Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JMo (& piglet), Apr 29, 2015.

  1. wizz

    wizz Up a creek......

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    Awesome, can't wait. On the fence between the cbxrr and the 690 so looking forward to it.
  2. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    TAT day 24: Crater Lake to Glendale OR: 178 miles*.

    *(239 miles in total to hotel in Grants Pass... so not as big a push as I'd hoped then ;o)

    Despite riding well over 300 miles yesterday (including my indulgence around Crater Lake of course), I was still over 200 miles from the coast, by the shortest route on road...

    Of course I was looking forward to another day (at least) on the forest trails, but at the same time, I was so tantalisingly close to the end that I was getting impatient - particularly as I'd been on the road over seven weeks now, with only two full days* not actually riding the bike at some point...

    *and this was the weekend of the Overland Expo in Arizona, which were instead long days on my feet, and still talking about the bike ;o)


    Funny story before I leave: I checked into the Whispering Pines motel which is at the junction of hwy 97 and 138 (that leads to the Crater Lake north entrance) - a quirky place indeed, but perfectly comfortable and great value. There was wifi access, but it worked better outside the room (and nearer to the office), and the owner said she'd put a citronella candle in the room incase any midges followed me in as I retired... There was the remains of a tea-light in a jar on the table, but a lovely looking new candle on the nightstand - perfect. I dug out the lighter that was buried in my camping kit, lit the wick, and went into the bathroom to brush my teeth.

    Next thing I know, the smoke alarm is screeching the place down, and I dash into the bedroom to see the 'candle' has become a molten mess of goop that is bellowing acrid black smoke! Turns out it was a battery operated night-light which I'd just set fire to...

    Having no choice but to pull the battery from the smoke detector (don't worry, I replaced it properly the following morning), I hit the sack, wondering how I might explain my clumsy mistake.

    The following morning over a delightful breakfast of freshly home-made muffins (she must have been up all night making these little buns of joy!), I confessed and presented the sorry remains:

    [​IMG]

    She burst into fits of laughter and said "Don't worry, you're not the first..." reached behind the counter and pulled out another where someone had done exactly the same thing! I imagine this will be the start of quite a collection ;o)


    The motel reception is shared with a 'general store' - although it is more a museum of retro packaging to be honest - some items clearly of indeterminate age*, interspersed with such delights as Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares that may or may not have been past their sell-by date too (not that I'd care of course!)

    This one particularly made me smile:

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    photo. Every generation gets the superhero it deserves...

    *note. the packet of soup above for example, is the owner of a soup kitchen in New York that was featured in an episode of Seinfield - which means that packet is likely to be at least 20 years old!

    Anyway, it was almost certainly time to hit the road now, and I rode the twenty odd miles back to where I'd left the TAT the day before - juicing up the CB-X at an independent fuel station near Diamond Lake (again I mention it as fuel is relatively few and far between in these parts).

    Almost immediately I was climbing up through a burn zone in the foothills of the Umpqua National Forest:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    ... enjoying the cooling breeze and the shade of the trees (well, those that still had leaves on of course), and some stunning views across the labyrinth of valleys below:

    [​IMG]

    However, at the same time I was conscious that inevitably, traversing these forest terraces meant you ended up covering a lot more ground than you might otherwise - and indeed, after a rather frustrating detour (due to a closed road), I ended up on the shore of the South Umpqua River having taken four and a half hours to cover the last 110 miles...

    To make matters worse (and purely from the point of research you understand), I tapped my start point into the GPS and it 'shortest' routed me on what I'm sure would have been an equally scenic alternative, that even incorporated the initial TAT trail, before following alongside the creek - on what I'd presumed was a continuation of the paved minor road I was now on. That would have saved me over two hours riding this morning, and is certainly something I would suggest to subsequent travellers, should you be wary of your schedule at this point.

    Still, I'd come to ride the whole Trans-Am Trail, and I wasn't about to take any short-cuts now!

    [​IMG]
    photo. The shade from the trees (and general altitude) was welcome as the day got hotter...

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    photo. 'Heavy plant crossing' - I managed to sneak round this minor landslide on the verge...

    [​IMG]
    photo. These stripped-bark trees were particularly stunning in the afternoon sunlight...


