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Old 07-25-2013, 08:04 AM   #1
theBikeman OP
Dual Sport Rider
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Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Palatine, IL
Oddometer: 79
CDSR Members Ride The NWAT - May 2013

NWAT Ride Report
May 30th-June 2nd 2013

8 Riders left from Spur of the Moment Ranch early Thursday morning:

Dave K - Monty (ride organizer and leader par excellence)
Mark B - "Rocket Man"
Kenbob - "KB"
Dean D - "Tow Truck"
Mike N - "The Fixer"
Jim P - "Tow Strap"
Patrick R - "Gas Can
JT - "Gimpy" for this trip

Thursday - May 30th - 233 miles

We first encountered face slappers on the forest double-track. The rain overnight was really weighing down the smaller branches and turning them into face slappers and narrowing the trails. Wet grass led to a few gentle low-sides but no injuries to bikes or riders.

The first set of large water crossings took a toll on the group with Tow-Strap and the Fixer dropping their bikes in deep water and flooding their bikes. Luckily Monty and the Fixer knew what to do. We placed the bikes in top gear before lifting the bikes up by the front wheel and rolling them backwards to remove water from the exhaust and combustion chambers. Next came removing and drying the air cleaners and draining the carb float bowls. Both bikes still refused to fire so we had to remove the tanks and replace the spark-plugs. Tow-Straps DRZ finally fired, but we did not have the required spark-plug wrench for the Fixers KTM LC-4 so we had to tow it to the road and then tow-start it. This set us back about a hour to ninety-minutes. We then had some great sweeping gravel and sand roads that led to the lunch spot. After a great lunch we were feeling good about making up time and completing the track for the day, till ..... the skies got dark, the torrential rain started and the lightning lit up the sky. A decision was made as it was already near 5 to take the highway to Boulder Junction where we were staying for the night. It was probably the right decision as visibility was near zero and the wind even blew a large tree down in the oncoming lane of traffic. A nice hot tub dip and a great dinner finished the day.

Friday - May 31st - 193 miles

The rain stopped overnight and spirits were high. The ride started with some nice double track trails just outside of town, followed by a scenic 25 miles asphalt road ride to some awesome ATV trails. As soon as we hit them I recognized them from Lee's Dual-Sporting The Northwoods ride I did last year and knew what fun we were in for. They are a fast flowing, rock-strewn area that makes for fast but challenging riding.

It was on these ATV trails that our first major mechanical of the day occurred. KB had secured a still wet dry-fit t-shirt under a cargo net and it saw fit to drop through the net into his chain and lodge around the countershaft sprocket. The entire t-shirt other than one sleeve was wedged between the chain, sprocket, engine case and clutch slave guard. It brought his bike to a stop after a quite spectacular skid down the entire length of a downhill. I don't know what super polymer they make the dry-fit shirts out of but it was all but impossible to remove. We attempted to slip the rear tire forward, but the shirt had so jammed in that it bent the chain block adjuster bolts as it pulled the wheel forward so that was a no go. Next came removing the master link to break the chain. There was so much pressure that as soon as the outer plate was removed it bent the pins of the chain at 45 degree angles. We could now cut some of the shirt out, but it was slow going till Monty rode back from leading and suggested removing the clutch slave protector. We could finally get the material out. We were not out of the woods yet. KB had tried to get a spare master-link on the way up to ride but was unable, luckily Tow-Truck had a spare. A spacer under the clutch slave protector had also been cracked and needed to be replaced with a few washers.

We proceeded through the rest of the ATV trails and onto some roads leading to Dead Horse ATV trail, which is a defining feature of the ride for it's deep and long water sections with hidden obstacles under the water. Everyone made it through the first few water sections cleanly, then things got ugly fast. While going through one of the longest and deepest water holes KB's bike got caught up on something and it raised it high enough that he could not get a foot down before the bike went down and was submerged on it's left side. KB did a great job of hitting the kill switch and spirits were high that it would be a relatively quick dry-out as with the two bikes from day one. Sadly this proved to be incorrect. After following all the steps from day one, including replacing the battery with one from Monty's DRZ as well as Rocket Man's DRZ we still could not get it to fire. The Fixer even tried to do some trail-side battery charging with some safety wire and some Hungarian hEngineering.

