We sleep in a bit this morning, enjoying the comfortable Motel room that cost us mmore than we really wanted to pay! (Most expensive one of the trip, as it was in an urban area) We head out for Tacoma and Port Orchard (some 40 miles west of Tacoma) on Interstate 5. We are prepared for the Interstate traffic but we stick to the right lane and do about 55-60 mph...pissing off plenty of drivers that have to go around us. We take the dirty looks in stride as we make our way north.
We had plenty of time to reflect on the trip and I am sure Jim was going over the trip in his head, as I was. We couldnt get too lazy though, as the Interstate was no place to daydream when you are on such small dual sports!
It is only a couple of hours and one fuel fill up, before we are riding into the familiar outskirts of Fort Lewis...then Lakewood, then Tacoma. Jim and I had agreed to simply part ways unceremoniously when I hit the exit that would take me back to my home...and it wasnt long before we were approaching that exit.
I hit my exit ramp and waved to Jim as he headed another 40 miles or so home.
I rolled up into my driveway a few minutes later, glad to be home, but a bit sad that the trip had ended. I made that transition from "aloof and adventerous" to "family guy and responsible" as I came through the front door. It was good to be home.
My family seemed less excited about my having completed the trip, than I was. They are a bit more grounded and "homesteadish" than I am I suppose. I had stories to tell and pictures to show, but I tempered my desire to do so immediately, waiting to ease into it a bit later. They were glad to see me home safe though. I wondered if Jim had the same experience. (He later told me that it was similar at his place!)
Some afterthoughts about the trail:
What a great trail and route! Thanks Sam for inspiring many of us to get out and see the Country in this way! And thanks to those who posted their adventures, to further inspire people like me to get out and do it vs. just reading about it!
In a word...ELEVATION! The trail in Colorado was simply fantastic, the terrain and mountains and woods, were beautiful. I will not even try to describe the incredibly high, and breathtaking passes we climbed and stood atop of. You simply have to ride Colorado!
In a word...COLOR! Completely different, yet beautiful in its own way. The contrast that one experiences riding from completely different climates and terrains...one to another, were incredible, especially from Colorado into Utah. Utah's reddish views and vistas were a photographers dream. The colors, the canyons, the riding in Moab...again, incredible...and a "must do".
In a word....HOT! I got tired of Nevada quicker than the other states, but...to be fair...(and in hindsight) it was likely more due to our having to make "good time" on the trip than the continous and sometimes boring terrain that seemed to rarely change. Had we allowed ourselves more time to look around, stop and re-route to some places we did not have time to do, it might have been more enjoyable. But we would have spent even more time eating and plowing thru "bug dust"!
In a word...TREES! Back to the woods and trails that I am familiar with here in the Northwest. This is beautiful country with some old growth woods and rolling hills. Crater Lake is a must see for anyone that has not been there, and is a worthy "side-trip" for sure. Not having done the ride to the ocean, I cant comment on it other than to say I am sure it is a wonderful and scenic ride. Certainly the ocean coming into view and the making it to the beautiful Oregon Coast (with which I am very familiar) is awe-inspiring if you have not been there.
Some afterthoughts about ride preparation:
Other than not checking Jim's rear tube, (because it was new...lesson??? check it anyway!!) we went thru the bikes really well. We really missed nothing, other than the weight and leverage we should have noticed when loading the rear rack on Jims KLX. I think this was a result of getting the bike so close to our deadline, and not using it/riding it for its intended purpose, prior to making the long trip.
....I recommend new tires and we both really liked the Pirelli MT-21's.
We basically went by the "Rugged Rider" tool list (Do a Google Search) and were quite over-prepared. When we had a major issue (broken frame) it was tent poles that saved the day, not so much the tools. Certainly there is a peace of mind gained by bringing a comprehensive set of tools etc and I would take the same tools on a similar trip. It was interesting though, that ingenuity and imagination is as helpful in emergencies as hardware. It reminded me of some of the stories of Pioneers and their imaginative methods of surviving breakdowns and the like. Everything you take with you can be a tool. Below is a photo of the tools i took, laid out prior to packing.
Some afterthoughts about gear:
Well we did not get a chance to use our tents sleeping bags etc., as we shipped it all back and Motel'ed it after the frame breaking on Jim's bike. We certainly would have liked tenting it in some of the beautiful and out of the way areas we found ourselves in. We had good, light camping gear...we just did not get a chance to use it.
Jim rode with a helmet and gloves....period. I rode with zip up chest/shoulder/elbow/spine protection, knee pads and a helmet and gloves. I am not as skilled a rider as Jim, and I am ten years older. I took it on good advice to wear it. I was told even if I fell only once...as it might pay dividends...vs a shoulder, elbow injury etc. The one time I fell...on a steep downhill with a deep rut...I landed square on my left shoulder. I was glad I had the protection.
Jim wore black BDU'ish pants and a coolmax shirt each day. I wore a long sleeve, coolmax shirt and black "Bilt" convertible riding pants. Both worked great...and I recommend long sleeves in Utah and Nevada in August!
Jim wore black, leather mid height boots and I wore leather "logging" style boots. (14")
Neither of us like the MX style riding boots as we feel they are not as flexible as we would like, and we could walk around in these boots as well. We both brought a pair of cheap sandals.