    Heading back into the forest, Sam then came up with an utter masterpiece of a trail - although I would add it was not really for the faint hearted! Indeed, when we'd discussed those sections where options available (he does offer an alternative 'big bike' route for certain sectors of the TAT, especially here in Oregon), I was adamant that I'd want to prove the CB500X Adventure could handle the tougher 'dual-sport' routes he had logged...

    And this climb was a killer - it started off as a rough ATV width climb through the trees, before emerging on an open ridge line that seemed to get more and more gnarly as it climbed ever upwards. On a big bike loaded with luggage, it would take all your concentration and resolve - as one over enthusastic twitch of the throttle on this loose and rocky surface could easily have the bike sideways - or worse, on it's side - which would be extremely difficult to recover from and keep going - you'd be far more likely to have no option but to turn around (which itself could cause all manner of difficulty on this steep slope), ride back down to the plateau, and have another go - if you dared.

    Fortunately, I had already come to trust the utterly predictable fuelling and traction of the CB-X implicitly - where time and again (especially in the technical terrain I'd traversed in Moab) it had literally saved me from either a stall or fall, and I simply snicked it into first gear, held a steady throttle and rode it like an automatic - letting the supple TracTive suspension once again prove it's worth many times over as I clawed up this climb.

    Just when I though the worse was over, the trail turned hard right and climbed straight up the fall-line - criss-crossed with a myriad of gullies caused by rain run-off. Jeeeez, I honestly could not believe how I made it up there! - and reaching the top, marked my GPS with an expletive, and the trail itself with a TA500 sticker on a suitably placed rock:

    [​IMG]

    Seriously, send me a photo of your 1200GS next to this rock, and I'll personally send you a prize!

    I took a moment or two to chow a Clif bar, and simply take in the stunning view that was reward for all this effort. I also considered just how perfect the CB had been over the last couple of miles: anything physically larger would have been a real liability (unless you're 6' 6" and an utter riding god of course); while a typical big-bore thumper, for all their comparative lightweight and manoeuvrability, are prone to cough-stalling in such circumstances if you are not careful. In comparison, the low seat, supple suspension and sweet soft power delivery that are key attributes of this bike were an absolute revelation - and allow you to take such liberties and get away with it, first and so far, every time.

    Later that afternoon, as the TAT route reached interstate I5, I decided that rather than press-on into more wilderness where I would almost certainly have to wild camp somewhere out on the trail (don't forget there are bears in these woods!), I would dive into Glendale and see what accommodation options were available locally or at least close by - figuring this way I would have the whole of the following day ahead of me to complete the TAT, fundamentally in the daylight. No point in taking risks this close to the end I thought, especially as my laundry was in dire need of refreshment too!

    As it turned out, the one and only motel in Glendale had long since closed, while the next option a few miles further south on I5 looked like I might well have made the National Morning News had I stayed there... Ultimately I sought solace in the familiarity of a Motel 6 a further fifteen miles down the highway (in Grants Pass) - well, that is also what this bike is so damn good at after all ;o)

    More soon!

    Jenny xx
  3. BugSpatteredJacket

    BugSpatteredJacket Been here awhile

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    Wonderful report as always!

    Regarding your rear rack, what caused it to do so? I also see in the picture that it looks like it rusted quite a bit already or is that a trick of the eye? I was considering this rack for a rotopax fuel tank but wouldn't want it and the rack coming off on the trails, or worse, on the highway with traffic behind me.

    Have you been happy with the power of the bike overall? Would you say that it meets real world driving needs (and then some on the trails)? Looking to pull the trigger on a new bike in just a few months and would love your feedback when you have a free moment.

    Again, awesome ride report. I am very envious of your adventures!
  4. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Bug'

    The tail rack that was fitted to my bike was one of the first 'pre-production' racks (the same one we'd used on the UK bike over the last few months), and I imagine the powder coating had not reached between the rack-plate and lower U brace section (note. the rack is two pieces effectively sandwiched together you see).

    The fatigue it suffered was undoubtably due to the weight of the tool kit (and associated spares/chain lube etc.) bouncing on the rack for many thousands of miles - and remember I had been showing this bike little mercy riding washboard at 50, 60 even 70 mph a lot of the time - although conversely it is actually slightly slower speeds that tends to induce vibration.

    Rest assured I have given the appropriate feedback to Rally-Raid, and they will ensure the two parts of the rack are welded together to increase the strength in that critical area.