A decision was made to retrace our steps and pull/tow KB's KTM out to the road. The go-arounds made towing impractical and after several attempts at towing, GIMPY threw the tow-strap over his shoulder and pulled while all the others pushed. We were able to follow or make go-arounds to avoid pushing it through the deep water areas.

One other lesson learned never trust ATV riders on the trail. As 4 of us walked back to get our bikes after pulling KB out we passed a large group of ATV riders we had seen waiting to come down the trail after we hauled out KB. Not a word was said to us by them. We exited to the forest road to find the 4 riders who had come out with KB gone and no idea if they were trying to tow-start KB's bike or had returned to the previous gas stop or continued towards the next gas at Clam Lake. We waited for several minutes, sent scouts out both directions for several miles and attempted to contact the fellow riders. We finally decided to proceed forward to Clam Lake following the track. It turned out to be the correct decision. Stopping along the way we checked for text messages and saw the initial group of four had indeed proceeded to Clam Lake. Upon meeting them in Clam Lake we found out that they had asked the ATV riders to tell us of their plans to take the road to Clam Lake and the ATV riders neglected to mention it to us. The best part was we caught up with the ATV riders later on the track and they were drinking beer and resting. When ask if they had seen a group of four riders they mentioned only seeing riders at the entrance to Dead Horse, once again no mention of the message they agreed to pass on.

Once on the road the initial group of four found the achilles heel of Rekluse auto-clutch's. You can't tow-start them without tightening down the clutch bolts and the pre-2007 KTM's don't have just clutch covers. You must remove the entire right side cover. Tow-Truck did he-man efforts and towed KB's bike 20 miles to Clam-Lake. When we pulled into Clam Lake the Fixer, Monty, Rocket Man and KB had the KTM about as stripped down as you possibly can without pulling the engine and splitting the cases. The exhaust muffler was removed from the head pipe, the rear sub-frame was unbolted at the top mounts, the carb was out of the air cleaner and intake boots, the tank and plug was out. Then a rain storm started. After several hours of work KaTy-eM still refused to start, despite finding some ether. The fixer went into hEngineering mode again and got a Aim and Flame and stuck it into the spark plug hole and igniting the gas in the cylinder leading to a wicking flame coming out the spark plug hole for 60-90 seconds. It finally fired upon replacing the plug and using Ether. We replaced everything only to find it would not restart and had to go through the entire process again and it finally restarted.

At this point it was late afternoon and so we decided to take the roads to the nights lodging in Washburn on Lake Superior. The North Coast Inns and Chalet hotel was a hoot. The tubs were 3.4 size, the toilet paper holders were 12 inches off the floor and the lounging area still had christmas decorations up, but the rooms were clean and the beds comfy. We feasted out at Patsy's on the biggest pieces of fish I have ever seen at a fish fry. Our server Mike turned out to be a relocated Chicago native and he had a Ed Debevic's demeanor that was quite refreshing.

Saturday - June 1st , 241 miles

Rocket Man's DRZ had to be towed to get started so KB and Rocket Man headed over to Ashland to get Rocket Man a new battery since Rocket Man's had been killed by using it to try to start KB's KaTy-eM the prior day. They met up with the CDSR Members doing the TWAT ride and rode on to meet us at the first gas stop. The DRZ had started at the store in Ashland so they decided not to buy a new battery (more on the wisdom of this decision to follow :-)).

