Grand Canyon Loop: Ulterior Motives
When in the winter's cold and dark days, riders tend to get that far-away look.
Looking for a good ride. Looking to have a new adventure. Sometimes, just looking ...
Looking for some escape from the limitations of snow, ice, and too-cold-to-ride temperatures.
Aside from suffering from SRD (Serious Ride Deficiency), other aspects of life's load add to that far-away look....and our survival instinct kicks in and we seek safety and comfort.
A good ride opportunity will often provide that distraction and satiation.
Before long, a guy tends to have this sh-t eatin' grin plastered on his face...
But before we get to decoding "WWTTD", maybe we should get some context.
Maybe it started in mid-January when my search for moto-activity kicked into gear. My 690 needed to have an ECU tuning. I knew that was true as it was one of the main topics on the 690 thread....and those competent rider-wrench-tech guys must be right :deal :ear .
So I put out a thread-posting indicating I would offer whiskey and barbeque to the lucky Inmate who offered such a procedure. True to form, within a day or so I had three offers: one from Edmonton ("Bartron" seemed to be adequately versed with the beast.... http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...on+code+orange and he was sort of close as he was only 8 hours drive away in Edmonton) and indicated he was closer to me during summer months; another from Nevada and was a prolific contributor to the 690 thread ("Bobzilla" has too many posts to paste here, but he seemed to be also knowledgeable....but I live 2.5 days of driving from Nevada); and a third from Marysville , Washington and I could get there in 4-5 hours with the bike loaded onto the truck ("Uller" was again a "frequent problem solver" on the 690 thread).
When I responded to BobZ, he indicated that Nevada was a long way to drive for a few hours of motomagic. I agreed, but showed my hand a bit when I quipped that it was a good excuse for a ride. After a few e-mails back and forth, BobZ invited me to join him and a few of his close friends for a week-long Hard Way ride doing a loop around the Grand Canyon.
"Some nights camping", he said, "with a few motel nights in between for relaxing, laundry, and lancing saddle sores."
"There will be some sand", he said as the entire planet has heard by now how I feel about soft sand. But only half the planet has seen the effect silt and deep sand had on me when riding Baja last year (http://www.advrider.com/forums )/showthread.php?t=666961 ):
"Some sand, some single track, some double track and we will be winding our way doing a loop around the Grand Canyon starting from Las Vegas and ending up there a week later. There will be crashes and everybody needs to be totally self-reliant ....carry everything you think you need....tools, tubes, water, camping gear and something to sip on around the fire at night....and bring a chair." were his warnings.
I took the invitation as one of those cosmic confluences and dove in.
So, from late January to mid-April I spent several hours daily Google-Earthing the area and Googling ALL the information I could possibly find.
Oh, the ECU tuning???
I decided that BobZ would be way too busy 2 days before the ride started on April 20th in Vegas to be bothered with tuning the bike....Edmonton was farther away than Marysville, so I accepted Uller's offer and drove down to his place a few weeks later.
Uller was VERY helpful not only with the ECU tuning, but also starting my install of the Cyclops 7" light upgrade. Thanks Brad !!!:clap:clap. This ADV community is chock full of cool folks !!!:wave:thumb
So, with the tuning done, I set to prepping the bike for the Grand Canyon Loop. February, March, and the beginning of April was enough time to have several anxiety attacks when I thought about the struggle between "responsibilities" with work, family, and the homestead vs "take several weeks off and enjoy yourself" kinds of thinking.
As my planning developed, I began to fear that I would be riding with guys who always "Ride the Dez" together and who were top-shelf riders. My self-doubts waged war with my hopes for a great ride in an area I had only ever driven past to and from Baja rides... I was pumped. But to avoid total disgrace the first day of the ride, I would need to start to get in better shape and get some "ride-legs" back, as last summer was one with 1/4 of the riding I usually do....
