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Old 09-13-2014, 12:36 AM   #1
Spokan OP
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Joined: Dec 2011
Location: The Palouse
Oddometer: 51
DAKALnord

The week after Labor Day 2014 Hiatus and I (Spokan) met in Belle Fourche to ride the Dakota Adventure Loop. Our goal was to ride as much of the loop as possible in the three days we had and my goal was to prove the Aprilia Caponord is more capable off road than anybody gives it credit for.

Day -1 Hiatus left home near MPLS at stupid early to head for our intended meeting place of Spearfish, SD. Shortly after leaving home he hit torrential rain. An hour later and he had determined that Tour Master’s definition of “water proof” and his were not the same. His boots did turn out to be water proof from the inside out.
After clearing the rain he grabbed a Twin Cities Photo Tag in Goodwin and continued on the straight and narrow highway 212.

I had left work at about noon on Tuesday and took Hwy 12 out of Clarkston towards Missoula. I was forced to trailer due to work time constraints and because I am a wimp, mostly the later. I camped outside of Whitehall, MT on day -2 and awoke to the sound of elk bugling near my camp. There were a lot of places along 12 were I was really wishing I was not in the truck.
Day -1 for me was a long drive across Montana. I was able to stop by a certain battle field where General Custer infamously said something to the effect of “ISIS poses no threat to us here.”
As I was crossing into SD, Hiatus called me, said he was stopped for fuel and we agreed to meet at the ranger station in Spearfish. Shortly after hanging up I saw his bike parked at the pumps in Belle Fourche. His riding boots were strapped on the bags in an effort to dry them out from the morning’s rain.

We camped at the truck the first night and caught up on old times, kids, and family and prepped for an early start. Preparation included removing our mirrors because for some reason both the Austrians and the Italians think it is a good idea to have a long breakable lever attached directly to your clutch and brake reservoirs.

Day 1 - We grabbed fuel in Spearfish and started on Track 2 (Hot Springs to Spearfish) backwards towards Hot Springs. The tracks are supper easy to follow except when you are in town where roads and tracks all blend together. Heading South out of Spearfish we were introduced to the biggest issue with good paved roads in SD, the 35 MPH speed limit.

Soon we bailed out into the forest and upped the pace. Gate 1 and we were onto cow path two track. At our first stop we quickly established a no roosting through cow pie rule, which was to be broken often.

As we wound our way up to Wyoming I took the first nap of the trip on a switch back were we decided to stop and route check.
After a quick jaunt up to the fire lookout we headed back into SD for the rest of the day.
The winds the night prior created a few stops were we had to do some trail clearing.

We came across a lot of SD pedestrians most of whom just stared at us and chewed their cuds as we went past. One big bull wouldn’t clear out of the trail for love nor money, and I had to finally resort to throwing rocks. At another location we stopped about 400 yards away from a bull out in a field for a break and map check. The bull apparently did not like the cut of our jibs and became more and more agitated the longer we stayed there. By the time we ate a power bar and convinced ourselves the map didn’t lie he was pawing the ground and bellowing at us.
The climb on Track 2 was a baby head rocked decent for us that went off without any hitches even though we had to stop half way down and remove downed trees.
After a morning of remote two track with nicely placed water bars I had developed a sickness and the only cure was more cow path!

At about 1230 we hit Hill City and ate lunch at the Chubby Burger. I had a “Small Chubby Burger” and was stuffed and glad not to have the Large Chubby weighing me down for the afternoon. Chubby Burger’s slogan is “when in doubt, add bacon.”
The early afternoon was a paved day of riding around some dead presidents and through some amazing roads that are cursed by RV’s and that 35 MPH speed limit.
The afternoon consisted of classic photo ops of Rushmore, riding the stone tunnels, and the eye of the needle.


Early in the evening we dodged around a couple RVer’s photographing a turkey and stopped for a map check near the first buffalo of the trip. We hit the Wildlife Loop Road and ran into a massive herd of buffalo just at the entrance to the Wind Cave National Monument. The road was completely blocked by well over 100 animals. We waited as long as we could then tried to sneak through the crowd. One young bull gave Hiatus a false charge that got the adrenaline flowing.