The remaining 6 of us decided to backtrack a little on the track to make Mt. Vahalla which we had missed the day prior due to the mechanical issues. The second major feature of the ride is the long loose sand climb there. Upon arriving at Mt. Vahalla we had a great time ripping up the sandy track leading to the difficult sand climb, but were disappointed to see it was closed and fenced off. Tow Truck had so much fun on the approach we had to go down and do it again. If he hadn't been in a group I think he would have stayed and sessioned that section all day. The track leading out of Mt. Vahalla had some of the most fun trails of the ride, rolling hills with nice crests on the top and some jumps on the descents that the better riders could get some nice air on. Riding on we came into a large clearing that you could see for miles on. Tow-Straps DRZ was starting to make a alarming racket that would only get worse as the day went on. It also decided to show it's displeasure with the whooping Tow-Strap gave it by spitting off as many bolts as it could. The muffler lost all it's retaining bolts and was dragging on the swing arm and the luggage rack lost 2 of it's 3 bolts. An initial repair with a bungey cord lasted only minutes before burning through the bungey so we stopped for longer lasting repairs. Everyone tossed in their toolkits and we were able to replace all the bolts except one on the luggage rack and we used a 4 inch hose clamp to hold the rack on in that place. The DRZ was getting even noisier as time progressed but we could not do anything about that. At the same time we pulled the bars on Gimpy's bike and tightened the bolts that held the bar clamps to the triple clamps fixing a annoying wiggle that had developed. As we were ready to take off the Fixer casually mentioned he had a flat rear tire. We aired it up and he decided to wait till we went the 5-10 miles to the gas stop. The tire lost pressure almost immediately but it didn't slow the Fixer at all and he kept pace with the other riders. Now those behind him slowed a little as the LC-4 became a roost-a-matic as he gassed it around the apex of every turn. The tire's contact patch once he leaned up from a turn and the tire made full contact was about 75% wider than normal and would shoot enormous amounts of gravel at any of us foolish enough to be in it's path.

Once arriving at the gas station we rendezvoused with KB and Rocket Man who arrived before us. KB repaid the Fixer for his help the prior day by helping fox the flat. Tow-Strap went to the hardware store and bought a assortment of 6 and 8 mm long bolts and repaid everyone so they could restock their tool-packs, as well as replacing the final missing bolt in his luggage rack and after a quick Subway lunch we were off. Spirits were high as we were now back to 8 strong and we were looking forward to finally making the entire track as plotted for a day. We were making good time on fun ATV trails when the skies got dark and it poured on us for a third time. The rain finally stopped as we entered some ATV trails I called Pandora's Box, because it seemed there was a surprise water hole, downed tree or obstacle around every corner just waiting to surprise you. This trail is where Rocket Man earned his nickname. I had just taken over leading the group when minutes later I come around a corner at speed only to find a large downed tree just around the apex of the turn. Luckily we all managed to stop in time before hitting it. We broke enough branches off to be able to ride over it, but with the wet bark and it's size it still presented some challenges getting across. I had just made it across when I heard a whiskey throttle rev and one of the riders who had made it over and was looking back yelled "Wholly Crap". I looked back to see Rocket Man on the ground with the DRZ in a similar position, Somehow as he went over the tree he gave it full throttle and the DRZ did it's best impression of a Cape Canaveral rocket launch to the heavens, hence his new nickname.

By now Tow Strap's DRZ was making enough metallic rattling to be in a metal rock band and we were really getting concerned. We proceeded forward through many deep water crossing's and I thought my life was passing before my eyes as KB caught something under water with his front wheel and the bike started falling into the water on it's left side like the day before. KB did the save of the trip and kept it from dropping in the brink and all was well. We came into a clearing by a house and Tow-Straps DRZ was now making so much noise it could not be ignored. We stopped and upon checking the oil it was almost out, despite being full in the A.M. Jim headed to the house to see if they had any oil he could buy as the Fixer and Monty pulled the oil filter cover and filter. The base of the housing for the oil filter was piled full of metal shavings and they were sure the cam chain tensioner had broken and that time was limited for the DRZ. Jim returned with oil from the homeowner who refused to accept any payment, we filled it up and decided to try to run the DRZ into the nearest town about 5 miles away. It was less than a mile from there that the mighty DRZ finally succumbed with one last even louder clank and we towed it to a nearby bar (as Monty says this is Wisconsin, there's at least one on every corner).

