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Old 08-29-2009, 07:40 PM   #61
scottmac
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Subsreebed!!!!

Dang skeird, looks like a fun azz ride!!!

Interested on how you're gonna downsize fer the next one...

And get yourself a grill while you're at it!!! Mountainhouse is fine
but steak tastes a whole lot better.
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Old 08-29-2009, 07:50 PM   #62
DuckWV
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Subscribed!!

Really enjoyin' the ride. Can't wait to hear more, including what was the worst section of the entire ride. I hope to spend my vacation next year doing something similar.
Meanwhile we'll be waiting
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Old 08-29-2009, 11:15 PM   #63
skierd OP
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Scott - Pretty simple actually. Downsizing is more about reducing bulk and getting gear that packs smaller.

Go with the bigger fuel tank for starters, ditch the current REI pad and sleeping bag for a Big Agnes bag and pad. Get a small waterproof duffel for the bag, pad, and clothes and strap it where the camp pad is currently strapped. I'm 90% sure I can get the remainder of whats in the dirtbagz into wolfman enduro saddle bags, even if I keep the hammock (which is quite bulky when packed). From how i set up camp on this trip, I'd probably be fine with a bivy and tarp. Moving the tools and the spare tube(s) out of the tail bag to somewhere else on the bike would free up a ton of room back there for other items as well. There are a few other small things I'm thinking about doing too, but thats the majority of it.
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Old 08-29-2009, 11:36 PM   #64
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Time to enter what I consider the start of the "real" west, in other words everything west of the Mississippi River. Crossing the bridge to Helena, AR:






Helena was a hole, I was very happy I didn't have to stop there for anything. And once out of Helena, the roads finally mostly turned to dirt:




Its a shame the surface was so god awful though. Literally 4-8" of ungraded gravel, it was like trying to ride on ball bearings. For once, I was very happy to find pavement because it was a welcome relief to the crappy roads.

Long bridge going over a swamp and river, I think it was like 7 miles long.




Finally the trail, according to the maps, cuts into a national forest and starts along wonderful national forest dirt roads. Then of course, as seemed to be the case for this day, we hit a problem:


Of course it has me going down a closed road. Screw it, lets investigate ('cause its worked so well so far)... Nope, no dice.


Thankfully I got off and walked, as this sucker was DEEP and sticky and I didn't want to ride across it twice potentially. About 100 yards past this mud pit (I'd already passed about a dozen like this), the "road" disappeared into nothing into the woods.


So another reroute, this time a lengthy one as I had traveled about 10 miles up a forest road to get to this point with no cross roads.

It was also around this time that I noticed something catching on my boots when I moved around on the pegs...


You gotta be shitting me. The soles of my boots started falling apart, I guess they didn't appreciate being soaked and dried so much. After the late start, a long reroute, and the boots, I only was able to make it about 150 miles on the trail today. I ended up staying in an overpriced cruddy hotel in Heber Springs as I couldn't find a (legal) place to camp that looked at all inviting.

And as I was unpacking I started to take a good long look at my tires... they aren't going to make it to Colorado. The front had begun chunking knobs and the rear was just about bald. In their defense, they did have nearly 5000 miles on them and they had been pushed pretty hard on the pavement between the parkway and the gap, for over 700 miles, but I was getting pretty bummed over it at this point. Tomorrow the search began for dealerships in the area that might have boots and knobs... but tonight it was time for bed.

Not a lot of pics for this day because it basically sucked. About the only bright spot was getting ahold of Jaynen (finally) and getting the shipping on his old street tires sorted out so I would have something more road friendly to change into in Salida. Thanks a lot again for all the extra effort to get that taken care of, and thanks to Hayduke for holding them for me.
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"We wish your trail a long one" - Darlene "Sid" Dowd ~ Never run out of traction, ideas, and real estate at the same time.
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Eastern TAT 8/2009 ~MD-Key West-Oklahoma 4/2011~Maryland to Alaska 3/2012
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Old 08-30-2009, 05:50 AM   #65
SloSolo2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skierd

You gotta be shitting me. The soles of my boots started falling apart, I guess they didn't appreciate being soaked and dried so much. After the late start, a long reroute, and the boots, I only was able to make it about 150 miles on the trail today. I ended up staying in an overpriced cruddy hotel in Heber Springs as I couldn't find a (legal) place to camp that looked at all inviting.
You couldn't find a place to camp around Greers Ferry Lake? We used to go there regularly to swim and hang out when I was in college. Never camped there but seems a decent spot. There was a little Motocross track and a good sized MC dealer in town too when I was around. Of course that's been many many years ago now. Just curious about the difference in our experiences.