I developed a diet and work-out plan that surely would work....I didn't want to be "That Guy" on this ride. The diet thing was sort of working and the air-trainer set-up on the 10-speed was situated nicely on the deck, but never felt the warmth of my butt on it's prostate-friendly saddle....:cry
The real way to get ready, I thought, would be to arrive in the Utah/Nevada/Arizona triangle early and ride for several days before hooking up with BobZ and his posse. That thought led to several pre-ride plans that ended up with me deciding 4 days in Moab would be a good warm-up act. As some local friends would be there at that time, the plan was consolidated: Drive to Moab and ride for 3-4 days and get a taste of that beautiful area, spend a day getting to Vegas, and have a week off-road with 7 guys I had never met....maybe even do a few days in Death Valley after the Grand Canyon Loop.
Moab is beautiful but I would prefer to ride my 450 there rather than the 690....sand and ledges made me realize that....but that will be a future ride.....
With all that being said, here is a story about 8 guys riding around the Grand Canyon in a clockwise loop starting and ending in Las Vegas.
Yes, a tale imbedded with adversity, friendship, phenomenal terrain, masterful riding, incredible fire-side stories and humour, and even dinosaur footprints......
And.....full of .....Ulterior motives.....
A smattering of what is to come....
Only good can come from this thread! Looking forward to it.
DAY ONE: Mesquite to Toroweap
As the time between the "invite" and the start of the ride was a period of a few months, there were lots of pre-ride developments. The smartest one was to start the ride in Mesquite, NV instead of Vegas as it would save either many miles of whooped out stuff going north out of Vegas....or the 60-mile paved ride from Vegas to Mesquite.... I was informed that the group would rendezvous in Mesquite the night before we were to leave on April 20th. One guy, Bobby, flew in from Pennsylvania (Boy were his arms tired.... :poser:poser ), so the gang would be driving truck, trailer, bikes from upstate Nevada to Vegas to pick him up and we would all meet at the casino were they booked cheap rooms (as they prided themselves in being cheap bastards). I had been in Mesquite for a day, had sorted through my stuff, and still wasn't sure which of the three different jacket/pro systems I would use as it depended on weather and, as I found out , the altitude of the routes...last year they were in snow.
I was ready with a cooler of beer to welcome the guys to Mesquite and around late afternoon BobZ began to litter my cell-phone with their cramped yet beerey ride accounts as they approached Vegas airport.
Remember, I had never met any of these guys and only knew BobZ from his 690 thread contributions and his avatar....which certainly makes him look the role of some crusty desert rat who consults the moisture content of antelope scat to determine the best way out of sand washes that could swallow a trophy truck....and when we spoke a few times on the phone before the trip, his voice was a ringer for someone who sounded like a cross between Kris Kristofferson and Tom Waitts....about as smooth as a rasp :eek1.
As for the other guys....??? WTF did I know???? A social challenge for a misfit like me :D
I anticipated their arrival at their hotel/casino and drove around the parking lot (which was about 800 acres in size) and on the third circuit, saw a truck with a trailer full of orange bikes (two "red" as well). This HAD to be The Guys, so I drove up beside them at the hotel entrance, rolled a window down and got the attention of one of them closest to my truck:
"You guys can't park that here....you are gonna have to move it!" The fellow looked in my cab and said, "Yeah, we know....we are just checking in."
I pointed out that the space was reserved for a group of misfits who were going to be riding around the Grand Canyon. This created enough cognitive dissonance for the poor guy that I was pleased to see the confused and mildly irritated look on his face.
"Effin A", I thought ! I just scored my first point :D I leaned a little closer and introduced myself....David was the guy and quickly acknowledged the situation....we both seemed to think it was funny :evil.....but then, he had been drinking beer and farting in a cramped truck for 6 hours....so who knows what was really going through his head at that moment :huh. I got out of my truck and began to get introduced to the group....BobZ was in the lobby stealing room keys so it took a bit for him to join us....nametags had been suggested by me in pre-ride e-mails just to demonstrate that, again, I am hilarious and have a poor memory for names at times....
