a good hour or more sharing stories. Bob runs a bike workshop over in Cleveland and is about ready for retirement. Lovely couple.

    [​IMG]
    Third time of seeing Grand Canyon and the shock never diminishes from seeing it again. It was a little cold and windy, not to mention busy, but still an amazing site, and $12 for a campspot is cheapest we've found.

    [​IMG]
    Pushing the bike around with all the luggage off suddenly made it feel manageable. We've definitely got it well loaded but she still handles and rides well on the road. I've got the ESA suspension so jacked it up to max and so far no problems.

    [​IMG]
    Somewhere near Desert View at the Canyon.

    [​IMG]
    Just great light at that time of day. We didn't do any hiking down into it. Neither of us could be bothered after a poor night's sleep.

    [​IMG]
    Next day we rode south through Flagstaff to Sedona. We liked it there, though a bit touristy in the main town. We found a cheap-ish motel in West Sedona, through so far it's been mainly camping to keep the costs low. We're aiming at less than $100 a day, all up; food, fuel, lodging.

    [​IMG]
    Massive Navajo taco at the Cameron Trading Post on the 93 up from Flagstaff, or maybe the 89.
    [​IMG]
    Proposing not much later having bought a ring at a roadside Navajo jewelry seller named Simon. Thankfully she said yes.

    [​IMG]
    She looks happy enough. Give it a few years and she'll be less happy about being on the back of the bike.

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    On the road from Page to Kanab. One of my favourite roads I've ridden on. Just such an epic landscape and views.

    [​IMG]
    Great piece of riding road, too.

    [​IMG]
    The top end of that same road. We're a bit hot in all the gear but I didn't want to take any chances. I keep seeing a lot of foreign tourists on Harleys wearing tshirts and shorts and I shudder at the thought of a fall.

    [​IMG]
    The Navajo Bridge; great place to go for a stroll.

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    I love the rock formations and colours. My favourite landscape of America.

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    So much of this.

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    A little later camping at Lake Powell just outside Page. We're managing to squeeze it all into the two Metal Mule Panniers, roll bag and two AltRider Synch bags that sit on top of the panniers. We're junking stuff as we go to make it more efficient.

    [​IMG]
    The Lakes gone down a bit, as it had at Hoover Dam. Need more rain.

    [​IMG]
    Love the contrast of the red and the blue.

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    As an ex training school bike she's a bit tatty but so far seems to be doing okay. It'll need a service somewhere around Colorado or NM before we push east to New York.

    [​IMG]
    This was the road coming into Page.

    [​IMG]
    And the stall area where I bought the engagement ring.

    [​IMG]
    From Page to Zion. This is taken on the Angels Landing walk. Three attempts and I still can't make the end. Fear of heights kicks in. One day I'll do it.

    [​IMG]
    Beautiful place, just getting a bit busy for its own good. Difficult to get a camping pitch, even first thing in a morning.

    [​IMG]
    Easier going down than up.

    [​IMG]
    Then back to Vegas - a place neither of us particularly like - to get married. Saves the hassle and planning back in the UK, that's what we thought. And you can't get Elvis to walk the bride down the isle in the UK, or sing Viva Las Vegas at the end of the ceremony.


    [​IMG]
    And outside the Chapel. Was easy and efficient. Job done. Tomorrow we head back west.
    #17
  18. GypsyWriter

    GypsyWriter Yup, I'm a girl.

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,110
    Location:
    Visalia CA
    Wow, well then congrats on the nuptials! :clap I always joked with my family I'd have Elvis officiate my wedding; didn't quite happen that way (:lol3) but it's still on the bucket list. :D

    I'm totally in for this adventure, keep up the wonderful pictures! (and having just come off of planning my own wedding, I think you guys did the right thing by eloping simply :thumb)
    #18
  19. advFord

    advFord Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,095
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    That guy is 70 and racing flat track@? :-D :clap

    Congrats to you both! Looking forward to following the adventure wherever you end up. - Dan
    #19
  20. crashkorolyk

    crashkorolyk just happy to ride

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    246
    Location:
    vancouver island
    Great R.R. so far,love the pics,safe journey mate!
    #20