Enjoying the ride report, subscribed and hoping it ends well.
Jamie
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Old 08-30-2009, 07:12 AM   #66
Damifudo
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Awsome report Skierd

I will be keeping up with your report back here in Cockeysville. Taking my son back to college today and woke up started reading this. What a great way to wake up. You will be in my prayers that you continue to have a safe and wonderful trip. I would love to meet you when your back at towson and grab a lunch my treat. Ride on and be safe!

Some of us have to live through others keep up the great report!
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Old 08-30-2009, 08:17 AM   #67
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Do you need a sleeping pad in those hammocks?
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Old 08-30-2009, 09:15 AM   #68
taco250
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skierd
Scott - Pretty simple actually. Downsizing is more about reducing bulk and getting gear that packs smaller.

Go with the bigger fuel tank for starters, ditch the current REI pad and sleeping bag for a Big Agnes bag and pad. Get a small waterproof duffel for the bag, pad, and clothes and strap it where the camp pad is currently strapped. I'm 90% sure I can get the remainder of whats in the dirtbagz into wolfman enduro saddle bags, even if I keep the hammock (which is quite bulky when packed). From how i set up camp on this trip, I'd probably be fine with a bivy and tarp. Moving the tools and the spare tube(s) out of the tail bag to somewhere else on the bike would free up a ton of room back there for other items as well. There are a few other small things I'm thinking about doing too, but thats the majority of it.
I'd recomend getting a Giant Loop bag. It's a different design than regular saddle bags and has incorporated tie down straps for tent, etc. It also doesn't require a rack as it just sits across the rear of the seat/front part of rear fender.
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Old 08-30-2009, 09:23 AM   #69
skierd OP
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Dami - I'm posting from Towson, I got back a few days ago.

PHeller - depends. If its going to be a warm night, no but you will want something underneath of you to keep mosquitos at bay. Usually I just opened my bag up and slept on top of it. If its going to be a cool night, absolutely YES you need a pad underneath of you for insulation. You just don't need one of the mobile beds with it like many (myself included) find necessary for sleeping on the ground, a simple closed cell foam pad would suffice. Because you're up in the air, you stay much much cooler as there's air circulating all around you, so the insulation underneath is critical.

Taco - and if I want to just take the tail bag with me, or just the panniers, instead of the whole damn thing? I'm a pocket person, I like everything being organized for me by where I can stuff it. Its a neat idea, but not for me.
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"We wish your trail a long one" - Darlene "Sid" Dowd ~ Never run out of traction, ideas, and real estate at the same time.
2008 Yamaha WR250X
Eastern TAT 8/2009 ~MD-Key West-Oklahoma 4/2011~Maryland to Alaska 3/2012
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Old 08-30-2009, 09:54 AM   #70
skierd OP
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Just a real quick aside, here's how I packed everything:

Left dirtbag: Hennessey Hammock, fuel can, small bottle of whiskey, camp shoes (sanuks), and my sleeping bag/pillow in a waterproof stuff sack. Stakes lived in the outside pocket of this bag.

Right dirtbag: rain pants and overboots in a stuff sack, clean clothes in a waterproof stuff sack, hi-viz vest, wide brimmed hat for camp, mesh sack for dirty clothes

Tail bag: Stove, pot+lid, pot holder, fork, and sierra cup (all tucked inside the pot), Tools (enough to tear the bike down to components), spare front tube, tire spoons, chain lube, collapsible jack stand (made by a guy on ADV), stake mallet, first aid kit, toiletries, Monkey Butt powder, notepad with pen, phone and camera charger, electrical tape, and an oil filter for the change in Salida. I also kept the rice for dinner back there. REI 2.5 camp pad strapped to the outside of it, as was my Klim jacket.

Tank bag: WD40, gatoraide, wallet, phone, house keys, camera, extra earplugs, a can of altoids, LED head lamp, folding knife, and a spare strap for the luggage.

2L Coleman Camelback copy from walmart, I only kept water and cliff bars in it as I didn't want anything hard on my back, just in case... whatever meat and veggies I picked up towards the end of the day for dinner into the camelbak as there way no where else for it lol.

For sure there was a system to it to get everything to nestle together lol.

Dirtbagz, yellow is my sleeping bag, red are my clothes, brown thing is the hammock in the snakeskins, rain gear in the grey tube.


