Big O's little trip - APORMC sanctioned Roaming embassador's RR
This thread will be used to chronicle this little trip of mine that is the excuse behind me quitting my job and selling everything.
On this trip, Big O shall be my faithful and most trouble free ride. Or as others have put it: I chose the bike with the most maintenance I could find and with the highest likelihood of stranding me in the middle of nowhere, just as a bunch of mujjaideem are pursuing my skinny ass, in some rusted out 1960's military jeep accompanied by a quartet of AK-47s having a go at humming "What a wonderful world".
I'd also like to thank all the members of this site that have made this trip possible by answering all my idiotic questions regarding the LC4 engine: without you, this would never have happens, so THANK YOU ALL!
Ps: for those who might care to, you can browse the pictures of this trip here http://gnarlyrides.smugmug.com/Trave...ping/i-ZQVhWxX
Introducing Big O
Without a doubt, the lions share of the preparation for this trip was devoted to preping the bike. And by lions share, I mean 99%. Hardly gave any time to consider where the f'ck I'm going, how to get there once I figure out the where and how, much less what to see along the way, that's basically the theme of this trip: no plans, no reservations, just follow the inspiration of the day...
Having spent soooo much time prepping the bike, I feel it is only fair that the first entry of this blog thing should be about introducing Big-O (short for big orange, as the bike dwarfs most other bike's, in height anyway).
When I first decided to do this trip, I was thinking of taking my then current bike, BMW F800GS, as it was a great all around bike, had proven itself cable in nasty trails, if a bit of a real pig in mud:
But was hesitant to take such a complicated machine in third world countries where the locals know all about carburetors and next to nothing about fuel injection trouble shooting. So a long and confusing search was begun. One week I'd say Sertao 650, the next 800GS, then klr, then Sertao again, then try to figure a way to get my hands on a 660 tenere that Canada does not import, and on and on and on.
That is, until one day I heard of this mythical beast from Austria: 640 adventure! It's was love at first sight!
But this bike poses quite a few problems. Not the least of which is KTM stopped production of this model in 2007! God f'cking damn it!! Plus the horrible maintenance reputation of LC4 engines: you don't see to many with over 100k km on the clock. Search AdvRider forum, I was seeing quite a few low mileage one's with blown engines. But, love is love and I had to get me one of them sexy beasts! And to be fair, the lc4 is such a simple engine that it's a breeze to diagnose and when something brakes, it's fairly simple the fix.
So off I went on a hunt to track down one of these bikes and man, are they rare in this part of the world! In a whole summer only saw 3 for sale within 6hr driving distance. Finally found one in La Tuque. Seller assured me that the bike was top notch, ready to ride the world, blah blah blah. I'll come back to that later.
So, without further ado, here is Big-O's Personal's:
All I can say is: thank god I took it for a test run in Nova-Scotia! Initaily, I was planning on leaving last fall. But after the N.-S. run, there was no way I was leaving with the bike in it's current state...
From memory, here are the things that where done to it since. Some where preventive maintenance, others where because the parts had just failed:
ps: first destination, British Columbia via the TCAT.
This should be interesting, let the adventure begin!
Posted from: Thistle springs trout & Camp grounds: aka trailer-park boys hangout!
So it's finally started!
Departure is over a week late but the final prepping of the bike took a lot more effort than expected. Especially figuring out where to put out all those damn tools and spare parts. Was hoping that the top rear bag would be empty but ended up having to store some stuff in it. Not super happy about that but oh well; that's life for ya...
So here is Big O all loaded up and ready to go:
And me with the bike,
The bike's odometer showed 19173km at the start of the day. Add to that about 22000km for when the computer was changed: Big O is about 42,000 km old! Ouch! But then, aside from the transmission, his heart is just about new!
Got out of bed early enough, but had a late start as I wanted to tidy up the shed before leaving. I guess I liked spending time in that shed, prepping Big O: when I switched off the lights and gazed at it, all empty and quiet, I felt sad leaving it.
Slowly made my way to Ottawa by way of the 148. Very nice road that follows a river. Bikers out there, if ya looking for a nice ride, check it out. Sorry, failed to take any pictures...
