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Old 07-30-2013, 02:13 PM   #196
mathewsturtevant OP
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Cool2 Green river

We wanted to just have a shorter day so we could not to the next technical stuff in the full heat of the day. So We had a leisurely lunch at the restaurant that seems like the cafeteria on a golf course. There's a waitress there that other inmates have commented on. She IS party. You can tell she's pretty because we are essentially invisible to her. We stayed here:


It was nice having a shorter day. I actually never really could relax in Moab and now I just wanted to nap. But the lil air conditioner couldn't get the room cool, so we switch cabins. The place was a Sh*t hole but the bathrooms were strangely immaculate and just fancy. I t seemed like one of those restrooms that might have an attendant. Weird.

Ok Ok, next stop freakyville
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Old 07-30-2013, 02:23 PM   #197
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How this?

In the morning it was time for me to face the dragon, specifically, Black Dragon Wash, west of Green River Utah. For a couple years I had been reading about people riding this tricky section of trail that runs through a beautiful canyon. Some people swore that it was nearly impossible and others said it was an enjoyable hour's ride. The variable being, if a gully washer had rearranged things, as it were. I was pretty nervous and here I was, finally doing it. Crap. So when it comes to actual riding I'm pretty good with technical stuff; steep, rutty, sandy, rocky sections that send many riders over the handlebars. Technical stuff doesn't freak me out. It is usually brief. The truly frightening part is that I am agoraphobic remember?, and somehow I ended up in the middle of the desert on this coast to coast motorcycle adventure. People who are agoraphobic don't travel in the middle of the desert and certainly not on a dirt bike.When a normal person may be thinking "This will be a little challenging" I'm thinking "When the carburetor fails or bike runs out of gas it's exactly 37.3 miles back to the last town, and since it's the desert I'll no doubt die of heat exhaustion because I'll have a panic attack". Logically, I'm with my two buddies and it is highly unlikely all three bikes would have trouble at the same time. Unfortunately, logic is not often the Lord of this domain. It usually starts weeks before the event with a bad case of the what ifs??" What if somebody gets hurt, What if my camel back leaks and I find it empty when I need it most, What if I get a flat tire and my axle wrench was left on a park bench 2,000 miles back? and on and on often resulting in a full panic which makes you feel like you're actually dying; fun stuff. If I had one wish, it wouldn't be to win the lottery, it would simply be to be free of this unnecessary fear. I've dealt with this crazy bullshit for the last two decades but the first 12 of those, I would pour beer all over the problem and it usually fixed things until the drinking itself became an even bigger problem. Now, 8 years sober and "presto!" I'm dealing with this, in the middle of the freaking nowhere. This might be the single dumbest idea I've ever had. What was I thinking? Coast to coast on mostly dirt roads? Are you kidding me?



So just 200 yards from exiting highway 70, the roll charts start to become completely irrelevant. How hard can it be? It's a big ol' canyon. I look left, look for a break in the wall of sandstone. However, having trusted the roll charts from eastern Tennessee to Utah, it was a more than a bit unsettling to have things seemingly not matching. So, I ignored the roll chart for a bit and sure enough we found the wash. It was heating up already as I prepared tripod and camera. Once I threw my leg over the saddle and started to ride it was actually pretty fun. Some sand, some loose stones, but in tolerable depth and size respectively. The sheer cliff faces on both sides were massive and painted with "desert varnish" which is just iron that oxidizes and turns black. It was hard to get a sense of how long this canyon would be. Is it a mile, or five miles?


