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zachbrowning 12-21-2013 10:38 AM

Livin' in a Van, Down by the River.
Hi, my name is Zach. My girlfriend (Andie) and I recently purchased a couple of XR650Rs from some fellow inmates with the idea of riding them south to Central America and maybe further. Due to various financial and scheduling concerns we revised our plan for the winter. We're now traveling through the desert southwest in my trusty (sketchy-looking) Ford cargo van, and towing the XRs along to ride and explore as we go. We're just getting started and plans are very loose, but we're thinking we'll spend the coldest months in southern AZ and maybe CA, and then venture further north as the weather allows. So far we've only done day-rides, but we're hoping to find get some opportunities to leave the molester-mobile behind and do some multi-day rides. We're keen to meet up and ride with people in the area, so feel free to send me a PM with ride suggestions, general knowledge, offers of beer, etc. :D


I don't really live in the States anymore, but my mom and stepdad live in NM, so I use their place as my US base of operations. I wanted to arrange to purchase bikes ahead of my arrival back in the US, so I went ahead and searched the Flea Market nonstop for a couple of months. I found a couple of likely suspects and was pleased that they were in the same geographical area, namely the Pacific NW, which is unfortunately not so close to NM. Oh well, road trip! We prepped the van, bought a trailer, broke a trailer, bought another trailer, and headed north and west. It was a quick trip and we didn't stop for many pictures, but here we are heading back through North Cascades National Park after picking up the bikes:

We managed to make it as far as UT before we had to stop and ride. Our first ride on some ATV trails just south of Price, UT:

Happy to say the I figured out the starting procedure for the beasts pretty quick and we had a great ride. This was my first time on an XR and Andie's first time on a dirt bike at all. We were both super stoked to be on such fantastic machinery. These things are a blast!!!

more photos coming...

zachbrowning 12-21-2013 11:27 AM

OK, a couple more from the bike pick-up:

Andie's new toy:

Loaded up with mine:

Can't ride here:

And from our quick stop in UT to break in the bikes:

Nice trails south of Price:

Andie shocked at how fun the XR is:

Me, equally happy but slightly less enthusiastic:

The next day was a quick ride to Gemini Bridges in Moab:

Can't ride across anymore:

Product placement?:

Andie stretching her legs:

Next day was Hurrah Pass:

Andie motoring:

Made it to the top:

This is where Andie decided it was time to turn around:

Coming back:

After just a little taste of the XR fun-train, the weather turned and it was time to head back to my parents' house where the plan was to do some bike maintenance to make sure everything was good-to-go before our trip. We took over the garage for a couple of days and stripped the bikes down. Neither on of us is a mechanic, so one of my goals this winter is to learn a bit more about how to work on bikes. After a few days, several beers, a couple of bloody knuckles, a lot of scrubbing, and several choice swear words the bikes were back together and it was time to head out on the road.

The bikes looking a little thin:

Notice the oil/dirt plugging up Andie's radiator. We had a bit of an overheating issue on the Hurrah Pass ride, so when we saw this we knew why. This was the reason for all the scrubbing, an old oil spill from the previous owner. No hard feelings :D:

OK, time to upload more photos. Will try to post soon to catch up with real-time :clap

PathLessTraveled 12-21-2013 11:30 AM

Jealous, That I am
Looks like a fun time. Great pictures...I'm in.:lurk

wyobohunter 12-21-2013 11:38 AM

More photos of Andie?


jese 12-21-2013 11:47 AM

Looks like this is going to be fun.:clap

dentedvw 12-21-2013 12:09 PM

I like your style. And your van. :)

davesupreme 12-21-2013 02:32 PM

... and Andie...... :evil

(i mean, what'd you expect from around here.....:wink:)

zachbrowning 12-26-2013 11:36 AM

Photos of Andie, yeah, all right, there'll be more, but you'll have to put up with the story as well :D