Tail bag


Up close of the tool kit (do need to add a 14mm wrench to really complete it) The blue thing is a 3/8" drive adapter for the tire spoon/wrench.
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"We wish your trail a long one" - Darlene "Sid" Dowd ~ Never run out of traction, ideas, and real estate at the same time.
2008 Yamaha WR250X
Eastern TAT 8/2009 ~MD-Key West-Oklahoma 4/2011~Maryland to Alaska 3/2012
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Old 08-30-2009, 10:33 AM   #71
skierd OP
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Slo - I might have, but I didn't know the area at all, I was tired, and it was getting dark. The only shops that I could find didn't have anything of use to me, no 18" rear tires and no boots in the right size. Well, thats a lie... Sunrise Honda had some dorothy red Tech6's in the right size and significantly on sale, but I just couldn't do it. I ended up JB welding the sole of the boots down, which held mostly for the rest of the way home.

Day 8 - Welcome to the Ozarks!

Once you leave the east, Arkansas goes from crappy to fantastic. This is also the first time on the trip I felt I really *needed* a dual sport with dirt tires. Pretty soon after leaving, the trail turns into the Ozark National Forest and gets spectacular.




Stopped for a quick snack/quasi lunch under this tree as it was the only shady place convenient to pull off. The silence once I cut the motor was palpable, removed my helmet and earplugs, and slowly as the sounds of nature crept into my awareness. There wasn't a man made sound to be heard, just birds chirping, bugs buzzing, and a slight rustle in the trees from a slight breeze. The stress from the day before faded away and all thoughts of turning back were oblitherated.


A little store house near the tree.



I'm guessing it was a spring house back in the day, but whatever it was its not used for much of anything now.

Its hard to make out from the pic, but the road surface turned to big rocks, washout, and gravel. I also noticed I was starting to gain altitude...


Come up over the ridge and...




The road would play peek-a-boo with the ridge line all day. I was getting low on gas again, so it was time to pull off yet again and find a station. This was the closest to the trail, but only had 87 octane. As it was 10+ miles to the next station (putting me 15 miles off the trail) I decided to deal with it. Besides, I like stopping at little country stores like this. It was the first of several times that I would only be able to get regular gas (bike takes premium). Fortunately, it runs just fine on it...

Back on the road, and back up on the ridge:






Coming back down again, I passed this little road side sign. I have a feeling what it means but I couldn't believe they would be that obvious about it, so I didn't stop.



Caught behind a logging truck, fortunately he let me by shortly afterwards






I wasn't quite out of gas yet, but I was ready to eat and stop for a spell anyways. Happily, I arrived at another trail icon, the Oark Cafe:



Had myself a chicken tender sandwich, fries, and a drink, and filled up the bike (with 87octance again), and had a cool conversation with the guys running the store. It has been there for over 100 years, and looks it from the inside, but its such a neat place that you have to stop. I also found out a little tidbit if information that I had been wondering since I left... see, I always figured I would run into someone else on the trail since its gotten decently well known (at least amongst adventure rider types). They hadn't seen anyone for a solid week before I got there... That would explain the lack of tire tracks I'd seen, but it was different knowing that I was the only one out there (or so I thought).

Back into the hills:


Getting kinda late again as I came across a sign pointing to a National Forest camp ground on White Rock Mountain. I was tired of hotels, so I went to check it out. Free! Sold!


Running water, latrine, fire rings with lots of good firewood (scavenged from other, now empty, campsites), settled in for a nice night on the mountain ridge. It was easily the buggiest campground I've ever slept at unfortunately, infested with mosquitoes, horseflies, and yellow jackets, but it was mostly made up for by watching the sun rise over the mountain from the hammock.
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"We wish your trail a long one" - Darlene "Sid" Dowd ~ Never run out of traction, ideas, and real estate at the same time.
2008 Yamaha WR250X
Eastern TAT 8/2009 ~MD-Key West-Oklahoma 4/2011~Maryland to Alaska 3/2012
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Old 08-30-2009, 10:51 AM   #72
bash3r
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skierd, thanks for detailing out what gear you took and how you packed it. That's very very useful information to bounce your own setup off of. nice!! Great RR, still!
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Old 08-30-2009, 11:21 AM   #73
toneout
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Awesome RR. I too enjoy riding in the western NC, Eastern TN area and look forward to someday riding the BRP in its entirety. I must be naive but I have no idea what this would mean. Moonshine?

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Old 08-30-2009, 12:46 PM   #74
evilted
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toneout
Awesome RR. I too enjoy riding in the western NC, Eastern TN area and look forward to someday riding the BRP in its entirety. I must be naive but I have no idea what this would mean. Moonshine?
I'm wondering about that too. Searching for images of moonshine icons/tags/markings/logos/graffiti, etc., didn't turn up anything that looked like that. But I did find a couple that looked like this:




And thanks for posting a photo of your tool kit, skierd. I was inspired to get a plastic tent stake mallet at REI today. Great RR. Very much enjoying the photos and narrative. ;)

evilted screwed with this post 08-30-2009 at 02:52 PM
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Old 08-30-2009, 02:23 PM   #75
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