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Old 09-29-2013, 11:54 AM   #1
Vksf OP
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Ride the West



Four friends. Nine states. Six thousand miles. It seems like a fitting time to finally write this up, especially given the fact that it was Gary (Garnaro) who first introduced us all to dual sport riding and convinced us that we needed to buy DRs.

He had watched the Long Way Round and decided that the only thing better than getting remote with motorcycles would be adding a surfboard to the equation. He hatched a plan to moto surf his way around Africa, and talked us all into buying bikes hoping that we might accompany him. He succeeded in half of his mission, and today he flys to London alone to meet his bike and finally realize his dream. http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=922561


The trip that ended up acting as the shake down ride for his Africa adventure took place this past summer and incorporated elements of the OBDR, CDR and TAT. The first part of the ride report is written by Garnaro with some additional stuff by me.

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Old 09-29-2013, 12:06 PM   #2
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Three Suzuki DR650s and one DR350 rounded out our fleet. We must have spent nearly a year emailing back and forth about bike mechanics and modifications, riding gear, camping gear, and potential routes. Discussing the merits of different types of camp stoves and tire levers makes for an excellent distraction while riding a desk all day. I only had two weeks available away from work, but the other guys had an entire month, which opened up lots of possibilities. We decided on a route that would take us north across California via what is to be the California Backcountry Discovery Route (BCDR), along the Oregon BCDR, turn eastward across Washington, Idaho, and Montana, then ride south on the Great Divide Route through Colorado. The other guys would then continue westward on the Trans-America trail across Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and back to Oregon. We downloaded GPS tracks for each of the routes to guide us on our way. The track looked something like this:




Logistical challenges were met. Rob got his bike shipped out from New York City, Josh got his electrical system sorted out for about the fourth time since installing LED blinkers, and Mike got his suspension finished at the 11th hour by the mechanic who accidentally forgot about his bike for 6 weeks while he was away in Ireland. When we all convened in San Francisco, we found considerable variation in our setups and gear. Rob and Josh both had proper motorcycle dry bags, I had kayak dry bags strapped to either side, and Mike had some small side bags with his backpacking pack bungeed to the back rack. Some things worked well and others didnít and by the end of the trip everyone had holes in their bags for one reason or another. Here is my setup:





We set off across the Golden Gate Bridge totally excited to finally be off on a motorcycle trip. Just north of Clear Lake we finally left the highway, which was none too soon for any of us. As we began to bounce along the forested foothills of northern California, Mike began to lose some of his cargo. Running down the track every quarter mile or so you would find some article of clothing or a funnel or something lying on the dirt in front of you. We were all still getting our dirt legs underneath us and I was still not very confident cornering especially on steep downhill sections. I was surprised how tired we grew after 100 miles or so of riding in the dirt and we were always pretty happy to find a good spot to make camp.











Dusty conditions resulted in an all-day dirt burger diet:





Mike had by far the least amount of time to prep his bike the trip arriving home from Ireland 1 day before left. So he had to do some on-the-fly bike assessment and TLC - checking oil level frequently, finding appropriate air filter cleaner, and adjusting his already substantially stretched chain (that didnít even make it through the entire trip). He did manage to stop his luggage from decorating the trail quickly enough.





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Old 09-29-2013, 02:22 PM   #3
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Pushing for Ashland and the start of OBDR we enjoyed beautiful riding through the Trinity National Forest up into the Klamath National Forest.

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In Ashland we hit a health food store, stocked up on supplies and set off on the OBDR - route 3.

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Oregon brought pristine lakeside campsites, a few mud bogs, and our first water crossings at which we had mixed success. Aside from many miles of long boring logging roads, the riding was fantastic with downed trees forcing us to find our way through the forest here and there and even blasting some hairy uphill singletrack to connect two switchbacks. Fast running on some of the deep gravel logging roads had our front wheels dancing all over place as we just tried to keep our bikes pointed straight ahead.














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Old 09-29-2013, 04:17 PM   #4
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Keep it up, you have the right bikes, no stopping at every BMW dealer to leave money
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Old 09-29-2013, 06:07 PM   #5
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Looks like fun, keep up the reports
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Old 09-30-2013, 01:19 PM   #6
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Moving on!