By the time we turned into Wind Cave Monument my chain was really loose. I had chosen not to pack my full size 26mm wrench because it was too big. My chain was hitting the bottom side of the chain guard, not good. We arrived in Hot Springs at about 6:30. I stopped by Ernie’s Auto who happened to have his door open and was in working on a car. He was kind enough to loan me a 26mm and a quick parking lot adjustment and we were on our way. The super loose chain appeared to do my cush drives no good but they would hold for the rest of the trip.
We decided to get a hotel that night in Hot Springs because of time constraints and I am a wimp, mostly the later. It was supposed to get cold that night after all.
The local hotel clerk must have been an owner because the old walk away bartering technique quickly dropped the price to where we could afford it.
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Old 09-13-2014, 12:57 AM   #2
Spokan OP
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Location: The Palouse
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DAKALnord Day 2

Day 2 – It wasn’t a particularly early start on day two but we were breakfasted and on the road by eight. Track 1 (Hill City to Hot Springs) backwards towards Hill City.
Shortly we entered the Wild Horse Sanctuary and shortly after that we encountered our first of two herds of wild horses.

There is a bridge crossing of the Cheyenne River running the route backwards too so we were able to see that it was clear and running low. The road sign just at the turn down to the river crossing says “road closed” but looked like it meant the other side of the Y so we plowed on.
The river crossing was uneventful with only one foot dab.

There is a rutted hill climb several miles after the river crossing that took me two tries on the Caponord but Hiatus made it in one on his 950 S. I think the 19” vs 21” front tires make a difference when trying to stay out of ruts.
A few rocks tossed into the rut and I motored up with no problems.

The rest of the morning blurred in to FAST gravel and more cow path with a few sprinklings of mud thrown in.


The mud in southern SD is pretty gummy and can plaster riders behind you, just saying.

We hit Nebraska for the mandatory border sign photos and headed back into Edgemont.

Both of us were pretty high from doing the ton on gravel when we made it back to Edgemont. Our decision to remove our mirrors turned out to be an error as we collided with each other as I cut Hiatus off turning toward the gas station. He had been following closely on my right side and continued straight into me as I made the right turn. His panniers collided with my leg and then bike. I managed to low side but Hiatus took a good high side as we slid through the intersection.

This caused great consternation with the locals. After Hiatus got his wind back we assessed the damage; All-in-all not too bad. I had a few new scrapes on my bags and one of my crash bar bags was dangling. Hiatus had a good size hole ground the shoulder of his jacket and his panniers had changed shape from rectangle to rhomboid.
We decided to take a longer lunch break and let the nerves settle. Hiatus appeared to get some therapy out of beating his panniers back into shape with his shoe.
Better them than me.

After getting back on the trail again we hit the ATV trail 3100 which turned out to be a whole lot of fun. There is a half mile hill climb that would be the most technical and rewarding section of the trail. The Katoom took a nap somewhere on that section and we were tied at two a piece including the wreck in Edgemont. There was one section where I couldn’t keep pace with the 990. It was narrow and curvy ATV trail with loose rocks in the corners. The combination of a smaller front wheel and overly stiff front suspension made it so I kept losing my front end in the corners. I am hoping a set of Racetech emulator’s this winter will fix that.
We were both feeling a little off from our crash and decided we would camp early without finishing the whole track that day. We set up camp somewhere near Teepee Springs. A near full moon and clear skies would mean a cool night. I cooked some dried tortellini for dinner and Hiatus had packed some chocolate chip cookies for desert. His cookies had morphed into baseball sized blobs but they still tasted good.
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Old 09-13-2014, 01:31 AM   #3
Spokan OP
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DAKALnord Day 3

Day 3- (Hill City to Buffalo (partial))
We awoke, or at least stopped pretending to sleep at sunrise and had some hot oatmeal for breakfast. There was some frost on the old pumpkin overnight.

We had camped part way out of the valley so it wasn’t too bad were we were at but all of the draws had a good coat of frost for an hour or so after we started riding.
Finishing off the last 55 miles of yesterday’s track was a tour of gate openings.

We went through 20 gates total and 15 of them were on this section.

I took us several hours to work our way up to the Bear Mountain fire lookout. The lady up top asked if we were doing the DAKAL and said she had talked to another group of people the week before who were doing it. I am guessing that was Rustytankerbean and his crew.

We then took the trail down to Hill City. It is steep and long and narrow and fun. The Capo took the last nap of the trip putting me back in the lead, or is a lower score better?
Between all the gates, tight terrain, and frequent stops it had taken us 4+ hours to do the last 55 miles of the loop so we were glad that we had not plowed on the night before. That decent would have been really tricky in the dark.
Hiatus had recently done some jetting work on the 950 to fix some throttle response issue and in the process turned it into a gas guzzler. I had an extra 32oz of fuel but he managed to limp it into Hill City on fumes. I had been getting between 25-40% better mileage with the Capo. At our fuel stop we bumped into two guyson a very clean new KLR and F800. They were locals who said they had logged over 3k miles helping with the route planning of the DAKAL, pretty sure they hadn’t done it on those bikes or they had found a soap that washes scratches away.
We ate on the deck of the Hub Cap Diner the inside was packed but the deck was empty and the day was beautiful so we ate outside, watched all the people dressed as pirate/cowboys and were served by a narcoleptic waiter.
After lunch we headed out on the Hill City to Buffalo route actually doing one forward this time. The trails were excellent but Hiatus had picked up a case of Custer’s Revenge from the turkey sandwich. Between that and a diner platter sized bruise from the get off yesterday and he was not as they say “feeling it.”
Stoppingat the pool below the Pactola Reservoir and I took a dip in the Very Refreshing water.