We both had one spare set of under clothes and socks, and a pair of shorts. No need for more.
Neither of us took rain gear. I brought mine and left it with Randy in Colorado Springs...thinking I could brave it. Well, we did brave it at/near Cinnamon Pass, where we got drenched. We were a bit cold...but the temps in August were mild enough that we dried out and suffered no ill effects. If I did it again, rain gear comes along...if for no other reason than emergencies sake.
The "Kristen's Rack" that I was able to get before the trip worked flawlessly. It never loosened, it was strong and it mounted in a way that takes advantage of the rather beefy frame of the Super Sherpa.
You need to take at least one GPS unit. It was invaluable to us in confirming routes and positions when the roads were re-named etc. Jim brought along a Garmin 60-CSx. It worked most of the time. I think any GPS with mapping will do fine, if you are using it to simply confirm navigation using the TAT roll maps etc. If you are using GPS as a "point to point" tool where you have laid in all the turns and coordinates...you might need something else.
arent really "equipment"...but lets talk seats. I am unsure if you can get a seat for a 250cc dual sport that will be heavenly comfortable for 2100 miles....if you find one, let me know! Having said that, I will likely be giving Seat Concepts a try. I had modified my seat, and it served me well...would have served me better if I had stood up more. My suggestion? Take a ride of 150 miles over the course of 10 hours and make adjustments, cut down places where it rubs...is too wide...or too soft. Seats are so subjective...just make certain you are reasonably comfortable with yours and try to stand say...20 percent of the time to give your butt a break!
Take one each. I got service virtually everywhere with my "pay as you go" T-Mobile phone...Jim not so much with his Nextel. It is nice to let folks know you are ok...you can send text updates each night to keep people in the loop...even if they dont send till the next day as you ride thru a sevice area...and might help in an emergency.
Hmm..I wanted soooo bad to take my DSLR, so that I could be more creative and take advantage of it's broader settings and exposures, higher quality and depth of field especially. But, I did not want to have the bulk...did not want it ruined by dust..did not want to have to pack it up/unpack it each time a photo oportunity presented itself. I also knew I may never pass this way again, so I wanted the best shots I could get. I decided to take an older, Canon A-630 compact camera. Jim took a Canon A-720 compact. These were competent point and shoot cameras, and other than shallow depth of field, could pull off similar photos to the DSLR...while being very compact. A half a day's ride in...we both realized that simply keeping these in our pocket would significantly reduce the time it took to stop, grap a photo or two, and get back on the trail. We travelled with the cameras in this manner the rest of the trip. We captured video of wild horses running along the trail in front of us by reaching into our pockets as we rode and shooting video on the fly! (I dont recommend this officially!) The convenience outweighed the quality in my opinion. The photos you have seen posted here were all un-edited and from these two cameras. All were hand held and some even taken on the fly.
I used a newer "Geigerrig 700" pressurized hydration system, and Jim used the trusty "Camel Back". As hot and dry as it was throughout the trip these were considered ESSENTIAL. Ours were both 2 litre water capacity setups, and there were a couple times I wish I had 3 litres. The Geigerrig is a fairly new system that incorporates the ability to use air pressure to "pressurize" the bladder, so that when you chomp down on the bite valve, the water comes out under pressure, so you dont need to "suck" it out. The backpack itself is high quality and I REALLY enjoyed using mine. If you havent seen one, they are worth checking out. We both stowed a spare water bottle or two even after filling up our hydration packs. We also had iodine for purification, should we need to gather our own water...turns out we never had to purify our own, but its good to be prepared. I was out of water once or twice for a couple of hours during the trip. I would recommend a 3 litre bladder in hindsight.
That about sums up the "Gear" comments!
Some afterthought about our bikes:
We had a blast on our little 250cc/300cc bikes! We loved that we were light and manueverable. They were fine on pavement at50-60 mph even for long stretches. Other than Jim reconfiguring his gear, to avoid the overloaded rack/frame...these bikes were more than up to the task of this Western TAT. The Super Sherpa proved a dependable and very capable little mule. DO NOT be afraid to go with a well prepared, smaller bike....thats my opinion.
Spare Fuel Cans?
I took a 30 oz fuel can. Jim had brought a 1 gallon with him, but sent it back home after the frame incident. We never used spare fuel. We came within 10 miles or so of needing it...but never had to use it. I feel like these small displacement bikes gave us a bit more distance per gallon than many of the larger adventure bikes would. I would still take mine...just in case. I averaged around 60-70 mpg on the Super Sherpa. Sometimes 75 mpg.
This trip was great with two of us and would be even more fun with 3 or 4. It is like camping...the more the merrier. Jim and i never had a cross word...or a significant disagreement. I think being compatible with the people you travel with is important. A structured set of daily interests, stops, goals etc helps keep things on track...and most importantly...an open mind as to routes, detours and riding etc...being able to change things up...being flexible is very important with these trips.
I wrote most of this so that people could benefit from my personal experience and opinion, as I learned from reading other posts. I hope some of you have enjoyed and gained some insights from this ride report.
I look forward to doing it all over again...in another place, another time!