As the 148 goes throught all the little towns, it took close to 3 hours to get to Ottawa. Add the fact that I stopped at MEC for a camel back that would fit my coat, when I finally reached the starting point of the TCAT (trans Canadian adventure trail), it was time to start looking for a camping site. And that's when I was introduced to a magnificent place: Thistle springs trout & Camp grounds! What a shit hole! But it's located right at along the TCAT so it was hard to refuse.
So, today was a nice, if short, relax day of riding with just over 170km covered. Let's see what tomorrow brings...
Big O’s version of today’s events:
Well things didn’t start off to good as the moron who maintains me put to much oil in and as a result it was foaming. So we had to go back to the barn and drain some. After that, the day was a breeze: cruising at 50-95kph ended in a rate of 4.9 litres per 100km. Just before stopping for the day, I was caught red handed trying to lose the bolt that holds the gear selector...
First day of off roading on the TCAT
Posted from: Calabogie, Ontario, Canada.
Today started with rain and it didn't let up until the afternoon, and the first part of todays TCAT route was tarmac and gravel roads; in other words boring shit and a bit of a let down. Did come across a town who's name made me smile:
Life took a turn for the better at about 2pm when two things happened 5min apart. First was the rain stopping! And the second was this:
The tarmac and gravel roads finally led to a dirt road and the odds where looking good for some nice trails in the not too distant future. And I was not disappointed! Had some great trails to practice handling Big O fully loaded. The rear tire's traction was simply awesome (Midas E09) but I can't say the same for the front tire (TKC 80). It just floats on the wet mud and gives very little positive traction in gooie conditions. But then that's what I was expecting from them when I got them: I'm hopping they will last longer than a more dirt oriented tire.
So, humming along this hydro line, I came across this reck of a car. For a second, I felt like I was back in the American far west where you see derelict cars in the the middle of the desert just about every 10 feet. But then I noticed a fact that proved beyond a doubt that I was in Canada and not Nevada: the car's body panels where not riddled with bullet holes. It had just been stumped on by what seemed like half a dozen monster trucks.
Had my first pucker moment of the trip but no pics sorry. Came across a water crossing that was the result of a beaver damn. I eyeballed it and figured it would get to about a foot to a foot and a half deep, judging by the height of the beaver damn. Not feeling the urge to walk it and get my feet all wet I ended up saying: fuckit it! This is what I'm here for after all. I'll try it and deal with what ever happens after. So in goes Big O with a hint of apprehension and the water started to rise and rise and rise to the point where it drowned out my exhaust. That was the pucker moment cause the water was real close to being level with Big O's air intake. Luckily, that was as deep as it got and we made it out, true a bit wet and heart pumping, a bit faster but that's it. Not even any water in the air box.
Then came the tripod moment. Last week as I was packing all the shit I wanted on Big O and realizing just how much the bike was gonna be loaded down, I really debated leaving my tripod in the shed. Well, 2nd day out and I'm already happy that i'm carrying that brick:
Every time I look at that picture and smile!
Came across quite a few of these today.
I even saw a sign warning of there presence from Mai to November. They seem to dig holes right in the middle of the road. Go figure. Crazy dinosaurs...
Big O's version of what occurred today:
Today was a blast! Got to play in gravel, water, mud, rocks and even took a shower!
I was simply stunning today! Purred Iike a kitten, climbed hills like they where ant hills, pretended being a nuclear submarine, managed to stay upright regardless of this shitty front shoe I'm wearing! Hell, I was perfect! Well, I did manage to loose (who's fault is that really?) a MSR fuel bottle and my can of chain lube. :/ I just got so excited with jumping up and down up and down down those trails... Dumb ass will just have to secure them better in the future.
Today, we did 188km...
Good to see that you are underway, I'll follow along as you work your way West ...
Peeping from behind the work curtain...
Posted from: Bancroft, ontario
Today was, according to the info that I got for the TCAT, going to be the second day of the most technical riding of the whole TCAT. With an optional alternate route that is even more technical. Reviewing the course, I opted for staying on the normal route as something told me that a fully loaded Big O with a lone rider might not be the best combo.