The parking lot was also infested with HD "Pirates", so we poked fun of them as well as ourselves before driving over to where their rooms were. They accepted some beers as they began to unload bikes and gear ....the ride had just begun :clap:clap:clap
I joined them for a while while they ordered and ate supper ...the conversation was quite varied and I agreed to meet them the next morning "ready to ride" by 9:00 AM.
The next morning the usual cluster-f was manageable and I finally determined which jacket I would take thanks to BobZ's claims that we would be riding at elevations up to 7-8000 feet. I decided on the Darien with the armor removed so I could enjoy my new pressure suit handcrafted by John in Spokane....the Juggernaut was a beauty...
http://www.highvelocitygear.com/jugg...leeveless.html (BIG sizes for guys like me....)
And, in the parking lot packing frenzy, I realized I forgot my kneepads back in my truck so whipped back to retrieve them.....
So, around the crack of 11:00 AM or thereabouts, we rode southeast out of town into the desert.
The players at this time were:
Trail Bosses: BobZ and Kevin
Ride Pigs: Bobby, Dan, David, Travis, Travis (yep, 2 Travises....more on that later.)
I am not going to say much about these guys at this time except that they are a great group of folks. They sure as hell weren't sure about me, yet welcomed me aboard.....making it clear that my Canadian status set me up for third-world country jokes and other similar assumptions that Canadians hope to get electricity soon and don't know about cow's milk....but more about that later.
We rode east on gravel road up to some rockier doubletrack up into the mountains east of Mesquite.
Waiting for the last guys on way up to the high-plain:
We dodged a clot of quadders pulling large trailers full of camping gear up into the mountains....they were dressed in the usual attire of quadders....yet they seemed friendly enough....
Within an hour we had gained some elevation up to an alto-plano....folks were jostling for position and to find their pace and we were off!!!!
Four riders in this pic:
I like to let the fast guys go ahead as I don't like to have someone "at my six" or to ride in dust. As such, we were all trading positions and looking for the ride groove.
At one point early into this section I waved Dan ahead and he accepted, only to run out of road at the next corner. He is an accomplished desert racer but was getting used to a bike new to him that had the Valdez Acerbis tank, so he took a while to find his brake pedal. I saw him go down fairly hard, but he shook it off....elbow damage seemed to be the entry fee for that corner.
We snaked along gaining and losing elevation and approached a canyon wall with a narrow jeep trail. This offered a technical challenge...the real first one of the ride...no good pics of it as it is one of those sections you are too busy riding to stop and snap a few pics....but it is off in the distance at the right side of the pic....it is the sandy-coloured part on the hillside:
I rode ahead of the group at the approach to this canyon wall as they were waiting for someone and I knew they would be along shortly. When I realized the track would take us along the cliffside, I thought, "Geezuz....is this where I show my first "That Guy"moment by failing the ledge and rocks????
I managed through the one crux section with only a minor sideways move....and then nailed it !!! Too bad no one saw it :cry. It wasn't really that difficult, but it was early in the ride and I was still anxious about what we would be getting into....
Here is that part ....these guys were helpful to one another ...
It was manageable, but any error had a high price for failure due to the drop-off. We were doing fairly well of keeping up with each other and following the rule of stop-wave-ride at route deviations:
Dan at the ledge section:
Kevin was the track-keeper Trail Boss and was lead guy most of the time. Here is one of his self-portraits where he is admiring himself:
He tended to walk around with his helmet on in various "mountings"....
but here he is full-face:
Kevin is a very good rider and placing #2 in last years King's of the West speaks to his abilities....