The trail here is unique in that it is often split into to two trails, but most likely, the meandering paths lead to the same place, since you're in a canyon. But your choices are to ride in the sandy, creek bed with fist-sized boulders or ride along side it navigating the steep rollercoaster ride of grasses up and down and up and down. Because of my picture taking, I had fallen into last position in our little troop and, thus, I was riding conveniently behind my two guinea pigs. If Travis or Richard were struggling, I would simply take the opposite option. We had rounded 5 bends in the canyon and it showed no sign of widening or becoming less of a canyon. I paused for a moment and looked down at the GPS. My heart sank immediately when I zoomed out and noticed it just showed a straight line. What?? How can it show a straight line in this labyrinth of rust colored walls that are decidedly anything but straight?? I zoomed out more. Same thing. Uh oh. I had a wave of panic, and I was getting hot in this breezeless stone corridor. Ughhh. How am I supposed to navigate forward to the highway when the roll charts aren't matching and the GPS is now irrelevant. We had clearly been following a serpentine route and God dammit if nothing was matching. Don't freak out, I told myself. Just keep riding.
Then a few minutes later, I saw another rider coming towards us…but something was a little off. Then there were 2, then 4 riders, all on these tiny, ancient Honda ct-90's. "Are you the guys doing the TAT in reverse???" I called. "Yeah, we're the Cycles East guys." Wow, I had been reading about these guys for a while.
Sure enough, they had come across Oregon, Nevada, Utah and now Black Dragon Wash. They said they had camped just half an hour west on the trail. These guy were different than me. They knew exactly how to fix everything on these bikes because they had built them entirely with their own hands. They had decades of off-road experience and it seemed this setting was their native habitat They talked of the past few weeks as an enjoyable vacation. Why were they not worrying??? They said one rider had given up and I believe they lost a support vehicle along the way due to mechanical issues, but none of them seemed remotely stressed. I learned weeks later that the trail had systematically pulverized their bikes to the point where only one rider actually made it all the way to Tellico Plains, Tennessee, the start of the TAT. We spoke for ten minutes, but the whole time I'm thinking… it's getting hotter and I am not sure how to get us out of this canyon…but I need to, and soon! I was edging towards panic and I knew I didn't want that.
We wished them luck and headed west. I would also learn later that same afternoon, that Dom and Joe, a couple very experienced Brits, would suffer a setback as Joe broke his leg in Black Dragon Wash and had to re-route at the start of canyon. We ran into them in Salina, so they must have been just minutes behind us in the canyon.
We kept moving forward. Richard came to a steep, sharp left turn complete with sand on the incline…..and down he went. Oh crap. What if it just goes on like this for hours…
I helped him up, then watched as Travis negotiated the same turn. I deliberately took it very wide and had no problem, except the one building in my head.
Eventually, the canyon widened and then the trail split. Uh Oh. I nervously fidgeted with the roll charts not finding anything that correlated with my current surroundings. I saw that one path went South up a very steep trail and the other went along the dry creek bed. There were tire tracks in the creek bed, but also on the hill. Oh shit, what do I do??? I consulted the GPS again and the worthless thing suggested I fly like a bird southwesterly never wavering from a straight line. Shit. I guess we're going with my internal compass.
I chose the south route as that was where the highway was. So I stood on the pegs and throttled up and up and up, running on the little hope I had. This path doesn't look very used. My panic was percolating just below the surface. God, just don't totally freak out. Keep it together. I was having negative stories play out in my head on continuous loop about dehydration and heat stroke as we continued. Gaining elevation through more mustard colored hills, the guys were a bit behind me but I dare not stop and explain how I'm freaking the fuck out and I NEED to find the God damn highway or I'm gonna lose it. Then I started thinking, is my mouth dry because I am nervous? Or is it just the desert? OR Am I dehydrated?
Again, the road split. Now what?? I randomly chose the left turn and rode up incline that seemed more like a wall the closer I got to it . I negotiated to the top and, and… it ended in a dead end…ARGHHH. I had been praying in my helmet, and this is the answer I get?? When I turned back from where I came, and to tell the guys the bad news, I saw something truly beautiful: about 200 yards away I saw Interstate 70. This hot slab of tar and aggregate held the promise of directional certainty; that my nightmares of heat stroke were abated for at least today. My hope restored. There was a fence, but in my state I would have minced the barb wire with my Leatherman tool if need be. But alas, there was a way to open and close it on it's cedar posts. Exhale.
***** By the Way, Sam just emailed me the "Fixed" version of GPS tracks this section, just 6weeks after I finished. I have utmost respect for him, no hard feelings.:

mathewsturtevant screwed with this post 07-31-2013 at 06:56 AM
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Old 07-30-2013, 03:20 PM   #198
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anxiety

YUP,
"What if my camel back leaks and I find it empty when I need it most, What if I get a flat tire and my axle wrench was left on a park bench 2,000 miles back? and on and on often resulting in a full panic which makes you feel like you're actually dying; fun stuff. If I had one wish, it wouldn't be to win the lottery, it would simply be to be free of this unnecessary fear"

I also suffer from Panic Attacks. Worst thing ever. I haven't had one in years but they are always in the back of my head and have kept me from many journeys out of fear alone. I now travel with a little bit of Zanex and that has made a massive difference. Start freaking out and pop a beta blocker and all good. Only had to do that a couple times over the years.

I leave to do the Western TAT Aug 31st. Thanks for your honesty, great photos and a cool trip report. Cheers, Atom...
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Old 07-30-2013, 07:26 PM   #199
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No kidding.

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Originally Posted by MaverickChick View Post
Better late than never, I'm in.