So, off we went on leg three of the Ontario TCAT. Started off with a bit of tarmac but quickly that got fixed as the actual trails appeared. I shot a video of one section, from the moving bike, but it would seem I pulled a Henrik on myself as the camera recorded before and after what I wanted to record but not during... :/
Here is a pic of Big O at lake Granit. You just have to admire the propensity for the abstract of the collective mind of Ontarians! Maybe it could be made to explain the foul food they serve In there dinners?
After a while, 30ish km's, we came onto a hydro line and they are always a portend of good times to come...
And sure enough, it didn't take long for water to come and greet us on a most frequent manor.
Bottom tended to be quite easy, the rear tire found plenty of traction, and the water was quite clear, so no drama. Just slow going.
Did I say no drama? Most have jinxed it from the future! Godamit! After crossing quite few long runs of water I glanced down and noticed that according to Mr. Know-it-all GPS we where no longer on track. I had missed a turn at Albuquerque or something. Soooo I double backed to where I had left the planned route (did all the water crossings again of course). Only to discover that I just couldn't find a way to follow the indicated route. Looking closer at the gps I noticed a way point with the text "needs recording" and a straight line that goes into the woods. But I look and there is no trail that goes into the woods at that location. Then I think: hum... Could this be the start of the "alternate technical" section? So I loaded up the alternate route and sure enough, it started right here and went exactly where I had gone moments earlier. As I could not find a way to follow the normal route, I decided to try this alternate route, witch started with me re-crossing for the 3rd time quite a few water crossings...
And from here on out, the fun started to skip my mind. It all start with this little sign:
This section was much more like the stuff I like to ride with the boys of the APORMC, only they where not here AND Big O was fully loaded so not quite a nimble as I'm accustomed to having him when doing shenanigans of this type. But I have to give credit where credit is due: Big O is simply amazing in stuff like this. He tracks hard and true in mud, water and rocks! Did you notice I said nothing of logs?
So we come to this f'n long water crossing and decide to not walk it and just go! BIG MISTAKE! Turns out, there where submerged logs that ran perpendicular to the path. The water was not overly deep, about half a meter and clear (if brown). I saw the log a fraction of a second before hitting it. The front wheel tried to climb it but failed (a blip of gas might have made it a success) and slid off to the side instead with the unfortunate consequence that Big O took a dive into the water. I did mention it was about a half meter deep right? The water completely covered the engine and more importantly, the air intake! FUCK!!! And the kill switch was hidden under the water so I couldn't get to it fast enough before hearing the engine sputter and die...
For those of you who don't know, this is VERY bad for an engine, as water can end up filling the cylinder and cause hydro lock. When that happens, the engine basically tears itself to shreds.
Lucky for me, the bike was just 50-75 feet into the water crossing so bringing Big O back to shore was not the absolute end if the world. Not quite. Sure wished Riley had been there with the douche rope. Once back on dry land, I striped Big O of his load, seat and tank, let him have good long piss to empty his air box and boy did he need to go! The pulled the spark plug, cranked the engine a bit to make sure that any water in the cylinder was expunged. Didn't seem to have any: we where both happy about that! Dressed Big back up and fired the engine: instantly came to life with a smile!
About 20-30min later we come to yet another faking water crossing that looked the same as the last 50. Wasn't even very long, 50 feet max. Well, you can be surprises with how deep water can get in such a small distance. As we where wading thru, the water kept climbing and climbing on Big O. About 10-15 feet from land the rpm started to drop dramatically and the engine made some unhealthy sputtering sounds. This time I hit the kill switch before the engine died, but based on the sound was making, I was convinced this was the end of the trip for Big O!
30 minutes later, Big O fired right up again! Bugger this, we need to get the hell out of dodge before disaster strikes for real...
I guess dad was listening! The trail ending about 5km later! Never been so happy to see a well graded gravel road!
We started off at 10am and came out of there at 6pm, with 5 hers spent on the alternate route. Last 50km to the campground where done on tarmac at a nice and easy pace, giving a total of 134km todays. At this rate, we're never gonna make it to BC!!
Big O's take on todays shenanigans
I don't got nothing to say. Well aside from: I sure hope that's his finger back there!!??!!
I'm in buddy!
Day 5 : from Bancroft to Minden.