Aside from his riding and GPS skills, he is quite a mechanic.....sometimes demonstrating some reluctance to consider other's suggestions....until TT demonstrated his WWTTD acumen ....but that will come up later. :deal
We rode off the cliff section into pine and juniper forest looking for BobZ's "shortcut", only to retrace our steps back along some VERY sweet damp red clay-sand-soil double track that we all liked beaucoup... no pics because we were having fun....except one of David waiting patiently in the sweltering heart for three of us to get out of BobZ's shortcut sidehill adventure...
The plan for Day One was to get to Bar 10 Ranch for a 5:00 supper that Kevin had arranged ....but as the day had a late start and some slow-downs, we got there in time only to be told supper would be at 6:00.....which would not allow us to ride to Toroweap for our first camp....
We were hot, tired, thirsty and hungry when we arrived at the ranch. It is a working ranch and a cool place....
You can sleep in chuckwagons....eat good food, and take helicoptor or raft rides in the Grand Canyon from there...
We hung out waiting for dinner and had our first "destination readjustment", as we counted on our fingers and toes enough times to figure out we would not make Toroweap before dark....BobZ was bummed because the whole point of the trip was for him to sleep in a cave.....but he got over it...
Posing by the ranch lodge....
The water tap was social central....
A few riders were there (V-Strom and 800GS) and off-road was new to them....they rode in on roads, so we felt a bit smug about knocking off our first day with no major issues. They were nice guys and we had the usual conversations.....until two attractive female guests began to do yoga on the lawn nearby.....someone was said, "Are you doing yoga?" To which the older of the two (early 30's) replied, "No, we are showing off!"....We were too busy gawking to take any pics.... :cry
After dinner, I asked a cowboy if there were any camp spots between us and Toroweap as I doubted riding there in the dark was something I wanted to do...and a few others tended to agree....and we ended up a few miles south of the ranch at a pretty "Sedona-like" red sand/rack spot where we set up and had our first fire.
And wouldn't you know it.....ALL these guys had chairs !?! They were kind enough to pull up a large rock for me by the fire.
#1: BobZ indicated in initial e-mails that he wanted me to join the ride as he wanted another "Old Guy" on the ride (I am 60 and he is a youngster in his late 50's). Maybe I was going to be there to make him look good???? I wasn't sure, but he was explicit that this was ONE of his ulterior motives.
We woke up and started packing before the sun rose over the cliffs behind our camopsite. It was most fitting that we discovered some cowboy memorabilia in the sand as we were leaving on Day Two...
ulterior motive number 2
Ged can write a sotry:evil
ill get back to this ( i am still buried after the trip) but thanks for getting it started
Sounds good so far Ged!!
How about when we were all ready to leave the hotel parking lot in Mesquite. Gear is packed, bikes are warming up, we gather together for a riders meeting before the big trip and Dan's bike falls over because the kick stand broke. :huh
It sucked at the moment but does add to a great story!
Poor Dano, 9 seconds into a 9 day trip and his kickstand is gone...Spent the rest of the week parking very strategically.
The first day is always a mess, it never fails.
Good news here....three of the crew are reading this.... :deal
BobZ is right.......a few days into the trip, he made UM #2 clear and I was in a bind. I had thought long and hard about whether or not I would do a report on this ride and decided against it for several reasons:
- this was a ride I was invited to and considered the privacy of these new friends;
- I wanted to focus on the ride and not have a story-line bubbling in my pre-conscious mind;
- I usually take a ton of photos on trips like this, but found that I wasn't doing my usual amount of photography;
- I just wanted to ride....
As it was, I bought a Go-Pro for the trip but didn't even read the instructions....and didn't bring it from the gear in my truck......and ironically I found that my SD cards didn't record intermittent photos, so some of the story isn't visually represented.....a mystery there :huh
And, after a day or so I realized the ride pace didn't give me my usual stop and snap opportunities ( Not complaining.....just an observation...:wink:)
So....most of these pics are taken by other riders....
Some pavement sections were needed....
we plan to do the grand canyon north edge tour (toroweap to north rim) in less than 2 weeks.