Thanks for the pics, and I appreciate all the time RR's take to do
When I was in the Alps last Fall (feel like I'm name dropping...) it was hard to sit down after showering and NOT fall asleep instead of updating and keeping people informed. It was so cool last Sunday to get a PM from a guy that read our report and wrote my buddy and I that we inspired he and his wife to do the same trip we did and say thanks. We planned our trip off two RRs here. That's the main reason I like this site

tt100 screwed with this post 07-30-2013 at 07:44 PM Reason: beer
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Old 07-30-2013, 07:34 PM   #200
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Still following along and especially enjoying the great photos.

I am really interested to hear how your DRZ400 ran at elevation. Mine has the usual DRZ mods (airobox, jetting, exhaust) is jetted well for SoCal and the deserts (2000-3000 ft) but SoCal is ringed by mountains and there are trails like Gold Mtn. trail near Big Bear that get above 8,000ft. Not as high as the passes you rode, but even at 8,000 my DRZ runs very poorly and has a terrible bog on acceleration. You boys are not from high elevation, so you must have a similar problem when you get to CO. How did the DRZ perform? Did you anticipate the elevation and adjust the jetting for it at all?

Obviously the KLR was running poorly for a bit in CO. Did you ever conclude if that was just the jetting being too rich at altitude, or did you find another cause?
We just did the ride with 3 DRZ400 of various tune. The stock one ran beautifully, getting over 72 mpg some times. the other two were jetted/piped/carbed and struggled from a little to a lot. My KTM 640 ran like a champ too, basically stock with a slip on exhaust.

I saw something truly beautiful: about 200 yards away I saw Interstate 70. This hot slab of tar and aggregate held the promise of directional certainty; that my nightmares of heat stroke were abated for at least today. My hope restored. There was a fence, but in my state I would have minced the barb wire with my Leatherman tool if need be. But alas, there was a way to open and close it on it's cedar posts. Exhale.

DAMN! did you guys bail out of Black Dragon Canyon after you went up the hill to I-70 or what? If so you missed a good hour of riding along a nice open road (mostly) in the canyon flats and valley.
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Old 07-30-2013, 08:47 PM   #201
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Wicked jetting

Same here. The bikes with stock carb, muff had no problems, the one with after market muffler was rejetted 3 times because of issues on this trip! I know people feel the need to improve bikes but from reading reports of long distance riders, they usually say keep it simple for bike longevity. Plenty of power on my DRZ the way it is. The whole reason I ride Suzuki bike is I don't wanna work on bikes, I wanna ride. Unless I'm freaking out.
Baggi 'tard, I guess you missed the freaking out part, the GPS not working part, I'm dealing with this stuff the best I can. I'm a long way from perfect, but it doesn't come easy for me. We might have missed a section there but I wasn't going to wing it without working roll charts or GPS in unfamiliar place while edging towards a nervous breakdown. Last year I was really scared just riding short sections of dirt in Colorado and now I was riding across a whole continent. I think that's pretty good progress.
There will be more sections we missed too. Everybody who does the TAT does it a little differently. I don't regret missing a section here. In Colorado, I was disappointed about not being able to do all the passes, but I kept picking the bike when I'd fall over up there as long as I could, in the situation I was in. I may return to that part but I am happy with how I handled Black Dragon. This actually had been part of my reluctance to write on here. Is ADV rider a place where we can have our own experiences or do we need to put ourselves at risk to measure up to other people's expectations?? I can see that on a Sturgis forum where it's all a pissing contest, but for me, to ride coast to coast was a huge leap of faith out of my comfort zone. I'm not the best rider, I don't go 70mph on dirt roads, I don't plan on riding through Russia at least no time soon.

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Old 07-30-2013, 09:12 PM   #202
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Don't sweat it Matt. It's YOUR adventure, not anyone else's and as long as you had an amazing time with some laughs, good stories to tell, and some seat puckering to test your limits - that's what it's all about!

I know the RR's can get tedious and I'm surprised you have taken some flack for delays in posting and decisions on the trail. I don't think anyone means to come across as unfriendly as they just know there's more to be seen! Oh well - that's what 2014 is for!
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:23 PM   #203
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thanks fishn 33

You're right I shouldn't assume things. Tone is hard to read in written form.
I'll write more soon.

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Old 07-30-2013, 09:31 PM   #204
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Don't sweat it Matt. It's YOUR adventure, not anyone else's and as long as you had an amazing time with some laughs, good stories to tell, and some seat puckering to test your limits - that's what it's all about!
Concur. Well said. You rode Coast to Coast That's awesome!
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:38 PM   #205
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I get lost/take the 'wrong' route all the time. There is no wrong route, if it gets you to your destination eventually.
If everyone had the same trip, ride reports would get pretty boring.
I'm starting the TAT in a couple of weeks, & have been enjoying your RR.