We were able to make the best out of a bad situation though as events lined perfectly to help make things as good as they could. We checked the GPS and determined that the TWAT crew was staying at Clam Lake about 20 miles away. Contacted the Rabbi and he confirmed Tow-Strap could stay the night with them as Clam Lake is 2 small motels and a gas station and bar and was full for the night. As we were ready to see who would tow Tow-Strap to Clam Lake KB saw a truck with a empty trailer on the back approach the bar and flagged them down. He ask them if they would be willing to take Tow-Strap and his DRZ to Clam Lake. They stated they were on the way there to pick up a flooded quad and would be glad too, so we packed up the DRZ on their trailer and in a scene out of Deliverance they came out with beers from the bar and took off. As we were getting ready to take off, someone noticed Monty had a huge bent out section of his rear rim about 2 inches long and we were amazed the bead was not popping off the rim.

Once again the rain started and we were forced to take the road to the motel outside Tomahawk as mechanicals and mother nature had slowed us down. We stopped just before the hotel got some beer and checked in. A quick call to Tow-Strap confirmed he had arrived un-molested to Clam Lake and was having dinner with the good-ole boys who drove him and the TWAT crew. By this point no one wanted to go out again so we started partying and ordered delivery pizza from down the road. Rocket Man gave a seminar on how to use a hair dryer to dry out your gear and I wouldn't have believed hotel hair dryers could run for two hours straight but they did and the gear was dry for another day.

Sunday - June 2nd, 147 miles

The Fixer had agreed to ride the road straight back to the Spur Of The Moment Ranch since he and Tow-Strap used his truck to get up there. He did he-man duties and drove another 185 miles away from home to go pick up Tow-Strap. Now that's a top notch friend to give up the last days fun and go that far out of his way to get a fellow rider. Hat's off to the Fixer.

We added another quart of oil to KB's KaTy-eM. as it was developing a major thirst for oil since the submarine episode on day 2. Then the remaining 6 of us headed out into a cloudy, cold morning so full of moisture there was condensation beading up on goggles and clothes as we rode even though it was not raining. Rider tip here. If you only have thin mesh riding gloves on, don't wipe the water off your goggles/shield with them. You will FREEZE your fingers. Don't ask me how I know. Thanks out to Tow-Truck for the idea of grabbing the muffler at the first stop to warm them up. I also found out that slightly damp cold wether gloves are warmer than mesh gloves. Hard to ride when you can't feel your fingers. The ATV trail this morning was one of the funner sections of the trip similar to the one by Mt. Vahalla the prior day. Rolling, hills with small jumps on the ups and downs made for some fun air time. KB was leading when he came around a corner and found a tree down across a water hole and took one for the team and went down pretty hard, saving the rest of us from a similar fate.