    With regard to mounting a Rotopax - personally, and I'm sure KTMmitch would reiterate this, the rear rack is really only designed for lightweight bulky items such as a tent or sleeping bag (or small tool pack of course). If you want to mount additional fuel containers, then they really recommend you use the soft-luggage side racks for that job - they are designed to accept a range of accessories in addition to soft panniers, such as tool-tubes (mounted on the inside face to utilise otherwise wasted space) and are drilled specifically to accept single or double Rotopax mounts, with perhaps a single soft bag mounted on the opposite size for example?

    As for the overall power of the bike - yes, I will go into much greater detail with my final review of the bike after the trip report is finished - but in a nutshell, there is more than enough power in this bike for a solo rider. I'd admit that it doesn't have the outright urgency of a larger capacity machine (don't forget it is only 471cc and 47hp), but the gearing is spot on, and even at 80mph you have a useful 15mph or more at your disposal to get out of the way of any traffic on major highways. Honestly, anywhere that it is genuinely prudent to overtake a slower moving vehicle, there is more than enough get-up-and-go in this bike - you might not be able to take the same risks you could on a super-sport 600/1000cc machine, but then clearly this is not one of those anyway.

    I did notice the power became a little suppressed at high altitude (and by that I mean 10,000 ft or more), but again, all things considered, it really wasn't an issue - and the fuelling remained spot on through every kind of altitude and temperature/weather. It sounds sort of lame, but really, this bike just gets on and does it!

    Hope that helps...

    Jenny x
    BugSpatteredJacket likes this.
  5. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    TAT day 25: Glendale to Port Orford OR: 119.5 miles.*

    *(total including final liaison to Bend that evening: 454.4 miles)

    With a Coyote full of clean undies (these things are important you know!), I hit the road early, planning to stop for breakfast at the delightfully eclectic 'Morningstar Coffee House' in Glendale, where I had already sampled their fine coffee and tasty smoothies the evening before, while deciding where I might stay...

    [​IMG]
    photo. As if you really have to ask?!

    Those of you who have been following this tale since at least the Iron-Butt ride east (goodness that seems like a lifetime ago now!), may recall I contemplated a five-shot espresso to celebrate the 500 mile mark, somewhere between Kansas and Missouri...

    Well, as chance would have it, on the Morningstar menu was the mighty 'Krakatoa' - that was indeed a quintet of their short sharp and fundamentally strong rich house blend - just what I needed to set me up on this, the final day of the Trans-Am Trail!

    [​IMG]
    photo. That's five straight shots of espresso in a 12oz cup!

    The initial ascent out of Glendale was another corker - really, Sam has saved some of the best trails 'til last - although anyone who regularly rides in this part of Oregon will probably tell you, you can't really fail to find some cracking trails in this part of the country.

    However, you can find some that are ultimately (or at least currently) closed.

    [​IMG]
    photo. This was on the ridge at the top of a particularly delightful climb - what a way to start your morning!

    As I began my descent from the ridge (above), I rounded a corner and there, about fifty yards away was a big-ass brown bear. I mean properly big - he seemed to take up half the width of the trail, and would certainly have been taller than me on his hind legs!

    Fortunately he turned on his heels and trotted down the trail in the opposite direction - although of course this was exactly the direction I also wanted to go... I gingerly proceeded, and once I was pretty sure he was out of sight, pressed on around a sharp corner in the trial - and came face to face with a locked gate. A quick look at the GPS showed a number of alternative trails that appeared to ultimately join up with the way I wanted to go - although when I recounted this incident to Lisa later that evening - she laughed and imagined that the bears were dragging all manner of other gates closed too, in an effort to box me in: "Fire up the barbecue mama bear - we've got another live one!"

    [​IMG]
    photo. I tried a number of alternative trails that were in my Garmin TOPO maps installed in my GPS, but all of them petered out or were blocked.

    Having spent a good hour or more on dead end trails, I eventually took an alternative route down the mountain and back into Glendale. Resetting my GPS track log for this final leg, the network of surround dirt roads and trails revealed the perfect alternative route through that would join up just a mile or two from where I'd had to turn around anyway.