Another GC rider...subscribed. :D
Great start, looks like fun.
With “Bare Grilz” (Steve), our resident Fallabama, NV naval aviator, on an all expense paid tour of sunny and scenic Afghanistan, the vaunted position of "least manly" member of the group is again wide open for this trip. Bobzilla clearly sense this as the opportunity he has been waiting for, knowing he can’t compete with Bare in a head to head match (no pun intended), he capitalizes on him missing the trip…Bobzilla springs into the lead at the end of day one, over the heavy odds favorite Dave, by showing disdain to the local talent and their desperate yoga demonstration. Instead, focusing on the young cowboy with ruby red lips, milky white skin and baby blue eyes…his name was Russell.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
But don’t worry, Dave was the heavy favorite for a reason, and he would not relinquish this title without a fight. The day goes to Bobzilla, but the competition is far from over.<o:p></o:p>
Ahhhhh.....the subtle competition....:lol3:lol3:lol3
This group of buddies clearly like and respect one another....but perhaps we might see through this as the tale unfolds.....
UM #3: ???? Was I invited to see if I would be the "least manly" of the group???? Perhaps: if the outsider can be the target , the "family" bond of unity can remain unthreatened.....
Naw.....they tested.....I may have dodged that bullet.....time will tell..... the plot thickens :eek1
If Ged already wrote the prologue then what do you call the beginning...........the real beginning?
I had talked with the guys a little bit but this is really the first stages of planning and trying to find out if this motley crew could form a riding group and would they agree to the rulzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
this was my first e mail to them.............im surprised most of them joined
i am pretty disorganized and cant spell so deal with it
we are planning on having 2 of the group fly in to las vegas and do a fly and ride arriving on april 19
we plan on riding by 8;30 am april 20
we will park all the trucks at a friends dads house. address to be supplied at a later date
parts of this trip I did already back a couple of years but some parts new with some amazing views
we need to have our shit together from the start.....the last gas on day one will also be the gas and food stop for 2 days unless we can get a meal at Bar 10 (kevin is workin on it)
fuel range needs to be 200 miles each, group total....some have plenty and some need to carry a little sometimes... Kevin has mileages but i like to add a cushion incase we find a "scenic" i mean boonie bashin detours
flat tires suck and we all have them so do what you can to prevent and be prepared. flats can fuck up a tirp
make sure your shit will stay on the bike........if you are prepared never mind . if this is new try it at home.
this will have some really easy stuff and some that will have several of us working and some just enjoying but this is not a dirt road only trip we have some river bottoms and sand washes, some dunes, slick rock and some scenery that will make you crash
gps.,who has what (we can make the tracks work for each gps but we need to know the model) experience level. we will take paper maps also for the big picture
music: if you ride with it we want every body that does to make a 4 hour playlist. not bullshit music but stuff you like to ride with, and we will trade players in the morning and get our own back 4 hours later. I have thought about this for several years and want to try it.kind of lets you know your buddy a little bit better, if you dont use a player enjoy the sound of the bike
we will try and get a meal in a restaurant once a day at minimum but be ready to stay out all night with what you have at gas stops
i aint carrying the extra water for everybody again. I need 1 gallon a day for me. you carry what you need
i can boil water every morning for coffee and oatmeal and if you need water for dinner. if you want and need to cook more bring the shit and we can share.... a spoon ,bowl and cup work well
the plan is pretty flexible for speed............its up to us how far we go......we are making some side trips incase we get ahead.............i guess we can decide when we hit the trail the pace.