We plowed on until about 4pm then peeled off to head for the truck via Sturgis.

Sturgis was kind of anti-climactic which apparently really got Hiatus down.

We did 557 miles on the DAKAL without any shortcuts. It had been a grand old time and I really whished we had the time to do the whole thing, no wonder most ADVers are gray hairs.
Bike Reviews:
The Caponord had proved a trusty steed. My addition of the Rally Raid rear shock and HyperPro progressive springs was priceless. The front end is a little too stiff with 20 weight oil. I am hoping the budget will allow for Ricor emulators this winter. I am in love with the bike and have am blown away at it’s performance after picking it up for used KLR money. The Karoo MCE tires provided great traction but did sacrifice themselves to the rocks. I think I would have been running on cords if I had ridden it there and back (~2k round trip).

Hiatus’ 950 S performed like you would expect it to. It got terrible mileage due to the jetting issues and I think he has it apart to re-jet already. It sacrifices some wind protection and comfort on the road, he did 1100 on slab there and back. He said he would like to have longer legs for getting on and off on the trail and I ended up as the designated gate opener and closer because the mounting and dismounting process takes me half as long.
He ran the TKC 80 front and 140 K60 rear. (no solid center tread vs the 150). They wore like iron and were much quieter on the slab than my tires.

The return trip was uneventful accept for having an eighteen wheeler blow a front tire right when I passed it. It took off his front bumper, both head lights, and put a good sized dent in the side of my truck, glad I wasn’t on the bike for that one.
Special thanks to all who worked on putting that route together. It is really well done and provides a healthy mix of everything an ADV bike is meant for.
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Old 09-13-2014, 02:00 AM   #4
Spokan OP
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Old 09-13-2014, 01:15 PM   #5
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I wanted to add a few thoughts and experiences.

First this is a very well thought out route. It has a good mix of everything from two track to slab, wooded trail to open grassland. there was parts that I enjoyed more than others but nothing that I would recommend skipping. The slab through Custer was not my cup of tea but still enjoyable and towards the end hit some fast gravel that was a hoot. Some of the long straight gravel got tiresome down by Nebraska the prairie sections were fun to ride and the views were amazing.


The Atv trails on the way back to Hill City were some of the most fun and challenging riding of the trip. Someone needs to get some gopro footage of these trails. Some parts were fast and flowed great, then there were some fun technical rocky climbs. Fun and rewarding.


Chubby Burger's Bacon cheese burger.


And free Orange koolaid. KTM sales are on the rise in hill city for some reason.


We did learn a few rules for ADVing with liter bikes.
1: Don't follow close up hills. Rocks hurt.
2: Don't follow close on fast gravel. Rocks hurt.
3: Don't follow close on trails that are full of cow pies. Men on Caponord's are not to be trusted.

Bike and Gear:
I went with tkc80 front and k60 scout rear. They worked great wore well specialty on the 1200 miles of slab I endured on the way to and back from the DakAL.
I rode with a pair of 41L Touratech Zega cases. They did make it relatively unscathed smaller soft bags are a must for the next trip.




Thanks to Sleddog and the others who put together this route.


Get out there and ride this trail
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Old 09-13-2014, 07:53 PM   #6
hayduke.klr07
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Good work fellas. Rode the better part of it this summer as well. Amazingly diverse country in western South Dakota.
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Old 09-14-2014, 02:20 AM   #7
w72315
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Great to see a Caponord in it's natural element. I used to ride a Kato 950A, sold it to buy a Capo. Never looked back.
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:30 PM   #8
Capo Rick
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Very nice! Get the Ricor Intiminators - you won't regret it
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"Nobody ever sells their bikes at Guzzi rallies........ But the upside is that you may get into a good fight and have the opportunity to have sex with some-being of a different species."-Pete Roper
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Old 09-15-2014, 11:52 AM   #9
Spokan OP
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Very steep sidehilling

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Old 09-16-2014, 06:09 AM   #10
Sleddog
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Good job guys. But, I can't take credit for any of the routing of the DakAL. I've just ridden it a couple of times & am stoked by the quality of the ride.

Be sure to get back out to finish the Northern portion...it is amazing!



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