    The dirt emerged onto a minor paved road that ran alongside Middle Creek, and the moment I saw the railroad track I immediately felt I'd been here before:

    [​IMG]
    photo. I have a photo from 2008 of my Tenere in exactly the same spot (facing in the opposite direction of course)

    Increasingly the surroundings felt familiar now, and I wound my way west through lush green forests, punctuated by the occasional sign that I'd recalled from those years before:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    photo. this trail was ultimately blocked by a much larger fallen tree a little further on - in fact in the gloom it looked like a sleeping stegosaurus!

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    photo. Giant Loop typically name their luggage products after Oregon's regions and landmarks.

    There were a few subtile differences to the route that I remembered from 2008 (and subsequent overlaying of my GPS track logs show where short sections of trail that were once included are now presumably closed?); while one particular sign (that points the way to the Mt. Bolivar hiking trail) that I am almost certain was originally on a dirt trail, is now alongside a paved single-lane road - such is progress.

    I also noticed that the original exit to the coast (along China Camp Road) was now clearly marked as 'road closed', and the latest TAT route takes you further north along the ridge before ultimately joining the highway a few miles up the coast from Port Orford.

    Almost without warning, the trail was over - and I emerged onto the scenic Elk River Road, and subsequently the Oregon Coast Highway (hwy 101):

    [​IMG]

    A short ride south was all it took to reach the official end of the Trans-Am Trail:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    photo. The official end point is right here... I didn't think to go in and ask if they did a souvenir sticker or pin badge or something!

    I then rode into the heart of town, and out to the harbour with the aim of getting a suitable shot or two with the ocean in the background:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Pausing briefly to chat with a fellow adventurer (who was in the middle of Kayaking the length of the Pacific Coast from Seattle to San Diego!), there really was nothing else for it now, but to find a suitable spot for a celebratory lunch.

    Oh, and of course consider what I might do now?


    Denoument

    Inevitably if you arrive in Port Orford, on your own, in the middle of the afternoon, on a windswept Wednesday, you can't really expect a great sense of occasion. And I have to say that a rather insipid selection of prawns (at least the fries and the raspberry fruit-pie were good) at the Crazy Norwegians restaurant didn't really give cause for celebration either.

    Of course I realised that while the TAT itself was now over, there was still a way to go until the Trans-Am 500 adventure was truly finished. 335 miles to be exact.

    I'm sure the majority of people who typically ride the TAT in a pair or more end up drinking the afternoon away and ultimately retiring to a local hotel to sleep it all off... but I suppose I considered this achievement was really only part of the bigger picture (that had not least incorporated the whole ride east too of course), and felt there was still unfinished business that if I were lucky, could be wrapped up this evening after all.

    Heading up the coast, and directly into the wind it appeared, it wasn't long before I had to dig out my sweater that had not seen the light of day since Mississippi! I pressed on into the early evening - the coastal traffic left behind as I finally headed inland at last, and out of the wind.

    As the sun slipped gently down behind me, casting a long shadow forward - I realised this would be for the very last time. I'd loved riding at this time of day, every day, for the past seven weeks. And I'd loved riding this bike. God how I'd loved riding this bike - it had been fu*king phenomenal if I'm honest! Yes I'd had a hand in the development of the specification, and subsequently the initial testing too back in the UK - but this was the acid test, the real-world proving - and it had exceeded even my own expectations as a true all-rounder - a genuine 50/50 road and trail machine that fundamentally compromised at neither, and more importantly, had proven itself to be an utterly faithful companion throughout this massive adventure.

    I admit, I even shed a few tears when I realised tonight would be the last time I'd be riding this bike, the last time we'd be looking for a hotel, unpacking our modest belongs, taking a shower, drinking a vending machine soda, and maybe sharing a few thoughts and photos on ADVrider.

    [​IMG]
    photo. The final ascent over the mountains before Bend - crossing MacKenzie Pass under a full moon - the perfect end to the perfect day of a perfect trip on the perfect adventure bike. Goodnight.

