This is a ride report involving two Tiger 800 XC bikes, five days over Memorial Day weekend, in a trip in and around the four corners (NM, CO, UT). Ok, maybe it's only three corners since we didn't spend any time in AZ!
This is not a trip about maximum mileage. We covered just over 900 miles. This is a trip about the bikes, the roads, and the sights we saw. This report should be short on words, and long on pictures. Dave, my husband (aka "BOFH") is a photojournalist-turned IT geek, and keeps a camera with him whenever we go out, and isn't afraid to use it.
These are the bikes, pretty much set up as we left. This was a "practice" ride for the Tigers... how do they perform on pavement? How do they perform off-pavement? How do they handle full luggage off pavement?
We had a 3-person MSR tent, two sleeping bags, two sleeping pads, clothes for each of us, cooking gear, tools, and a 2-day supply of dried/packable food. Extra gloves, hats, sunscreen, and spare pairs of shoes included. Panniers and mounts are from Jesse bags. The fit is great, and you don't really notice the bags once they are mounted and full of gear. No extra duffel bags were added. We were determined to do the ride using only our panniers and a tailbag.
Day 1: Home to Mesa Verde National Park, CO.
We left just before 9am, after dropping off our dogs at the boarding kennel and getting geared up and on the road. A quick trip through some twisty roads in Los Alamos, NM, and we hit our first dirt section-- FR126. Most of the road is paved and twisty, except for a short 10 mile stretch between Jemez Springs, NM and Cuba, NM. A road known to us, it can be silty and soft in the dry season, and muddy and greasy after a rain. Today, it was....different. Evidently, the road crews decided that FR126 needed some "help" before the big holiday weekend, so they had the road graders out. Gravel was fine, but there were a couple of "whoo- ha!" moments trying to get around the deep piles of dirt and rocks that the graders left behind. Funny, no pictures of that section.
But this is at the end of FR126-- aaaah, fun smooth dirt.
We took a quick gas and grub break in Cuba, NM, then headed north. We fought some vicious cross-winds on Rt. 550. The speed limit is 75mph, and the cross winds must have been at least 40-45mph. Makes for an exciting ride. Luckily, we were transferring to another dirt road section in a bit. This would be Largo Canon road. It sees a lot of truck traffic, but I'm sure we got a lot of WTF? from the truck drivers. Road had some sandy sections which would grab the front wheel of the Tiger and pull it aside. But not too bad overall, although the day started getting warm and we stopped a few times to shed layers of clothing.
Mind you, we are running stock tires on the Tiger 800 XC, with stock air pressure. We're going to run these tires until they are bald and then mount something more aggressive.