Joined: Feb 2006
Location: Oregon coast
Stuff That Worked
- I purchased some Klim in-the-boot ventilated pants just before the trip, and they held up well. The vents work pretty well, but the zippers seem to tend to jam up either with the dust, or on the vent fabric. Otherwise these seem like good, sturdy stuff. Probably more Klim stuff on my shopping list in the future.
- Happy with my other existing gear: Alpinestars body armor suit and Tech 8 boots, A.R.C. Backcountry jacket, Answer jersey, A.R.C. gloves, some leather street gloves for cold weather and road riding. The enduro jacket is bulky and heavy, and Tony and I discussed whether a really lightweight waterproof shell might be better. He likes the lightweight idea, I'm still leaning toward a more durable jacket. Mainly it boils down to whether you think you might ever crash or run through brush and branches while wearing your jacket. To me, the jacket falls in the survival equipment category, so I want something that won't get shredded easily. Plus, I get cold easily, so the heavier jacket is appealing.
- Filterskins, extra filter, NoToil cleaning system
You can clean your filter and skins in a bathroom sink with this stuff and not feel like you're destroying the hotel room. I have been using NoToil for a while and have generally been happy with it. Tony is not convinced that the oil is as tacky/effective as Belray, but until I see some evidence, I'll probably stick with NoToil. The only disappointment I've had with NoToil is that if you clean and oil a filter, then put it in a plastic bag, there is some 'carrier' component of the NoToil oil that is supposed to evaporate which disintegrates your filter. This carrier allows the oil to be a thin fluid when applied, but supposedly leaves only the sticky part of the oil in the end. Use caution with oiled filter storage -- make sure the carrier is COMPLETELY evaporated.
I had never used Filterskins before, but they're great on a trip like this. You can put a new one on each morning, removing the filthy one. With the Filterskin on, a clean air filter would stay usefully clean for several days. Without one, I probably would have been changing/cleaning the air filter every other day.
- Nuun electrolyte tablets -- these add some flavor to icky-tasting Nevada tap water and keep your
electrolyte levels up. The packaging works great when the tube is full, but when it runs down, bumpy roads will start 'powdering' your tablets, so pack these carefully.
- Suzuki DRZ 400S
Compared to more 'pedigreed' bikes, the DRZ-S has "soft" power delivery and a somewhat soft suspension. I'd argue that these qualities actually make it a great choice for a couple weeks of long days on the bike, along with its bullet-proof mechanicals and non-fussy oil requirements. The one thing it badly needs is a sixth gear. I had it geared with 14/44 which is good for trail riding, but not high enough for highway and long straight stretches in the desert. The CV carb is fairly tolerant of altitude changes, and I only changed the jetting once on the trip (altho it would have been happier with another change once we hit cool, dense air in Oregon).
- Rox Risers
These move the handlebars up three or four inches, and allow you to move the bars forward as well. You will want a bike that you will be comfortable standing on for hours on end, and these risers do the trick. Sure, if you're going to race enduros, the bars should not be so high and forward, but my back wouldn't have survived all the standing up without the risers, and my guts wouldn't have survived all the bouncing if I was sitting down.
It was really handy to show up in some town you've never been to and find out if there are any motorcycle shops, or where the motels are. Tony and I used Dropbox to organize GPS data and some text files of notes/lists, and I had all those notes loaded on the iPhone for quick reference. Also, it takes pretty good photos of people, food, and nearby buildings and signs (but it falls short on landscape/scenery/distance photos), and the HD video is pretty good. And, of course, I could keep up with my email and post daily travel updates to a blog. I have the Verizon variant, and there was decent reception at all our motel stops except Baker, NV.
- Benchmark state atlas map books
We had Benchmark atlases for CO, UT, NV, and OR. For all the states other than OR, we scanned the TAT route pages, marked the route, and printed them. That is, we only had to bring the appropriate pages rather than the whole book. We did bring the entire OR book because we weren't entirely sure what our plan was after arriving in Lakeview on the TAT.
Looking at these maps is a much easier way to plan an alternate route or look for the closest "bail out" town than panning around on the small screen of a GPS. Plus, you get a better idea of which forest roads are 'major' than the GPS seems to show.
Wives and family worry much less when they can see that you are making progress and sending 'OK' messages. The main concern here is that if the SPOT batteries die, worried family members might assume that the sudden lack of tracking data implies that both of you must have fallen off a cliff somewhere. That is, the tracking data sometimes lulls people into incorrectly assuming that a lack of tracking data means Something Bad Has Happened.