Went to bed way too late the night before and woke up dead tired. Took forever to pack up all the shit and somehow managed to do a horrible job of it: the top bag kept getting in my way when mounting/dismounting. Eventually found my way into town to have breakfast and stopped at a horrible restaurant: Dixie breakfast something. Didn't even finish the eggs.
Got back on the bike and having fuelled up, headed out for the next part of the TCAT. At noon no less!! As soon as I hit the gravel road I knew something was not right, was just not feeling Big O, through no fault of his own. I was just too tired and the bike was riding me and not the other way around.
At first, it wasn't a problem as it was easy gravel roads. Then the gravel road turned into well maintained two tracks with some water puddles here and there, baby stuff. Still, I was very hesitant in negotiating any obstacles that we where encountering, which is somewhat out of character for me (the awesome players can attest that I kind of drive a bit faster than my skill level would suggest. :p )
Anyway, after maybe 40min of having turned off the tarmac, we entered the section that the TCAT description warned as tending to be a bit muddy after rain. Shit! It's been raining every second day all spring this year! The trail proved to be just a series of slimy, slippery mud puddles riddled by deep slippery ruts from 4x4s trying to get back to china or something. Speed dropped to nothing. This was going to be a long ass day! And I was tired to start off with. Hum...
No very far in, 20min?, I came upon this little mud puddle:
<img class="yui-img" src="http://gnarlyrides.smugmug.com/Travel/BigOTripping/i-wnxfHnp/0/L/IMG_0669-L.jpg">
I walked it just to see how fun it would be (yesterday's water crossing had given me a new appreciation for explorative prevention). That was one slimy, and deep, cesspool! Just the idea of getting stuck in that and spending an hour huffing and puffing to get Big O out of that quagmire made me take a breather and ask myself: I'm I doing this for the enjoyment of it or the bragging rights? Ok, I'll admit it, a bit of both. But mostly for the fun of it and this was not shaping up to be a fun day.
It was an easy decision to just turn around and skip this leg of the TCAT. Big O even felt better under me on our way out of there. And that's how we ended up doing hardly any trails on day 5 and just a bit of tarmac: stopped at the first campground we passed, which was right outside of Minded, pitched the tent, unloaded Big O, sat down and did some Spanish lessons while trying not to dose off with some degree, if not complete, of success...
To finish up the day, we went into town for grub and found this nice little hotel/pub that had GUINNESS and butter chicken. Wait a minute! Butter chicken? Out here? Gotta have me some o that!
<img class="yui-img" src="http://gnarlyrides.smugmug.com/Travel/BigOTripping/i-xzTb6Rk/0/M/IMG_0674-M.jpg">
Sheeeit, the only thing they got right about the recipe was that is has chicken. But still, was good anyhow.
<b>Big O's take on today's events</b>:
I must say that I'm most disapointed with my rider's lack of displine and comitment to my little adventure! Going to sleep at 1am, after a day like that! Next thing you know, he'll expect me to do all the work, while Monsieur doses off in the saddle!
And that was day 5...
:D Looks like great fun. :lurk
this ain't no race to some finish line
Got up and noticed that the day was shaping up to be gorgeous and that I was in the mood to take it real easy, so decided to stay put for the day and take care of a few things.
Started by getting a hair cut. You know: to be presentable for church. We've been good and devout on this trip, so far, going to mass just about every second day...
This time, we prayed for duck-tape and a mini MP3 player so that I caould start on those Spanish lessons while careening down dirt roads. And contrary to most deities, mine always answers prayers when accompanied by an offering...
With the roll of duck tape, affixed a few bills and a plastic card under the seat. A bit of a Bitch to get at without tools, but then, that's kind of the point.
Also finally took the time to properly setup Big O's rear suspension. 1pm and all done! The remainder of the day was spent basking in the sun, reading, Spanish, playing guitar (yup, I have an electric guitar with me) and getting better acquainted with my friend Talisker, who's been lovingly taken care of by Big O since we left 6 days ago.
Starting to feel like this is camping when your supper looks like this!
Big O's take on today
Was nice basking in the sun all day, being pampered and not having to wonder if I'll be scuba diving in a leech infested swamp at every turn! Even though I am partial to a good mud bath! Speaking of which, I hope I get to play in some tomorrow...
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