speaking of pace............ill dont mind hanging in camp until we have agreed to leave but when that time is here i am leaving... i am trying to say when i put my shit on im gone. dont say lets go until you are ready to go.............. if you want to hang out say so and we can relax
the group is my making.... fucked up as it may be
Kevin Roche.........started as a chance meeting, now a great partner, the brains behind these trips, he lets me kind of keep up and think im in charge but picks up my bike if i need it
Dan O .......my oldest friend that rides. many miles together, shit we were fast back in the day, new adventures in retirement bud,
TravisThompson ( herc) married my daughter and became my son. kind of new to this ...we took a cross country trip but this is more my style boy. natural talen but little experience in the dez. fly and ride guy
Dave Henderson. not my son but kind of is. Dave has started ridding with Dan and I about 10 years ago but he dont have 10 years experience. oh yeah travis (herc) and dave are best friends since kids
Bobby Beck. East coast guy tryin to learn the dez. he can teach you how not to pack your shit. i think he has it figgured out now. this will be his third trip with me.oh yeah Kevin and Bobby good friends from back in the day. fly and ride guy
Travis Tinner........happiest fucker i have ever met,,,,,had the pleasure of meeting him at KTOW and have wanted to spend time with him since. VERY solid rider, he has his shit together but cant navigate with a gps for shit.
Ged Schwartz....only know him from the interthingie ( fuck you kevin your fault)rides a 690 too and has help figure it out. read a report of his where he broke his leg and partied and rode for another month in Mexico . must be a tough old goat........i needed a old guy like me Ged, the rest are kids
invited but needs to commit
Ziggy, crazy, fast, fun , blah blah blah thats ziggy blah blah blah lest go bitch quit wanting to go and go
lets get this fucker started i am so ready
Thanks for letting the kitties out of the bag :D
I like it that Bob told the guys that I was a tough guy who ignores broken bones and continues to ride for a month with shards of bone poking through my Tech 7's, only using the occasional snort from a flask to deal with the discomfort.....but the guys got a taste of me first-hand....oh....on second thought, change that to "they got a sense of me".....
One of the pre-ride banter questions was wondering who would have the gayest shoes.....so I made sure my shoes were fairly butch.....no one laughed at my Patagonia hikers cuz I made sure they had red Moab dirt all over them :evil.
Now I want to make it clear.....I have no problem with folks who are gay or lesbians....just to not have anyone be offended. In fact, the guys all agreed that we were lesbians....
But these guys brought chairs, fer chrissakes :lol3:lol3:lol3. In Canada, we don't mind bringing chairs when we camp from trucks....but when riding in the bush (yes you guys from the States, we call forests/wooded areas "the bush":wink: ), Canadian adventure riders simply stare down a grizzly into submission and use them as a couch.
Just so y'all know.
Day One: (additional notes)
It has been pointed out that Dan had the first equipment malfunction when his side stand broke when his packed bike was just leaning there in the morning sun.....not only did the side-stand break on his 450 KTM (I think it was a 450), it took with it the lower rubber chain guide underneath the countershaft (not good) and his chain was tighter than a Republican's sense of generousity. KTM's don't have linkage in their suspension, and require more chain-slack than bikes with dog-bone linkage....too tight a chain and the rear wheel bearings will wear far too quickly....spewing bearings on the road like a crackhead's teeth falling out. I don't think Dan believed me....and his wheel survived at trip.
Dan insisted, "It's a new chain....it will stretch....".
Who was I, the outsider "Canadian" to offer tech advice to a seasoned desert rider.
Bobby (a fly and ride guy) was riding a 650 XR that was a Nevada special prepped by Kevin.....his malfunction was ahead of him everytime he shattered his shin trying to kick some life into that red farm implement...
BobZ, Kevin, Ged: 690 KTM
Travis son-in-law: 640 KTM
Dan: 450 KTM
David: 400 XR (camouflaged with white tank)
Bobby: 650 XR
Travis Tiner: 950 KTM...or was it a 990??? (doesn't matter, because he rode it like a 300 2-stroke)
We were a rolling Giant Loop ad.....everybody used a Coyote bag and various dry-bag systems:
Even the Alien that dropped in from the Mothership had one....
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