One thing that I kind of, sort of, forgot to tell Andie when I arranged to buy two XR650Rs is that they're kick-start only. Ooops. She was none to happy to discover that she was going to have to try to kick over that beast all winter long. Her first few attempts were not encouraging. For our first few rides, the ones in UT, I had to start her bike for her every time, and she wasn't too happy about that either. While in NM she worked hard at learning to kick it, but it wasn't going well and she was considering selling the bike. I even contacted another inmate in ABQ who was selling and DRZ to see if she could test ride it. Well, I guess that's the encouragement it took because not half an hour after I sent that message she went out and kicked it over on her own for the first time! :clap Since then she's perfected her technique and is able to start the bike reliably, but she'd still prefer electric start :lol3

So, after learning to kick-start, working on the bikes, and getting fat over Thanksgiving with the family, it was time to get out on the road. We ran into a problem registering the bikes in NM as our local DMV office wanted to see a "Nader sticker" that says the bike was street legal from the factory. Oops. They didn't care that both bikes were already registered street legal out-of-state, no sticker no plates. We were more than a bit bummed, but a quick search here revealed that we might have better luck at High Desert Title in Albuquerque. Very good advice indeed, no hiccups at all. With the bikes plated and insured we breathed a huge sigh of relief and headed for Elephant Butte where a buddy of mine lives when he's in the US.

What was supposed to be a couple of day visit turned into ten days of hanging out, riding, drinking beer, and enjoying the lake. If you haven't been to Elephant Butte, it's actually a pretty cool area with a good amount of riding. The lake level is so low right now that there's a ton of riding to be done under the "high water mark" where you can leave tracks as you please because it will be under water again someday. Good stuff. No pictures of that riding as we didn't want to stop!

We also took a spin down along the Rio Grande river with a short excursion up towards the Turtle Back mountain. The riding along the river was nice fast dirt for the most part. The climb up towards the mountain turned steep and loose pretty quickly, so we headed back down.

Nice weather in EB:

The going gets a bit rough:

Andie didn't want to ride down this hill, so I rode my bike down then hiked back up to ride hers down. Not bad at the start, but if you look close at the second pic you can see why she didn't want to ride!:

Open scrubland near the river:

Andie happy to be off the mountain:

and enjoying the river crossings:

Another ride we took was to go out and try to check out Spaceport America southeast of the lake. It's a mostly paved road to get out there, and once there there's not really much to see. Eventually there's supposed to be a visitor's center there, but not yet. No pictures as we couldn't get close enough to make any pics worthwhile with phone camera. We were able to ride around the far side of the facility and explore the valley a bit on some dirt roads, but you'r boxed in here between the spaceport, White Sands Missile Range, and Ted Turner's ranch.

Near the Spaceport:

Elephant Butte:

We also got to spend a nice day out on the lake on a friend's boat. Nice change of pace from riding the bikes:

Andie getting her 'Merika on:

We had a great ten days in EB and could have spent more time easily, but the road was calling at it was time to get out there again. The van was lonely!!!

wyobohunter 12-26-2013 11:58 AM

Hell yeah buddy. Keep it comin'

Was that a shot timer or a camera when she was shooting?

pavemike 12-26-2013 06:18 PM

As a fellow XRR rider (who lives in New Mexico), I'm subscribed and looking forward to more! :freaky

advrockrider 12-26-2013 06:18 PM

I'm in!!!
Guns,bikes and a blond, this is going to be a good one.

Sean-0 12-26-2013 06:27 PM

oh hell yea im in ....good looking chick on a xrr how could i not ..pretty cool story as well :D

Marc LaDue 12-26-2013 07:46 PM

Good Luck!
I'm not sure an XR650R is really the best entry-level vehicle for a novice female off-road rider, but what the heck do I know? I wish you two all the luck in the New Year; I suspect you're likely going to need it. If you should happen to find yourself in the vicinity of Sioux City, Iowa sometime later this coming spring or early summer, give me a shout. I too grew up in der Schweiz, Glattbrugg to be exact.
Over and out for now,


kitesurfer 12-27-2013 11:58 AM

good stuff! you tell a good tale..better than a movie!

KHVol 12-28-2013 06:12 AM

Good start to the RR, looking forward to the rest. XR650R's are great bikes once you get the couple of idiosyncrasies down.

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