At the next rest to regroup KB's bike was now consuming a quart of oil every 40 miles and Monty's DRZ was having issues with it's vacuum fuel petcock so they decided to take the road back, leaving just 4 of our initial 8 to proceed. I took the lead for the second time of the trip hoping to make it longer than the previous day where the tree was around a corner almost at once, as well as hoping my pace would not bore the crap out of the crew. We had only gone a mile or two when I stopped to make sure everyone made the turn when Rocket Man did not appear. We retraced our steps, being careful to ride slow and on the right so as not to run into Rocket Man if he was attempting to make up time and catch up. As we rode further and further back we got more and more apprehensive as we were almost back to where we had split up with KB and Monty and were relieved to see Rocket Man beside his DRZ as we crested a hill. He had just taken off and gone about a half mile when his luggage rack broke. He stated he would go back and take the road with KB and Monty, but we were having none of that. We told him we would split up his luggage and ratchet strap his luggage rack and subframe so he could proceed. Tow-Truck showed he has multiple talents and morphed into Super Sherpa and took Rocket Man's largest luggage, I took a small dry bag and Rocket Man took some of the tools out of the largest luggage that Super-Sherpa had and placed them in his hydration pack and we were off. The humor in all this was the prior evening I had stated to Rocket Man that I always joke with my wife when we mountain-bike that if I was a millionaire I would pay someone to ride a downhill bike to the top of the mountains and I would ride a cross country bike up and switch at the top as they carried all the gear as well, much like the Sherpa's do on Mt. Everest. Hmm, maybe I should have checked that sub-frame really was cracked. Rocket Man did state it was much more fun without the luggage :-). Rocket Man's bike needed towed to start. Forgoing that battery the morning before turned out to be a bad decision.

The sun cane out as we pushed on and the trails were fast and flowey. Upon stopping for gas at 11 we asked where to eat and were told of a nice place a mile away. As we were ordering our meals the waitress stated we were the second group of bikers there that day and that it was unusual to see off-road bikers there. Quizzing here on how many and what they looked like it was easy to determine that it was Monty and KB that were there about a hour before us. It was good to know they were proceeding without any more issues. After a great meal we went out and attempted to push start Rocket Man's DRZ and quickly decided to tow-start it and were off on the final leg of our journey. About 15 miles of asphalt took us to some really fun ATV trails and things were uneventful ... for a while. I was blasting down a fast flat section of the ATV trail at about 50 mph and looked up from the GPS to see tree down over the entire trail and it was too late to stop, the branches were at least waist high and there was a drop off on either side of the trail. I saw a tiny spot near the edge where the branches were thinner and about 18 inches high and went for it hoping for the best. Sometimes lucky is better than good and I made it through with only a few leg scrapes from the branches. Tow-Truck (Super-Sherpa) was right on my tail and did the same. As soon as we crossed it we went by some ATV's and luckily they met Gas Can and Rocket Man as they approached the downed tree. Turns out there are certain advantages to the larger ATV's and they plowed right through the branches, snapping them off and making the crossing for all those coming later very doable. We decided to skip a small section labeled Wet Tri-Loop (we had enough water and flooded bikes by now) and finished the ATV trails. Stopping for Gas Can to top off his bike we decided to take the highway the last 16 miles to Spur Of The Moment Ranch so as not to keep Monty and KB waiting any longer than they had already been. Monty and KB were there and stated they had felt confident enough in their bikes to do the last ATV trail section we had skipped and had a great time on it. Our hosts from the first night were gracious enough to let us use the showers before heading home.

The 4 days of riding are at the top of my list of rides (and riding companions) and I cannot put into words the gratitude I have for:

CannonShot for making and proofing the tracks, documenting and sharing them
Monty for planning and executing the entire trip
All the riders involved who showed they had amazing positive attitudes and camaraderie in the face of challenging situations. Although given the opportunity to split up and keep riding when some of the longer mechanicals occurred each rider chose to stay together as a group, putting the group in front of the individual. I would ride anywhere with any of you, at any time!
My wife for managing to work and take care of the twins for 5 days, as well as the twins allowing Daddy to go play.
-JT (Gimpy - but not for much longer)

Here's two more videos:

Water Sections Day 3

These were all within about at 10 minute period after a rain storm and one of the wettest springs in memory.

Oop's Moments
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Old 07-26-2013, 10:11 PM   #2
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Joined: Jan 2007
Location: Tent Space Thread, Currently AZ > CA.
Oddometer: 162
As one of the TWAT rides that weekend I can say we did not experience anything you riders went through.

It was nice spending a night with Tow-Strap.

One of the best video reports I have ever seen.
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