    Jenny xx
  6. N111KX

    N111KX Adventurer

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    There is no better pic to end on!
  7. BugSpatteredJacket

    BugSpatteredJacket Been here awhile

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    Sherbrooke Quebec, Canada, Motorcycle Mecca!
    Hi Jenny! Well done on a great adventure and for taking time out of your busy schedule to respond to my query - much appreciated! Looking forward to hearing your final thoughts on the CB500X and Rally Raid Kit. Hope you and Piglet get plenty of rest - look forward to reading about more of your adventures. Ride Safe...
  8. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    I've just made an observation - it would appear that in the transfer to the new forum, anything I have written off-line and pasted into a post (ie. the majority of my daily updates) the new forum has messed up the punctuation - namely any apostrophe or colon is now a series of strange numbers and symbols... I'll PM the site owners and see if there is a quick way to fix this, otherwise, it looks like I'll have hundreds of posts to edit. Tedious tech.
  9. OHjim

    OHjim Long timer

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    I think if you cross your eyes really hard, a ’ becomes an apostrophe. Actually, it's interesting that the apostrophes in your signature are fine (unless you already fixed them).
  10. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Yes, it's just the posts that were written offline and pasted as replies... they worked fine on the old forum, but now there is a strange code for each different character - I notice it also applies to to ellipsis too... I'm hoping there is a 'find and replace' function in the editing menu, otherwise it looks like I'll have to go through every single Ride Report post (and there are 50 plus of them, since some were in two parts) and edit them individually... that won't happen immediately though as I am in the middle of packing to head back to the UK.

    Jx
  11. GypsyWriter

    GypsyWriter Yup, I'm a girl.

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    Oh UGH, that sucks. :( Hopefully there's an easy fix, I know if it was me I wouldn't be able to stand keeping it all fuggered either...

    So. ;) When is the next chapter-slash-post about the CB500XRR? :raabia
  12. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Strangely it appears that the posts I wrote on my iPad while on the road are fine (using the same copy and paste method), it's just the posts I wrote initially on my laptop (and the last week from Wendover onwards, which I wrote once I'd finished) have the funny punctuation code...

    Less work perhaps, but still tedious.

    I'll do my best to sort it out asap.

    Jx
  13. dickosaurus

    dickosaurus Geezer Coalition Supporter

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    Way to go, Jenny. Wonderful ride report.
  14. oldtrucks

    oldtrucks Been here awhile

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    Well done
  15. RBnite

    RBnite Been here awhile

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    Down by the river
    Really like this shot- Made it my wall paper

    [​IMG]
    Phipsd and visualizerent like this.
  16. GypsyWriter

    GypsyWriter Yup, I'm a girl.

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    Oh yeah, that one is a beauty. :raabia
  17. garzan

    garzan Been here awhile

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    So here is a wild a$$ guess. I suspect that your laptop is a fancy smancy one that differentiates between left-side and right-side single and double quotes. Your other devices just use a generic UTF-8 single character for both the left-side and the right-side. The forum understands the simple version, and uses an escape code for the stuff it does not understand.
  18. Tommyturtle

    Tommyturtle Been here awhile

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    Thanks for posting this Jenny. I start the TAT at Tellico Plains on August 3rd/4th on my CCM and have the Heart of the West loop planned as an add-on. I was intrigued to see your routing taking in Sam's new tracks after Border Inn nr Baker (UT/NV border). I've pre-planned a route north from there myself to Wendover to pick up the Heart of the West loop and plan on running HoW clockwise and then re-joining the TAT - time permitting. I've mailed Sam asking if I can have his Border Inn to Wendover tracks (maybe different from the one's I've planned/ Pony Express route) just to see. I've bought his whole TAT GPS tracks package and maps/roll-charts. Great photos and RR! Thanks, Tom
  19. XXMe

    XXMe Not my picture

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    Jenny!

    Thank you SO much for taking us along on your ride! It really has been a great read!

    You brought back a lot of memories from my own adventure on my CB500X last year although mine was tame by comparison! My bike was stock and I didn't get into anything nearly as knarly as you did I fully agree with everything you've said about how well the little bike fuels/runs in every condition! From sea level to 14,130ft elevation, from FL to TX heat to BC and AK frigid mountain passes this bike was a great traveling partner! Sure wish I had your suspension and wheel set for the Northern "highways" though!

    This should be a great seller for Honda and with the RR options one of the best solo ADV bikes available!
  20. NickW909

    NickW909 Been here awhile

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    [hijack]

    Will be doing a RR? Be interested to see how you get on with the CCM.

    [/hijack]
  21. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hee hee - I'm sure we all will... make sure you post a link to any ride report in the CCM Adventure thread too, a lot of people there will be interested to see how that bike performs in the real world!

    Jx