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Old 07-30-2013, 09:45 PM   #206
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thanks RTW Doug

I've always enjoyed your reports. Looking forward to your TAT harley report.
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Old 07-31-2013, 06:28 AM   #207
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I saw something truly beautiful: about 200 yards away I saw Interstate 70. This hot slab of tar and aggregate held the promise of directional certainty; that my nightmares of heat stroke were abated for at least today.

I too know how beautiful that little glimpse of Interstate Highway can be.

I was really glad to see it.



Now I would like to go back and finish Black Dragon and Eagle Canyon.
At the time ,I just wanted the heck outta there!
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Old 07-31-2013, 07:19 AM   #208
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I can totally understand that the Black Dragon would be daunting to someone who isn't from around the area. Being a Utard, I see desert backdrops while riding 50% of the time, especially in the winter. That being said--the dragon freaked me out too.

However, it was probably my favorite part of the TAT. I've even made the jaunt down a couple other times, just for it.

Good on you for pressing past the what-ifs.
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Old 07-31-2013, 08:10 AM   #209
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Thanks BigDon

That's the photo I would have taken if I was calmer. That's exactly the spot. Did your GPS show a straight line instead of curves too? I also agree with you, about later maybe wanting to bite off more. For some reason, the way my brain works, the totally unknown is a fearful place but then as I can wrap my mind around the shape and scale it becomes much less threatening.
Now, In Colorado or the forests of Arkansas I would maybe ride a longer distance into the unknown but the difference is that it didn't have my negative dialogue about overheating and my subsequent death in the dry hot desert.

My buddies had no idea I was really worried, they were probably just enjoying the scenery. Same ride, two completely different experiences.
The whole reason I am doing any of this is to gain awareness, maybe learn to push through some of this fear. I want my world to expand, not to shrink. Many people with agoraphobia end up as shut ins, and I certainly don't want that.
I never owned a motorcycle till the last few years. There is something about it that make it the perfect tool for dealing with this stuff in my head. When I start up the bike and feel it come to life under me it's as if the machine is more than the sum of its parts. This isn't just rubber, steel and an elixir of gas and air; it's a benevolent beast who is my partner. Our partnership involves me respecting its power and maintaining it and in return I get to go places I would have never seen any other way. Whenever the bike has been in the shop I miss it in a similar way to missing my dog. I open the garage door and it feels very empty without the bike. Sometimes when I am busy with work it feels good to just peek into the garage at it and know that I could just get on it and take off for a few days, even if I don't. The promise of adventure, simplicity and wonder are all contained within the bike wether or not it is currently being used for that.
I am always surprised that the notion of going for a little ride always sounds fun even after a day of 10 hours in the saddle. You think you'd be sick of it, but there's something about motorbikes...
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Old 07-31-2013, 08:26 AM   #210
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Originally Posted by mathewsturtevant View Post
Same here. The bikes with stock carb, muff had no problems, the one with after market muffler was rejetted 3 times because of issues on this trip! I know people feel the need to improve bikes but from reading reports of long distance riders, they usually say keep it simple for bike longevity. Plenty of power on my DRZ the way it is. The whole reason I ride Suzuki bike is I don't wanna work on bikes, I wanna ride. Unless I'm freaking out.
Baggi 'tard, I guess you missed the freaking out part, the GPS not working part, I'm dealing with this stuff the best I can. I'm a long way from perfect, but it doesn't come easy for me. We might have missed a section there but I wasn't going to wing it without working roll charts or GPS in unfamiliar place while edging towards a nervous breakdown. Last year I was really scared just riding short sections of dirt in Colorado and now I was riding across a whole continent. I think that's pretty good progress.
There will be more sections we missed too. Everybody who does the TAT does it a little differently. I don't regret missing a section here. In Colorado, I was disappointed about not being able to do all the passes, but I kept picking the bike when I'd fall over up there as long as I could, in the situation I was in. I may return to that part but I am happy with how I handled Black Dragon. This actually had been part of my reluctance to write on here. Is ADV rider a place where we can have our own experiences or do we need to put ourselves at risk to measure up to other people's expectations?? I can see that on a Sturgis forum where it's all a pissing contest, but for me, to ride coast to coast was a huge leap of faith out of my comfort zone. I'm not the best rider, I don't go 70mph on dirt roads, I don't plan on riding through Russia. I did make a video that was better than anything else I've seen on the TAT and I might be sharing more of it soon if this environment feels welcoming.
No problems with a little roll-your-own TAT Matt! Hell BaggiTard and I were out in Devil's canyon and after hours and hours of deep sand, 100 degree heat and running outta water I told Baggi to plot a route to the nearest pavement or I was gonna shoot myslef! Two hours later we were in a hot tub with cold beers!
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