I think we all had quite a few misconceptions before setting off on our journey. I did anyways.

In order to knock out the sections of the OBDR, CDR and TAT that we wanted to accomplish we were shooting for 200 mile days. How hard can it be to ride 200 miles in a day? We'll probably be riding 300! Nope. Late starts, lots of breaks, and the realities of the trail kept us pushing hard to meet our 200 mile per day average.


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I'm going to blame the late starts on this guy. While he didn't bring a single tool, nor any spares, or any means of navigating, he did work hard to keep things lively. A job he took very seriously. He was our full time DJ and bartender, and ensured that the whiskey never ran dry and that each rider had an old fashioned in hand at all times.


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Misconception #2. We aren't going to be falling or dropping our bikes.

This must have been an embarrassing one as my kickstand is down.






Dont' keep your cookware in your saddlebags! More than one of us learned that lesson the hard way.




Misconception #3. Most of us are either vegetarian or vegan. I really didn't think we would have issues finding food and for the most part we didn't. But we did survive primarily on bean dip, corn chips and redvines. Here we are in Prospect, Oregon buying them out of the aforementioned items.

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Pushing our way through Oregon we continued north on Route 3 until we hit Sisters, and then headed East on Route 4 of the OBDR. The camping was easy and beautiful and we managed to find amazing places to cool off and go for a swim every day.

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Old 09-30-2013, 03:58 PM   #7
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Great start - subscribed. Rule is - the guy with the purple frame is always the bartender and DJ. Who didn't know that one?

I knew bugs had the travelin' spirit so I guess he's off to get at it. That should be a fun report.
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Old 09-30-2013, 08:40 PM   #8
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Old 10-01-2013, 07:14 AM   #9
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Subscribed. I hope to do some of these trails on my DR someday. I am just waiting for AZBDR to connect the routes.
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Old 10-01-2013, 08:22 AM   #10
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This trip was mind-blowing. I'm the guy with the yellow front end plastics on my DR. Maybe I'll find some time to type some stuff, but for now, I will supply the OP with more of my pics.
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Old 10-01-2013, 01:09 PM   #11
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In Seneca, Oregon we pointed our bikes north again and began tackling route 5. We were a man down, as Rob (rpet) had gotten sick and slabbed it ahead to meet us and recover in a motel in Walla Walla, Washington.

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Route 5 was fun, but the riding was slower than anticipated. Realizing that we were going to be a day behind in catching up with Rob, we left the trail north of Unity, Oregon heading to Baker City and the 184 north to Walla Walla.

We found Rob much improved and camped out in a motel. Although our plan was to camp as much as possible, this first glimpse of motel TV parties after hard days of riding, gave us a taste for it and paved the way for the sampling of continental breakfasts throughout the west.

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From Walla Walla we blasted along small roads and highways through Idaho and towards Kalispell, Montana eager to begin the Continental Divide Route. Although we were anxious to get back to the dirt, the riding was fun and the countryside was beautiful.

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As we crossed from Oregon into Idaho and then south along the CDR in Montana, the path began to feel even more remote. We were never alone though, there always seemed to be plenty of cows in the national forests that we rode through to keep us company.

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Strange habits were begun.



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Old 10-02-2013, 01:36 PM   #12
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It felt great to finally be riding the CDR. I had sat home dreaming of the trail for so long that it was surreal to finally be ticking off the miles as we moved south. The riding was straightforward and the remote and unspoiled beauty of the CDR certainly lived up to its reputation.

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We came upon a closed section of the trail where construction was being carried out which was easily navigated.

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Took in epic vistas.

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Some of the tracks through Montana seemed seldom traveled and we did some rocky rooted out trail riding as we headed southward.





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We bounced along over grassy ridges with fantastic vistas and spied elk, moose, wolves and grizzly bears for the first time. The post that held this sign was scratched to pieces and had tufts of fur attached to it - we decided to move on.

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When two grizzly cubs came loping down a hill slope towards the road section that Rob and I rested on, we didnít hang around long to find out where mom griz was.



We had a couple cold nights camped at higher elevations and were always in constant awe of the mountain bikers we passed on the trail, moving slowly mile by mile with minimal gear.

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In Montana the skies opened up on us sending us scrambling to get things stowed away. Some were better prepared than others.


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Sometimes it was just too much fun to slow down even when we were tired.



During a day of dodging thunderstorms we approached a railroad track crossing at high speed coming off a fire road and had our first real crash of the trip. Mike hit the tracks unable to square up, and on the brakes, his front wheel slid out quick and he ended up high-siding.


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He landed hard, knocked the wind out of himself, and did some damage to wrist, finger, and mirror. We lifted his bike up off the tracks, found that he could ride and motored gingerly towards town. Afraid that he had broken his hand we decided to end the day here.

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A few x-rays later it was determined that Mike was battered but not broken so we checked into a motel in Helena, Montana to hide from the rain, perform some bike maintenance and let beaten bodies rest.
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Old 10-03-2013, 03:51 PM   #13
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Montana was everything we had hoped it would be and more. Although we would have loved to stay and ride there forever we still had the vast open plains of Wyoming, the high mountain passes of Colorado, and the lonely deserts of Utah and Nevada to cross through before we would see home again.

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Now well acclimatized to the daily routine of the trail we were moving fast and efficiently and the DRs continued to perform flawlessly, handling everything we could throw at them without complaint. We changed filter skins every 3 or 4 days to keep the air flowing, and squeezed in our first oil change at a Walmart parking lot. Other than that we didn't have a single issue and trusted the bikes completely to carry us mile by mile across the west.




Leaving Montana, we pushed through a small section of Idaho, skirting Yellowstone National Park as we carried on towards Wyoming.

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Moving ever South we finally crossed into Wyoming's Red Desert, the continental United States' largest unfenced wilderness. The emptiness of the Great Divide Basin was a definite highlight of the trip. The hard packed desert highways were good and you could move along at 60 and even 70 mph if you were really on it. Everything was bright with very little contrast between the surface that you rode on and the landscape ahead, creating this euphoric feeling of floating along the trail. This feeling made it easy to overcook a 70 degree corner as the dirt beneath your tires slid right along with you under hard braking. As we flew across the desert we passed pronghorn and herds of wild horses.


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We passed through a few small towns. Atlantic City was a highlight. None of these towns have gas and we started getting nervous having failed to anticipate just how many remote miles would be required of us before we would have the opportunity to make a gas stop.

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Taking a break, Gary realized that he had managed to leave his tool tube half unscrewed and drop all of his tire changing gear out somewhere behind us. He went back to retrieve the tools and told us that he would meet us in town.


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Worried about our own fuel situation, we were even more concerned about Gary's ability to make it back with the extra miles he took to find his tools. As we coasted into civilization on fumes we immediately began filling up and getting ready to head back and mount a rescue mission.

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We got a call from Gary just before setting out. He had managed to bypass to a highway and purchase gas from some very nice guys in a trailer. It is worth noting that this section was in the neighborhood of 230 miles between fuel stops. I would definitely make sure to be carrying extra fuel if I did it again.

It was just before leaving Wyoming that we had our first casualty of the trip. Gary ran out of time and had to head back to work.

Garnaro says :

"Just before we crossed the border into Colorado, I had to head off to be back for work the following Monday. It was terribly disappointing, as Iíd hoped that Iíd be able to at least cross the Rockies with the crew. I rode west on highway 50 through Utah and Nevada as everyone else braved thunderstorms and flash flooding heading into Colorado."




"After arriving home came the hardest part of the whole trip for me: looking at the other guysí photos of Colorado and Utah posted online as I sat at my desk all the next week trying to work between daydreams."

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Old 10-03-2013, 04:36 PM   #14
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Ride The West - OBDR, CDR & western TAT - July 2013
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Read my homie's underway Africa trip RR - Round Africa with a Surboard
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Old 10-03-2013, 10:23 PM   #15
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Simply Superb and splendid !
The very best thing is the determination of these super heroes which allowed them to complete their ventures successfully. Keep it up,you are proving a great source of enthusiasm for people :)
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